How to use these 7 credit cards to maximize your domestic U.S. getaway

Jul 23, 2020

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As the months wear on, travel continues to look very different — with no end in sight.

Many borders are closed to U.S. residents, and international trips are limited. However, if you’re comfortable with the idea of going someplace that’s not the grocery store, you’re likely doing it a bit closer to home. Domestic travel is the new normal for the foreseeable future — and you want to be using the right credit card to do it.

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Pro tip: Many card benefits are the same whether you’re traveling abroad or within the U.S. Of course, you never have to worry about those pesky foreign transaction fees if you’re keeping it (relatively) local. These are our top picks for the best cards for domestic travel.

Be sure to also check out our list of the best travel credit cards and best credit cards overall for all of your travel and spending needs.

Best cards for domestic travel

In This Post

Comparing the best domestic travel cards

Card Best for Travel-related earnings Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred Starter travel card 2x on travel, 2x on dining $95
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Flexible earning and redemption 2x on all purchases $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve Premium domestic travel 3x on travel, 3x on dining $550
Citi Double Cash Card Easy cash back 2% cash back, 1% cash back when you buy and 1% as you pay None
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Small business travel 3x on travel (on up to $150,000 in combined bonus categories) $95
The Platinum Card from American Express Domestic lounge access and premium perks 5x on airfare booked directly (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, starting Jan. 1, 2021), 5x on airfare and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply $550 (see rates and fees)
American Express Green Card Broad category of travel 3x on broad categories of dining, travel and transit. Terms apply $150 (see rates and fees)

 

A closer look at each card

Chase Sapphire Preferred

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great option for those who are new to earning travel rewards, because it lets you earn valuable, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s great for domestic and international trips alike. You’ll get 2x points on dining and travel including things such as rental cars, Airbnb, hotels and local transit.

To redeem, you can transfer to an array of hotel and airline partners — or redeem points for travel directly at a 1.25 cents per point rate.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.(valued by TPG at $1,650).

Annual fee: $95

Read the full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Related reading: Earn up to 5x points on limited-time categories for the Sapphire Preferred 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)

Why we like it: With the Capital One Venture, you’ll be earning 2x miles on every purchase. That makes it easy to rack up rewards without having to juggle different bonus categories or spending caps. You can also redeem miles directly through Capital One or transfer to travel partners for that domestic getaway. Flexibility is key, and this card is one of the best rewards credit cards because it has it.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 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.

Annual fee: $95

Read the full review of the Capital One Venture.

Related reading: Benefit extended: You can now redeem Capital One miles for food delivery and streaming services through Sept. 2020

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a 3x bonus points for a broad array of dining and travel purchases including rental cards and home shares — not just flights. You’ll also get an annual $300 travel credit that can also be used towards grocery stores and gas stations in 2020. You’ll get extensive travel and trip delay protection, as well as a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit once every four years.

You’re able to redeem for travel at an increased rate of 1.5 cents per point directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or transfer to a variety of travel partners. Even better, you can use Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back feature to redeem for everyday purchases at groceries, dining and more.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (valued by TPG at $1,200).

Annual fee: $550

Read the full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Related reading: Credit card showdown: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold

Citi Double Cash Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)

Why we like it: If you want to keep things easy and maximize cash back on domestic trips, you can’t go wrong with the Citi Double Cash. You’ll get 2% cash-back earnings on all purchases — 1% when you buy and another 1% as you pay.

Plus, you now have the option to convert your cash-back rewards to ThankYou points if you have a Thank You-point earning card.

Sign-up bonus: None

Annual fee: None

Read the full review of the Citi Double Cash.

Related reading: What credit score do you need to get the Citi Double Cash Card?

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Why we like it: With solid bonus categories including travel, the Ink Business Preferred is a fantastic option for small business owners. Plus, it gives you access to the Ultimate Rewards program and Chase’s valuable airline and hotel transfer partners.

Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent each cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

If you’re looking to rack up travel rewards on business expenses, you can’t go wrong with this card or any of our best business credit cards.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Read the full review of the Ink Business Preferred.

Related reading: 5 reasons to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card

The Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Why we like it: If premium perks like hotel and car rental elite status interest you, take a closer look at the Amex Platinum.

You’ll also have access to things such as the American Express Global Lounge Collection (which includes Centurion Lounges), Priority Pass, Airspace and Escape lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta). However, note that most lounges are currently closed — and ones that are open have limited service. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

The Platinum is the king of luxury travel benefits. You’ll get up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 in Uber credits, and up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue — just to name a few perks. Additionally, due to the ongoing pandemic, you’ll also receive up to $40 in combined credit per month through December 2020 for select streaming and wireless services. Enrollment required.

Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel, and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening (valued by TPG at $1,500). The CardMatch Tool could find an offer go up to 100,000 bonus points after meeting minimum spend requirements.

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Read the full review of the Amex Platinum.

Related reading: 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum

American Express Green Card

(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)

Why we like it: The Amex Green earns 3x Membership Rewards points on travelrestaurants and transit, so that is a broad swath of spending that earns bonus points. From car rentals to hotels (and even flights), this card will have you covered with 3x points.

The Amex Green also offers annual up to $100 Clear and up to $100 LoungeBuddy statement credits, for when you’re comfortable once again taking to the skies.

Welcome offer: The current welcome bonus is 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months (although you can sometimes do better with targeted offers or referrals). Based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, the welcome offer points are worth about $600.

Annual fee: $150

Read the full review of the Amex Green.

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

Related reading: Credit card showdown: Amex Gold vs. Amex Green

Honorable mentions

While no airline cards are mentioned here, that is certainly another option if you have an affinity to a specific airline. The best perk of a cobranded airline card in the U.S. is the free checked bag privilege. If that’s something you can take advantage of, it’s well worth a card’s annual fee. For instance, a checked bag with American Airlines when flying domestically costs $30. By flying just twice, round-trip with one checked bag, you can more than make up for the $99 annual fee (waived for the first year) on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

If a domestic trip is on your radar, it makes sense to use the right card to maximize your travel. These cards are a great start and will help you get you on your way to earning a whole lot of points, miles or cash back.

Featured photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash.

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

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CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.