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Travel credit cards are practical ways to get the most value out of your travel expenses. They are highly beneficial for lowering your travel costs when you travel for tourism or business trips.
The best travel credit cards come with many travel perks and these can include free bag checks, free airport lounge, and gratis flights. Travel credit cards are particularly handy for managing emergencies when you travel without making you incur an extra cost. Above all, they don’t charge you extra fees when you make purchases abroad.
When shopping around for the best travel credit cards, look for cards that not only help you earn high rewards but travel credit cards that you can utilize their rewards and ones that come with features that can make your travel hassle-free.
With the multiple numbers of travel credit cards from different companies and financial institutions in the market, it can be daunting to narrow down on your best options.
That is why we have provided for you in this article factors to consider when looking for the best travel credit card. We have equally made our research and come up with the best 10 travel credit cards in the market.
Want to make your search easy, don’t go away. Follow us as we show you an easier way. Now, let’s start:
Types of travel credit cards
The two primary types of travel credit cards are:
- Credit cards whose rewards come from the issuing company
- Credit cards from traveling companies which provide points or miles
Credit cards with rewards from issuing companies
Many card issuers offer different categories of rewards for their cards. Some of these issuers offer rewards programs in the form of points and milestones which you can redeem for travel tickets with a specific travel agency. An example of this is the cooperation between the credit cards of Capital One Venture and hotels.com.
There are equally bank credit cards that offer rewards users can redeem as statement credits for their travel expenses. An example of this is the BofA Travel Rewards credit card. Also, you have a few other banks credit cards that offer users incentives they can transfer to airline miles or hotel points. Two examples of these credit cards are the Chase Ultimate Rewards Card and the Citi ThankYou card.
Some travel credit card issuers offer premium perks as rewards but these cards generally come with a high annual fee. Besides, there are a few small businesses that offer travel credit cards with rewards to users.
Credit cards with Rewards from traveling companies
You equally have an option of getting co-branded travel credit cards. These come with points or mileage rewards. Two main types of co-branded cards are cards offered by airlines and cards offered by hotels. There are equally some co-branded credit cards from travel agencies.
If you choose to use any of these cards, you’ll be rewarded with points and miles from the airline or travel agency. How you redeem your rewards will depend on the company’s terms and conditions but the rate and fees of your cards are still the responsibility of the card issuer.
Majority of airline credit cards will let you redeem your rewards for priority services and these can include priority boarding, complimentary luggage checks, and airfare discounts.
Premium travel credit cards come with rewards like airport lounge access. A hotel travel credit card provides you with rewards like elite membership which offers you priority services, room improvements, and late checkouts.
Co-branded Travel Credit Cards Vs general travel Credit cards
One major travel credit card decision you need to make is deciding when to use a general credit card and when to use co-branded travel cards.
Co-branded cards are named after an airline or hotel network. You can normally redeem rewards offered on these cards by making purchases with the airline or hotel. This doesn’t offer you enough flexibility with your points. However, you equally get exclusive incentives with these cards.
General travel cards
Unlike the reward offered by the co-branded credit cards, you can transfer the rewards and points you earn from general travel cards. It comes with better flexibility which means you can use your points to pay for your travel either by paying airfare directly or redeemed as an account credit.
If you frequently travel with one airline or constantly book hotel reservations in a single hotel network, you will getter a better value by signing up for a co-branded card. If the opposite is the case, then you should go for a general travel credit card to gain more flexibility with the point system.
The best way to go about it is using a general travel credit card for most of your expenses so that your points can quickly accumulate. You can leave the points to accumulate till when you want to redeem them.
What makes a good travel credit card?
Several credit cards provide different types of redeemable rewards. A good travel credit card comes with rewards which you can redeem for travel expenses.
A travel credit card with the best travel rewards is one which gives you the most value when you redeem its points and miles for travel bookings compared to when you redeem them for other purposes.
The best travel credit card may also offer additional perks like travel insurance or VIP services. While searching for the best travel credit card, there are a few things you need to consider and these include:
- The type of points or miles the card offers.
