Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you may as well make the most of it with a great travel rewards credit card. These cards can help cut up-front costs of travel, while earning you miles to use on future trips.
Elsewhere, we link you to the best airline miles cards, hotel rewards cards, and gas credit cards. You’ll find some overlap, but those cards tend to be a bit more specific. Here, we’ll focus on credit cards that give you excellent rewards that you can cash in with different airlines, cruise lines, hotel chains, and more.
Rewards cards like these give you flexibility for both earning points and spending them. Frequent travelers know just how valuable that is!
|Credit Card||Best For|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Rewards-conscious travelers with great credit|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||People who travel often|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||Business travelers with big expenses|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Southwest customers who also fly internationally|
|Those who like to stay in Marriott Hotels or drive more often than fly|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||Frequent fliers with Delta|
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers more points for some categories – 5x points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 2x points per $1 spent on other travel; and 3x points per $1 spent on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services. Then, you’ll get 1x point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Redemption: You can redeem points directly for statement credit on travel purchases. But you can also transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to other travel programs.
- Fees: This card has a $95 annual fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
Best for: Rewards-conscious travelers with great credit. Since this card offers easy transfer abilities, it’s a great way to add points to the rewards programs you already prefer.
2. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This is another flexible, easy-to-use credit card option. With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you’ll get 2 miles per $1 spent on any purchase. You can save up unlimited miles, and redeem them for flights, car rentals, hotel stays, cruises, and other travel-related expenses. Earn 5X on hotels and car rentals when booked through Capital One Travel.
- Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
- Redemption: This is another card that allows you to redeem miles how you’d like. You can, for instance, save even more by purchasing your miles through a discount travel site. Then redeem the miles as a statement credit.
- Fees: This card has an annual fee. Luckily, it is not too bad for a card with these high-level, flexible rewards. You’ll also benefit from no foreign transaction fees.
Best for: Easy-to-earn miles on all purchases. If you don’t want to think about rotating or complicated bonus categories, this card’s flat rewards structure may be for you.
3. The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a very high rewards, very high fee credit card that quite possibly offers you the best rewards program of any card found today. And it opens with a nice hefty bonus.
- Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Also enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually.
- Rewards: Earn 5X Membership Rewards(R) Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards(R) Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- Fees: This is the unflattering side; a high annual fee. There is no APR because this is a charge card (so it is expected that your balance be paid in full every month).
Best for: People who travel often. To out-earn that $695 annual fee for this card, you’ll need to travel a lot, and be able to pay off your balance in full each month. But if you meet those qualifications, this card does come with some serious perks.
4. Ink Business Preferred® credit card
The Ink Business Preferred® credit card is, as you might guess, geared towards business travelers. But if you’re a business owner or consultant and travel often for business or pleasure, you could get a lot from this card.
- 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®
- Rewards: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 in combined purchases on travel; shipping; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines. Also earn an unlimited 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Fees: This card has an annual fee of $95
Best for: Business travelers with big expenses. You can make the most of this card if you travel frequently for your business or have other expenses that get you these serious bonus points.
Read More: Ink Business Preferred® credit card review
5. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest now has a selection of different Rapid Rewards credit cards available, and you might consider any of them if you’re a fan of this airline. Here are the details for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.
- Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Rewards: Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, and 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming plus 7,500 points every year on your Cardmember anniversary.
- Fees: This card has an annual fee, but no foreign transaction fees.
Best for: Southwest customers who also fly internationally. Many who fly Southwest may fly mainly within the U.S., but if you use Southwest for some of your flights but sometimes go overseas, you’ll benefit from this card’s lack of foreign transaction fees.
6. Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
Want hotel-related rewards rather than airline-centered rewards? The is a brand new card with no annual fee that lets you earn points with Marriott to get free stays more quickly. Terms Apply.
- Welcome offer:
- Rewards: You can earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points at the rate of three points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy® hotels. You can also earn two points per dollar on other travel-related purchases and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Plus, you’ll get 15 elite night credits each calendar year, so you’ll qualify for Silver Elite status.
- Fees: This card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Best for: Those who like to stay in Marriott Hotels or drive more often than fly. If you already prefer Marriott Hotels or could come to prefer them, this card is worth checking out. Maybe you spend on rental cars and hotels more often than airlines. In that case, you could earn some great points towards free stays with this card.
7. Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta offers a trio of credit cards specific to flying their airline and I believe the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card to be the best. In addition to a good rewards program and nice bonus, the perks offered for everyday travelers are top shelf.
- Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms apply.
- Rewards: Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. The biggest reason to own this credit card is the baggage fee perks. You can check your first bag for FREE for up to nine members in your reservation. That means at $25 per bag, you stand to save $225 per flight on checked bags (if bringing 8 other people). For a family of four, this means $100 saved on each and every flight. Terms Apply.
- Fees: $0 intro annual fee in first year, then $99
Best for: Frequent fliers with Delta. Having a Delta-branded AMEX card is the only way to avoid baggage costs with this airline, so just having the card could save you big money if you often fly Delta.