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Best Travel Credit Cards of 2024 | Compared & Reviewed

The best travel cards let users earn points or miles for each dollar they spend, yet each one offers a different set of benefits. With that in mind, it’s crucial to pick a credit card that earns the type of rewards you really want with a selection of perks you can actually use.

The travel rewards credit cards we profile below offer bonus points on travel purchases and a generous sign-up bonus that can have you traveling in no time. Some of the premium travel credit cards we profile even offer benefits like travel credits, airport lounge access, and expedited airport security membership.

Before you start planning your next trip, it’s smart to pick up a credit card that will reward you for non-travel purchases as well as every trip you take. Read on to learn which travel rewards credit cards we recommend and how they could work in your favor.

Our picks for the best travel cards of 2024

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Best Overall Travel Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card

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Up to 5X Reward Rate

Earn 5X points on Chase Travel purchases, 3X points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, and 1X points on other purchases.

Annual Fee
$95
Welcome Offer
75,000 points
Regular APR
21.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our top pick for travel rewards for so many reasons. With this card, you earn valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase, and these points can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, cash back, and more. Points can also be transferred 1:1 to various travel partners, and are worth 25% more when you use them to book travel through the Chase Travel portal. This card also offers great travel insurance perks like primary rental car insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance, so you can have extra peace of mind while traveling the world. Combine the Sapphire Preferred’s flexible redemption options and valuable perks, and we think it’s a must-have for anyone who loves to travel.

Best Overall Travel Card, Runner Up

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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Up to 5X Reward Rate

Earn 5X miles per dollar on hotel stays or rental cars booked through Capital One’s portal and 2X miles on all other purchases.

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Annual Fee
$95
Welcome Offer
75,000 miles
Regular APR
19.99% to 29.99% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
Travel rewards credit cards often have complicated categories to keep track of, but not the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card simplifies things by offering flat-rate rewards, so you can maximize your rewards without the hassle.
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Card Details

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  • Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
Pros
  • Travel insurance protections incuded
  • Earn flexible rewards for travel
  • Reasonable $95 annual fee
Cons
  • Requires good or excellent credit
  • No everyday spending bonus categories
  • High APR
Bottom Line

The massive sign-up offer and generous, flexible rewards make this card a great option for casual travelers.

Best for No Annual Fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited?

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Up to 6.5% Reward Rate

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel?, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel?, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Annual Fee
$0
Welcome Offer
Up to $300 cash back
Regular APR
20.49%-29.24% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
It’s not technically a travel credit card, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited? card is a great option for those looking for flexibility in their rewards. It offers a flat cash-back rate on all purchases and generous cash-back in other useful categories (including travel!), so it’s easy to earn rewards. And unlike most cards on this list, Freedom Unlimited doesn’t charge an annual fee. Although this card is marketed as earning cash back, it goes beyond that. The rewards you earn are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, meaning they’re extra flexible to redeem. If you already have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can pool your points together to redeem them for an even better value. It also boasts a variety of additional perks like purchase protection and travel insurance, much like the best travel cards out there.

Best for Traveling Foodies

American Express? Gold Card

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Up to 4X Reward Rate

Earn 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X) and restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, and 1X points on other eligible purchases.

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Annual Fee
$250
Welcome Offer
60,000 points
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The American Express? Gold Card is fantastic for travelers who spend a lot of time (and money) at restaurants. It boasts an upgraded rewards rate for eligible purchases, a hefty welcome offer, and an annual fee that can easily “pay for itself” if you strategically utilize the benefits (namely the hundreds of dollars worth of statement credits) this card offers.
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Card Details

More Card Info

  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express? Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Terms Apply.
Pros
  • Generous welcome offer
  • High rewards potential
  • Many transfer partners available
Cons
  • High annual fee
  • Complicated statement credits
  • Good or excellent credit recommended
Bottom Line

If you like to dine out frequently, the $200+ worth of dining-related annual statement credits can easily help justify the yearly fee.

Best Premium Travel Card ─ Amex

The Platinum Card? from American Express

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Up to 5X Reward Rate

Earn 5X Membership Rewards? points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year), 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and 1X points on other eligible purchases.

