The Best Credit Cards for Your Universal Studios Vacation [2024]

CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT CARD REWARDS
Choosing the best credit cards for Universal can help you offset your costs and maximize your rewards.
Updated July 10, 2024
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The Citi Double Cash® Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are two of the best credit cards to use for a Universal Studios vacation. That’s because they offer great rewards rates, and you can redeem your points for Universal tickets.

For additional travel benefits and the same option to redeem rewards for theme park tickets, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Citi Strata Premier ℠ Card.

See how you can maximize your rewards by choosing the right card for Universal Studios.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Credit card transactions at Universal Studios typically come in various categories, such as entertainment, travel, or dining spending. Depending on the credit card you use and your credit card issuer, you may earn elevated rewards rates on some of these categories.
  • The Citi Double Cash has a $0 annual fee and a simple rewards rate, making it easy to earn rewards you can put toward theme park tickets, flights, or hotel stays.
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a $0 annual fee and provides elevated rewards in multiple everyday categories. If your spending habits align with its bonus categories, you could quickly rack up rewards to use on your Universal vacation.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee and earns rewards that can be used for travel, including theme park tickets, through Chase Travel℠. Even better, you get a 25% bonus on your Chase travel redemptions, giving you more bang for your buck with your points.
  • The Citi Strata Premier Card has a $95 annual fee and earns high rewards in multiple categories, including 10X points on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on CitiTravel.com; 3X points on air travel and other hotel purchases, at restaurants, supermarkets, gas and EV charging stations; and 1X points on all other purchases. You can quickly earn rewards and then redeem them for theme park tickets or other types of travel.

The 7 best credit cards for Universal Studios vacations

  1. Citi Double Cash® Card
  2. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  4. Citi Strata Premier ℠ Card
  5. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  6. Hilton Honors American Express Card
  7. The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Compare the best credit cards for Universal Studios vacations

Credit card Universal Studios benefits Welcome offer Annual fee

Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees)

4.8

Redeem rewards for travel and theme park tickets 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 $0

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

4.7

Redeem rewards for travel and theme park tickets Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) $0

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

4.9

Redeem rewards for travel and theme park tickets Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening $95

Citi Strata Premier ℠ Card

Citi Strata Premier ℠ Card(Rates and fees)

4.9

Redeem rewards for travel and theme park tickets Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com $95

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

4.7

Redeem rewards for travel and theme park tickets Earn a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening $95

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

4.5

Redeem rewards for hotel stays Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months (offer ends 7/31/2024) $0 (terms apply)

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

4.8

Redeem rewards for hotel stays Earn up to 60,000 bonus points: 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 spent $95

Citi Double Cash® Card

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for theme park tickets
  • Simple rewards rate
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Has foreign transaction fees

The Citi Double Cash is an excellent card for earning simple cash back on everyday purchases.

Why we like it

There’s a $0 annual fee and you can 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.

Additionally, you can 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.

And you can easily turn your cashback rewards into Universal Studios theme park tickets through the Citi Travel portal under “Attractions.” A $200 park ticket would cost 20,000 ThankYou Points.

You can also redeem your rewards for other aspects of your vacation, including flights and hotel stays.

What we don’t like

There’s typically no welcome offer for new cardmembers. You also have to pay foreign transaction fees on applicable purchases, making the Double Cash a poor choice if you want to visit Universal Destinations & Experiences locations in other countries.

Apply now or learn more in our Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees) review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for theme park tickets
  • Elevated earning on everyday purchases
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Has foreign transaction fees

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has elevated earning potential on multiple everyday categories.

Why we like it

There’s a $0 annual fee and you can earn 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

You can earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

You can then redeem your rewards for Universal Studios theme park tickets through the Chase Travel℠ portal. A $200 park ticket would cost 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

You can also redeem your rewards for flights or hotel stays for your Universal Studios trip.

Increase the value of your rewards
You can receive 25% to 50% more value from your Chase Travel℠ redemptions if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®. That means a $200 park ticket that normally costs 20,000 points would only cost 16,000 or 13,333 points through the Chase Travel portal.

What we don’t like

You have to pay foreign transaction fees, so you wouldn’t want to use the Freedom Unlimited at Universal parks abroad.

