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The best travel rewards credit cards of September 2021:
While it takes more work to use points or miles compared to cash back, the upside is that you can get much more value for your points compared to receiving cash back. For example, Insider’s David Slotnick got almost 6 cents per point when he used Chase Ultimate Rewards to book a first-class flight to Japan.
In this guide, we’re focusing on the best travel credit cards that earn transferable points — points such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One miles that you can transfer to airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Airline and hotel co-branded credit cards can make sense if you travel frequently and are loyal to a particular brand, but if your main goal is to earn as many rewards as possible on your spending and have lots of options for using your points, cards that earn transferable points are the best option.
Best travel card overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred card
- High sign-up bonus starts you off with lots of points
- Strong travel coverage
- Doesn’t offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card was previously our pick for the best travel rewards card overall, it’s since increased its annual fee from $450 to $550. While it did add some new perks with Lyft and DoorDash, it’s become harder to recommend the Reserve to more casual travelers. We’ve updated this guide to reflect the changes, and we now recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as the best travel rewards credit card for most people.
Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the easiest rewards to use — and not just for travel. You can redeem them for travel directly through Chase and get more than 1 cent per point (you get 1.25 cents with the Preferred and 1.5 cents with the Reserve), and Chase’s selection of transfer partners is great for US-based travelers, including United, Hyatt, Marriott, and more.
You’ve also got great redemption options if you’re not ready to hit the road yet, including using points toward grocery store, dining, home-improvement stores, and eligible charity purchases through Pay Yourself Back through September 30, 2021 — with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem this way. Cardholders can also use points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and more.
The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, and it earns 5 points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 2 points on all other travel purchases, and 3 points on dining, online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), and select streaming services. It also earns 5 points per dollar with Lyft through March 2022, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The card stands out for its travel protections. You’ll enjoy protection if your flight is delayed, if your baggage is delayed or lost, primary car rental insurance, and more if you book eligible travel and meet the benefit requirements.
In addition, Chase recently added new benefits and bonus categories to the card, including up to $50 in annual statement credits for hotel purchases made through the Chase Travel Portal.
What the experts love: High welcome bonus, earns bonus points on travel, dining, and online grocery purchases, you can redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece for travel or through Chase (a 25% bonus)
What the experts don’t love: Doesn’t offer some of the travel perks you’ll get with competing cards, such as airport lounge access and a statement credit for Global Entry
Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred card review
- Why the Sapphire Preferred is a great beginner rewards card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Sapphire Reserve: How to decide which travel rewards credit card is best for you
- What purchases count as travel, dining, streaming, and grocery delivery with the new Chase Sapphire bonus categories?
Best travel card with a high annual fee: Sapphire Reserve
- Annual travel credit can effectively shave $300 off the annual fee if you use it
- Strong travel insurance
- Strong bonus rewards on travel and dining
- Very high annual fee
- The new DoorDash statement credits may not be useful for everyone, which can make the recently increased annual fee harder to justify
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
- Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
- With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,300 airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass(TM) Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Not everyone wants to pay a $550 annual fee, but if you’re serious about maximizing your rewards and you travel frequently, the Sapphire Reserve could be worth it.
Not only do you get up to $300 in statement credits toward travel each year (and Chase has a very generous definition of travel — including everything from airfare to highway tolls), but you also earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding the $300 travel credit) and 3x points on all other travel and dining. You also get airport lounge access through the Priority Pass network, which has more than 1,300 locations worldwide.
New benefits also include access to Chase Sapphire by The Club airport lounges (yet to open) and later this year, access to Reserved by Sapphire, a new opportunity to book hard-to-get reservations at some of the country’s top restaurants.
Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve review
When it comes to redeeming points, you can book travel through Chase and get 1.5 cents per point (a 50% bonus over the standard 1-cent-per-point rate), or you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to travel partners like Hyatt, British Airways, and United.
Plus, like the less-expensive Sapphire Preferred, the Sapphire Reserve offers some of the best credit card travel insurance around. This includes primary car rental insurance, trip delay and trip cancellation protection, and lost baggage insurance.
