Best travel credit cards of 2021

Travel credit cards are the ultimate tool to make traveling more affordable and enjoyable. Whether it’s a branded credit card made for airline and hotel chain loyalist or it’s a more flexible general-purpose travel card, maximizing a top travel credit card can earn you thousands of dollars worth of travel expenses — and that’s before we even jump into additional perks like lounge access and lost luggage insurance. 

Here at Million Mile Secrets, we spend all day looking for new credit card offers online, then we dive in to calculate the true value of the offer. In this breakdown, we’ll reveal the secrets to help you get the real deals and stay away from the junk. 

Summary of the best travel cards

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Citi Premier® Card

Best for Overall Value

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee

$95

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Welcome offer

Earn 80,000 bonus points 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®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.

Why we like it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our top credit cards for both beginners and frequent travelers. It comes with a huge welcome bonus, solid ongoing points earning on bonus categories and some great travel perks. The travel perks like delayed baggage and flight insurance will easily cover the already reasonable annual fee of $95. It earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which is one of the best flexible points currencies: you can transfer to a number of travel partners like Hyatt and United, easily redeem for any type of travel through the Chase portal where you’ll get 25% bonus or even earn straight cash back.

Who is it best for?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for just about anyone. It’s large welcome bonus makes it easy to get immediate value and you’ll easily rack up points with its broad bonus categories, earning double points on all travel and dining purchases. Chase points allow for easy redemptions made through the Chase Travel Portal, which allows you to book any sort of travel with no blackout dates, and you’ll get better value from your points compared to other bank’s travel portals.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points 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®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 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.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Pros

  • Valuable sign up bonus
  • Flexible points
  • Unique transfer partners like Hyatt and United
  • Great travel and trip delay insurance

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Ongoing points earning is lower compared to other cards

Reward Rate

  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

$0

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Best for Premium Perks

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual fee

$550

Welcome offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Why we like it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the premium Chase travel credit card. In addition to earning 3x points on all travel and dining purchases, this card comes with a $300 annual travel credit and other travel and dining perks that quickly make it worth the $550 annual fee. One of our favorite benefits is the 50% point value boost that cardholders get when redeeming through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Who is it best for?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is best for those who travel relatively frequently. With protection against canceled and delayed flights, access to 1,000+ airport lounges and an up to $100 Global Entry credit, those who travel internationally will enjoy this card. This card also increases the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards by 50% when redeeming through the Chase Travel Portal. This applies to rewards earned with any of their other credit cards, making it the ideal card to double up with a second Chase card with complimentary earning categories.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Excellent

780

850

Details

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Pros

  • Travel credit of up to $300 covering a flexible range of travel related purchases
  •  Airport lounge access through Priority Pass
  • 50% value boost when redeeming points through Chase Travel Portal
  • Long list of travel protection benefits
  • Flexible and transferrable points

Cons

  •  $550 annual fee, and $75 annual fee per authorized user
  • Low value welcome offer compared to other high end travel cards

Reward Rate

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit.
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

APR

16.99%-23.99% Variable

Credit Needed

Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

$0

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Best for Premium Travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee

$550

Welcome offer

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Why we like it

The Amex Platinum is a staple in the travel cards landscape with its unmatched travel benefits, for frequent flyers these benefits alone can far exceed the cost of the annual fee. Beyond that, this card has great on-going rewards and the card also comes with a generous welcome bonus of 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first six months of opening your account. You’ll also earn 10x points on eligible purchases made at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined spending during the first six months of card membership. This welcome offer could potentially earn you up to 225,000 points.

Who is it best for?

