Best Travel Credit Cards of August 2020

The Best Credit Cards for Travel as Chosen by the Editors

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The best travel credit cards give consumers valuable travel perks and the ability to earn rewards, but the cream of the crop offers more than one way to cash in your points.

We analyzed the top flexible travel credit cards in the industry to find out which ones boast the most lucrative rewards, the most diverse redemption options, and plenty of travel benefits. The cards below have the best of the best travel features, but those often come with a hefty annual fee. Take time to see how they stack up before you decide which one to bring with you.

Best Travel Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best Overall

,

Best for Luxury Travelers

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
4.9
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Current Offer

50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Despite a very high annual fee, the Reserve leads the pack because of generous rewards on travel and restaurant purchases, a $300 annual credit towards travel, and premium perks like unlimited access to participating airport lounges. You can use reward points to book trips through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website or transfer them at a 1-to-1 ratio to eligible airline and hotel rewards programs. The new cardholder bonus is sizable, too: If you spend $4,000 within your first three months, you’ll earn 50,000 points. They're worth $750 when redeemed through Ultimate Rewards, and potentially more when transferred to another program.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Earn extra points for travel and dining purchases
    • Many different purchases count as travel spending, which makes earning rewards easier
    • Several valuable ways to use points, including transfers to partner loyalty programs
    • Jam-packed with valuable travel credit and travel insurance benefits

    Cons

    • Massive annual fee
    • High ongoing APR
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Receive 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Get an annual $300 travel credit for eligible purchases charged to your card each anniversary year.
    • Earn 3 points on travel (excluding purchases eligible for the travel credit), restaurants, and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
    • Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Best for Business Owners

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
4.3
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 20.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Cash Advance APR (%) 24.99%
Cash Advance Fee Either $15 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Chase’s popular Ultimate Rewards program coupled with a reasonable annual fee make this our favorite business travel card. There’s a generous 100,000-point bonus for new cardholders who spend $15,000 within three months of opening an account. That bonus is worth $1,250 in travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. It may be worth even more if you transfer points to an eligible hotel or airline loyalty program. Day-to-day, you earn a competitive rewards rate on common business expenses like online advertising and shipping. 

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding bonus for new cardholders
    • Extra rewards points on many different types of business expenses
    • Many ways to redeem rewards
    • Option to transfer points to eligible airline loyalty programs, in some cases getting more value per point

    Cons

    • No rewards on dining or gas
    • Rewards tiers and caps, which are higher maintenance
    • Steep spending requirement to earn bonus
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
    • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
    • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
    • Stay on top of your business with Fraud Protection, Purchase Protection, personalized Account Alerts, and more.
    • Employee cards at no additional cost.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best With Annual Fee Under $100

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
4.2
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The relatively low annual fee makes this a more affordable version of the Reserve. There are fewer travel benefits, but both cards pay points on travel and restaurant purchases (you’ll just earn fewer per $1 with this card) and the new cardholder bonuses are similar. Plus, as with the Reserve, you can transfer your points to a partner loyalty program that potentially offers more value. For example, the 60,000-point bonus is worth $1,368 if you transfer the points to United Airlines, based on our valuation of United's miles.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Good bonus compared to other travel cards with similar annual fees
    • Option to transfer points to eligible airline and hotel programs, often at a 1-to-1 ratio
    • Points are pretty valuable when redeemed for travel
    • Some premium travel insurance benefits

    Cons

    • No credits to cover incidental airline fees or other travel-related costs
    • Few everyday purchase categories earn extra points
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
    • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Best With No Annual Fee

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
3.8
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.49% - 25.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Earning rewards with the VentureOne is easy: You get 1.25 miles on each purchase, and there’s no limit on how much you can earn. We also love that it has the option to transfer miles to eligible airline and hotel loyalty programs, which is rare among no-annual-fee travel cards. The bonus for new cardholders is competitive, too. If you spend $1,000 within three months of opening your account, you’ll earn 20,000 miles worth at least $200. If you transfer the bonus miles to Air Canada, you may be able to get an even better value, according to our average point valuations.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Simple and predictable rewards
    • Rare option (for a no-annual-fee card) to transfer miles to eligible airline and hotel partner programs
    • Flexible redemption options
    • Travel insurance not common with a no-annual-fee card

    Cons

    • Low rewards-earning rate
    • Limited number of travel partners, especially U.S. airlines
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 1.25X miles on all purchases. Earn unlimited miles with no caps.
    • Earn 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
    • Use miles as a statement credit against any airline or hotel booking with no blackout dates. Or, transfer miles to eligible travel loyalty programs.
    • Enjoy an introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months.

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Best for Student Travelers

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
3.8
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Current Offer

$50 Bonus earned after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    This student card is like your favorite sweatshirt: not super flashy, but reliable and low effort. It’s a no-annual-fee card that offers just 1% cash back on all purchases, but will automatically up your credit limit increase if you make five on-time payments within 10 months of account opening. Keep paying on time to earn 2,000 extra points each year, for five years. The card's APR is lower than average, and the bonus is easy to earn. The fray in this comfy sweatshirt’s collar? You can only apply in branch.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Simple cash-back program makes earning and redeeming rewards easy while building credit
    • Lets you earn a credit limit increase by making five on-time monthly payments within 10 months of opening account
    • $20 bonus each year your account is in good standing (for up to 5 years)

    Cons

    • Card cannot be applied for online. You must visit a Chase branch
    • Low rewards-earning rate compared to other student cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • $50 Bonus earned after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
    • $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years.
    • Earn a credit limit increase after making 5 monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening when meeting credit criteria.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Best for Travelers Who Prefer Cash Back

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
3.7
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Current Offer

Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months ($200 cash redemption value).

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.49% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals, as well as popular streaming services. Earn 1X points on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Don’t let the points this card earns fool you—they can be redeemed for cash at the same 1 cent each you’ll get using them toward flights, so it’s like you’re getting a great cash-back and travel card in one. Plus, Wells Fargo makes it easy to accumulate points by offering competitive earning rates in a slew of purchase categories, including those popular with travelers. You’ll even earn higher rates on streaming services when you decide to stay in. To add to this card’s appeal, there’s no annual fee. For such an impressive rewards scheme, that’s unusual. 

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Generous rewards rate on many common expenses
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Longer 0% APR offers on purchases and balance transfers exist
    • Cash back can only be redeemed in $20 or $25 increments
    • If you’ve received the bonus or interest deal before, you may not be eligible again
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – a $200 cash redemption value.
    • Earn 3 points on the following: eating out/ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, and popular streaming services.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • No limit to points you can earn, and points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
    • Cell phone protection offers insurance against your cell phone from damage or theft.

United℠ Explorer Card

Best for Airline Loyalty

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
3.8
United℠ Explorer Card
Current Offer

Limited-time offer - apply by 9/30/2020. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 23.49% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    United miles are some of the most valuable offered by a major U.S. airline rewards program, according to our research. Not only that, but new cardholders who spend $3,000 within their first three months get 60,000 of them right off the bat—a bonus worth about $1,368, based on our valuations. What's more, purchases at restaurants, hotels, and with United all earn 2 miles per $1 spent, and the card comes with some nice travel benefits, including two airport lounge passes each year. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the annual fee is waived for the first year, either.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Miles are worth more than most other major U.S. airline's, according to our calculations
    • Lots of great travel perks, such as lounge passes and free checked bags
    • Extra miles can be earned on more than just flight purchases

    Cons

    • Annual fee is waived the first year, but it’s still a notable cost
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.
    • Get 2 United Club one-time passes each anniversary year.
    • Save up to $140 per roundtrip with a free checked bag for you and a travel companion on the same reservation.
    • Get 25% back as a statement credit on inflight United purchases.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Best for Hotel Loyalty

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
3.6
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4X points for Hyatt stays, 2x for eligible transit, restaurants, gym memberships, and airfare purchased directly from the airline. 1x on other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    This is a superb hotel card for travelers who make Hyatt their hotel of choice. It boasts an excellent bonus: Spend $3,000 within three months of opening an account to earn 25,000 bonus points, and $6,000 within six months of account opening to get another 25,000 points. The whole bonus is worth $1,185, thanks to the high-value of Hyatt points (2.37 cents each, on average, based on our analysis). This card also offers a free hotel stay annually (and a second if you can spend $15,000 each year), many ways to earn rewards, and nice hotel perks, thanks to automatic World of Hyatt elite status.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding two-part bonus for new cardholders
    • Points are worth more than any other major U.S. hotel chain’s, according to The Balance’s calculations
    • Fitness club, restaurant, and local transportation expenses also earn extra points, unlike other hotel rewards cards

    Cons

    • World of Hyatt rewards program includes earning two types of points, which can be complicated to track
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 points after spending $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
    • Earn a free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort each year on your cardmember anniversary.
    • Receive automatic Elite status as long as your account is open.