What the experts love: Earns 3x points on travel and dining purchases made outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, annual $300 travel credit, statement credits for DoorDash, points are worth 1.5 cents apiece for travel booked through Chase
What the experts don’t love: “You have to really squeeze every drop of value out of this card to make that jaw-dropping $550 annual fee worth it,” says Sara Rathner, credit card expert at NerdWallet.
Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve card review
- 11 benefits that make Chase Sapphire Reserve a must-have for frequent travelers
- I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum, but an overlooked perk makes Sapphire Reserve the clear winner in my book
Best for luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
See Pay Over Time APR
100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership
- Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
- Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
- Bonus categories leave something to be desired
- One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
- $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
- New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40 Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
- $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
- $695 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express has one of the highest rewards card annual fees — just recently increased to $695 (See Rates) — but it can still be well worth it if you can put all of its statement credits and generous welcome bonus to use.
You’ll earn 5x points on flights when you book directly through the airline or through Amex Travel (starting January 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), which makes the card a great choice for purchasing airfare. (Note: New Platinum Card® cardmembers can earn 10x points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and small businesses, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months of card membership). The card offers trip cancellation and interruption insurance, plus some of the best purchase protection, so it’s a good option for buying expensive items (and don’t forget to see if you can take advantage of an Amex Offerfor bonus points or cash back).
The Platinum Card offers more airport lounge access than any other personal travel rewards card — in addition to Priority Pass membership, you get access to Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re flying Delta), and more.
The card’s annual statement credits can go a long way toward offsetting the high annual fee. You get up to $200 in statement credits toward airline incidental feeslike checked bags and inflight purchases; up to $100 each year toward Saks Fifth Avenue purchases; and up to $200 in annual Uber credits (including Uber Eats).
Just keep in mind that you’re limited to one designated airline (you can choose it each year in your Amex account) for the airline incidental fee credit, and both the Saks and Uber credits are divided into portions. You’ll get up to $50 in statement credits toward Saks purchases from January to June, and another credit of up to $50 for Saks purchases from July to December. With the Uber credit, you get up to $15 each month, and a $20 bonus in December for a total of $35 that month.
What the experts love: Lots of luxury benefits, including airport lounge access and statement credits with Uber and Saks
What the experts don’t love: $695 annual fee (See Rates), plus this card doesn’t offer bonus points on very many types of purchases
Read more about the Amex Platinum:
- Amex Platinum card review
- Amex Platinum versus the Amex Business Platinum
- Chase Sapphire Reserve versus the American Express Platinum: Which premium credit card is right for you?
Best travel card for beginners: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
17.24% to 24.49% variable
Good to Excellent
Earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- No bonus categories to keep track of
- Includes up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Other credit cards offer higher rewards in certain categories of spending
- The information related to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
- Earn a bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening (worth $600 in travel)
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
- Miles won’t expire while your account is open and there’s no limit on the amount you can earn
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Redeem on travel-including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer miles to over 15 travel loyalty programs
- No foreign transaction fees
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great “set it and forget it” card, in the sense that you don’t have to worry about various bonus categories for earning rewards. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar, no matter what you buy.
This card also offers one of the most straightforward ways to redeem rewards for travel: The Purchase Eraser Tool lets you “wipe” travel purchases from your card statement, at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
You also have the option to transfer Capital One miles to more than a dozen frequent flyer programs, including Air Canada Aeroplan, Etihad Guest, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. Capital One recently added new partners including British Airways and Turkish Airlines, and improved the transfer ratio to 1:1 in some cases.
The selection of transfer partners is best suited to someone who wants to travel internationally and who doesn’t mind spending some time researching the best ways to redeem miles with the different frequent flyer program options. But the upside is that you can always use the Purchase Eraser tool instead. You also get up to a $100 Global Entry application fee credit.
