Best Travel Credit Cards of 2022

Last updated Dec. 1, 2022 | By FinanceBuzz Editors | Edited By Ben Walker, CEPF

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To help you reach your travel goals in 2022, 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.

In this article

Best travel credit cards of 2022

Current Offer

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

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases

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, you earn 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Each year on your card anniversary, you will also earn bonus points equal to 10% of the total purchases you made in the previous year.

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.

Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases

Annual Fee

$0

Why We Like It

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is great for individuals who enjoy earning rewards and traveling.

Cardholders will enjoy the flexibility to redeem points with no blackout dates and receive a statement credit to pay for travel and dining purchases.

Earn 1.5X points on all purchases everywhere, every time.

Card Details
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • New longer intro period! 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
  • If you're a 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.

Current Offer

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

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on flights booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else

Why We Like It

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a 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. 

With this card, you earn 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on flights booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else.

Cardmembers receive 50% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. For example, as a new cardmember, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. With the 50% bonus, these points are worth $900 toward travel.


Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on flights booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else

Current Offer

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$695

Rewards Rate

5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

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 on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com.

The card offers a number of perks to justify its annual fee, including statement credits for airline fees, digital entertainment, Equinox, and CLEAR membership. You can also enjoy a $200 hotel credit each year on prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection, which require a minimum two-night stay. Add a flight to this trip and receive up to $200 in statement credits once you select a qualifying airline and pay for incidental fees with your Card. (Select benefits require enrollment.)

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. (Select benefits require enrollment.)®

Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
  • 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Current Offer

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

Annual Fee

$395

Rewards Rate

2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 10X miles per dollar when you book on Turo through May 16, 2023; and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel

Why We Like It

This premium travel card from Capital One earns 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 10X miles per dollar when you book on Turo through May 16, 2023; and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.

Cardholders receive up to $300 in annual travel credits for bookings made through Capital One Travel. They also receive 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 through Capital One Travel) on each account anniversary.

The Venture X provides complimentary and unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges, as well as access to Capital One Lounges and others in the Capital One Partner Lounge Network. You also receive up to a $100 statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® programs.

The regular purchase APR for this card is 19.99% - 26.99% (variable).

Card Details
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400 lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15 travel loyalty programs

Current Offer

Earn a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles per dollar when you book on Turo through May 16, 2023

Why We Like It

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is best for frequent travelers who aren’t loyal to one particular airline or hotel. It’s a travel rewards card with a generous welcome offer.

Cardholders can also enjoy 2 complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges and Plaza Premium Lounges.

You’ll earn 2X miles per $1 spent on every purchase you make and you'll get up to $100 as a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application fees, helping you breeze through airport security.

The regular purchase APR for this card is 18.99% - 26.99% (variable).

Card Details
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100 Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15 travel loyalty programs

Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

Current Offer

Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases

Why We Like It

The Citi Premier® Card is a rewards credit card fit for those who enjoy traveling and earning points on everyday spending.

Cardholders can redeem points for a wide range of rewards options, including: travel, cash back, gift cards, bill payments, and more.

Earn 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases.

Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

Current Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 4 months

Annual Fee

$95 (waived first year)

Rewards Rate

5X points on hotels and car rentals booked through the Altitude Rewards Center; 4X points on travel and gas/EV charging stations; 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining, and streaming services; and 1X points on all other eligible purchases

Why We Like It

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card offers some special features including a $30 annual credit for streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, as well as cell phone protection. You can also receive up to $100 in statement credits toward your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee (once every four years). 


This card earns generous rewards in areas where you are likely to spend regularly. You'll earn 5X points on hotels and car rentals booked through the Altitude Rewards Center; 4X points on travel and gas/EV charging stations; 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining, and streaming services; and 1X points on all other eligible purchases.

Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 4 months
  • 5X points on hotels and car rentals booked through the Altitude Rewards Center; 4X points on travel and gas/EV charging stations; 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining, and streaming services; and 1X points on all other eligible purchases

Current Offer

Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else

Why We Like It

For business owners looking for a rewards card with premium benefits, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a standout option. It has a lucrative sign-up bonus, valuable rewards program, and flexible redemption options.

With this card, you’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines.

It also has comprehensive travel benefits, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary car rental insurance, and cell phone protection.

Card Details
  • Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else

Current Offer

Earn up to 60,000 points: 30,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, plus an additional 30,000 points by earning 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 bonus point, up to $15,000 spent in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

9X points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels; 2X points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining, and health purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else

Why We Like It

If you travel and stay at Hyatt a few times a year, the 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 at Hyatt hotels; 2X points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining, and health purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

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.

