Best Travel Credit Cards of May 2022

Some of the card offers on this site are from companies who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions, such as which card products we write about and how we evaluate them. Terms apply.

Best Travel Credit Cards of May 2022

Some of the card offers on this site are from companies who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions, such as which card products we write about and how we evaluate them. Terms apply.

Travel credit cards are rewards cards that help you earn free travel, achieve elite member status with hotels and airlines, and enjoy many other travel-related perks. The more people who get the coronavirus vaccine, the safer it will be to travel. You can use credit cards to earn rewards now and travel when you're ready. Terms apply.

  1. 2022 Award Winner

    Terms Apply

    Chase Freedom Unlimited®

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Chase Freedom Unlimited®

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 6.5%

      cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more

    • 5%

      cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®. After your first year or $20,000 spent.

    • 4.5%

      cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

    • 3%

      cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service (after your first year or $20,000 spent)

    • 1.5%

      cash back on all other purchases.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      1.5%

    • APR

      15.24% - 23.99% Variable

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Chase

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.24% - 23.99% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99%

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

    • See all credit card details
  2. Terms Apply

    Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

    On Capital One's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 2X

      miles on every purchase, every day.

    • 5X

      miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options

    • 5X

      miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • Intro Bonus

      75,000

    • APR

      16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

    On Capital One's Secure Website.

    On Capital One's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Capital One

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • APR

      16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

    • Penalty APR

      None

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      $0 at this Transfer APR

    • Cash Advance Fee

      3% of the amount of the cash advance, but not less than $10

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      None

    • See all credit card details
  3. Terms Apply

    Discover it® Miles

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Discover it® Miles

    On Discover's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 1.5X

      Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      Unlimited

    • APR

      12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

    On Discover's Secure Website.

    On Discover's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Discover

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      None

    • See all credit card details
  4. Terms Apply

    Chase Freedom Flex℠

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Chase Freedom Flex℠

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 5%

      cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

    • 5%

      categories each quarter!

    • 5%

      cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more

    • 3%

      cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service

    • 1%

      cash back on all other purchases.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      $200

    • APR

      15.24% - 23.99% Variable

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Chase

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.24% - 23.99% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99%

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

    • See all credit card details
  5. 2022 Award Winner

    Terms Apply

    Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

    On Capital One's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 5X

      miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options

    • 1.25X

      miles on every purchase, every day

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      20,000

    • APR

      15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

    On Capital One's Secure Website.

    On Capital One's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Capital One

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

    • Penalty APR

      None

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% intro on purchases for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      3%

    • Cash Advance Fee

      3% of the amount of the cash advance, but not less than $10

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      None

    • See all credit card details
  6. Terms Apply

    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 5x

      on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    • 3x

      on dining

    • 2x

      on all other travel purchases, plus more.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • Intro Bonus

      80,000

    • APR

      16.24% - 23.24% Variable

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Chase

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • APR

      16.24% - 23.24% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99%

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      $0

    • See all credit card details
  7. Terms Apply

    Chase Sapphire Reserve®

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Chase Sapphire Reserve®

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 10x

      total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually

    • 5x

      total points on air travel

    • 3x

      points on other travel and dining

    • 1

      point per $1 spent on all other purchases

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      740-850
      Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $550

    • Intro Bonus

      50,000

    • APR

      17.24% - 24.24% Variable

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    On Chase's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Chase

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $550

    • APR

      17.24% - 24.24% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99%

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      $0

    • See all credit card details
  8. 2022 Award Winner

    Terms Apply

    Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

    On American Express' Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 2X

      Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.

    • 1X

      Mile on all other eligible purchases.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

    • Intro Bonus

      earn 40,000 Bonus Miles

    • APR

      16.49% - 25.49% Variable

    On American Express' Secure Website.

    On American Express' Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      American Express

    • Credit Needed

      Good, Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

    • APR

      16.49% - 25.49% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      29.99% Variable

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      None

    • See all credit card details
  9. Terms Apply

    U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

    in Travel Credit Cards

    U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

    On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 5X

      points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center.

