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Best Travel Credit Cards as of March 2022

Best Travel Credit Cards as of March 2022

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These are some of the best credit cards that will help you travel like a pro.

A travel rewards card offers rewards to consumers with miles or points. For frequent travelers, this is a godsend as each point racked up may be used for travel-related purposes such as flights, experiences, or hotel room discounts.

The trick to securing a lucrative travel credit card is to choose one that fits your lifestyle.

Otherwise, the annual fees and high-interest rates may just put a dent in your budget, leaving you with a credit card you’d hardly use.

A great travel credit card takes you on free trips, comes to the rescue in travel-related emergencies, and won’t charge you fees once you use them overseas.

Quick Overview

Looking to get the quick lowdown on the best travel credit cards?

Here is a quick breakdown of our favorite cards to use for travel by hotels, airlines, perks and more.

Best Premium Travel Card The Platinum Card® from American Express
Best Flexible Travel Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best Airline Credit Card Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Best Hotel Credit Card Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Best 0% APR Credit Card Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Know, however, that the best travel credit card is relative to the user – which means that the perfect credit card does not exist, but there are cards for traveling that are perfect for the lifestyle of the user.

To aid you in your travel hacking endeavor, I’ve compiled a list of tips, best practices, and the best travel credit cards.

You’ll likely have a number of credit cards, so I created a free spreadsheet to help you track your rewards points, credit inquiries, and accounts.

It’s completely free to use and takes 5 seconds to download.

Here are important considerations with a travel rewards card that your jet-setting self needs to know!

Table of Contents

How do you choose the best travel rewards credit card?

Choose the Best Travel Credit Card

Selecting the best travel credit card requires really getting into the nitty-gritty of the card’s features, rewards, and bonuses.

Take some time to see how these features stack up before choosing one that’s best for you.

1. Know the difference between co-branded and general credit cards.

  • Co-branded credit cards: these credit cards are issued by a hotel chain or an airline. As such, the rewards on these cards may only be redeemed in the establishments they represent. Perks and bonuses may include priority boarding for airlines, free checked bags, or upgrades and bonus amenities in your accommodation.
  • General credit cards: these credit cards are more versatile, and may be used for various travel expenses. Points or miles collected may be converted to book a trip or by redeeming points for a credit on your account.

Hot tip: Consumers who frequently use a single airline or book from a single hotel group may opt for a co-branded travel credit card. Otherwise, a general travel credit card offers many more features and offers more flexibility.

2. Look for cards with higher rewards and great sign-up bonuses.

When looking for the best travel credit card, try to select one with rewards that offer 1.5% to 2% of your total spending.

In most cases, the larger the annual fee is, the better the reward rates and the sign-up bonuses are.

Sign-up bonuses are points you earn when spending a certain amount within the first few months of owning the card. This is one of the best ways on how to build a large travel rewards balance.

Cards with great sign-up bonuses can easily win you a free round-trip flight.

Hot tip: look for cards with high rewards with great redemption processes. You’ll find cards with high rewards on travel spending with a lower base rate for other expenses (commonly 1%).

Other cards offer the same rate for all your spending. Stay away from cards that offer less than 1 cent per mile or per point you redeem.

3. Pay special attention to travel perks and protections.

The best travel credit cards offer a wide array of protections and perks that are useful when you travel.

These perks may include accident insurance, travel delay insurance, rental car coverage, concierge services, lost luggage insurance, and emergency assistance.

Co-branded hotel and airline cards may offer perks like upgrades, priority boarding, discounts, and free checked bags.

Hot tip: Select cards with protections that apply to you. Travelers who frequently rent cars will need a card with great rental coverage. If you always bring expensive items with you, opt for a card with lost baggage protection.

See Related: How to Earn Airline Miles without a Credit Card

4. Consider applicability for international travel

If you often travel internationally, you need to consider whether your travel card is accepted overseas. Your card’s payment network determines whether it may be used overseas or not. Mastercard and Visa, for example, are accepted widely around the world.

