Best Credit Cards For Travel Nurses [2024]: Reward Yourself

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our top choice for travel nurses, but you might go for another option depending on your preferences and spending habits.
Updated July 10, 2024
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We recommend five cards as the best credit cards for travel nurses, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as our top overall pick. The Sapphire Preferred has useful travel benefits and bonus categories that can align with the needs of travel nurses.

But depending on your situation, you might prefer one of the other cards, such as the Citi Double Cash® Card or Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. A simple rewards rate or more earning potential in specific categories could make more sense.

Let’s explore the best credit cards for travel nurses to see which one is the right fit for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • We recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred as the best overall card for travel nurses because it has relevant bonus categories, helpful travel benefits, and a low $95 annual fee. We also think it’s one of the best travel credit cards available.
  • For a simple cashback rewards rate, the Citi Double Cash makes more sense. And for dining out and groceries, consider the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards and American Express® Gold Card.
  • If you want premium travel benefits, including airport lounge access, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the best fit.

The 5 best credit cards for travel nurses

Compare the best credit cards for travel nurses

Card name Best for Rewards rate Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best overall 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases $95
Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Simple cash back 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24 $0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Entertainment 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), popular streaming services, and entertainment; 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); and 1% cash back on all other purchases $0
American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Dining out 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases $250 (Terms apply)
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Premium travel benefits 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25 $395

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Pros Cons
  • Earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem points for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • Has travel and purchase coverage
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • No premium travel benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred makes sense if you want useful travel and protection benefits and like earning travel rewards on everyday purchases.

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases.

Why we like it: The Sapphire Preferred provides multiple bonus categories that travel nurses can take advantage of, including 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries.

In addition, built-in card benefits can come in handy for your travels to an assignment, as well as everyday living while on assignment. For example, you might decide to rent a vehicle while figuring things out when you first arrive in a new area.

The Sapphire Preferred provides primary rental car insurance that covers damages caused by theft or collision for eligible rented vehicles. Note that only rental periods of up to 31 consecutive days are covered.

If you’re on a foreign assignment, the Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees.

What we don’t like: You have to pay a $95 annual fee, and there aren’t any premium travel benefits, such as airport lounge access.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more details.

Citi Double Cash® Card

Pros Cons
  • Simple rewards rate for earning cash back
  • $0 annual fee
  • No intro APR offer on purchases
  • 3% foreign transaction fees

The Citi Double Cash makes sense if you want to use one card to earn elevated cash back on all your eligible purchases, regardless of category.

Welcome offer: Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Rewards rate: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

Why we like it: With a $0 annual fee and a simple rewards rate, you don’t have to stress about which card you should be using for which purchase. The Citi Double Cash makes it easy for you to carry one card in your wallet for every eligible purchase you plan to make.

What we don’t like: There’s no intro APR offer on purchases with the Citi Double Cash. You also have to pay 3% foreign transaction fees on applicable purchases, making this a poor option if you have an overseas assignment.

Read our full Citi Double Cash Card review for more details.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros Cons
  • Excellent everyday bonus categories
  • $0 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Typically need at least a good credit score to qualify

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards makes sense if you want to earn elevated cashback rewards on common purchases.

Welcome offer: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), popular streaming services, and entertainment; 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Why we like it: The Capital One SavorOne bonus categories could align well with a travel nurse who likes to eat out and have fun. And if you’re on a foreign assignment, you can take advantage of no foreign transaction fees.

Note that qualified entertainment purchases on the SavorOne could include ticket purchases at movie theaters, amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, bowling alleys, professional sporting events, concerts, and more.

What we don’t like: You typically need at least a good credit score to qualify for the Capital One SavorOne. That’s a minimum score of 670 on the FICO scoring range. But keep in mind that credit score requirements are guidelines and not guarantees of approval.

Read our full Capital One SavorOne review for more details.

American Express® Gold Card

Pros Cons
  • Excellent everyday bonus categories
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits per month at participating dining partners
  • Get $10 in Uber Cash each month after adding your card to your Uber account
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • (Enrollment required for select benefits)
  • $250 annual fee (Terms apply)
  • Lack of premium travel benefits

The Amex Gold makes sense if you want benefits for dining out and buying groceries at U.S. supermarkets.

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases.

Why we like it: The Amex Gold is a dual-threat card for dining and groceries. You can earn an elevated 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S..

In addition, cardholders can take advantage of multiple benefits to help satisfy their takeout cravings:

  • Up to $10 in statement credits each month at participating dining partners: You can earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with your card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations.
  • Up to $10 in Uber Cash each month: You can enjoy up to $120 in Uber Cash annually after you add your card to your Uber account and automatically get $10 in Uber Cash each month. Uber Cash can be used for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S.
  • Enrollment required for select benefits.

For foreign assignments, you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees.

What we don’t like: You don’t receive much in the form of premium travel benefits, such as airport lounge access, to help offset the high $250 annual fee.

Read our full American Express Gold Card review for more details.

Terms and conditions apply.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Pros Cons
  • Simple rewards rate
  • Airport lounge access to Priority Pass, Plaza Premium, and Capital One Lounges (for you and up to two guests depending on availability)
  • $300 annual travel credit for bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • 10,000 anniversary miles
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $395 annual fee
  • Travel credit is limited to bookings made through Capital One Travel

The Capital One Venture X makes sense if you want premium travel benefits.

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25.

