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Find the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, your perfect travel rewards credit card is ready and waiting to get you there. Browse BestCards’ selection of offers to find the best travel rewards credit card to suit your needs.

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FEATURED CARD – READ REVIEW

Mastercard® Black Card™

Patented Card Construction and 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge

Mastercard® Black Card™
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $495
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Patented black PVD metal card-weighing 22 grams
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • 1.5% value for cash back redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®-available by phone, email and live mobile chat
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g., amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages)
  • Up to $100 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check application fee credit
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more
  • Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User)
  • Earn one point for every one dollar spent
  • Terms and conditions apply
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months on transfers that post within 45 days of account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $495
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

FEATURED CARD – READ REVIEW

Mastercard® Titanium Card™

Made of Stainless Steel

Mastercard® Titanium Card™
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $195
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Patented brushed stainless steel front and carbon back-weighing 22 grams
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • 1% value for cash back redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®-Available by phone, email, and live mobile chat
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g. amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages)
  • Members-only LUXURY MAGAZINE®
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more
  • Annual fee: $195 ($95 for each Authorized User)
  • Earn one point for every one dollar spent
  • Terms and conditions apply
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months on transfers that post within 45 days of account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $195
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

FEATURED CARD – READ REVIEW

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Made With 24K GOLD®

Mastercard® Gold Card™
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $995
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Patented 24K-gold-plated front and carbon back—weighing 22 grams.
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • 2% value for cash back redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®-available by phone, email, and live mobile chat
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g., amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages)
  • Up to $200 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more
  • Annual fee: $995 ($295 for each Authorized User)
  • Earn one point for every one dollar spent
  • Terms and conditions apply
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months on transfers that post within 45 days of account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $995
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

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Date Reviewed: March 04, 2020

CCSU Alumni Rewards Visa® Card

CCSU Alumni Rewards Visa® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.24% to 25.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.24% to 25.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Intro Purchase APR 1.99% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 3% cash back with fast food restaurants, rideshare services, and coffee shops
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other net purchases
  • Flexible redemption opportunities and payment features, such as toggle®
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 1.99% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.24% to 25.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 1.99% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.24% to 25.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each balance, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: 27.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 1% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

Date Reviewed: March 02, 2020

SDCCU Visa Platinum with Fly Miles Plus

SDCCU Visa Platinum with Fly Miles Plus
  • Regular Purchase APR 9.99% 12.99%, 14.99%, or 19.99% based on creditworthiness
  • Balance Transfer APR 13.99%, 16.99%, 18.99%, or 23.99% based on creditworthiness
  • Cash Advance APR 13.99%, 16.99%, 18.99%, or 23.99% based on creditworthiness
  • Annual Fee $0 for the first 12 months. After that, $35
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Get 1,000 bonus points for signing up
  • Get 1,000 bonus points for enrolling in the Fly Miles Plus Reward Program
  • Annual fee waived each year you spend at least $6,000
  • Earn up to 120,000 points every year for everyday purchases
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 9.99% 12.99%, 14.99%, or 19.99% based on creditworthiness
  • Balance Transfer APR: 13.99%, 16.99%, 18.99%, or 23.99% based on creditworthiness
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $1 or 2% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 13.99%, 16.99%, 18.99%, or 23.99% based on creditworthiness
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $1 or 2% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months. After that, $35
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $10
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $20

Date Reviewed: February 27, 2020

OneTravel Visa® Credit Card

OneTravel Visa® Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 17.49% or 27.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 29.99%
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Up to 8X points on airline purchases with OneTravel
  • 6X points on hotels, car rentals, and other purchases with OneTravel
  • 4X points on dining, with 2X points on everything else
  • Special financing opportunities on qualified OneTravel purchases
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 17.49% or 27.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99%
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $38

Date Reviewed: February 13, 2020

Amegy Bank® Reserve Visa® Credit Card

Amegy Bank® Reserve Visa® Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $450
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 3X points on travel and dining
  • Earn 2X points on all other expenses
  • Get a $250 flexible travel credit
  • Receive complimentary lounge access
  • No foreign transaction fees
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months on transfers made within 90 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 13, 2020

Amegy Bank® Elite Visa® Credit Card

Amegy Bank® Elite Visa® Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $195
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 3X points on dining and travel expenses
  • Earn 1.5X points on all other expenses
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • $100 flexible travel credit
  • $300 or 30,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months on transfers made within 90 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $195
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 13, 2020

Amegy Bank® Premier Visa® Credit Card

Amegy Bank® Premier Visa® Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $0 for the first 12 months. After that, $95.
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 2.5X points on travel purchases, from flights to car rentals
  • Earn 1.5X points on all other expenses
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • 7% fixed APR on balance transfers from other Zions Bancorporation accounts
  • Annual fee waived the first year
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months on transfers made within 90 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.24% to 24.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months. After that, $95.
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 12, 2020

Priority Destinations® World Elite Business Mastercard

Priority Destinations® World Elite Business Mastercard
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 18.00%
  • Annual Fee $75
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • 2X Priority Miles on every purchase on up to $50,000 annually
  • 1X Priority Miles after you reach the yearly cap
  • No foreign transaction fees
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR: 18.00%
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: 18.00%
  • Annual Fee: $75
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: $24.95

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2020

Priority Destinations World Mastercard®

Priority Destinations World Mastercard®
  • Regular Purchase APR 17.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 17.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 18%
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 3X Miles for every $1 spent on travel up to $6,000 per year
  • Earn 1.5X Miles on everyday essentials
  • Enjoy reduced APR for 8 months on balance transfers
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 17.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 4.99% for 8 months
  • Balance Transfer APR: 17.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 18%
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: 18%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2020

National Bank of Arizona Reserve Credit Card

National Bank of Arizona Reserve Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 24.74% to 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $450
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Get $500 or 50,000 points when you spend $5,000 within the first 90 days
  • Earn 3% cash or 3X points on travel and dining purchases
  • Earn 2% cash or 2X points on everything else
  • $250 annual travel credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select Lounge Access
  • No blackout dates or restrictions on redemption
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 6 months
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $5, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.74% to 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: 5% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 07, 2020

Valley Premier Rewards American Express® Card

Valley Premier Rewards American Express® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $0 for the first 12 months. After that, $99
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • Earn 4x points at restaurants
  • Earn 3x points with airlines
  • Earn 2x points at gas stations
  • Earn 1x points on uncategorized purchases
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck reimbursement
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee waived the first year
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 24.49% 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: 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months. After that, $99
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

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#

Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

Reward cards come in all shapes and forms. Some cards cater to those frequently stay in hotels. Others, to those who regularly use their cards to pay for gas or other car-related expenses. Still others to business cards, and some cards for those who often fly – either for business or for pleasure. Just as there are many reward cards, so too are there many different types of travel rewards credit cards.

Travel cards can be broken down into three distinct types: airline credit cards, hotel credit cards, and general travel credit cards. Each class offers unique benefits and perks to travelers. But how do they work?

How Do Travel Cards Work?

Travel cards earn points on every qualifying purchase – just like other rewards credit cards. These reward points can also be cash back or miles, but these varieties of rewards are all the same. Travel cards typically earn a base rate for purchases – usually 1X points or miles. They also receive additional rewards on bonus categories, which may include:

  • Travel purchases
  • Hotel stays
  • Airfare
  • Gas station purchases
  • Groceries
  • Restaurants

Points from purchases apply to awards.  Like other rewards programs, cardholders can use their points for merchandise, gift cards, or cash back. The best value, however, is for booking travel. Some cards, such as Chase or American Express-branded cards, allow for bookings with their own travel portals, which offer additional value. Other cards, such as those from airlines and hotels, stipulate you must book through them – or their partners. Other cards might offer the option of booking travel however you please.

BestCards Top Travel Credit Card of 2020

Mastercard® Black Card™

Patented Card Construction and 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge

Mastercard® Black Card™
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $495
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Patented black PVD metal card-weighing 22 grams
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • 1.5% value for cash back redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®-available by phone, email and live mobile chat
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g., amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages)
  • Up to $100 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check application fee credit
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more
  • Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User)
  • Earn one point for every one dollar spent
  • Terms and conditions apply
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months on transfers that post within 45 days of account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $495
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

There’s little doubt in our minds that the Mastercard® Black Card™ offers the best luxury benefits for a travel card that can carry a balance. Most luxury-oriented travel credit cards are heavy on the perks but feature an APR that isn’t competitive. These cards also do not offer value when not paying your balance in full each month – after all, the points, miles, and rewards lose value when you are paying interest.

With the Black Card, however, some of this worry goes out the window. Sure, points still lose their value, but carrying a balance isn’t nearly as punishing. The Mastercard® Black Card features a competitive APR of 14.99%. This interest rate varies based on the Prime Rate only, compared to others, which have a variable APR based on creditworthiness.

The 14.99% APR from the Black Card is 2% lower than the lowest available rate from the Sapphire Reserve and is almost 10% lower than the Platinum Card from AMEX. Of course, the AMEX Platinum is a charge card, but the numbers don’t lie: the Mastercard® Black Card™ won’t punish you for carrying a balance.

Excellent Value

The Mastercard® Black Card™ also features an annual fee significantly lower than both the Sapphire Reserve and the AMEX Platinum. The Reserve is known as a points machine, and the Platinum is one of the kings of luxury, but don’t count the Black Card out just yet.

The Black Card offers enormous value for its $495 annual fee. The list of luxury perks is astonishing, including Priority Pass lounge access, airline credits, complimentary luxury gifts from leading brands, access to the Luxury Hotel Collection, no foreign transaction fees, and more. That doesn’t even mention the card’s award-winning Luxury Concierge service. All told, the card offers over $500 in hotel savings and credits – per stay.

Plus, the card gets 2% value for airline redemptions and 1.5% cash back redemptions, making it one of the better rewards cards for the heavy spender.

An All-Around Travel Juggernaut

This brings us to the heart of the matter: why we love the Mastercard® Black Card™. The card is the ideal combination of excellent rewards, a highly-competitive APR, and luxury perks – for a price that offers superb value for money. We think it holds it’s own against the big boys – and it’s why it’s our choice for the top travel credit card of 2020.

For more information check out our comprehensive Mastercard Black Card review

The Pros and Cons on Travel Credit Cards

Benefits of Credit Cards with Travel Rewards

Credit cards for travel offer fantastic value for those who are frequently on the move. Those benefits include:

  • Make Travel Less Expensive: Credit cards for travel can make traveling significantly cheaper. That’s because they offer points. These points can apply to future travel, reducing costs. Some cards also offer discounts with hotel chains, airlines, or car rental companies.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Many travel rewards credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee – a charge on using the credit card outside of the United States. While this rate varies from issuer to issuer, the typical rate is usually around 3%. Fortunately, many travel rewards cards offer no foreign transaction fees, meaning travelers aren’t penalized for daring to spend money abroad.
  • Signup Bonuses: Signup bonuses and introductory offers are two of the best perks with this type of credit card. Some cards come with bonuses of up to 100,000 miles, with a cash value of hundreds of dollars. While these bonuses require a minimum spend, the reward rate is typically many times more than the normal rate – making them an excellent value.

Drawbacks of Travel Credit Cards

The benefits of rewards credit cards for travel are clear, but what about the drawbacks? Here are a few negatives with travel cards to consider:

  • Annual Fees: The best travel cards charge an annual fee. These fees range from approximately $95 to $550 per year. While there are plenty of great no annual fee cards, the rewards and points won’t be as plentiful as they are with a card that charges an annual fee.
  • Higher Credit Score Needed: Credit cards with travel rewards typically require an excellent credit score or a good credit score. There are secured travel credit cards, such as the LATAM Secured Visa, but these are rare. Generally, you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 to get a travel card.
  • Higher APR: Because they offer rewards and huge bonuses, credit cards for travel have higher than average APR. Interest rates with travel cards are, on average, one percent higher than cash back rewards cards and three-percent lower than 0% intro APR credit cards.

What to Look for In a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Travel credit cards are an excellent way to earn rewards for travel and everyday purchases. But what should you look for to find the best travel card for you?

  • Rewards Points: One of the most important things to consider when selecting a travel credit card is the value of points – and how to earn them. Programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards offer exceptional value for money. Others, such as those from credit unions, provide less value but might benefit customers with other banking products. Carefully gauge how you earn points with eh card (gas, groceries, travel, etc.) before applying.
  • Reward Flexibility: Rewards flexibility is another critical consideration when it comes to travel credit cards. Some cards have strict terms of redemption. General travel rewards cards, such as the Spark® Miles Select from Capital One®, offer more versatility, which can be spent with significantly reduced restrictions or transferred to loyalty or frequent flyer programs.
  • Signup Bonus: Many travel credit cards come with a signup bonus of points. Typically these bonuses require a minimum spend of between $500 to $3,000 within the first three months. Bonuses can range in value all the way up to several hundred dollars. This makes rewards an essential part of the travel card equation.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Some travel cards offer no foreign transaction fees. This perk makes this type of card an excellent option for using outside of the United States.
  • Loyalty Program Elite Status: Some travel rewards credit cards offer elite status in loyalty programs. Loyalty programs cater to the frequent hotel guest or frequent flyer and include:
    • Marriott Bonvoy
    • Hilton Honors
    • Wyndham Rewards
    • World of Hyatt
    • AAdvantage
    • Southwest Rapid Rewards
    • Delta SkyMiles

The higher the annual fee, the better the elite tier with a program. The Platinum Card from American Express, for example, offers Gold Elite status in both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. The card also provides lounge access and a vast assortment of statement credits for an annual fee of $550. Even some mid-range and no annual fee travel rewards credit cards offer loyalty program status upgrades, however. So make sure to carefully examine each offer before applying.