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Annual Fee
$695
Welcome Offer
80,000 points
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The American Express Platinum card, although a bit on the pricey side with a $695 annual fee, boasts a multitude of premium travel perks, like over $1,000 yearly in statement credits. If you’re a luxury traveler who knows how to make the most of a credit card’s offerings, this card can reward you well.
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Card Details

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  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts? or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card?. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card? on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection? can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card? to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card?.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR? Plus Credit: CLEAR? Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck? application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck? official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card?. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card?. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card? to your Resy profile.
  • Terms Apply.
Pros
  • Excellent rewards rate for travel purchases
  • Qualify for $1,500+ in statement credits
  • Very generous welcome offer
Cons
  • High annual fee of $695
  • Many statement credit offers are too specific and hard to use
  • Non-travel-perks aren’t spectacular
Bottom Line

This is quite a spectacular card with incredibly valuable benefits, but the annual fee is objectively very high.

Best Premium Travel Card ─ Chase

Chase Sapphire Reserve?

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Up to 10X Reward Rate

Earn 10X points on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Travel, 10X points on Chase Dining purchases, 5X points on flights booked through Chase Travel, 3X points on non-Chase travel and dining, and 1X points on all non-bonus spending.

Annual Fee
$550
Welcome Offer
75,000 points
Regular APR
22.49% to 29.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Excellent (740 - 850)
Why we like it
For premium yet flexible travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an exceptional choice. It comes with a variety of high-end benefits like a $300 yearly travel credit, airport lounge access, and travel insurance perks. This card also earns points very generously, with up to 10X points earned on eligible travel purchases (Note: You won’t start earning points until the $300 annual travel statement credit is fully spent. The first $300 spent on travel each year will automatically go towards the statement credit). New cardholders can also earn a very generous welcome bonus worth $1,125, helping to quickly accelerate their reward-earning journey. If you value luxury benefits and flexible redemption options, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great option.

Best for Luxury Business Travelers

The Business Platinum Card? from American Express

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Up to 5X Reward Rate

Earn 5 Membership Rewards? points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels through American Express Travel, 1.5 points per dollar on eligible business expenses and purchases of $5,000+ (up to $2 million yearly), and 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases.

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Annual Fee
$695
Welcome Offer
150,000 points
Regular APR
19.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The Business Platinum Card? from American Express is a top-tier credit card for business owners looking to earn travel rewards on their business expenses. It also offers valuable perks like over $1,000 annually in statement credits and airport lounge access. Although it boasts a hefty $695 annual fee, its premium benefits make up for it if used to its full extent.
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Card Details

More Card Info

  • Unlock over $1,000 in statement credits on select purchases, including tech, recruiting and wireless in the first year of membership with the Business Platinum Card?. Enrollment required. See how you can unlock over $1,000 annually in credits on select purchases with the Business Platinum Card?, here.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to the Card.
  • $189 CLEAR? Plus Credit: Use your card and get up to $189 in statement credits per calendar year on your CLEAR? Plus Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use the Business Platinum Card?.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection? can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market as of 03/2023.
  • Terms Apply.
Pros
  • Excellent welcome offer
  • Easy to earn points
  • Great travel benefits
Cons
  • No intro APR offer
  • Hefty $695 annual fee
  • High spending requirement for welcome offer
Bottom Line

The annual fee certainly has a shock factor but for the premium business traveler, this card’s luxury perks could make it well worth it.

Best Premium Travel Card ─ Capital One

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

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Up to 10X Reward Rate

Earn 10X miles on hotel and rental car purchases made through Capital One Travel, 5X miles on airfare purchased through the portal, and 2X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases.

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Annual Fee
$395
Welcome Offer
75,000 miles
Regular APR
19.99% to 29.99% variable
Recommended Credit
Excellent (740 - 850)
Why we like it
This is Capital One’s most premium travel credit card, packed with benefits such as airport lounge access, a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, yearly bonus miles, and an elevated rewards-earning rate on travel booked through Capital One’s portal.
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Card Details

More Card Info

  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Elevate every hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with a suite of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?
Pros
  • Miles can be redeemed for travel purchases, transfers to international airlines, and more
  • Can qualify for hundreds of dollars in credits each year
  • Huge welcome offer
Cons
  • $395 annual fee
  • Large spending requirement to earn the welcome bonus
  • Excellent credit required
Bottom Line

With a lower annual fee than some premium cards and extremely valuable benefits, this card can easily be worth the annual fee for the frequent traveler.

