The Best Credit Cards for Travel

Credit Cards for Travel - How to start travel hacking

The Best Credit Cards for Travel Hacking

We have searched far and wide for the best credit cards for travel that include the qualities we look for. Our standards may vary from what you desire but we hope that this post will assist you in your search to save money by travel hacking.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in the article may be affiliate links which means we make a small commission. This information is up to date as of May 2019.


The Best Travel Credit Card for United States Domestic Flights

swa_premier_card

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

If you haven’t flown with Southwest Airlines by now we hope this will change your mind! We usually fly Southwest for any trips we take in the  United States and a few locations in the Caribbean. Southwest typically has flights for much less than the cost of other airlines and offers conveniences such as two free checked bags and no change fees. Not to mention you could qualify for the Southwest Companion pass that allows you to fly with another person for free every time you fly for an entire year! We recently just booked a trip to Hawaii for free minus fees by using a combination of points and Southwest companion pass!

Current promotion: 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within the first three months of the account opening.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees (plus save 3% on all foreign purchases)
  • 2pts/$1 spent on all Southwest flights, hotel, and car rental partners
  • 1pt/$1 spent on all other purchases
  • 6,000 pts added to your account each year on your cardmember anniversary
  • Southwest Airline flights in 90+ locations
  • Gift cards at over 70 merchants for as little as 3,000 pts

Cons:

  • $99 USD annual fee (however you do receive 6,000 bonus points each year on your cardmember anniversary)
  • Limited flights to locations outside of the United States (but they’re adding more every year)!
  • Only eligible for Southwest Airlines flights

The Best Travel Credit Card for Loyal American Airlines Customers

320x180_citi-aadv-platinum-select

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Credit Card

Another card perfect for those who are wanting to be loyal to a specific airline company, this one is American Airlines.

Current promotion:
 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of the account opening.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries
  • Group 1 Boarding on American Airlines domestic flights
  • 2mi/$1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back
  • Reduced Mileage Award

Cons:

  • $99 USD annual fee (waived for the first 12 months)
  • Only eligible for American Airlines and partners (but there is a pretty big list!)

The Best Travel Credit Card for Beginners

sapphire_preferred_card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Voted the best travel credit card of 2015 by Money Magazine, this one is the most “well-rounded” travel credit card and is perfect for those only looking to have one or even many. It also offers one of the best sign-up bonuses.

Current Promotion:
50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (equivalent to $625 toward travel). Earn an extra 5,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months of opening.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2x points on travel and restaurants
  • 25% off travel redemption
  • 1:1 point transfer (British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards)

Cons:

  • $0 annual fee for the first year, $95 annual fee every year after
  • Fewer earnings than the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card

The Best Travel Credit Card for Points

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

best credit cards for travel

This card has quickly risen in the ranks since it’s debut and is seen as the powerhouse of credit cards. While the annual fee might come as a shock to you, there are many perks that outweigh the fee making it one of the best credit cards for travel and our absolute favorite travel credit card.

Current Promotion: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (equivalent to $750 toward travel).

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 3X points on travel and dining, 1X points on all other purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 50% more in travel redemption (Example: 50,000 points are worth $750 towards travel)
  • $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • Access to elite airport lounges with Priority Pass Select
  • Special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar
  • A world-class suite of travel and purchase protection!

Cons:

  • $450 annual fee (however, you do receive a $300 annual travel credit and $100 initially towards Global Entry or TSA Pre✓)
  • $75 for each authorized user on your card – instead of doing this one of us opened the Reserve and the other opened the Preferred credit card.

The Best Total Value Credit Card for Frequent Travelers

American Express Platinum Credit Card

Another great travel credit card for frequent travelers is the American Express Platinum credit card.
Current Promotion: 60,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening.

Pros:

  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on the American Express Travel Portal.
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on American Express Travel Portal.
  • 1x point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges.
  • $200 airline fee credit annually.
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors gold status.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • Up to $200 in Uber credit annually.

