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Originally Published: Jul 10, 2024
Originally Published: Jul 10, 2024 Last Updated: Jul 10, 2024 32 min read

Best Travel Cards Main Takeaways

  • Money has evaluated hundreds of credit cards, comparing their fees, benefits, welcome offers, travel insurance policies and more.
  • The top credit cards for travel offer high rewards on travel purchases, which can be redeemed for airfare, hotel nights, cash back, statement credits or more.

Why Trust Us?

Our editorial team has spent well over a thousand hours analyzing, evaluating and comparing the top credit card offers in the market. We carefully vet each card’s fine print in order to understand their features, limitations and potential benefits for consumers. We review cards independently, ensuring our content is accurate and guided by editorial integrity. Read our full methodology to learn more.

  • 46 travel credit cards evaluated
  • 10+ data points used, including ongoing fees, reward programs and welcome offers
  • 100+ sources reviewed
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Best Travel Card for DiningBest Travel Card for Flat-Rate RewardsBest No-Annual Fee Travel Card for Domestic TravelBest Travel Card for Flexible RewardsBest Premium Travel Credit CardBest Travel Card for Lounge Access
American Express® Gold Credit Card Logo
Capital One Venture Logo
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card Logo
 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card Logo
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card Logo
The Platinum Card® from American Express Logo
American Express® Gold CardCapital One Venture Rewards Credit CardChase Freedom Unlimited®Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve®The Platinum Card® from American Express
Our PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur Partner
Highlights

Get up to $120 every year in dining credits ($10 per month) for select restaurants and food delivery services. (Enrollment required. Terms apply.)

Offers a statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, includes travel accident and car rental insurance and allows you to transfer your miles to more than 15 airline and hotel partners.

Offers a high flat cash back rate on most purchases plus several popular bonus categories, including travel and dining.

Each account anniversary year, you’ll earn a point bonus equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year.

Receive up to $300 back as statement credits for travel-related purchases

Includes access to over a thousand airport lounges worldwide and several annual credits, like up to $200 in statement credits to cover incidental travel fees. (Terms apply.)

Annual Feeannual_fees

(Click here for rates and fees.)

annual_feesannual_feesannual_feesannual_feesannual_fees

(Click here for rates and fees.)

Welcome Offerbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_full
Best Travel Card for Dining
American Express® Gold Card
Our Partner
Learn More
Highlights

Get up to $120 every year in dining credits ($10 per month) for select restaurants and food delivery services. (Enrollment required. Terms apply.)

Annual Fee
annual_fees

(Click here for rates and fees.)

Welcome Offer
bonus_miles_full
Best Travel Card for Flat-Rate Rewards
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Our Partner
Learn More
Highlights

Offers a statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, includes travel accident and car rental insurance and allows you to transfer your miles to more than 15 airline and hotel partners.

Annual Fee
annual_fees
Welcome Offer
bonus_miles_full
Best No-Annual Fee Travel Card for Domestic Travel
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Our Partner
Learn More
Highlights

Offers a high flat cash back rate on most purchases plus several popular bonus categories, including travel and dining.

Annual Fee
annual_fees
Welcome Offer
bonus_miles_full
Best Travel Card for Flexible Rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Our Partner
Learn More
Highlights

Each account anniversary year, you’ll earn a point bonus equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year.

Annual Fee
annual_fees
Welcome Offer
bonus_miles_full
Best Premium Travel Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Our Partner
Learn More
Highlights

Receive up to $300 back as statement credits for travel-related purchases

Annual Fee
annual_fees
Welcome Offer
bonus_miles_full
Best Travel Card for Lounge Access
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Our Partner
Learn More
Highlights

Includes access to over a thousand airport lounges worldwide and several annual credits, like up to $200 in statement credits to cover incidental travel fees. (Terms apply.)

Annual Fee
annual_fees

(Click here for rates and fees.)

Welcome Offer
bonus_miles_full

Money.com has partnered with CardRatings.com for our coverage of credit card products. Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Our top picks are listed strictly in alphabetical order.

