How To Pick The Best Travel Credit Card

Let's be honest - there are many great travel rewards credit cards out there, but the reality is that the best thing for you is the one that suits your specific needs. 

Travel rewards can add up quickly, especially if it's a welcome bonus, so it's important to apply and start earning as soon as possible and maximize your points and miles! Now, without further ado, here are today's picks for the best travel credit cards.

A clear credit card comparison can be a good support when choosing the right model. However, if you don't want to read numerous articles about each product, you can compare the best models in our clear comparison and see which credit card is the right one faster.

We deliberately decided to draw up the credit card comparison differently from similar comparisons found elsewhere on the Internet. Instead of hundreds of options to filter models by, our comparison offers four categories of credit cards to sort by. This makes the credit card comparison much easier to use!

There are scores of travel rewards cards to choose from. The best travel credit card for you has as much to do with you as with the card. How often you travel, how much flexibility you want, how much you value airline or hotel perks — these are all things to take into account when deciding on a travel card. Our article on how to choose a travel credit card recommends that you prioritize:

  • Rewards you will actually use (points and miles are only as good as your ability to redeem them for travel)
  • A high earning rate (how much value you get in rewards for every dollar spent on the card).
  • A sign-up bonus (a windfall of points for meeting a spending requirement in your first few months).

Even with these goals in mind, there are all kinds of considerations that will influence your decision on a travel rewards credit card.

Travel cards are for travelers

TRAVEL CARDS VS. CASH-BACK CARDS

The very first question to ask yourself when choosing a travel credit card is: Should I get a travel card at all? Travel credit cards are best for frequent travelers, who are more likely to get enough value from rewards and perks to make up for the annual fees that the best travel credit cards charge. (Some travel cards charge no annual fee, but they tend to offer lesser rewards than full-fee cards.) A study found that those who travel only occasionally — say, once a year — will probably get greater overall rewards from cash-back credit cards, most of which charge no annual fee, than from a travel card.

Flexibility and perks: A trade-off

CO-BRANDED CARDS VS. GENERAL TRAVEL CARDS

Travel credit cards fall into two basic categories: co-branded cards and general travel cards.

Co-branded cards carry the name of an airline or hotel group, such as the United℠ Explorer Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. The rewards you earn are redeemable only with that particular brand, which can limit your flexibility, sometimes sharply. For example, if your credit card's co-branded airline partner doesn't have any award seats available on the flight you want on the day you want, you're out of luck. On the other hand, co-branded cards commonly offer airline- or hotel-specific perks that general travel cards can't match.

Such travel cards aren't tied to a specific airline or hotel, so they offer much greater flexibility. Well-known general travel cards include the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Rewards on general travel cards come as points (sometimes called "miles," but they're really points) that you can redeem for any travel expense. You're not locked into using a single airline or hotel, but you also won't enjoy the perks of a co-branded card.

Evaluating general travel credit cards

WHAT YOU GET WITH A GENERAL TRAVEL CARD

The credit cards featured at the top of this page are general travel cards. They're issued by a bank, carry only that bank's name, and aren't tied to any single airline or hotel group. With these cards, you earn points on every purchase — usually 1 to 2 points per dollar spent, sometimes with additional points in certain categories like restaurants or flight bookings.

Issuers of general travel cards typically entice new applicants with big sign-up bonuses - known as "welcome offers" — tens of thousands of miles that you can earn by spending a certain amount of money on the card in your first few months.

Profile Image
Kimblery A.

Loves to write about trends, tips & tricks from all over the internet, also part-time fashionista.

Never miss a thing

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

Marketing Permissions

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from esearches:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

sign up

Thanks for subscribing!