The best travel credit cards of May 2022

By
Madison Blancaflor
and
Christina Ly
Editor
Nick Ewen
Updated
2 hours ago
This page is a marketplace where our partners can highlight their current card offers. The reviews and insights represented are editorial, but the order in which cards appear on the page may be influenced by compensation we may receive from our partners.

Now’s the time to open a travel credit card to take advantage of all the perks and benefits. Here are the best travel credit cards from our partners.

NEW ELEVATED OFFER
Best for total value
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
2 - 5X points
details
  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x 3x on dining.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
80,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
80,000 points
60,000
$95

Why We Chose It

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2 points per dollar on all other travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 

  • Annual $50 hotel statement credit when booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance.

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
2 - 5X points
details
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
75,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
75,000 miles
$95

Why We Chose It

When it comes to simplicity and strong rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice for most travelers. You’ll earn earns 2 miles per dollar on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Pros

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles, worth $1,388 based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.
  • You'll earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, which means you won't have to worry about memorizing bonus categories.
  • Rewards earned are versatile as they can be redeemed for any hotel or airline purchase for a statement credit or transferred to 15+ travel partners.

Cons

  • A couple of partners' transfer ratios are mediocre at a less than 1:1 ratio.
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
New Platinum exclusive offer
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
5X points
details
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Earn 100,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
Earn 100,000 points
$695

Why We Chose It

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full review of the Platinum Card from American Express.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and more than $1,400 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (enrollment required)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The $695 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit and other monthly statement credits can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best new premium travel credit card
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
2 - 10X points
details
  • 10X Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5X 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
75,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
75,000 miles
$395

Why We Chose It

If you can maximize the up to $300 statement credit toward Capital One Travel, the Venture X’s annual fee effectively comes down to $95, the same annual fee pegged to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Add in a 10,000-mile bonus every account anniversary (worth $185, according to TPG valuations) and lounge access, and the card may become the strongest option out there for a lot of travelers. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Pros

  • 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary

Cons

  • $395 annual fee
  • Up to $300 back in statement credit annually only applicable for bookings made through Capital One Travel portal
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Escape the airport crowd and recharge before your flight with unlimited access to all-inclusive amenities at the Capital One Lounge and at 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3/5
1.25 - 5X points
details
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
20,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
20,000 miles
$0

Why We Chose It

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of travel rewards, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is a great way to get started. WIth no annual fee and a simple 1.25 miles per dollar on all your purchases, you won’t have to keep up with multiple bonus categories — just earn rewards on everything you purchase! Coupled with the 20,000-mile sign-up bonus, you can use your rewards to book travel, transfer to Capital One’s loyalty partners and more. Read our full review of the Captial One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

Pros

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 or more on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • Use your miles to book or pay for travel at a 1-cent value, or transfer your miles to loyalty programs to gain potentially even greater value for your rewards.
  • Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • Other credit cards can offer you higher rewards for your common purchase categories.
  • Capital One airline transfer partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24% - 25.24% variable APR after that
Apply now for American Express® Gold Card at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for dining at restaurants
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
3 - 4X points
details
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
60,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
60,000 points
$250

Why We Chose It

This isn’t just a card that’s nice to look at. It packs a real punch, offering 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar). There’s also an up to $120 annual dining credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations, plus it added an up to $120 annually ($10 per month) in Uber Cash, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. All this make it a very strong contender for all food purchases, which has become a popular spending category. Enrollment is required for select benefits. Read our full review of the American Express Gold Card.

 

Pros

  • 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as effective for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.
  • Rose Gold is here to stay. Card Members can choose between a Gold or Rose Gold Card.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for rewards rate
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
60,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
60,000 points
$95

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier Card is one of the best starter travel rewards cards due to its gracious amount of bonus spend categories. You’ll not only earn triple points on air travel and hotel, but also on restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations — offering plenty of opportunities to earn on your everyday purchases. Best of all, your points are flexible and can transfer to a variety of frequent flyer programs in every airline alliance. Finally, enjoy an annual $100 hotel savings benefit through Citi on single-stay bookings of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees). Read our full review of the Citi Premier Card.

Pros

  • Earns 3 points per dollar on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more booked through thankyou.com).
  • Points transfer to 15+ airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee.
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 60,000 Points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3/5
1.5X points
details
  • 1.5X Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
25,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
25,000 points
$0

Why We Chose It

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is a breath of fresh air. With no annual fee, 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases and the ability to redeem your points for travel purchases on your statement credit, this card is a terrific first travel credit card. Read our full review of the Bank of American Travel Rewards credit card

Pros

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases with no limits.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • Lacks travel protections that other cards come with.
  • No transfer partners to maximize value.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR offer ends, 14.24% - 24.24% Variable APR will apply.
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Best for travel credits
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
1 - 10X points
details
  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
50,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
50,000 points
$550

Why We Chose It

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, bonus points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners.
  • 10 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel directly through Chase Ultimate Reward.

Cons

  • Steep initial $550 annual fee.
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best for Alaska Airlines miles
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • 1X Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
$100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles
$75

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card, in part due to its highly valuable loyalty program: Alaska Airlines MileagePlan. Whether you’re a loyal Alaska flyer or a points maximizer looking to diversify your rewards portfolio, this card has a lot to offer. For starters, you’ll receive Alaska’s Famous Companion Pass each year for $121, free checked bags for you and up to six guests on your itinerary, 50% off Alaska lounge day passes and more. Plus, Alaska has joined the oneworld alliance, opening up endless redemption opportunities. Read our full review of the Alaska Airline Visa Signature credit card

Pros

  • Free checked bag for you and up to six guests on your reservation.
  • Several Alaska discounts, including 50% off Alaska lounge day passes and 20% back on in-flight purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • $75 annual fee.
  • Not the best everyday rewards rate, as you'll earn 3x miles on Alaska purchases and 1x on everything else.
  • Limited Time Online Offer! $100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles.
  • Get a $100 statement credit, 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™. Every year on your credit card account anniversary you'll receive a companion fare which allows you to book a companion flight from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation - that's a savings of $60 per person roundtrip!
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don't expire on active accounts.
  • With oneworld® Alliance we've expanded our global reach to over 900 destinations worldwide, bringing you more airline partners and more ways to earn and redeem miles.
  • Flexibility with no blackout dates on Alaska Airlines flights when booking with miles or a companion fare.
  • Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $75 annual fee.
  • This online only offer may not be available elsewhere if you leave this page. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
2 - 17X points
details
  • 17X Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 3X New Benefit! Earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
  • 2X 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points)
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points)
$95

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is an entry-level card that can help travelers dip their toes into the Bonvoy program. The card is best for those who stay at Marriotts, but not enough to take full advantage of Marriott’s higher-tier cards. Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Pros

  • Annual free night certificate (up to 35,000 points) each cardmember anniversary.
  • Automatic Silver elite status with pathway to Gold.
  • 15 elite night credits annually to help earn mid or high tier Bonvoy status.

Cons

  • There are better Marriott cards if you want higher tier status or no annual fee.
  • Doesn't make sense if you don't stay at Marriott properties.
  • Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.
  • New Benefit! Earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
  • New Benefit! Earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year, and path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Best for maximizing business purchases
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
100,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
100,000 points
$95

Why We Chose It

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees. Read our full review of the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Pros

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening.
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for points redemption.
  • Reasonable $95 annual fee.
  • Bonus categories that are most relevant to business owners; primary car insurance.
  • Perks including cellphone and purchase protection; extended warranty; trip cancellation/interruption insurance; trip delay reimbursement.

Cons

  • High spending needed to get 100,000-point sign-up bonus.
  • No travel perks.
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications.
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
50,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
50,000 miles
$250

Why We Chose It

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex is a good choice for Delta loyalists who need a little help reaching their elite status goals. This card offers some useful perks including an annual companion pass and your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year.
  • Fee credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry.
  • First checked bag free.

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta.
  • $250 annual fee.
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 5X points
details
  • 5X Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • 1.5X Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
  • 1X 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
120,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
120,000 points
100,000 points
$695

Why We Chose It

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more. Read our full review on The Business Platinum Card from American Express.

Pros

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years.
  • Up to $400 annual statement credit for U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels; access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection (enrollment required)
  • Extended warranty protection; International Airline Program; and Cruise Privileges Program.

Cons

  • Steep $695 annual fee.
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 minimum spend for smaller businesses.
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, 0% Intro APR for 12 months from the date of the account opening on purchases eligible for Pay Over Time. After that, your APR will be 14.99% to 22.99% based on your credit worthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in value per year for statement credits on select purchases with your Card, including up to $400 with Dell Technologies, up to $360 with Indeed, up to $150 with Adobe and up to $120 on wireless telephone purchases. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year toward baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3.5/5
1 - 2X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 1.5X Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on single eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (that’s an extra half mile per dollar), up to 50,000 additional miles per year.
  • 1X 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
60,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
60,000 miles
$250

Why We Chose It

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card is worthy of consideration if you fly Delta frequently and value perks such as priority boarding and a free checked bag. Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card

Pros

  • Earns 3 miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and purchases made directly with hotels; 1.5x miles per dollar on single eligible purchases of $5,000 or more
  • First Check Bag Free on Delta flights
  • Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding
  • Achieve elite status faster by earning 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year

Cons

  • $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • You can receive a domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Take a friend or family member when you fly Delta. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Earn more miles on big purchases with 1.5 miles per dollar on single eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (that's an extra half mile per dollar), up to 50,000 additional miles per year. If your purchase qualifies for a category that has a higher mileage accelerator, only the higher accelerator will apply (ex. you would earn 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta and Hotel Stays instead of 1.5X).
  • Delta Sky Club® Access - enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • With Status Boost®, earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, up to 2x per year getting you closer to Medallion Status.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