Discover and American Express, not so much.

Hot tip: It’s best practice to look for a card without foreign transaction fees. Some cards charge extra fees when you make purchases outside of the United States. These fees usually amount to 3% of your total purchase.

5. Consider your credit score situation

A majority of travel credit cards are only available for consumers with a good credit score (650 or above), if you have less, there’s a great chance you may be declined.

Hot tip: A lot of people ask themselves, “how does opening credit cards affect my credit score?” Know that there will always be a slight dip every time you open a new account.

If you space out your applications over a period of time, you’re less likely to cause severe damages to your credit score.

Get your credit score for free by using CreditKarma. It takes minutes and you’ll have a full credit report in your hands. This will help you understand your likelihood of approval for certain travel rewards credit cards.

6. Know the pros and cons of each travel rewards credit card

Before getting a travel rewards card, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of having one versus other options.

Hotel and airline credit cards can lead you faster to elite status, opening a variety of perks and bonuses.

if your travel plans are flexible, your airline card redemption values can prove to be very useful. General travel cards, on the other hand, can offer travel redemptions and options such as a gift card or a statement credit.

On the other hand, travel credit cards also have their drawbacks. When compared to cash-back credit cards, travel cards are more likely to have annual fees.

Travel loyalty programs can also be very restrictive when the time comes to redeem your points, with rules that are very complicated and hard to understand.

Hot tip: When deciding between cash-back credit cards and travel credit cards, see how the benefits stack up for your particular lifestyle. If you’re into traveling more and exploring the world, travel cards may be more lucrative.

What are the pros and cons of getting a travel rewards credit card?

Pros of a Travel Rewards Credit Card

There are many reasons why people choose to get travel credit cards. One of the main things is the potential for big travel rewards points or cashback on purchases. People like that they can use it when they need to book a flight, but also as a regular credit card for everyday expenses.

Another pro is that these cards provide you with protection in case your trip gets canceled. So if anything unexpected happens, like the airline goes bankrupt or you’re injured at the airport, there’s an insurance plan to help cover your costs.

Cons of a Travel Rewards Credit Card

It can sometimes be difficult to earn all of the travel rewards you want.

It also depends on where you’re looking to travel and how much, because these points are not usually worth as much for international flights.

Another con is that you’re not guaranteed to be able to use your points towards the travel rewards of your choosing, although some cards provide this option.

There are usually perks and benefits included with travel credit cards as well. These can include free checked bags, and discounts when booking a hotel or using roadside assistance. You’ll just have to decide which cards best fit your travel needs.

If you opt to use travel credit cards, make sure to pay off the balance every month because they usually have a higher APR than regular credit cards.

You shouldn’t ever carry a balance on these credit cards for any reason due to the interest rate involved.

Another thing is that they have foreign transaction fees as well. Most credit cards have a 3% charge for purchases made abroad, so this is something to consider if you don’t plan on using your card outside of the country.

Who should apply for travel rewards credit cards?

Travel rewards cards are great for people that are best for people that are disciplined with their credit card use and also have a fair to great credit score.

This will allow you to get a variety of different types of travel credit cards, so you can build up rewards through a number of programs.

Since travel rewards credit cards are best for people who have good credit standing, these individuals will receive the best rates for both purchase and travel.

You should apply for a travel credit card if you:

  • love to travel
  • often travels domestically or internationally
  • are confident that you will be able to fully pay off their credit card balance each month
  • would like to improve your credit score

What are some best travel rewards credit cards options for frequent travelers?

If you travel frequently and also want to accumulate travel rewards points quickly, then Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is probably best for you.

There’s a signup bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of opening an account, and this card will also give you two miles per dollar spent on every purchase.

These miles can be redeemed when booking travel through their rewards portal or at over 150 travel sites.

You’ll also get the best price guarantee each time you book a hotel through a portal, along with an insurance policy like travel accident, trip cancellation or car rental theft and damage.

Another best travel rewards credit card option is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You’ll earn 50k bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account.