The Platinum Card is best for frequent travelers that value luxury travel perks: think incredible airport lounge access and Gold elite status with Marriott and Hilton. Cardholders can also cash in on hundreds of dollars of credit for travel expenses all the while earning 5X Membership Rewards Points on flights (booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 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 and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • Access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and more
  • Up to $500 in annual credits, plus another up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold elite status and Marriott Gold elite status
  • Long list of travel protections
  • Excellent customer experience

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • Earning on travel categories exclusive to airfare and prepaid hotel stays

Reward Rate

  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

None

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Best for Business Travel

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Annual fee

$95

Welcome offer

Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Why we like it

The Ink Business Preferred is the best small business card on the market thanks to its gargantuan welcome bonus and ongoing benefits that can save literally $1,000+ per year. It provides primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes (a potential $12+ per day savings over purchasing in-house rental insurance), it gives you $600 in cell phone coverage simply for using the card paying your phone bill, and it earns 3x points on travel (on up to $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year).

Who is it best for?

This card is best for small business owners and anyone who pays out-of-pocket for cell phone insurance. If you fly Southwest or United, or if you stay wit Hyatt, the rewards this card accrues can also be transferred to valuable travel partners like these.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more – your points don’t expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • $95 Annual Fee

Pros

  • Best publicly available welcome bonus of any card
  • Great return for travel and various business expenses
  • Complimentary cell phone insurance
  • Excellent travel and purchase protections

Cons

  • You must have a for-profit venture to qualify
  • High minimum spending requirement to earn welcome offer
  • $95 annual fee

Reward Rate

  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn

APR

15.99%-20.99% Variable

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

$0

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Best for Restaurants

American Express® Gold Card

Annual fee

$250

Welcome offer

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

Why we like it

The American Express® Gold Card is equipped with a generous welcome offer, but the ongoing rewards make it one of the top cards for dining at restaurants and grocery purchases at U.S. supermarkets. Before doing any calculations to decide if it’s worth having in your wallet, this card also comes with up to $120 in dining credits and $120 in Uber cash annually ($10 monthly credits), which nearly offsets the entire annual fee.

Who is it best for?

This card is great for foodies who like to eat out but also enjoy home cooked meals since it earns 4x Membership Rewards® Points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x). It’s also perfect those who order delivery since it comes with up to $120 in Uber Cash which can be used at Uber Eats (in the U.S.) and up to $120 in dining credits towards eligible Grubhub and Seamless purchases.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • $120 Uber Cash: 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: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • High earning card between its strong welcome offer and on-going rewards
  • Up to $120 in dining credits and $120 in Uber Cash every calendar year
  • Baggage, car rental and trip delay insurance

Cons

  • $250 annual fee
  • Limited travel benefits compared to other cards

Reward Rate

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

None

Show more

Best for Simple Travel Rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$95

Welcome offer

Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why we like it

The Venture Rewards card is a straightforward travel rewards card with a strong sign-up bonus. It earns 2X miles on every purchase so you don’t have to deal with any confusing bonus categories. Capital One Miles are easy to use too — they can be redeemed for nearly any travel purchase like airfare, Lyft, car rentals, room service and much more.

Who is it best for?

The Capital One Venture Rewards card is the travel rewards card that adjusts to how you want to use it. The generous earning rate for everyday spending makes it a great option for those who like to use one card for all your purchases or for anyone looking for a simple approach to using miles.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees

Pros

  • Miles are easy to use and can cover any type of travel
  • 2x miles on all purchases
  • Can transfer miles to airlines
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Credit

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No 1:1 point transfers

Reward Rate

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

APR

17.24% – 24.49% (Variable)

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

None

Show more

Best for Every Day Purchases

Citi Premier® Card

Annual fee

$95

Welcome offer

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Why we like it

The Citi Premier earns rewards that are valuable for all types of travel. It’s unique transfer partners allow for awesome redemptions, whether that’s for a domestic flight or for business class seats to Europe. It’s got a fantastic 3x earning rate on popular everyday spending categories, like supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, airlines and hotels.

Who is it best for?