Best for Business Rewards

Ink Business Preferred? Credit Card

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Up to 3X Reward Rate

Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in select categories each year, and earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Annual Fee
$95
Welcome Offer
100,000 points
Regular APR
21.24% to 26.24% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The Ink Business Preferred is a great option for a business travel card, with a high reward earning rate on travel and other purchases. The points earned on this card are also a part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, meaning they’re flexible to redeem. You can choose to transfer them 1:1 to one of Chase’s many travel partners, redeem them toward cash back or gift cards, or book travel through the Chase Travel portal. Additionally, this card comes with travel insurance protections, so you can go on your business trips with the peace of mind that you’re covered, just in case.
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Let's compare the best travel credit cards of 2024

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The best travel credit cards of 2024: Editorial reviews

Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card

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General Travel Credit Cards: Best Overall
We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card takes the cake for the best travel credit card. It’s the perfect combination of having a reasonable annual fee while still offering generous rewards on both travel and non-travel purchases, and it has extra travel perks to top it off. It also has a huge welcome offer, which is never a bad thing, if you ask us.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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General Travel Credit Cards: Best Overall ─ Runner-Up
We had a difficult time choosing between the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card for 1st place, so instead of considering this one as second place, think of it as being in one and a half-th place. We love the simple, flat-rate rewards it offers and its generous welcome bonus, making it easy for cardholders to earn miles on all purchases they make, plus an elevated rate on eligible travel purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited?

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General Travel Credit Cards: Best for No Annual Fee
Most travel cards have annual fees, but not the Chase Freedom Unlimited?. Okay, okay, it’s not technically a travel card, but it does have a good earning rate on travel, especially in the first year. For the first year (on up to $20,000 spent), you can enjoy a rate of 6.5% back on travel purchased through Chase Travel (offer available through LA Times Compare but may not be available through another site). Plus, if you have a card that already earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can pool your earnings for even more value.

American Express? Gold Card

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General Travel Credit Cards: Best for Foodies
If trying new food is one of the main reasons you love traveling, the American Express? Gold Card is perfect. It lets you earn 4 Membership Rewards? points per dollar at restaurants, (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) so you can go out to eat and earn a little extra back. It also offers up to $120 in annual dining credits (given as statement credits) and several travel-specific perks, making this card a great option for the “traveling foodie.”

The Platinum Card? from American Express

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Premium Travel Credit Cards: Best for Amex
Although the $695 annual fee makes us briefly shudder each time we think about it, The Platinum Card? from American Express has plenty of value to make it worthwhile. It has a high earning potential on flights and hotels, up to almost $2,000 worth of statement credits available to cardholders each year, and additional travel benefits to top it off. If you plan out how to use all (or most) of the benefits this card offers, it’s well worth the steep fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve?

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Premium Travel Credit Cards: Best for Chase
The Chase Sapphire Reserve? card boasts high-end perks for a high-end annual fee, but it also has a very generous travel rewards rate. We wouldn’t consider this our favorite card for the average spender, as it could be difficult to make its high annual fee worth it, but for the frequent traveler who values things like airport lounge access and travel insurance perks, it may be worth considering.

The Business Platinum Card? from American Express

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Business Travel Credit Cards: Best for Luxury Business Travelers
For the frequent business traveler who prioritizes luxury perks like airport lounge access and valuable statement credits, The Business Platinum Card? from American Express certainly delivers. Similar to its consumer-card counterpart, it offers high-value rewards earning potential on eligible travel purchases but this card has the added benefit of earning extra points on eligible business expenses. High-spending businesses can easily recoup the $695 annual fee, and if you take advantage of the statement credits it offers, this card could be a very valuable asset to your business’ wallet.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

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Premium Travel Credit Cards: Best for Capital One
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card has a slightly lower annual fee than some other premium travel cards, while still offering many valuable perks. Cardholders get complimentary Capital One airport lounge access, annual travel credits, a Priority Pass Select membership, and high rewards-earning potential on eligible purchases.

Ink Business Preferred? Credit Card

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Business Travel Credit Cards: Best for Business Rewards
With only a $95 annual fee and generous business rewards, we love the Ink Business Preferred? Credit Card for the average small business that travels occasionally. Unlike some business travel cards that only offer elevated rewards on travel purchases, this card can be used to earn points on everyday business expenses in select categories, making it valuable all year.