Our Top Picks for Best Travel Credit Cards

Best no-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best low-fee-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best premium travel credit cards

Best business travel credit cards

Best airline travel credit cards

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Best Travel Credit Cards Reviews

Best No-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earns 1.5x points on all purchases
Cons
  • No bonus category for travel
  • Few benefits compared to other cards
  • Limited redemption options

Rewards:

  • 1.5x points on all eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is an easy-to-use card best suited for travel reward beginners or those who are already Bank of America customers.

Some cardholders can earn up to 75% more points if they are Bank of America Preferred Rewards members — that's up to 2.62 points for every dollar spent.

However, the card doesn't offer hotel and airline point transfer partners, travel insurance or extended warranty and purchase protection. Additionally, you can only redeem your points as statement credit to cover travel and dining purchases.

All information about Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com

Pros
  • No annual or foreign currency conversion fee (Click here for rates and fees)
  • Use it to pay your rent and earn rewards without incurring any processing fees
  • You can earn double points on all purchase categories (except rent payments) on the first of every month (up to 10,000 points)
  • Earn 2x points on travel (when booked directly through an airline, hotels, car rental agencies and cruise lines)
Cons
  • No welcome bonus or introductory APR period
  • Points redeemed for statement credits are worth 0.55 cents each
  • You must make at least five transactions in a statement period to earn points
  • Rent payments can only be made to one rental property per month
HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 5x points on Lyft rideshare (when you link your Bilt and Lyft accounts, set Bilt as the active loyalty partner and pay with your card)
  • 3x points on dining
  • 2x points on travel (when booked directly through an airline, hotels, car rental agencies and cruise lines)
  • 1x points on other purchases

Why we chose it: The Bilt Mastercard® lets you earn travel rewards on rent payments without incurring any processing fees — unlike most credit cards that typically charge around 2.5% to 2.9% per rent payment.

You can use the card to pay rent without worrying about surcharges. Once you get approved for the card, all you have to do is set up an account through the Bilt app or website and use your assigned routing and account number to pay rent through your usual payment portal. You can also use your card even if your landlord only accepts checks, and Bilt will send a check on your behalf.

Additionally, Bilt doubles the card’s rewards rates on the first of every month, which means you can earn 6x points on dining, 4x points on travel and 2x points on other purchases (up to 10,000 points per month). However, this bonus doesn't apply to rent rewards.

On the downside, the Bilt Mastercard® doesn't offer a welcome bonus, and points redeemed for statement credits are only worth 0.55 cents each.

Pros
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Can transfer your miles to 16 travel partners
  • Earns 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
Cons
  • Doesn’t earn bonus points on airfare
  • No domestic travel partners
  • Limited redemption options
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 1.25x miles per dollar on eligible purchases
  • 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

Why we chose it: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is a great option if you’re looking for a no-annual fee travel credit card with a simple rewards structure.

You can use your miles to book travel through the Capital One Travel portal or as a statement credit to cover travel purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies and more.

You can also transfer your points to one of Capital One's 16 travel partners, which include international airlines such as Avianca and British Airways. This option is notable since travel credit cards with no annual fee don't typically offer the option to transfer your reward to airline and hotel partners.

However, the card's list of bonus categories is limited compared to some other no-annual-fee credit cards, and Capital One doesn't offer bonus points on airfare booked through Capital One Travel.

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption and car rental insurance
  • Features a high flat cash back rate combined and popular bonus categories
Cons
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed

Review:

  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Travel℠
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025
  • 3% back on dining purchases, including delivery and takeout
  • 3% back at drugstores
  • 1.5% back on all other eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the best credit card for traveling domestically. It offers a 1.5% flat cash back rate on most purchases plus it has several appealing bonus categories, including travel and dining.

This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, that is, on any transactions made in currency other than US dollars. However, if you mostly travel within the U.S., this card is an excellent option.

For one, you’ll earn an additional 1.5% on each of the card’s bonus categories during the first year of card membership (or up to the first $20,000 spent).

Also, although using this card abroad is not recommended, you can still use it to book international trips while you’re home, and you’ll earn 5% cash back if you book it through Chase Travel℠.