Cons:

  • Annual fee of $550 (but some of the perks of this card make up for that if you are a frequent traveler).

The Best Credit Card for Marriott Hotel Benefits

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

This card is perfect for those that are loyal to a specific hotel chain, this being Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and now, SPG properties. With the many locations and price ranges, all are sure to find something within their budget. best credit cards for travel

Current Promotion: 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6pts/$1 for participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2pts/$1 for any other purchases
  • Free night stay every year after your account anniversary, valid at a Marriott Bonvoy property with a redemption value up to 35,000 points.
  • Automatic Silver Elite benefits (including free premium WiFI)
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

Cons:

  • $95 annual fee (however you do receive a free night stay each year which helps offset the cost)

The Best Travel Credit Card With No Annual Fee

Capital One Venture One Rewards Credit Card

capital one venture one credit card

If you are looking for a travel credit card without an annual fee the Capital One Venture One Rewards Credit Card is one of the best to get! Not only does it offer 1.25 miles/dollar spent it also has a promotion of earning 10 miles/dollar for purchases made on Hotels.com until January 2020.

Current promotion:
earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Pros:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase
  • Current 10 miles/dollar spent on Hotels.com promotion (valid until at least January 2020)

Cons:

Far fewer travel rewards than other cards with annual fees but the Hotels.com promotion could make up for that for the time being.


The Best Travel Credit Card for Statement Credits

bcus-arrival-plus1

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Credit Card

Extremely similar to the CapitalOne Venture Rewards program but with a better introductory APR (0%) on balance transfers but does have a 3% balance transfer fee.
Current promotion:
 earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days (equivalent to a $700 travel statement credit).

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2x miles on all purchases
  • 5% miles back on every redemption

Cons:

  • $0 the first year $89 annual fee after

We hope this gives you a general idea on some of our favorite personal credit cards for travel hacking. Soon we’ll go over business cards as well so check back!

What are some of the best credit cards for travel hacking that you use and go the distance?

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    May 27, 2016 at 8:54 PM

    US Bank Flex Perks is a very good travel credit card. If airline ticket is under $400 it’s 20,000 travel points vs 40,000 points on other cards.

    • Reply
      kallsypage
      May 27, 2016 at 9:09 PM

      Wow that’s a great tip! We will have to look into that. 🙂

  • Reply
    Carol Mills
    December 29, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    Haven’t realized that there are so many perks out there. Will have to look into one of these sometime soon.

    • Reply
      kallsypage
      January 22, 2017 at 10:32 AM

      I hope you do Carol! I hope one of these suits your needs and wants 🙂

  • Reply
    Hang Around The World
    January 15, 2017 at 2:15 PM

    We are very satisfied about our credit cards but we have to say that we didn’t know all these types. One friend suggested to use the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select that has several pros-
    We have to try, thanks for the help 🙂

    • Reply
      kallsypage
      January 22, 2017 at 10:34 AM

      Which ones do you use!? The Citi card is a favorite of ours 🙂

  • Reply
    utravelshare
    January 17, 2017 at 4:21 AM

    Well this is an interesting post and something I usually don’t read around! Anyway I used my Australian card for my 2 big trip in the past: 4 months to South east Asia and 6 months to South America! This year I will probably go to USA and over there I can use my Italian card! thanks for sharing it, helpful 😀

    • Reply
      kallsypage
      January 22, 2017 at 10:35 AM

      That’s awesome that you’ve been able to get so many trips out of your cards! Where in the USA do you think you’ll visit? 🙂

  • Reply
    Aisha Sylvester
    January 17, 2017 at 5:00 AM

    Wow, this was great! I never really thought much about the efficacy of my credit card for all the travel I do but this is really make me think things through. I’ve got some questions to ask and some decisions to make now, thanks!!!

    • Reply
      kallsypage
      January 22, 2017 at 10:38 AM

      I’m glad you found this helpful! There are so many out there so we only touched on a few of them that we’ve found to be beneficial. I hope you find what you’re looking for! 🙂

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