Petal Visa® Credit Card

Best for Fair Credit

Our Rating Among Travel Cards
3.2
Petal Visa® Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 12.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1% cash back on all purchases. 1.25% after 6 months of on time payments, and 1.5% after 12 months of on time payments.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The chance to earn rewards when you don’t have a strong credit score can be tough to find. Usually it’s recommended that you have good to excellent credit for the best rewards cards. Enter Petal. This card rewards good habits, allowing you to graduate from a so-so 1% cash-back rate to a more respectable 1.5% after 12 months of on-time payments. While this isn’t a travel card, per se, you can easily start a travel fund with your cash back. Request it in check form, add to a high-yield savings account, and you’re on your way to your next vacation.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Available to those with a limited (or no) credit history, which is rare for an unsecured rewards card
    • Earn a higher rewards earning rate by making 12 on-time payments
    • Very few transaction or penalty fees

    Cons

    • Limited reward redemption options compared to similar cash-back cards
    • Must redeem rewards in $20 increments
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 1% cash back right away. Earn up to 1.5% cash back after twelve on-time monthly payments.
    • $500 - $10,000 limits. Higher limits can help you build credit when you keep your utilization low.
    • No fees.
    • Up to 10% back with select merchant offers. All offers are linked to your Petal card so that you don’t have to activate each one.
Find Your Credit Card Match We consider travel rewards, perks, and fees the most important things you should consider when choosing a travel credit card, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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Your Results

What Are Travel Credit Cards?

Before you sign up for a travel credit card, it helps to know the different types of cards available. While each card in this niche serves the same purpose—letting consumers earn free travel based on their spending—the type of rewards they offer can vary quite a bit. 

What Are the Different Types of Travel Credit Card?

  • Hotel credit cards: Co-branded hotel credit cards let you earn points on regular spending as well as bonus points on paid hotel stays with a specific brand of hotels. 
  • Airline credit cards: Co-branded airline credit cards offer frequent flyers airline-related perks and the opportunity to earn more miles from all their spending.
  • General travel credit cards: These travel credit cards offer flexible points you can redeem for travel as well as for other goods and services. 
  • Fixed-rate travel credit cards: Fixed-rate travel credit cards let you earn points that can be redeemed for any type of travel at a fixed rate—usually 1 cent per point. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Travel Credit Cards?

What We Like
  • Airline and hotel cards often provide an easier path to elite status—and their perks

  • Airline credit card redemption values can be extra valuable if your travel plans are flexible

  • General travel credit cards offer redemptions for travel and other options like statement credits and gift cards.

  • Some travel cards offer perks that can make travel more enjoyable, like airline lounge access or priority boarding.

What We Don't Like
  • Travel credit cards are more likely than cash-back credit cards to have annual fees.

  • Travel loyalty programs can be restrictive when you redeem your points.

  • Travel loyalty programs can be complex and difficult to understand.

How Do Travel Credit Cards Compare to Cash-Back Credit Cards?

Before you decide between a travel card and a cash-back card, see how they stack up.

Travel Credit Cards

  • Let you earn points for travel for each dollar you spend on your card
  • May let you redeem your rewards for airfare, hotels, cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and more
  • Usually have an annual fee
  • May offer travel-related perks like airport lounge access, annual travel credits, or priority boarding

Cash-Back Credit Cards

  • Let you earn cash back for each dollar you spend on your card
  • May let you redeem your rewards for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and more
  • Usually do not have an annual fee
  • No travel perks

Should You Pay an Annual Fee for a Travel Rewards Credit Card?

Before you pay an annual fee on a travel credit card, gauge whether you’ll take advantage of the added benefits you’re paying for. If airport lounge access is included, for example, do you fly often enough to get plenty of value? On the other hand, if you rarely leave home, you may be better off with a general travel rewards card with a lower (or no) annual fee. 

How Should You Choose a General Travel Credit Card?

If you’ve decided to go with a general travel credit card with flexible rewards, several factors should come into play.

  • Can you transfer points or miles to your favorite airline or hotel?  
  • Do the cardholder perks and benefits justify the annual fee (if any)?
  • Do you have redemption options other than travel (gift cards, merchandise, statement credits)?
  • If there’s a bonus, can you reach the spending requirement while staying within your budget? Among competing bonuses, which one offers the biggest boost?