You can redeem your rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and even transfer them to other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. It's also worth noting that this card is one of the few no-annual-fee credit cards with rental car coverage and trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

Pros
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Discover matches the total miles you earned at the end of the first year
  • Earns 1.5x miles on all purchases
  • See your FICO score on the Discover mobile app, online and on statements
Cons
  • Few benefits compared to other travel cards
  • No bonus category for travel
  • Doesn’t include extended warranty or purchase protection

Rewards:

  • 1.5x miles on all eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Discover it® Miles Credit Card is a no-frills card ideal for travelers who don’t want to keep track of bonus categories, earning caps or redemption values.

The card earns a flat 1.5x miles on all eligible purchases without any annual caps. You can redeem your miles for statement credits and account deposits at a rate of 1 cent per mile. You can also use your rewards through Amazon and PayPal checkout with the same value.

Also, the card’s welcome bonus is easily one of the best in the market: Discover matches every mile you've earned at the end of your first membership year — without any spending requirements.

However, while the Discover it® Miles Credit Card is a great starter travel card, its lack of bonus categories could hinder your reward-earning potential in the long run. Additionally, Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted internationally as Visa Signature and World Mastercard, for example.

All information about the Discover it® Miles Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Pros
  • Earn 3x points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, select streaming services and cell phone plans
  • Includes cell phone protection plan
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • No airline or hotel transfer partners
  • Doesn’t include travel insurance
  • Netflix and HBO are not eligible for streaming bonus

Rewards:

  • 3x points on travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more)
  • 3x points on transit, including subways, parkings, tolls, ridesharing services and more
  • 3x points on dining, gas, select streaming services and cell phone and landline providers
  • 1X points on other eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card is the best travel reward card for everyday spending, offering high rewards on several popular spending categories, including travel, dining, gas, streaming services and cell phone plans.

Its travel bonus category is particularly noteworthy because you can earn points regardless of where you make your reservations, whether it’s directly with an airline or through a third-party travel site like Booking.com. (Most travel credit cards limit travel rewards to bookings made exclusively through the card issuer's travel portal.)

The card also includes rental car insurance and a cell phone protection plan when you use it to pay your monthly bill.

All information about the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Best Low-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Pros
  • Earn 2x miles per dollar on most purchases
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Includes travel accident and car rental insurance
Cons
  • Fewer bonus categories than other cards with a similar annual fee ($95)
  • Doesn’t offer travel rewards for flights
  • Car rental insurance is secondary
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual Fee:
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One's travel portal
  • 2x miles per dollar on all eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for travel miles if you want to earn a high reward rate and not worry about bonus categories.

The Capital One Venture Rewards is ideal for those who want to get the most out of their spending without worrying about tracking bonus categories and spending caps.

You can redeem your miles on the Capital One travel portal and as statement credits to cover travel purchases at a value of one cent per mile. Additionally, you may transfer your miles to more than 15 airline and hotel partners.

However, keep in mind that Capital One doesn’t have domestic travel partners, which can be a drawback if you mainly travel within the U.S.

Pros
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Travel℠
  • Receive a point bonus each account anniversary
  • Includes primary rental car insurance
  • Earn 3x per $1 on dining, including eligible delivery and takeout meals, select streaming services and grocery purchases
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • Doesn't offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck® application fee credit
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
annual_fees
Sign-up Bonus:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended Credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 5x points for travel bookings made through Chase Travel℠
  • 2x on all other travel purchases
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery and takeout
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart® and wholesale clubs)
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases

Why we chose this card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best travel credit card for frequent travelers who want to earn valuable rewards while paying a low annual fee.

The card features six reward categories that offer outstanding rewards on flights, hotels, restaurants and more. You can redeem your points for statement credits, account deposits, gift cards and more. But you can get the most bang for your buck by redeeming them for travel purchases through the Chase Travel℠ portal, which increases your point’s usual one-cent value by 25%.

You can redeem your points for statement credits, account deposits, gift cards and more. But you can get the most bang for your buck by redeeming them for travel purchases through Chase Travel℠, which increases your point’s usual one-cent value by 25%.

You can also transfer your points to one of Chase's 14 travel partners at a 1:1 ratio (one Chase point equals one hotel point or airline mile). These include popular airlines and hotels like JetBlue, Southwest, United, Marriott and Hyatt.