Card Details
  • Earn up to 60,000 points: 30,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, plus an additional 30,000 points by earning 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 bonus point, up to $15,000 spent in the first 6 months
  • 9X points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels; 2X points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining, and health purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else

Current Offer

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

Annual Fee

$99

Rewards Rate

26X points per $1 spent on stays at IHG hotels; 5X points on travel, gas stations, and restaurants; and 3X points on other purchases

Why We Like It

The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit 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 to 26x points at IHG hotels when combined with existing IHG Rewards Club Member benefits. You’ll also earn 5X points on travel, gas stations, and restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases.

As an 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.

Card Details
  • Earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months
  • 26X points per $1 spent on stays at IHG hotels; 5X points on travel, gas stations, and restaurants; and 3X points on other purchases

Current Offer

Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

17X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; 3X points at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year; and 2X points on all other eligible purchases

Why We Like It

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card 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 nights.

When you use the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card, you’ll earn up to 17X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; 3X points at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year; and 2X points on all other eligible 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.

Card Details
  • Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
  • 17X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; 3X points at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year; and 2X points on all other eligible purchases

Current Offer

Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

14X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status); 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else

Why We Like It

The 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 can earn unlimited Bonvoy points.

Earn up to 14X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status); 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else.

Card Details
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 14X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status); 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else

Current Offer

Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (limited time offer)

Annual Fee

$99

Rewards Rate

3X points for Southwest purchases; 2X points at participating Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; and 1X points on all other purchases

Why We Like It

If you like to travel often and prefer to fly on Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card may be a good travel rewards credit card for you. It has a generous sign-up bonus for new cardmembers and there are no blackout dates for reward flights.

You'll earn 3X points for Southwest purchases; 2X points at participating Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus, every year after your cardmember anniversary, you’ll get 6,000 points.

The Companion Pass allows you to bring a friend or relative along with you for free for a year — you just pay taxes and fees.

Card Details
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (limited time offer)
  • 3X points for Southwest purchases; 2X points at participating Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; and 1X points on all other purchases

Current Offer

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

2X miles on United purchases, at gas stations, and on transit and commuting; plus 1X on all other purchases

Why We Like It

The United Gateway℠ Card is the entry-level choice for United Airlines credit cards. This card could be an ideal stepping stone for newcomers to travel cards who want to experience more about how they work and what their benefits are.

With this card, you'll earn 2X miles on United purchases, at gas stations, and on transit and commuting; plus 1X on all other purchases.

Cardholders also get 25% back in statement credits on in-flight purchases made with this card, and they will also enjoy travel benefits like an auto rental collision damage waiver and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance.

Card Details
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on United purchases, at gas stations, and on transit and commuting; plus 1X on all other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 12 months then 19.49% to 26.49% (variable)

Current Offer

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$99 (waived first year)

Rewards Rate

2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

Why We Like It

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is a solid travel rewards card for Delta flyers. Cardmembers enjoy benefits such as priority boarding and first checked bag free on Delta flights.

Earn 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

Card Details
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Current Offer

Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

7X points 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

Why We Like It

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

Cardmembers receive complimentary Silver status and access to certain American Express travel benefits.

Earn 7X points 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.

Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 7X points 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
  • Terms apply


>> 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 from this list of credit card offers, it’s important to do some analysis of your spending habits and not just focus on the potential bonus for new cardholders. This analysis could mean the difference between getting an airline credit card versus a hotel credit card. Or you may want a more general travel card that lets you transfer your points to your favorite hotel chain.

So before you pick your new card, 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. Some luxury travel cards tend to have high annual fees.
  • What will I spend on most? Do make a lot of dining purchases? Do you spend more money on flights or hotels? Do you subscribe to a lot of streaming services? Make sure the bonus categories on the card you choose line up with 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 statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. If you’re just trying to save for one annual vacation, you might not be able to take advantage of these perks. On the other hand, if you travel frequently, they might be a necessity.
  • What travel perks do I value the most? In addition to how frequently you can take advantage of perks, you also need to think about which ones are most valuable to you overall. That could depend on the types of travel you typically enjoy. For instance, if you're a frequent flyer, you may value the airline fee credits, no foreign transaction fees, priority boarding, or free checked bags that you get with certain cards. But if you travel less frequently, you might get more value from a free Doordash Dashpass membership, bonus points on takeout, or Uber credits.
  • 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.
  • What else do I want from this card? Some cards may offer non-travel benefits like a 0% intro APR on balance transfers or purchases for a certain amount of time after account opening. For example, the first 12 months of card membership. If you have big purchases planned, this might make one card more desirable as long as you can pay off your balance before the regular variable APR kicks in. These sorts of offers are more common on cashback credit cards than on travel cards, though.

