Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

With historically high rewards rates, there may be no better time for you to sign up for a new travel credit card than today. Travelers benefit when taking advantage of big sign-up bonuses, securing cheap airfare, avoiding foreign and annual transaction fees, and gaining VIP access to airport lounges. See below for our top rated cards, some of which are from our partners, and find the best choice for you.

Great for: Sign-up bonus and points transfers Chase Sapphire Preferred®

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Our Bottom Line

Sets the bar for high quality travel cards. With one of the highest sign up bonuses we've seen, a generous rewards rate, a robust network to transfer points between, and no foreign transaction fees, this card stands out as a clear top pick.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus
  • 2 points per $1 for travel & dining
  • Flexible points transfer program
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
1.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 1.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24%, variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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On Capital One's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

With one of the highest base travel rewards rates in the industry it's a great card for those with high spending volume each month. A generous sign up bonus, travel statement credits, and $100 for TSA Pre✓® make this a standout card for travelers . International travelers will appreciate no foreign transaction fees.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus
  • 10 miles per $1 at Hotels.com
  • 2 miles per $1
  • No foreign transaction fees
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
2.5 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 2.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 17.99% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
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Great for: Premium travel Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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Our Bottom Line

Arguably the best travel rewards card available today. Earn up to $750 as a sign up bonus, $300 in statement credits, 3 points per $1 on travel and dining, and no foreign transaction fees. Combined with easy points transfer and a robust redemption platform and it's hard to beat.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 50,000 points sign-up bonus
  • $300 annual travel credits
  • 3 points per $1 on travel & dining
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
1.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 1.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Regular APR: 19.24%-26.24%, variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
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Our Bottom Line

The competitive rewards rate makes it a good card for modest spenders and travelers who book themselves. A 20,000 mile sign-up bonus, 1.25 miles per $1, and $0 annual fee make it an exceptional value for spenders who'd like to avoid annual fees.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 20,000 miles sign-up bonus
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • No foreign transaction fees
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
5.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 5.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.24% - 24.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 months Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24%-24.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
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Great for: Travel card with no annual fee Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

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Our Bottom Line

No-annual-fee travel cards typically skimp on the sign-up bonus, but this card delivers with its best-in-class intro bonus offer (low spending hurdle to qualify!) and other wallet-friendly perks.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • Unlimited 1.5 points per $1
  • Big intro bonus offer
  • No foreign transaction fees
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 17.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 billing cycles Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR will apply
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
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Our Bottom Line

The introductory bonus offer, premium travel & dining rewards, and up to $200 in travel-related statement credits make this a compelling offer for travelers who can justify paying a modest annual fee.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 2 points per $1 for travel & dining
  • Big bonus offer
  • Up to $200 in travel credits
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
1.5 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 1.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don’t expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill Edge® and Merrill Lynch® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
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Great for: No annual fee and bonus Discover it® Miles

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On Discover's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

This no-annual-fee card earns unlimited 1.5x miles with all purchases. Although it lacks a big sign-up bonus, Discover will match all miles earned at the end of your first year. That's a tough bargain to pass up.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 1.5 Miles per $1
  • Double Miles in the first year
  • No annual fee
  • FICO® Score for free
Key Scores:
2.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
5.0 5 APR
Perks 2.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 5.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 14 months Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 14 months
Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
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Rates & Fees
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On Barclaycard's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

With a big sign up bonus for bigger spenders, and a flat rate of 2x miles earned on all purchases, this card will help you build travel rewards in a hurry. You also earn 5% miles back when you redeem miles giving you an additional boost.

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Credit Rating Requirement: excellent
What we Like:
  • 2 miles per $1
  • 70,000 miles bonus
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fee
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
3.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 3.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $89 (waived first year)
  • Regular APR: 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24%, variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
Highlights
  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • NEW - Control Your Card - Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
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Rates & Fees

Great for: Business travel Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

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Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Our Bottom Line

The big sign-up bonus and flat rate of 3x points earned on travel purchases make this a popular business travel card.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What we Like:
  • 80,000 points bonus
  • Up to 3x points per dollar
  • No foreign transaction fees
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 23.24%, variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee
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They say travel is good for the soul, but it’s not always good for your bank account. Unless, that is, you’re traveling for free.

Fortunately, free travel has gotten much more accessible with all the excellent travel rewards credit cards on the market. Instead of paying for your trips out of pocket every time, you can build rewards with your credit card, and then redeem those to cover your travel costs. Not only can your travel card help you go where you want, the best cards also include extra perks for a better travel experience.

How we picked the winners

Although we used a range of factors to decide on the best travel cards, there are a few that played the biggest role:

1. Rewards rates and sign-up bonuses -- A card that earns a lot of points will open up more travel opportunities for you. The best credit cards will have high rewards rates on your spending, big sign-up bonuses, or ideally, both of the above.

2. Reward redemption options -- We looked for cards that make it easy to redeem your points for the travel that you want, while still getting a good value from those points in the process.

3. Travel benefits -- These may include credits for certain types of travel purchases, access to airport lounges, or complimentary hotel perks, to name just a few.

Why you can trust me

Travel cards are my favorite type of credit card, and I’ve used quite a few of them over the years. I’ve earned over 500,000 points with my travel cards, most of which came from sign-up bonuses. Through travel redemptions, I’ve saved thousands of dollars on flights and vacation rentals.

How travel rewards credit cards work

Travel rewards credit cards earn points when you spend money, and you can then redeem those points for travel. There are two ways you’ll earn points:

Everyday spending -- Each time you buy something using your credit card, you’ll earn a certain number of points. Some travel cards earn a flat rate regardless of what the spending category is. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one example, as it earns two miles per $1. Others earn different amounts based on the spending category of the purchase, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which earns three points per $1 on travel and dining.