Best Premium Travel Credit Cards

Pros
  • Earns 4x points on restaurants worldwide, takeout and food delivery within the U.S.
  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits, issued as a $10 statement credit per month for select restaurants (enrollment required)
  • Up to $120 as Uber Cash annually ($10 per month) for food delivery orders and rides in the U.S. after you add the American Express® Gold Card to your Uber account
  • Earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
Cons
  • High annual fee ($250)
  • Includes few travel perks and insurance policies compared to similarly priced cards

Terms apply. Please click here for applicable rates and fees.

HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide
  • 4x points on takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points at supermarkets within the U.S. (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amextravel.com
  • 1x on other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Why we chose it: The American Express® Gold Card is ideal for foodies, offering a high reward rate at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, takeout and food delivery. (Terms apply.)

The American Express® Gold Card also offers statement credits worth up to $240 combined — almost enough to offset the card's $250 annual fee. These include:

  • Up to $120 every year in dining credits ($10 per month) for select restaurants and food delivery services. The list includes Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and Shake Shack (Enrollment required)
  • Automatically get $10 monthly in Uber Cash to use on Uber Eats or Uber rides in the U.S. (after you add the American Express® Gold Card to your account)
  • $100 credit for dining, spa services and other activities when you book a two-night minimum stay at a hotel from The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel
  • Terms apply

However, note that the American Express® Gold Card offers fewer travel perks than some other premium cards — for instance, it doesn’t offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance or TSA PreCheck® or CLEAR® Plus fee credits.

Pros
  • 10,000 bonus miles every year
  • Statement credit of up to $300 for bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • Up to a $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Skip the line and get car upgrades when renting a car with Hertz
Cons
  • High annual fee ($395)
  • Fewer bonus categories than other premium cards
  • No domestic airline transfer partners
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 10x miles per dollar on hotels & rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5x miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2x miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for travel miles if you want to earn a high reward rate and not worry about bonus categories.

The Capital One Venture X also includes noteworthy perks such as:

  • 10,000 bonus miles every year (starting on your first anniversary)
  • $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel
  • Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges worldwide with Priority Pass™ Select and Plaza Premium Group
  • Authorized users at no extra cost (many cards have an annual fee of $75 or more for each additional user)

All in all, the Venture X is a solid option that can easily compete with other premium travel cards, especially considering its more affordable annual fee.

Pros
  • Up to $300 in statement credits each anniversary year to cover travel purchases
  • Transfer your points to 14 travel partners (including United, Southwest, JetBlue and Marriott)
  • Points worth 50% more when redeemed for travel expenses through Chase Travel℠
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage, including emergency dental insurance
Cons
  • High annual fee ($550)
  • Doesn’t include a cell phone protection plan
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee
annual_fees
Sign-up bonus
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 10x through the Chase Dining program
  • 5x points on air travel booked through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x points for all other travel-related purchases
  • 3x points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases

Why we chose it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the best credit card for travelers looking for a high reward rate on travel and additional benefits like comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access worldwide.

Your points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Travel℠ portal. This means each point is worth 1.5 cents per point instead of one cent, like most travel cards. Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides several high-end benefits such as:

  • $300 annual travel credit to cover travel-related purchases like airfare, hotels, car rentals, rideshares, buses, trains, tolls and/or parking
  • Access for you and two guests to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide (after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select)
  • Statement credit of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or Nexus

The Sapphire Reserve does have a $550 annual fee. But if you take advantage of the $300 annual credit and other perks, the benefits can definitely outweigh its cost.

Pros
  • Access to the widest network of airport lounges of any card
  • Complimentary elite status in the Marriott and Hilton hotel loyalty programs
  • Hundreds of dollars in annual statement credits for travel, dining and more
Cons
  • High annual fee ($695)
  • Doesn’t include baggage delay, travel accident and primary rental car insurance
  • Limited bonus categories

Terms apply. Click here for rates and fees.

HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to the first $500,000 spent per calendar year)
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on the American Express travel portal
  • One point per $1 on other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Why we chose this card: The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a list of premium benefits that no other travel card offers, including the widest network of airport lounges and room upgrades at Hilton and Marriott hotels. (Terms apply.)