    • 4X

      points on travel, gas stations, and EV charging stations.

    • 2X

      points on streaming services. Plus, a $30 credit for annual streaming purchases like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify®, Apple Music, Disney+, HBO Max and more!

    • 2X

      points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, and dining.

    • 1X

      point on all other eligible purchases.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      740-850
      Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0 intro for the first year, then $95

    • Intro Bonus

      50,000

    • APR

      16.74% - 24.74% Variable

    On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

    On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      U.S. Bank

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent Credit

    • Annual Fee

      $0 intro for the first year, then $95

    • APR

      16.74% - 24.74% Variable

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

    • See all credit card details
  10. Terms Apply

    Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

    in Travel Credit Cards

    Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

    On American Express' Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 2X

      Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.

    • 2X

      Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases

    • 1X

      Mile on all other eligible purchases

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      earn 10,000 bonus miles

    • APR

      16.49% - 25.49% Variable

    On American Express' Secure Website.

    On American Express' Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      American Express

    • Credit Needed

      Good, Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      16.49% - 25.49% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      29.99% Variable

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      None

    • See all credit card details

See all of our credit cards here.

Best Travel Credit Cards Compared

Credit Card

Rewards Rate

Intro Bonus

Annual Fee

APR

6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more

5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®. After your first year or $20,000 spent.

4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service (after your first year or $20,000 spent)

1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Additional 1.5% cash back

$0

15.24% - 23.99% Variable

2X miles on every purchase, every day.

5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options

5X miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023.

75,000 miles

$95

16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

1.5X Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.

Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.

$0

12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

5% categories each quarter!

5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more

3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service

1% cash back on all other purchases.

$200 Bonus

$0

15.24% - 23.99% Variable

5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options

1.25X miles on every purchase, every day

20,000 miles

$0

15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

3x on dining

2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

80,000 bonus points

$95

16.24% - 23.24% Variable

10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually

5x total points on air travel

3x points on other travel and dining

1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

50,000 bonus points

$550

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.

1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

earn 40,000 Bonus Miles

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

16.49% - 25.49% Variable

5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center.

4X points on travel, gas stations, and EV charging stations.

2X points on streaming services. Plus, a $30 credit for annual streaming purchases like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify®, Apple Music, Disney+, HBO Max and more!

2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, and dining.

1X point on all other eligible purchases.

50,000 bonus points

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

16.74% - 24.74% Variable

2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.

2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases

1X Mile on all other eligible purchases

earn 10,000 bonus miles

$0

16.49% - 25.49% Variable

Commonly Compared Travel Credit Cards:

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Best Travel Credit Cards This Month

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase. You’ll also receive 3% back on drugstore and dining purchases, including takeout and delivery, and 1.5% on all other purchases year-round. INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back. See our full review.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: This card is a good all-around travel credit card for earning unlimited miles. Every dollar you spend earns 2 miles, which you can redeem on travel-including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus, receive up to a $100 statement credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Cardholders pay a $95 annual fee. See our full review.

Discover it® Miles

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: Most travel credit cards charge an annual fee, but the Discover it Miles card doesn’t. It has a straightforward rewards structure: Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend. Discover has a unique bonus and will match all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. See our full review.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: Chase Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, plus 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. You’ll also receive 3% back at drugstores and restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and 1% on other purchases year-round. See our full review.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: With the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar spent on every purchase. Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on your card within the first three months. Transfer your miles to more than 15 travel loyalty programs, and fly with any airline or stay at any hotel with no blackout dates. This card also charges no annual fee or foreign transaction fee and offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) APR after that. See our full review.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is good for squeezing more value from your reward points. Earn 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more, and you can get 25% more point value when you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Other card benefits include five points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022 and no foreign transaction fee. A $95 annual fee applies. See our full review.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a unique take on travel rewards. You can earn a $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases, and once you do that, you get three points on travel purchases. You also earn three points on dining and travel, and earn one point on all other purchases. When you redeem your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you get 50% more point value. Points also transfer to travel partners on a 1-to-1 basis. See our full review.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: If Delta is your preferred airline, this card can help you earn free award flights faster. Purchases from Delta and at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets earn 2 miles per dollar, and you'll earn 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. You'll also get your first checked bag free on Delta flights, priority boarding on Delta flights and 20% savings as a statement credit when you charge Delta in-flight purchases. See our full review.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: With the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card, earn five points per dollar when you book hotels and car rentals directly through the Altitude Rewards Center. This card offers four points per dollar on travel purchases and at gas and electric vehicle stations; two points per dollar on streaming services, plus dining and grocery store and delivery purchases; and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Receive 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 on the card in the first 120 days. See our full review.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Why this is one of the best travel credit cards: With the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card, you earn two miles per dollar on all Delta purchases and two miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide. All other eligible purchases earn one mile per dollar. Get a 20% discount on Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages and headsets that you make with your card. This card also has no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee, and you'll earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account. See our full review.

What Should You Expect From Travel Credit Cards?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of choices you have, you can relax. We’ve made it easy for you to decide. Everything you need to know about travel credit cards is right here.

Rewards earning: About 85% of travel credit cards earn at least two points or miles per dollar on travel purchases. Some programs offer a variety of categories that have different rewards values. Because each travel rewards card has its own rewards program, you will need to read disclosure statements carefully.

Rewards redemption: Your options will differ based on the card you have, but almost half of travel rewards credit cards have flexible redemption options. Some cards offer cash back rewards or statement credits.

Other programs offer multiple redemption or transfer options. Nearly all others earn rewards that can be redeemed with multiple partners, such as within an airline alliance or a hotel group.

Sign-up bonus value: About 47% of travel cards have a sign-up bonus worth $500 or more. For example, you might have to spend $3,000 within three months of opening your account to earn 60,000 miles.

Annual fee: Most travel rewards credit cards charge an annual fee. But 30% don’t have one, so you have options if you’d prefer to avoid this fee.

About 20% of travel cards have an annual fee greater than $100. But cards that waive the annual fee the first year or charge a fee of up to $100 are the most common.

Benefits: Finding a travel credit card with valuable benefits should be relatively easy, as 68% of these cards offer top-level benefits. You can expect benefits such as travel credits, free hotel nights, priority boarding, free checked bags, airport lounge access and hotel status.

How Do Travel Credit Cards Work?

You can use travel rewards cards to save money on travel expenses such as airfare, hotel stays, restaurants and car rentals. By using travel rewards credit cards to pay for your trip, you're earning rewards you can redeem for future travel savings.

Or you can even use the rewards to pay for the trip you just took. The earnings add up.

Travel credit cards fall into one of three types: airline cards, hotel cards and general travel cards.

A co-branded airline or hotel credit card enters you into a specific brand’s loyalty membership club and rewards all types of spending. For example, Delta has several branded credit cards. If you use a Delta credit card, you earn SkyMiles for future travel expenses. Some co-branded cards offer membership tiers that give you a variety of perks when you attain certain levels.

But the points you earn can only be redeemed toward that brand and its partners. General travel cards also reward all types of spending, but they have more redemption options. You can even cash in your rewards for a statement credit. Some of the issuers of these cards also offer travel rewards portals or access to an issuer’s airline or hotel loyalty program partners.

What Are Different Types of Travel Credit Cards?

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three basic types of travel credit cards: airline, hotel and general travel.

Airline credit cards

Airlines partner with credit card companies to offer co-branded travel rewards credit cards. Usually, these cards earn the most miles when used for flights with the airline or partner airlines, typically at least 2 miles per dollar.

Cardholders still earn miles for other purchases, but often at a lower rate, generally 1 mile per dollar. You can redeem earned miles with the airline or its partners.

Airline cards can deliver a more economical, comfortable flying experience. Benefits often include free checked bags, priority boarding, complimentary or discounted access to airport lounges, and discounts on in-flight purchases.