The best travel credit cards

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Best for total value 80,000 points
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
$95
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Best for earning miles 75,000 miles
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
$95
The Platinum Card® from American Express Welcome bonus Earn 100,000 points
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$695
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Best new premium travel credit card 75,000 miles
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
$395
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Best for no annual fee 20,000 miles
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
$0
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Best for maximizing business purchases 100,000 points
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
$95
Citi Premier® Card Best for rewards rate 60,000 points
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95
American Express® Gold Card Best for dining at restaurants 60,000 points
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
$250
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Best for business travel 120,000 points
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
  • 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
$695
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card Best midrange hotel card Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points)
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • New Benefit! Earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$95
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Best for first travel card 25,000 points
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
$0
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Best for airline rewards 50,000 miles
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
$250
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Best for travel credits 50,000 points
  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$550
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card Best for Alaska Airlines miles $100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$75
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card Best for Delta business flyers 60,000 miles
  • Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on single eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (that’s an extra half mile per dollar), up to 50,000 additional miles per year.
  • 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
$250

Let’s take a look at the details of each of these travel credit cards and offers, including their bonus values and some of the ways I’ve been able to put the credit card benefits to use.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for earning miles

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Why this is the best stand-alone travel credit card: With the Capital One Venture, you’re earning 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. That makes it easy to rack up rewards without having to juggle different bonus categories or spending caps. And with flexible redemption options and a manageable annual fee, this card is an excellent choice if you’re looking to keep just one credit card in your wallet for all spending.

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Since we value Capital One miles at 1.85 cents each, this offer is worth potentially $1,388.

Rewards rate: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase.

Travel benefits: You get an application-fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck of up to $100 every four years, a nice perk for a mid-tier card that only costs $95 a year.

Annual fee: $95.

Why it’s worth it: The Capital One Venture Card allows you to redeem miles for a fixed value or transfer the miles you earn to 15 total airline and three hotel transfer partners, including Avianca, Etihad, Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Capital One has recently added a new 1:1 transfer tier for many partners, however there’s also a less lucrative 2:1.5 or 2:1 transfer tiers for some partners. Finally, it’s the one card The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, can’t live without.

Related: Capital One Venture Card review

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Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best total value

Why this is the best total value travel credit card: We’ve long suggested the Chase Sapphire Preferred as an excellent option for those who are new to earning travel rewards because it lets you earn valuable, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with strong bonus categories and a reasonable annual fee.

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. TPG values this bonus at $1,600.

Rewards rate: 5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 miles per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, 3 miles per dollar on select streaming services, 3 miles per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2 points per dollar on all other travel, 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases

Travel benefits: When you redeem your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you get a 25% bonus that makes your points worth 1.25 cents each. The Sapphire Preferred also comes with an entire suite of travel protections, including trip delay insurance, trip cancellation coverage, baggage delay and primary rental car insurance.

Annual fee: $95.

Why it’s worth it: You’ll earn a solid return (6% back and 4% back respectively based on TPG valuations) on dining and travel on top of your generous sign-up bonus and you have access to some of the best travel protections offered by any travel rewards credit card.

Although you won’t get the same travel credits or lounge access as you do with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this is the perfect starter travel credit card for anyone who can’t justify a higher annual fee. Chase has also added new non-travel redemption options, giving you more flexibility for your points.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred review

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Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

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The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for welcome offer

Why it’s the best travel card for welcome offer: The Amex Platinum’s welcome offer is currently worth $2,000 according to TPG valuations, but that’s only the beginning.

Current welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership (valued by TPG at $2,000). However, be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a higher 125k-point welcome offer (offer subject to change at any time).

Rewards rate: Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 each calendar year) and 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel.

Travel benefits: Although Amex has recently increased the annual fee to $695 (see rates and fees), the Amex Platinum is still the king of luxury travel benefits with a ton of annual statement credits that will still make the annual fee worth it. You’ll get up to $200 in annual hotel statement credits for Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel (two night minimum stay required), up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits, up to $179 in Clear membership credits each year on your membership, up to $300 in annual Equinox credits ($25 statement credits each month), up to $200 in Uber cash for U.S. services, up to $240 in annual digital entertainment statement credits for select providers, up to $100 in statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue and up to $100 statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years (up to $100) — and more. Plus, you’ll get unparalleled lounge access, automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott, and extra perks with Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it: It’s not just the 100,000-point welcome offer that lands this card on our list of the most valuable travel cards. Besides the $1,400+ in credits each year and various lounge access options, the Amex Platinum is a stellar premium travel card that can provide amazing redemptions. Among the Membership Rewards program’s travel partners is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, which is the only way to book the ultra-premium Singapore Suites using miles. However, keep in mind that premium-class service is pretty watered down right now thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, so it might be best to save up for later premium-cabin award flights.

Other card highlights include an amazing 5 points per dollar spent on airfare purchased directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (equal to a 10% return on these purchases) and the ability to add three authorized users for a total of $175 (see rates and fees).

Related: American Express Platinum review

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Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express.

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Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best new premium travel credit card

Why this is the best new premium travel credit card: At $395 per year, this new premium card is cheaper than all of its competitors without sacrificing the breadth of valuable perks that come on this card. Cardholders will get unlimited visits to Capital One’s premium network of lounges and 1,300-plus Priority Pass lounges worldwide and bring up to two guests for no additional charge. 

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. 

Rewards rate: Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel and 2 miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Travel benefits: Cardholders will receive up to $300 back as statement credits every year toward travel bookings made through the Capital One Travel portal. That credit alone — if maximized — cuts down the annual fee to $95. Other travel benefits include a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus, worth $185 according to our valuations, reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application, travel and purchase protection and so much more. 

Annual fee: $395.

