This article was updated on June 22, 2018.
Not all travel credit cards are created equal. Many cards promise beefy sign-up bonuses and on-going rewards only to require redemption through their portals with inflated travel prices.
This can result in rather frustrating outcomes wherein customers spend months to qualify for bonuses only to learn that their redemptions are worth a fraction of what they thought they would be worth.
We thought it would be a good idea to create a list of cards that offer the best of both worlds: High rewards rates and the ability to redeem your rewards through your preferred portals. Here are three cards from our list of the best travel cards of 2017 that meet this criteria.
1. BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card is excellent for people who want sky-high rewards, flexible redemptions, and no out-of-pocket annual fees to pay. The card rewards cardholders with 1.5 points per dollar which can be redeemed for travel-related statement credits.
Those who have an existing relationship with Bank of America can receive a bonus of 10% to 75% on top of the usual rewards rate, bringing the total rewards rate as high as 2.62% for people with the highest Preferred Rewards banking status.
Start redeeming quickly for travel with the help of a 20,000 point sign-up bonus for spending at least $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening. That's equivalent to $200 in travel statement credits!
2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard®
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® offers a high rewards rate, flexible statement credit redemption options, and a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles when new cardholders spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
What really makes this card shine is that it actually rewards cardholders for making redemptions in the form of a 5% redemption bonus. For example, just for redeeming the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus, cardholders would receive another 2,500 miles added to their account. This brings the all-in rewards rate up to 2.1% for each dollar charged to the card.
Potential applicants should balance the sign-up bonus (which equates to $525 of travel) with the fact the card carries an $89 annual fee, which is waived for the first year, but this card is a serious contender for an everyday travel rewards card.
3. Capital One® Venture® Rewards
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card is a solid card with flexible statement credit redemptions, a reasonable annual fee of $59 (waived for the first year), and a base rewards rate of 2 miles per dollar, which equates to $0.02 for every $1.00 of spending.
The card also helps new cardholders get started quickly with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending at least $3,000 within three months of account opening. The bonus is worth $400 of travel when redeemed for travel-related statement credits.
There are a couple drawbacks to this card, though. First, redemptions for statement credits are only accepted in increments of $25, and the $59 annual fee is relatively high given that the BankAmericard® pays out a rewards rate of at least 1.65% for Bank of America savings and checking account holders. Cardholders would have to spend nearly $16,900 per year for the incremental rewards rate (2% vs. 1.65% for BankAmericard®) to make up for the annual fee. The real advantage to this card is the sign-up bonus, which is worth $400 versus the BankAmericard's® $200 bonus.
Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool's alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. Review The Motley Fool’s ratings methodology to uncover how we pick the best credit cards.