Apply now or learn more in our Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for theme park tickets
  • 25% more value when you redeem rewards for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • Up to $50 in annual statement credits for hotel stays purchased through Chase Travel℠
Cons
  • $95 annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a terrific rewards card for all sorts of travel, including trips to Universal Studios.

Why we like it

You can 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.

You can also earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

You can then redeem your rewards for flights, hotel stays, and experiences through Chase Travel℠. For these types of redemptions, which include Universal theme park tickets, you get a 25% bonus to your points value.

For hotel stays, you can earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Travel℠.

What we don’t like

As a Sapphire Preferred cardholder, you have to pay a $95 annual fee.

Apply now or learn more in our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Citi Strata Premier ℠ Card

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for theme park tickets
  • Elevated rewards in everyday categories
  • $100 off $500 hotel stay benefit
Cons
  • $95 annual fee

The Citi Strata Premier Card has excellent spending categories and a useful hotel savings perk.

Why we like it

You can earn 10X points on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on CitiTravel.com; 3X points on air travel and other hotel purchases, at restaurants, supermarkets, gas and EV charging stations; and 1X points on all other purchases. The higher earning rate might apply to restaurant or dining purchases you make to get tasty Universal Studios foods.

This card also helps you earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com.

Your points can be redeemed for travel, including flights, hotel stays, and theme park tickets, through the Citi Travel portal.

If you have a big hotel stay planned for your trip, take advantage of the Citi Strata Premier hotel savings benefit. You can enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through CitiTravel.com, once per calendar year.

What we don’t like

You have to pay a $95 annual fee each year for your Citi Strata Premier card membership.

Apply now or learn more in our Citi Strata Premier ℠ Card(Rates and fees) review.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for theme park tickets
  • Simple rewards rate
  • Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
Cons
  • $95 annual fee

The Capital One Venture Rewards makes it easy to earn valuable travel rewards on all your eligible purchases.

Why we like it

You can earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25.

You can maximize your rewards by aiming to earn a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

You can redeem your miles for travel through Capital One Travel or you can use them to cover past travel purchases. If you want to use your miles for theme park tickets, you would need to buy your tickets from a merchant that codes the purchase as “travel” and then use your miles to cover the purchase.

Keep in mind
Theme park tickets purchased directly from the parks often code as “entertainment.” But it’s reported that some merchants that sell theme park tickets, including Undercover Tourist, code their purchases as “travel.” This could be useful if you have a card like the Venture Rewards.

The Venture Rewards also provides up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®, which could be useful if you’re traveling through airports for your vacation.

What we don’t like

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card has a $95 annual fee.

Learn more in our Capital One Venture Rewards review.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for lodging near Universal Studios
  • $0 annual fee (terms apply)
Cons
  • Doesn’t have many travel benefits

The Hilton Honors American Express Card makes sense if you’re a Hilton enthusiast and want to help offset your lodging expenses.

Why we like it

It has a $0 annual fee and earns 7X points on eligible purchases at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.

On top of that, you can earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months (offer ends 7/31/2024).

You can redeem your points for stays at Hilton properties worldwide, including near different Universal Studios locations.

For example, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando is across the street from Universal Studios Orlando. You can take the complimentary shuttle to the park or walk, making it easy to attend a theme park holiday event.

What we don’t like

Apart from the opportunity to earn and redeem Hilton Honors points, the Hilton Honors Amex Card doesn’t have many other travel benefits. You can enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver elite status, but that doesn’t get you much other than a fifth night free on reward stays.

Learn how to apply or find out in our Hilton Honors American Express review.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Pros
  • Rewards redeemable for lodging near Universal Studios
  • Free anniversary night
Cons
  • $95 annual fee

The World of Hyatt Credit Card makes sense if you’re a Hyatt enthusiast and want to cover some of your lodging expenses.

Why we like it

You can earn up to 9X points at Hyatt (4 bonus points per $1 on qualified purchases at Hyatt hotels plus up to 5 base points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member); 2X points on restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships; and 1X points on all other purchases.

You can also earn up to 60,000 bonus points: 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 spent.

You also receive a free night at any category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary.

There are multiple Hyatt properties that are category 4 or below within easy driving distance of Universal Studios Orlando. You could also walk or take a shuttle to the park from the Hyatt House or Hyatt Place across from Universal Orlando Resort. This makes it easy if you’re planning a trip to any part of the park, including Super Nintendo World Florida.