  • United Explorer Card: It earns 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases from United Airlines, at restaurants and on hotel stays. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar.
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card: It earns 2 miles per dollar on Delta Air Lines purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Hotel credit cards

Hotel credit cards are most valuable when used to book accommodations with participating hotel chains. As with airline cards, hotel cards earn bonus rewards for loyalty spending and offer a lower rewards-earning rate for other purchases.

One-time sign-up bonuses are common, providing bonus rewards if you spend a minimum amount within the first few months. Points are redeemed through the hotel brand or its partners.

Hotel credit cards work best for loyal guests of a hotel group. If you regularly stay at properties within a hotel group, your card can earn more rewards that can be redeemed for free nights at participating hotels.

Some hotel credit cards offer an annual free night’s stay or automatic hotel status. Hotel status may unlock perks such as complimentary upgrades, late checkout or free Wi-Fi. Many hotel cards provide various forms of travel insurance, including lost baggage protection, trip delay reimbursement, emergency assistance and car rental insurance coverage.

  • Wyndham Rewards Earner Card: The card earns five points per dollar spent on eligible Wyndham purchases and gas, two points per dollar on groceries and dining and one point per dollar on other purchases.
  • IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card: It earns up to 17 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. It offers 3 points per $1 spent on purchases on monthly bills, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

General travel credit cards

With general travel credit cards, your rewards aren’t tied to a particular travel brand. You can redeem rewards for many things, including taking statement credits, booking trips via the issuer’s travel portal, transferring rewards to partners or buying gift cards. With some general travel cards, you can use your rewards to pay for Amazon purchases.

General travel cards are more flexible than airline or hotel credit cards, which is a big plus for travelers who aren’t loyal to a particular brand or who travel to destinations with fewer options for hotels or airports. Cardholders can worry less about blackout dates or travel restrictions because they’re not tied to a sole provider.

Points can sometimes be transferred to partner loyalty programs. However, the value of your points may change, and in some cases, you get the best redemption value by transferring points to partners.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Travel Rewards Credit Cards?

For the right consumer, travel credit cards can make a lot of financial sense, but make sure you know the pros and cons.

Research the rewards program for the credit cards you’re considering. That way, you can truly take advantage of the benefits and rewards that are offered.

Pros

Better point valuations and redemptions. Travel-related spending with travel credit cards accrues points and miles faster than general rewards credit cards. When those rewards are redeemed for travel, they could deliver better redemption values than other rewards, such as cash back, statement credits, highly discounted or even free flights and hotel stays, or other discounted travel expenses.

No foreign transaction fees: A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge on every purchase made using a credit card in a foreign country or foreign currency. The fees are typically 3% of every purchase. So if you have an international trip planned, a travel rewards credit card that waives foreign transaction fees can save you a lot of money.

Sign-up bonuses. Lucrative sign-up bonuses are common among travel credit cards, with some cards offering 100,000 points or more to new members who hit a minimum spending amount within the first few months.

Cons

High annual fees. Most travel rewards credit cards have an annual fee. According to analysis by U.S. News, the average travel rewards card annual fee is $139. That's higher than the overall annual fee average of $110 across all cards that charge annual fees. Premium cards provide premium benefits, but their annual fees are much higher, too. Fees greater than $500 are common.

High interest rates. Travel card annual percentage rates also tend to be above average. Pay close attention to the APRs of the cards you are considering, and never carry a balance with a travel rewards card.

Restrictions. Travel credit cards can also cost you time. Some cards require lots of planning or working with customer service to navigate blackout dates or limited seat availability, or decipher confusing terms and conditions.

Depending on the card, there can also be restrictions on earning miles, including caps and expiration dates. And, of course, bonus points from airline and hotel cards are restricted to redemption with certain brands or qualifying partners.

Low value for infrequent travelers. If you don't travel regularly, then you'll want to make sure that the benefits you're getting from the card are outweighing the annual fee.

How Do You Choose the Best Travel Credit Card?

