The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2014

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10 Best Travel Rewards Credit CardsIf you find yourself traveling a lot because of work or pleasure, owning a travel rewards credit card is a great way to reduce your costs and at the same time, earn a little something on the side.  Depending on your situation, you may be looking for a card that can earn you stays at hotels, free airfare, or just a travel rewards credit card that offers you international transactions without fees.

Finding the best travel rewards credit card can be achieved simply by checking our list below.  Some cards provide you purchasing power overseas, while others are designed for your travel in the United States.  If you own a card you feel worthy of our list, let us know and we’ll add it!

The Top Travel Reward Credit Cards

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All Purchases
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All Purchases
Apply Now...
at Barclaycard's
secure site
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next travel redemption!
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use your card to book through any airline, hotel or discount travel engine with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits towards all or a portion of your travel purchases within the last 90 days
  • Complimentary online FICO® Score access for Arrival cardmembers
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
0% 12 Months 0% 12 Months 14.99% or 18.99%* Variable $89 - waived first year
737 Average credit score approved for this card† 691 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Credit Card
Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Credit Card
Apply Now...
at Barclaycard's
secure site
  • No Annual Fee
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after your first purchase
  • Earn 5X points on Priceline.com purchases
  • Earn 1 point on everything else. And there’s no limit to the number of points you can earn!
  • Plus, earn an additional 5,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on qualifying transactions in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Your points can act like cash - Redeem points for statement credits against purchases made on your account
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
0% 12 Months 0% 12 Months 14.99% or 21.99%* Variable $0
732 Average credit score approved for this card† 655 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®
Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®
Apply Now...
at CitiBank's
secure site
  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every cardmembership year with qualifying purchases and cardmembership renewal*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
N/A N/A N/A N/A 13.99% - 21.99%* Variable $95, waived for first 12 months*
723 Average credit score approved for this card† 642 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 1x on All Purchases
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 1x on All Purchases
Apply Now...
at Barclaycard's
secure site
  • Start by earning 20,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 20,000 bonus miles equates to $200 off your next trip!
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on travel and dining purchases
  • Earn 1X miles on all other purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Complimentary one year subscription of TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer – a $49 value
  • Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
0% 12 Months 0% 12 Months 14.99% or 18.99%* Variable $0
730 Average credit score approved for this card† 678 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

The Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card
The Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card
Apply Now...
at Barclaycard's
secure site
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after your first purchase
  • Earn an additional 5,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible Travelocity purchases
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Points can be redeemed for statement credits towards Travelocity purchases for Flights, eligible Hotels and Vacation Packages, with no blackout dates
  • No Annual Fee
  • Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
N/A N/A N/A N/A 14.99% - 24.99%* Variable $0
0 Average credit score approved for this card† 0 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
Apply Now...
at CitiBank's
secure site
  • Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 within 4 months of account opening.*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.*
  • No annual fee.*
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
N/A N/A N/A N/A 14.24% or 16.24% Variable None
748 Average credit score approved for this card† 659 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
Apply Now...
at CitiBank's
secure site
  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
N/A N/A N/A N/A 15.24%* Variable $95
746 Average credit score approved for this card† 664 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

The CarnivalTM MasterCard®
The Carnival<sup>TM</sup> MasterCard®
Apply Now...
at Barclaycard's
secure site
  • 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after account opening (after that a variable APR currently 13.99% - 20.99% depending on your creditworthiness)
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points when you use your card for the first time
  • Earn DOUBLE points on any CarnivalTM purchase
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Redeem points for cruises on CarnivalTM or other eligible World’s Leading Cruise Lines vacations, hotel or flight discounts, onboard gifts and services, merchandise or gift cards
  • No Annual Fee
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details
Purchases Balance Transfers Regular APR Annual Fee
Intro APR Intro APR Period Intro APR Intro APR Period
0% 12 Months 0% 12 Months 13.99% - 20.99%* Variable $0
0 Average credit score approved for this card† 0 Lowest credit score approved for this card†

Published or Updated: March 31, 2014
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Just got a letter from Starwood: annual fee is now $65/year. This is the new reality, I guess:

    “Many issuers have homed in on fees that typically accompany rewards cards as a potential moneymaker. The Pew study, which was to be released today, found that about 14 percent of bank credit cards have annual fees, about the same as last year. But the median annual fee for the 12 largest banks’ cards rose 18 percent, to $59, over the past year.”

  2. Rob Berger says:

    Mike, the top travel cards have always charged fees. I carry the Starwood Amex, and I ‘ve found the rewards to be well worth the cost of the card.

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  5. Brian C. says:

    Hi Rob,
    I am a newbie and learn a lot from this site. Hope you don’t mind shedding lights on my stupid Qs (haven’t apply for many years).

    When applying for a card, is it generally the case (I read somewhere online) that one can put combined income in the form even the primary applicant is unemployed but spouse is employed? The rationale is to let the highest FICO applicant (primary) take the impact from hard inquiry so to ensure both FICOs are still high afterwards. Both 770+ score but one is ~20 points higher hence the question. Thanks again!

    Thanks a lot for tolerating a stupid question :-)!

    • Rob Berger says:

      Brian, if you are both 770+, I doubt it’s going to matter much. Also, unless you are applying for a ton of credit, a single hard inquiry shouldn’t have a major impact. But to your question, if the primary applicant is unemployed, I suspect this will raise a question with the credit card issuer. But you’ll never really know until you try.

  6. I have had the SPG card for a year now and the annual fee is coming due. I benefited from the opening bonus, but see little future value to holding on to the card. I find that I can book a Sheraton hotel on Priceline for the same cost as Starwood charges for a cash and points award, if it is available. For a free hotel night, I would have to spend thousands of dollars, as you only earn 1 point per dollar spent on general purchases. The only reason to hold on to the card would be to if I think they might have a sign-up incentive in August this year, where I could get 5,000 points for referring my spouse for the card, and he would also get 5,000 points over the usual sign-up bonus.

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