Top 9 Best Travel Credit Card

You can use a travel credit card as a helpful tool to reduce your trip expenses. You might get free flights, hotel stays, and other things if you spend your money wisely.

When you use these cards to pay for your excursions, you may receive extra rewards of up to ten points (10x) every dollar in addition to the regular amount of points (or miles) earned for travel and other everyday transactions.

Continue reading to learn about the top travel credit cards, how they operate, and how to choose the right one for you.

  • The Best Travel Credit Cards We Recommend
  • The best premium travel card is Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  • Runner-up for the Best Premium Travel Card is Capital One Venture X.
  • The best premium card for the most additional advantages is the Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • The best credit card with a low annual fee is Chase Sapphire Preferred.
  • Best travel credit card with no annual fee: Chase Freedom FlexSM
  • Best travel credit card with no annual charge runner-up: Wells Fargo AutographSM Card
  • The best American Express® Gold Card for dining benefits
  • The best business travel card is the Business Platinum Card from American Express.
  • Bank of America’s Premium Rewards are the best for earning points for regular purchases.

Reviews of the Top Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card for Luxury Travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Yearly statement credits for travel expenses of $300
  • 14 partners in the travel industry, including Marriott, United, and Southwest
  • When using Chase to pay for travel, points are worth 50% more.
  • dental and urgent care insurance
  • High yearly cost ($550)
  • excludes a plan for cell phone protection
  • Compared to other premium cards, the welcome offer is less remarkable.
Yearly Cost


Welcome Bonus

After spending $4,000 on purchases during the first three months after account opening, you will receive 60,000 bonus points.

Travel protection

For travel, lodging, and vehicle rentals, the majority of premium cards provide the same bonus rate. On the other hand, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gets 10x points on lodging and 5x points on airfare when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website. However, you can still earn 3x points for all other travel-related purchases if Chase’s travel offerings aren’t sufficient for you.

Moreover, 3x points are earned at restaurants with the card, including delivery and takeaway. If you use the Chase Dining app to place takeaway and delivery orders at thousands of partner restaurants, you can increase that reward rate by up to 10x. (Remember that in some cities, the selections could be scarce.)

The Sapphire Reserve offers numerous noteworthy benefits in addition to its high rewards. It offers savings or enhancements at specific vehicle rental businesses, as well as statement credits to cover fees for the expedited traveller programmes Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or Nexus, to mention a few.

There is a $550 yearly charge for the Sapphire Reserve. Yet, the advantages can more than offset the price if you make use of the $300 annual credit and other incentives.

Capital One Venture X came in second for the best premium travel credit card.

  • 10,000 additional miles annually
  • up to $300 in statement credits for reservations made through Capital One Travel
  • a $100 credit on TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
  • While renting a car from Hertz, you can skip the line and receive improvements.
  • No bonus category for dining
  • no partner domestic airline for transfer

Yearly Cost


Travel protection

main rental vehicle insurance, travel cancellation/interruption, lost luggage compensation, and trip delay reimbursement

Other features include the chance to receive 10,000 bonus miles on each account anniversary and the free addition of up to four approved users. (For each extra user, many cards charge an annual cost of $75 or more.)

A $300 annual travel credit is offered with the Venture X and can be used for booking flights, lodging, rental cars, and other travel-related expenses. Please be aware that the credit can only be applied on Capital One Travel reservations. (Other rivals allow you to use the credits on any kind of travel transaction, including cabs and buses, which is more flexible.)

Although the card comes with travel insurance, its protection isn’t as extensive as that of other premium cards. For instance, the Venture X excludes coverage for travel mishaps, baggage delays, and emergency transports. But, it does give main rental car insurance, which is something that most travel cards don’t.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best credit card for perks and benefits.

  • the ability to use any card at the largest network of airport lounges
  • complimentary elite standing in the hotel loyalty programmes of Marriott and Hilton
  • Annual statement credits of hundreds of dollars for eating, travel, and other expenses
  • High ($695) annual charge
  • excludes primary rental car insurance, baggage delay coverage, and travel accident coverage.
  • certain bonus categories alone
KEY FEATURES Yearly Fee $695 Welcome Offer

Spend $6,000 throughout the first six months of card membership on purchases to receive 80,000 Membership Rewards Points.