Before signing up for a travel rewards credit card, make sure to assess whether you:

Travel frequently. If you don’t consistently spend on airfare, hotels or other travel expenses, consider a cash back credit card instead. These cards have easy redemption options, and some of them don’t even have annual fees.
Have a good credit score. You have the best chances of being approved for a travel credit card if you have a FICO score of at least 670, which is at the bottom of the good FICO score range. The higher your score, the better your chances to get approved for the elite travel cards.
Pay off your balance each month. Because travel credit cards have higher-than-average APRs, you should only get a travel card if you can pay off your balance each month.

To find a travel card that meets your needs, evaluate each card using the following criteria:

Pick the right rewards program for you.
Calculate earning potential.
Factor in sign-up bonuses.
Calculate redemption value.
Subtract annual fees.
Understand travel benefits.
Avoid foreign transaction fees.

1. Pick the right rewards program for you.

Your travel credit card will work either in conjunction with the loyalty program of an airline or hotel chain or with the issuer’s rewards program. Each program has unique terms and conditions for earning, redeeming and transferring points.

Loyalty airline programs

For some travelers, loyalty to any particular airline lasts only as long as that airline offers the cheapest flights. But frequent flyers might be willing to forgo initial cost savings in exchange for benefits later. Which airline program works best for you depends on how frequently you fly with the airline and how much value you can get from your rewards.

Popular airline programs:

Loyalty hotel programs

As with airline cards, choosing a credit card from a hotel group you regularly patronize is likely to offer the best value for earning and redeeming rewards.

Popular hotel rewards programs:

General travel rewards programs

Using a general travel credit card earns rewards that can be redeemed for a statement credit or through the issuer’s travel portal, or transferred to partners. Many of these programs also have redemption options for gift cards, experiences and more.

Examples:

Which is the right choice?

If you’re loyal to a particular travel brand and want to earn rewards and take advantage of benefits with the brand, an airline or hotel card is the way to go.

But if you travel infrequently or with many different brands, or simply want more flexibility, a general travel card may be a better choice.

2.Calculate earning potential.

Travel cards earn rewards at different rates for spending in different categories, so you have to analyze your spending habits to determine which card will help you maximize your rewards value. A good travel card will have a range of purchases that qualify as travel spending, which may include flights, hotels and car rentals.

Depending on the type of card, these purchases can earn two points per dollar or more. Other purchases may earn one point per dollar or more.

3. Factor in sign-up bonuses.

The most lucrative travel cards offer consumers bonus points for meeting a spending threshold within a few months of opening an account. These bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars.

4.Calculate redemption value.

Every travel card has a rate at which points or miles are awarded. However, what those points are worth to you depends on redemption value as well as your preferences and priorities.

For general travel cards, point valuation may be as simple as the number of points multiplied by the redemption rate, often a rate of 1 cent per point.

Awards travel with airlines or hotels is more complicated. The number of points or miles needed to book a flight or hotel room may fluctuate from card to card.

But airlines and hotels frequently adjust the price of award travel based on award level, award availability, time, destination, fare or hotel class, demand, and other factors. And rewards values aren’t consistent across all programs: You might be able to redeem a point or mile for a value of 3 cents with one program or less than 1 cent with another.

5. Subtract annual fees.

The average annual fee for travel credit cards is about $139, according to U.S. News research. Credit card companies sometimes entice new users by waiving the annual fee for the first year.

Once the fee kicks in, be sure you’re earning enough rewards or enjoying the other card benefits to compensate for it. Also, about a third of travel cards don’t carry an annual fee.

6.Understand travel benefits.

Travel benefits can be practical tools, discounted pricing or luxe perks. Common benefits include no foreign transaction fees, access to 24/7 concierge or customer service assistance, a free checked bag – and sometimes a free checked bag for a travel companion – and travel insurance.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example, comes with trip cancellation and interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, 24/7 customer service and more.

7. Avoid foreign transaction fees.

Many travel cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee, which is typically 3% on every purchase in a foreign currency or country. Because these fees can be greater than any rewards you earn, frequent international travelers will want to make this card feature a top priority.

