The Best Credit Cards for Summer Travel

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Last updated on January 2nd, 2024

With summer fully in swing, you may be thinking about a vacation or planning other exciting activities. You may also be considering a new credit card to help make those plans happen. Not sure what to look for in a credit card? Don’t worry – we have an extensive selection of impressive travel cards to suit journeys of every type. From earning airfare rewards to offering gas savings, here are the top travel credit cards to make your summer travel easier in 2023.

The Best Credit Cards for Your Summer Travel Plans in 2023

Here are our top travel credit cards for 2023:

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
Excellent
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent
Visa Processing Network
$400 Annual Fee

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

  • 22.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 22.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR

At a Glance

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card is a premium travel card designed to compete directly with travel heavyweights like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum Card. The card, like other premium travel credit cards, comes with an array of travel perks and privileges, including statement credits for a TSA Precheck or Global Entry and travel purchases each year, complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, and more.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • Earn 50,000 bonus enrollment points after making $4,500 in the first 90 days as a cardholder
  • Earn 3X points for every $1 on eligible net travel purchases and mobile wallet spending
  • Stay connected with 12 complimentary Gogo® Inflight Wi-Fi passes per year
  • Complimentary 12-month Priority Pass™ Select membership that gives access to more than 1,300 VIP lounges worldwide
  • Regular Purchase APR: 22.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 22.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $400
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $41
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $41
  • You want an ultra-premium travel card
  • You plan to spend $4,500 within the first 90 days of opening an account
  • You want lounge access, TSA Precheck statement credits, and Wi-Fi credits
  • You like the sound of custom-engraved metal credit card
  • You don’t mind paying a $400 annual fee
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Terms & Conditions

The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is one of the best travel credit cards on the market – and while it features a steep annual fee ($400), it’s modest compared to cards like the Platinum Card from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The Altitude Reserve offers many of the great features of those other cards (like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry statement credits and Priority Pass Select membership), but without the bloat of the Amex and its odd “lifestyle” credits. Cardholders also enjoy a $325 annual travel statement credit, travel and purchase protections, fine wine and food events, plus a 24-hour Visa Infinite Concierge.

With regular use, the Altitude Reserve can provide plenty of points value. It earns 5X points per dollar on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, 3X on eligible travel purchases and mobile wallet spending, and 1X on everything else. The mobile wallet category is exceptional, especially as Google Pay and Apple Pay enjoy extensive coverage – making earning triple points a breeze.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Excellent
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent
Visa Processing Network
$550, each authorized user: $75 per year Annual Fee

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • 22.49% to 29.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 22.49% to 29.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR

At a Glance

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, luxury and travel rewards come together with this upper-tier card, which offers an attractive points system and includes a lengthy list of perks for any jet setter.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • 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.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights 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
  • 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™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
  • Regular Purchase APR: 22.49% to 29.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 22.49% to 29.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $550, each authorized user: $75 per year
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • You travel often and want a card that provides worldwide value
  • You eat at restaurants frequently
  • You plan to use rewards for travel, which provides the best value for redemption
  • You want a card with no foreign transaction fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the other top pick for premium travel credit cards this summer. The Sapphire Reserve edges out Amex’s Platinum Card due primarily to its dizzying $695 annual fee (with not as much value to justify it).

The Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee but has two statement credits to offset that cost. Cardholders receive a $300 annual travel statement credit and a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees every four years. The card also offers complimentary Priority Pass Select membership – providing access to over 1,500 lounges worldwide – a value of $469 per year. The Priority Pass membership alone holds enough value in itself to pay for most of the card’s annual fee if you max out the benefit.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the main attraction with the Sapphire Reserve, however. The card earns 3X points per dollar on global travel and dining, with points increasing 50% more in value when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Other travel benefits include:

Complimentary Lyft Pink membership Complimentary DoorDash membership Monthly DoorDash $5 credit (through Dec 31, 2024)
Instacart Membership (a value of $99 per year) Monthly Instacard $15 credit (through July 2024) Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection upgrades, late checkouts, and more
10x points on Peloton Purchases (through March 31, 2025)

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature®

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature®
Excellent-Good
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good
Visa Processing Network
$0 for the first year; $95 after that Annual Fee

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature®

  • 21.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 21.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR

At a Glance

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® offers up to 4X points on eligible travel purchases, statement credits for streaming services and TSA Precheck, and plenty more – all for a $95 annual fee that U.S. Bank waives for the first year. The card also provides an impressive 50,000-point signup bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements in the first 120 days.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 4X points on travel and gas station purchases
  • Earn 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining and streaming services
  • TSA Precheck or Global Entry statement credit every four years
  • Regular Purchase APR: 21.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 21.24% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either 5% of the amount of each advance or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year; $95 after that
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $41
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $41
  • You either travel occasionally or commute often (or both)
  • You want a statement credit for TSA Precheck of Global Entry
  • You plan to spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first four months
  • You frequently use streaming services
U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature®

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature®

Terms & Conditions

U.S. Bank provides a variety of great travel credit cards, and the Altitude Connect is another example. The card earns up to 5X points per dollar on eligible travel purchases, statement credits for streaming services and TSA PreCheck enrollment, and plenty more – all for a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year).

