Travel Rewards Credit Cards
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By helping you earn miles or points toward airfare, hotel stays, and more, travel rewards cards can be a great way to make your next trip more affordable. Whether you're a frequent business traveler wanting elite perks or a family looking to save, you should be able to find a travel rewards card that's right for you.
How to Choose a Travel Credit Card
When deciding on a credit card for travel, you need to decide what type of benefit is most important to you. Click on any of the links below to find out more information about cards that will pay you back in points or rewards for:
If you spend over $1,334 per month on your credit card, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Chase Sapphire Preferred currently offers 40,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening (worth $500 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards). There is a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year).
Tip: How to Meet Your Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements
For overseas travelers, consider using a credit card with no foreign transaction fee to help save money while abroad. Most credit cards have a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
If airfare is your biggest concern, look for an airline credit card to help you earn free flights. Several of these cards include great introductory deals, such as bonus miles, free flights or free checked baggage.
To save on hotel expenses, consider applying for a hotel credit card. Special offers may include bonus hotel points and free hotel stays.
A gas credit cards can help stretch your budget. Read our guide on Summer Road Trips to see how using credit cards can help you save big.
Some travel rewards cards give you points or miles with a particular company’s frequent traveler program, such as United Mileage Plus or Hilton HHonors. Other cards give you points for the credit card issuer’s reward program which you can redeem with various companies.
Also consider how you would like to book your reward travel: some cards require you to book through the card issuer’s website, while others have more flexible options. Be sure to review the card's terms and conditions to see whether it has blackout dates or other restrictions on redeeming points.
Most travel and airline credit cards require very good to excellent credit to apply. Like most rewards cards, travel and airline credit card offers tend to charge higher interest rates compared to other types of credit cards, so if you don't plan on paying your balance in full each month, consider a low interest credit card instead.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
- Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance
- 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
- Premium Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection and more
- 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
- Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Travel Rewards Benefit: 2X points per dollar spent on travel. 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
Airline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
|Our Review: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a very generous point bonus and extra travel rewards to those with excellent credit. Keep in mind, the card does have a $95 annual fee. Read on to see if the Sapphire Preferred is worth it... Read full review|
|Intro APR for Purchases||Intro APR for Balance Transfer||Regular APR||Annual Fee|
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
- Earn up to 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
- Earn 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase on the Card and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.
- Redeem Starpoints for free nights at over 1,100 hotels & resorts in nearly 100 countries and for free flights on over 150 airlines with SPG Flights - all with no blackout dates.
- Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
- Starpoints stay active as long as you continue to spend on your Card.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65.
- Terms and Restrictions apply.
Airline Rewards: Redeem Starpoints on over 150 airlines with SPG Flights (all with no blackout dates). Transfer Starpoints to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis.
Hotel Rewards: Earn 1 Starpoint® for each dollar of eligible purchases. Earn more Starpoints for stays. Redeem Starpoints for free nights at over 1,100 hotels & resorts in nearly 100 countries. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
|Our Review: A favorite among many travel bloggers, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card offers travel rewards and American Express customer service for a $65 annual fee. The sign-up bonuses and 1:1 point transfer to other frequent traveler programs make this card a worthy credit card for travelers to consider, even if you don’t stay exclusively at Starwood hotels... Read full review|
|Intro APR for Purchases||Intro APR for Balance Transfer||Regular APR||Annual Fee|
15.24% - 19.24% variable
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
- Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Earn Points Faster: 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines and 2X points at US gas stations & US supermarkets, 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
- With the Membership Rewards® program, you can use points for rewards from over 500 leading brands in travel, gift cards, merchandise, or entertainment.
- You can also transfer points to our selection of frequent traveler programs.
- With The Hotel Collection, you can get up to a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges any time you use your Card to book a stay of at least two consecutive nights.
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year of Card Membership, then $175.
- Terms and Restrictions Apply.
Airline Rewards: Earn 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines
|Our Review: The American Express Premier Rewards Gold card offers 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines and 2x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets. In exchange, the Premier Rewards Gold card charges an annual fee of $175. Is the annual fee worth it? Read on to see if you can justify the annual fee... Read full review|
|Card Type||Annual Fee|
|Personal Charge Card|
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175
Travel Rewards Benefits
Travel rewards credit cards not only help you save money on expenses, such as flights and hotel rooms, they also usually offers points (or miles) that can be redeemed toward other discounts or benefits. A travel-focused credit card might also provide additional benefits when it is used to pay for travel expenses.
The majority of travel rewards credit cards work like regular rewards cards, with cardholders earning a certain number of points for each dollar spent on purchases using the card. The difference is that cards focused on travel rewards usually offer bonuses, either when you use them to pay for travel-related expenses, or when you redeem points for travel savings. Some examples may include:
- Some cards let you earn double or even triple points or cash back for each dollar spent on airfare or gas, in addition to awarding bonus points when you sign up.
- Other possibilities include receiving credits to cover incidentals such as baggage fees, access to special lounges at airports, or concierge services to help trip planning.
- Some programs may require fewer points to redeem award flights or hotel stays, particularly if you book through the card issuer’s travel website.
A Focus on Business
Many credit cards aimed at businesspeople also emphasize travel rewards, as work-related travel remains common despite today’s challenging economy:
- You may be able to receive a discounted companion airplane ticket when purchasing one at a high enough fare rate.
- You may also be able to easily transfer points and miles between your credit card and particular frequent flyer programs.
- Other benefits can be perfect for business travelers, including reduction or elimination of foreign transaction fees and additional car rental insurance.
Some cards bear the name of a travel-related company, such as an airline or hotel chain, and provide even better bonuses for purchases at that particular business. Potential perks include:
- Some cardholders may be able to take advantage of special benefits or avoid certain fees when booking with the selected airline or hotel chain, in addition to earning bonus points or miles.
- Blackout dates or other restrictions may not apply when booking with the appropriate card.
- Just remember to be aware that some of the benefits of these cards are only awarded at the particular company’s properties or flights.
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