This card is great for those who aren’t fully invested in an airline or hotel loyalty program. The Citi Premier earns flexible points that can be cashed out, used towards hotel stays or rental cars, or even transferred to 16 different airline programs.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 60,000 Points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Pros

  • 3x points at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and airlines
  • $100 credit on any hotel booking of $500 or more that is made through thankyou.com
  • Welcome bonus enough for 4 round-trip tickets to Hawaii
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits

Cons

  • No travel insurance
  • No purchase protection
  • $95 annual fee

Reward Rate

  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

APR

15.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

0%

Show more

Credit Card Annual fee Welcome bonus Bonus value (based on our valuations) Top perk
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card $95 Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening. $1,410 Primary rental car insurance
Chase Sapphire Reserve® $550 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. $1,020 Up to $300 annual travel credit
The Platinum Card® from American Express $550 (see rates & fees) 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. $1,080 Unparalleled lounge access
Citi Premier® Card $95 60,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening $750 Annual $100 off any hotel stay of $500 or more
American Express® Gold Card $250 (see rates & fees) 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening $1,080 4x points at restaurants worldwide and on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1x) at U.S. supermarkets
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card $95 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. $840 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100)
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card $95 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening $1,700 Cell phone protection

Deep dive of the best travel cards of 2021

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

When you’re approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, plus earn up to a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening. The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s benefits and perks include the ability to earn 2x on travel and dining, 5x points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can get a ton of value from your Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to a Chase transfer partner.

And in response to the current pandemic, Chase has added a temporary yet valuable benefit called Pay Yourself Back, wherein you can use your Chase points to give yourself a statement credit to offset purchases at dining establishments, grocery stores and home improvement stores. From May 31 to April 30, 2021, you can redeem your points for 1.25 cents each.

Why it’s the best travel card with best for overall value

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the top cards for beginners in the miles-and-points hobby. I’ve had this card for many years and I take it on all my trips. When you subtract the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee from the value of the welcome bonus and the card’s benefits and perks, the card’s value is pretty clear. With a bonus worth $1,410 (based on our points valuation) and a paltry $95 annual fee, you can get a first-year value of $1,315.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

When you sign up for Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.  

The Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include the ability to earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 10x points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and dining worldwide and one Chase point on all other purchases. You’ll receive a free year of a Lyft Pink membership when you activate it by March 31, 2022. Lyft Pink is a membership that normally costs $19.99/month and comes with perks, like:

  • 15% off all rides
  • Three free cancellations a month (if you rebook within 15 minutes)
  • Three free bike/scooter rides per month
  • Priority airport pickups
  • Waived lost and found fees

To activate your membership, just add your Sapphire Reserve card as a payment option in your Lyft app and you’ll be prompted to activate your Lyft Pink membership.

You’ll also now receive:

  • 10 Chase points per dollar on streaming services (up to $1,500 in spending)
  • 5 Chase points per dollar at gas stations (up to $1,500 in spending)
  • 5 Chase points per dollar with Instacart (up to $3,000 in spending)

You’ll also get up to $50 in statement credits towards an Instacart Express membership. Read our Chase Sapphire COVID-19 benefits post for more details.

Why it’s the best travel card for premium perks

The best perk of this card is the annual $300 in travel credits, which are automatically earned whenever you make a qualifying purchase, including airfare, hotels, rental cars and more. And due to the COVID pandemic, Chase has made it even easier to use this credit (and added others!) by implementing additional perks.

For example, through the end of the year, the annual $300 credit will also reimburse you for purchases at gas stations and grocery stores. And with the new Pay Yourself Back benefit, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can Chase points to give yourself a statement credit to offset purchases at dining establishments, grocery stores and home improvement stores. Throught April 21, 2021, you can redeem your points for 1.5 cents each.

The card also comes with $60 in credit in 2021. The credit will automatically be applied to DoorDash orders when you pay with the card. On top of that, you’re also eligible for at least a complimentary year of DashPass (normally $9.99/month), you must activate the offer by Dec. 31, 2021. DashPass gets you waived delivery fees on orders of $12 or more at participating restaurants.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best premium travel rewards credit card. The Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus is worth at least $1,020 in travel. And with the $300 annual credit for travel purchases every cardmember anniversary, that’s $1,320 in value in the first year, not counting other money-saving perks you enjoy as a cardholder.