In addition, the Altitude Connect card earns 5X points on prepaid hotel and car rentals (when booked directly through the Altitude Rewards Center), 4X on travel and gas station purchases, 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining and streaming services, and 1X on everything else. It also comes with a readily achievable points sign-up bonus – book your summer travel expenses with your new card and reap the rewards later in the fall when you receive your welcome offer after the grace period. Just in time for holiday travel.

Along with its reward-earning potential, the Altitude® Connect Visa is packed with many more travel benefits that can make your trips feel more secure. For example, the card offers travel protections that can help assist if your trip gets canceled, interrupted, or delayed. It also features no foreign transaction fees so you can comfortably use your Altitude Connect card to make your summer travel purchases outside of the U.S. Beyond all of these convenient travel perks, there is room for relaxation before a flight with the complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership. Cardholders get four free visits per Priority Pass™ Select membership year (not cardholder year) to over 1,300 airport VIP lounges worldwide. Once the free visits have been exhausted, the member’s U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature credit card will be charged a lounge visit fee of $32 per person per visit for the member and each guest.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card
Excellent-Good
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good
Mastercard Processing Network
None Annual Fee

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • 18.24% to 28.24% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 18.24% to 28.24% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 21.24% to 30.24% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR
  • 0% for 15 billing cycles from account opening date Intro Purchase APR

At a Glance

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card boasts impressively flexible cash rewards on purchases in the category of your choice, on top of cash back for groceries and other everyday purchases. This card also offers an attractive introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers, making it a great all-around rewards card for those with dynamic purchase habits.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • 3% cash back on the category of your choice: gas, EV charging, phone, internet, and cable plans, select streaming, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
  • 1% on all other purchases
  • Introductory 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles from the date you open your account
  • Free FICO® Score reports updated monthly so you can monitor your credit score
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 18.24% to 28.24% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles on transfers made within 60 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 18.24% to 28.24% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 21.24% to 30.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • You want the flexibility to choose your cash back category from month to month
  • You're looking for a generous rewards credit card with no annual fee
  • You plan to take advantage of the long introductory APR period with a significant purchase or balance transfer
  • You have a Bank of America checking or savings account and qualify for a Preferred Rewards membership
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Terms & Conditions

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card offers the versatility travelers need to maximize their rewards when hitting the road this summer. The card earns 3% cash back on purchases in your chosen category, with the option to select a new category for future purchases once a month.

Eligible 3% categories with the Customized Cash Rewards Card include favorites like gas, dining, and travel, plus online shopping, drug stores, and home improvement stores. Cardholders also earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases – all for no annual fee.

Additionally, the card offers an attainable cash rewards bonus offer for new cardholders, plus a low introductory APR offer. Once it’s time to redeem your earned cash back rewards, the process is simple. You can redeem rewards at any time for statement credits, deposits made directly into a Bank of America® checking or savings account, or use your rewards towards an eligible account with Merrill.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
Excellent-Good
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good
Visa Processing Network
$95 Annual Fee

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

  • 21.49% to 28.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 21.49% to 28.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR

At a Glance

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card offers a strong rewards earning rate as well as added perks that will please loyal patrons of the Marriott Bonvoy brand. Cardholders gain automatic Silver Elite status and earn impressive points to put toward award nights in top hotels all over the world. And since the points don’t expire, you could say this card’s reward potential is boundless.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 3X points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
  • Earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year, and path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Regular Purchase APR: 21.49% to 28.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 21.49% to 28.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • You book frequent stays with Marriott Bonvoy™ properties and want to cash in on more loyalty rewards
  • You're looking for a hotel card to use globally without incurring foreign transaction fees
  • You desire a travel credit card that earns rewards on every purchase at attractive rates
  • You will take advantage of the Elite Status perks and Free Night Award

Depending on what your summer travel looks like, a hotel credit card might be exactly what you need. If you catch yourself always booking your stays at a specific hotel chain, consider a hotel co-branded credit card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™. If you’re a frequent guest at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, this card is an excellent choice for attaining free night stays and even for shopping abroad – all for a $95 annual fee.

The card features no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 17X points per dollar at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy locations. With the Bonvoy Boundless card, you can also earn 3X points per $1 spent at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining, and 2X points on all other purchases. Cardholders also receive one free night award every account anniversary, so you can add on an extra night for free to any future travel plans and extend your vacation. When you’re a Bonvoy Boundless™ cardholder, your points do not expire as long as you make purchases on your credit card every 24 months.

Moreover, you get automatic Silver Elite Status, unlocking exclusive benefits like 10% more points on stays, priority late checkout, member rates, and free WiFi. To qualify for Silver Elite status without the Bonvoy Boundless credit card, guests must rack up 10 nightly stays per year. With the Bonvoy Boundless, you get automatically started at 10 nights, which means you can start working your way towards Gold Elite Status (25 nights) for more exclusive benefits.

Honorable Mentions

Want some more summer travel credit card options to consider? Here are two cards that just missed out on our top spots:

chase sapphire preferred visa signature review

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s biggest selling point is just how traveler-friendly it is. An industry-leading introductory offer, coupled with double points on a multitude of eligible purchases within the travel and dining categories, set cardholders up for a steady stream of rewards.

green_card

American Express® Green Card

The American Express® Green Card is a solid rewards card for those who frequently travel or dine out. The card earns triple points for every dollar spent on many travel and transit expenses (such as flights, hotels, taxis, rideshares, and more) as well as on restaurant purchases.

Featured image by sunemotion/ Getty Images

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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