Credit Cards

7 Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2021

Editor's Note

You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

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 CardBest For
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardRewards-conscious travelers with great credit
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressPeople who travel often
Ink Business Preferred Credit CardBusiness travelers with big expenses
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit CardSouthwest customers who also fly internationally
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit CardThose who like to stay in Marriott Hotels or drive more often than fly
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express CardFrequent fliers with Delta

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers more points for some categories - 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 2 points per $1 spent on other travel; and 3 points per $1 spent on dining. Then, you’ll get 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • Bonus: Spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening, and you’ll get 60,000 bonus points--that’s worth $750 towards travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 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. So you could move your points over to your Hyatt Gold Passport or to your Marriott Rewards program, for instance. This could help you squeeze more value out of your miles.
  • 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: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 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 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card ownership. Also earn up to $200 in U.S. Uber rides or eats. Terms Apply.
  • Rewards: You’ll earn 5x points on flights booked through AMEX or directly through the airline, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through AMEX and a single point per dollar spent on all other qualifying purchases. You’ll also earn 10x points per dollar spent for the first six months of card ownership on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases).
  • 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: You can earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of owning this card.
  • Rewards: Earn three 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 one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them through Chase Unlimited Rewards.
  • Fees: This card has an annual fee

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 up to 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Rewards: Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, and 2X points on internet, cable, 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 Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is a brand new card with no annual fee that lets you earn points with Marriott to get free stays more quickly.

  • Welcome offer: You can earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months of opening this account.
  • 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.

Click here to Apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit 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: New Cardholders earn 65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Offer ends 11/9/2022.
  • Rewards: Earn 2x miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta and one mile earned per dollar spent 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.
  • Fees: There is a discounted annual fee for the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees charged.

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.

Abby Hayes

Abby Hayes

Abby is a freelance journalist who writes on everything from personal finance to health and wellness. She spends her spare time bargain hunting and meal planning for her family of three. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, and lives with her husband and children in Indianapolis.


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