Why it’s worth it: For frequent travelers, the Capital One Venture X is a must-have and is well worth the $395 annual fee. If you travel frequently with your significant other, family or friends, you can even add up to four authorized users for no additional cost. This will grant them their own lounge access (and the ability to bring up to two guests for no fee) among many other benefits, making this a huge cost-saver for those who travel in groups. 

Related: Capital One Venture X Review

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Official application link: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

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Capital One VentureOne Card: Best for no annual fee

(Photo by Eric Heglas/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best travel card for no annual fee: The no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card has the same decent redemption options as its older brother card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card — but with a lower rewards rate and fewer perks. The miles earned on the card can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners and some other benefits not usually seen with a no-annual-fee card.

Current bonus: 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 within the first three months from account opening. This bonus is worth $370 according to TPG’s valuations.

Rewards rate: You’ll get a flat 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases, which equates to a solid 2.31% return.

Travel benefits: Some of the perks include travel accident insurance — get up to $250,000 in coverage for common carrier accidental death or dismemberment when you pay for your entire travel fare with your card. There’s also lost luggage reimbursement for up to $3,000 per trip if your bags are lost or stolen. You’ll get extended warranty, too — double the manufacturer’s warranty or up to one extra year for warranties of three years or less, with a maximum of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder. On top of all that, the VentureOne card is one of the only no-annual-fee options that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Benefit only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.

Why it’s worth it: The VentureOne card is a strong card to have in your arsenal and great if you are budgeting due to its no annual fee. After all, there aren’t many no-annual-fee cards with the ability to transfer points and miles directly to travel partners, so it’s a big bonus that this card offers that. The VentureOne also beats other no-annual-fee cards for perks such as purchase protection and no foreign transaction fees. Its earning scheme is practically identical to the $95-a-year card, but with a slightly lower return on everyday spending — so if you think you’ll spend $7,600 on everyday purchases per year — this card is for you.

Related: Capital One Venture vs. Capital One VentureOne

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Official application link: Capital One VentureOne.

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Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for maximizing business purchases

Why it’s the best for maximizing business purchases: If you spend a lot on business travel or social media advertising, you’ll be able to earn significant points with the Ink Business Preferred card. The card earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 in combined travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. 

Current welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spending in the first three months after card opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: You can also get great value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to the 11 airline and three hotel loyalty programs, including United and Hyatt. Plus the card gives you 25% more value for the points you earn when you redeem them for travel at a fixed value in the Ultimate Rewards portal, a perk also available on other Chase credit cards.

Annual fee: $95.

Why it’s worth it: TPG’s most recent point valuations peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so you’ll get a fantastic return of 6% on purchases in these categories. If you spend the full $150,000, you’ll take home 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points (which are worth $9,000 based on TPG’s valuations).

Related : Chase Ink Business Preferred Card review.

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Official application link: Ink Business Preferred.

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Citi Premier card: Best rewards rate

Why this is the best rewards rate travel card: The 3 points per dollar earning rate applies to a handful of categories, ranging from everyday to select travel purchases. With the Citi Premier, you’ll quickly rack up ThankYou points toward your future travel redemptions. 

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. TPG values this bonus at $1,020.

Rewards rate: Earns 3 points per dollar on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels; 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Travel benefits: There’s a $100 annual hotel savings benefit on eligible reservations of $500 or more booked through thankyou.com.

Annual fee: $95.

Why it’s worth it: At TPG, we recommend that you diversify your points-earning strategy. Citi ThankYou points are an excellent transferable point currency since you can transfer your Citi ThankYou points to 15-plus airline loyalty programs in every alliance to reach outsized value. Popular options include Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Singapore KrisFlyer

Related: Citi Premier review

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Official application link: Citi Premier card.

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American Express Gold Card: Best for dining at restaurants

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best travel card for dining at restaurants: The Amex Gold earns 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, with no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), meaning you’ll get an 8% return on purchases (based on TPG’s valuations). While a few other cards temporarily offer higher return rates on dining, this is the best option for long-term spending, making it one of the best dining cards and best rewards cards.

Current welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening (valued by TPG at $1,200). However, check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a higher 75,000-point welcome offer (offer subject to change at any time).

Rewards rate: Earn 4 points per dollar for dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year, then 1 point per dollar); 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Benefits: You’ll get up to $120 in dining credits each year when you pay with the Amex Gold card at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. You’ll also enjoy up to $120 in Uber Cash credits each year when you add your Gold card to your Uber account, redeemable for Uber rides in the U.S. or on Uber Eats orders. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it: The Amex Gold is a top performer in two categories — dining and groceries. You’re getting a great return on those purchases, plus additional perks such as the dining credit.

The card doesn’t do too bad in the travel sector, either, with 3 points per dollar on flights booked direct or via amextravel.com. The fact that you’re raking in high-value points across several common spending categories is a major advantage.

The annual fee is $250, but that fee is easily offset if you’re using all the card’s benefits. In fact, the Amex Gold is my most-used card right now, with its 4 points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets on top of the dining credit. While Membership Rewards aren’t a great value for cash back, I’m saving up my points haul for flights later this year.

Related: American Express Gold review

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Official application link: American Express Gold Card.

