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Updated September 2, 2014

Study: Travel Credit Cards 2014

Here is the top travel rewards credit card from our partners
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If you have one luxury in your yearly budget, it should be a vacation. You get some relaxation, some fun, and a lifetime of memories all in an all-too-short amount of time. Plus, you get a much needed break from work – something some employers actually want their employees to take. In fact, over the past two decades, the average number of paid vacation days companies give their workers has increased by two days, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fortunately, there are always deals to be had for coming up with affordable travel plans, including credit cards that reward consumers for using them either while traveling for work or for getting away from work.

We scoured our database of credit cards for the ones that offer the best deals for travelers and came up with the top card that stand out from the crowd. When used correctly, this card should help you make a dent in your total travel bill.

Study Methodology

To determine the best credit cards for travel, we considered three main factors for how users…

  • Earn Rewards: The faster, the better
  • Redeem Rewards: Flexibility for reward points or miles won points with us
  • Incur Fees: Usually overlooked, these numbers tell us how much a card truly costs

We started by looking at how fast you can earn rewards. The average travel credit card earns 1% (worth 1 cent per dollar spent). We excluded all credit card travel rewards worth 1% or less from consideration. We also considered how lucrative the introductory sign-up bonuses are since we love deals.

Next, we looked at how flexible the cards are with reward redemption. There is no point accumulating miles or points if you can't use them to fly when you want and where you want. We excluded all credit cards without a flexible redemption program. Keep in mind, if you fly only business and first class, it is often a better value to use airline miles (e.g.: AAdvantage). At CreditDonkey, we fly economy and avoid buying in-flight meals.

Finally, we looked at the fees. Generally, the more generous the reward structure and sign-up bonus, the higher the annual fee. Is it worth it? In general, yes if you plan to use the card frequently. No, if it is just going to gather dust. At CreditDonkey, we don't recommend you sign up for a credit card just to qualify for the promotion – the ideal card will be one you’ll want to use beyond the promotional period and will meet your everyday needs.

We did not look at interest rates. Travel credit cards are best suited for consumers who pay their balance in full each month. Otherwise, the interest costs will usually exceed any reward points you earn. If you plan to carry a balance, consider a credit card with a low interest rate instead.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Apply for Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
At Barclaycard's Secure Site
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR currently 14.99% or 18.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases - Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Chip card for increased confidence and convenience to pay abroad as easily as you do at home
  • Redeem your miles for travel statement credits - redemptions start at 2,500 miles for $25 toward travel purchases made in the last 120 days
  • Get 10% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsHotel RewardsTravel RewardsCar Rental RewardsTravel Accident InsuranceEmergency Assistance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/A
0% for 12 months (must be completed within first forty-five days of account opening)
14.99% or 18.99%* (Variable)
$89 - Waived first year

Why We Like Barclaycard Arrival Plus:

  • Earn 2x miles on all purchases
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fee

Why Not:

  • $89 annual fee (waived for the first year)


Of course, the best travel credit card for any particular consumer depends on how you use your credit card and where you want to go. A frequent international traveler should consider only credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. For the occasional traveler, look for the credit card that lets you earn rewards fast at a fair cost.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwised endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.