Understanding travel credit cards

What is a travel credit card?

A travel credit card is a specific type of reward credit card that lets you earn points, miles, or other travel rewards on eligible purchases.

Many rewards-earning international travel cards also have specific perks like elite status with airline or hotel loyalty programs, annual travel credits, tier-qualifying bonus miles, airport security benefits, airport lounge membership, and more.

General travel cards vs. co-branded cards

Travel reward cards tend to fall into one of two categories: general travel cards and co-branded cards.

General travel cards

These cards give more flexible rewards. They let you redeem points or miles toward flights, hotel bookings, rental cars, and even cash back. This freedom allows you to book with different airlines or hotels if you aren’t loyal to a particular chain.

Co-branded airline or hotel cards

These cards let you earn points or miles that can be redeemed towards brand-specific rewards. If you’re loyal to a specific airline or hotel chain, they can reward you well for staying with them.

Types of travel rewards credit cards

There are quite a few types, and they all work differently. Before you choose a travel card for your wallet, understand the different options and how credit cards work.

Transferable-rewards credit cards

Flexible travel rewards credit cards typically let users redeem their rewards in several ways. For example, you may be able to use your points directly for travel bookings through a portal or for fixed-value travel statement credits. However, many of these cards also let users transfer their points to a select number of airline and hotel partners.

Transferable rewards include Capital One Miles, Chase Travel (previously Chase Ultimate Rewards), and American Express Membership Rewards.

Editor’s pick: The Platinum Card? from American Express

Fixed-value credit cards

Some credit cards let you earn rewards in the form of points/miles or cash back. These cards often have a fixed value when redeemed, but some may have different values based on redemption type. For example, you may be able to redeem 1 point for 1.5 cents if you use it towards travel but may only be able to redeem 1 point for 1 cent when turned into cash back.

Editor’s pick: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (See our detailed comparison of Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture and Capital One Venture vs Venture X).

Airline-specific credit cards

Airline-branded credit cards let users earn airline miles with a specific frequent flyer program, like Delta Air Lines cards, Southwest Airlines cards, and United Airlines cards. In some cases, users also get airline perks just for being a cardholder, such as:

Editor’s pick: Delta SkyMiles? Reserve American Express Card (See our detailed comparison of Delta Reserve vs. Amex Platinum).

Hotel-specific credit cards

Hotel-branded credit cards offer hotel-specific benefits such as elite hotel status or annual hotel credits you can use. When you use a hotel co-branded credit card for spending, you’ll earn hotel loyalty points and may qualify for some pretty neat perks like:

Editor’s pick: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass? Card

Business travel credit cards

Business travel rewards cards can be helpful for people who tend to travel for work and want to keep their personal and business expenses on separate accounts. Travel business credit cards tend to be similar to their consumer card counterparts but may have different earning categories, annual fees, and travel perks.

Editor’s pick: The Business Platinum Card? from American Express

How travel rewards work

When you earn travel rewards with a credit card, how they work depends on the type of points or miles you’ve accrued. Either way, you’ll likely get the most “bang for your buck” by redeeming your earnings for travel.

How do credit card airline miles work?

Airline miles can be used to book free flights or upgrades to a premium cabin, whereas hotel points can be used for free hotel stays, vacation packages, or room upgrades. Instead of buying trips through comparison sites, some cards reward you with extra points when you buy flights through their travel portals which you can redeem later for other trips.

How do credit card points work?

With flexible travel rewards points, you tend to get more options than miles-based cards. For example, flexible programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Travel, and Capital One Travel let you redeem your rewards for travel through a portal, transfers to airline and hotel partners, merchandise, gift cards, and more.

How much are travel points worth?

Although the value of travel points varies based on the specific card and the value of transfer partners, these are the average estimated values of travel points with top rewards programs:

Rewards program Approximate value Estimated value of 20k points/miles
American Express Membership Rewards 1.1 cents/point $220
Capital One Travel 1.0 cents/point $200
Chase Travel 1.4 cents/point $280
Citi ThankYou Points 1.2 cents/point $240

How do travel credit card portals work?

The top issuers?have their own cardholder-exclusive “travel portals” for members to redeem points. Some even incentivize this process by offering extra points, bonus miles, or perks if you book travel directly through their portal.

