Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020

Last updated Mar 2, 2020 | By FinanceBuzz Editors

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To help you reach your travel goals in 2020, we’ve chosen credit cards that offer a high rewards rate on travel purchases, a generous welcome offer to give you a head start on earning, and flexible redemption options so you won’t be restricted.

Special Offer

Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you love to travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card may be an excellent match for you. It’s one of the most popular travel credit cards available, offering a generous sign-up bonus for new cardmembers, premium travel benefits, and a strong rewards program.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

If you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more, helping you get more value for your points. You can book hotel stays, airfare, and even cruises with your points.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is top-rated credit card for frequent travelers who can take advantage of its generous travel benefits and high point-earning potential. 

Card benefits include a $300 annual travel credit, primary rental car insurance, Priority Pass lounge access, reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and more. 

Earn 3X points on travel, and at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Cardmembers receive 50% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you want a premium rewards card with deluxe travel perks, consider the Platinum Card from American Express. With a generous welcome offer, high rewards rate on eligible purchases, and upscale travel experiences, this card can enhance and streamline your next trip.

The Platinum Card from American Express allows you to earn 5X points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com.

The card offers a number of perks to justify its annual fee including up to $200 per year in statement credits for Uber and up to $200 in statement credits for airline fees each year.

You'll also gain access to more than 1,200 airport lounges in over 130 countries through the American Express Global Lounge Collection. You'll also automatically earn Gold Status with the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you love to travel but don’t want to pay a hefty annual fee, the American Express Green Card can be an excellent compromise.

It offers a very generous welcome bonus for new cardmembers, and you’ll earn 3X points per $1 spent on travel and at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other transactions. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and points never expire as long as your account is in good standing.

For travelers who want an enhanced experience, the American Express Green Card can help. When you use your card to purchase airport lounge access through the LoungeBuddy app, you can receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year. You can also get up to $100 in statement credits when you pay for your CLEAR membership, which can help you breeze through airport security.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The IHG Rewards Club Premier card is best for travelers who stay at IHG-branded hotels, including Regent, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn hotels. The card boasts a large welcome offer for new cardmembers, high rewards on IHG hotel stays, free rewards nights, and premium travel perks.

With this card, you’ll earn up 25X points per $1 spent at IHG hotels when combined with existing IHG Rewards Club Member benefits. You’ll also earn 2X points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.

As a IHG Rewards Club Premier cardmember, you are automatically upgraded to Platinum Elite status. You’ll get benefits like no blackout dates for rewards nights, complimentary room upgrades, and a 50% bonus on base points.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

United Club Business Card

United Club Business Card

Special Offer

Earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first three months (limited-time offer)

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

>> See more travel credit cards

Most of these travel cards come with basics such as travel insurance and other protections, and some also come with premium perks that will make your next trip more luxurious. We’ve narrowed down the options to the best cards out there, so you can rest assured you’re making a good choice when you pick from our favorites.

How to pick the right card for you

When selecting a credit card, it’s important to do some analysis of your spending habits. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much will I spend? You’ll want to make sure that you’ll spend enough with the card you choose to offset the annual fee, if there is one.
  • What will I spend on most? Do you dine out more than you grocery shop? Do you spend more money on flights or hotels? Make sure the earnings rate on the card you choose is highest for the categories in which you do the most spending.
  • How frequently will I take advantage of travel perks? Some cards come with perks such as airport lounge access and reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. If you’re just trying to save for one annual vacation, these might not be that valuable to you. On the other hand, if you travel frequently, they might be a necessity.
  • How will I use my rewards? Will you be using your rewards only to book travel, or do you want the option for cash back as well? What airlines and hotels do you frequent? Some cards line up well with certain airlines and hotel brands better than others. Determine how flexible you need your rewards to be.

How do these issuers compare?

Although all of these cards are different, cards from the same issuer have a few things in common. For example, Chase cardholders have access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, in which points on premium cards become more valuable when redeemed for travel. Many Capital One cards offer a purchase eraser that applies to travel costs, so you can use your rewards flexibly and after you’ve already booked your trip. And Amex cards are known for their luxury perks and access to the greatest number of airport lounges.

All three of these credit card issuers offer a travel portal that makes it easy to use your rewards points to book travel purchases. And with most cards, you can use a combination of points and cash to complete your booking.

FAQs

How does a travel card work?

A travel credit card allows you to earn points or miles you can use for travel costs. Essentially, you’ll get a percentage of what you spend back in rewards, which you can then use to fund more travel. Use your points for things like free nights at hotels or a free flight to your dream destination.

How can I fly for free?

To get a free flight, you’ll need to rack up enough points to cover the cost. The number of points you’ll need depends on the airline you choose and your itinerary. Most credit card issuers have a travel portal you can use to purchase flights with your rewards points. Some cards even let you transfer points directly to airlines or hotels. 

How much is a point or mile worth on travel credit cards?

The value of a point typically depends on how you redeem it. For example, points on travel credit cards are usually worth more when used toward travel than for gift cards or merchandise. As a general rule, a point is worth roughly 1 cent when redeemed for cash back.

How many miles do you need for a free flight?

That depends on your itinerary, your choice of cabin class, and the airline. As an example, you’ll need at least 5,000 miles for a free flight on Alaska Airlines and at least 7,500 miles for a free flight on American Airlines. An international trip could require hundreds of thousands of miles, depending on where and when you’re flying. Check out the number of points you’ll need to get a free flight with the top U.S.-based airlines.

How we picked these cards

To select the best travel cards, we looked for cards from our partners that offer great ongoing travel rewards and perks and substantial welcome bonuses. We looked at these benefits in relation to each card's annual fee to determine which cards to include on our list. We did not include all cards available.

Learn insider secrets from the experts so you can travel for next to nothing with credit card points and miles.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees