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16 Best Travel Credit Cards of January 2024


A travel credit card can be a valuable tool to help you save on travel expenses. If you use it strategically, you could snag free flights, hotel stays and more.

Our team evaluates the top travel credit cards in the market every month, comparing their fees, welcome offers, travel insurance policies and more. Based on our extensive research, we’ve picked some of the best travel credit cards around, including Chase Sapphire Preferred®, The Platinum Card® from American Express and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

Read on for our complete list of the best travel credit cards, how they work and how to pick the best one for you.

Money’s Main Takeaways

  • Travel credit cards offer high rewards on travel purchases, which can be redeemed for airfare, hotel nights, cash back, statement credits or more.
  • Many travel credit cards also offer bonus points or miles on everyday spending categories, like dining and gas.
  • The best travel credit cards often include perks such as travel insurance and annual statement credits.

Why Trust Us?

Our editorial team has spent well over a thousand hours analyzing, evaluating and comparing the top credit card offers in the market. We carefully vet each card’s fine print in order to understand their features, limitations and potential benefits for consumers. We review cards independently, ensuring our content is accurate and guided by editorial integrity. Read our full methodology to learn more.

  • 46 travel credit cards evaluated
  • 10+ data points used, including ongoing fees, reward programs and welcome offers
  • 100+ sources reviewed

Our Top Picks for Best Travel Credit Cards

Best no-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best low-fee-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best premium travel credit cards

Best business travel credit cards

Best Travel Credit Cards Reviews

Best No-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Capital One Savor One Credit Card
Courtesy of Capital One

Pros

  • Unlimited 3% back on dining, entertainment, grocery stores (excluding Target(R) and Walmart(R)) and select streaming services
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Includes travel accident insurance
  • Complimentary concierge service available 24/7 to offer personalized assistance in dining, entertainment and travel

Cons

  • 5% cash-back rate for travel only applies to hotels and rental cars, not flights


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee
Sign-up bonus
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR
Recommended credit
Travel insurance
Travel accident

Why we chose it: The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is the ideal card to take when you’re sightseeing or on nights out since it offers high rewards on dining, entertainment and more without charging any annual or foreign transaction fees.

With the Capital One SavorOne, cardholders can earn cash back at restaurants, tourist attractions, concerts, theme parks and more. The card’s reward categories include:

  • 10% back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases plus statement credits to cover the costs of an Uber One membership through November 14, 2024
  • 8% back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 3% back on dining, eligible streaming services, entertainment and grocery stores (excluding Target® and Walmart®)
  • 1% back on all other eligible purchases

Keep in mind that this card’s travel bonus only applies to hotel and rental car bookings made through the Capital One Travel portal. This means that you won’t get any cash back or points for flight reservations, which other travel credit cards do offer.

However, this card gives you 3% cash back on dining and entertainment at establishments worldwide. This gives you excellent reward-earning potential while traveling compared to other cards that only provide rewards on purchases made on U.S. locations.

Capital One Venture One rewards Credit Card
Courtesy of Capital One

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Can transfer your miles to 16 travel partners
  • Earns 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

Cons

  • Doesn’t earn bonus points on airfare
  • No domestic travel partners
  • Limited redemption options


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee:
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance:
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel accident insurance

Why we chose it: The Capital One VentureOne Credit Card earns a consistent 1.25x miles per dollar on every eligible purchase and 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

You can use your miles to book travel through the Capital One Travel portal or as a statement credit to cover travel purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies and more.

You can also transfer your points to one of Capital One’s 16 travel partners, which include international airlines such as Avianca and British Airways. This option is notable since travel credit cards with no annual fee don’t typically offer the option to transfer your reward to airline and hotel partners.

However, the card’s list of bonus categories is limited compared to some other no-annual-fee credit cards, and Capital One doesn’t offer bonus points on airfare booked through Capital One Travel.

Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card, No Annual Fee
Courtesy of Chase

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption and car rental insurance
  • Includes cell phone protection when you pay your monthly bill with the card
  • Earn 5% cash back in quarterly categories, on up to the first $1,500 spent
  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R)

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Why we chose it: While it’s technically a cash-back card, the Chase Freedom Flex® still earns a high reward rate on certain travel purchases.

You can earn 5% back on flights, hotels, car rentals and more made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. You’ll also get:

  • 5% back on up to $1,500 spent per quarter in rotating categories
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025
  • 3% back on dining at restaurants (including eligible delivery services and takeout)
  • 3% back on drugstore purchase
  • 1% back on all other eligible purchases

The card’s rotating categories change each quarter and usually feature popular options, like Amazon, grocery stores and gas stations.

The Chase Freedom Flex® offers several benefits that aren’t common among no-annual-fee cards. It provides coverage for rental cars as well as trip cancellations and interruptions. It also includes cell phone protection for theft or damages when you pay your phone’s bill using the card.

However, note that the card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee so it’s best to use it while traveling within the U.S., but not in international locations.

All information about the Chase Freedom Flex® has been collected independently by Money.com.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
Courtesy of Chase

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption and car rental insurance
  • Earns 5% cash back on travel bookings made through Chase

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee:
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance:
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Why we chose it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a high flat rewards rate on most purchases plus several appealing bonus categories, including travel.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card, you can earn:

  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025
  • 3% back on dining purchases, including delivery and takeout
  • 3% back at drugstores
  • 1.5% back on all other eligible purchases

It’s also worth noting that this card is one of the few no-annual-fee credit cards with both trip cancellation/interruption and rental car insurance.

However, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions, making it a poor option for international travel.

Bilt World Elite Mastercard
Courtesy of Bilt

Pros

  • No annual or foreign currency conversion fee (Click here for rates and fees)
  • Use it to pay your rent and earn rewards without incurring any processing fees
  • You can earn double points on all purchase categories (except rent payments) on the first of every month (up to 10,000 points)
  • Earn 2x points on travel (when booked directly through an airline, hotels, car rental
    agencies and cruise lines)

Cons

  • No welcome bonus or introductory APR period
  • Can’t redeem points for statement credit or cash back
  • You must make at least five transactions in a statement period to earn points
  • Rent payments can only be made to one rental property per month

Why we chose it: Paying your rent with a credit card isn’t often recommended since you’ll typically get charged a processing fee of around 2.5% to 2.9%. The Bilt Mastercard®, however, waives this fee, so you can earn rewards on rent without having the fees outweigh them.

You can use the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® to pay rent without worrying about surcharges. All you have to do is set up a Bilt Rent account through the Bilt app or website and use your assigned routing and account number to pay rent through your usual payment portal. You can also use Bilt Rent even if your landlord only accepts checks, and Bilt will send a check on your behalf.

With the Bilt World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll earn 1x Bilt Points on rent payments (up to 100,000 points in a calendar year). Additionally, you’ll get:

  • 5x points on Lyft (when you link your Bilt and Lyft accounts, set Bilt as the active loyalty partner and pay with your card)
  • 3x points on dining
  • 2x points on travel (when booked directly through an airline, hotels, car rental
  • agencies and cruise lines)
  • 1x points on other purchases

On the first of every month, Bilt doubles these rewards rates, which means you’ll earn 6x points on dining, 4x points on travel and 2x points on other purchases (up to 10,000 points per month). However, this bonus doesn’t apply to rent rewards.

On the downside, the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® doesn’t offer a welcome bonus, and you can’t redeem your rewards for cash back or statement credits.

All information about the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Money.com.

Wells Fargo Autograph Credit Card
Courtesy of Wells fargo

Pros

  • Earn 3x points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, select streaming services and cell phone plans
  • Includes cell phone protection plan
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • No airline or hotel transfer partners
  • Doesn’t include travel insurance
  • Netflix and HBO are not eligible for streaming bonus

Why we chose it: The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card has no annual or foreign transaction fees and earns high rewards for travel, dining, gas, streaming services and cell phone plan purchases.

Most travel credit cards only offer rewards when you book flights and hotels through the card issuer’s travel portal. If you were to book your vacation through one-stop travel sites like Booking.com, you’d only earn the card’s minimum bonus (which is usually one point per dollar).

The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, however, gives you:

  • 3x points on flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more (regardless of where you make your purchase)
  • 3x points on transit, including subways, parkings, tolls, ridesharing services and more
  • 3x points on dining, gas, select streaming services and cell phone plans
  • 1X points on other eligible purchases

However, although the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card offers a solid cash-back rate on travel, its travel benefits are otherwise lackluster. For example, it doesn’t offer hotel and airline transfer partners or include insurance for travel accidents or lost luggages.

Still, the card does include rental car insurance and covers up to $50,000 for accidents or theft if you use it to book the rental car. The card also features a cell phone protection plan when you use it to pay your monthly bill. If your phone is damaged or stolen, you can be reimbursed up to $600 per claim (up to $1,200 per year).

If you’re looking for unlimited rewards on travel and everyday spending, the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card is an excellent option. However, it may not be the best fit if you’re looking for comprehensive travel insurance coverage and luxury benefits.

All information about the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Discover it®️ Miles Credit Card
Courtesy of Discover It

Pros

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Discover matches the total miles you earned at the end of the first year
  • Earns 1.5x miles on all purchases
  • See your FICO score on the Discover mobile app, online and on statements

Cons

  • Few benefits compared to other travel cards
  • No bonus category for travel
  • Doesn’t include extended warranty or purchase protection

Why we chose it: The Discover it® Miles is a no-frills card ideal for travelers who don’t want to keep track of bonus categories, earning caps or redemption values.