How Do You Compare Two Rewards Travel Credit Cards?

To help consumers understand how to evaluate travel cards, U.S. News researchers compared two popular general travel cards: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card. You can follow these same steps when you're comparing travel credit cards.

1. Pick the right rewards program for you.

Both cards are general travel cards, offering a flexible range of rewards but providing the most value when redeemed for travel.

2. Calculate earning potential.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gives you five points per dollar on Lyft rides (valid through March 2022), 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. And the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers 1.5 points on every dollar you spend.

Estimate your yearly budget by separating expenses into credit card categories.

Sample monthly budget

General: $390Groceries: $334
Dining: $250
Utilities: $323
Gas: $174
Travel: $167

Now calculate how many points you’d earn in one year based on your spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card first-year points after Apr 30, 2021

Dining and travel purchases
$417 * 2x earning rate * 12 months = 10,008 points
Other categories
$1,221 * 1x earning rate * 12 months = 14,652 points
Total
10,008 + 14,652 = 24,660 points

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card first-year points

Total
$1,638 * 1.5x earning rate * 12 = 29,484 points

3. Factor in sign-up bonuses.

Both cards offer sign-up bonuses for eligible spending within the first three months. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns a 80,000-point bonus – increasing annual point earnings to 84,660 – when you spend after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

And the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card earns 25,000 points when you charge online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. The online bonus brings your total annual points to 54,484.

4. Calculate redemption value.

You can convert points to cash through Chase Ultimate Rewards at a ratio of 1 point to 1 cent, so 84,660 points are worth $846.60. But if you use those points to book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more, or $1,058.25 in travel purchases.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has a 1-point-to-1-cent ratio, so the card has a first-year value of $544.84.

5. Subtract annual fees.

To understand the real value of your travel rewards card, you need to subtract the annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee. Every year after the first year, it earns 24,660 points, or $246.60. If you book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards, those points are worth $308.25. After the annual fee, you receive a yearly value of $213.25 at that same spending level.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee, so every year after the first year, your yearly earnings value will be $294.84. Because the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card earns more than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card starting in the second year, it earns more overall rewards by the sixth year, even with Chase’s 25% redemption bonus.

Seven-year rewards value after annual fees at $1,638/month spending

1st year
2nd year total
3rd year total
4th year total
5th year total
6th year total
7th year total
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
$846.60
$1,093.20
$1,339.80
$1,586.40
$1,833
$2,079.60
$2,326.20
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
$544.84
$839.68
$1,134.52
$1,429.36
$1,724.20
$2,019.04
$2,313.88

6. Understand travel benefits.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers, travel and emergency assistance services, extended warranty coverage, and purchase protection. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card credit card offers a zero dollar liability guarantee for fraudulent transactions, account alerts for balances and due dates, and free monthly FICO credit score access.

7. Avoid foreign transaction fees.

Neither card charges a foreign transaction fee.

Summary: For people who can qualify for the sign-up bonus and want to take advantage of the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel redemption bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns more overall rewards in the first few years. But if you can’t meet Chase’s sign-up bonus spending requirement, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card may be a better choice for you.

What Are the Best Strategies to Maximize Travel Rewards?

Pick the right travel card.

When you’re starting out with travel cards, select one with a general miles program that gives you the flexibility to earn rewards for all spending and redeem with the largest variety of brands. Unless you spend large amounts on travel expenses with a particular brand, airline and hotel cards offer less flexibility and savings.

Combine a general travel card with a co-branded or loyalty card.

Used in tandem with a general travel card, an airline card or a hotel card makes sense for frequent travelers who are comfortable committing to one particular travel brand. This combination allows you to use the co-branded card to earn bonus points on purchases with your preferred brand and to use the general travel card to earn bonus points in other categories.

Apply for a card before a planned large purchase to reach your sign-up bonus.