What’s the best travel credit card for beginners?

If you are just starting out and do not have an established credit score, it is best to apply for a low-interest credit card. This will allow you to establish your credit while taking advantage of the company’s lowest rates.

One of the best cards for building your credit with a low-interest rate is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard.

This credit card comes with 150,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

You’ll also earn 2x miles per dollar spent and 10% of redeemed rewards will be refunded for travel purchases at any travel partner airline.

Methodology for selecting the best travel credit cards

There are a few things to take into consideration when determining which travel credit card is best for you.

First, look for cards with high rewards on travel spending with a lower base rate for other expenses (commonly 1%). Other cards offer the same rate for all your spending.

Stay away from cards that offer less than 1 cent per mile or per point you redeem.

Next, pay special attention to travel perks and protections. The best travel credit cards offer a wide array of protections and perks that are useful when you travel.

These perks may include accident insurance, travel insurance, premium concierge services, lost luggage insurance, emergency assistance, rental car coverage, and discounts or free checked bags.

Hot tip: Select cards with protections that apply to you. Travelers who frequently rent cars will need a card with great rental coverage. If you always bring expensive items with you, opt for a card with lost baggage protection.

What are the best strategies to maximize travel rewards?

One of the best strategies to maximize travel rewards with credit cards is by using your credit card points on travel.

For best results, you want to have a card that offers no foreign transaction fees. You can also get a great deal of travel reward points with hotel and airline credit cards, as they often lead much quicker to elite status and offer lots of perks.

If you are flexible on the dates of your travel plans, airline credit cards can be very useful in terms of getting more value from your redemptions.

The best travel rewards credit cards also offer great travel protection, so make sure that whichever card you pick has something for you and your priorities for when you travel!

How we chose our list of top travel rewards cards

The best credit cards for travel are the ones that best suit your travel needs. Our list of best credit cards for travel is ranked and includes only the best of the best, based on their traveler-friendly features.

Such as credit cards that have the following characteristics:

  • The card must offer a high rewards rate on travel spending with a lower base rate for other expenses (commonly 1%).
  • Then, each card listed must have a wide array of protections and perks that will be useful when you travel. The best credit cards offer a variety of abilities to provide travelers with protection and benefits.
  • Finally, each of these travel rewards cards offer extremely flexible travel rewards programs so when it comes to using your travel rewards points, you have as many options as possible.

List of the Best Travel Credit Cards

There are a plethora of travel credit cards in the market but we’ve condensed the list to the best of the best.

Here are our favorites:

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

chase sapphire reserve credit card

Recommended Credit Score: 740-850

Annual Fee: $550

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening

APR: 16.99%–23.99% variable rate

Rewards and bonuses: Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually.

Earn 3x points on restaurants and 1 point for every $1 spent on other everyday purchases. No foreign transaction fees and no blackout dates.

Why it’s good: With great bonus rewards, a sizeable annual travel credit, airport lounge membership, and a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit, among others, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is easily one of the best travel credit cards.

Its versatile rewards may be used for 1:1 transfers to hotels and airlines as well as booking travel, airline tickets, lounge access at all Priority Pass lounges, and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

A great sign-up bonus even in light of the steep annual fee cements its place as one of the best elite travel cards – a perfect choice for serious rewards collectors.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Art

Annual Fee: $95

Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening

APR: 15.99%–22.99% variable rate

Rewards and bonuses: Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases. No foreign transaction fees and no blackout dates.

Why it’s good: If you’re looking for a more affordable version of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, the Preferred Card is the second-best option. The relatively small annual fee and lower credit score requirements make it a good choice for the regular traveler.

Although the card offers fewer travel benefits than Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the earnings rate and sign-up bonus make it one of the best cards. This travel credit card also offers access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, which provides access to a plethora of travel-related redemption options.