Keep these features in mind as you decide which card to apply for. Here’s another look at the travel credit cards we think are best in class:

Best Travel Credit Cards
Credit Card Category Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve Best Overall $550
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Best for Business Owners $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Best With Annual Fee Under $100 $95
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Best With No Annual Fee $0
Chase Freedom Student Credit Card Best for Student Travelers $0
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card Best for Travelers Who Prefer Cash Back $0
United Explorer Card Best for Airline Loyalty $0 for the first year, then $95
World of Hyatt Credit Card Best for Hotel Loyalty $95
Petal Visa Credit Card Best for Fair Credit $0
Chase Sapphire Reserve Best for Luxury Travelers $550

How Should You Choose an Airline Credit Card?

Picking a co-branded airline credit card can be smart if you usually fly with the same airline or airline alliance and want elite status other benefits. 

  • Start with an airline you’ll use.
  • Decide which perks you want.
  • Weigh annual fees.
  • Consider bonuses: How much are they worth and how easy are they to get?
  • Going for elite status this year? Choose a card that will get you there faster based on card use.

How Should You Choose a Hotel Credit Card?

Choosing the best hotel credit card also requires some legwork. 

  • Start with the hotel brands with properties where you need them.
  • Consider how many points you’ll earn for each dollar you spend with the hotel brand and elsewhere.
  • Compare bonuses and account anniversary perks like free hotel nights.
  • Look at award charts to learn how many points you’ll need for a free stay.
  • If you want elite status, choose a hotel card that offers it (or helps you reach it). 
  • Weigh annual fees to determine whether automatic elite status (and other perks) are worth it.

How Should You Compare Travel Credit Cards?

As you dive into offer details and fine print, you may be wondering which details to compare among travel credit cards. 

  • Annual fees: There’s nothing wrong with paying an annual fee if you’re getting plenty of value. 
  • Rewards rates: Make sure you understand how many points or miles you’ll earn for each dollar you spend. 
  • Bonus for new cardholders: Compare bonuses and how easy they are to earn.
  • Foreign transaction fees: Some foreign transaction fees can add up to 3% on each purchase made abroad.
  • International acceptance: While Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted worldwide, this isn’t the case with all credit cards. 
  • Insurance and protections: Look for travel friendly perks like trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage loss or delay insurance, travel accident insurance, among others.

How Can You Maximize Travel Rewards?

There are plenty of ways to earn more rewards and get more value when it’s time to redeem them. 

  • Take advantage of bonuses for new cardholders: Some bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars.
  • Take advantage of credit card bonus categories: If your travel credit card lets you earn “bonus points” on certain purchases, try to use your card for those purchases.
  • Travel off-peak: Most travel rewards programs offer better redemption rates for travel outside of peak travel times, and you may find better award availability as well. 
  • Consider a general travel credit card: If you’re unsure of which hotel or airline program to go with, consider choosing a flexible travel credit card that lets you transfer points to your favorite programs instead.

What Are Some Additional Travel Card Benefits?

Benefits to look for include: purchase protection, extended warranties, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, guaranteed returns, cell phone protection, lost luggage insurance, baggage delay coverage, roadside assistance, and travel accident insurance.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial. No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We determine this list of cards each month or whenever there's a drastic change in the travel-rewards credit card market. We start by filtering our database of cards to give preference to those classified as "general travel" cards. This means we penalize co-branded airline and hotel cards, and we do this because they are only valuable if your travel habits allow you to fly those airlines or stay at those hotel chains frequently. If you want a list with more options specific to brands, check out our list of the best airline credit cards and best hotel credit cards.

What We Score

The driving factors in our scores for travel credit cards are the estimated value that the average U.S. traveler could earn on hotel and airline expenses in a year. We base that on the value of the credit card's points, the rewards-earning rates, and average travel spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We calculate a point or mile's value by examining Americans’ travel habits, the ways a cardholder can redeem rewards, and the average cost of flights and hotel stays.

Next, we look at the maximum value of the bonus. Bonuses with higher values get the highest scores. Travel credits offered by the card also get considerable weight. Those credits reimburse you for travel-related charges and can make up for what you have to spend on the annual fee—another factor we look at. (We consider a card’s average annual fee over three years to smooth out the impact of having an annual fee waived the first year, a common feature of travel cards).