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The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Best for business travel

Why it’s the best travel card for business travel: You’re earning a solid return (10%) across select business travel spending, plus receiving a stellar lineup of benefits that can help take your business travels to the next level.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first three months of card membership.

Rewards rate: 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel; 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more; on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year; 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.

Travel benefits: The Amex Business Platinum comes with a lot of the same benefits as the personal version, including up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits, up to $100 in statement credits for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years, up to $179 in annual Clear membership statement credit, unparalleled lounge access and automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott. You’ll also get a 35% airline bonus when you use Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline (up to 1 million points per calendar year) when you book on Amex Travel. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it: The Amex Business Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel and business perks. In addition to the long list of travel-specific benefits, cardholders also get up to $400 in statement credits each calendar year for any U.S. Dell technology purchases, up to $360 in Indeed annual statement credits, up to $150 in Adobe annual statement credits and up to $120 in wireless telephone statement credits (enrollment required). If you travel for business frequently, this card could help you upgrade your experience while in the air and on the ground. And the current welcome bonus is just the icing on the cake.

This card is a Membership Rewards card, which means the points you earn can be used with Amex’s many transfer partners to help you get the most out of your hard-earned rewards.

Related: Amex Business Platinum card review

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Official application link: The Business Platinum Card from American Express.

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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best midrange hotel card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best mid-tier hotel travel credit card: There are more than 7,000 Marriott properties around the world — plus, this card offers some substantial perks for casual travelers.

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn up to 17 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores and dining, and 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Travel benefits: You’ll earn 15 elite-night credits every year, good enough for Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status. By spending $35,000 or more on your card each account anniversary year, you’ll qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Plus, you’ll receive a free award night good for stays costing up to 35,000 points, which can soon be topped-off with up to 15,000 additional points for pricier stays, every year after your account anniversary.

Annual fee: $95.

Why it’s worth it: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless offers a free night certificate that can be worth way more than the $95 annual fee, not to mention the elite night credits and large sign-up bonus.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review

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Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.

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Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best credit card for earning miles: The Bank of America Travel Rewards operates similarly to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. You’re earning flat-rate rewards across all spending, and then you can use those rewards as a statement credit to erase eligible travel purchases.

Current bonus: 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening — which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Rewards rate: 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases.

Annual fee: $0.

Why it’s worth it: It’s perfect for low-budget beginner travelers who want a card with no annual fee and a simple way to earn and redeem points.

Related: Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review

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Official application link: Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.

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Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card: Best for airline rewards

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best travel credit card for airline rewards: When it comes to cobranded airline cards, it doesn’t get much better than Delta’s lineup of cards. The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex is a great card for travelers hoping to hit Medallion elite status with the airline while racking up miles across a wide range of purchases.

Current welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first three months.

Rewards rate: Earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and hotel stays; 2 miles per dollar on restaurants and U.S. supermarkets; and 1 mile per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Travel benefits: The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100), an annual companion certificate for a domestic main cabin round-trip ticket each year, elite-like perks such as a free checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights, and a way to hit Medallion status faster: Earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after $25,000 in eligible purchases and another 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in a calendar year. You can also get a Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver — but only if you spend $25,000 in a calendar year.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it: The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex offers enhanced bonus categories (including increased 3 miles per dollar earning on Delta) and a host of travel benefits. The card’s annual fee is $250, so make sure you will get at least that much in value from the card each year. This card is best suited for regular travelers who are loyal to Delta and want a little help earning Medallion status with the airline.

Related: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex Card review

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for travel credits

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best credit card for travel credits: The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual $300 travel credit. But rather than limiting that credit to airline incidental fees as competing cards do, you can use it to offset several travel expenses such as airfare, hotels, rental cars, transit and more. You’re also getting an up-to-$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit once every four years.

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (valued by TPG at $1,000).

Rewards rate: Earn 10 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Travel benefits: When you’re traveling, you’ll get Priority Pass lounge access and some of the most extensive protections available on any credit card (including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary rental car coverage, trip delay insurance, emergency medical and more). The 50% redemption bonus when you use your points to pay for travel through the Chase portal is also a nice perk.

Annual fee: $550.

Why it’s worth it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a stellar selection of perks on top of solid earning rates. And if you have this card, the Ultimate Rewards points you earn on other Chase credit cards can be transferred over and redeemed at the 1.5-cent rate. You could get even more value by transferring your rewards to Chase’s 11 airline and three hotel partners, including Hyatt and United.

You also get an impressive 3 points per dollar on all other travel (after the $300 travel credit is exhausted) and dining purchases, which equates to a 6% return, based on TPG valuations. This credit card is a prime example of benefits more than making up for a steep annual fee.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve review

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Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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Alaska Airlines Visa® Signature credit card: Best for Alaska Airlines miles

Why it’s the best travel credit card for Alaska Airlines miles: Alaska Airlines miles are among the most valuable airline miles you can earn today, in part because of Alaska’s mix of airline partners and distance-based award chart.

Current bonus: Get 40,000 bonus miles, a $100 statement credit, and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) when you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Rewards rate: Earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases; 1 mile per dollar on everything else.

Travel benefits: Get a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six guests on your reservation; receive an annual Companion Fare on your account anniversary; enjoy 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes and 20% back on all inflight purchases.

