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What credit card you should have, depending on what type of traveler you are

Feb. 07, 2020
7 min read
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We'll be the first to tell you that the world of credit cards, points and miles can be downright confusing. There are so many terms to take note of and things to consider that it might be difficult to know where to start.

New to TPG? See our Beginner's Guide.

The trick, though, is to know your own spending habits — whether you dine out frequently or travel with a budget in mind. This handy guide will help steer you in the right direction, and before you know it, you'll be racking up valuable points and miles.

The food-obsessed traveler

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
(Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

You love to eat, so your trip revolves around food. You're the type of person who researches restaurants at your destination for weeks before departure and has a reservation booked for every night of your trip. A credit card that gets you bonus points on dining is your new best friend. Consider the American Express® Gold Card, which gives you 4x Membership Rewards®points on dining at restaurants. Plus, American Express recently acquired Resy and is offering dining perks for cardholders in cities around the world — yes, including exclusive restaurant reservations.

Related reading: The best credit cards for dining out — and ordering in

If you prefer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, opt for the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for 3x points. All these cards earn bonus points on dining worldwide, so whether you're eating sushi in Japan, pasta in Italy or pizza in New York City (or Chicago), your points are adding up faster than you can say, "Check, please."

The luxury traveler

The bar at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport's Centurion Lounge. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

You like to travel in style. You wouldn't be caught dead without Global Entry, TSA PreCheck (or better yet, Clear) and will always make a point to stop for a quick drink at the airport lounge before you board — and yes, of course you have priority boarding. You need a card such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with perks such as Centurion Lounge access, Delta Sky Club access (if you're flying Delta, that is), and 5x points on airfare when booking directly through the airline or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). With all the flying you do, you need a card that helps you earn enough points so that one flight essentially pays for the next. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is another excellent choice here, earning 3x points on airfare and all other travel expenses. You'll also get 50% more value for the points you earn when you redeem them for travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Related reading: A guide to Amex Centurion Lounges

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The budget traveler

Photo by Westend61/Getty Images.
(Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

You don't need any bells or whistles, you're just excited to get away for a few days. You'd rather take a lot of flights at the back of the plane than one or two at the front. You're best suited for a card like the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants), Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, which earn you valuable Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards points. With Chase, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to 10 airlines and three hotel partners. With Amex, you can transfer points to 19 airlines and a trio of hotel brands.

The information for the Chase Freedom and Amex EveryDay card has been collected independently by The Points Guy (TPG). The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: 15 cheap international destinations for 2020

The stylish hotel traveler

Zemi Beach House - Anguilla
You may want to book a stay at Zemi Beach House in Anguilla, one of Hilton's luxury brands. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

For you, it's about the destination, not the journey. You don't really care how you get there but once you do, you want the red carpet rolled out. Whether it's upgrades, spa credits or merely earning bonus points on your stay, you want to make sure your hotel stay makes all your Instagram followers green with envy. You'd do best with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card or the Amex Platinum (hello, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts).

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: The best hotel credit cards for 2020

The solo traveler

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Solo travel is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, experiences you'll ever have — and I cannot recommend it enough. If you're going solo, you'll want a card that offers you a ton of travel protections just in case things go wrong. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is unparalleled, thanks to baggage-delay and lost or damaged-baggage protection; trip-delay reimbursement; and travel-accident insurance. Knowing that you have these benefits in your back pocket will give you peace of mind so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Related reading: The best credit cards for solo travelers

The AvGeek Traveler

Seeing Central Park from the air is a real avgeek treat. Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG
(Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

There's no shame in your game: You love airports. You'll go out of your way to get there early to clock in some prime planespotting before your flight, and are always up to date with the latest in aviation news. Do yourself a favor and make sure one of the co-branded Amex and Delta cards is in your wallet. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is one of your best bets, as those 3x miles on eligible Delta purchases are going to add up faster than you can say "Medallion."

Related reading: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Bottom line

No matter what type of traveler you are, you have multiple choices at your fingertips. Having the right credit card that will offer you bonus points, perks or travel protection will elevate your travel game.

Featured image by (Photo by Caroline Selfors / Unsplash)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.