Sign-up bonuses -- Most popular travel cards include a sign-up bonus that you get if you meet a spending minimum. For example, a card could offer 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months. Sign-up bonuses are a popular incentive banks use to get new customers, and they’re the fastest way you can earn points.

Reward redemption options

Once you’ve banked some points, you can redeem them. Your redemption options will depend on the card you have.

Fixed-rate redemptions -- You get a set value for your points and can apply them towards any travel purchase. If you have a card that gets you $0.01 per point on travel redemptions, then 30,000 points could pay for $300 in travel expenses. These redemptions are fast and easy, and you can always count on getting a consistent value for your points.

Award bookings -- You book airfare or a hotel stay and pay the points price instead of the cash price. In some cases, points prices can offer a much better value than cash prices, like when a $1,000 business-class ticket only costs 30,000 points, getting you well over $0.03 per point.

You can make award bookings when you have a credit card with a specific airline or hotel. These are also an option when you have a card that lets you transfer your points to multiple airline and hotel transfer partners.

Both -- It’s getting more common for banks to offer points you can either redeem at a fixed rate or transfer to travel partners for award bookings. In fact, American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Citi all offer travel cards that include both redemption options.

Having multiple ways to redeem your points can help you book the travel you want and get the most value in the process, so several of our top travel cards are the ones that offer this.

Should you get a travel card?

If you’re on the fence about getting a travel card, there are three signs that this would be the right type of credit card for you.

You travel at least once per year -- You’ll need to travel to make use of your rewards and any travel perks your credit card has. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use your card to its full potential and you’d be better off looking at cash-back cards.

Your credit score is good or excellent -- For the most part, travel credit cards are only available to applicants who have at least a good credit score. It’s possible to get approved if you’re not quite there, but you may want to look at credit cards for fair credit or wait and build your credit score instead.

You pay your credit card bill in full -- Interest on credit card balances will almost always cost you more than the travel rewards you earn. A credit card isn’t really a good choice for carrying a balance, but if you need to do that, low-interest credit cards are a much better option than travel cards.

How to choose a travel rewards card

The first thing to figure out when selecting a travel card is how much of an annual fee you’re willing to pay. Here’s an idea of what the typical annual fee ranges are for travel cards:

  • No annual fee -- Most travel cards charge an annual fee, but there are exceptions, such as the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.
  • $50 to $100 -- This is the most popular price range for travel cards, and you can find plenty of quality options here that balance benefits with affordability.
  • $200 and above -- At this price range, you have the premium credit cards with the longest lists of features. Despite the higher costs of these cards, they can be worth it for frequent travelers.

After that, you can check out the cards in that price range and see which ones have benefits that will work best for you. In particular, you’ll want to consider the following features:

  • Rewards rates -- You may want a card that earns either a high flat-rate back on all your spending or has bonus categories that earn more rewards. If you’re interested in cards with bonus categories, then you’ll need to find one that earns bonus points in categories where you frequently spend money.
  • Sign-up bonuses -- You’ll obviously want the most possible bonus points, but you should also check that you can meet the spending minimum on a card’s sign-up bonus.
  • Point redemption options -- Whether you want to use your points for fixed-rate redemptions or award bookings, make sure that you can do so with the card you choose. If you want to make award bookings with a specific airline or hotel, then you’ll either want to get that company’s credit card or a card with points you can transfer to that company.

Maximizing the value of your travel card

Once you’ve received your travel rewards credit card, you can get the most out of it in a few steps.

1. Spend enough to earn the sign-up bonus

One of the biggest mistakes with travel cards is failing to get a sign-up bonus and seeing tens of thousands of points go down the drain. Keep track of how much time you have left and how close you are to getting your bonus. You can always contact your card issuer to ask about this if you’re unsure.

2. Pay the statement balance every month

All that money you’re saving with travel rewards will be wiped out if you carry a balance and need to pay interest charges. You won’t incur any interest if you pay your statement balance every month.

3. Know and use your card’s travel perks

You can miss out on a lot of value if you don’t know what benefits your card offers. For example, many cards now offer a credit for a Global Entry membership that can save you all kinds of time at the airport, but you can only take advantage if you’re aware of that perk.

4. Put all your purchases on your credit card

Here’s a simple one -- when you have a travel card, stop paying with your debit card or cash. Those won’t earn you a thing back. It makes much more sense to pay with your credit card, earn your points, and then pay off your credit card when the bill is due.

5. Only use your points for travel redemptions

With some travel cards, you’ll have a plethora of options regarding how you use your points. The most important thing to remember about redemptions is that you should use your points exclusively for travel. Other types of redemptions, such as cash back or merchandise purchases in points, just don’t offer nearly as much bang for your buck (or in this case, your point).

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To recap, here are the best travel rewards credit cards

Card Travel Reward Great For…
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Graphic of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Travel Reward:

60,000 points bonus

Great For:

Sign-up bonus and points transfers

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel Reward:

$500 travel bonus, 2 miles per $1

Great For:

Sign-up bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Graphic of Chase Sapphire Reserve® Travel Reward:

Up to $750 bonus + $300 in credits

Great For:

Premium travel

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Travel Reward:

$200 bonus + No annual fee

Great For:

No annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Travel Reward:

25,000 bonus points + No annual fee

Great For:

Travel card with no annual fee

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card Travel Reward:

50,000 bonus points

Great For:

Premium travel

Discover it® Miles Graphic of Discover it® Miles Travel Reward:

Matching miles

Great For:

No annual fee and bonus

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® Graphic of Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite MasterCard® Travel Reward:

70,000 bonus miles

Great For:

Sign-up bonus

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Graphic of Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Travel Reward:

80,000 bonus points

Great For:

Business travel