Annual fee: $75.

Why it’s worth it: Whether you live on the West Coast or not, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature is a good cobranded airline card to consider adding to your wallet. The Seattle-based airline is mostly limited to North American routes (with some international destinations through partners), but that will change now that the airline has joined Oneworld. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are also renewing (and strengthening) their partnership. Both developments will help Alaska Airlines add new ways for customers to use the Mileage Plan program as the airline establishes a global footprint.

Related: Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare

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Official application link: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

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Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card: Best for Delta business flyers

Why it’s the best for Delta business flyers: The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business offers a suite of airline and travel perks that are ideal for Delta loyalists.

Current welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership.

Rewards rate: 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.

Travel benefits: Get your first bag checked free on Delta flights, priority boarding and 20% off inflight purchases.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it: There’s an annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for main-cabin, round-trip travel.

Related: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card review

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card

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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire: Best for premium hotel perks

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best premium hotel travel credit card: Hilton is one of the top hotel brands in the world, and the Hilton Honors Aspire Amex offers a packed lineup of great benefits for hotel customers.

Current welcome offer: Earn 150,000 bonus points after using your new card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 14 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases; 7 points per dollar on U.S. restaurants, eligible airfare and eligible car rentals; and 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Travel benefits: With this card, you get some great perks: complimentary Hilton Diamond status, up to two free weekend reward nights (one each year and one after you spend $60,000 on eligible purchases in the calendar year), up to $250 in Hilton resort statement credits, up to $250 in annual airline fee credits, up to $100 in Hilton on-property credit at certain hotels and a Priority Pass membership. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it: Hilton’s premium card, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire, offers a terrific haul of points and an array of perks. In addition to some stellar benefits, it provides an excellent 14 points per dollar bonus category on spending at eligible Hilton properties — equivalent to an 8.4% return based on TPG’s point valuations — among solid returns in other spending categories.

Related: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card review

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.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Best for American Airlines flyers

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best travel credit card for American Airlines flyers: If you fly American Airlines often, it can be handy to have a cobranded credit card from the airline. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select offers a nice mix of benefits and earning opportunities for a manageable $99 annual fee, making it great for AA flyers who aren’t looking for lounge access or an abundance of luxury perks.

Current bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, restaurants and gas stations.

Travel benefits: You’ll get preferred boarding, a free checked bag on domestic itineraries for you and up to four travel companions, a 25% discount on eligible inflight purchases and a $125 American Airlines flight discount when you spend more than $20,000 in a calendar year and renew your card.

Annual fee: $99 (waived for the first year).

Why it’s worth it: For a low annual fee, American Airlines customers can enjoy elite-like benefits without breaking the bank or needing to hit an elite status tier. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on three different bonus categories and a few nice benefits to help make the flight experience more enjoyable. Plus, the card is currently offering a welcome bonus that TPG values at $885. If you know how to maximize your AAdvantage redemptions, that bonus could potentially be worth even more.

The information for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select 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: What credit score do you need to get the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard?

Research methodology for the best travel credit cards

I reviewed numerous travel credit card offers and spent countless hours studying the pros and cons of each offer. I assigned value to these credit cards based on the following criteria:

  • Sign-up bonus/welcome offer value — The first thing I look at for each card is the value of each sign-up bonus. Although you shouldn’t choose a credit card based solely on that metric, you can use bonus values as a tiebreaker of sorts between similar cards or as a way to prioritize which card to get first.
  • Earning rate — Bonus value is important, but so is the long-term value each card offers. I looked at the rewards rates to see which cards would reward cardholders for the long term.
  • Travel credits — The best travel credit cards often offer an assortment of travel credits for cardholders. Some cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer broadly defined travel credits. Others, such as the Amex Platinum, provide shopping and airline fee credits. Several offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.
  • Travel benefits — In addition to travel credits, top travel credit cards often come with benefits like complimentary elite status or lounge access. I took these into consideration as well.
  • Rewards program — Not all credit card rewards programs are created equal. Each program has its own valuation, which you can study here. The value of each currency is vitally important when rating travel credit cards and their promotional offers.
  • Foreign transaction fees — This is a huge factor when choosing a credit card. If you plan to use your travel credit card abroad or on websites hosted abroad, you want to ensure you don’t have a foreign transaction fee biting into your earnings.
  • Travel insurance coverage — Last, I look at what travel protections each card offers. These benefits are often overlooked but can save travelers hundreds or even thousands of dollars when things go awry during trips.

How do I use a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards offer rewards on different purchases that can help you book flights, hotels and more for little to no out-of-pocket expenses. Some cards also provide valuable perks and benefits that upgrade the overall travel experience — from Global Entry application fee credits to lounge access to complimentary elite status. If you have the right card (or cards) in your wallet, the sky is the limit on where your travels can take you — literally.

Are you new to the travel rewards card game? Check out our beginner’s guide to all things points and miles. You’ll learn about top loyalty programs, how to maximize your credit card strategy to reach your travel goals and so much more.