Travel protection

Trip interruptions/cancellations, reimbursement for misplaced baggage, and additional automobile rental insurance

Why we choose it: No other travel credit card provides the extensive network of airport lounges and room upgrades at Hilton and Marriott hotels that the Platinum Card® from American Express does. Conditions apply.

More than 1,400 airport lounges all over the world are accessible with this American Express card at no additional cost.

Moreover, holders of the Platinum credit card are granted elite status in the National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, and Avis Preferred car rental programmes. You receive benefits from this status like discounts, line-skipping, and/or car improvements.

There is a significant $695 annual fee associated with the American Express Platinum Card®. For those who take use of its annual credits and travel benefits and travel frequently, it might, however, virtually pay for itself.

Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best credit card with low annual fees.

  • When using Chase for travel expenditures, points are worth 25% more.
  • every anniversary of your account, get a point bonus.
  • incorporates primary automobile insurance
  • Get 3x points for every $1 spent on dining, including valid takeaway and delivery orders, streaming services and groceries.
  • $95 for each year
  • does not provide a credit for the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee.


Yearly Cost


Welcome Bonus

After making $4,000 in purchases during the first three months after account opening, earn 60,000 bonus points.

Travel protection

primary rental vehicle insurance, trip cancellations/interruptions, trip delays, travel accidents, luggage.

You have the option to redeem your points at a better rate through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. Chase points are typically worth one cent each, however when used to book travel through the portal, the fee is 1.25 cents per point when using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card.

Also, at a 1:1 ratio, you can transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners (one Chase point equals one hotel point or airline mile). They include well-known hotels and airlines including Marriott, Hyatt, JetBlue, Southwest, and United.

Another advantage is that your Chase Sapphire Preferred® account allows you to mix points from several Chase cards (as long as they earn Ultimate Rewards points). You can transfer points from your Chase Freedom Unlimited® account, for instance, to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® account. For bookings made via the Ultimate Rewards® programme, this would result in a 1.25 cent increase in value from their standard one cent per dollar.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® adds primary rental car coverage in addition to its basic travel insurance features, which is a benefit that not many travel cards offer. With this insurance, theft or damage is covered without having to first file a claim with your motor insurer. Also, the collision insurance provided by the rental car business is waived.

Best Travel Credit Card Without Annual Fee: Chase Freedom Flex

  • No yearly charge
  • includes insurance for car rentals and travel interruption
  • Get 5% cash back on purchases up to the first $1,500 in quarterly categories.
  • Purchases of travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards® earn 5% back.
  • foreign transaction fee of 3%
  • The provision of supplemental rental automobile insurance
Yearly Cost


Welcome Bonus

Spend $500 in purchases within the first three months of your account opening to earn $200.

Travel protection

Insurance for secondary rental cars and cancellation/interruption of travel

Why we choose it: Travel and rental car insurance are often excluded from credit cards without an annual fee. In contrast, the Chase Freedom FlexSM offers rental car insurance as well as coverage for trip delays and cancellations.

If the journey is cancelled or interrupted, the trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburses up to $1,500 per person (and up to $6,000 per trip) for passenger fares. This coverage begins to pay out if unanticipated circumstances like extreme weather or hospitalisation force you to cancel your vacation, much like a specific travel insurance policy would.

The cell phone protection package on the card, which is often only available with annual fee cards, is one of its additional features. You can receive up to $800 for each claim for theft or damage if you pay your phone’s monthly bill with your Chase Freedom FlexSM. You can submit up to two claims and receive a maximum of $1,000 each year. (Remember that each claim has a $50 deductible.)

Few cash-back cards provide rewards for travel-related purchases or allow users to earn points for travel. But, the Freedom FlexSM has both of these qualities. It rewards points that you can use for travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, despite the fact that it is officially a cash-back card and not a travel reward card. Moreover, the card offers 5% cash back on online reservations.