For booking flights, this is often a great option as it allows you to rack up extra points or miles. For hotel bookings, unless you have a hotel-branded card, it can be a bit riskier as they often don’t allow you to use elite-status benefits or credits through the portal.

Although the incentive to earn extra points by booking through a portal can be very enticing, check on other booking sites to see if you’re getting the best deal. Some cards give extra points for booking directly with airlines rather than solely through a portal, allowing flexibility in finding deals.

Pros and cons of travel credit cards

Advantages of travel cards
  • Possibilities for free or discounted travel by earning rewards. Rewards can then be used to reduce the cost of your trip.
  • Some cards have valuable perks like free checked bags, airport lounge access, or statement credits.
  • Zero foreign transaction fees on many travel credit cards, so you don’t need to pay extra if going abroad.
  • Welcome offers/sign-up bonuses can help give you a major boost toward taking your next trip.
  • Some travel cards have travel insurance perks to help give you added peace of mind when on your trip.
Drawbacks of travel cards
  • Travel cards with numerous perks often have some of the highest annual fees.
  • Redeeming your perks and discounts can be a difficult process.
  • Typically these cards have limited redemption options and low value outside of redeeming for more travel.
  • It can be a costly process to earn the welcome offer, with some cards requiring you to spend thousands of dollars in a few months.

Benefits of travel credit cards

Travel reward cards can provide benefits that other rewards cards may not. Avid travelers can likely take advantage of many of these perks to make their travel experience even better. Note that the benefits a travel card offers vary based on the card, but these are a few of the perks you may get:

Who should get a travel card?

A travel card can benefit anyone who travels even semi-frequently, with some low or no-annual-fee cards still offering elevated rewards on travel purchases.
If you fall into one or more of the three categories below and don’t already have a travel credit card, you should consider applying for one soon.

Business travelers

If you travel frequently for your business, it can get expensive quickly. A business travel card can help you recoup some of those expenses, keep your business and personal expenses separate, and sometimes give you extra perks like airport lounge access to help make your travels more enjoyable.

Frequent travelers

If you go on trips frequently, a travel credit card can provide perks like TSA Precheck, airport lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, and upgraded rewards-earning rates on travel purchases.

High-end travelers

If you value luxury benefits like exclusive airport lounge access, travel insurance, rental car insurance, high-value statement credits, and hotel room upgrades, a travel credit card can be tremendously useful.

How to compare and pick a travel credit card

Before you decide on a card, you’ll want to consider some factors to help you compare your options.

1

Your credit score

Most top travel cards require a good or excellent credit score (approximately 670+ FICO score or 661+ VantageScore), which can limit your options significantly if your score falls below that threshold. If you’re uncertain about what your credit score is, check out our guide on how to check your credit score.

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Rewards rate & type

Think about the rewards you want to earn: cash-back, miles, or points. If you’re an avid traveler who spends a lot on flights, hotels, rental cars, and other specific travel categories then a miles or points-based card may be right up your alley. On the other hand, if you don’t tend to spend in specific categories or infrequently travel, a cash-back credit card may be more of what you’re looking for.

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Annual fee

While some travel rewards credit cards have no annual fee, paying $95 or more per year could help you earn more rewards while accessing better travel benefits. Either way, select a card with an annual fee you’re comfortable with. If you decide you’re comfortable paying a fee, evaluate if you’ll use the card’s benefits and rewards enough to make it worth it.

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4

Travel perks

Look for travel perks you can benefit from, which could include travel credits, elite status, free checked bags, airport lounge access, and more. Do you plan on relaxing in an airport lounge or do you book quick connections with no time to relax? Do you tend to check bags or do you put as much as possible into a carry-on? Consider factors like this to decide whether certain perks are worthwhile.

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5

Travel protections

Many travel rewards cards come with travel protections as a part of the card. These protections include travel insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers, and more. For more information on the travel insurance benefits some of these top travel cards provide, check out our guides on American Express Travel Insurance and Chase Sapphire Travel Insurance.

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6

Welcome bonus

Many travel cards come with generous welcome offers, the chance to earn points, miles, or cash back after spending a set amount of money within a set time frame (typically the first few months of card ownership). Be sure you can realistically spend (and subsequently pay off) the required amount to earn the sign-up bonus. Many of the best credit cards, typically the ones with higher annual fees, have sign-up bonuses worth $700 or more! Sometimes you may even be able to score a higher bonus than is advertised by using a tool like CardMatch!

