The best travel credit cards of June 2021

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.

As travel starts to rebound, now is the ideal 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.

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 2X points
more info

Intro Bonus

100,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Sporting an all-time-high sign-up bonus and offering an excellent 2x points on all 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 13 valuable airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining including eligible delivery services and takeout.
  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • 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.
  • Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 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.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Best for Total Value

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5
  • 2X 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
  • 1X 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

100,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Sporting an all-time-high sign-up bonus and offering an excellent 2x points on all 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 13 valuable airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining including eligible delivery services and takeout.
  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • 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.
  • Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 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.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
at Capital One's secure site

Rewards

2X points
more info

Intro Bonus

100,000 miles
details

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
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 2x miles on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives.

Pros

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 100,000 miles, worth $1,700 based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.
  • You'll earn 2x 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

  • Transfer ratios to most partners are mediocre at less than 1:1 ratio.
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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 $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Best for earning miles

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

100,000 miles

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
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 2x miles on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives.

Pros

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 100,000 miles, worth $1,700 based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.
  • You'll earn 2x 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

  • Transfer ratios to most partners are mediocre at less than 1:1 ratio.
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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 $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

5 - 10X points
more info

Intro Bonus

75,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
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.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 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 $550 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 can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 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 and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best welcome offer

The Platinum Card® from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

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4.5/5
  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

75,000 points

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 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 $550 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 can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 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 and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

1.5 - 5X points
more info

Intro Bonus

125,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$595

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
more info
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.

Pros

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years.
  • Up to $200 annual credit for Dell U.S. purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • International Airline Program; and Cruise Privileges Program.

Cons

  • Steep $595 annual fee.
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses.
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel.
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 125,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for business travel

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5
  • 5X Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • 1.5X Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

125,000 points

Annual Fee

$595

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Good, Excellent
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.

Pros

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years.
  • Up to $200 annual credit for Dell U.S. purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • International Airline Program; and Cruise Privileges Program.

Cons

  • Steep $595 annual fee.
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses.
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel.
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 125,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for dining at restaurants

American Express® Gold Card

Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
Apply now for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

3 - 4X points
more info

Intro Bonus

60,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

This isn’t just a card that’s nice to look at. It packs a real punch, offering 4x points on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x). 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 required for select benefits.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x points 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 back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • 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, including takeout and delivery, 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.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for dining at restaurants

American Express® Gold Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • 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.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

60,000 points

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

This isn’t just a card that’s nice to look at. It packs a real punch, offering 4x points on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x). 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 required for select benefits.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x points 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 back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • 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, including takeout and delivery, 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.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for travel credits

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 3X points
more info

Intro Bonus

60,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, generous 3x points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the 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.
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining.
  • 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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 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. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 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, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, 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 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best for travel credits

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5
  • 3X 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit.
  • 3X 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 1X 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

60,000 points

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit
tooltip

740-850
Excellent
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, generous 3x points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the 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.
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining.
  • 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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 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. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 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, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, 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 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
at American Express's secure site Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

Rewards

1 - 3X points
more info

Intro Bonus

50,000 miles
details

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
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.

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.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery 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 Pre✓®.
  • 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
Best for airline rewards

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3.5/5
  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

50,000 miles

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

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.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery 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 Pre✓®.
  • 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

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

2 - 17X points
more info

Intro Bonus

100,000 Points
details

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
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

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.
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 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™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
Best midrange hotel card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5
  • 17X Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™
  • 2X 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

100,000 Points

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
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

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.
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 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™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
Best for Alaska Airlines miles

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
at Bank of America's secure site

Rewards

1 - 3X points
more info

Intro Bonus

40,000 miles
details

Annual Fee

$75

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
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.

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.
  • 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Online Offer
  • Get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this online offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation – that's a savings of $60 per person roundtrip!
  • 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 just $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • 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.
  • With oneworld® Alliance we’ve expanded our global reach to over 1,000 destinations worldwide, bringing you more airline partners and more ways to earn and redeem miles.
  • Flexibility when booking with no blackout dates on Alaska Airlines flights and miles don’t expire on active accounts.
  • 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.
Best for Alaska Airlines miles

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5
  • 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.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

40,000 miles

Annual Fee

$75

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

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.
  • 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Online Offer
  • Get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this online offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation – that's a savings of $60 per person roundtrip!
  • 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 just $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • 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.
  • With oneworld® Alliance we’ve expanded our global reach to over 1,000 destinations worldwide, bringing you more airline partners and more ways to earn and redeem miles.
  • Flexibility when booking with no blackout dates on Alaska Airlines flights and miles don’t expire on active accounts.
  • 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

3/5
at Capital One's secure site

Rewards

1.25X points
more info

Intro Bonus

20,000 miles
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
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 1.25x miles 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.

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 1.25x miles 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
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
Best for no annual fee

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3/5
  • 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

20,000 miles

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
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 1.25x miles 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.

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 1.25x miles 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
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that

The best travel credit cards

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Best for earning miles 100,000 miles
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
$95
The Platinum Card® from American Express Best for welcome offer 75,000 points
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$550
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Best for business travel 125,000 points
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
$595
American Express® Gold Card Best for dining at restaurants 60,000 points
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • 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
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Best for travel credits 60,000 points
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit.
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$550
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 and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
$250
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card Best midrange hotel card 100,000 Points
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$95
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card Best for Alaska Airlines miles 40,000 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
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Best for no annual fee 20,000 miles
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
$0

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best total value

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

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 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. TPG values this bonus at $2,000.

Rewards rate: Earn 2x on a generous definition of dining and travel purchases. Earn 5x on Lyft through March 2022. Earn 1x on everything else.

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 insurancetrip cancellation coveragebaggage delay and primary rental car insurance.