What the experts love: The Purchase Eraser tool makes it easy to redeem miles, it earns 2 miles per dollar on every purchase
What the experts don’t love: “If you redeem miles for cash back, their value drops in half,” points out Rathner. Benét Wilson, senior editor at The Points Guy, also notes that other cards offer higher rewards on purchases such as travel and dining.
Read more about the Capital One Venture card:
- Capital One Venture card review
- Capital One Venture vs Chase Sapphire Preferred: How to decide which travel rewards credit card is best for you
- 2 reasons why the Capital One Venture has become one of my favorite cards for travel rewards
Best for dining rewards and benefits: American Express® Gold Card
See Pay Over Time APR
60,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 6 months of account opening
- Great rewards for dining and for shopping at US supermarkets
- Monthly statement credit for eligible dining purchases recoups some of the annual fee
- Underwhelming welcome bonus
- Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Me mbership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
- $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
The American Express® Gold Card is an ideal travel rewards card for anyone who frequently eats out and/or shops at U.S. supermarkets. You’ll earn 4x Amex Membership Rewards points on these purchases (though note the $25,000 calendar year annual cap for U.S. supermarkets; after that, you’ll earn just 1 point per dollar, but that’s a pretty high cap). The card also earns 3x points on flights booked directly with the airlines or through AmexTravel.com, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
While the $250 annual fee (See Rates) is on the high side, you can offset it thanks to an annual statement credit. You can get up to $120 in annual dining credits, but it’s divided into up to $10 in credits each month, and the credit only applies at the following restaurants and delivery services: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.
You’ll also get up to $120 Uber Cash ($10 per month) credit each calendar year (this is only applicable to U.S. Eats orders and rides, and the Gold Card needs to be added to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit).
What the experts love: “4x points on restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year, then 1x) is great — usually, a card favors one or the other,” says Rathner. Plus, the card offers monthly dining credits.
What the experts don’t love: Wilson notes that other cards offer similar benefits for a lower annual fee, and Rathner notes that the card’s travel and dining credits come with some important limitations — so read the fine print.
Read more about the Amex Gold card:
- Amex Gold card review
- Amex Platinum versus the Amex Gold card
- 3 reasons why the Amex Gold card is an easy choice for foodies, travelers, and even beginners
Other top credit cards that just missed the cut
Our list of the best travel rewards credit cards contains our very top picks, but there are dozens of other travel credit cards out there. Here are some cards that almost made the cut, along with why we opted to leave them off our final list.
- American Express® Green Card — This card earns 3x points on travel and dining and has a moderate $150 annual fee. The points earning is great, but the welcome bonus isn’t anything to rave about, and the card’s statement credits for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy aren’t easy for everyone to use.
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card — If you want to earn travel rewards without an annual fee, this card is worth considering. Says NerdWallet’s Sara Rathner, “It doesn’t have the same high rewards earning rate as cards that charge fees, but there’s a valuable sign-up bonus and easy redemptions.”
Frequently asked questions
How did we choose the best travel credit cards?
Personal Finance Insider evaluated dozens of travel rewards credit cards currently available to new applicants and narrowed down the list to the best options based on the following factors:
- Sign-up bonus — do new cardholders get a valuable incentive to sign up and meet a minimum spending requirement?
- Ongoing rewards — how many points or miles you earn on your purchases
- Benefits — beyond rewards, does the card offer valuable perks such as statement credits for travel, primary car rental insurance, and airport lounge access?
- Annual fee
- Overall value — does the card justify its annual fee by offering useful benefits and valuable rewards, and is it worth it?
What is the best travel rewards card?
We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the best overall travel rewards card, but the best card for your particular situation will depend on what benefits you care about the most, as well as how you feel about paying a high annual fee.
We’d recommend opening a travel rewards card that earns Amex or Chase points, since these are among the easiest rewards to redeem and you have various travel partners to utilize. But if you’ve investigated your options and are confident that you can get value out of their rewards, cards that earn Capital One miles or Citi ThankYou points can make sense as well.
What are the different types of travel credit cards?