In addition to travel benefits, Chase Freedom FlexSM cardholders receive 3% cash back on dining out (including qualified delivery services and takeout), 3% cash back on pharmacy purchases, and 1% cash back on all other expenditures.Moreover, the card provides 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in rotating categories each quarter. For instance, the Chase Freedom FlexSM offers 5% back on grocery stores (except Walmart), Target, fitness centres, and gym memberships for the first three months of 2023 (April, May, and June).

But keep in mind that each quarter before the deadline, cardholders must monitor and activate each spending category. The 5% incentive is lost if the activation deadline is missed until the subsequent quarter.

Wells Fargo AutographSM Card, runner-up for Best No-Annual Fee Travel Credit Card


  • Get three times the points on dining, travel and petrol.
  • Paying your monthly phone and streaming service fees while earning three times as much
  • includes a mobile insurance policy
  • Absence of foreign transaction fees


  • There are no hotel or airline partners.
  • excludes travel protection insurance
  • HBO, Hulu, and Netflix are ineligible for the streaming bonus
annual cost


Welcome Bonus

Spend $1,000 on purchases during the first three months after account opening to receive 20,000 bonus points.

Travel protection

secondary insurance for a rented automobile

Why we choose it: With the Wells Fargo AutographSM Card, you may pay for travel, restaurants, petrol, streaming services and cell phone plans with no yearly or international transaction fees and earn substantial points.

The only times you can earn rewards with travel credit cards are when you make travel reservations on the card issuer’s travel website. Booking your trip through a single travel agency, such as, would only qualify you for the card’s minimal bonus (which is usually one point per dollar).

But, regardless of where you make your purchase, the Wells Fargo AutographSM Card offers 3x points on flights, hotels, timeshares, auto rentals, cruise lines, travel agencies, travel websites, and campgrounds. The 3x travel incentive is also valid on passenger trains, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and motorways, parking lots, and garages. Dining, gas, selected streaming services, and cell phone plans are additional categories where 3x points are awarded for every dollar spent.

The Wells Fargo AutographSM Card gives good travel earnings, but it doesn’t have many travel perks. It lacks hotel and airline transfer partners and opulent extras like access to airport lounges or a credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees. (But, keep in mind that these benefits typically only come with premium travel cards that charge high annual fees.)

Insurance for a rented car is included with the card. If you use it to reserve the rental car, you are protected up to $50,000 in case of theft or accidents. When using the card to pay your monthly fee, a cell phone protection plan is also included. You are eligible for reimbursement of up to $600 per claim (or up to $1,200 annually) if your phone is destroyed or stolen.

The Wells Fargo AutographSM Card is a great choice if you want to earn points on all of your purchases, including those made for travel and everyday expenses. If you want luxurious features and all-inclusive travel insurance coverage, it might not be the ideal option for you.

Best Card: American Express Gold Card for Dining Rewards


  • get four times as many points for takeaway, delivery, and dining out in the United States.
  • $10 in monthly statement credits for a $120 annual eating credit at particular restaurants
  • $10 per month for trips and $120 annual Uber Cash for food delivery purchases in the US.
  • Get 4x points at American supermarkets (up to $25,000 annually, after which 1x)


  • high ($250) annual charge
  • contains less travel benefits and insurance coverages than other cards.

Yearly Cost


Promotional Bonus Offer

After making $4,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership, you will receive 60,000 points.

Travel protection

Luggage and additional auto insurance

Why we choose it: For those who prefer dining out, the American Express Gold Card® is the best option. At restaurants throughout the world as well as for takeout and food delivery within the US, it earns 4x points (Terms apply.)

The card also earns 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through, 4x points at supermarkets within the United States (up to $25,000 per calendar year, thereafter 1X), and 1 point on all other eligible expenditures.

Two statement credits totaling $240 are available with the American Express® Gold Card, which is almost enough to cover the $250 annual fee. Up to $120 in eating credits ($10 per month) are available annually for use at a limited number of eateries and meal delivery services. Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly,, Milk Bar, and Shake Shack all on the list. Moreover, you’ll receive $10 in Uber Cash automatically each month for Uber Eats orders or rides in the United States, for a total of $120 every year (Enrollment is required).