- Where the card rewards come from, the card issuer or from a co-branded associate like a transport company or hotel groups.
- The amount of value you can redeem for every point or miles you earn
· Your primary consideration would be to get an all-purpose travel card before deciding on which cards are best for air reservations and hotel expenses.
How to find the best Travel Credit cards: Factors to Consider:
In choosing our best travel credit cards, we put the following factors into consideration. These are equally factors you need to consider when looking for the best travel credit cards.
1. Great rewards and large sign-up bonus
When valuing travel credit cards, check for the rewards they offer and ways you can use such rewards. Some cards offer users higher rewards for travel expenditures with less base rate of commonly one percent on other expenses.
Some credit cards give you the same standard rate on all expenses. Go for a travel credit card that offers you a minimum reward of 2 percent if the card charges annual fees. And for cards that don’t charge annual fees, look for at least a reward of 1.5 percent.
Travel cards that offer you a large sign-up bonus when you have crossed the minimum spending limit is a good way to need is what kick-start your mileage benefits and move nearer to a free flight or gratis hotel accommodation. These cards can get you one-two free flights. So, remember to sign up for cards that offer a big sign-up bonus.
However, remember that you won’t get such a bonus until you’ve used the card to make a purchase or when you fulfill a minimum expenses requirement within a specified period.
After you have crossed this threshold, you can earn from one to five points for every dollar purchase you make. The number of points you earn will vary depending on the specific card and the conditions of the issuer.
Any good travel credit card must offer rewards that range from 1.5 percent to two percent of your spending. If you sign up for cards that charge higher annual fees, you could get better rewards for each dollar you spend when you cross the initial spending threshold.
Generally, cards that offer higher annual fee offer a larger sign-up bonus. By all means, stay away from cards that offer you a redeemable value smaller than one cent for every point or mile.
Another important point to note is that Sign-up bonuses won’t provide you a value that will be anywhere near the value you’ll get from ongoing rewards particularly if you are going to use your card for a long period. However, they are great incentives.
Don’t just jump into the signup page a travel credit card with a high sign up bonus. You don’t want to run into debt in a bid to fulfill the minimum spending requirement. Do you?
2. Bonus points
Many travel credit cards give you one point for each dollar expenditure. The best travel credit cards will provide you with additional points when you make purchases with a specific retailer. Similarly, a branded credit card will offer you extra perks when you make purchases specific brands. Such offers increase your points. Aim for cards that earn you more than one points for every dollar you spend.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for instance, offers you 3 points when you use the card for travel and food purchases at cafeterias. The Chase Ink credit card offers you five points when you use the card for purchasing office materials while the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Credit card offers three points on airfare expenses.
Also, when you book a flight with a company card like using Delta card to pay for airfares in delta airline, you get a higher point for each dollar you spend. That’s what you should aim for and never settle for a card that exchanges a point for a dollar.
3. Low spending minimum
You’ll never get the signup bonuses offered by travel credit card companies until you have met the required minimum spending amount. Although there are ways you can enhance your minimum spending, you don’t want to go into debt. So, look for cards that you can easily reach the minimum spending within the specified period with your regular everyday expenditures.
Depending on your income bracket and daily expenditure, you may want to stick with cards that let you have the signup bonus once you make spending of roughly one thousand dollars to three thousand dollars in three to six months’ interval. Go above this line if you can without putting too much pressure on your finances.
There are, equally, some credit card companies that let you have your sign up bonus once you make a single purchase with your card. Examples of companies that offer such service term are Alaska and American Airlines.
Although credit cards with high minimum spending amounts come with the greatest remunerations, you want to start small to ensure you meet the minimum spend amount. It makes no sense to gather many cards you won’t be able to fulfill the minimum spending requirement.
You only sign up for a card once and so, it makes more sense to focus on meeting the minimum spending within the specified timeframe. You don’t want to lose your bonus. That will defeat the whole essence of signing up for a travel credit card.
