Travel credit cards often give high rewards rates for purchases, then let users put those rewards toward travel or other spending. Some travel cards come with high annual fees while others don’t. Still other cards give lower interest or great introductory offers. Some hide surprise foreign transaction fees or confusing rewards structures. With over 200 travel cards on offer, sorting through the details can be confusing at best. The list below of the 15 best travel credit cards includes the cards with the highest rewards (2.5% in one case) low interest and other great perks. The first four are the best of the best, while the rest offer attractive features of their own.
The Five Best Travel Credit Cards
A deep dive into over 200 card offers reveals the five best travel credit cards below. The cards shown here offer excellent rewards like 2 to 2.5 miles in rewards for every dollar spent. They also come with enticing introductory offers and no foreign transaction fees. Only one has no annual fee — a rare trait in travel cards.
1. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card is the very best travel credit card on offer because of its excellent and simple rewards system. This card pays unlimited 2x miles on all purchases, not just travel. Miles can be redeemed for any travel spending at all (even including bus tickets and limos) or for a statement credit. Other perks include 40,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first three months and a lower interest rate range of 13.24% – 23.24%. The $59 annual fee is lower than most travel cards and is waived the first year. No foreign transaction fee.
2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Like the Capital One Venture Rewards card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card makes the list of best travel credit cards because it pays double miles on all purchases. Those miles can be redeemed for any travel (or cash at a lower rate). Miles also get a nice 5% multiplier upon redemption. The card charges no interest for the first year on balance transfers made in the first 45 days. It also pays 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first three months. No foreign transaction fee, $89 annual fee, 16.24% – 23.24% interest.
3. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card
Another of the four best travel credit cards available is the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card. This card has a slightly less stellar rate of unlimited 1.5x points per dollar on all purchases. Points can be spent on any travel and there’s a great 10% points bonus to cardholders who also have a checking or savings account with the bank. Preferred Rewards clients can boost that rate to 25% to 75%. This card charges no interest on purchases for the first 12 months and pays 20,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first three months. All in all it’s a great card with no foreign transaction fee, no annual fee and 15.24% – 23.24% interest.
4. Discover it Miles Card
Another of the best travel credit cards out there is the Discover it Miles card. This card pays a nice simple rate of 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases. Those miles can then be used for any kind of travel spending. Another nice benefit is a $30 reimbursement per year on in-flight Wi-Fi. The card matches all miles earned in the first year up to 20,000. One drawback to this card is that it isn’t as widely accepted overseas. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, 11.24% – 23.24% interest.
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the best travel credit cards on offer because of its high rewards rate. The card gives unlimited 2x points on travel spending like airline tickets, hotels and restaurants. Those points can then be redeemed for travel or cash. Cardholders get an extra 25% for spending points on airfare and other travel booked through Chase Unlimited Rewards. That can boost the rewards rate up to 2.5%. Unfortunately this card only pays one point per dollar spent on other purchases or it would’ve ranked higher. There are no blackout dates or other restrictions and the card waives its $95 annual fee the first year. Other benefits include 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first three months and no foreign transaction fee. 16.24% – 23.24% interest.
Five Other Solid Travel Credit Cards
The cards above are the four best travel credit cards because of their high unlimited rewards rates. That said, the next four cards have things to offer too, including distinct rewards systems and attractive introductory offers. One of the cards has no interest (the catch: the balance must be paid in full monthly) and another offers triple points for airline purchases.
Also see: 15 Best Credit Union Credit Cards
6. Capital One VentureOne Rewards
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards card is actually one of the best travel credit cards because it cuts out a lot of the cobwebs. True it only scores 1.25 miles per dollar spent, but that includes spending on any purchase whatsoever. Also there’s no annual fee and the miles can be spent on any travel purchase a customer makes. No foreign transaction fee, 12.24%-22.24% interest.
7. Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
As far as travel credit cards go, this is one of the best despite a few missteps. It offers 1x points for regular purchases, 2x points at restaurants and gas stations and 3x points for flights booked directly through airlines. There’s no foreign transaction fee and it gives a $100 airline fee credit per year. There are other nice perks with this card like 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first three months, room upgrades and hotel charge credits. The big downside is a $195 annual fee, though that’s waived the first year. No interest but balance must be paid in full monthly.