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Are you going to be traveling abroad?

Foreign transaction fees and international acceptance: Make sure your card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees if you often travel abroad or plan to. Additionally, some cards aren’t as widely accepted overseas, like Discover and American Express cards.

If you frequently travel internationally, you may be more in luck with a Chase credit card or Capital One credit card since they are Visa or Mastercard branded, both of which are widely accepted outside of the U.S.

How to make the most of your travel credit card

Most premium, top-of-the-line travel rewards cards also come with pricey annual fees. To maximize your rewards, here are a few tips:

Our top travel card picks

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Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card
LEARN MORE on Bankrate's secure site
Key Information
Earn 5X points on Chase Travel purchases, 3X points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, and 1X points on other purchases. $95 annual fee.
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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
LEARN MORE on Bankrate's secure site
Key Information
Earn 5X miles per dollar on hotel stays or rental cars booked through Capital One’s portal and 2X miles on all other purchases. $95 annual fee.
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Chase Freedom Unlimited?

Chase Freedom Unlimited?
LEARN MORE on Bankrate's secure site
Key Information
Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel?, 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). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel?, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. $0 annual fee.
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How we chose our best travel credit cards

To find the best travel cards right now, we looked for cards that offer bonus points in popular categories, generous sign-up bonuses worth several hundred dollars or more, premium travel perks, and insurance protections.

Although many include generous travel insurance that may cover trip cancellations and interruptions, travel delays, and lost or delayed baggage, it may not be enough for everyone and every trip you take. For example, seniors typically require higher premiums than the travel insurance included in your card. In that case, we recommend purchasing additional and more specific senior travel insurance.

Are travel credit cards worth it?

Travel reward credit cards are worth it even if you don’t take trips very often. Depending on how much value you can get out of a card, the annual fee of a premium card may or may not be worth it, so consider your spending habits before choosing a card.

Luckily for the average spender, some cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card only charge a $95 annual fee while still offering valuable benefits.

Alternatives to travel credit cards

Best travel credit cards FAQ

Is a travel credit card worth the annual fee?

Travel credit cards are typically worth the annual fee for people who travel often and can take advantage of travel credits and other perks. To decide if an annual fee is worth paying, spend the time it takes to add up the value of each of the cardholder benefits you’ll receive.

How many miles do I need for a free flight?

The number of miles you’ll need for a free flight varies depending on the frequent flyer program you’re using. As an example, free flights with the American AAdvantage program start at 7,500 miles.

Do I only earn travel rewards on travel-specific purchases?

Travel credit cards often offer bonus miles on travel purchases and other types of spending. However, you’ll always earn a base rate of points or miles on all other purchases.

Which credit card is best for travel?

The best travel card varies based on your specific traveling habits, but our top pick is the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card, with its flexible rewards and generous benefits for a low annual fee.

What is the best credit card to accumulate travel miles?

The best card for earning miles is dependent on what airline you choose to fly with, but for general miles-earning, we recommend the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Which card is the best for international travel?

Many credit cards are good for traveling internationally. The main things to look for are that the card has no foreign transaction fees and high acceptance ratings where you’re going. We recommend considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Card or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for international travel.

Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson Finance Expert

Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who covers topics like insurance, investing, credit and family finance. As a leading voice in the travel and loyalty space, Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries over the last decade.

The author has also written extensively on the power of household budgeting, and she even co-authored a book on the topic. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love was originally published in 2017, and it teaches families how to use zero-sum budgeting to reach their financial goals. She is also the co-owner and founder of the family finance and travel website, ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson’s 10+ years of writing have focused on helping families make important financial decisions at each stage of their lives. The author also applies the financial principles she teaches to her own life, and she is currently on track to retire in her late 40’s with her partner. She currently lives in Central Indiana with her husband and children, and she is a regular contributor for Bankrate, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report Travel and many other notable publications.

* Opinions expressed here are those of the LA Times Compare Cards Team and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser or entities included within this content. See our editorial policy for more details.

All products or services are presented in this content without warranty. The information, including card details such as rates and fees, is accurate at the time of publish. Please visit each bank's website directly for the most current information.

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