There are two main types of travel rewards cards:
- Cards that earn transferable points: Transferable points are generally bank rewards that you can move over to travel partners. Transferable points currencies include Amex Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points, and Marriott Bonvoy points (which transfer to more than 40 airline partners).
- Airline and hotel co-branded cards: These cards earn points or miles within a respective hotel or airline program; you don’t have the option to redeem your rewards with a wide variety of travel partners (or if you do, the transfer ratio usually isn’t great). See our guide to the best airline credit cards, as well as our guide to the best hotel credit cards.
How do I pick a travel credit card?
There are a few different things you’ll want to evaluate when deciding on the right travel rewards card for you:
- Sign-up bonus — Is this card offering an attractive intro bonus to new cardholders?
- Bonus categories — Does the card earn you bonus rewards on your most common purchases, such as dining out or travel?
- Ease of use — How easy is it to use your points? A travel rewards card can offer all the points in the world, but if the options for using them aren’t convenient for you, chances are you’ll be leaving value on the table. Make sure you research your options for redeeming rewards with a travel credit card before you apply. That means taking a look at the rewards program’s travel partners, as well as your options for using rewards to book travel directly through the credit card issuer’s website.
- Perks — The more benefits a credit card has, the higher its annual fee tends to be. So you’ll want to make sure you’ll be able to utilize most of its perks, such as annual statement credits, airport lounge access, and complimentary elite status.
- Annual fee — If you don’t want to pay a high annual fee, you can rule several travel rewards cards out. Luckily, though, you still have some great options under $100.
Are annual fees worth it?
Travel rewards cards with annual fees are worth it if you’re able to get significant value out of their benefits and rewards.
Before you apply for a card, make sure you’ll actually use all the features that contribute to the card’s annual fee. For example, if a card offers an annual statement credit of up to $200 toward travel but you can’t use it, you’re probably not getting what you pay for.
How do travel rewards cards work?
Travel rewards cards earn you points (or miles) on every purchase you make, with the goal of helping you earn enough rewards to book free travel. The best travel rewards cards earn points that can be transferred to various airline and hotel partners — like Amex, Chase, or Citi points.
How do I get a free flight?
Applying for a travel rewards credit card and earning its welcome bonus is a great way to work toward a free flight. Domestic award flights in economy class typically require about 25,000 points, so depending on the welcome bonus, you could have enough rewards for a flight right out of the gate.
Our expert panel for this guide
We consulted top credit card experts as well as a certified financial planner for advice on the top travel credit cards. Their input informed our picks for the best cards, and you can find a full transcript of our interviews with each of them at the bottom of this page.
- Sara Rathner, travel and credit cards expert at NerdWallet
- Luis Rosa, certified financial planner
- Sarah Silbert, senior reviews editor at Personal Finance Insider
- Benét Wilson, credit cards editor at The Points Guy
How our list compares to other publications
Getting a new credit card is a deeply personal decision, and it rightfully involves a good amount of research. In addition to drawing from Personal Finance Insider’s expert editors, writers, and sources, we’ve cross-referenced our top travel rewards card recommendations with other top publications. See how our list compares:
The experts’ advice on choosing the best travel credit card for you
We interviewed a certified financial planner and three credit card and travel experts about what makes a good travel credit card. Their feedback informed our list of cards, and you can find the full text of our interviews below.
Wha t features make a travel rewards credit card good?
Sara Rathner, NerdWallet:
Generous ongoing rewards on common spending categories is something I look for, because a sign-up bonus, while lucrative, can only get you so far. NerdWallet’s 2019 Travel Credit Card Study found that a 50,000-point bonus can cover about 1.6 flights, depending on where and when you travel. If you want to offset a trip in a more major way, you need opportunities to earn more.
Easy redemptions are also really important. No one wants to navigate a maze of rules and restrictions. Those points are yours, so you should be able to spend them without sweating the details.
Luis Rosa, CFP:
Airport lounge access, a statement credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and a significant bonus point incentive during the first couple of months.