Annual fee: $95

Why it’s worth it: You’ll earn a solid return (4% back 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.

If you are a frequent Lyft customer, you’ll also enjoy the 5x on Lyft rides. Fans of DoorDash food delivery service can take advantage of at least a 12-month DashPass membership, offering free delivery on $12 or more orders. 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.

Further readingChase Sapphire Preferred review

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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 2x 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 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on the card within the first 12 months of account opening. Or, still earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Since we value Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, this offer is worth potentially $1,700.

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 16 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.

And for those who know they don’t want to redeem for travel at this time, Capital One recently added fixed-value redemption options for this card that can be utilized through June 30, 2021 — takeout, restaurant delivery and select streaming services. Finally, it’s the one card The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, can’t live without.

Further readingCapital One Venture Card review

Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for welcome offer

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best travel card for welcome offer: The Amex Platinum’s welcome offer is currently worth $1,500 according to TPG valuations, but that’s only the beginning. Right now, new cardholders also get 10x at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases) for the first six months of account opening.

Current welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership (valued by TPG at $1,500). However, be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a higher 100,000-point welcome offer (offer subject to change at any time).

Rewards rate: Earn 5x on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 each calendar year) and 5x on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel; 10x on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership; 1x on everything else.

Travel benefits: The Amex Platinum is the king of luxury travel benefits. You’ll get up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits, up to $200 in Uber credits for U.S. services, 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. 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 required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: It’s not just the 75,000-point welcome offer that lands this card on our list of the most valuable travel cards. Besides the up to $500 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). Amex has also added several perks to the card in light of the coronavirus pandemic. This helps make the card’s benefits easier to use if your spending habits and redemption choices have changed in recent months.

Further readingAmerican Express Platinum review

Apply here: Platinum Card from American Express

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

(Photo by The Points Guy)

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 125,000 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 spent on purchases over $5,000; 1x 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, 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 500,000 bonus points per calendar year) when you book on Amex Travel. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $595 (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 $200 in statement credits each calendar year for any U.S. Dell technology purchases (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.

Further readingAmex Business Platinum card review

Apply here: The Business Platinum Card from American Express

American Express Gold Card: Best for dining at restaurants

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best travel card for dining at restaurants: The Amex Gold earns 4x 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 ccards 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 4x for dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x); 3x on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; 1x 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 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 3x 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 (see rates and fees), 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 4x 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.

Further readingAmerican Express Gold review

Apply here: American Express Gold Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for travel credits

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(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. Plus, that $300 annual credit has been expanded through Dec. 31, 2021, with any balances being automatically applied to purchases at grocery stores and gas stations. 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 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (valued by TPG at $1,200).

Rewards rate: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining at restaurants and 10x on Lyft through March 2022. Earn 1x on everything else.

Travel benefits: In addition to the aforementioned travel benefits, cardholders get a combined up to $120 in food delivery credits with DoorDash through Dec. 31, 2021. 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 10 airline and three hotel partners, including Hyatt and United.

You also get an impressive 3x on travel (after the $300 travel credit is exhausted) and dining purchases, which equates to a 6% return, based on TPG valuations. Plus, for cardholders who can use the new benefits, Lyft Pink, DashPass and the DoorDash credits are all great additions. This credit card is a prime example of benefits more than making up for a steep annual fee.

Further readingChase Sapphire Reserve review

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire: Best for premium hotel perks

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(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.

Related: How ExpertFlyer helped me score a first-class experience of a lifetime

Rewards rate: Earn 14x on eligible Hilton purchases; 7x on U.S. restaurants, eligible airfare and eligible car rentals; and 3x 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 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 14x 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.

Further readingHilton 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.

Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card: Best for airline rewards

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(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, plus 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases and up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 3x on eligible Delta purchases and hotel stays; 2x on restaurants and U.S. supermarkets; and 1x 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 3x earning on Delta) and a host of travel benefits. The card’s annual fee is $250 (see rates and fees), 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.

Further readingDelta SkyMiles Platinum Amex Card review

Apply here: Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best midrange hotel card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(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 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn up to 17 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2x 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 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.

Further readingMarriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review

Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

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 plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this online offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Rewards rate: Earn 3x on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases; 1x 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.

Further readingMaximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare

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

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(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 2x 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 2x (a 2.8% return) 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 $700. 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.          

RelatedWhat credit score do you need to get the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard?

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 $340 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 1.75% 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

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 cards is to earn rewards, but there are different types of travel credits:

Transferable-rewards credit cards

Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy
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 reading: 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)
(Photo courtesy of the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay)

For example, if you have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card, you’ll earn 6x at participating Marriott properties on top of the 10x base points you get as a member of the Bonvoy program and up to 1x from Marriott with guaranteed Silver Elite Status. That means you’re really earning 17x 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 reading: 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)
(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 credit 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 $550. 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 75,000-point bonus on the Amex Platinum is worth $1,500. That’s because 75,000 x .02 = $1,500. 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 $550 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

Even cards that don’t offer a lot in travel credits are often worth the annual fee for cardholders. Take the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example. There are no travel credits to offset the cost of the annual fee, but you only have to spend $2,375 on dining and travel each year to make the annual fee worth it ($2,375 x 2 points per dollar = 4,750 points; 4,750 points x 2 cents per point = $95). If you know you’ll use the benefits and perks offered by a card while also earning rewards through bonus spending, annual fees are easily worth it.

Related: 5 reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred should be your first card

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 2021

Let’s say you are taking a trip to London in the spring. 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 and Stella Shon.

Featured photo by AnnaTamila/Shutterstock.

Updated on 6/8/2021

Madison covers all things credit cards for TPG. A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, her travel bucket list includes swimming with sharks off the coast of South Africa, skydiving in Thailand and cliff jumping in Greece.
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