Up to $625 in Travel

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Up to $625 in Travel


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Best Travel Credit Cards Of 2018Travel credit cards reward you for your purchases and loyalty with a variety of benefits that will help get you on the next plane to Cabo.

Here’s an in-depth guide to travel credit cards in 2019 that will help you understand everything you need to turn your regular spending into a vacation.

Overview: Best travel credit cards

With so much competition in the industry, it might be hard to figure out which card is right for you.

Here’s a list of Money Under 30’s favorite travel credit cards—we’re sure you’ll find the right one for you on this list.

Note: These credit cards all require a credit score of at least 700; the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card requires a score of at least 750.

Best for generous travel or cash sign-up bonus

Editor’s Choice, March 2019:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Credit Needed: Excellent Credit
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 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.
Intro APR
Purchases
Intro Term
Purchases
Intro APR
Balance Transfers
Intro Term
Balance Transfers
Regular APR Annual Fee
N/A N/A N/A N/A 18.24% – 25.24% Variable $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers some great benefits with no annual fee for the first year and a mere $95 for every year after that. It also has no foreign transaction fees either, saving you a bundle on foreign purchases.

The card offers a whopping 50,000 bonus points when you sign up and spend $4,000 within three months of opening the account. You’ll also get a generous rewards program—2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point for all other purchases.

  • Regular APR: 18.24% – 25.24% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
  • Rewards: 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining and one point for all other purchases.

See card details/apply or read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® review.

Best for everyday travel rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

This offer requires Excellent/Good credit.

    Card 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
    • View Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card details and how to apply »

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The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is not your typical travel credit card. Aside from the first year annual fee waiver, members like this card because it has one of the best earn rates around. You can receive 2 miles for every dollar charged across all categories.

You’ll also earn 50,000 bonus miles when you use your card for $3,000 worth of purchases within three months of opening the card.

  • Regular APR: 17.99% – 25.24% (Variable) 
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards: 2 miles for every dollar charged across all categories

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One® Venture® review.

Best for 3X points on popular categories

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
Intro APR
Purchases
Intro Term
Purchases
Intro APR
Balance Transfers
Intro Term
Balance Transfers
Regular APR Annual Fee
0% 12 months 0% 12 months 14.74%-27.24% (Variable) $0

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A slightly different approach to travel rewards, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card takes a more holistic view of things. When you book your airline tickets, for example, that’ll earn you 3x points to the dollar. Reserve your hotel room? 3x points to the dollar. Enjoy a romantic dinner on the Thames? 3x to the dollar. Get the idea?

You’ll also get travel insurance, roadside assistance, and cell phone protection (up to $600 per claim and up to two claims per year with a $25 deductible).

  • Regular APR: 14.74%-27.24% (Variable) 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 3x points for dining out and travel purchases; 1x point on all other purchases

See card details/apply or read our full Wells Fargo Propel review.

Best for first year bonus points

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good
  • 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.
Intro APR
Purchases
Intro Term
Purchases
Intro APR
Balance Transfers
Intro Term
Balance Transfers
Regular APR Annual Fee
0% 14 months 10.99% 14 months 14.24% – 25.24% Variable $0

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The Discover it® Miles has a lot going for it in terms of travel credit cards. For one thing, it comes with absolutely no annual fees or foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for travelers who want to spend but don’t want to commit.

The standard earn rate is 1.5 miles per every dollar spent on purchases without any categories or limitations.

This is a good amount, but the most exciting benefit you’ll receive from the Discover it® Miles is the end of year bonus. At the end of the first year owning the card, Discover will match whatever miles you’ve earned for the entire 12-month period.

  • Regular APR: 14.24% – 25.24% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1.5 miles per every dollar spent on purchases without any categories or limitations

See card details/apply or read our full Discover it® Miles review.

Best for Bank Of America customers

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • 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 if 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
Intro APR
Purchases
Intro Term
Purchases
Intro APR
Balance Transfers
Intro Term
Balance Transfers
Regular APR Annual Fee
0% Introductory APR on purchases 12 billing cycles N/A N/A 17.24% – 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers $0

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The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a similar offer to the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards card, and it also caters to the casual credit card holder. If you don’t find yourself putting a lot on your card each month but still want the fringe benefits that come when you do, this could be the best card for you.

You’ll get you a neat 25,000 online bonus points, and you only have to spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening the account to qualify for them. The earn rate is 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases.

The biggest incentive to choosing the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, though, is for Bank of America Preferred Rewards Clients. If you qualify, you could up your reward points earn rate by 25 percent, 50 percent, or even 75 percent depending on what type of account and how much money you have in the account on a consistent basis.

  • Regular APR: 17.24% – 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

See card details/apply or read our full Bank of America® Travel Rewards review.

Best for low regular APR

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

This offer requires Excellent/Good credit.

    Card 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
    • View Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card details and how to apply »

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The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is one of the best all around travel credit cards, especially for people who don’t necessarily spend a lot of money on their credit cards each month.

