The best travel credit cards offer powerful rewards for spending at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, or other popular categories, as well as travel perks that will turn a boring trip into a luxurious one.
Most travel cards charge an annual fee, but this fee is usually offset by a welcome bonus, cashback or travel discount that these cards offer. Along with the return on your spending, you get complimentary benefits like priority boarding, airport lounge access and premium hotel services.
If you are booking a large group tour, the right travel credit card can change everything. Check out our partner’s best offers for the best travel credit cards for June 2022 below to find the one that suits you best.
Note: Travel credit cards are for frequent flyers, not frequent flyers. If you’re a consistent patron of a particular airline, check out the best airline credit cards to find the one that’s right for you.
Read more: Airline cards and travel credit cards
The best all-inclusive travel card for most travelers
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card offers the best value of all travel cards. The welcome bonus is one of the most competitive advantages. Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months after opening an account and earn 80,000 bonus points. This is $800 in statement balance or “cashback” and $1,000 when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase Ultimate Rewards is a third-party travel booking service that operates similar to Expedia. Plus, you get a high reward rate when you travel, and 25% more points earned when you travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards instead of statement credits.
You’ll also enjoy other travel perks such as no international transaction fees, $50 per year hotel credit for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards per account anniversary, and point-to-point transfers with airlines and hotel partners. With an annual fee of $95, the benefits of this union are great for those who travel once or twice a year.
To learn more, check out our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review.
premium travel card
Chase Sapphire Reserve offers great value for those who spend a lot of money on travel. The card gives you 10x Unlimited Points for hotel and car rental purchases with Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5x Points for air travel purchases with Chase Ultimate Rewards, and 3x Points for other travel purchases (after earning $300 annual travel credit, travel Get high rewards for your purchases) . You can also earn 3x points for dinner, 1x on all other purchases and 10x points on Lyft flights through March 2025.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has an annual fee of $550, an annual travel credit of $300 lowers the total cost to $250, making it easier to manage your annual fee. Plus, after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, the reward of 50,000 points earned is equivalent to $750 for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Finally, cardholders receive a Global Entry or TSA Precheck payment credit statement ($100 for Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck, both valid for 5 years) and a range of VIP-style travel perks.
Even better for those looking for additional travel benefits, such as travel insurance through the Luxury Hotels & Resorts collection, hotel discounts and lounge access through Priority Pass Select.
Check out our full Chase Sapphire Reserve review for more details.
Comprehensive Rewards Program
The Citi Premier® Card is Citi’s competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Get 3x points for restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels, and 1x points for all other purchases. Sapphire Preferred may offer higher fares on certain flights, but the Citi Premier card is less restrictive on purchases that earn points, and triple points is a decent price offered in many categories. The welcome bonus is also quite competitive. If you make a purchase of $4,000 within 3 months of opening an account, you’ll earn 60,000 Bonus Points, which you can use on Thankyou.com for $600 as a gift card or travel reward.
Plus, when you book through Thankyou.com, you’ll enjoy a $100 international transaction fee and annual hotel savings for a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees. Check out our full Citi Premier Card review for more details.
The best travel card for premium benefits
The Platinum Card is Amex’s first class travel card, ideal for those seeking premium travel benefits such as lounge access and hotel upgrades. Due to its consistently narrow reward structure that does not include groceries or meals and its high annual fee of $695, this card is valuable for certain spending profiles, so do your calculations before applying.
The Platinum Card earns 5x Membership Rewards Points (up to $500,000 per year on eligible purchases) for flights booked directly through an airline or through the American Express Travel portal, and 5x Membership Rewards points for prepaid hotels booked through the American Express travel portal do. Flights or hotels booked through third-party services or companies such as Orbitz are excluded.
Although this card has a high annual fee of $695, it offers many advantages. Cardholders may receive up to $200 credit on their airline fee statement annually for travel expenses on one of the eligible airlines of their choice (eg checked baggage, meals or beverages). A statement of credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck ($100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA Precheck, both valid for 5 years) and up to $200 Uber Cash per year for travel and dining in the United States. 100,000 points discount on purchases of $6,000 or more during the first 6 months of card membership. $1,000 for flights booked through American Express Travel and $600 to cover other card fees.
Terms and conditions apply to American Express benefits and offers. Registration may be required for certain American Express benefits and offers. For more information, visit Americanexpress.com.
Best fixed price for all purchases
The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card is a simple, easy-to-use option for those who want to book travel with travel reward miles generated from public spending and don’t want to worry about qualifying purchase spend categories.
With double unlimited miles on every purchase, the Venture Card is the most profitable travel card. Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months to earn 75,000 miles. This is especially important given the relatively low annual fee of $95. Project Capital One also offers cardholders up to $100 in credit on their TSA Precheck or Global Entry statements, as well as travel accident insurance and car rental collision insurance (terms, conditions and exclusions apply; see Benefits Guide for details). provides
Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card.
Questions and Answers
How do travel credit cards work?
Travel credit cards convert purchases into points or miles that can be used to purchase travel such as air tickets and hotel stays. You can sometimes exchange these points for cash or gift cards, but you usually get the best rates when used to book travel. The best cards have their own travel booking portal where you can find flights, hotels and car rentals. Sometimes the points are more valuable when used on the portals of these credit card companies.
Airline and hotel credit cards not on this list behave like a loyalty program in that they maintain a closed-loop reward system. You can earn rewards when you purchase flights or hotels with the airline or hotel company of your choice and use these points for perks or future bookings with the same airline or group of hotels.
How do I choose the best travel credit card?
Points and travel benefits earned through travel rewards programs are often redeemed through the credit card issuer’s website (or app) or as a credit listing for past, daily, travel-related purchases made with a travel credit card. Points or miles can be transferred to travel partners (mostly hotels and airlines) at variable transfer rates, which can be used to book flights or hotel rooms.
There are several key factors to consider when choosing the best travel credit card.
How did you choose the best travel credit card?
To determine our recommendations for the best travel credit card, we research 20 of the most popular travel rewards credit cards (listed below) and find out more about the frequent traveler, frequent traveler, meal and groceries or people searching. It’s an easy way to save money on travel with the miles you’ve earned from your many daily spend. We always put total net worth first. Choosing the right reward credit card will save you money, be financially responsible, and not be fooled by flashy or unrelated perks or offers.
We reviews credit cards against specific criteria developed for each major category, such as cashback, welcome rewards, travel rewards, and balance transfers. We take into account the general spending behavior of different consumer profiles and the specific features of the card, recognizing that everyone’s financial situation is different.
For cashback credit cards, for example, key factors include an annual “Welcome Bonus” fee and a cashback percentage (or percentage if different depending on your spending category). For Rewards and Miles cards, we calculate and evaluate the net cash value of each card benefit. With a balance transfer credit card, we analyze the standard APR and specifications such as 0% annual interest rate and balance transfer fees for the introduction period, recognizing secondary factors such as the length of time a balance must be transferred after opening an account.
The editorial content on this page is based entirely on the objective and independent reviews of our authors and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It is not provided or approved by any third party. However, we may receive compensation if you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.