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While it can be fun to collect points and miles with your favorite airline or hotel, there is one major drawback. When your miles are tied to one specific company, you don’t have the flexibility that many travelers crave. A top consumer complaint about brand-specific travel credit cards is that some airlines offer few award seats at the lowest mileage levels, and some hotel chains impose capacity controls on award nights. And if a company decides to charge more points or miles, or offer fewer airline seats or hotel rooms for awards, your existing balance of points or miles can lose some of their value.
Thankfully, there are other types of travel rewards programs that offer additional flexibility, rather than being tied to single partner. Some of these programs offer miles that can be redeemed for statement credits toward travel rewards, while others offer points that can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.
1. Barclaycard Arrival Plus
This card offers double miles for all purchases, and each mile is worth a penny as statement credit toward travel purchases such as airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. Cardholders purchase their travel reservations just as they normally would, and can later redeem their miles for reimbursement. In addition, cardholders also receive 5% of their redeemed miles back. New applicants also receive 40,000 bonus miles after using their card to spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. There is an $89 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
This card (reviewed here) offers double points for all travel and dining expenses, and a single point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards travel reservations booked through Chase’s online travel service, or transferred to points or miles with airline and hotel programs. So travelers have the flexibility to move their points to the airline or hotel program that offers the best rewards for their needs at any particular time. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
3. Capital One VentureOne Rewards
This card has no annual fee and features 1.25 miles on all purchases, which can be redeemed for a penny each as statement credits towards travel reservations. New applicants receive 20,000 bonus miles, worth $200, after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening. Finally, there are no foreign transaction fees with this card. (You can see how this card stacks up with its counterpart, the Capital One Venture Rewards card, in this review.)
4. Citi ThankYou Premier
This flexible travel rewards card offers three ThankYou points per dollar spent on travel, including gas, and double points for dining out and entertainment. One point per dollar spent is earned for all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through Citi’s ThankYou rewards travel center, or transferred to miles with several different airline programs as well as Hilton HHonors points. New cardholders can also earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
5. Discover it Miles
This version of the Discover it card offers 1.5 miles per dollar spent, and each mile is worth a penny as statement credits toward travel charges, or as cash back. Other features include an annual $30 statement credit toward in-flight Wi-Fi purchases, to help you stay connected even when you are in the air. There are no annual fees, foreign transaction fees or penalty interest charges for this card.
6. Amex Everyday Preferred
With this card, you can earn triple points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), double points at U.S. gas stations and one point per dollar spent on other purchases. In addition, cardholders earn a 50% points bonus each statement period when they complete at least 30 transactions. The points earned are in American Express’s Membership Rewards program, and can be transferred to points or miles with several airline and hotel programs. There is a $95 annual fee for this card. It was also the most recent winner of the Best Airline Miles Credit Card ranking.
Before you apply for any credit card, it’s important to know where you stand. Rewards credit cards often require good or excellent credit scores from applicants, so you can see where you stand by checking your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Capital One VentureOne, Citi ThankYou Premier and Discover it Miles credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.