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Rewards-earning credit cards can do so much more for a family than simply present an opportunity to charge expenses you may not have the cash on hand for at the moment. In fact, if you primarily use credit cards for purchases that you couldn’t afford to pay for with cash, then this is probably not the right article for you. You will likely be served best by checking out credit cards with the lowest interest rates. This article is for families who want to charge their everyday purchases on travel related credit cards in order to rack up as many miles and points as possible.
While many of the popular travel credit cards that are generally considered to be best in class for all travelers will also be the same top cards for family travelers to consider, family travelers have needs that differ a bit from travelers without children. For example, families need more award seats than just a single traveler or a couple, are often tied to a set school calendar and are frequently after hotel rooms at family-friendly resorts or that are large enough to comfortably house at least four people.
The best travel cards for families are made up of the cards that: allow for flexible redemptions, are connected with the loyalty programs that are generally the most family-friendly and that make the family travel experience cheaper, easier, and a little more fun.
In no particular order, here are the best travel credit cards for families.
Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.
Current Bonus Value: $700
Standout Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and 10 miles per dollar on hotel rooms when booked at Hotels.com through the dedicated link and paid for with the card. Get a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years. The card has no foreign transaction fees. Read the full card review here.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Why it’s worth it: The Capital One Venture Rewards card has always been a popular choice for family travelers who need to keep things simple and don’t want to worry whether awards will be available during peak family travel seasons. The card’s “Purchase Eraser” feature allows customers to use their Venture Rewards miles to offset the cost of any travel purchases made on their card in the previous 90 days at a rate of 1 cent per mile. The addition of Capital One’s partnership with Hotels.com has made this card a huge winner when it comes to hotel bookings, since you can effectively earn 20% back on all your hotel stays by stacking the Hotels.com Rewards program with the 10x miles earned on those stays with the Venture Rewards when booked and paid through Hotels.com/venture. This is effectively 20% back in value on hotel stays, which is better for the occasional family traveler than racking up a handful of points in various hotel loyalty programs.
Venture miles are now worth more than ever since they are now transferrable to 14 airline programs, including some family-favorites such as Air Canada’s Aeroplan (great lap infant award prices) and Avianca LifeMiles which can save you a ton of miles when flying partner carriers, such as United.
Current Bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Current Bonus Value: $1,200
Standout Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on all travel purchases and on dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to 13 different travel partners including popular programs such as United MileagePlus, World of Hyatt, Southwest Rapid Rewards, British Airways Avios, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Marriott and more. The card also includes primary auto rental insurance, trip cancellation coverage and no foreign transaction fees. Read the full card review here.
Annual Fee: $95
Why it’s worth it: It doesn’t offer the bells and the whistles of the similar but more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a great pick for earning bonus points on travel and dining, and for enjoying some solid travel protections in the process. My family frequently utilizes Ultimate Rewards points with partners United and Hyatt, as they generally have good award availability and a product that works for us. Some families also enjoy the ability to earn points and transfer them to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program.
You can also redeem the points directly through the Chase travel portal for 1.25 cents apiece. Whether you simply don’t want to spend $450 a year to get the Sapphire Reserve or if your credit score currently isn’t high enough to qualify for that premium card, the Sapphire Preferred remains a very solid option. If your family does travel a good amount, wants lounge access, wants to earn points even faster and wants to redeem them at a higher value via the Chase travel portal, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be a fantastic option. Read the full card review here.
Current Bonus: 125,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $750
Standout Benefits: Earn 12 points per dollar on Hilton purchases; 6 points per dollar at US restaurants, US supermarkets and at US gas stations; and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases. Get complimentary Hilton Gold status with top-tier Hilton Diamond status available with $40,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year. Enjoy one weekend award night each year after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95
Why it’s worth it: As far as hotel co-branded cards go, this one’s a good match for families for a number of reasons. Hilton has a massive global footprint with 5,000 properties located all around the world. There are family-friendly Hilton Resorts, including all-inclusive properties, available for award stays. The all-suites Embassy Suites chain is within the Hilton Honors family, meaning that families can use the Hilton points earned by this card to book a suite with free hot breakfast and included evening appetizers and drinks all at the standard award rate. With the Hilton Honors Ascend Card, you also are entitled to 10 free Priority Pass Select visits each year.