Why we like it: The Capital One Venture X provides loads of benefits while not having the highest annual fee ($395). For premium travel cards, that annual cost is relatively low. Especially once you consider these valuable benefits:

  • $300 annual travel credit for bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • 10,000 anniversary miles

Those two benefits alone could help you offset the $395 annual fee without taking into account that you also receive airport lounge access (Priority Pass, Plaza Premium, and Capital One Lounges), up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and no foreign transaction fees.

What we don’t like: There’s a $395 annual fee, but you can more than offset the cost with the card’s benefits.

However, we don’t love that you’re limited to using the $300 annual travel credit only on bookings made through Capital One Travel. It would be a lot easier to use the credit if it were available for bookings made directly with hotels, airlines, and car rental companies.

Read our full Capital One Venture X review for more details.

How to choose the best credit card for travel nurses

Consider these factors if deciding which credit card to apply for as a travel nurse:

Credit requirements

In general, the credit cards with the best rewards and benefits require at least a good credit score. Using the FICO scoring model, that’s at least a 670 credit score.

If you don’t think you’ll qualify for a specific card, it could be worth building your credit history in the meantime and then applying later.

Rewards

Take these rewards questions into account if deciding between different cards:

  • What type of rewards do you prefer? Rewards cards generally earn cash back, points, or miles. Points and miles are often more suited for travel redemptions like hotel stays, flights, and flight upgrades.
  • Is there a welcome bonus offer? A generous sign-up bonus or welcome offer could give you an excellent opportunity to earn a lot of rewards in your first year of card membership, usually within a few months of account opening.
  • What’s the rewards rate? Some rewards cards offer flat rewards rates on all eligible purchases, while others provide specific bonus categories where you can earn higher rates.
  • Are the bonus categories relevant? If a card has bonus categories, check to see if they align with your everyday expenses. For example, if you typically buy a lot of groceries, it could make sense to apply for a card that has groceries as a bonus category.

It’s also worth comparing redemption options between the rewards programs of different cards. Some loyalty programs provide a wide variety of redemption options for you to choose from, while others might only have a few options.

If you’re a beginner to points and miles, it could make sense to research how different rewards currencies work before applying for a new card. Then you can be prepared to redeem your rewards, whether it’s to transfer points or cover past travel expenses.

Annual fee

Paying an annual fee on a credit card is only worth it if you feel you’re getting enough value from the card to more than offset the cost.

That’s why it’s much easier to select a card with no annual fee — you don’t have to worry as much about maximizing your use of different rewards and benefits.

But keep in mind that many cards with annual fees also provide valuable perks and benefits. Depending on your lifestyle and spending habits, it could be well worth paying a card membership fee for what you get in return.

Foreign transaction fees

If you enjoy traveling to other countries as a travel nurse, having a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is crucial. This can help you avoid small but pesky fees on all your applicable card purchases while abroad.

In addition, it also makes sense to apply for a card that uses a globally accepted card network, such as Visa or Mastercard.

Perks and benefits

Each card has different benefits, and only you can decide which are important to you. But some general benefits that could be useful for travel nurses include:

  • Food credits: Deciding to eat out could be an easier decision if you have food credits to use.
  • Travel credits: If you travel a lot, reducing the cost of flights, hotel stays, or rental cars with a travel credit could come in handy. In some cases, you might have a general travel credit that works for multiple types of travel. In other cases, you could have a specific flight or hotel credit that only works for those categories. Some cards also include application fee credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
  • Rental car insurance: If you need to rent a car, credit card car rental insurance could save you from paying for insurance at the rental counter.
  • Airport lounge access: Accessing airport lounges isn’t exactly necessary, but it can sure be useful if you frequently find yourself in airports.
  • Cell phone protection: Having cell phone protection in place could help you avoid hundreds of dollars out of pocket to repair or replace a lost, stolen, or damaged cell phone.
  • Other coverage and protections: If you travel a lot, you might discover it’s helpful to have a credit card with different types of travel coverage and protections. That could include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance or reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and more.
  • Status: Some higher-end cards offer status with hotels or car rental agencies. For example, the Capital One Venture X offers Hertz elite status, which includes guaranteed upgrades.1

FAQ

What is the best card for earning travel miles?

How do you maximize your travel nurse salary?

Help maximize your travel nurse salary by:

  • Selecting a location with higher salaries
  • Focusing on a high-paying nursing specialty
  • Creating a budgeting strategy to lower costs
  • Being selective about your assignments
  • Getting professional certifications
  • Using rewards credit cards to help stretch your budget
  • Working overtime
  • Finding cheap housing
  • Negotiating your pay
  • Working with highly rated providers
  • Maintaining multiple state licenses

What is the highest paying state for traveling nurses?

Some of the highest-paying states for travel nurses include:

StateTravel nurse salary per year
New York$134,000+
New Jersey$120,000+
California$120,000+
North Dakota$115,000+
Delaware$113,000+
Massachusetts$111,000+
Alaska$107,000+
Nevada$106,000+
Connecticut$102,000+
Rhode Island$97,000+
Source: Indeed

Best credit cards for travel nurses: bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our overall recommended credit card for travel nurses because it has useful travel benefits, relevant bonus categories for everyday earning, and a low $95 annual fee.

If you prefer higher earning rates on specific bonus categories, we recommend the Capital One SavorOne and American Express Gold Card. For premium travel benefits, the Capital One Venture X comes out on top.

For more of our recommendations, compare credit cards to find the right credit card offer for you.

Methodology

The companies we chose for our list of the best credit cards for travel nurses could include current or past FinanceBuzz partners. We did not review all companies in the market. When evaluating these companies, we considered factors such as travel rewards, rewards for groceries and dining out, annual and other fees, and overall usefulness for travel nurses.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

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Why we like it

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.