The Best Credit Cards for Travel Hacking

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: This post contains affiliate links from which we may make commission from. As always, we only recommend places and products we love!


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 a Southwest companion pass!

Current promotion: 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first three months of the account opening.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees (plus save 3% on all foreign purchases)
  • 3pts/$1 spent on all Southwest flights.
  • 2pts/$1 spent on all rideshare, internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2pts/$1 spent on all Southwest 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
  • 2 Early Bird check-in passes annually
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases
  • 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

Click here to apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card


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:
 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 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, gas stations, and restaurants.
  • $125 AA flight discount after spending $20,000 each year.
  • 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!)

Click here to apply for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Credit Card


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:
60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (equivalent to $1,000 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 purchases
  • 3x points on dining, delivery services, and takeout restaurants.
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excludes Target and Walmart).
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • $50 in statement credits annually for hotel stays
  • 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 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

Click here to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 its 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
  • 10x points on Lyft rides, one year of Lyft Pink
  • Complimentary DashPass
  • $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:

  • $550 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.

Click here to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve 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: 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 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.
  • $200 Uber credits a year.
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit
  • $240 digital entertainment credit
  • $200 hotel credit annually.
  • Walmart+ Monthly Membership Credit
  • $300 Equinox Creddit and SoulCycle At-Home Bike Credit
  • $179 CLEAR Credit
  • Complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges.
  • $200 airline fee credit annually.
  • Centurian Lounge Access for yourself and two guests.
  • 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 $695 but the perks of this card are equal to $1,500+ and make up for the annual fee. Especially if you are a frequent traveler.

Click here to apply for the American Express Platinum Credit Card


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: Earn 3 Free Nights (up to 50,000 points each) after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 10x points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores within your first 6 months from account opening.
  • Earn an additional 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Up to 17pts/$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.
  • Enjoy a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.

Cons:

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

Click here to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card


The Best Travel Credit Card With No Annual Fee

Capital One VentureOne 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 VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is one of the best to get! It offers 1.25 miles/dollar spent on any purchases.

Current promotion:
earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Pros:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase
  • 5x miles per dollar on hotels and cars booked through Capital One Travel.

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.

Click here to apply for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card


We hope this gives you a general idea of 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?

7 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
    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! 🙂

  • 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
    kallsypage
    January 22, 2017 at 10:34 AM

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

  • 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? 🙂

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