Families who are more frequent Hilton guests may be better served by the pricier Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card with its Hilton Diamond status, increased earnings at Hilton properties, $250 annual Hilton Resort statement credit, $250 annual airline fee credit, ability to earn two weekend award nights per year and more. Read full card review here.
Current Bonus: Up to 50,000 bonus points — 25,000 bonus Hyatt points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening and an additional 25,000 after you spend a total of $6,000 in the first six months.
Current Bonus Value: $900
Standout Benefits: Earn 4 points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt properties; 2 points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased direction from airlines, on local transit and community, and on fitness clubs and gyms; 1 point per dollar on other purchases. The card includes Hyatt Discoverist status, but for those chasing a higher Hyatt elite status tier, the card also includes 5 elite nights and the ability to earn an additional 2 elite nights with every $5,000 spent on the card with no cap. The World of Hyatt Credit Card provides all cardholders an annual Category 1-4 free night at each account anniversary as well as the ability to earn a second Category 1-4 free night by spending $15,000 on the card in a cardmember year.
Annual Fee: $95
Why it’s worth it: What makes this card a particularly great fit for families is that Hyatt offers some of the best resorts in the world for those after high-quality family vacations at reasonable award rates. The Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hyatt Regency Maui, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point and the Andaz Costa Rica are all popular family favorites that can be booked for 15,000 – 25,000 Hyatt points per night. With Hyatt, resort fees are waived for everyone staying on award nights booked purely with World of Hyatt points, so those award prices are all-in rates. Hyatt has also been known to launch special promotions just for their cardholders that can save you points or money.
You can supplement your World of Hyatt account balance with 1:1 transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards, but earning up to 50,000 bonus Hyatt points from the card’s welcome bonus, receiving up to two Hyatt Category 1-4 awards per year and getting a jump start toward earning Hyatt elite status all make this card a winner for both Hyatt loyalists and those families who only need the occasional Hyatt award stay. Read the full review here.
Current Bonus: 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
Current Bonus Value: $700
Standout Benefits: Similar to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, the Arrival Plus is a great match for families who do not want to be tied to traditional airline and hotel award charts and availability. This card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. The miles earned by this card can be used for statement credits against travel purchases at a rate of one point to 1 cent of travel. Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100, toward a qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. You also get 5% of your miles back when you redeem them against travel charges. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $89 (waived the first year)
Why it’s worth it: Families who don’t want to worry about bonus categories and who like to use their points to cover travel charges made whenever and however they wish will be well matched with this card. In addition to earning miles that you can use to cover travel charges made at airlines, hotels, motels, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, trains, taxis and more, this card is also extremely useful for international travel as it is a Chip and PIN card that can be used at self-service Chip terminals around the world.
Even if your family successfully utilizes traditional points and miles, the miles earned by the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard can be a solid backup strategy when you need to cover travel charges beyond the traditional hotel and airline redemptions.
Current Bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You can potentially even get 50,000 welcome bonus points if you are referred or targeted (offer subject to change at anytime)
Current Bonus Value: $700 for 35,000 Membership Rewards points
Standout Benefits: The American Express Gold Card is now a heavy-hitter for families looking to maximize their wallet as it awards 4 points per dollar spent at US restaurants and US supermarkets, up to a $25,000 annual cap at supermarkets (then 1 point). The card includes an annual $100 airline fee credit and a $10 statement credit each month (up to $120 per calendar year) when you dine at participating restaurants including: GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations (excludes Shake Shack locations in ballparks, stadiums, airports and racetracks). In fact, it was one of the most exciting card revamps for families in 2018.
Annual Fee: $250
Why it’s worth it: The new American Express Gold Card now beats most other credit cards for both US supermarket expenses and when dining out. The $250 annual fee is higher than some cards, but if you make use of both the $100 airline fee credit and the $120 in annual dining credits, then the fee becomes much more reasonable for families to consider. For the most part though, this is a card you want in your wallet if your family spends a good amount on eating in the United States — whether that comes in the form of groceries or restaurants. Read the full card review here.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Bonus: All three Southwest personal credit cards are offering a bonus of 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months of account opening.
Current Bonus Value: $600 for the bonus points
Standout Benefits: While the Southwest Priority Credit Card offers the most perks for families, all three personal Southwest cards give you the opportunity to earn the Companion Pass with enough spending each year, which allows you to designate a friend or family member to join you on Southwest flights for just the cost of taxes.
Annual Fee: varies per card
Why it’s worth it: Southwest Airlines is the winner of The Points Guy’s 2018 Best Airlines for Families study, in part because its Rapid Rewards program is extremely straight-forward for families to use. You can simply log on to southwest.com, easily spot the cheapest dates to fly using your Rapid Rewards points thanks to the calendar view and secure the award flights you need. If your plans change, you can redeposit your award without penalty, making the points earned by the Southwest credit cards extremely useful for families.
The Southwest cards are a top pick not only because Southwest points are so useful for families, but also because of the valuable Southwest Companion Pass that allows for a friend or family member to fly with you by just paying the taxes on their ticket. Both the welcome bonus points earned by this card and the everyday spending charged to the card count towards the 110,000 Rapid Rewards points you need to earn in a calendar year in order to secure a Companion Pass. Read the full card review here.
Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $1,140
Standout Benefits: Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel and prepaid hotels purchased through Amex Travel. You can transfer the Membership Rewards points you earn with this card to a total of 20 airline and hotel partners including Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors, British Airways, ANA, and a host of other. You also get a $200 annual airline rebate for incidental fees, up to $200 in annual Uber credits, up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue and a rebate for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. Additionally, the card offers Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass lounge access, plus Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta. The Centurion Lounge network is a highlight for families as many of the growing list of locations offer family rooms! Read the full card review here.
Annual Fee: $550
Why it’s worth it: The Amex Platinum Card may seem like a strange choice in include a round-up of the Best Travel Credit Cards for families, but the more you dig into this card, the better it gets. It’s not just the 60k bonus that lands it near the top of this list. But even apart from the $200 annual airline fee credit, the $200 in Uber credits awarded each year, the recently added $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit and the various lounge access options, the Amex Platinum is a stellar premium card that can pave the way to some amazing award flights and other redemptions that allow families to stretch their miles. This includes economy flights on American Airlines from just 7,500 points transferred to British Airways, round-trip business-class awards on Star Alliance partners for 88,000 points transferred to ANA, and business-class flights to Hawaii on United from 60,000 points transferred to Singapore Airlines.
Other highlights include an amazing 5 points per dollar on airfare (equal to a 9.5% return on these purchases), complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Gold in the new Marriott program status and the ability to add three authorized users for a total of $175. This step is key if your family has four or more people and wants to use the Centurion Lounge network as each Platinum cardholder can only guest in two people. However, each authorized user can bring in their own two guests. You can even have your children designated as authorized users once they are thirteen years old.
If the Amex Platinum isn’t the right fit for your family, another good option to explore within the Amex Membership Rewards point family is the no annual fee Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express. You can start earning Membership Reward points with this card without the commitment of an annual fee at a rate of 2 points per dollar at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases; 1 point per dollar on other purchases; and a 20% bonus on all points earned that billing cycle if you have 20 or more transactions on that statement. (The information for the Amex EveryDay 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.)
Current Bonus: Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 90 days.
Current Bonus Value: $150
Standout Benefits: The sign-up bonus on this card is not the star attraction — the star is that the card’s 3% bonus categories can change each month to align with your family’s needs. Each month, your family can choose to earn 3% back in one of six categories: Gas, Online shopping, Dining, Travel, Drugstores and Home improvement and furnishing.
This is in addition to the fixed 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The 3% and 2% bonus categories are limited to your first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. At 3% back, this could result in $75 back on $2,500 in spending each quarter.