In addition, everyone planning to renew their Chase Sapphire Reserve this year will pay just a $450 annual fee (as opposed to the $550 standard annual fee). Making this card even more valuable for current cardholders.

The Platinum Card from American Express

With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

The Amex Platinum card’s benefits are quite valuable and include an annual airline incidental fee credit of up to $200 on your selected airline; up to $200 in U.S. Uber credits per year (can be used for UberEATS) and up to $100 in credit for Saks Fifth Avenue per year. With the Amex Platinum card, you’ll get access to more airport lounges than with comparable cards. The Amex Platinum card has a $550 annual fee, which is not waived the first year (see rates and fees) and has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

Why it’s the best for premium travel

The American Express Platinum card is worth the annual fee if you use the perks and credits. Each year you can get up to $500 total in credits for Uber, Saks Fifth Ave. and airline incidental fees. That means you’ll easily come out ahead if you can get just $50 in value from the other benefits like airport lounge access. And the limited time offer for streaming and wireless phone services can offset the travel perks you won’t be able to take advantage of.

If you max out the card’s statement credits (up to $500) and only get value from the intro bonus ($1,200 based on our Amex points value), you should still get $1,150 in value the first year.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

With the Chase Ink Business Preferred card, you’ll earn 100,000 bonus Chase points after spending $15,000 in the first three months from account opening.

The Ink Business Preferred benefits include the ability to earn 5x Chase points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3x Chase points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year) and one point per dollar on all other purchases

The card also comes with built-in insurance perks like cell phone protection, primary rental car insurance (when renting for business purposes), trip interruption coverage and purchase protection.

Why it’s the best travel card for business travel

The Ink Business Preferred is the best card for earning Ultimate Rewards points, thanks in large part to it’s increased 100,000-point bonus offer. With the Chase Ink Business Preferred you can use Chase points to pay for travel booked through the Chase travel site at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. That makes this offer worth at least $1,250 in travel.

This is a business credit card, so you’ll need to have some sort of business activities in order to qualify. We value Chase points at two cents each making this offer worth an amazing $1,905 after you pay the $95 annual fee.

American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. You’ll also earn (terms apply):

  • 4 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
  • 4 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases (then 1x)
  • 3 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com
  • Terms apply

The Amex Gold card’s benefits and perks are loaded with valuable credits. You can earn up to $120 dining credit ($10 monthly) each calendar year at participating restaurants (enrollment required). This card also has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees). There’s a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), but the credits you’ll earn will offset most of that cost.

Why it’s the best travel card for restaurants

On top of 4x Amex Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide, with the Amex Gold Card, you can get up to $120 in dining credits every year, making it one of the best credit cards for restaurants. Here’s how it works.

You’ll get $10 per month in dining credit for purchases at:

  • GrubHub
  • Seamless
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
  • Boxed
  • Participating Shake Shack locations

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

After approval, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

In addition to the card’s valuable welcome bonus, the Capital One Venture’s benefits and perks, include 2x Venture miles on all purchases, a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100), and no foreign transaction fees. The card also comes with Visa Signature benefits, like secondary rental car insurance, travel accident insurance, and lost luggage insurance.

Being able to earn two Venture miles on every purchase is pretty great, especially because you don’t have to worry about tracking bonus categories — everything is simple and straightforward. The card has a $95 annual fee.

Why it’s the best travel card for simple travel rewards

One thing that makes the Capital One Venture worth the annual fee is its straightforward rewards program. All you have to do is pay for travel expenses (such as airfare, hotel stays and parking) with your credit card, then log in to your account and erase the charge by redeeming your miles. 

It also has a smaller annual fee than other cards that reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees, which usually have higher annual fees that are often between $450 and $550.

