The top travel credit cards make it easy to earn travel rewards that translate into free flights, stays in luxury hotels, and much more. With a solid plan, credit card rewards can even make your travel dreams come true.
Imagine flying business class to Tokyo for pennies for the dollar or spending five nights at a luxury resort in the Maldives for the cost of a boat trip to your secluded private island.
With travel rewards, all of that and more could be yours. All you need is some planning, some time to build up your point pool, and some strategic maps that make sense for your travel destinations.
Also, remember that you don’t need to focus on luxury travel to get the most out of your trip’s credit cards. Many consumers find these cards make it easy to take their children away from home on vacation while stretching the budget for family travel as much as possible.
By putting almost all of your daily expenses on one top travel credit card, you can earn enough points to earn free hotel stays, almost free domestic and international flights, and many other travel experiences that your family may otherwise not be able to afford.
Best travel credit cards
Before we dive into the details, let’s take a closer look at our top deals on the best travel rewards credit cards:
- Best all-rounder: Chase Sapphire Preferred®
- Best Luxury Travel Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best Hotel Rewards: American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card
- Best Flexible Travel Card: Discover It® miles
- Easiest sign-up bonus: BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card
- No blackout dates: Capital One® Venture® card
- Best for airline miles: Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
Best all-round travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers more than just a huge sign up bonus. As part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, this card awards points that are highly acclaimed and touted as some of the most valuable in the industry.
If you spend only $ 4,000 on your card in 90 days, earn 60,000 points worth $ 750 on travel when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. And if you don’t want to book trips directly, you have several other options, e.g. B. Transferring your points to the company’s top airline and hotel transfer partners or redeeming them for gift cards or cashback (if you want to take cashback should consider a cashback reward card instead).
Transferring to one of Chase’s travel partners can be particularly lucrative as all points are transferred at a 1: 1 ratio. Your current options include:
- United Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- British Airways Executive Club
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Virgin Atlantic
- Aer Lingus
- Iberia Plus
- Air France / Flying Blue
- World of Hyatt
- Marriott Bonvoy
- IHG rewards
If you want to earn flexible rewards without paying a large annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is probably your best bet. Here are the details to consider before pulling the trigger and collecting rewards:
- Earn 60,000 points after spending $ 4,000 within three months of opening your account
- Earn 2X points for travel and food and 1X points for all purchases
- $ 95 annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free primary insurance, travel cancellation / interruption insurance and other travel benefits
Best Luxury Travel Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
If you like the idea of earning points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program but want a more comfortable travel experience, consider comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to the “preferred” version of this card. Chase Sapphire Reserve® has the same transfer partners and flexibility in redeeming your rewards, although you get 50% more travel for free when you use points to book. You’ll also receive valuable travel benefits such as Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit, Priority Pass Select membership, and $ 300 annual travel credit in return for the $ 450 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is also generous on the earnings side, giving cardholders 3x points on all purchases on travel and restaurants and 1 point for every $ 1 on everything else. Currently, you can even earn 50,000 points if you spend $ 4,000 on your card within three months of opening your account.
- Earn 50,000 points after spending $ 4,000 on your card within three months of opening your account
- Earn 3x points for travel and food and 1X points for all purchases
- $ 450 annual fee
- Receive Priority Pass Select membership, $ 300 annual travel credit, Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit, and valuable travel insurance
Best Hotel Rewards: American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card
When looking for a hotel credit card, consider the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card. There is an annual fee of $ 450 for this card. However, you get benefits like one free weekend night per year (including your first year as a cardholder), $ 250 annual resort credit, and $ 250 annual airline credit for an airline of your choice. and automatic Hilton Diamond status.
You will also receive 14x points for Hilton purchases with your card, 7x points for flights booked with airlines or AmexTravel.com, rental cars and US restaurants, and 3x points for all other purchases. At the moment, the Welcome Bonus will also shower you with 150,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending $ 4,000 on your card within three months of opening your account.
Please note the following details before logging in:
- Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Points when you spend $ 4,000 on your card in three months
- $ 450 annual fee
- Earn automatic Hilton Diamond status
- Receive annual airline credit, resort credit, one free weekend night per year, airport lounge access, and more
Best flexible card: Discover it® Miles
If you’re looking for a card that lets you earn miles for anything, the Discover it® Miles is a smart option. This card earns you 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend. Plus, Discover promises to double the number of miles you earn after the first year!
After 12 months, you’ve effectively earned 3 miles for every dollar spent. Since every “mile” is worth a dime, you can see how this can add up quickly. For example, after the first year, $ 10,000 in annual spending would earn $ 300,000 in miles, while $ 20,000 in spending would be $ 60,000 in miles.
Better still, you never pay an annual fee. Read on for more details:
- Earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend
- No annual fee
- Earn twice as many miles in your first year
- No blackout dates
Easy to Earn Sign Up Bonus: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
While the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card isn’t usually on our list, this card has made the cut due to its increased sign-up bonus and low minimum spend.
This card gives you an online bonus of 25,000 points after spending just $ 1,000 on the card in 90 days. In addition to the bonus, you will receive an unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar spent.
While the points you earn with this card will not be transferred to specific hotels or airline loyalty programs, they are suitable for travel with hotel chains or airlines. Just book any type of trip you want and redeem your points for credit. As simple as that.
Before you log in, you should consider the following details:
- Earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend
- No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
- Spend $ 1,000 on your card within 90 days to receive 25,000 reward points
- Earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase when you join Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program
Book trips without blackout dates: Capital One® Venture® Card
The unique way the Capital One® Venture® Card distributes miles makes it one of the most transparent travel credit cards on the market today. This card earns you 2 miles for every dollar spent on all purchases, plus a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points – or $ 500 for travel – after spending just $ 3,000 within three months of opening your account. That’s enough for at least one free round-trip flight or several nights at your favorite lower-tier hotel or resort!