The card earns a flat 1.5x miles on all purchases without any annual caps. You can redeem your miles for statement credits and account deposits at a rate of 1 cent per mile. You can also use your rewards through Amazon and PayPal checkout with the same value.

Other cards provide similar redemption options. However, many reduce the value of your rewards if you don’t use them to cover travel purchases. For example, some cards allow you to redeem your points through Amazon but at a rate of 0.8 cents per mile.

Also, the card’s welcome bonus is easily one of the best: Discover matches every mile you’ve earned at the end of your first membership year — without any spending requirements. However, while the Discover it® Miles is a great starter travel card, its lack of bonus categories could hinder your reward-earning potential in the long run. Additionally, Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted internationally as Visa Signature and World Mastercard, for example.

All information about the Discover it® Miles has been collected independently by Money.com.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Courtesy of Bank of America

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earns 1.5x points on all purchases

Cons

  • No bonus category for travel
  • Few benefits compared to other cards
  • Limited redemption options

Why we chose it: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is an easy-to-use card best suited for travel reward beginners or those who are already Bank of America customers.

It offers 1.5x points on all purchases, which is a high base reward rate compared to most travel credit cards. However, some cardholders can earn up to 75% more points if they are Bank of America Preferred Rewards members — that’s up to 2.62 points for every dollar spent.

However, the card doesn’t offer hotel and airline point transfer partners, travel insurance or extended warranty and purchase protection. Additionally, you can only redeem your points as statement credit to cover travel and dining purchases.

All information about Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has been collected independently by Money.com

Best Low-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Courtesy of Chase

Pros

  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards(R) portal
  • Receive a point bonus each account anniversary
  • Includes primary rental car insurance
  • Earn 3x per $1 on dining, including eligible delivery and takeout meals, select streaming services and grocery purchases

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Doesn’t offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck(R) application fee credit


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee:
annual_fees
Sign-up Bonus:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended Credit:
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance:
Trip cancellations/interruptions, Trip delays, Travel accidents, Luggage and Primary rental car insurance

Why we chose this card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent option for frequent travelers who want to earn valuable rewards while paying a low annual fee.

The card features six reward categories that offer outstanding rewards on flights, hotels, tours, restaurants and more. Cardholders can earn:

  • 5x points for travel bookings made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • 2x on all other travel purchases
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery and takeout
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart® and wholesale clubs)
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases

You can redeem your points for statement credits, account deposits, gift cards and more. But you can get the most bang for your buck by redeeming them for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, which increases your point’s usual one-cent value by 25%.

You can also transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners at a 1:1 ratio (one Chase point equals one hotel point or airline mile). These include popular airlines and hotels like JetBlue, Southwest, United, Marriott and Hyatt.

In addition to its standard travel insurance benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card includes primary rental car coverage — a perk not many travel cards provide. This type of insurance covers theft or damages without first filing a claim with your auto insurer. You also get to skip paying for the rental car company’s collision coverage.

Capital One Venture Credit Card
Courtesy of Capital One

Pros

  • Earn 2x miles per dollar on most purchases
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck(R)
  • Includes travel accident and car rental insurance

Cons

  • Fewer bonus categories than other cards with a similar annual fee ($95)
  • Doesn’t offer travel rewards for flights
  • Car rental insurance is secondary


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual Fee:
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance:
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel Accident Insurance

Why we chose it: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is an excellent card for everyday spending, offering a higher base reward than most travel credit cards.

The Capital One Venture Rewards is ideal for those who want to get the most out of their spending without worrying about tracking bonus categories and spending caps. Cardmembers can earn:

  • 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One’s travel portal
  • 2x miles per dollar on all eligible purchases

You can redeem your miles on the Capital One travel portal and as statement credits to cover travel purchases at a value of one cent per mile. Additionally, you may transfer your miles to more than 15 airline and hotel partners. However, keep in mind that Capital One doesn’t have domestic travel partners, which can be a drawback if you mainly travel within the U.S.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is great for earning miles daily. However, it may not be the best option if you’d like to redeem your rewards as cash back. While the card gives you this option, you’ll only get a value of 0.5 cents per mile.


Pros

  • Earn 2x points on travel and dining
  • Earn 1.5x points on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 credit for airline incidental fees
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck(R) every four years

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No airline or hotel transfer partners
  • Lower travel bonus rate than other cards
  • Doesn’t provide car rental insurance

Why we chose it: The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card has a simple earning structure, offering 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other eligible purchases.

Bank of America customers who are Preferred Rewards members can earn up to 75% more points on every purchase — that’s up to 3.5 points on travel and dining purchases and 2.62 points on all other purchases for every dollar you spend.

