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

Feb 11, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information. It was originally published on July 31, 2018.

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

My husband JT and I have been living on the road as digital nomads for more than two and a half years. As digital nomads, we work remotely online while traveling, with no permanent home base. So, I’m writing this piece from 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

The information for the Citi Prestige and 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 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022 (20%)

3x points on travel and dining (6%)

1x points on all other purchases (2%)

$550
Citi Prestige Card 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening 5x points on air travel and restaurants (8.5%)

3x points on hotels and cruise lines (5.1%)

1x points on all other purchases (1.7%)

$495
The Platinum Card from American Express 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership.  Terms apply. 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com (10%)

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. (20%)

1x points on everything else (2%)

Terms apply.

$550 (see rates & fees)
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Earn up to 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 of account opening. 2x miles on everything (2.8%) $95
Citi Premier® Card 60,000 points after making $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first three months of account opening 3x points on airfare, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets (5.1%)

1x points on everything else (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 points on restaurants and travel including transit (6%)

1x points on everything else (2%)

$150 (see rates & fees)

Chase Sapphire Reserve

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

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, this bonus is worth $1,000.

Rewards: 10x Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides through March 2022; 3x points on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Standout benefits:

Annual fee: $550 ($75 for each authorized user)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my go-to card on the road because of its 3x earning on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining, 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, as a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, I can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned on all my Chase cards to hotel and airline partners or redeem them for 1.5 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal — which boosts the value of my Chase Freedom (5x on rotating categories up to $1,500 each quarter; No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% back on purchases).

Related reading:

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Citi Prestige Card

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

Sign up bonus: Earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, this bonus is worth $850.

Rewards: 5x Citi ThankYou points on airlines, travel agencies and restaurants; 3x points on hotels and cruise lines, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Standout benefits:

Annual fee: $495 ($75 for each authorized user)

Although the Citi Prestige Card has undergone some significant changes — including the removal or devaluation of some useful benefits — it still earns a place in my wallet. The $495 annual fee is justified for me because of the 5x earning on dining, $250 travel credit and 4th-Night-Free benefit (even with the booking limitations). Plus, the 24-month extended warranty benefit comes in handy, as life on the road tends to be hard on electronics and other gear.

Related reading:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership (worth $1,500 based on TPG’s most recent valuations), though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 100,000-point offer.

Rewards: 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on prepaid hotels booked directly through Amex. 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. 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Standout benefits:

Annual fee: $550 ($175 for up to three authorized users) (see rates and fees)

The up to $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $200 annual Uber credit and up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits effectively decrease the annual fee (see rates and fees) of the Amex Platinum to $50. However, those of us who spend a lot of time outside the U.S. may have trouble using the Uber credit, since it’s a monthly credit that’s only good in the United States. Lounge access — especially to the 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.

Related reading:

Apply here: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 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 of account opening. If you redeem at a fixed rate, the bonus is worth up to $1,000 in travel. But, if you transfer your miles to airline or hotel partners, TPG’s valuations estimate the bonus is worth up to $1,400.

Rewards: 2x Capital One miles on all purchases

Standout benefits:

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

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 miles on all purchases makes this card a good choice if you don’t want to worry about which card to use for every purchase.

Related reading:

Citi Premier® Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Based on TPG’s valuations, that bonus is worth $1,020.

Rewards: 3x points on airfare, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, and 1x point on all other purchases

Standout benefits:

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

Like the Citi Prestige, this card 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.

Related reading:

Apply here: Citi Premier® Card

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: 3x American Express Membership Rewards points on restaurants worldwide and travel including transit, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else

Standout benefits:

Annual fee: $150 (no fee for additional cards) (see rates and fees)

The American Express® Green Card provides 3x points 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 (see rates and fees) if you’re able to get significant value from Clear membership and LoungeBuddy credits.

Related reading:

Apply here: 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.   

And, 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 the first year. Notable benefits include earning up to 25x earning at IHG properties, an anniversary night at an eligible IHG property after each account anniversary, automatic Platinum Elite status and a fourth reward night free on award stays of four nights or longer.

I also love the benefits that come with Hilton Diamond Elite status from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, but the card’s $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) may be difficult to justify if you don’t stay at Hilton properties frequently.

Related reading: Are cobranded cards worth it anymore?

Business credit cards

Multi-ethnic male and female business professionals discussing over computer in creative office (Photo by Luis Alvarez/GettyImages)
A business card may make sense if you have a small business. (Photo by Luis Alvarez/GettyImages)

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 3x points 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 cellphone insurance, primary rental car insurance on business-related rentals and no foreign transaction fees.

Read the full Ink Business Preferred card review here.

Related reading: Best business credit cards

Cash-back, no-annual-fee trifecta

Although most of us at The Points Guy enjoy maximizing redemptions and can accept paying annual fees when the benefits outweigh the fees, some travelers prefer cash-back rewards and simply refuse to pay any annual fees. If you’re in this camp, and can’t be convinced that even one annual-fee card is worthwhile, then the following cash-back, no-annual-fee trifecta may be right for you:

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

This trifecta works best for those who also have independent travel insurance and medical insurance that works abroad, as none of these cards offer adequate travel, medical or evacuation protections for long-term travelers.

Further reading: Best no-annual-fee cash-back credit cards for at home and abroad

Related guides

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 dimarik/Getty Images.

2019 TPG Award Winner: Premium Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on all travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

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

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 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, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Regular APR
16.99%-23.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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.