Remember also that what makes the bonus beneficial is when you earn them by doing your normal spending. If you have to spend extra to get them, that equally defeats the essence. So, don’t go for a credit card that you’ll spend more to reach the required minimum.
4. Points system
The point system can be beneficial or not depending on the conditions of the travel credit card company. If you’re using an all-purpose card the greatest value of the card will come from the points you earn.
Your focus here would be to choose a card that offers perks that you can easily earn by doing your regular day-to-day expenses. This way you can easily grow your bonus points.
On the contrary, if you’re using hotel or airline credit cards that offer more incentives in place of points, the points you rack up provide a smaller value.
5. Special incentives/perks
The travel credit cards that offer huge incentives should be your target. Perks the key benefits or values you get for your spending. The key factor that determines the value of a credit card, especially those that charge higher annual rates is the perks they offer.
The reason you want to sign up for multiple travel credit cards is to get as many incentives as you can. All the travel credit cards in our list provide you great incentives. Some of them will offer you special privileged status. A few travel credit card companies and transport networks provide cards that offer car rental covers.
Some offer insurance for missing baggage and travel stuff. There are also card companies that offer travel postponement and accident insurance, caretaker services and emergency support, Lounge admittance, gratis hotel nights, friend tickets and Uber credits.
Several travel credit cards, particularly co-branded airline and hotel cards give users incentives like free hotel nights, free luggage checks, prime boarding, deductions, promotions and varieties of travel credits. So, don’t only concentrate on getting the miles but on the extra value, the card brings to make life more convenient for you.
Therefore, your primary focus should be on those incentives that are worthwhile for you. Sign up for cards that offer such incentives. If, for example, you commonly check inexpensive luggage, go for cards that offer cover for lost bags. Likewise, if you constantly use rented cars, opt for cards that offer car rental coverage incentives.
Again, if you regularly fly with a specific airline, you should consider signing up with a co-branded travel card. One important point to note is that co-branded travel cards generally earn smaller rewards when you make non-travel related expenses with them than all-purpose credit cards.
Thus, only go for one co-branded credit card if you travel less often with an airline and make the most of your other expenses with a general-purpose card.
6. Minimal Annual fees
We all like it when we pay little or no annual fee for credit cards. The majority of co-branded travel credit cards charge annual fees which can vary from 50 USD to 95 USD per annum.
You need to pay at least an average annual rate of 95 USD for a decent travel credit card. You’ll cover up the expense with the rewards you get from your points.
Travel credit cards that charge fees offer higher rewards. They help you to acquire points easily, give you enhanced access to facilities and special incentives. You also, gain better cover for travel expenses with these cards.
The higher-tiered cards like those that charge 450 USD as annual fee provides better travel perks than those that charge 95 USD a year. Similarly, credit cards that charge 95 USD offer better incentives than those that don’t charge an annual fee. If you want to get cards that offer amazing perks, Sign Up for cards that charge 450 USD every year.
7. Avoid cards with foreign transaction fees
You also want a travel card with no foreign transaction charge. Travel credit cards are great ways to make cashless expenses when you travel abroad. Besides, they give you the best available exchange rate.
If you have to pay a charge each time you purchase with the card, it defeats the aim. Such transaction fees could amount to one to three percent of your total travel expenses.
There are, presently, a lot of credit cards that don’t charge fees for foreign transactions. So, by all means, avoid any travel credit card that charges you for making expenses abroad.
8. Choose a travel credit card that is accepted worldwide
If you engage in foreign travels, be aware that a few credits cards have not gained global acceptance. Whether the card is accepted abroad or not depends on the payment network and not on the issuing company. Visa card and Mastercard have gained global acceptance. However, the American Express cards and Discover cards are yet to gain this massive global acceptance.
Therefore, anytime you travel abroad in addition to your primary card, support it with a card that has more global acceptance like a Visa or Mastercard.
9. Convenience considerations
Two main confidence considerations for travel credit cards are:
Get credit cards issued by your bank. This will eliminate the incidences of having to memorize varieties of bank login credentials. If you have an option to choose credit cards from two different issuing companies, choose the card issued by your bank to life easier.