The card includes some worthwhile travel perks, such as up to $100 for incidental airline fees. This can cover the cost of seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight purchases and airport lounge passes. You also get another statement credit of up to $100 every four years to cover Global Entry or TSA Precheck® fees.

Additionally, the card provides insurance for lost luggage, baggage delays and trip delays, interruptions, and cancellations.

However, note that other similarly priced cards ($95 per year) feature a higher reward rate (up to 5x points) for some travel purchases if you book through the card’s travel portal.

All information about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Best Premium Travel Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Courtesy of Chase

Pros

  • Up to $300 in statement credits each anniversary year to cover travel purchases
  • Transfer your points to 14 travel partners (including United, Southwest, JetBlue and Marriott)
  • Points worth 50% more when redeemed for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R) portal
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage, including emergency dental insurance

Cons

  • High annual fee ($550)
  • Doesn’t include a cell phone protection plan


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus
bonus_miles_full
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Recommended credit
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance
Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Trip Delay Reimbursement, Emergency Evacuation and Transportation, Roadside Assistance, Emergency Medical and Dental Insurance, Primary Rental Car Insurance

Why we chose it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a high reward rate on travel and dining and has additional benefits like comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access worldwide.

With this card you can earn:

  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • 10x through the Chase Dining program
  • 5x points on air travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • 3x points for all other travel-related purchases
  • 3x points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases

Another advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is that its points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® — that is, 1.5 cents per point instead of the usual one cent for most travel cards.

In addition to its generous rewards, the card provides a $300 annual travel credit to cover travel-related purchases like airfare, hotels, car rentals, rideshares, buses, trains, tolls and/or parking. Other cards that feature an annual travel credit are usually more restrictive, and you can often only use it on flights or hotels purchased through the card issuer’s travel portal.

The card also features statement credits to cover fees for expedited traveler programs Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or Nexus every four years and discounts or upgrades on select car rental companies, to name a few.

The Sapphire Reserve does have a $550 annual fee. But if you take advantage of the $300 annual credit and other perks, the benefits can definitely outweigh its cost.

Capital One Venture X Credit Card
Courtesy of Capital One

Pros

  • 10,000 bonus miles every year
  • Statement credit of up to $300 for bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • Up to a $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck(R)
  • Skip the line and get car upgrades when renting a car with Hertz

Cons

  • High annual fee ($395)
  • Fewer bonus categories than other premium cards
  • No domestic airline transfer partners


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus
bonus_miles_full
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Recommended credit
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance
Trip cancellation/interruption, Lost luggage reimbursement, Trip delay reimbursement, Travel accidents, Primary rental car insurance

Why we chose it: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card features premium benefits like annual travel credit and airport lounge access for a lower annual fee ($395) than other premium travel cards.

The Venture X includes perks like a Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This type of perk is typically only offered by luxury cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express, both of which have much higher annual fees ($550 and $695, respectively).

Other benefits include 10,000 bonus miles on every account anniversary and adding authorized users at no extra cost. Many cards have an annual fee of $75 or more for each additional user.) The card bonus categories include:

  • 10x miles per dollar on hotels & rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5x miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2x miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases

The Venture X features a $300 annual travel credit that can be used for airfare, hotel stays, rental car reservations and more. However, do note the credit only applies to Capital One Travel bookings. (Some competitors are more flexible and let you use the credits on any type of travel purchase, regardless of your preferred booking-platform.)

Although the card includes travel insurance, its coverage is limited compared to other premium travel cards. For example, the Venture X doesn’t cover baggage delays. However, it does provide primary rental car insurance, which isn’t offered by other premium travel cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express.

All in all, the Venture X is a solid option that can easily compete with other premium travel cards, especially considering its more affordable annual fee. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, our main pick for the best premium travel card, might be a better fit if you’d prefer a card with more bonus categories, a less restrictive annual travel credit and a more comprehensive travel insurance policy.

American Express Platinum Credit Card
Courtesy of American Express

Pros

  • Access to the widest network of airport lounges of any card
  • Complimentary elite status in the Marriott and Hilton hotel loyalty programs
  • Hundreds of dollars in annual statement credits for travel, dining and more

Cons

  • High annual fee ($695)
  • Doesn’t include baggage delay, travel accident and primary rental car insurance
  • Limited bonus categories

Terms apply. Click here for rates and fees.


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance:
Secondary Car Rental Insurance*** Lost/Stolen Baggages, Baggage Delays, Trip Cancellations/Interruptions, Travel Accidents and Flight Delays*

Why we chose this card: The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a list of premium benefits that no other travel card offers, including the widest network of airport lounges and room upgrades at Hilton and Marriott hotels. (Terms apply.)