Citi Premier Card

With the Citi Premier card, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account — that’s an offer valued at $750!  

This card offers a variety of ways to earn Citi ThankYou points, including 3 points for every dollar spent at supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations, air travel and hotels, and 1 point for all other purchases. You can redeem these ThankYou points and receive gift cards for stores and restaurants, shop online with them at Amazon and Best Buy, or get travel rewards. Plus, Citi partners TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Singapore Airlines so you can transfer your ThankYou points directly to them and get flights faster. 

The Citi Premier card also comes with no foreign transaction fees, an annual $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when booked through thankyou.com, and Citi Entertainment benefits, which give cardholders exclusive access to discounted prices on special events like concerts, sports games and more. With only a $95 annual fee, this card pays for itself over and over again. 

Why it’s the best travel card for earning points on everyday purchases

If you regularly spend money on groceries, gas, or at restaurants, the Citi Premier offers some competitive ways to earn points. This card fits into the spending habits of the average person, making it easy and convenient to rack-up rewards. 

One of the best ways to earn points with this card is by using it at gas stations. With 3 points for every dollar spent on gas, this card has one of the best earnings at gas stations on the market. While some cards offer 5 points on dining or travel, the Citi Premier’s 3 points for these purchases definitely isn’t a bad deal. You’ll be earning points for every single purchase you make on this card, so you can’t really go wrong with the Citi Premier. 

Research methodology: How we select the best credit cards for travel points

You know how you get credit card offers in the mail and throw them away? Not us. We open all of them, then grab a magnifying glass and read the fine print. We spend all day looking for new credit card offers online, then we dive in to calculate the true value of the offer.

We examine the details and let you in on the secrets that the airlines, hotels and cruise ship companies don’t want you to know. 

Bonus offers

Credit card introductory bonuses are the fastest way to earn big travel rewards. When deciding what new card to get, we’re always looking at the sign-up bonus points — some of the biggest credit card welcome bonuses available are worth over $1,000 — but beyond that, it’s important to weight some details beyond the big pot of bonus points at the end of minimum spending requirement rainbow.

The three criteria we weigh when judging a bonus are:

  • The monetary value of the bonus – we calculate the dollar value of the points and miles earned for each bonus, to break down which bonus is the best bang for your buck.
  • Minimum spending requirements – to earn the introductory bonus, you must spend a certain amount using your new card within a certain time frame. We like reasonable spending requirements that make it easy to get your bonus. We do list cards with bigger requirements – but only if the reward is huge.
  • Time allotted to meet spending requirement – the total spending amount is just a part of the equation and we consider it to be just as important as the window of time given to meet this spending requirement and be eligible for those sweet bonus points.

Ongoing reward rates

We prefer travel credit cards that keep rewarding you even after you earn the initial big welcome bonus. While earning rewards through the ongoing rates is a slower burn than the sign-up bonuses, I find them just as exciting because this is where picking the best card becomes more subjective and where we’ll help you sort out which is the best for you. The secret to selecting a credit card that will be a long time star in your wallet? Your spending habits. If it’s your first credit card you can select a card to serve as an all-around player, or if you’re already venturing further into the point and miles game, you can leverage multiple cards that earn in complementary categories.

Redemption value

There are two variables when determining the redemption value of each credit card issuer: the monetary value of the goods or services you’re exchanging for rewards and the flexibility in what they can be used.

Above all else, we prioritize the value of what your earning can get you, but the benefit of flexible Membership Programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards is undeniable. We always recommend these cards for the beginners and for people looking for a straightforward travel card. Of course, many of these cards are the best in the game when it comes to maximizing points, so we recommend everyone having one of these in their wallet.

Annual fee

We focus on the annual fee that comes with some of these cards because our goal is to make travel cards a positive investment, to then use those rewards to indulge in our passion for travel. Of course, there are some great options of travel credit cards with no annual fee, some of which have very competitive rewards considering the low investment.

