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 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 up to 50,000 Bonus Points: 25,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus an additional 25,000 after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months

Why We Like It

If you travel and stay at Hyatt a few times a year, the World of Hyatt credit card could be a good match for you. It has a generous sign-up bonus, a high rewards rate on Hyatt hotel stays, and you can earn free nights.

This card offers serious rewards. You’ll get 9X points per $1 spent on Hyatt purchases. You’ll earn 2X points per $1 spent on transportation, dining out, airline tickets purchases directly from airlines, and fitness club and gym memberships.

Free nights at Hyatt hotels start at just 5,000 points, so you can quickly earn enough points to get a free night.

In addition, you’ll get a free night at a Hyatt Category 1-4 resort each year you’re a World of Hyatt cardmember. If you spend at least $15,000 per year with your credit card, you’ll get another free night certificate.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 125,000 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

Special Offer

Earn 75,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card is a great option for those who like to stay with IHG brands like Holiday Inn, Kimpton, and Intercontinental.

Frequent travelers can take advantage of the fourth night free reward and 15X points at IHG hotels.

Plus, earn 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1x on everything else.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is a good travel credit card for rewards card beginners. It offers a valuable sign-up bonus, higher rewards on Marriott Bonvoy hotel stays, and you can earn free night stays.

When you use the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature card, you’ll earn 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can redeem your points for hotel stays at Marriott resorts, including Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Gaylord Hotels, Le Meridien, Aloft, and Four Points hotels.

Every year after your account anniversary, you’ll enjoy a free night award at an eligible Marriott resort.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The all new Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is a great option for travelers who are loyal to the Marriott Bonvoy brand and want to avoid paying an annual fee.

Cardholders receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year and earn unlimited Bonvoy points.

Earn 3X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; 1 point per $1 on everything else.



Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you’re a devotee of Hilton-branded hotels, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card can be a good travel rewards card for you. It has a large welcome bonus for new cardmembers and you can earn free stays.

If you haven’t yet attained Hilton Honors Gold status, this card gives you immediate Gold status access which includes free breakfast at all Hilton hotels.

When you stay at an eligible Hilton hotel or resort, you’ll earn 12X points per $1 spent. You’ll also earn 6X points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants , U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3X points per $1 spent on all other purchases. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is an advantageous travel credit card with for travelers who prefer staying at Hilton properties.

Cardmembers receive complimentary Silver status, baggage insurance, and use of Roadside Assistance and Global Assist hotlines.

Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 spent on participating hotels in the Hilton Honors portfolio, 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3X points on other purchases. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

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

>> 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
  • 5X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 3X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits