How To Choose The Best Travel Credit Card

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Last updated on August 23rd, 2023

There is an overwhelming amount of travel credit cards to choose from so how do you know what to look for? Here is how to choose the best travel credit card for your travel needs.

What to Look For In a Travel Credit Card

Travel cards are fun to think about, mainly because they tend to carry the potential of earning paid-for-flights, free hotel stays, and more. And exactly how do you choose a travel credit card? Well, there are several factors you should consider when seeking out the best travel credit card for your needs. Here’s how.

Choose the Best Type of Travel Credit Card

Start by deciding on what type of credit card you want. If you weren’t aware of it, you should know that there are two types of travel credit cards: co-branded credit cards and general credit cards (or transferable rewards cards.) Each has its perks but one of the more obvious differences is that co-branded travel cards typically benefit cardholders that frequently use brand-specific services. In contrast, a general travel credit card carries flexibility for the cardholder in terms of earning rewards and redeeming options. Both travel cards may earn rewards in points or miles.

Co-branded credit cards can be airline, hotel, and retail credit cards. For example, the JetBlue Card from Barclays Bank is a co-branded airline credit card. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card would be an example of a co-branded hotel credit card. Both cards are affiliated with a specific brand and both offer brand-specific benefits and reward redemption options.

A general travel credit card is issued by a bank or credit union and it is not affiliated with one specific brand. However, it does offer flexible travel benefits and rewards. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is not affiliated with any airline or hotel brand but it is a travel credit card. It earns unlimited 2x miles on every purchase. The Venture Rewards credit card also offers other travel benefits like travel credit, airport lounge access, and more.

Seek a Rewarding Travel Credit Card

After you have made your decision on the type of credit card you should get, consider the travel rewards. Look for fruitful rewards and convenient bonuses. Make sure that the rewards are worth your while. Do this by choosing a travel credit card that corresponds with your spending habits to help maximize rewards.

For example, if you’re big on grocery shopping look for a travel credit card that will reward you for your grocery store purchases. Or if gas is one of your bigger money-guzzler purchases consider a credit card that can earn you points or miles for gas station purchases.

Don’t Be Fooled By the Welcome Bonus

Keep an eye out for card bonuses. A credit card bonus is typically an introductory offer for new cardholders. Although sometimes it’s just a bonus. A top-tier welcome bonus can be worth as high as $1,000 or more. They usually have a spending requirement within a specified period.

Spending requirements may range anywhere from $500 to more than $15,000. The spending requirement usually has to be done within a specified time frame and that can range anywhere between three months to six months. These kinds of bonuses only make sense if you have plans on spending the required amount within the specified time frame. If you don’t plan on spending big with your credit card you can also look for a noble bonus with a low spending requirement.

Find Travel Perks That Speak To You

In addition to picking out the type of travel card you want and perusing the different reward offers and card bonuses, you should also pay attention to the perks. The nice-to-haves are the juiciest parts of a travel credit card. The perks are the benefits of a travel credit card that would justify an annual fee. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express has a $695 annual fee. However, the benefits of the card are valued at more than $1,000.

While the benefits balance out the $695 annual fee, you still have to decide if the perks are benefits you will use. For instance, the Amex Platinum Card offers an annual $300 credit with Equinox but if you don’t use this service then the $300 is useless to you. On the other hand, the Platinum card also offers a $200 hotel credit and a $200 airline fee credit. These kinds of perks might help in justifying the high annual fee if you are a frequent traveler.

There are other benefits you want to notice when searching for the best travel credit card to fit your needs. Make sure you are sitting down and being honest with yourself about your finances and your travel needs so that you can make the wisest decision when picking a travel credit card.

Complimentary hotel stays Annual travel credits Expedited airport security
Airport lounge membership Airline benefits Airline Elite Status
No foreign transaction fees travel insurance car rental insurance

Related Article: The Best Travel Credit Cards

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About: Jeannyn
Jeannyn Gomez

Jeannyn is the Content Management Assistant for In addition to serving on all aspects of social media and spreading the word on expert credit and personal finance advice, Jeannyn finds herself on quests for humor, supernatural phenomena, and conspiracy theories for fun.

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