Cards also get credit for allowing you to earn bonus points on non-travel purchases—which we account for in an estimate of the card's total potential annual earnings. The factors mentioned so far—flexible rewards structure, airline and hotel earn valuations, bonus value, travel credit value, annual fee, and total potential annual earnings—account for more than 60% of a product's score on our Best Travel Credit Cards list.

Beyond those main characteristics, we look at how widely accepted the card’s network is. 

According to the Nilson Report, Visa and Mastercard are the card networks with the widest acceptance in the U.S., though Discover and American Express had nearly caught up with them by the end of 2019. However, internationally, Mastercard and Visa are tied as the most widely accepted networks by far, according to 2018 Nilson figures. Discover comes in a distant third, and American Express is fourth.

We also weigh the card’s required credit score—giving higher scores to cards with less stringent credit requirements—as well how much you have to spend to earn the bonus. 

A card's perks can also be very valuable. We favor cards with these valuable benefits:

  • Airport lounge access
  • Airline or hotel partners with whom you can earn or redeem more points 
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
  • Primary rental car coverage

We give some weight, too, to more common perks—like rental car insurance that kicks in after your personal policy, or concierge services

Other Things We Consider

Travel-specific features make up about three-quarters of our scoring system for our Best Travel Credit Cards, but we also account for several other things we think make a quality credit card: low APRs, few fees, outstanding security features, and easy-to-access customer service. You can read more about everything we evaluate in our full methodology.

Compare Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Looking to compare credit cards that earn travel rewards? Here are the top 75 cards that we considered. 

Our annual rewards value is an estimate of the rewards the average U.S. consumer would likely earn each year, based on spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources. We also subtracted the annual fee and added in any dining or travel reimbursement credits. A card may receive a negative because the annual fee is subtracted.