For Universal Studios Hollywood in California, there aren’t as many Hyatt properties that are category 4 or below. But there are still a couple that are within driving distance of Universal and Universal CityWalk Hollywood.

What we don’t like

There’s a $95 annual fee for cardmembers. However, your free anniversary night can more than offset this cost starting with your second year of card membership.

Learn more in our World of Hyatt Credit Card review.

How to choose the best credit card for Universal Studios

There are a few key considerations when choosing which credit card is best to use whether you're headed for Universal Studios Hollywood or a Universal Orlando vacation.

First things first, you need to figure out how your Universal transactions will be categorized by your credit card provider. This matters because different cards offer bonus rewards for different kinds of spending. In general:

  • Theme park tickets are usually classified as entertainment spending
  • A stay at a Universal hotel or resort would likely be considered travel spending
  • Airline tickets to travel to Universal would typically be considered travel spending
  • Purchases at Universal Studios restaurants would generally be classified as spending on dining

Consider the most expensive aspects of your trip to Universal so you can find a credit card that gives you the most rewards for that spending type.

And in some cases, your focus may not be just on earning the most rewards for spending you do on your Universal trip but also on redeeming rewards to reduce your travel costs. Because of this, the right card for you will depend on whether your priorities are to earn the maximum rewards on things you buy at Universal, whether your goal is to redeem your card points for Universal tickets, or whether you want to score cool discounts and special perks once you're actually at the park.

Earn the most rewards with multiple credit cards

There are several different credit cards that you could use to earn the most rewards at Universal Studios. But, because some cards offer bonus points for travel and dining and others for entertainment, it can actually make a lot of sense to use different cards strategically.

You could, for example, book your hotel with the Hilton Honors card, use your Citi Strata Premier Card for theme park tickets, and use your American Express card to pay for WiFi and baggage fees on your flight. Or you could redeem your Chase points for Universal tickets, redeem Amex points for plane tickets to Orlando, and redeem Hilton Honors points for hotel stays.

The key is to know what cards offer the best rewards on different kinds of spending and which programs provide the most value for points redemptions. That way, you can match the right card to the right purchases to maximize the value each card provides.

FAQ about credit cards for Universal Studios

Is there a Universal Studios credit card?

There is no specific credit card for Universal Studios, but you do have options for credit cards that can help you save on a trip to Universal. This includes many of the best travel credit cards that can help offset the costs of your flights and hotel stays. In addition, using one of the best credit cards for dining could help you offset expensive food purchases in and around Universal.

What is the cheapest way to go to Universal Studios?

One of the cheapest ways to go to Universal Studios is by using credit card points and miles. Using the best rewards credit cards on a daily basis for everyday purchases you were already planning on making is an easy way to earn valuable points or miles. These rewards that you earn can typically be redeemed for different things, often including travel or cash back.

If you choose to redeem your rewards for cash back, you’ll have extra cash on hand to cover trip expenses. If you choose to redeem your rewards for travel, you’ll help offset your trip’s costs, potentially even including the expensive flights and hotel stays.

Does Universal accept Amex?

Not only does Universal accept Amex cards, but you can also take advantage of special American Express perks on your next Universal Studios Florida or Orlando trip.

For example, you can book your stay at an Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) location to be near the park in a luxurious location. FHR benefits typically include a complimentary room upgrade and free daily breakfast for two.

Best credit cards for Universal Studios: bottom line

Ultimately, you should consider your own unique situation —including how often you'll use these cards after your Universal trip— to decide which credit card is best for you.

The most important thing is to pick a card that helps make your trip as affordable as possible or that allows you to earn the maximum rewards for your Universal visit.

Compare credit cards to find the right credit card offer for you.

Methodology

When choosing the best rewards credit cards for Universal Studios, we reviewed rewards programs to options offering the most points on airfare, hotels, theme park tickets, and dining.

We also looked for cards that provide special perks to make your trip more enjoyable, including cards offering lounge access and other in-park perks at Universal, or cards that offered statement credits for fees incurred on the plane.

Finally, we looked for cards that provide points you can redeem to make your Universal trip cheaper, allowing you to defray the cost of your vacation and earn more rewards on that vacation to redeem in the future.

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
4.1
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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.