The Best Credit Cards for Summer Travel

best credit cards for summer travel

Last updated on September 7th, 2021

With the world opening up after a lengthy COVID-19 lockdown, now is the time to find a new travel credit card to compliment your summer travel plans. 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 airfare to gas savings, here are the top travel credit cards to make your summer travel easier in 2021:

The Best Credit Cards for Your Summer Travel Plans in 2021

Here are our top travel credit cards for 2021:

The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is one of the best travel credit cards on the market – and features an annual fee ($400) that is 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, 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, complimentary Gogo® inflight Wi-Fi 12 times per year, plus Silvercar rental car savings.

With regular use, the Altitude Reserve earns 5X points 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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the other top pick for premium travel credit cards this summer. The Sapphire edges out the Platinum Card due to the recent changes impacting that card – including the dizzying $695 annual fee (with little to justify it).

The Sapphire Reserve features a $550 annual fee but has two statement credits to offset that charge. Cardholders receive a $300 annual travel statement credit and a $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry applicants fees every four years. The card also offers complimentary Priority Pass Select – providing access to over 1,500 lounges worldwide.

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

Other travel benefits include:

  • Earn 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • Complimentary Lyft Pink membership
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership

U.S. Bank provides a variety of great travel credit cards, and the Altitude Connect is another example. The card, one of the bank’s newer additions, earns 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 (waived for the first year).

The Connect Visa Signature Card earns 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 – making it a great option to consider before traveling this summer.

The Bank of America Customized Cash 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 travel 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.

Summer travel means theme parks for many Americans. The Six Flags® Rewards Visa from Credit One is an interesting travel card option – especially for those who love theme parks but don’t plan on visiting Disneyland or Disneyworld.

The card earns 3X points on eligible purchases at 24 Six Flag locations in the United States, including parking at U.S. locations, admission, merchandise purchases, stays at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, dining in the park, and website purchases. Points earned through the card are redeemable for Six Flags products and services as rewards vouchers.

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

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.

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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  Patrick Tomasso / Burst

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.