When it comes to deciding on which credit card to use for your travel purchases, it’s all about the rewards programs and what kind of travelers you are. Is your travel strictly business-based, or is a lot of it recreational and leisure? Also, are you voraciously loyal to specific brands, be it airlines, restaurants, and hotels, or do you shop around and sample?
Cards will reward you big while you travel, giving you “points” for hospitality industry purchases while other cards offer “miles” for everyday purchases. The best are a hybrid of these two options. Knowing your habits and which cards offer what rewards can mean thousands of dollars in savings yearly for many travelers. Here’s a look at some of our favorite travel credit cards available.
When it comes to overall travel, it’s hard to beat the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for popularity. Consider it a 401K for airline tickets. Whenever you make a purchase, both you and Capital One put a few cents away toward future airline tickets. Capital One gives 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of approval, worth roughly $400 in travel. Every dollar spent beyond that accrues 2 miles and there are no blackouts on which airlines or hotels miles can be used with.
Bank of America has a similar program with its BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card, although 20,000 bonus points are gained after meeting certain thresholds and points are gained at a rate of 1.5 for every $1 spent.
The airlines themselves have similar cards, many having teamed with banks, such as the relationships American Airlines has with Citi for it Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and Delta has with American Express for its SkyMiles Credit Card. While there are unique perks, such as pre-boarding and free bag check-in privileges (if you fly weekly, that $35 can add up fast), you are beholden to a specific airline for your travel.
Hotels, of course, have similar set-ups. If you’re willing to be loyal, they’re willing to reward you. If you’re a frequent traveler who spends a lot of money in higher-end hotels, these cards make a lot of sense. The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card offers 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first three nights, and will give you a free night stay for every year you maintain an account. The Hilton Honors Card from American Express gives up to 7 points for every dollar spent within a Hilton hotel and 5 points on any other travel purchases.
If you’re all about the rewards, we suggest checking out Chase Sapphire offerings, specifically the Reserve and Preferred cards. Both have fantastic initial bonuses if you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening the accounts. Other cards scoring high marks with travelers in most online surveys in the travel credit card realm were the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, the Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi and the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
So, if you’re in the market for a new card and you are a frequent traveler or want to reap the benefits of travel rewards, do your research and find the card that’s right for you. Here are some resources you might be interested in: