If you’re planning to travel this year, it pays to have a travel credit card in your wallet.
With this type Reward card, you can save on travel costs while enjoying additional benefits, annual credits and travel protection. Whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime whirlwind vacation or a family road trip for the summer, applying for the right card now can save you money and stress both when booking and when you get going.
Below, we’ve rounded up our top picks for the best travel credit cards today
Get started by comparing the top travel credit cards you can qualify for now
6 Best Travel Credit Cards of 2023
Our list of the best travel credit cards has options for both newbies and travel pros. These cards offer a range of benefits, rewards and spend to help you maximize your spending at home and abroad.
To find the best option for you, choose a card with rewards categories and redemption options that match your spending and travel preferences. And remember, the best way to maximize the value of anything Rewards credit card Pay your balance in full and on time each month, so you can maintain good credit and avoid high-interest credit card debt.
Best sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t just one of the best travel cards — it’s offering one of the best sign-up bonuses you’ll find on any card. You can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. And since Sapphire Preferred points are worth 25% more when you use them to book travel through Chase, you can get up to $1,000 in value from the bonus alone.
For additional benefits, this card includes a $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked with Chase, a 10% anniversary points bonus each year, a free year of DoorDash DashPass (activated by December 31, 2024), bonus points on Lyft rides ( 31 Activate by March, 2025) and more.
Annual Fee: $95Award: 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases
Best Daily Rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has one of the most straightforward rewards structures for travel rewards, with a flat rate on everything you buy. The Venture Card also benefits from flexible redemption; You can use miles to book travel through Capital One’s portal, transfer to partners or put toward travel purchases made within the past 90 days as statement credit. When you sign up, you can earn a 75,000-mile bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $95Award: 2x miles per dollar you spend, plus 5x miles when you book a hotel or rental car through Capital One Travel
Best for dining: American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card is a great option for anyone who spends a lot on food. Benefits include up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month) and up to $120 in dining credits ($10 monthly) to use at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. When you sign up, you can also earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first six months. Terms and conditions apply and enrollment is required for select benefits.
When you’re ready to redeem your rewards, you can transfer your points to partners at a 1:1 rate or book travel through American Express — as well as standard redemption options like statement credits and gift cards.
Annual Fee: $250 (see rates and fees)Award: 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x), plus 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on AmexTravel.com and 1x points on everything else (conditions apply).
Best for premium benefits: The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express caters to travelers looking for both convenience and luxury. It charges a hefty $695 annual fee but offers plenty of premium benefits in return (see rates and fees).
To start, you’ll earn 80,000 bonus points if you spend $6,000 within the first six months of account opening. Some of the notable benefits include airport lounge access, elite hotel status and more. And, to top it all off, annual travel credits include:
Up to $20 in monthly statement credit for eligible digital entertainment services Up to $200 in statement credit on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel (minimum two-night stay required) $155 in Walmart+ credit, keep your monthly membership charge on your card Up to $200 airline fee credit with the airline of your choice $200 Uber Cash and Uber VIP status $300 Equinox credit Equinox+ or gym membership $189 CLEAR® credit Up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit Annual Fee: $695Award: 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year), 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel and 1 point per dollar on other purchases (conditions apply)
Best for annual credits: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase’s premium travel credit card option, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, also has a lot to offer frequent travelers. The card comes with a $300 annual travel credit — which by itself goes a long way toward offsetting the annual fee. You also get Priority Pass select airport lounge membership; Up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, Nexus or TSA PreCheck and more.
You can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. Like the Sapphire Preferred card, this card earns an increased rate on redemptions. Sapphire Reserve cardholders will receive a 50% points boost when redeeming points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, making the bonus worth up to $900.
Annual Fee: $550Award: 10x points on hotel and car rentals and 5x points on flights purchased with Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on other travel (this rate starts after you use $300 in travel credit) and 1 point per dollar spent on dining and all other purchases
The best without an annual fee: Discover ® Miles
If you’re looking for an option with no annual fee, the Discover It Miles card offers solid rewards value and a welcome bonus. Not only do you earn on every dollar you spend — which you can use toward any purchase on your card statement — but Discover doubles the total rewards you earn in the first year. With the Cashback Match First Year Bonus, you get an unlimited match of every mile you earn within the first year of account opening, with no limit.
Annual Fee: $0Award: 1.5x miles per dollar you spend
What to consider before opening a travel credit card
Choosing the right travel card can depend a lot on how you spend your money and how you want to travel.
First, you’ll want to decide what type of travel card you’re using. Do you want to maximize your spending at home for future trips? Then a travel card with daily rewards but great redemption options, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture, might be the best choice.
If you want to earn rewards when booking travel for future trips, on the other hand, you’ll want to focus on high-earning travel rewards. The Amex or Chase Sapphire Reserve Platinum cards can be good options in that case.
Another factor to consider is the annual fee. While there are plenty of offers on travel cards with high annual fees, make sure you actually use the benefits before you apply. If you don’t like to get to the airport early and only want to fly with infrequent layovers, for example, airport lounge access may not be worth much to you. With the right travel card, the value of your benefits and rewards should outweigh the cost of the annual fee.
Finally, explore all your redemption options Many travel credit cards are most valuable when you use your points or miles toward travel. This includes bookings on your issuer’s portal or transfers to airline and hotel partners. Look at the value of your points when you make certain redemptions — for example, Chase Sapphire cards offer boosted value when redeemed for travel — and review travel partners to make sure they include the travel brands you love.
Learn more about the top travel credit card options today.
A travel credit card is one of the best tools you can use to save on your next vacation. But timing is important. Apply early enough so you can earn the sign-up bonus and start banking rewards to redeem toward your trip. Then, you can enjoy annual benefits and ongoing rewards to get long-term value from your card.
The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any entity included in the post.
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