Spring travel makes a comeback: Here are the best cards to pay for it
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
As more people get vaccinated, travel is on a lot of people’s minds — especially millennials.
A recent Tripadvisor survey found that 58% of millennial respondents are planning a trip in spring 2021. And of American respondents who are planning a trip for spring on Tripadvisor, around one-third are searching for international destinations while the rest are searching for domestic trips to take.
Tripadvisor data shows nearby destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean are the fastest-growing destinations this spring since many people are understandably itching to escape cold temperatures for a sandy beach and warm breeze.
Traveling right now is a highly personal decision. Many Caribbean destinations are still under high-risk advisories from the CDC and only around 10% of the U.S. population is vaccinated at the time of writing. But if you are comfortable traveling and can take the necessary precautions, you could find deals for cheap flights and hotels right now.
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Best cards for spring 2021 travel
If you are gearing up for a spring trip, which card should you use? These cards have annual fees under $100, solid sign-up bonuses and benefits that make them great options for travel purchases right now.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. TPG values this bonus at $1,200.
Earning rate: 5x on Lyft (through March 2022), 5x points on travel when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3x dining, 3x on select streaming services, 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target and Walmart), 2x points on all other travel, and 1x points on all other purchases
Why it’s a great card for spring 2021 travel: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best travel cards out there. It has a great sign-up bonus and earns on dining and travel — two incredibly broad categories that allow you to earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points on a lot of different expenses. But what’s great about the CSP for spring 2021 travel is the flexibility in its redemption options. You can redeem points by transferring to partners — great for business-class fares and award sales — or redeem them for travel at a 25% bonus through the Chase travel portal — great for booking cheap cash flights and hotels.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review
Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 Capital One miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. TPG values this bonus at up to $1,388 (not provided by the issuer).
Earning rate: 2x on every purchase.
Why it’s a great card for spring 2021 travel: The Capital One Venture earns 2x miles on every purchase, which makes it a great option for everyday spending since you don’t have to worry about bonus categories. When it comes to redemption options, you can transfer to airline and hotel partners, but you can also redeem miles at a fixed value for eligible travel expenses as a statement credit up to 90 days after you make the purchase. This is great when you are wanting to redeem points for things aside from airfare or hotels — car rentals, bus tickets, taxis, travel agent purchases and more.
Related: Capital One Venture card review
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great card for spring 2021 travel: The Citi Premier has a stellar earning structure that beats even the ultra-premium Chase Sapphire Reserve. Whether you’re looking to earn rewards on gas purchases for a road trip, hotel costs or airfare, the Citi Premier has you covered. Additionally, you can redeem purchases by transferring to partners or through the Citi portal at 1 cent each. And if you end up booking a hotel stay this spring that costs more than $500 (excluding taxes and fees), you can get a $100 annual credit for the reservation when booked via Citi ThankYou travel (once per calendar year).
Related: Citi Premier card review
While the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet, many are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope to travel this spring. If you are among those who feel comfortable doing so and can meet the necessary vaccine, testing and/or quarantine requirements of your selected destination, a spring break trip isn’t out of the question. Just make sure you’re using the right card when making your travel plans.