The card gives you a nice 20,000 miles welcome bonus as long as you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening the account. The earn rate is 1.25X miles on every purchase. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels.

You’ll also get some cushy perks like travel upgrades at hotels and spas and the Visa Signature® concierge service to make your trip more comfortable. Additionally, this card delivers more convenience and security while traveling with auto collision or theft insurance and travel insurance.

  • Regular APR: 14.24% – 24.24% (Variable) 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One® VentureOne® review.

Best travel rewards for businesses

Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business

This offer requires Excellent/Good credit.

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The Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business offers small businesses a way to really save on travel expenses with this exclusive for business travel credit card.

Geared specifically towards smaller businesses that can’t afford the high premium on some of the more upscale cards, the Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business comes with all of the benefits you would expect from a travel card without the added fees.

The unique aspect about the Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business is that it charges absolutely no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees – rare among credit cards geared towards businesses.

  • Regular APR: 15.24% – 23.24% (Variable) 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1.5 miles per $1 on every purchase

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One® Spark® Miles review.

Summary of the best travel rewards credit cards

Credit Card

Credit Needed

Cash Rewards

Unique Features

Editor’s Choice, March 2019:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

750+

2X points on travel and dining
1 point on all other purchases

Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

700+

2X miles on every purchase

Earn 10 miles for every dollar you spend on Capital One’s reservation portal hotels.com/venture

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

700+

3X points for eating out and ordering in
3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
1X points on other purchases

30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases

Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

700+

Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

700+

1.25X miles on every purchase
10X miles on thousands of hotels

Travel upgrades at hotels and spas and the Visa Signature® concierge service

Capital One® Spark® Miles Select Card for Business

700+

1.5 miles per $1 on every purchase

Add extra employee cards at no additional cost

How we came up with our list of the top travel credit cards

Choosing the best travel credit cards can be tricky, and that’s why we wanted to be as particular as possible so you wouldn’t have to do any of the legwork.

We’ve scoured the internet, spoken with card issuers, and conducted in-depth research to find all of the most promising travel offers available.

We then weighed each of them in a thorough side-by-side comparison, and came up with a list of the most beneficial cards to travel with in 2019.

We considered the most important factors including introductory offers, rewards points earn rates, redemption structure and policies, annual fees, and additional benefits that you receive with the card.

A card got higher rankings if it offered less fees, high earn rates, extra perks, and an easy redemption policy.

Travel rewards credit cards vs. airline credit cards

If you’ve ever traveled or looked into travel credit cards, you’ve heard the terms airline credit cards and travel rewards credit cards. Chances are that you assumed these two terms are interchangeable. In fact, they are not. Here’s the important difference:

Airline credit cards

These are credit cards that are issued directly by an airline, for example, the British Airways Visa Signature® card. In these cases, the airline teams up with a credit card company to offer members a new deal, usually discounts on flights or flight-related items such as free checked baggage, etc.

These deals are airline-specific, and you cannot use the miles for any other airline or travel expenses.

Travel rewards credit cards

Travel rewards credit cards come from a different angle. These miles can be used with any hotel chain, airline, or even travel agent. In fact, often these bonus points can be used on purchases other than airline tickets and other travel-related purchases.

You’ll earn valuable rewards points by purchasing with your travel credit card such as priority check-in, VIP passes, and upgrades. What’s more, travel rewards credit cards come with additional perks such as 0 percent APR on purchase and purchase protection or extended warranty.

Additionally, you’ll enjoy multiplied or accelerated points accumulation when you use your card to make regular purchases (not just travel-related ones).

All in all, travel rewards cards deliver more for your money, making them our preferred choice.

Most important features of travel credit cards

As mentioned, there are some features that are more important for a travel credit card than others. Since they’re the most significant things to look for when searching for the best travel credit card, we thought it would be a good idea to explain each one. Here’s a brief description of what to look for when comparing cards:

APR

The APR or annual percentage rate is the total amount that the card will cost you each year if you carry a balance. A higher APR means you’ll be shelling out more cash, while a lower APR reflects greater savings. A card with a 0 percent APR introductory rate or an everyday lower APR scored higher in our rankings.

Annual fees

Annual fees are a big deal among travel cardholders with so much variation from card to card. Cards range from no annual fees to hundreds of dollars, so there is a lot of discussion around the topic.

Credit card companies need to make money somehow, but cardholders need to be incentivized in order to sign up for their cards. Some companies compensate the bigger benefits they offer by charging a higher annual fee, while others prefer to offer smaller benefits and lower or no annual fees. Which is better is the big debate.

So, which is it? That depends mostly on your spending and travel habits. The more you travel, the more advantageous a travel credit card with good rewards and earn rates becomes.

Another factor to consider, however, is how much you spend on your credit card each year.

While it seems obvious that a no annual fee credit card is better than one that charges you yearly, this is not always the case. In some instances, you’re better off paying the annual fee because of the benefits that come with the card. It depends on how much you spend with your card, for the most part. If you aren’t spending a lot annually on your card, then a high annual fee won’t be worthwhile for you to pay, even if it offers great rewards.

