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Updated April 9, 2014

Study: Best Travel Credit Cards for 2014

Read more about Travel Rewards

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.

Best Travel Credit Card for 2014

Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard - Earn 2x on All Purchases
Apply for Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard - Earn 2x on All Purchases
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next travel redemption!
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use your card to book through any airline, hotel or discount travel engine with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits towards all or a portion of your travel purchases within the last 90 days
  • Complimentary online FICO® Score access for Arrival cardmembers
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsTravel RewardsTravel Accident InsuranceEmergency Assistance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.99% or 18.99%* (Variable)
$89 - Waived first year

Why We Like Barclaycard Arrival:

  • 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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Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the company whose products are featured on this site. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Advertiser. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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If you want to earn 2x miles with all purchases and have the flexibility to redeem miles toward any airline purchase, consider the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. The $89 annual fee card lets you earn miles quickly with no mileage caps. ...
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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.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.