When it comes to its bonus categories, the card offers:

  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year)
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on the company’s travel portal
  • One point per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

This card includes complimentary access to over 1,400 airport lounges, including Priority Pass, which is the largest network of lounges worldwide (enrollment required). Other premium cards also provide this, but the Platinum Card® from American Express includes additional lounge networks such as Delta SkyClub and Amex’s own Centurion lounges. (Terms apply.)

As a cardholder, you get gold status in the Marriott and Hilton loyalty programs (enrollment required), which makes you eligible for room upgrades, free breakfast and late checkouts. (You would typically need to stay at least 25 nights in Marriott and 28 nights in Hilton locations per year before achieving gold status with each company.).

In addition to these travel benefits, the card includes several statement credits such as:

  • $200 back each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings made through American Express Travel and paid with your Platinum Card® (Hotel Collection bookings require a minimum two-night stay)
  • Up to $200 per year when incidental fees, such as checked bags, are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card® (with one selected qualifying airline)
  • Complimentary premium status in Avis Preferred®, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards®, and/or National Car Rental® Emerald Club (must enroll through your Amex online account using your card)
  • Terms apply

The Platinum Card® from American Express does have a hefty $695 annual fee. However, for people who travel often and will take advantage of its annual credits and travel perks, it might almost pay for itself.

American Express Gold Credit Card
Courtesy of American Express

Pros

  • Earns 4x points on restaurants worldwide, takeout and food delivery within the U.S.
  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits, issued as a $10 statement credit per month for select restaurants (enrollment required)
  • Up to $120 as Uber Cash annually ($10 per month) for food delivery orders and rides in the U.S. after you add the American Express(R) Gold Card to your Uber account
  • Earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)

Cons

  • High annual fee ($250)
  • Includes few travel perks and insurance policies compared to similarly priced cards

Terms apply. Please click here for applicable rates and fees.


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee:
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed
Travel insurance:
Secondary Car Rental Insurance*** Lost/Stolen Baggages, Baggage Delays, Trip Cancellations/Interruptions, Travel Accidents and Flight Delays*

Why we chose it: The American Express® Gold Card is ideal for foodies, offering a high reward rate at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, takeout and food delivery. (Terms apply.)

With the American Express® Gold Card, you can earn:

  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide
  • 4x points on takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points at supermarkets within the U.S. (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1X)
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amextravel.com
  • 1x on other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

The American Express® Gold Card also offers statement credits worth up to $240 combined — almost enough to offset the card’s $250 annual fee. These include:

  • Up to $120 every year in dining credits ($10 per month) for select restaurants and food delivery services. The list includes Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and Shake Shack (Enrollment required)
  • Automatically get $10 monthly in Uber Cash to use on Uber Eats or Uber rides in the U.S. (after you add the American Express® Gold Card to your account)
  • Terms apply

Additionally, you get a $100 credit when you book two nights or more at a hotel from The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. You can use it for eligible purchases on dining, spa services and other activities. (Terms apply.)

However, note that the American Express® Gold Card offers fewer travel perks than some other premium cards — for instance, it doesn’t offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance or TSA PreCheck® or CLEAR® Plus fee credits.

Best Business Travel Credit Cards

American Express Business Platinum
Courtesy of American Express

Pros

  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com
  • Around $1,000 in yearly statement credits for select business purchases
  • Access to a wide network of airport lounges (terms apply)
  • Around $600 in perks in Fine Hotels + Resorts(R) locations booked through American Express Travel (for stays of two nights)

Cons

  • High annual fee ($695)
  • Secondary rental car coverage**

Terms apply. Please click here for applicable rates and fees.


HIGHLIGHTS

Annual fee
annual_fees
Welcome offer
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Secondary Auto Rental Coverage**, Trip Delays, Trip Cancellation and Interruptions, Travel Accidents, Lost/Stolen Baggages and Baggage Delays*

Why we chose it: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express features an extensive list of benefits that make it an ideal travel and business credit card.

When it comes to rewards, you’ll earn points on the following bonus categories:

  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • 1.5x points (up to $2 million per year) at U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers and shipping providers
  • 1.5x points (up to $2 million per year) on purchases of $5,000 or more, regardless of the category
  • Terms apply

With this card, you can access over 1,400 airport lounges worldwide, comprehensive travel insurance and extra amenities at hundreds of hotels, like daily breakfast and free internet access. Additionally, you get a $200 credit to cover baggage fees, in-flight refreshments and more and up to $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck® every four or 4.5 years respectively. (Terms apply.) (Enrollment required.)

The card also offers several yearly statement credits for business-related purchases that include up to $400 per year ($200 between January and June and $200 between July and December) for U.S. purchases with Dell.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express does have one of the steepest annual fees ($695) among travel credit cards, but its extensive list of benefits makes it a no-brainer for business owners who travel frequently.