Annual Fee: $0
Why it’s worth it: For families who want to minimize the number of cards they have in their wallet while maximizing charges, the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is a great selection since it can adjust to reward you where your family differently each month.
If you’re able to qualify for the BoA Preferred Rewards Program that requires a minimum amount of deposits at Bank of America, you can ramp up the earnings on this card to as high as 5.25% cash back. Families may especially appreciate the bonus category of online shopping as it is not frequently replicated on other cards. Read the full card review here.
JetBlue Plus Card
Current Bonus: Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Current Bonus Value: $520
Standout Benefits: You’ll get 6 points spent on purchases with JetBlue; 2 points at restaurant and grocery stores; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy receiving 10% of your redeemed JetBlue points back and getting a free checked bag for you and up to three companions on the same reservation. Save 50% on eligible in-flight purchases like cocktails and food on JetBlue-operated flights. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $99
Why it’s worth it: The JetBlue TrueBlue program is unique in that it permits family members to pool their miles together in order to earn award flights faster. The onboard JetBlue experience is top-notch for families, as it offers complimentary assigned seats, the most economy legroom among US airlines, a free snack basket and both free DirecTV and gate to gate Wi-Fi for all passengers. Families that want to take advantage of JetBlue’s family-friendly programs and policies will benefit from having a JetBlue Plus credit card, both for the points it earns and for the savings it can provide on JetBlue award flights, bag fees and onboard purchases. You can also earn JetBlue Mosaic elite status for one year if you spend $50,000 or more on the card annually. Read the full card review here.
Disney Premier Visa Card
Current Bonus: $250 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Current Bonus Value: $250
Standout Benefits: Earn 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars on purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and at most Disney Locations; 1% elsewhere. However, my favorite features of this card are not the rewards it earns but the Disney-specific perks it provides. Disney Visa Cardmembers get access to exclusive photo ops with Disney and Star Wars characters at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This can result in some serious time savings over waiting in the standard lines to meet characters. Additionally, cardmembers save 10% on select Disney merchandise purchases of $50+; 10% off select dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World; and 10% off a Castaway Cay Getaway Package on Disney Cruise Line. Disney Visa Cardmembers also get a 0% APR for 6 months (18.24% variable APR applies after that) when charging select Disney Vacation packages to the card.
Annual Fee: $49
Why it’s worth it: The Disney Premier Visa Card is a niche product that will only make sense for families that really love their Disney trips, but for families that love to visit the House of Mouse, there are some perks and discounts this card can unlock. Giving yourself six months with 0% APR to pay off a Disney vacation is nice, as are the exclusive photo ops at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. To add a bit of magic every time you swipe, you get to pick your card design from a line-up of colorful Disney classic images including Cinderella’s Castle, Tinker Bell, Yoda, Mickey Mouse, Frozen and more.
The information for the Disney Premier Visa 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.
Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card
Current Bonus: 15,000 Wyndham Rewards Points after the first use of the card and 15,000 additional Wyndham Reward Points awarded after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days.
Current Bonus Value: $360
Standout Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar on Wyndham charges; 2 points per dollar at gas, utility and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart); 1 point per dollar elsewhere. The Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature card conveys automatic Wyndham Rewards Platinum status, which unlocks not only perks within the Wyndham Rewards program, but also matches to Platinum status in the Total Rewards loyalty program. Platinum status in Total Rewards can get you a free stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas, free parking at the Total Rewards properties in Las Vegas, and the ability to skip some Las Vegas lines. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $75
Why it’s worth it: The Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature is a winner for families for a few reasons, and one very big reason is that Wyndham Rewards has a flat award chart where all properties with one-bedroom or less are just 15,000 points per night. That means that 45,000 Wyndham Reward points gets you three award nights you can use at some of the best Wyndham properties in New York City, Aspen, Napa, Miami, the Bahamas, or even properties such as Caesar’s Palace or Nobu Hotel in Las Vegas.
Featured image by Shelby Soblick for The Points Guy
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.
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