For stays of two nights or longer booked through American Express’ The Hotel Collection, cardholders can receive up to $100 in credit. It can be used for approved eating, spa treatments, and other things. Also, cardholders get 24/7 access to agents at the Global Help Hotline, who can help arrange things like lost luggage assistance, translation services, and more.

But keep in mind that the American Express® Gold Card has fewer travel benefits than some other high-end cards; for instance, it doesn’t provide trip interruption and cancellation insurance, TSA PreCheck, or Global Entry price credits.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is the best travel card for companies.


  • When using to book prepaid hotels and flights, you earn 5X points.
  • Annual statement credits for certain company purchases of about $1,000
  • A large range of airport lounges are accessible.
  • Freebies at a large number of hotels


  • High ($695) annual charge
  • Supplemental insurance for rentals
Yearly Cost


Promotional Bonus Offer

After making $15,000 in eligible purchases with the card over the first three months of card membership, you will receive 120,000 Membership Rewards® Points.

Travel protection

Insurance for trip delays, insurance for trip cancellations, and Travel accident insurance, insurance for checked and carry-on bags, and additional rental car insurance

Why we choose it: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers a long range of advantages that make it the perfect credit card for business and travel.

Access to more than 1,400 airport lounges globally, complete travel insurance, and extra perks at hundreds of hotels are all available to cardholders (like daily breakfast and free internet access). Additional beneficial features include up to a $200 credit for baggage fees, in-flight refreshments, and other expenses, as well as up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Conditions apply.

When you use to book flights and hotels, the card earns 5x points, and you might be entitled to a refund. When users redeem their points for a first- or business-class ticket or any service class on their chosen airline, they receive a 35% point return (you can choose a favourite airline once a year). Keep in mind that you must have enough points to cover the full cost of the desired flight before you can receive the rebate.

The card offers roughly $1,000 in yearly bill credits for transactions at Dell, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless phone providers that are business-related. Also, it receives 1.5x points (up to $2 million annually) from retailers of electronic products, shipping services, building supplies, hardware, software, cloud service providers, and transactions of $5,000 or more. Conditions apply.

For business owners who travel regularly, the Business Platinum Card® from American Express is a no-brainer despite having one of the highest annual fees ($695) among travel credit cards.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards Credit Card is the Best Credit Card for Everyday Use

  • Get 2x points for meals and travel.
  • With all other purchases, get 1.5x points.
  • yearly credit of up to $100 for incidental flight costs
  • Each four years, you can spend up to $100 on Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
  • $95 for each year
  • There are no hotel or airline partners.
  • a lower bonus rate for travel than on comparable cards
annual cost


a welcome bonus

After spending at least $3,000 within the first 90 days after account opening, receive 50,000 bonus points.

Travel protection

Travel cancellations, trip disruptions, delays, misplaced bags, and delayed baggage

Why we choose it: For meals and travel, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card offers double points. A greater base reward rate than most other credit cards, including ones with similar or higher annual fees, it additionally earns 1.5x points on all other expenditures.

Even though many credit cards offer significant rewards on a variety of spending categories, if your regular spending falls outside of those categories, you’ll typically only receive one point for every dollar spent. But, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® card is a great option for people who wish to maximise their spending regardless of the category of their purchases due to its 1.5x base rate.

The two other bonus categories on the card, dining and travel, can increase your earnings even more. As Bank of America offers one of the broadest definitions of what constitutes a travel purchase, the travel category provides the highest earning potential. Bank of America offers points regardless of how or where you book your holiday, in contrast to other travel cards that only offer extra points for reservations made directly through their booking system. Also, there are points for Uber, Airbnb, zoos, amusement parks, and more.

If you’re a Bank of America client and a Preferred Rewards® programme participant, the card may be even more valuable to you. On every transaction, members can earn up to 75% extra points. For instance, you might receive 2.62 points for every dollar spent as opposed to 1.5x points on regular transactions. You must have at least $20,000 in a Bank of America deposit or Merrill investment account, or the sum of the two, to be eligible for the Preferred Rewards programme.