Summary of the Best Travel Credit Cards


No-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Best For

Benefit

Drawback

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Ideal for foodies

Offers a 3% back on dining worldwide without annual or foreign transaction fees

Its 5% reward rate for travel only applies to hotels and rental cars, not flights

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

High flat-rate rewards and travel partners

Earn 1.25x miles on all purchases with the options of transferring them to 16 travel partners

Has few bonus categories and its 5% reward rate doesn’t apply to airfare

Chase Freedom Flex(R)

Rotating cash back categories

Bonus cash back in quarterly categories as well as on travel booked through Chase

3% foreign transaction fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited(R)

High flat-rate rewards and popular bonus categories

Earn 1.5% cash back on most purchases, with bonus rewards on travel booked through Chase, restaurants and drugstores

3% foreign transaction fee

Bilt World Elite Mastercard(R)

Earn rewards for rent payments and more

Earn rewards on rent payments without incurring a processing fee as well as dining and travel purchases

No welcome bonus or introductory APR period

Wells Fargo AutographSM Card

High rewards on popular everyday categories

Earn bonus points in several spending categories, including restaurants, gas, transit, travel and select streaming services

No airline or hotel transfer partners

Discover it® Miles

Simple travel rewards structure

Earn 1.5x miles on eligible purchases with flexible redemption options

No increased bonus rate for travel purchases and few extra benefits

Bank of America(R) Travel Rewards Credit Card

Ideal for Bank of America customers

Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn up to 75% more points

No bonus category for travel and few benefits compared to other cards



Low-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Best For

Benefit

Drawback

Chase Sapphire Preferred(R) Card

High rewards earning potential and flexible redemption options

Six popular bonus categories (including travel and dining) and Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase

Doesn’t offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck® application fee credit

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

High flat rewards rate

Earn 2x miles per dollar on most purchases and get up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

Has fewer bonus categories than other cards with a similar annual fee ($95)

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

Ideal for Bank of America customers

Earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x on other purchases, but Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn up to 75% more points on every purchase

Lower travel rewards rate than similarly priced cards ($95 per year)



Premium Travel Credit Cards

Best For

Benefit

Drawback

Chase Sapphire Reserve(R)

High earning potential and flexible travel credit

Earn up to 10x points on select travel purchases and get a $300 annual travel credit to cover travel-related purchases, like airfare, hotels nights and more

High annual fee ($550)

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Low cost premium travel card with similar perks

Has a lower annual fee ($395) than other premium travel cards with similar benefits, like a a $300 annual travel credit

Doesn’t cover lost baggages or baggage delays

Platinum Card® from American Express

Airport lounge access and luxury perks

Features a long list luxury benefits, like extensive airport lounge access, travel and shopping credits, hotel upgrades and more

High annual fee ($695) and fewer bonus categories than comparable cards

American Express(R) Gold Card

High rewards on dining worldwide

Earn 4x points on restaurants worldwide and takeout and food delivery within the U.S.

Includes few travel perks and insurance policies compared to similarly priced cards



Business Travel Credit Cards

Best For

Benefit

Drawback

The Business Platinum Card(R) from American Express

Airport lounge access and luxury perks

An extensive list of benefits that make it both an ideal travel and business credit card

High annual fee ($695)


Travel Credit Cards Guide

The best credit cards for travel do more than offer high reward rates on flights and hotel stays. They also provide rewards for everyday spending and perks such as travel insurance, airport lounge access and annual statement credits.

Bear in mind, however, that premium travel credit cards often also feature high annual fees. And their rewards are often worth the most when redeemed through a card issuer’s travel portal.

Here’s a rundown of how these cards work:

What is a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards (or travel rewards credit cards) typically provide generous rewards for travel purchases and let cardmembers redeem points (or miles) for travel bookings. They may also let you redeem points for statement credits, cash back, gift cards and more.

Besides travel, these cards usually also offer other bonus reward categories, such dining, gas and drugstores. Many also include additional benefits, like airport lounge access, hotel discounts, travel accident insurance, no foreign transaction fees and more.

Bonus categories, redemption options and benefits vary widely across card issuers. However, you can generally expect cards with higher annual fees to offer more perks. For example, premium cards with annual fees over $400 often feature hundreds of dollars in statement credits (money credited to your card’s outstanding balance) to cover travel or food purchases.

How do travel credit cards work?

Like other reward cards, travel credit cards give you a certain number of points (or miles) per dollar on eligible purchases. However, what makes these cards different from others is their high reward rate for travel-related purchases.

Travel credit cards often offer around 5x points or more for airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars and more. Some cards may also count parking, bus fares, taxis, tolls and ferries as travel purchases.

Besides travel, you’ll typically get bonus points on specific spending categories, like 3x per dollar on dining, groceries, drugstores or streaming services. All other eligible purchases get at least one point (1x) per dollar.

You can then redeem your points for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more. Card issuers also usually let you redeem your points for non-travel options like statement credits, cash back or gift cards.