The Platinum Card® from American Express features an impressive list of high-end travel benefits, including:

  • Complimentary access to over 1,400 airport lounges, including Priority Pass, Delta SkyClub and Amex's own Centurion lounges (enrollment required)
  • Gold status in the Marriott and Hilton loyalty programs, which makes you eligible for room upgrades, free breakfast and late checkouts (enrollment required)
  • $200 back each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings made through American Express Travel and paid with your Platinum Card® (Hotel Collection bookings require a minimum two-night stay)
  • Up to $200 per year when incidental fees, such as checked bags, are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card® (with one selected qualifying airline)
  • Complimentary premium status in Avis Preferred®, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards®, and/or National Car Rental® Emerald Club (must enroll through your Amex online account using your card)
  • Terms apply

The Platinum Card® from American Express does have a hefty $695 annual fee. However, for people who travel often and will take advantage of its annual credits and travel perks, it might almost pay for itself.

Best Business Travel Credit Cards

Pros
  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com
  • Around $1,000 in yearly statement credits for select business purchases
  • Access to a wide network of airport lounges (terms apply)
  • Around $600 in perks in Fine Hotels + Resorts® locations booked through American Express Travel (for stays of two nights)
Cons
  • High annual fee ($695)
  • Secondary rental car coverage**

Terms apply. Please click here for applicable rates and fees.

HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended credit
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • 1.5x points (up to $2 million per year) at U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers and shipping providers
  • 1.5x points (up to $2 million per year) on purchases of $5,000 or more, regardless of the category
  • Terms apply

Why we chose it: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express features an extensive list of benefits that make it an ideal travel and business credit card.

With this card, you can access over 1,400 airport lounges worldwide, comprehensive travel insurance and extra amenities at hundreds of hotels, like daily breakfast and free internet access. Additionally, you get a $200 credit to cover baggage fees, in-flight refreshments and more and up to $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck® every four or 4.5 years respectively. (Terms apply.) (Enrollment required.)

The card also offers several yearly statement credits for business-related purchases that include up to $400 per year — $200 between January and June and $200 between July and December — for U.S. purchases with Dell (enrollment required).

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express does have one of the steepest annual fees ($695) among travel credit cards, but its extensive list of benefits makes it a no-brainer for business owners who travel frequently.

Best Airline Travel Credit Cards

Pros
  • Free first checked bag for you and a companion
  • Up to $100 as a statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS every 4 year
  • 25% back as a statement credit on food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights
  • Complimentary priority boarding for you and companions traveling on the same reservation
Cons
  • $95 annual fee (after the first year)
  • No intro APR period
  • Rewards are only valuable when used with United
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
annual_fees
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Regular APR:
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro APR:
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Recommended Credit:
credit_score_needed

Rewards:

  • 2x miles per $1 spent on United purchases
  • 2x miles per $1 spent on dining, including eligible delivery services
  • 2x miles per $1 spent on hotel accommodations (when purchased directly with the hotel)
  • 1x miles per $1 spent on all other purchases

Why we chose it: The card_name has a low annual fee and gives you valuable benefits that make up for it, such as priority boarding for everyone on the reservation and a free checked bag for you and one companion.

Other perks the card includes are:

  • Two one-time passes for United Club℠ airport lounges each account anniversary year
  • 25% back as a statement credit on in-flight purchases like food, beverages and Wi-Fi
  • Up to $100 every four years to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry or NEXUS
  • Comprehensive travel insurance (auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and trip delay reimbursement)

The United℠ Explorer Card earns miles on United purchases, including tickets, inflight food, beverages, Wi-Fi and more. You also earn rewards at restaurants and select hotel stays.

You can use your miles to book flights on United Airlines or its partners, including Avianca, Lufthansa and Air Canada. You can also redeem them for seat upgrades, inflight Wi-Fi passes and more — although United miles are usually more valuable when used for airfare.

Travel Credit Cards Guide

The best credit cards for travel do more than offer high reward rates on flights and hotel stays. They also provide rewards for everyday spending and perks such as travel insurance, airport lounge access and annual statement credits.

Here's a rundown of how these cards work:

What is a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards are tailored for frequent travelers, providing high rewards on travel-related expenses like flights, hotels, rental cars and dining. These rewards, earned as points or miles, can be used to book travel reservations. Additionally, rewards can sometimes be transferred to hotel and airline partners or be redeemed for statement credits, cash back, gift cards and more.