Compare Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Card Name Annual Fee Rewards Annual Rewards Value Estimate
Chase Sapphire Reserve $550 Earn 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $604
The Platinum Card from American Express $550 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. $324
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card $400 Earn 3X points for every $1 on eligible net travel purchases and mobile wallet spending. $371
Citi Prestige $495 Earn 5 points per dollar at airlines, travel agencies, and restaurants, 3 points per dollar at hotels and cruise lines, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. $407
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card $95 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. $376
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card $450 Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points everywhere else. $602
American Express Green Card $150 Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel and at restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. $453
Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card $95 Earn unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. $418
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card $0 for the first year, then $95 Earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. $462
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card $0 Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals, as well as popular streaming services. Earn 1X points on other purchases. $421
Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards $49 Earn 3X points on travel and 2X points on everything else. $490
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card $0 Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere. $364
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card $0 Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase. $313
Discover it Miles $0 Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. $364
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard credit card $395 3 points on travel, 2 points on dining, and 1 point on all other purchases. $244
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card $0 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. $364
American Express Gold Card $250 Earn 4 points per $1 spent at restaurants and at US supermarkets (up-to $25,000 per year). 3 points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases. $560
United Explorer Card $0 for the first year, then $95 Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. $622
Chase Freedom Unlimited $0 Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. $364
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card $0 Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. $396
HSBC Premier World Mastercard Credit Card $0 first year, then up to $95 2 points on travel and 1 point on all other purchases. $244
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card $0 Earn 3% cash back on dining, 3% on entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases. $357
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card $0 Earn 1.5% cash rewards on everyday purchases. $364
American Express Cash Magnet Card $0 1.5% cash back on your purchases. $364
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express Card $85 3 points per dollar at restaurants, 2 points per dollar at airlines and gas stations, 1 point per dollar on everyday spend. $553
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard $0 Earn an Introductory 3% cash back on $10,000 in purchases made during the first 12 months of account opening. 1.5% cash back thereafter. $364
Citi Premier $95 Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations, 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $312
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card $95 Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points everywhere else. $579
Discover it Chrome Gas & Restaurants $0 2% at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases. $253
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express $0 Earn 3% at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. department stores, and 1% on other purchases. $353
World of Hyatt Credit Card $95 Earn 4X points for Hyatt stays, 2x for eligible transit, restaurants, gym memberships, and airfare purchased directly from the airline. 1x on other purchases. $598
Citi Rewards+ $0 Earn 2X ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and 1X points on all other purchases. $309
USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card $0 Get 2X points on dining and gas, and 1X points for every dollar spent on other purchases. $309
Discover it Cash Back $0 Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. $343
Chase Freedom $0 Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. $343
Navy Federal cashRewards $0 Earn 1.5% cash back on purchases. $364
TD Cash Credit Card $0 Earn 3% cash back on dining, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other eligible purchases. $357
British Airways Visa Signature Card $95 Earn 3 points per $1 on purchases with British Airways and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases. $594
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card $0 for the first year, then $95 4 % Cash Back on dining and entertainment. 2% back at grocery stores. 1% back on all other purchases. $393
ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard $0 Earn points on every purchase, every time. It's simple. $1 purchases equals 1 Point. $243
USAA Rewards American Express Card $0 Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points per $1 on gas and groceries, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. $378
Petal Visa Credit Card $0 1% cash back on all purchases. 1.25% after 6 months of on time payments, and 1.5% after 12 months of on time payments. $243
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card $95 Earn 3 points per $1 at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. Earn 2 points at US gas stations, and 1 point on other purchases. $329
Navy Federal More Rewards American Express Card $0 3 points per dollar at gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants and commuting expenses. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. $482
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card $39 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. $325
Citi Double Cash Card $0 Earn 2% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. $486
Navy Federal GO REWARDS $0 Earn 3X points at restaurants, 2X points on gas, and 1X point on everything else. $333
Blue Cash Preferred Card  $95 Earn 6% back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on eligible transit and US gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases. $472
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card $0 Earn 1.5% Cash Back on all purchases made with your card, and 2% Total Cash Back for PenFed Honors Advantage Members. $364
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card $0 Earn 5x back at gas stations, 3x back on groceries, and 1x back on all other purchases. $708
USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card $0 Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions. $364
Amex EveryDay Credit Card $0 Earn 2 points per $1 at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. Earn 1 point per $1 for other eligible purchases. $173
SunTrust Travel Rewards Credit Card $0 first year, then $89 3% cash back on travel, 2% on dining, and 1% on all other eligible purchases. $242
United Club Infinite Card $525 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent on dining at restaurants and all other travel, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases. $383
TD First Class Visa Signature Credit Card $0 first year, then $89 3 First Class miles per $1 on travel and dining purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases. $277
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $450 14 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 7 points per $1 on eligible flight, car rental, and U.S. restaurant purchases. 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. $544
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card $0 1% cash back on all eligible purchases. $243
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard $99 Earn 2X miles for every one dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other purchases. $502
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card $0 5% cash back on $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two eligible categories you choose. 2% cash back on one eligible everyday category. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases. $243
Sallie Mae Accelerate $0 1.25% cash back on eligible purchases. $304
Sallie Mae Evolve $0 1.25% cash back on eligible purchases. $304
SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card $0 2% cash back on qualifying gas and grocery purchase. 1% on all other qualifying purchases. $309
Wells Fargo Rewards Card $0 Earn 1 point on all purchases. $243
HSBC Advance Mastercard Credit Card $0 first year, then up to $45 2 points on dining and select entertainment purchases and 1 point on all other purchases. $214
Sallie Mae Ignite $0 1% cash back on eligible purchases. $243
Commerce Bank Special Connections  $0 Get 3% cash back on coffee, fast food and ridesharing services, 2% on gas and at restaurants, and 1% on all other purchases. $308
Commerce Bank toggle Card $0 Get 3% cash back on coffee, fast food and ridesharing services, 2% on gas and at restaurants, and 1% on all other purchases. $308
Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card $95 Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on Iberia, British Airways, and on Aer Lingus flight purchases, 2 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations, and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases. $509
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard $0 for the first year, then $99 Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Plus 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. $575
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard $79 Earn 3 Amtrak Guest Rewards points per $1 spent with Amtrak, 2 points on other qualifying travel purchases,1 point spent on all other purchases. $600
Iberia Visa Signature Card $95 Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on Iberia, British Airways, and on Aer Lingus flight purchases, 2 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations, and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases. $509
Asiana Visa Signature Card $99 3 Miles for every dollar you spend on Asiana Airlines purchases, 2 Miles for every dollar you spend on gas and at grocery stores, and1 Mile for every dollar you spend on all other purchases. $681
PNC points Visa Credit Card $0 Earn 4 points per $1 on purchases. $267
USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card $0 Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. $357