How much are credit card points worth?

In most cases, credit card points are worth one cent each. However, some issuers increase their value if you redeem them for travel. For example, points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card have a 1.25-cent value when you book flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

But point values may also decrease depending on how you choose to redeem them. For example, some cards let cardholders use points when shopping through Amazon or Paypal. While this might sound convenient, this option may bring down the value of points to around 0.8 cents.

How to use credit card points for travel

Travel credit cards have rewards programs through which members earn and redeem their points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more. Well-known point programs include Chase Ultimate Rewards®, American Express Membership Rewards® and Citi ThankYou® Rewards.

Once you’re ready to redeem your points, head to your travel card’s reward program portal. The process may differ across credit card issuers, but you’ll usually be able to access it through your online account on the website or app.

Most reward programs will let you book flights and hotel rooms. Some will also allow you to redeem your points for car rentals, cruises, tourist attractions and more.

Sometimes, you’ll have the option to transfer your points to airline or hotel loyalty programs. Not all reward programs allow this, but if they do, it’s usually at a 1:1 ratio — meaning 1,000 credit card points are worth 1,000 points in the travel partner program.

Note that, if you’re missing some points to cover your trip, you’ll often have the chance to pay the remainder with cash.

Difference between points and miles

Travel credit cards usually earn rewards as points. But some card issuers, like Capital One, call their rewards “miles” instead of “points” — even though they can be redeemed the same way as points.

Cards that earn miles are often (but not always) tied to a specific airline. Additionally, bear in mind that the term “mile” doesn’t refer to miles traveled with the airline. One airline mile is usually the equivalent of one reward point, which you can redeem for free flights, seat upgrades and more.

Pros and cons of travel credit cards


Pros

  • Some cards offer up to 10x points per dollar on travel purchases.
  • Many have additional bonus categories for dining, grocery shopping and more.
  • They may include travel benefits like priority boarding, airport lounge access and late hotel checkouts.
  • Points or miles can also be redeemed for cash back, statement credits, gift cards and more.

Cons

  • Highest reward rates are usually limited to purchases made through the card issuer’s travel portal.
  • They might not offer high rewards on spending outside of the travel category.
  • The best ones have steep annual fees.
  • Redeeming points or miles for anything other than travel can reduce their value to less than one cent per dollar.

Types of travel credit cards

Here’s a rundown of the differences between the three main types of travel credit cards:

Airline credit cards

Airline credit cards are ideal for people who fly with the same airline regularly. These cards earn miles that you can use with one specific airline, and their rewards (called frequent flyer miles) are redeemable for airfare. Some of the best airline travel credit cards include benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.

Hotel credit cards

Hotel credit cards are similar to airline cards. Points earned can only be used with one particular hotel chain.

For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns points for Hilton’s loyalty program. Points can be redeemed for free nights in the company’s properties, including Hilton Garden Inn and Waldorf Astoria hotels. The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, on the other hand, includes room upgrades and late checkouts on select locations.

Other benefits may include discount rates, late checkouts or free in-room Wi-Fi.

Hotel credit cards may also offer complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, late checkouts and bonus points for purchases made during your stay.

General travel credit card

General travel credit cards are much more flexible and convenient than airline or hotel cards. Since they aren’t affiliated with a single airline or hotel chain, general travel card points can be redeemed for a wide variety of travel-related expenses.

These cards allow cardholders to book flights, hotel stays, rental cars and more from different companies using your card issuer’s online travel portal. Other ways to use card points include statement credits, cash back or gift cards. Some issuers also let you transfer points to airline and hotel partners.

These cards may offer handy perks for frequent travelers, like airport lounge access. They can also cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® membership, which allows you to skip the long lines at airport security or customs.

How to choose a travel credit card

Picking the best travel rewards card boils down to how often you travel, which cardmember perks you’d benefit the most from and the categories you spend the most on.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing the best card for you:

Do you travel often? A travel rewards credit card offers high reward rates on most travel-related spending, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck when you use their points on flights, hotels and car rentals. If you don’t take trips often but want to pile up rewards, a cash-back credit card might be a better fit.

Assess your everyday spending. Many travel cards have additional bonus categories other than travel, like dining, supermarkets, streaming services and drugstores. Consider your day-to-day spending habits and pick a card with bonus categories that fit your lifestyle.

Consider the card’s annual fees. There are several no-annual-fee travel cards available, but they usually have few bonus categories and benefits. The best travel credit cards charge annual fees of at least $90 and can go as high as $700. However, these are often best for those that travel enough to take advantage of their benefits.

General travel card vs co-branded cards. General travel cards have more flexible redemption options, allowing you to redeem your rewards for bookings with multiple travel companies. On the other hand, co-branded cards are often tied to a specific airline or hotel, which can limit your options. However, they do provide valuable perks like free checked bags, in-flight discounts and hotel upgrades.