These cards also feature valuable perks such as no foreign transaction fees, hotel discounts, travel insurance, free checked bags and airport lounge access.

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards give you a certain number of points or miles per dollar on eligible purchases. They often offer around 5x points or more for airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars and more. Some cards may also count parking, bus fares, taxis, tolls and ferries as travel purchases.

Besides travel, you typically get additional bonus categories, such as 3x points per dollar on dining, groceries, drugstores or streaming services. All other eligible purchases usually get at least one point (1x) per dollar.

You can then redeem your points for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more. Card issuers also usually let you redeem your points for non-travel options like statement credits, cash back or gift cards.

Pros and cons of travel credit cards

Pros
  • Some cards offer up to 10x points per dollar on travel purchases.
  • Many have additional bonus categories for dining, grocery shopping and more.
  • They may include travel benefits like priority boarding, airport lounge access and late hotel checkouts.
  • Points or miles can also be redeemed for cash back, statement credits, gift cards and more.
Cons
  • Highest reward rates are usually limited to purchases made through the card issuer's travel portal.
  • They might not offer high rewards on spending outside of the travel category.
  • Some of the best ones can have steep annual fees and require good to excellent credit
  • Redeeming points or miles for anything other than travel can reduce their value to less than one cent per dollar.

Types of travel credit cards

Here’s a rundown of the differences between the three main types of travel rewards credit cards:

Airline credit cards

Airline credit cards are ideal for people who regularly fly with the same airline. These cards earn miles you can redeem for flights, seat upgrades, inflight dining, airport lounge access and other travel-related purchases but typically only with the issuing airline.

Some of the best airline travel credit cards include benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.

Hotel credit cards

With hotel credit cards, you can only redeem your points for stays, discounts and other benefits with one particular hotel chain.

For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns points for Hilton's loyalty program, which you can redeem for free nights in the company's properties, including Hilton Garden Inn and Waldorf Astoria hotels.

Hotel credit cards may also offer complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, late checkouts and bonus points for purchases made during your stay.

General travel credit card

General travel credit cards are more flexible than airline or hotel cards. They aren't affiliated with a single airline or hotel chain, so their points can be used to book flights, hotel stays, rental cars and more from different companies.

These cards may also offer useful perks for frequent travelers, like airport lounge access. They can also cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® membership, which allows you to skip the long lines at airport security or customs.

How to choose a travel credit card

Picking the best travel rewards credit card boils down to how often you travel, which cardmember perks you'd benefit the most from and the categories you spend the most on.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing the best card for you:

  • Travel vs cash back credit cards. A travel rewards credit card offers high reward rates on travel spending, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck when you redeem your points on flights, hotels and car rentals. If you don't take trips often but want to pile up rewards, a cash-back credit card might be a better fit. These tend to offer better rewards for everyday expenses, like gas and groceries.
  • Assess your everyday spending. Many travel cards have additional bonus categories other than travel, like dining, supermarkets, streaming services and drugstores. Consider your day-to-day spending habits and pick a card with bonus categories that fit your lifestyle.
  • Consider the card's annual fees. No-annual-fee travel cards usually have few travel benefits. The best travel credit cards charge annual fees of at least $90 and can go as high as $700. However, these are often best for those that travel enough to take advantage of their benefits.
  • General vs. co-branded travel cards. General travel cards have more flexible redemption options. On the other hand, co-branded cards are often tied to a specific airline or hotel, which can limit your options. Still, they do provide valuable perks like free checked bags, in-flight discounts and hotel upgrades.
  • Compare extra travel perks. Some cards offer extras like annual statement credits for flights and hotels or upgrades when renting cars. Take the time to compare each card's roster of add-ons and pick one that will best suit your travel plans.
  • Compare insurance policies. The best credit card travel benefits include insurance policies that cover travel accidents, rental cars, trip cancellations and more. These policies can vary widely based on the issuer and the card's annual-fee tier.
  • Beware foreign transaction fees. Most travel credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Some cash-back cards may offer outstanding rewards for travel purchases but charge around 3% fees on purchases outside the U.S.
  • Look beyond welcome offers. A 60,000-point welcome bonus can be enticing. However, it shouldn't be your deciding factor, especially if you'll end up paying a high annual fee without getting your money's worth.

