The best credit cards for digital nomads and long-term travelers

Sep 7, 2021

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The right travel credit card is important for any trip as it can earn points or miles and provide valuable travel protections. But what if you travel for months at a time as a digital nomad?

My husband and I have been living on the road as digital nomads for more than four years. We work remotely online while traveling with no permanent home base. So, I’m writing this piece from prolonged, personal experience. Although every traveler values credit card benefits differently, this guide considers some of the credit cards that I think are the best fit for long-term travelers and digital nomads.

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The best credit cards for digital nomads and long-term travelers

First, the quick hit list of the best cards for digital nomads and long-term travelers. I’ll get into the details below.

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.

Comparison of the best credit cards for digital nomads and long-term travel

Card Welcome bonus Earning rates (return based on TPG’s valuations) Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. 10x on Lyft rides (until March 2022), 10x on Chase Dining purchases booked through Ultimate Rewards, 10x on hotels and car rentals* booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (20%)
5x on flights booked through Chase Travel* (10%)
3x on all other dining and travel purchases (6%)
1x on all other eligible purchases (2%)
$550
The Platinum Card from American Express Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. 5x for flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel (on the first $500,000 spent per calendar year), and on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel (10%)

Plus, earn 10x on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases, during the first six months of card membership. (20%)

1x on other purchases (2%)

Terms apply

$695 (see rates & fees)
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. 2x on every purchase (2.8%) $95
Citi Premier® Card 80,000 ThankYou bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. 3x on air travel, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets (5.1%)

1x on all other eligible purchases (1.7%)

$95
American Express Green Card 30,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. 3x on restaurants and travel including transit (6%)

1x on all other eligible purchases (2%)

$150 (see rates & fees)

*after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, this bonus is worth $1,200.

Rewards:

  • 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Travel
  • 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards on prepaid restaurant reservations
  • 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 5 points per dollar on flights booked through Chase Travel
  • 3 points per dollar on all other dining and travel purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Standout benefits:

Annual fee: $550

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an excellent card for long-term travelers because of its 3x earning on all other travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining purchases, as well as its travel protections. These travel protections include everything from reimbursements for expenses related to travel delays and delayed baggage to emergency medical and dental benefits.

Although the annual fee is $550, the up-to-$300 annual travel credit, strong earning on travel and dining purchases and travel protections can provide significant value when you’re on the road all the time. Plus, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to hotel and airline partners or redeem them for 1.5 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal.

However, for full disclosure, I should note that my husband recently downgraded his Chase Sapphire Reserve and we both signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It was a difficult move since I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a better overall card. But, the 100,000-point Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus (after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening) and recent improvements to the Chase Sapphire Preferred were too compelling.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership (worth $2,000 based on TPG’s most recent valuations). However, be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000-point offer — although this offer is subject to change at any time.

Rewards: 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, then 1 per dollar) and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Plus, earn 10 points per dollar on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first six months of card membership.

Standout benefits:

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $695

The Amex Platinum comes with more than $1,400 in annual statement credits and the most comprehensive lounge benefits of any credit card on the market.

It’s worth noting that you likely won’t be able to maximize every credit. And admittedly, those of us who spend a lot of time outside the U.S. may have trouble using the Uber perk, since it’s a monthly credit that’s only good in the United States.

However, lounge access — especially to Centurion Lounges — and hotel elite status at Marriott and Hilton can be especially valuable to those living on the road. The primary reason I believe the Platinum Card from American Express is worth it for long-term travelers and digital nomads: the emergency medical evacuation benefit that’s provided just by being a Platinum Card cardmember as long as you return (even briefly) to your official residence every 90 days. However, note that enrollment is required for select benefits.

Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. If you redeem miles at a fixed rate for travel, the bonus is worth $600. But, if you transfer your miles to airline or hotel partners, TPG’s valuations estimate the bonus is worth $1,020 (valuation not provided by the issuer).

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on all purchases.

Standout benefits:

*Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.

Annual fee: $95

The Capital One Venture Card is great for flat-rate, hassle-free rewards, while also offering the ability to transfer your miles to airline and hotel partners. And the 2x earning on all purchases makes this card a good choice if you don’t want to worry about which card to use for every purchase.

Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards credit card

Citi Premier® Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Based on TPG’s valuations, that bonus is worth $1,360.

Rewards: 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Standout benefits:

Annual fee: $95 (no fee to add authorized users)

The Citi Premier features a 24-month extended warranty benefit that can be especially useful when living on the road, as nomadic life can take a toll on electronics and other gear. Plus, it carries a fantastic earning rate for a nice blend of everyday and travel-related purchases. Until Nov. 13, 2021, you can even transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to American Airlines AAdvantage, unlocking a plethora of sweet spots for award travel possibilities. 

Official application link: Citi Premier

American Express® Green Card

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

Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months (worth $600 based on TPG’s most recent valuations), though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 45,000-point offer.

Rewards: 3 points per dollar on restaurants worldwide and travel including transit, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

Standout benefits:

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees)

The American Express Green Card earns 3 points per dollar on travel including transit, which can provide great value to frequent travelers. The Amex Green’s annual fee is slightly higher than the Citi Premier® Card or Capital One Venture Card, but the Amex Green has annual statement credits that can more than offset the $150 annual fee if you’re able to get significant value from Clear membership and LoungeBuddy credits.

Official application link: American Express Green Card

Airline and hotel credit cards

If you frequently fly a particular airline or stay at a particular hotel brand, it may make sense to carry a cobranded credit card from the airline or hotel. These cards provide many benefits, which can range from free checked bags to extra award availability to bonus earning to elite status.

Take a look at TPG’s guide to airline credit cards to see if the benefits provided by any of the cobranded credit cards make sense for your travel. Many of the cards provide a free checked bag, which can save you big time when you fly frequently — especially if you tend to purchase basic economy fares. Even if you only check a bag a few times each year, cards such as the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express CardCiti® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and United Explorer Card can pay off. The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum 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.   

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Check out TPG’s guide to hotel credit cards to see if signing up for a hotel co-branded credit card makes sense for your travel style. For example, I’ve gotten excellent value from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Since I often stay at IHG hotels, the benefits that come with this card easily make up for the $89 annual fee (waived for the first year). Notable benefits include up to 25x earning at IHG properties, an anniversary night at an eligible IHG property worth up to 40,000 points after each account anniversary, automatic Platinum Elite status and a fourth night reward when redeeming IHG points for stays of four nights or longer.

The IHG Premier Rewards Card.

I also love the benefits that come with Hilton Diamond Elite status from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, but the card’s $450 annual fee may be difficult to justify if you don’t stay at Hilton properties frequently. The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Are cobranded cards worth it anymore?

Business credit cards

(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Many long-term travelers and digital nomads have businesses that they’re running from the road. These travelers may find it useful to have one or more business cards as well.

One business card that’s particularly well-suited to long-term travelers and digital nomads: the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. This $95 annual fee card currently has a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening; TPG’s most recent valuations value this bonus at $2,000. Earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, social media and search engine advertising and internet/cable/phone services each account anniversary year, plus 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. The card offers cell phone insurance, primary rental car insurance on business-related rentals and no foreign transaction fees.

Bottom line

If your company is still working remotely, you may be able to give the digital nomad life a try. If you decide to hit the road, having any of the cards on this list that can make your work and travel experience a lot more secure.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Apply here: Amex Platinum Card
Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards
Apply here: Citi Premier
Apply here: Amex Green Card

Additional reporting by Stella Shon. 

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Aspire Card, please click here.

Featured photo by kiszon pascal/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery 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
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.