The best way to guarantee that you'll get your sign-up bonus is to activate a new travel rewards card before you'll be making a lot of purchases (a family vacation, for instance). That way you'll get the bonus and spend money on things that give higher rewards on your card.

Use your travel credit card to pick up the tab as much as possible.

Does your card give you extra points for dining? Then you better be offering to pick up the tab the next time you go out with friends. They can pay you back, and you can get those sweet, sweet rewards points.

Do Travel Rewards Cards Work the Same With International Travel?

Yes, travel rewards cards work the same with international travel. There are still some things you'll want to keep in mind when you're traveling internationally, however. Knowing how your travel credit card works and what benefits and protections it offers can help you solve some of the problems that may arise when you’re abroad. It’s always best to be prepared.

Avoid foreign transaction fees.

If you’re not sure whether your card has foreign transaction fees, check with your issuer when you notify it of your upcoming trip. You most likely have a card that has EMV smart chip technology, which is the most compatible with foreign merchants and provides the best security.

Most of the cards in the U.S. are chip-and-signature cards. Overseas, credit cards that have chip-and-PIN capability are more common. Check with your issuer if you are unclear about the type of smart card you have.

Avoid dynamic currency conversion.

Many foreign merchants let you choose to be charged in local currency or to pay with dollars through dynamic currency conversion. You should always opt for local currency.

The exchange rate with dynamic currency conversion might be unfavorable or even have a fee tacked on top. It’s always good to have cash on hand in case a store or restaurant won’t accept your card.

Know whom to contact in an emergency.

Some travel credit cards offer free access to a 24/7 benefits administrator – also called a concierge service – that can provide medical referrals, contact loved ones and arrange for payments. Likewise, as a cardholder, you may be able to receive round-the-clock referrals and other help with medical and legal emergencies.

Some programs, such as Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard, provide 24/7 global services for card-related needs and expedited card replacement. Visa offers emergency cash advances or wires.

Take advantage of travel insurance.

Many cards offer trip cancellation or interruption insurance or travel accident insurance. Life is unpredictable, so these benefits can provide protection if you need to make changes to your trip or experience an accident. You may even want to opt for third-party travel insurance for fuller coverage.

Protect your rental car.

Your personal car insurance policy may not cover foreign travel, so you might need to purchase auto insurance in your destination country. Cards that offer an auto rental collision damage waiver can handle some of your rental car insurance needs, covering theft or damage to the car, up to the full cash value of most rental vehicles booked using that card.

There are restrictions, however, including the country of travel, type of vehicle, age of vehicle and length of rental. And you’ll be required to refuse the collision damage waiver at the car rental counter. Third-party liability, personal accident and personal property coverage will not be included with your card’s coverage.

Before your trip, find out which of your credit cards will give you the best coverage. If you feel unsure about the details, call your issuer and ask for an explanation of the rental car coverage that comes with your card.

Get help with your lost luggage.

Many travel rewards credit cards offer benefits to help you deal with lost or delayed baggage. With this coverage, you can get reimbursed for some or all of your expenses related to the claim, such as toiletries or clothes purchased while waiting for your bags. But note that maximum amounts and restrictions might apply, depending on the travel rewards credit card.

Is It Worth Getting a Travel Rewards Credit Card in 2022?

The coronavirus disrupted all aspects of life in 2020. Zoom calls replaced business trips and family vacations in equal measure. Experts predict it will be a number of years before business travel returns to its pre-COVID-19 peak, if it ever does. Leisure travel will bounce back much faster (everyone is desperate to get out of the house these days), but health experts still recommend getting vaccinated before traveling voluntarily. It likely will take until the summer for most Americans to get vaccinated.

So, is it worth it to get a travel rewards credit card in 2022? If you know you'll be traveling later in the year, you can get a travel rewards card before your trip. If you want to start earning points or miles now, carefully evaluate and compare bonus categories across different cards so you can maximize your spending. A grocery bonus category is much more valuable than a gas bonus category if you're eating at home and not commuting anymore, for instance.