Credit score required

How good a credit score you need is a major factor to consider when applying for a credit card. Many premium travel cards require good credit, meaning 700 or higher.

If you don’t have this level of credit rating, then you probably won’t be eligible for the card. Fortunately, there are some solid credit card options available to people with fair or poor credit scores.

Redemption

How hard or easy rewards points are to redeem and what you can redeem them for are also big decision makers. It doesn’t help to accrue thousands of points if you can’t redeem them for any of the things you want to buy.

When credit cards tie your hands with blackout dates, purchase restrictions, amount limitations, and caps, they lose credibility and desirability in our eyes. Travel cards ranked higher for a wider range of redemption options and redemption flexibility.

Foreign transaction fees

Foreign transaction fees eat away a large chunk of the savings we hope to gain from a reward-based travel credit card. Instead of racking up one to three percent of our purchases in rewards points, a foreign transaction fee actually deducts three percent from your savings. For this reason, only credit cards with no foreign transaction fees are included in our list. You won’t be hit with this colossal charge using any of these cards.

Travel rewards structure

How you earn points, and the value of those points, is important as well. If you earn one point for every dollar you spend or if you earn three points, that’s a big difference. How many points earned is something we take heavily into consideration when comparing travel cards. Additionally, what purchases earn you rewards points, also weighs in.

Alternatively, some cards will offer you a lower earn rate that is equal across all categories. This is the case with the Discover it® Miles. You’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, regardless of category. This is more beneficial for people who only travel infrequently, and wouldn’t make as many purchases on travel expenses.

Other rewards structure factors include any caps on how many points can be earned, expiration dates, and other rules regulating your rewards.

Airline companion tickets

Airline companion tickets are basically a free or discounted ride for someone you are traveling with. This is a benefit that is generally reserved by the airlines themselves, and most travel credit cards do not offer this perk. If a card does, it is ranked higher for this advantage.

Introductory offer

A good introductory offer can be an enticing proposal. Most travel cards have some sort of introductory offer, but this can vary from one card to the next. Some cards offer bonus points while others will give you 0 percent APR for a limited amount of time. One of the most lucrative welcome bonuses is the Discover it® Miles that actually matches your reward miles at the end of the first year. That’s huge!

There’s one thing to note about introductory offers, though. While a nice welcome bonus can give you tremendous gains for the first year, be sure to choose a travel card that will be beneficial to you in the long run as well. If a card loses its value after the first year and leaves you holding a large annual fee, you haven’t really gained much.

Additional benefits

While travel miles are the crux of your search with travel credit cards, most cards will also come with additional benefits. Think of it as the cherry on top of an already sweet sundae; additional benefits can include shopping perks, travel insurance, and bonuses. Here are some of the bonus perks you’ll get from each of our recommended travel cards:

FAQs

Will I be charged any added fees if I use my card overseas?

All of the cards on our list of the best travel credit cards do not charge any foreign transaction fees on purchases made overseas.

How can I redeem travel rewards points I’ve already earned?

Redeem your travel rewards points in one of two ways:

  • Statement Credit: You charge something to your credit card and then select that item on your statement via the credit card’s website. Choose the item you wish to pay for using your miles, and that amount will automatically be deducted from your bill.
  • Direct Purchase: You can use the credit card’s partner website or reservation portal to book flights and other reservations directly using your miles.

Can I redeem only a portion of my rewards and if so, is there a minimum amount I can redeem at once?

Depending on the card you use, you may be required to use a minimum number of points if you wish to redeem for only partial purchases. Meaning, if you want to pay for half of your airline ticket using miles, you’ll need to use at least 2,5000 miles to cover the cost. See specific card details for more information.

Do my rewards points expire after a certain amount of time?

The vast majority of travel cards will keep your rewards points for the entire duration of your account life. If you deactivate your card, the points will be deactivated as well. Otherwise, you can keep accruing points without worrying about expirations.

What can I redeem my rewards points for?

What you can use your rewards points on varies based on the card you sign up for. Generally speaking, most travel cards will allow you to redeem rewards points for airline tickets and hotel reservations, and many will include car rentals, cruises, and other travel-related expenses. A few cards will even let you trade in rewards points for statement credits for anything you want.

Should you get a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards offer a world of benefit to anyone who currently travels or someone who wants to travel but can’t afford the ticket.

A travel credit card is a good idea for you if you spend a minimum of $1,000 on your credit card each month. Even if you don’t, though, the cards with no annual fees can help you rack up valuable points for any purchases that you are making already.

If you are interested in flying or staying in hotels for free, this type of credit card can make it happen.

Not sure you want a travel credit card? Finding the right credit card for you is much simpler if you know your credit score, and can narrow your search to only the cards you know you’ll get approved for. We’ve made it easy for you. If you don’t already know your score, use our quick and free Credit Score Estimator tool – then find the perfect card for you!

Summary

If you’re a frequent traveler, travel reward cards are a must-have.

They typically offer no foreign transaction fees, and if you don’t want to pay an annual fee, there are still plenty to choose from.



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