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There is little in life more thrilling than the feeling of a jet powering up for takeoff. But while travel may be fun, the cost of flights and hotels can turn even a small getaway into several thousand dollars of costs. If you want to save money on travel, a travel rewards credit card may be perfect for your needs. However, finding the best credit cards for travel can be a complex task.
Travel credit cards are available with a wide array of rewards, redemption options, fees, and bonuses. Weeding through so many general and branded travel rewards cards can be tough, so we picked out some favorites for a wide range of travel styles – so you can find the best travel credit card for your wallet. Whether you want airport lounge luxury or just care about getting to your final destination in one piece, follow along to find the best travel card for your needs.
If you’re looking for the best travel credit card for decadent adventures, divert your attention to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Upgrade your travel experience to a more luxurious one by way of a $550 annual fee. This travel card includes a Priority Pass membership that gives you access to more than 1,000+ airport lounges around the world. Those include free drinks, snacks, fast internet, clean bathrooms, and an oasis from the hustle bustle of the terminal.
Yes, the annual fee is a big number. But if it doesn’t scare you off, you get a lot in return. In addition to airport lounges, this is one of the best travel credit cards in terms of purchasing power – we’re talking 3x points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and 1x everywhere else. It offers a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This card gives you 1.5 cents per point in Chase Ultimate Rewards so that bonus is worth at least $900 in free travel.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit card also gives you a $300 annual travel credit on your first travel purchases after the account anniversary. If you would have spent $300 on flights or hotels anyway, that $300 is as good as cash. If you travel frequently for work or pleasure, it’s worth considering.
Looking for the best travel credit card with simple, flat-rate benefits? Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard from Barclaycard is a great option. This card offers 2x miles per dollar on every purchase. Miles are worth a flat 1 cent each. Every time you redeem for travel, you get a 5% bonus back.
There is an $89 annual fee, waived the first year. But at the 2x per mile rate, you break even on the fee at less than $4,500 in annual purchases, making this one of the best credit cards for travel Miles are redeemed as a statement credit, which means you can pay for travel anywhere you want with the card as usual. When the charge shows up on your statement, you can redeem miles once you spend enough to wipe the charge off of your balance.
The card has no foreign transaction fee. As an added perk for regular international travelers, the card supports Chip + PIN security. That means you can use it to check out at kiosks and self-service checkouts in Europe and other countries that require that higher level of protection. This card starts you out with a 70,000-mile bonus worth $700 after spending $5,000 on travel in the first 90 days after opening a new account.
If you love restaurants and travel, this is the card for you. Unlike typical credit cards, the Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. The Amex Gold card gives you 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, and grocery stores in the US (The grocery bonus is limited to $25,000 in annual purchases), plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too (click here for terms & conditions). Earn 3x points per dollar on flights booked with airlines or Amex Travel and get up to $10 per month in credits using the card at Grubhub and a list of partner restaurants.
There is a $250 annual fee (click here for rates & fees), but you can get a 60,000-point welcome offer worth two to four times that toward free travel. Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 6 months to get that bonus. Membership Rewards are redeemable for travel through the Amex portal or transferrable to a list of airline and hotel partners. Click here for rates & fees for the American Express® Gold Card.
PenFed Pathfinder Rewards
If you’re on the hunt for the best travel credit card without an annual fee, the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards should be on your radar. While PenFed Credit Union is primarily geared toward military households, anyone can join with a modest $15 donation to a partner nonprofit. Once you do, you can open a travel credit card that offers rewards and benefits with zero annual fees.
This American Express travel credit card gives you 3x points per dollar on travel purchases. PenFed Honors Advantage members get 4x points. Earn 1.5x everywhere else. The card offers 25,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months from account opening.
This travel credit card includes a $100 annual credit for airline incidentals, a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and other valuable benefits. Points are worth 0.9 cents each toward airfare and 1.18 cents toward each hotels. Your travel credit card points can be redeemed as a statement credit for a wide range of travel category purchases.
The best travel credit cards are those suited to your spending habits and adventure goals. Consider the options above and narrow down your travel card options. Bon voyage!
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