U.S. News Survey

U.S. News Survey: Americans Are Missing Out on Credit Card Savings

Many Americans are eager to get out and travel again, according to a new U.S. News survey, but they’re likely passing up valuable opportunities to earn credit card rewards in the process. That’s because while 62.5% of survey respondents say they plan to travel again soon, 44.3% of respondents don’t have a travel rewards credit card.

For people who are traveling, 46.2% expect to spend less than $500 per person on the trip. About 12% of respondents plan to spend some of their most recent stimulus check on their upcoming trips.

Additional Survey Insights

While 34.1% of respondents with a travel rewards credit card canceled it in the past year, 65.9% of respondents with a card opted to keep it.

About 10% of respondents are considering getting a new travel rewards credit card before traveling again.

More than half of respondents (53.9%) are more eager to travel again, now that some coronavirus travel restrictions are lifting. More than half of respondents (54.4%) also think airlines and other travel providers should require proof of vaccination before allowing passengers.

Nazir News - CBC Trending News Daily 🤑🤮😪 Best Travel Credit Cards of May 2022 | U.S. News
  • While 34.1% of respondents with a travel rewards credit card canceled it in the past year, 65.9% of respondents with a card opted to keep it.

  • About 10% of respondents are considering getting a new travel rewards credit card before traveling again.

  • More than half of respondents (53.9%) are more eager to travel again, now that some coronavirus travel restrictions are lifting. More than half of respondents (54.4%) also think airlines and other travel providers should require proof of vaccination before allowing passengers.

Nazir News - CBC Trending News Daily 🤑🤮😪 Best Travel Credit Cards of May 2022 | U.S. News

U.S. News Survey Methodology

  • U.S. News ran a nationwide survey through Google Surveys in April 2021.
  • The sample size was the general American population, and the survey was configured to be representative of this sample.
  • The survey asked 10 questions relating to travel and credit card use.

Survey Results

Best Credit Cards for Travel Methodology

U.S. News has been helping consumers make money decisions for decades. The Best Travel Credit Cards are selected based on ease and flexibility of rewards redemption, travel rewards earning rate, rewards redemption value, annual fee, APR, sign-up bonus value, cardholder benefits, foreign transaction fee and balance transfer fee. Cards are also scored on U.S. News' overall issuer satisfaction rating.

To qualify as one of the best travel credit cards, a card must earn bonus travel rewards, including general travel, airline or hotel. Remember to consider your spending and travel habits as you compare travel cards so you can find the best credit card for you.

Try not to get dazzled by a sign-up bonus. Make sure your spending habits fit well with the rewards card. If you travel often and always use the same airline, then an airline-branded card might be best, and it probably has a good sign-up bonus.

Travel credit card benefits may include free or reduced baggage fees, priority boarding and other perks. But travel cards with premium perks often charge annual fees, which is why they may not help the occasional traveler.

[READ: How to Travel for Free Using Credit Cards.]

From the card issuer's point of view, travel is travel. It doesn't matter if it's for work or for pleasure. If you work for a company that lets you expense your travel costs, then using your own travel rewards card is a great way to maximize your points.

If you are an entrepreneur, a small-business owner or have a side hustle, you have more options to consider. You can keep all of your spending on one travel rewards credit card to consolidate your points. Alternatively, you can open a separate business travel credit card. Business cards typically have different rewards categories that might be more beneficial to you.

[READ:Do Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit?]

There is a wide variety of travel credit cards, but they fall into three categories: airline cards, hotel cards and general travel cards. You'll earn points or miles for your spending, and get more points for travel expenses. All major hotel chains and airlines have their own branded credit cards.

[READ:The Pros and Cons of Premium Credit Cards.]

Travel credit cards require good to excellent credit, with a typical minimum credit score of 670.

There is a difference, but it's a minor one. Miles are the reward unit for airline credit cards, while points are the reward unit for hotel and general credit cards. The important thing to check is how easy it is to redeem your points or miles once you earn them.

[READ:What Does Your Credit Card Number Mean?]

Comparative assessments and other editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

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