  • Lounge Access: Lounge access is one of the best benefits of a travel rewards card. Lounge access grants the cardholder entry into airport or hotel lounges. As with loyalty program tiers, the higher the annual fee, the better the lounge access privileges. The AMEX Platinum offers incredible, unlimited lounge access for $550. So too does the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. These cards are general travel cards, but there are plenty of airline credit cards that offer lounge access at a variety of price points.

Travel Credit Card FAQs

Travel credit cards cover a wide area of rewards. Since some cards earn 3x points on travel, 3x points on dining, or other unique rewards, there are cards to suit every budget, travel preference, and spending habit. A huge assortment of cards also means a vast amount of questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about travel rewards cards – and what you need to know to make an informed decision:

Who should get a travel rewards credit card?

  • Travel rewards credit cards are ideal for anyone who travels frequently. Trave expenses can quickly add up, so earning points for those purchases makes perfect sense. These points can offset airline fees and are earnable for travel and dining, and other everyday spending.

What credit score do you need to get a travel card?

  • Because there are so many travel credit card offers, any credit score can apply. The very best travel credit cards, like the Amex Platinum Card, Citi Prestige Card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, require an excellent credit score to qualify. Others, like the LATAM Secured Visa, require no credit history at all.

Should you pay an annual fee?

  • Typically, travel cards that offer the best sign up bonuses, and most points charge an annual fee. Usually, the base rate is a $95 annual fee for the average travel card. Cards that provide impressive perks, like lounge access or credit for Global Entry, charge the very highest yearly fees. Before applying for any credit card, make sure you plan to make use of the rewards it offers – especially if there’s a high fee attached to it.

What if your travel routine changes, and you are stuck with an annual fee?

  • If your travel plans change and you can’t justify a high annual fee, consider downgrading to a no annual fee version from the same card issuer. Chase offers numerous paid -and no annual fee – versions of popular airline and hotel credit cards, for example.

What are travel points worth?

  • The real value for most travel cards lies in the value of the rewards points they offer. These points might be in the form of airline miles, hotel loyalty program points, or general card issuer points. Chase points, for example, allow users to redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for travel expenses, cashback, or other award options.
    • Current airline mile valuations for leading carriers:
      • Alaska Mileage Plan – 1.8 cents/mile
      • American Airlines AAdvantage Miles – 1.4 cents/mile
      • Delta SkyMiles – 1.2 cents/mile
      • Frontier Miles – 1.1 cents/mile
      • HawaiianMiles – 0.9 cents/mile
      • MileagePlus Miles (United) – 1.3 cents/mile
      • Miles & More Miles (Lufthansa) – 1.4 cents/mile
      • Southwest Rapid Rewards Points – 1.5 cents/point
      • Spirit Airlines Free Spirit – 0.4 cents/point
      • TrueBlue Points (Jet Blue) – 1.3 cents/point
    • Current hotel point valuations for leading brands:
      • Best Western Rewards – 0.7 cents/point
      • Hilton Honors – 0.6 cents/point
      • IHG Rewards – 0.5 cents/point
      • Marriot Bonvoy – 8 cents/point
      • Radisson Rewards – 0.5 cents/point
      • VOILA Rewards – 1 cent/point
      • World of Hyatt – 1.7 cents/point
      • Wyndham Rewards 1.1 cents/point

Are there travel credit cards for students?

  • Yes. Bank of America offers a dedicated student travel rewards card – the Travel Rewards Card for Students. There are also several general rewards cards for students that allow cardholders to redeem rewards for travel purchases. Travel rewards cards are an excellent option for students who go to college out of state. Some cards feature no foreign transaction fees, making them perfect for international studies.

Are there secured travel credit cards?

  • Yes. Thee are some very good secured cards for frequent travelers. These include secured airline cards from SKYPASS (Korean Air) and LATAM. Beyond those airline cards, BB&T offers secured cards for general travel usage that earn points with every purchase.

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