Although there is a $95 annual charge for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards®, there are benefits that may make up for it. You are eligible for an airline incidental fee statement credit of up to $100, which can be used to pay for seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight purchases, and airport lounge access. Also, you are entitled to a statement credit of up to $100 every four years to pay for TSA Precheck or Global Entry expenses. The card also offers insurance for lost luggage, delayed baggage, trip disruptions, and trip cancellations.

This card has an advantage over others due to its base reward rate. But, keep in mind that similarly priced cards can earn you up to 5x points if you’re ready to make your reservations through the card’s travel gateway if your goal is to maximise your point earning on travel-related purchases. Yet, this card is a wonderful choice if you just want to earn points without worrying about spending categories and limits – especially for current Bank of America customers.

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Various credit cards for travel were considered

Based on their reward programmes, introductory bonuses, travel insurance, extra features, and overall value for the majority of travellers, we selected the best credit cards for travel. The following cards came in second place closely:

Travel Rewards from Bank of America


  • No yearly charge
  • Absence of foreign transaction fees
  • 1.5x points are earned for all purchases.


  • No transportation partners
  • No travel bonus category
  • Compared to other cards, few benefits

For individuals new to using travel rewards or existing Bank of America customers, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards card is simple to use. With a checking account with the bank, some cardholders can earn up to 75% more than the normal 1.5x points on all purchases. Moreover, trip interruption, delay, and cancellation benefits are included. The card’s lack of other bonus categories, hotel and airline point transfer partners, however, prevented it from being included in our main list.

Rewards from Capital One VentureOne


  • Absence of foreign transaction fees
  • able to transfer points to 16 different travel companions
  • when booking hotels and rental vehicles via Capital One Travel, you can earn 5x the points.


does not get bonus points for meals or travel

Yearly Cost


Welcome Bonus

20,000 miles after creating an account and making $500 in transactions during the first three months.

Travel protection

Rental car and travel insurance (only available to some cardmembers based on creditworthiness)

The Capital One VentureOne consistently accrues 1.25x miles for every dollar spent, and 5x miles for travel arrangements made through Capital One Travel.

You can transfer your points to one of Capital One’s 16 travel partners, which include foreign carriers like Avianca and British Airways, or use your miles to make trip arrangements through the Capital One Travel portal. Depending on their credit score, certain cardholders will also receive travel accident and rental car insurance with the card.

But, compared to several other no-annual-fee credit cards, the card’s list of bonus categories is short, and Capital One doesn’t have any domestic airline travel partners.

Absolute Freedom for Chase


  • No yearly charge
  • includes insurance for car rentals and travel interruption
  • 5% cashback is earned when booking travel with Chase.


foreign transaction fee of 3%

One of the few credit cards with no annual charge that offers trip cancellation/interruption and rental car insurance is the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. Additionally, it offers you 5% cash back on reservations made through the Chase travel portal, 3% on dining out and shopping at pharmacies, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

The Chase Freedom FlexSM, our top pick for the best no-annual-fee credit card, narrowly beat out this card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® does not, however, come with a cell phone protection coverage, in contrast to the Chase Freedom FlexSM.

Miles for Explore it


  • No yearly or international transaction costs
  • At the conclusion of the first year, Discover matches the total miles you accrued.
  • 1.5x miles are earned on all purchases.
  • On statements, online, and through the Discover mobile app, you can view your FICO score.


  • Compared to other travel cards, little advantages
  • No travel bonus category
  • No transportation partners
  • Does not include purchase protection or an extended warranty.

A simple card that earns 1.5x miles on all purchases is the Discover it® Miles. One of the biggest welcome bonuses is offered by Discover, which will double all of your miles at the conclusion of your first membership year. It lacks travel transfer partners and has fewer bonus categories than other no-annual-fee cards. Also, compared to Visa and Mastercard, Discover cards aren’t as extensively used abroad.

Awards for Capital One Venture


Large rewards for routine purchases (2x miles per dollar)

$100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

includes auto insurance and travel accident coverage


fewer bonus categories than cards with comparable ($95) annual fees

Insurance for car rentals is optional.