Sarah Silbert, Personal Finance Insider:
It needs to offer benefits that are useful for you, so it ultimately depends on how you travel and what perks you value. But a few key things to look for are a high welcome bonus, strong bonus rewards in your top spending categories, trip protection such as trip cancellation insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. Good premium travel credit cards should offer higher-end benefits such as airport lounge access and annual travel credits as well.
Benét Wilson, The Points Guy:
They’re a great way to earn rewards that allow you to travel the world for less money — or practically for free. All you have to do is use a travel credit card to buy the same items you’d otherwise buy with cash or a debit card, but make sure you pay it off every month. With some travel credit cards, you can also get great travel perks, from airport lounge access and hotel elite status to free airline companion certificates and discounts or credits on travel purchases. You often get more value from points than from cash back.
How can someone decide whether a travel credit card is a good fit for them?
Sara Rathner, NerdWallet:
You always want to make sure that the value you get out of a card each year exceeds the cost of holding onto it. From there, make sure the card’s other benefits are relevant to you — for example, a credit toward a CLEAR membership isn’t useful if your local airport doesn’t participate in the CLEAR program.
Luis Rosa, CFP:
I recommend looking at the sign-up bonuses and also the rewards on non-travel-related purchases. Right now you might not be traveling much, but you want a card that’ll provide you with enough rewards on non-travel purchases so that you can take advantage once you resume traveling as usual post-COVID-19.
Sarah Silbert, Personal Finance Insider:
It’s all about how the card’s benefits and rewards align with your lifestyle. For example, if you spend a lot on dining, you should look for a card that offers bonus points on those purchases. For cards with annual fees, it’ll only be worth it if you actually take advantage of the premium benefits. Additionally, make sure the points you’re earning are the best type of rewards for you. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my personal favorite since I can redeem them for travel through Chase or with my favorite travel partners including Hyatt and United, and I can also redeem them for groceries and dining through Chase Pay Yourself Back.
Benét Wilson, The Points Guy:
You need to ask some questions. Do you plan on using the points and miles you earn on your cards for travel? Are you hoping to use your sign-up bonus for a specific redemption? Are you looking for a card that gives you luxury travel perks? Are you hoping to hit elite status with a certain hotel brand or airline? Are you a casual traveler or a frequent flyer? What spending categories will be most beneficial to you?
For example, if you want a card to help you hit elite status with United Airlines while giving you elite-like perks, then consider applying for a United credit card. Chase’s United co-branded cards give you perks such as lounge access, free checked bags, and priority boarding.
However, if you only fly occasionally or you’re not loyal to one airline, a flexible travel credit card that doesn’t offer perks on any one airline but earns points or miles that can be redeemed on a variety of airlines — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred — might be a better choice.
If you’re a road warrior who flies every week, you’ll want to think about a premium travel card that offers lots of perks to make your travels smoother, such as the Amex Platinum, which comes with airport lounge access and hotel elite status.
Is there anything else that you think is important to note when it comes to picking a travel credit card?
Sara Rathner, NerdWallet:
Depending on how often you travel, you may get more value out of a cash-back credit card. A NerdWallet study found that travelers who spend more than $8,600 in travel per year, or take at least one international trip per year, get the most out of travel cards. If that doesn’t sound like you, there are other rewarding cards available.
Luis Rosa, CFP:
Don’t necessarily be afraid of the annual fee. Cards with annual fees can have enough perks to make them worth it.
Sarah Silbert, Personal Finance Insider:
There are so many great travel credit cards available that it can be tempting to sign up for several and earn their welcome bonuses, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start slow with one rewards card, get a feel for its perks and rewards, and adjust your credit card strategy as needed if you want additional benefits or aren’t finding the annual fee to be worth it.
Benét Wilson, The Points Guy:
All covered above!
Sarah Silbert is the Senior Reviews Editor at Personal Finance Insider. She oversees the vertical’s guides and reviews, covering topics including banking, credit cards, insurance, investing, and mortgages. Her goal is to empower readers to make smart, informed financial decisions. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). You can reach Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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