The cool thing about this card is that you can book any type of trip without worrying about blackout dates or capacity checks. Simply book a travel experience, flight, or hotel stay that suits your schedule with your card and redeem your points for credit. Interestingly, you can also use this card to transfer the points you have collected to various airline partners.
Some of the details that you should know include:
- Earn $ 500,000 in miles after spending $ 3,000 on your card in the first three months
- Earn 2X miles for every dollar you spend
- Qualify for TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit
- $ 95 annual fee waived the first year
Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®: Best airline credit card
The Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is the perfect card for anyone focused on earning free flights. Regardless of whether you focus on national or international destinations, the American AAdvantage program (mostly) offers numerous availability and airline partners that make it easy to find award flights to almost any destination in the world.
This card will earn you 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after spending just $ 2,500 on the card within three months of opening your account. That could be enough miles for two domestic flights. In addition to the sign-up bonus, you and four travel companions will receive one free checked bag for domestic travel, priority boarding on American flights and no fees for international transactions for purchases abroad with this card.
- Earn 50,000 American AAdvantage Miles after spending $ 2,500 on your card in three months
- $ 99 annual fee waived the first year
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free checked baggage for you and up to four travel companions
Free Travel With Credit Card Rewards: Get Started
For the most part, the key to figuring out which card is best for your needs is making the decision Where you want to go What is your ideal trip? Would you like to stay in a hotel or an apartment?
Do you want to fly around the world or mainly stick to train travel?
Would you prefer to sink into a cold drink on a white sandy beach or hike through the Swiss Alps?
When it comes to rewards, the sky really is the limit. You can go almost anywhere and plan any type of trip, but your first step is figuring out a way to narrow down your choice of destinations. That way, you can focus on earning rewards based on your specific travel tastes.
Aside from deciding where and when to go, the first thing you need to do is:
- A credit score over 700, but ideally over 720. The best travel credit cards are for those with good or excellent credit, which usually means a credit score of over 720. Lower scores are sometimes acceptable when other employment and income conditions are met.
- A debt free lifestyle. When paying off credit card debt, you need credit card rewards like a hole in your head. Pay off your consumer debt and have a solid financial foundation before you even think about hacking trips or chasing rewards.
- A plan to stay organized. While it’s easy to keep track of a single reward card, two, three, or four can easily lead to you forgetting a few important details. To keep track of things, keep a simple table or list of details, such as: B. when you sign up, when you earned the sign up bonus, and when (or if) an annual fee is charged.
Rules for getting the most out of your travel credit card
Before signing up for any of the best credit card deals, it is important to prepare for success. For most people, this means creating a long-term plan to get the benefits of credit card rewards while minimizing the risk for the cons.
Here are some tips that can help you earn a virtually unlimited number of points and miles without getting over your head – or worse, turning into credit card debt:
Rule # 1 Spend only what you can afford to pay back immediately.
Most importantly, if your plan to use a credit card just to collect rewards is to avoid paying credit card interest at all costs! If you pay interest, the value of your rewards will most likely be canceled out, defeating the purpose of a rewards card.
Only use your card on purchases you know you can pay off immediately to avoid debt. Never use your card for unplanned expenses or “splurges” and pay your entire bill as soon as you receive it.
Rule # 2 Use your credit card as an addition to your monthly budget – not in place of it.
If you are concerned that paying with plastic could lead to overspending, use your credit card as an addition to a monthly budget that you have created.
Write down a list of the expenses you can charge your credit card, then use your card to meet your spending plan for the month. When you’ve credited all of your planned monthly expenses, you can just put your card away or slip it in the back of your wallet. The best way to turn credit into your favor is to use it only for planned expenses and use it in conjunction with a monthly budget or spending plan.
Rule # 3 Earn extra points by using your card for daily expenses, but pay them out immediately.
The easiest way to get rewards quickly is to focus your loan spending on bills and expenses that you already had to pay – things like groceries, gas, and utility bills. However, some of these issues tend to take on a life of their own if left unchecked.
If you want to stay on track, it might make sense to check in with your credit card bill at least once a week during the month. That way, you won’t be surprised when your monthly invoice arrives in the mail.
However, if it does, then you should cash it out immediately. Don’t let a balance separate you or you could easily run into debt that will only grow over time.
Rule 4 Keep track of the reward details in a simple table.
When you get to the point where you are juggling multiple reward cards, it is extremely smart to keep pertinent details in a simple table. Factors you may want to keep track of include when you signed up for a new card, when you earned the sign-up bonus, and when the annual fee is due.
By keeping track of all of your Reward Cards in one place, you can always have a “snapshot” of your comprehensive Reward Plan.
Rule # 5 Don’t forget to plan your entire trip – not just the parts that you received for free.
The final rule to keep in mind when using credit card rewards for travel is to make sure that you plan your budget for all of your trip – not just the parts that you paid for with rewards. For example, if you’re going anywhere on air miles, plan for hotel stays, food and drink, and entertainment after you arrive at your destination.
While travel rewards can make almost any trip a lot more affordable, don’t let a lack of planning break your budget. Getting enough rewards to go on a free flight or a hotel for a week is a great plan, but you still need to have money to eat, have fun, and enjoy yourself. And if you don’t plan ahead, you could be spending significantly more money than you ever dreamed of.
If you’ve been trying to save up for the perfect getaway but can’t put the money aside, it might be useful to examine airline miles, hotel points, and other types of rewards to see what savings you can make. With the right strategy, you can even fly around the world, visit places you’ve never dreamed of, or take your kids or parents on a trip that will make even your closest friends envy.
With the right combination of cards, good or excellent credit, and a little self-discipline, any trip you can dream of can be within your reach.