3. American Express® Gold Card

american express card

Recommended Credit Score: 670-850

Fees:

  • Annual Fee: $250
  • Intro Offer: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership.
  • APR: 16.74% to 23.74% variable rate on eligible charges for Pay Over Time feature
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: This card has zero foreign transaction fees.
  • See Rates and Fees

Rewards and bonuses (Terms Apply): Get 4x points (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x) at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants, up to a $120 dining credit, up to a $100 Uber Cash, 3x points on flights booked on amextravel.com or with the airlines directly, and 1x points on other purchases. Enrollment is required for dining and airline credits. 

Why it’s good:  The many travel perks, annual airline fees, and dining credits, as well as earning structure makes the American Express® Gold Card a wise choice for travelers who can cover its annual fee.

This travel credit card is remarkably versatile: you can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards® points to various hotels and airlines, as well as use your points to book a flight via AmexTravel.

See Related: Amex Gold vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

4. Citi Prestige Credit Card

Citi Prestige Card

Recommended Credit Score: 800-850

Annual Fee: $495

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

APR: 16.99% – 23.99% variable rate based on your creditworthiness

Rewards and bonuses: Get 5x points on restaurants and air travel, 3x points on cruise lines and hotels, and 1x points on other purchases. This card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Why it’s good: A great card for travelers who love to dine. The Citi Prestige Card offers great rewards for dining and airfare, as well as a competitive rewards rate for cruises and hotels. With a steep annual fee, it’s not for everyone, but the generous sign-up bonus makes it all worthwhile.

The card also offers a $250 airline credit, a free hotel stay on your fourth night, as well as airport lounge access. You can use your Citi ThankYou points on airline partners or for booking travel directly. Citi ThankYou Points do not expire, and there is no limit to the number of points you can earn.

5. The Platinum Card® from American Express

amex platinum card

Recommended Credit Score: 670-850

Fees:

  • Annual Fee: $695
  • Intro Offer: 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases with your new Card in your first 6 months of card membership.
  • APR: 16.74% to 23.74% variable rate on eligible charges for Pay Over Time feature
  • Transaction Fees: This card has zero transaction fees.
  • See Rates and Fees

Rewards and bonuses (Terms Apply): 5x points on flights booked directly with American Express Travel or airlines (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x rewards on prepaid hotels booked via American Express Travel, and 1x points on general purchases. 

Why it’s good: The Platinum Card from American Express is crafted from metal and glistens with sophistication, but what makes it one of the best travel credit cards is its whopping welcome bonus and great earnings bonus on airfare when booking via American Express Travel.

With a steep annual credit, you get what you pay for: monthly Uber credits, airline fee credit, Hilton Gold status, airport lounge membership, and points that you can transfer to hotels, airlines, and more.

6. AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

American Airlines AAdvantage Credit Card

Recommended Credit Score: 670-850

Annual Fee: $99

Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 points after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days

APR: 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening. After that (and for balance transfers that do not post within 45 days of account opening), a variable APR will apply, 15.99%, 19.99%, or 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness

Rewards and bonuses: Get 2x miles for all eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x miles for all other purchases. Earn miles you can use on 24 partner airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways, and Hawaiian Airlines. Enroll in the Flights Cents program to round up each purchase to the nearest dollar for more rewards.

Why it’s good: This travel credit card offers one of the best sign-up bonuses when compared to other airline co-branded cards in the market.

If you’re a frequent flyer with a serious goal to save up miles for larger trips, this card offers great features (the Flight Cents program can boost your miles earning potential).

See Related: 30+ Cheap Destinations to Travel To

7. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

Recommended Credit Score: 670-850

Annual Fee: $95

Sign-Up Bonus: 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening

APR: 15.99% to 22.99% variable rate based on your creditworthiness

Rewards and bonuses: Get an additional Free Night Award every year on your account anniversary, 6x points at over 7,000 participating Marriot Bonvoy Hotels, 2x points for all other purchases, and up to 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year. No foreign transaction fees

Why it’s good: This is a great card for serious travelers who stay in hotels often with its massive sign-up bonus and various hotel perks and bonuses.