Benefits and perks

Airport lounges with complimentary food and alcohol, no foreign transaction fees, and TSA PreCheck are some of my favorite perks that save money and time. The credit cards with higher annual fees always offer a wide range of perks — if used correctly these perks alone can justify their annual fee.

Co-branded credit cards are also great for this same reason as they make sure to have benefits for their loyal customers. So while you’re picking out your next credit card, consider whether you should get a co-branded from your go-to airline or the hotel chain you frequent.

How the different types of travel credit cards work

There are several ways to earn points and miles, with travel credit cards being the quickest and most affordable way – both by earning introductory bonuses (also called sign-up bonuses or welcome bonuses) and with ongoing spending.

However, there are many different styles of travel rewards credit cards and to be able to decide which one is a good fit. They each work in dramatically different ways. Let’s break down each type!

Transferable rewards

Travel credit cards that earn transferable rewards are a bit more complicated to use, but offer the most potential value. Earning transferable points is also an excellent hedge against frequent flyer program devaluations. If airline A makes a negative change to its award chart, with flexible points you’ll still have other options for making the most of your rewards.

The major transferable points programs are:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Amex Membership Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou
  • Capital One Rewards
  • Marriott

Who is this for? As transferable rewards can be converted to points or miles with many different loyalty programs, this is the perfect strategy for those who aren’t loyal to certain airlines and hotel programs. Transferable points give you the freedom to use whichever program best suits your needs.

Airline cards

Cobranded airline credit cards earn miles and have benefits tied to a specific airline. For example, most Delta credit cards will get you free checked bags, but only when you’re flying with Delta.

Who is this for? Airline cards are great for those who regularly fly certain airlines, as they have airline-specific benefits. In other words, they make the most sense to open if you’re loyal to that airline or live in a hub city.

Airline credit cards are also good for those with flexible vacation plans. While you can find some amazing deals, airline miles are unfortunately subject to blackout dates and inventory restrictions, meaning if you don’t book far enough in advance, you might not be able to book your desired dates with miles. Not usually a big problem, but something to be aware of.

Hotel cards

Opening a hotel credit card can be a great way to earn free nights and fast track your way to elite status. Cobranded hotel cards can also be good options for keeping long-term because of the ongoing benefits. For example, the World of Hyatt Credit Card has a $95 annual fee, but every year that you renew you’ll get a reward night at a Category 1-4 hotel. That free night can easily be worth more than what you pay to keep the card, and you get five elite night credits every year as well.

Who is this for? While there is an exception or two, hotel credit cards work similarly to airline credit cards. You can only use the points you collect and the card’s hotel benefits for the specific hotel chain the card represents. In other words, if you have a Marriott card, you can only use rewards at Marriott hotel brands.

Fixed-value point cards

Some of the best card for travel points earn rewards that have a fixed value. These are the most straight-forward cards you have because the points/miles you earn can be redeemed for travel (or other rewards) at a set value. The Capital One Venture card used to be a fixed-value travel point card, and you could redeem your miles to erase eligible travel purchases at a rate of one cent per mile. But when Capital One added transfer partners if transformed into both a transferable points card and a fixed-value point card.

Who is this for? Credit cards that earn fixed-value points often work similarly to cash back credit cards. Simply make a travel purchase, and use your points to offset the cost. You don’t have to worry about blackout dates, award availability, etc. And you can often use the points for a myriad of travel purchases, such as airfare, hotels, rental cars, etc.

If you don’t want to worry about award charts and all that jazz, stick to this easiest-to-use travel rewards currency.

Why travel credit cards are certainly worth owning

Travel credit cards are most definitely worth their price, as long as you remember to pay your balance in full and on time every month. If you pay your cards in full and on time every month, then the value that you can squeeze out of a travel credit card is often more than the other types of credit cards. Cash back cards shine in their simplicity but travel cards are the best way to maximize returns, so despite the fact that these cards may sometimes have strict qualification criteria requiring good credit, they are absolutely worth the extra trouble.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

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