Making the most of your travel credit card

Here are some other tips to maximize your rewards and benefits:

  • Use your card as often and strategically as possible. This way, you can earn points or miles with each purchase and redeem them for free or discounted flights, hotels and more. (Remember to pay your card off in full each month to avoid interest charges and credit card debt.)
  • Consider adding an authorized user to your account. They’ll earn points with every purchase they make, and those will get added to your overall total. However, make sure to pick someone who will use the card responsibly since you'll be legally liable if they ever fail to pay their monthly bills.
  • Redeem your rewards for travel through the card issuer's website. This redemption option usually offers the highest value compared to gift cards or merchandise, for example.
  • If your card offers travel protections (like travel accident or luggage insurance), use it to pay for your passenger fares. This way, you could be reimbursed in the event of an accident or lost luggage, for example.
  • Use your airline or hotel card to sign up for the company's frequent flyer or frequent guest loyalty program. You'll often earn extra points or miles when you're a member and use your co-branded card to pay for flights, hotel stays and more.
  • If you can transfer points from other credit cards to your travel card, take advantage of this feature. This way, you can accumulate extra points for travel booking and sometimes even increase their value.

Best Travel Credit Cards FAQs

Are travel credit cards worth it?

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Travel credit cards can be worth it if you travel frequently enough to take advantage of their perks and rewards. Most of these cards' bonus categories are travel-focused, and they include benefits like airport lounge access, rental car insurance and hotel statement credits. If you don't travel much, you might be better off with a cash-back credit card.

How do miles work on credit cards?

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Miles are similar to credit card points: you earn miles for every dollar you spend and later redeem them for flights, hotel stays and other travel-related expenses through your credit card’s rewards program. Some cards also let you redeem miles for cash back and gift cards.

How much are airline miles worth?

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The value of miles varies based on your card's reward programs and booking details. For example, your miles might be worth more when booking a flight during spring compared to summer. Also, keep in mind that miles are often more valuable when redeemed for travel instead of cash back.

How much are credit card points worth?

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Credit card points are usually worth one cent each. However, some issuers increase or decrease their value depending on how you redeem them. For example, some credit card points are worth 1.25 cents when used to book flights and around 0.8 cents through Amazon checkout.

What’s the difference between points and miles?

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When a card earns miles, it usually means it's affiliated with an airline, and you can redeem those miles for free flights, seat upgrades and more on that airline's frequent-flyer program. Points, on the other hand, tend to be more flexible as they're not tied to a specific airline. However, there are some travel credit cards, such as those from Capital One, that earn miles that are not limited to a single airline and have similar value and redemption options as points.

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

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Credit card issuers have different credit score requirements, but to get approved for the best travel credit cards, you usually need a very good credit score at least. In the FICO Score range, the scoring model used by most lenders, a very good credit score starts at 740.

How We Chose the Best Travel Credit Cards

We ranked the best credit cards for travel based on their annual fees, benefits, reward rates and redemption flexibility.

Fees: We compared interest rates and foreign, cash advance and balance transfer fees for more than 50 credit cards. We also considered their annual fee, looking for those that offered the most for the money.

Ongoing benefits: Intro APR and bonus offers are attractive, but they can only get you so far. We focused on cards with year-round benefits such as travel insurance or cell phone protection plans.

Reward rates: We preferred cards that allow you to earn extra points from travel expenses, as well as those that provide significant bonus rewards in popular spending categories, like dining, supermarkets or streaming services.

Redemption flexibility: Our picks don’t limit your redemption options to just travel. Some let you use your points for Amazon purchases, for example. We also preferred issuers that allowed cardholders to transfer their points to airline and hotel partners.

Summary of Money’s Best Travel Credit Cards of July 2024

Best no-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best low-fee-annual-fee travel credit cards

Best premium travel credit cards

Best business travel credit cards

Best airline travel credit cards

Money.com has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Money.com and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

To see rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

* Insurance disclosures for American Express Cards on this page:

Trip Delay Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Baggage Insurance Plan: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Global Assist Hotline: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.

Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $75,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

*** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.