8. U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card
Another of the best travel credit cards on the market is the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card. While a less exciting option than many of the cards listed above, this one still pays one point per dollar spent on most purchases. It also gives two points for gas, grocery and airline spending and triple points for charitable donations. The $49 annual fee is waived the first year plus there’s no interest on transfers for the first year. 14.24% – 24.24% interest.
9. EXPEDIA+ CARD from Citi
Anyone who books travel exclusively through Expedia will want to take a look at the EXPEDIA+ CARD from Citi. It offers one point per dollar spent on regular purchases and 3x points on all Expedia purchases. It also carries complimentary EXPEDIA+ Silver Status, which gives access to extra bonus points and travel amenities. There’s no annual fee, but foreign transactions carry a 3% fee. 15.24% – 23.24% interest.
10. PNC Premiere Traveler Credit Card
The PNC Premiere Traveler makes it into the list of best travel credit cards by its 2 miles per dollar spent rewards setup. That said, the rewards are on “most purchases,” not all and are only “virtually unlimited.” There are also travel perks like VIP status, 3pm checkout and automatic room upgrades. The $85 annual fee is waived the first year. No foreign transaction fee, 16.24% interest.
Other Travel Credit Cards to Consider
The all around best travel credit cards are listed above. We’re confident there aren’t any cards out there with better offers for travelers. However, for certain kinds of travelers the cards below may be more attractive. They offer interesting benefits like 5x points for airline tickets, cash redemptions or no annual fee.
Also see: Best Chase Credit Cards for 2016
11. The Platinum Card from American Express: High Rewards Rate
The Platinum Card from American Express pays 5x points for flights booked directly through airlines. The big downsides are a total lack of points for other purchases and a $450 annual fee. That $450 buys a lot of travel goodies though, like a $200 per year airline fee credit, access to over 1,000 global sky lounges, a $100 TSA Pre credit and free room upgrades. There’s no foreign transaction fee and no interest because the balance must be paid in full monthly.
12. Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express Credit Card: Best for Driving
The Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express credit card isn’t for frequent fliers, but it may be the best travel credit card for people who drive often. This card gives 3x points at gas stations, 2x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases. It also gives special offers on hotels and amenities, plus round the clock concierge and other travel perks. There are other benefits, like a 10% to 50% rewards bonus for having a qualifying Wells Fargo savings or checking account and a nice signup bonus. There’s also no balance transfer fee for the first year. $45 annual fee, 14.24%-22.24% interest.
Best Specialty Travel Credit Cards
There are some excellent specialty travel credit cards for brand-loyal travelers who stick with one airline or hotel chain. We’ve highlighted two of those below, but readers might also want to check out the following cards:
- Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Hilton HHonors Card from American Express
- Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Also see: 10 Best Balance Transfer Cards
13. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
This card is the best travel card for frequent American Airlines flyers. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard pays 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases. It also pays 1x points for all other purchases. The first checked bag is free for the cardholder and up to four companions. This card also gives Group 1 Boarding privileges and a 25% discount on most in-flight food and beverage spending. There’s also a 10% miles bonus per year. $95 annual fee waived the first year, no foreign transaction fees. 14.25%-22.24%.
14. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
For Southwest Airlines lovers it’s hard to beat the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card. This one pays 2x points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases. That includes airline tickets plus hotel and car rentals made with Southwest partners. It also pays one point per dollar on all other spending. The best part of this card is the fee waiver. All bags fly free and there are never any ticket change fees. $99 annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, 16.24% to 23.24% interest.
15. Citi Double Cash: Best Non-Travel, Travel Credit Card
In the list of best travel credit cards, most people wouldn’t think a non-travel card deserves a spot. That said, the beauty of the Citi Double Cash card is that its versatility puts it up there with the best travel cards. That’s not because it has any special perks like airline miles or hotel upgrades. Rather it’s because, like cash, the card’s excellent benefits fit any situation. This card pays 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases and another 1% back when the debt is paid off. That’s a total of 2% cash back on airlines, gas, restaurants, groceries, Hatchimals or any kind of spending whatsoever. There’s no annual fee, though there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. 13.24%-23.24% interest.