With 2x miles for every dollar spent, the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card is a great choice for everyday shopping. The majority of travel credit cards only offer significant rewards for certain categories, such as dining or gas, and earn one mile (or point) for every dollar spent on most expenditures. On the other hand, you receive benefits from Capital One Venture Rewards for all kinds of transactions. Also, when you book hotels and rental vehicles through the Capital One travel website, you earn 5x miles.

The card offers coverage for car rentals, travel accident insurance, reimbursement for misplaced items, and up to $100 against the cost of a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers better travel insurance and a longer variety of bonus categories than some cards with the same annual charge ($95).

Guide to Travel Credit Cards

The best travel credit cards go beyond providing high reward rates on travel and lodging expenses. Additionally, they offer benefits like travel insurance, access to airport lounges, and annual statement credits, as well as rewards for regular purchases.

The best travel credit cards, however, also come with high annual fees and frequently only offer bonus points for reservations made directly through the travel portal of the card issuer, not on external travel sites like Expedia. Although some may find this to be a drawback, keep in mind that card issuer travel portals frequently offer exclusive deals to some of the top travel destinations.

Below is a description of how these cards function:

A travel credit card is what?

Typically, travel credit cards (also known as travel rewards credit cards) offer high rewards for travel-related expenditures and allow cardholders to use points (or miles) to book trips. You may typically redeem points for bill credits, cash back, or gift cards from card issuers as well.

These cards might also come with extra perks like rewards for dining out, access to airport lounges, and later check-out times at hotels.

Different card issuers have quite different bonus categories, redemption options, and bundled benefits. Yet, you may typically anticipate that credit cards with larger annual rates would provide more extras and advantages. For instance, premium cards with annual fees exceeding $400 frequently offer hundreds of dollars in statement credits (amounts added to the balance on your card) to pay for vacation or grocery expenses.

How do credit cards for travel operate?

Travel credit cards offer a set amount of points per dollar spent on qualifying transactions, just like other reward cards.

How points are earned

With these cards, customers can accrue points for a variety of transactions, including travel.

Some reward users with extra points when they shop, eat out, or use certain services like streaming media. They do, however, typically provide a higher rewards rate for travel. For instance, when hotels and rental cars are booked through the Chase travel website, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 10x points. For transactions outside of these categories, they also offer a flat point charge, which is typically between one and 1.5 cents per dollar.

How do point programmes work?

Several credit cards provide point programmes, often called rewards programmes, that allow users to exchange earned points for prizes like cash back, gift cards, and travel.

While using your card to make a purchase, you’ll typically earn at least one point per dollar, with each point being worth one penny. But many cards offer additional points when used to pay for specific categories of expenses, such as three points for every dollar spent at restaurants or supermarkets (3x).

Some providers also boost the value of your points when you use them for travel. For instance, when you purchase flights through the Chase travel website, the value of points gained with the Chase Sapphire Preferred is 1.25 cents.

Also, you can transfer your points to other travellers. Not all point programmes permit transfers to airline or hotel loyalty programmes, but if they do, the transfer is always at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that 1,000 points are equivalent to 1,000 points in the partner programme.

The worth of your points may also change depending on how you decide to use them. Some cards permit users to utilise their points, for instance, when making purchases on Amazon or Paypal. Yet, despite being practical, this choice might reduce the value of points to 0.8 cents.

Chase Ultimate Rewards®, American Express Membership Rewards®, and Citi ThankYou® Rewards are a few popular point schemes.

the distinction between miles and points

Points are the typical form of compensation for travel credit cards. However, despite the fact that they can be used in the same ways as points, some card issuers, including Capital One, refer to their rewards as “miles” rather than “points.”

Mileage-earning cards are frequently (though not always) connected to a particular airline. And keep in mind that “mile” does not necessarily mean “miles flown with the airline.” Typically, one reward point, which can be redeemed for free flights, seat upgrades, and other rewards, is equal to one airline mile.

benefits and drawbacks of travel credit cards


  • On expenditures for travel, some cards provide up to 10x points per dollar.
  • Several have added sections for dining out, grocery shopping, and other things.
  • Travel perks like early check-outs from hotels and access to airport lounges may be among them.