Compare extra travel perks. Some cards offer extras like annual statement credits for flights and hotels or upgrades when renting cars. Take the time to compare each card’s roster of add-ons and pick one that will best suit your travel plans.

Compare insurance policies. Some cards offer insurance policies that cover travel accidents, rental cars, trip cancellations and more. They also include purchase protection and extended warranties for items bought using the card. These policies can vary widely based on the issuer and the card’s annual-fee tier.

Beware foreign transaction fees. Most travel credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Some cash-back cards may offer outstanding rewards for travel purchases but charge around 3% fees on purchases outside the U.S.

A welcome bonus shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all perk. A 100,000-point welcome bonus can be enticing. However, it shouldn’t be your deciding factor, especially if you’ll end up paying a high annual fee without getting your money’s worth.

How get the most out of your travel credit card

To get the most out of your travel credit card, you need to use it as often and strategically as possible. This way, you can earn points or miles with each purchase, which you can then redeem for free or discounted flights, hotels and more.

Use your travel card to pay most of your purchases and bills and then pay your card off in full each month. This will help you earn points while avoiding interest charges and high credit card debt, which can impact your credit score.

Here are some other tips to maximize your rewards and benefits:

Consider adding an authorized user to your account. They’ll earn points with every purchase they make, and those will get added to your overall total. However, make sure to pick someone who will use the card responsibly since you’ll be legally liable if they ever fail to pay their monthly bills.

Redeem your rewards for travel through the card issuer’s website. This redemption option usually offers the highest value compared to gift cards or merchandise, for example.

If your card offers travel protections (like travel accident or luggage insurance), use it to pay for your passenger fares. This way, you could be reimbursed in the event of an accident or lost luggage, for example.

Use your airline or hotel card to sign up for the company’s frequent flyer or frequent guest loyalty program. You’ll often earn extra points or miles when you’re a member and use your co-branded card to pay for flights, hotel stays and more.

If your travel card lets you combine points from multiple cards under one account, take advantage of the feature. For example, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred®, you can transfer points to it from other cards (if they also earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points). This way, you can accumulate extra points and increase their value to 1.25 cents apiece if you make travel reservations through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.


Best Travel Credit Cards FAQs

What is the best travel credit card?

Our list of the best travel credit cards includes the Chase Sapphire Preferred(R) Card, Wells Fargo AutographSM Card, The Platinum Card(R) from American Express and more. When choosing the best one for you, consider its annual fee, reward rates and ongoing benefits.

What is the best credit card for international travel?

The best credit cards for international travel are those that don’t charge foreign transactions fees, offer high reward on travel spending and include benefits that can improve your travel experience, like travel insurance and statement credits for TSA Precheck(R) or Global Entry.

How to travel for free with credit cards

The easiest way to travel for free with a credit card is to get one that has bonus spending categories that align with your day-to-day spending habits. Then, use the card frequently to earn points, miles or statement credits that you can later redeem for travel-related expenses. But always remember to pay your bill in full each month, so you don’t rack up credit card debt or interest charges.

What is the best credit card for travel miles?

Some of the best credit cards for travel miles include the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X and Discover it(R) Miles. However, note that some of the best credit cards for travel earn points instead of miles, and you can usually also use points for booking flights, hotel rooms and other travel purchases.

What is a welcome bonus on a credit card?

A credit card welcome bonus is a reward that new cardmembers earn after they meet specific spending requirements (within a set time frame) after opening the account. For example, a credit card issuer might offer 40,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months after opening your account.


How We Chose the Best Travel Credit Cards

We ranked the best credit cards for travel based on their annual fees, benefits, reward rates and redemption flexibility.

Fees: We compared interest rates and foreign, cash advance and balance transfer fees for more than 50 credit cards. We also considered their annual fee, looking for those that offered the most for the money.

Ongoing benefits: Intro APR and bonus offers are attractive, but they can only get you so far. We focused on cards with year-round benefits such as travel insurance or cell phone protection plans.

Reward rates: We preferred cards that allow you to earn extra points from travel expenses, as well as those that provide significant bonus rewards in popular spending categories, like dining, supermarkets or streaming services.

Redemption flexibility: Our picks don’t limit your redemption options to just travel. Some let you use your points for Amazon purchases, for example. We also preferred issuers that allowed cardholders to transfer their points to airline and hotel partners.

Summary of Money’s Best Travel Credit Cards of January 2024

Best no-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best low-fee-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best premium travel credit cards

Best business travel credit cards

Money.com has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Money.com and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

To see rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

* Insurance disclosures for American Express Cards on this page:

Trip Delay Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Baggage Insurance Plan: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Global Assist Hotline: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.

Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $75,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

*** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.