Avoid traveling with only American Express travel credit cards. They are not yet accepted everywhere particular when you travel abroad. Also, support the card with either one Visa or Mastercard.
10. Bank reputation
Avoid travel credit cards issued by banks that are notorious for hidden charges. Big banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo are reputed for charging ludicrous fees. Chase, has a better reputation despite being a big bank.
You may, equally, stay away from travel credit cards from issuers with a history of some scandals. You want the best value from your cards and purchases and not a rip-off.
Best travel credit cards comparison: Our top picks
Travel Credit Cards
Best Travel Credit Card For:
Mean Annual Rewards Value
|1||Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||Sign-up Bonus||95 USD||412 USD|
|2||Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Hotels.com expenses||0 USD first year, then 95 USD||447 USD|
|3||Discover it Miles||Stacking up Miles||0 USD||318 USD|
|4||Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||Nil Annual Fee||0 USD||293 USD|
|5||Bank of AmericaTravel Rewards credit card||Meeting minimum spending requirement for Sign-up Bonus||0 USD||322 USD|
|6||Wells Fargo Propel American Express card||Spending on restaurant purchases when you Travel||0 USD||383 USD|
|7||The Platinum Card from American Express||Yearly Travel Credits||550 USD||1,847 USD|
|8||Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card||Everyday Usage||0 USD||325 USD|
|9||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Gaining Lounge Access||450 USD||2,001 USD|
|10||Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card||TSA Precheck||95 USD||428 USD|
Top 10 Best travel credit cards
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve
The chase Sapphire is the general-purpose credit card that is great for travel expenses and other perks. If you want a flexible travel credit card that charges no foreign transaction fee, then this card is your best option. You get 50,000 points sign up bonus when you attain a 4, 000 dollars spending limit.
The card equally gives you a 100 dollar Sign up bonus for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check and chances to access over 1,000 airport lounges in any part of the world. You can redeem the ultimate point earned on other chase cards on this card at 1.5-cent rate.
With the 3x points on travel and dining expenses after you attain 300 dollars and a massive 50 percent bonus if you redeem your points with Chase Ultimate Rewards, this card comes with amazing features and perks you don’t want to miss.
The only drawback is the 450 dollars’ annual charge but when you get the 300 dollars’ travel credit, it brings your annual expense to only 150 dollars. If you still can’t manage the annual fee check out the chase Sapphire preferred card.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire preferred card is the best travel card with a yearly fee below 100 dollars. It offers to cardholders valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which they can transfer and comes with the signup bonus of 60,000 points once the user attains the 4,000 spending limit within the first three months of opening the account.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is best for Beginner Travelers who are starting to earn travel rewards. It offers equivalent benefits to that of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The only difference is that you get fewer perks with this card and you pay 95 dollars’ annual fee instead of a 450 dollars’ annual fee.
Also instead of 3X points, you gain 2X points on your travel and cafeterias expenses with zero charges for foreign transaction. If you book airfare with Chase Ultimate Rewards, you get a 25 percent bonus point. You also get a primary car rental and travel delay insurance with this card.
3. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This venture one capital card is a partner of Hotels.com. It is the best general-purpose travel card for hotels.com. You can get a lot of benefits with this card including zero foreign transaction fee, 100 dollars’ credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.
The card works for both shopping and tourist attractions. It gives you to sign up bonus of 50,000 miles’ when you reach 3,000 dollars purchase limit before the end of 3 months’ account opening.
You get 2 points on extra purchases and 10 miles for hotel.com expenses. It gives you flexibility allowing you to transfer your bonus miles you get across its network of 15 airlines at a ratio of 2:1.5 for 12 partners and 2:1 for two. Thus, you get 1.0-1.5 points or miles on each dollar you spent with the partnered airlines.
It also gives you the travel and shopping benefits of Visa card company and this includes free custodian service, prolonged warranty, spending discounts, and car rental accident damage waiver.