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Figuring out which is the best travel rewards credit card can be a challenge. There are a lot of cards to choose from. Adding to the number of options is that most travel credit cards offer decent rewards. Fierce completion between banks in the credit card industry is to thank for that.
With so many travel rewards credit card options and so many good programs, there isn’t one “best” card for everyone. You simply want to choose the card that’s “best” for your travel needs and spending habits. Some cards work great for frequent travelers. Other cards work better for those who don’t travel as often. All cards have their perks and quirks. To make it a bit easier, here are a few of the favorite travel rewards credit cards of the Credit.com team to help you figure out which one is the right card for you.
Best Overall Travel Rewards Credit Card—Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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First on the Credit.com staff list of best travel rewards credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. What makes the Sapphire Preferred card our top choice is that it has one of the highest bonuses available for any card. If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account, you earn 50,000 bonus points. That’s the equivalent of $625 that you can put towards travel when you redeem your points through Chase Ultimate rewards.
It didn’t hurt for us that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named this card its “Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption” in June 2018, either.
Earning points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred is good too. You earn double points (2X) on travel expenses and at restaurants worldwide. And you earn one point on every dollar you spend on every other purchase.
This card let you use your points for airfare, accommodations, renting a car or taking a cruise. And when you redeem your points on Chase Ultimate Rewards, you get 25% more value for your points and have no blackout dates or other travel restrictions. You can even transfer your points to many other airline and hotel loyalty programs.
With no annual fee for the first year, you keep all your earnings for yourself. After the first year, your fee will be $95, which is one of the downsides of the card, but if you use your card a lot, you’ll quickly recoup that fee.
Our take: If you use your card a lot and you want rewards to use for travel, you can’t go wrong with this card in your wallet.
Best Runner-Up Travel Rewards Credit Card—Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
This card competes virtually equally with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It offers 50,000 miles with $3,000 in purchases made in three months of opening the account. While the dollar value of those miles is less than with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card—$500 rather than $625—you get that bonus with a $1,000 less expense.
This card was named “The Best Travel Card” by CNBC in 2018. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, it pays double miles (2X) on all purchases, not just those for travel and eating out. It also pays 10X miles for accommodations at thousands of hotels. And for global travelers, the Capital One Venture Rewards card can save cardholders up to $100 on Global Entry and TSA Pre✓® application fees.
You can use your points to fly on any airline and stay at any hotel with no restrictions or blackout dates. And you can transfer your miles to more than 12 leading travel loyalty programs. Miles are also good as long as you have your card account.
The Capital One Venture Rewards card has no annual fee the first year and a $95 annual fee after that.
All that said, this card is so close to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, it wasn’t easy to dub it “runner-up.” In fact, we had to do some arm wrestling between a few staffers to make our final decision. For you, this card could easily be your best card depending on what matters most to you. With either card, you can’t really go wrong.
Best Flight Rewards Credit Card—Discover it® Miles Card
Discover it® Miles
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
- Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
- No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
- Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
- Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
- Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No Annual Fee.
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Credit.com staffers who fly a lot chose the Discover it® Miles card as the favorite flight rewards card. It has a premium introductory offer of matching every mile you earn your first year at the end of that year. Earn 30,000 miles and get 30,000 more miles for a total of $60,000 miles or $600 to use toward travel.
Plus, this card gives you 1.5X miles for every dollar you spend on anything. And it has no annual fee—ever. If you’re after a solid card to earn miles to fly, Discover it® Miles credit card is probably your best choice.
The Final Verdict Is Yours
The Credit.com staff choices listed here offer solid value and cover a range of travel needs. If you’re looking for your absolute best travel or flight rewards card, check them out on Credit.com. You’ll also find other options listed there as well as each card’s APR.