Related: The complete history of credit cards, from antiquity to today

Different types of travel credit cards

The reason to hold any travel rewards credit card is to earn rewards, but there are different types of travel credits:

Transferable-rewards credit cards

Transfer your American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book a seat in Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 business class. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

These cards earn rewards that can be redeemed through a card’s rewards program directly or by transferring them to a travel partner. Many of our best travel credit cards fall under this category because they are the most valuable type of points you can earn. Transferable rewards give you the flexibility to redeem your rewards in a way that will be most beneficial to you. Examples of top transferable rewards cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum.

Some popular transfer rewards programs

Related: A guide to earning transferable points and why they’re so valuable

Airline credit cards

Airline cobranded cards earn a specific type of airline miles. These cards also generally come with perks specific to that airline. For example, an airline card may offer free checked bags, a certain number of elite-qualifying miles to help you reach status, priority boarding privileges, inflight discounts and more.

Related: Best airline credit cards

Hotel credit cards

Hotel cobranded cards work like airline cards. You’ll earn rewards that are redeemable for a particular hotel program, such as Hilton or Marriott. Hotel cards come with their own benefits, such as complimentary elite status or free award-night stays. One of my favorite things about hotel cards is that you can stack your earnings on hotel stays with the hotel’s program.

(Photo courtesy of the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay)

For example, if you have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott properties on top of the 10 base points you get as a member of the Bonvoy program and up to 1 point from Marriott with guaranteed Silver Elite Status. That means you’re really earning 17 points per dollar spent on Marriott stays when you use your hotel card to pay for your booking.

Related: Best hotel credit cards

Fixed-value credit cards

Fixed-value cards earn points or miles that are always redeemed for the same value. For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card earns points worth 1 cent each. These cards are great for beginners who haven’t quite gotten the hang of maximizing transferable points or casual travelers who don’t want to worry about transfer partners or dynamic pricing.

As more hotels and airlines move to a dynamic pricing model where award pricing shifts dramatically, fixed-value rewards programs are becoming more popular.

Related: Comparing the best fixed-value point credit cards

Pros and cons of travel credit cards

The American Express Centurion Lounge at JFK Airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Travel credit cards are a great way to earn rewards that allow you to travel the world for less money — or practically for free — simply by using a credit card to buy the same items you’d otherwise buy with cash or a debit card. With certain travel credit cards, you can also get perks to use while traveling — everything from airport lounge access and hotel elite status to free airline companion certificates and discounts or credits on your travel purchases. Those who are well-versed in award charts and redemption options for travel rewards cards can often get more value from points than from cash back.

However, there are a few drawbacks to travel rewards cards. Because travel credit cards are focused on earning and redeeming for travel expenses, your redemption options are slightly limited when it comes to maximizing value. For example, you can redeem your Amex Membership Rewards points as a statement credit — through Amazon, for gift cards and more — but you’re generally only getting the best value when you transfer your points to partners.

But when it comes to transfer partners, the value you’re getting can also change drastically depending on the partner and redemption you book. More airlines and hotels are switching to dynamic pricing models, which means the value you get from your points and miles can vary drastically.

Still, the advantages of travel rewards cards almost always outweigh the drawbacks for frequent travelers. You can’t beat the potential redemptions, travel benefits and sign-up bonuses that top travel credit cards offer. Plus, many of these cards provide temporary perks that extend their value beyond just travel, at least in the short-term.

How to compare travel credit cards

With so many travel credit cards on the market, it’s essential to ask yourself which credit card benefits best meet your travel goals. Are you hoping to use your sign-up bonus for a specific redemption? Are you looking for a card that gives you luxury travel perks? Are you hoping to hit elite status with a specific hotel brand or airline? Are you a casual traveler or a frequent flyer? Which spending categories will be most beneficial to you?

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

For example, if you want a card to help you hit elite status with Delta while giving you elite-like perks, you should strongly consider getting a Delta credit card, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Multiple Amex Delta cobranded cards give you perks such as earning Medallion Qualification Miles when you hit certain spending thresholds and offer free checked bags and priority boarding.

Related: Delta now makes it even easier to earn elite status — but is it worth it?

On the other hand, if you only fly occasionally and aren’t exclusively loyal to one airline, you might be better off with a flexible travel credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. While it doesn’t offer perks on any one airline, it earns points that can be transferred to various airlines (and hotels). And if you’re typically a road warrior who flies every week, you’ll want to think about a premium travel card that offers lots of travel perks, such as the Amex Platinum, with airport lounge access and hotel elite status. Other aspects to consider are below.

Rewards rates

You should consider each card’s reward rates — how many points or miles you receive per dollar spent. General travel cards offer flat-rate rewards while cobranded cards will likely offer a base rate then a higher percentage in certain categories like hotels and airline tickets. Remember to look at the categories to which those reward rates apply and find a card that matches your spending patterns.

Annual fee

Most travel credit cards have an annual fee — the higher the fee, the better the perks and some premium cards can charge upward of $695. Consider the value of the rewards and perks you’ll get to make sure they’ll make up for the fee. If you only travel a few times a year, a high-end card like the Amex Platinum probably isn’t worth it.

Elite status

Some travel cards offer automatic elite status with various brands when you sign up and can also accelerate the journey to elite airline status by converting points to air miles. If you are loyal to a particular hotel brand, status with that brand will be valuable. You’ll be entitled to room upgrades, resort credits, early check-in, late checkout and more. If you’re not loyal, it won’t. The same goes for elite status with an airline — you’ll get lounge access, upgrades, increased baggage allowance, etc. When comparing the perks of various cards like elite status, be realistic about which ones you will and won’t use.