Top-notch benefits include a free stay at a hotel once a year, a variety of redemption options, travel concierge, and automatic elite status.

This card is also perfect for families to travel hack, as Marriott Bonvoy offers some of the most family-friendly hotels and resorts around the world.

8. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Credit Card Art

Recommended Credit Score: 670-850

Annual Fee: $95

APR: 15.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness at a variable rate

Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Rewards and bonuses: Get up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck. Choose to fly on any airline or stay in any hotel with no blackout dates. Zero foreign transaction fees.

Why it’s good: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a high rewards rate, versatile rewards redemption, a great sign-up bonus, and zero foreign transaction fees.

Use its rewards to cover any travel expense with zero restrictions on your airlines or hotel. The travel rewards are easy to earn and a breeze to understand.

See Related: How to Book a Flight Without a Credit Card

Travel Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Travel credit cards with no annual fee are best for people who don’t want to spend too much money but also don’t want to miss out on great deals. If you really want to save money, then definitely get a card that has no annual fee.

The best part is that you can use this card anywhere in the world and it won’t cost you any extra. You can use it for everything from buying groceries or plane tickets or even just walking into your favorite store.

It’s best to find a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee if you mainly use the card in one area of the world.

For me, I prefer to maximize the sign-up bonus but that usually comes at the expense of an annual fee.

If you prefer a no annual fee credit card, consider one of these top travel cards with no annual fee.

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Conclusion

These are the very best travel credit cards that will help you to start traveling like a warrior. Having a balance of credit cards is important. You should think about these credit cards like a stock portfolio.

Some credit cards will provide benefits that others cannot.

Play the long game and treat your travel rewards like real assets and always be optimizing.

What is your favorite travel credit card? Let us know in the comments below. Feel free to contact us with any questions along the way.

Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Best Travel Credit Card?

To best answer that question, it’s best to categorize cards in terms of when they make points available for redemption.

This means looking at what types of bonus point promotions the credit card offers, how many points are needed for redemption, and how long you have to wait before you can put your points to use.

Different credit cards offer different incentives and benefits based on their type so we need to break down the best travel credit card by category.

For general travel benefits, Capital One Venture Rewards Card is a great option as it gives an amazing 60,000 miles bonus to new members who spend $3,000 within three months of sign up.

Then, for a premium credit card, the best option is the American Express Platinum Card. This card offers a ton of perks that can make traveling easier and more enjoyable including airport lounge access, complimentary hotel status, concierge service, and more.

The best part is that you earn 5x points on airfare purchases through Amex’s Travel portal so you can rack up rewards fast!

Which Credit Card is Best for Travel?

I’m going to share my best credit card for travel with you. I personally use the Capital One Venture Card because it offers a lot of rewards and points for different things. The best thing is that there are no foreign transaction fees.

It also doesn’t charge me for having a balance in other currencies, which means that I can get the best deals when traveling internationally. This is one of the best travel credit cards out there!

What is the Best Credit Card For International Travel?

The best credit card for international travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It has no foreign transaction fees and bonus points for travel and dining purchases.

This card also has a 1:1 point transfer to major airline programs. You can also get bonus points from hotels too.

What is the best credit card for travel points?

The best credit card that I have found is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You will earn 2x points per $1 on all travel and 3x on dining purchases. This includes flights, hotels, car rentals, and taxis.

You also earn 1x point per $1 on all other purchases. There is no limit to how many Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can earn.

What is the Best Credit Card for Airline Miles and Free Flights?

The best credit card for airline miles is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. There are many reasons why the best credit card for airline miles is this one. I’ll just mention a few of them here:

1. It has no foreign transaction fee, so you won’t be charged as a result of using your best credit card for airline miles abroad.
2. You get 2x miles on all purchases, which means that you will be earning 3x miles when you make purchases with your best credit card for airline miles.
3. There’s no annual fee with this best credit card for airline miles, which means that you won’t have to worry about canceling the card if you aren’t using it.

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

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