How to use these 7 credit cards to maximize your domestic U.S. getaway
As the months wear on, travel continues to look very different -- with no end in sight.
Many borders are closed to U.S. residents, and international trips are limited. However, if you're comfortable with the idea of going someplace that's not the grocery store, you're likely doing it a bit closer to home. Domestic travel is the new normal for the foreseeable future -- and you want to be using the right credit card to do it.
Want more credit card tips and travel news from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter.
Pro tip: Many card benefits are the same whether you're traveling abroad or within the U.S. Of course, you never have to worry about those pesky foreign transaction fees if you're keeping it (relatively) local. These are our top picks for the best cards for domestic travel.
Best cards for domestic travel
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best overall starter travel card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible redemptions
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for premium domestic travel
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for easy cash back
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for small business travel
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for lounge access and premium perks
- American Express® Green Card: Best for broad category of travel
Comparing the best domestic travel cards
|Card||Best for||Travel-related earnings||Annual fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Starter travel card||2x on travel, 3x on dining||$95|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Flexible earning and redemption||2x on all purchases||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Premium domestic travel||3x on travel, 3x on dining||$550|
|Citi Double Cash Card||Easy cash back||2% cash back, 1% cash back when you buy and 1% as you pay||None|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||Small business travel||3x on travel (on up to $150,000 in combined bonus categories)||$95|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||Domestic lounge access and premium perks||5x on airfare booked directly (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, starting Jan. 1, 2021), 5x on airfare and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply||$695 (see rates and fees)|
|American Express Green Card||Broad category of travel||3x on broad categories of dining, travel and transit. Terms apply||$150 (see rates and fees)|
A closer look at each card
Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great option for those who are new to earning travel rewards, because it lets you earn valuable, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That's great for domestic and international trips alike. You'll get 3x points on dining and 2x points travel including things such as rental cars, Airbnb, hotels and local transit.
To redeem, you can transfer to an array of hotel and airline partners -- or redeem points for travel directly at a 1.25 cents per point rate.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.(valued by TPG at $1,200).
Annual fee: $95
Read the full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Why we like it: With the Capital One Venture, you’ll be earning 2x miles on every purchase. That makes it easy to rack up rewards without having to juggle different bonus categories or spending caps. You can also redeem miles directly through Capital One or transfer to travel partners for that domestic getaway. Flexibility is key, and this card is one of the best rewards credit cards because it has it.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95
Read the full review of the Capital One Venture.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a 3x bonus points for a broad array of dining and travel purchases including rental cards and home shares -- not just flights. You'll get extensive travel and trip delay protection, as well as a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit once every four years.
You're able to redeem for travel at an increased rate of 1.5 cents per point directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or transfer to a variety of travel partners. Even better, you can use Chase's new Pay Yourself Back feature to redeem for everyday purchases at groceries, dining and more.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (valued by TPG at $1,200).
Annual fee: $550
Read the full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Related reading: Credit card showdown: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold
Why we like it: If you want to keep things easy and maximize cash back on domestic trips, you can't go wrong with the Citi Double Cash. You'll get 2% cash-back earnings on all purchases -- 1% when you buy and another 1% as you pay.
Annual fee: None
Read the full review of the Citi Double Cash.
Related reading: What credit score do you need to get the Citi Double Cash Card?
Why we like it: With solid bonus categories including travel, the Ink Business Preferred is a fantastic option for small business owners. Plus, it gives you access to the Ultimate Rewards program and Chase’s valuable airline and hotel transfer partners.
Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent each cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
Annual fee: $95
Read the full review of the Ink Business Preferred.
Related reading: 5 reasons to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card
Why we like it: If premium perks like hotel and car rental elite status interest you, take a closer look at the Amex Platinum.
You’ll also have access to things such as the American Express Global Lounge Collection (which includes Centurion Lounges), Priority Pass, Airspace and Escape lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta). However, note that most lounges are currently closed -- and ones that are open have limited service. Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Platinum is the king of luxury travel benefits. You’ll get up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 in Uber credits, and up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue -- just to name a few perks. Additionally, due to the ongoing pandemic, you'll also receive up to $40 in combined credit per month through December 2020 for select streaming and wireless services. Enrollment required.
Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel, and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. (valued by TPG at $1,600).
Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)
Read the full review of the Amex Platinum.
Related reading: 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum
American Express Green Card
Why we like it: The Amex Green earns 3x Membership Rewards points on travel, restaurants and transit, so that is a broad swath of spending that earns bonus points. From car rentals to hotels (and even flights), this card will have you covered with 3x points.
Welcome offer: The current welcome bonus is 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first six months (although you can sometimes do better with targeted offers or referrals). Based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, the welcome offer points are worth about $900.
Annual fee: $150
Read the full review of the Amex Green.
The information for the Amex Green 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: Credit card showdown: Amex Gold vs. Amex Green
While no airline cards are mentioned here, that is certainly another option if you have an affinity to a specific airline. The best perk of a cobranded airline card in the U.S. is the free checked bag privilege. If that's something you can take advantage of, it's well worth a card's annual fee. For instance, a checked bag with American Airlines when flying domestically costs $30. By flying just twice, round-trip with one checked bag, you can more than make up for the $99 annual fee (waived for the first year) on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.
If a domestic trip is on your radar, it makes sense to use the right card to maximize your travel. These cards are a great start and will help you get you on your way to earning a whole lot of points, miles or cash back.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.