Foreign transaction fees

Since one of the points of a travel credit card is that it is advantageous for people who travel a lot, a decent one should not charge a foreign transaction fee. If it does, obviously the lower the better. Certain issuers like Discover and Capital One don’t charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards. Others charge them on some cards but not all.

Things to consider before applying:

As always, head to TPG’s cards hub to see the best credit cards currently available.

Frequently asked questions about travel credit cards

How much is a point or mile worth on a travel credit card?

Every point or mile from an airline, hotel or bank is worth a different amount, so you can’t assume that a 50,000-point bonus on one card is equivalent to a 50,000-point bonus on another. That’s why The Points Guy maintains a guide to point and mile valuations, which explains how much each type of point and mile is worth. You can use those valuations to determine how much a sign-up bonus or bonus category is worth.

For instance, Amex Membership Rewards are worth 2 cents each based on TPG’s valuations, which means the 100,000-point bonus on the Amex Platinum is worth $2,000. That’s because 100,000 x .02 = $2,000. And since that card earns five points per dollar on airfare, you can also determine that each dollar you spend on airfare will get you 10 cents back in points because 5 points x 2 cents = 10 cents.

Is an annual fee worth it?

Many of the top travel rewards credit cards come with hefty annual fees. But cardholders who maximize the perks and rewards structures on these cards will almost always come out net-positive by the end of the year.

For example, although the Amex Platinum comes with a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), you’re getting up to $500 in annual credits, unrivaled lounge access, a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit, elite status with Hilton and Marriott and more in return. If you’re using your credits every year and regularly visiting lounges, that annual fee is already paying for itself even before factoring in any rewards you earn with the card.

Related: Best premium credit cards

Should I get a cash-back or travel credit card?

Ideally, you should have both types of cards in your wallet. Travel credit cards are great when you want to redeem points and miles for travel purchases, but you aren’t getting a great redemption value when you redeem for almost anything else. On the other hand, cash-back cards can be used to offset the cost of expenses your points and miles won’t cover.

Related: The best cash-back credit cards for 2022

Let’s say you are taking a trip to London in the fall. With the points earned through your Amex Platinum, you transfer points to partners for your award flights and hotel stays. However, those aren’t the only expenses that go into a trip. Points and miles won’t cover expenses like ground transportation, eating out or tourist attractions while you’re there. But you can use cash-back rewards to offset those costs.

For example, if you use a card like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card for your dining and entertainment spending, you can use the cash back you’ve saved up previously as a statement credit to cover those purchases even while earning 4% back.

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit 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.

If you wonder which type of card would be best as your first travel credit card, consider what type of rewards you will find more valuable. Cardholders who only plan to travel every once in a while may get more value out of a cash-back card that they can use to offset the cost of other expenses. However, if you hope to use the rewards from your card to book award flights and hotels, a travel credit card is the way to go.

Are there different considerations for choosing a card for international travel?

Not all travel credit cards are best for spending outside of the U.S. Some tack on fees for purchases that are not made within the U.S. or on a U.S. site. Others may not be widely accepted overseas. Plus, some cards offer more benefits that help you on your international adventures.

Here are a few of the things to look out for when choosing a card for international travel:

  • Foreign transaction fees — Some cards charge a fee (typically 3% to 5% of each transaction) when you use your card outside of the U.S. (including sites that are considered international and not U.S.-based). That fee will wipe out any rewards you may earn, so make sure to have a card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry — TSA PreCheck and Global Entry can make security lines go faster and reentry into the U.S. smoother. Luckily, plenty of top travel credit cards come with a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit typically worth $100 every four years.
  • Insurance benefits — Now more than ever, travel insurance is an important consideration when opening a new credit card. No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario happening on vacation, but it’s better to be prepared with a card that offers some form of travel protection.
  • Earning abroad — Some cards limit your bonus categories to U.S. merchants. If you plan to use a credit card abroad, make sure it will earn rewards on purchases no matter where you are.

What credit score is needed for a travel credit card?

The best travel credit cards typically require a good to excellent credit score. If you have no credit history, rather than a negative one, you may have to spend some time building your credit score with “beginner” cards before applying for a travel credit card. If your credit scores are in the 670 to 739 range, your credit is considered good, while scores above that will put you in the very good to excellent range.

Other factors are also considered when card issuers review your application, including income and monthly expenditure. Individual cards may also give a ballpark credit score you will need and you can also use our CardMatch tool which will recommend the best cards for you.

Bottom line

Travel credit cards are great at helping you meet your vacation goals. They can save you thousands of dollars on airfare and hotel costs. Whether you’re a beginner who wants a card to offset the cost of your first big international trip or a road warrior looking to upgrade your travel experiences, there is a travel credit card out there for you.

It all comes down to choosing a card that will help you maximize your spending. Adding one of these cards to your wallet now could help you save up rewards for a fantastic redemption in the future.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Hayley Coyle.

Featured photo by AnnaTamila/Shutterstock.

Updated on 5/4/22.

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