  • Very frequently, only purchases made using the card issuer’s travel site qualify for the highest reward rates.
  • They might not provide significant benefits for purchases made in categories other than travel.
  • The finest ones charge high yearly fees.
travel credit card types

Below is a comparison of the three main categories of travel credit cards:

Credit cards for airlines

For those who frequently fly with the same airline, airline credit cards are ideal. These credit cards offer incentives (known as frequent flier miles) that may be redeemed for travel on a single airline. Some of the top credit cards for air travel provide perks like free checked luggage, early boarding, and price breaks on in-flight purchases.

Credit cards for hotels

Similar to airline credit cards are hotel credit cards. Earned points can only be applied to one specific hotel chain.

As an illustration, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card rewards members with points for their devotion to Hilton. Free nights at the company’s lodgings, such as the Hilton Garden Inn and Waldorf Astoria hotels, can be obtained by exchanging points. On the other hand, the Marriott Bonvoy BevyTM American Express® Card offers late checkouts and room upgrades at some hotels.

Discounted rates, later checkouts, or free Wi-Fi in-room are possible additional bonuses.

Additionally, hotel credit cards could provide free breakfasts, room upgrades, late checkouts, and added points for any purchases you make while you’re there.

general credit card for travel

Compared to airline or hotel cards, general travel credit cards are significantly more flexible and practical. General travel card points can be used to pay for a range of travel-related costs because they aren’t linked to any one airline or hotel network.

With these cards, cardholders can make reservations for travel services such as hotels, rental cars, and more through the online travel agency of the card’s issuer. Statement credits, cash back, and gift cards are additional card point uses. You can transfer points to airline and hotel partners through some issuers as well.

For frequent travellers, these cards could provide useful benefits like access to airport lounges. Consumers may also pay for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry memberships, which let you avoid the lengthy lines at customs and airport security.

How to pick a credit card for travel

The frequency of your travels, the benefits of each cardmember perk, and the areas where you spend the most will all influence which travel rewards card is ideal for you.

While selecting the ideal card for you, consider the following elements:

You often travel, right? When you use your points for travel-related expenses like flights, hotels, and rental cars, you’ll get the highest reward rates from your travel rewards credit card. A cash-back credit card might be more appropriate for you if you don’t travel frequently but still want to accrue benefits.

Analyze your regular spending. In addition to travel, many travel cards also offer bonus categories for dining, shopping, streaming, and pharmacies. Choose a card with bonus categories that fits your lifestyle after taking into account your regular purchasing patterns.

Examine the annual costs on the card. Many travel cards without an annual fee are available, however they often have few bonus categories and features. Annual fees on the top travel credit cards start at $90 and can reach $700. They, meanwhile, frequently work best for people who travel enough to profit from them.

Select between a generic or co-branded travel card. When it comes to redeeming points, general travel cards offer more flexibility than company-specific cards. A general travel card’s rewards can be used to obtain statement credits, cash back, gift cards, or to reserve flights, hotel stays, rental cars, and other services from various businesses. On the other hand, rewards from co-branded cards often only work with one particular airline or hotel. Co-branded cards do, however, offer worthwhile benefits like free checked bags, in-flight savings, hotel room upgrades, or free breakfast.

Compare additional travel benefits. Some credit cards provide extras like annual statement credits for travel and lodging or car-rental upgrade privileges. Compare the list of add-ons offered by each card, then choose the one that best fits your travel needs.

Insurance coverage comparisons. Some cards include insurance coverage for various things, like trip cancellations, rental car accidents, and more. For things purchased using the card, they also offer extended warranties and purchase protection. Depending on the issuer and the annual-fee tier of the card, these policies can differ significantly.

Be wary of international transaction costs. Foreign transaction fees are generally absent from travel credit cards. While some cash-back cards may offer excellent rewards for vacation purchases, they also impose 3% foreign transaction fees.

The only benefit, bar none, should not be a welcome bonus. A welcome bonus of 100,000 points may be alluring. Even if you’ll wind up paying a hefty annual fee without obtaining value for your money, it shouldn’t be your deciding consideration.

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