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 credit cards offer cardholders the ability to redeem miles to cover past travel expenses, if those expenses were paid using their Capital One card. And American Express credit 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.

One area you might want to dig into the details is a card issuer's travel partners. If you want to be able to transfer your rewards to a specific hotel or airline loyalty program, then that may be the clincher when it comes to deciding on a Chase vs. Amex card.

A note about transfer partners

Many travel rewards card issuers offer the option to transfer your miles or points to a variety of travel partners in the airline and hotel industries. This gives you the opportunity to potentially gain more value from your rewards than you would be able to otherwise.

For instance, 10,000 Membership Rewards points on the Amex Platinum Card would normally be worth $100 toward airfare in the American Express travel portal. That’s a 1 cent valuation ($100 / 10,000 = $.01) per point.

Travel Credit Cards with the Best Rewards

However, as a cardmember, you can also transfer your points to one of many Amex transfer partners, including airline partners Singapore Airlines. I recently found one-way flights from New York City to Frankfurt for $385.10 or 22,500 KrisFlyer miles via the Singapore Airlines website. Because Amex points transfer to KrisFlyer at a 1:1 ratio, this type of redemption would increase your points valuation to 1.7 cents ($385.10 / 22,500 = $.017) per Membership Rewards point.

Best Credit Cards with Travel Rewards If You Aren't Loyal to Any Particular Airline

Best Credit Cards with Travel Rewards If You Aren't Loyal to Any Particular Airline

You can also take advantage of Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners or Capital One transfer partners depending on which credit card you’re using.

For hotels, Amex transfer partners include the popular Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programs. Chase hotel partners include Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards Club, and World of Hyatt. Capital One transfer partners include Accor Live Limitless.

Transferring credit card points or miles to travel partners won’t always present the best deal for your rewards. Make sure you do the math beforehand — comparing the points it takes to book a flight or hotel stay compared to the dollar value — to see whether a transfer is a good deal. You can’t transfer points back to your credit card after, so it’s always best to check the number first.

Note: always do the math on the redemption value of your points and miles when it comes to gift cards and cash back as well. While almost every card offers these types of redemptions, that doesn't mean they're always the best way to use your rewards.

Types of travel credit cards

As you dig deeper into the details of credit cards, you might discover that there are many different types of travel credit cards. It could get confusing as you compare travel protections, interest rates, and spending categories. Or if you’re wondering whether to use a Mastercard, Visa, or American Express credit card.

But while these are all important considerations, we’ve simplified travel credit cards into three easy categories: airline cards, hotel cards, and flexible currency cards.

Airline miles credit cards

Airline miles credit cards make sense if you frequently use the same airline for your travels.

These types of credit cards earn miles with a specific frequent flyer program. For example, a Southwest credit card would earn Rapid Rewards points, while a Delta credit card would earn Delta SkyMiles.

The miles you earn with these cards can typically be redeemed for flights with the applicable airline and potentially partner airlines as well. You might also be able to use miles for other redemptions, but it varies by loyalty program.

Many airline credit cards also provide additional benefits, such as free checked baggage, priority boarding, and airport lounge access. Check out our list of the best airline credit cards.

Hotel points credit cards

Hotel points credit cards make sense if you frequently stay at the same hotel chain on your travels.

These types of credit cards earn points with specific hotel loyalty programs. For example, a Hilton Honors card would earn Hilton points, while a Marriott Bonvoy credit card would earn Marriott Bonvoy points.

The points you earn with these cards can typically be redeemed for hotel stays with the applicable hotel chain. You might also have other redemption options available, including experiences, flights, and car rentals.

Many hotel credit cards provide additional benefits, such as elite status, free night awards, and airport lounge access. Learn more with our list of the best hotel credit cards.

Flexible points credit cards

Flexible points credit cards make sense if you want flexibility with how you can use your rewards.

These types of credit cards earn flexible points, which can typically be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more. Some flexible rewards currencies include Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and Capital One miles.

All three of these rewards programs have online travel portals where you can make a number of travel-related bookings, similar to Expedia or Priceline. These programs also allow you to transfer your rewards to travel partners, which opens up more redemption options. Examples of travel partners include United, Southwest, Hyatt, Hilton, British Airways, and more.

The benefits on these cards can vary a great deal, but some of the popular options might provide travel credit, elite status with different loyalty programs, and airport lounge access. You also might find some unique benefits on certain cards. As an example, the American Express® Gold Card provides up to $120 annual dining credit (up to $10 credit per month). Enrollment is required for select benefits.

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 all your qualifying purchases 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 fly for free, you’ll need to rack up enough points or airline miles to cover the cost. The number of points you’ll need for a free flight 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.

What credit score do you need to get approved for a travel rewards credit card?

While credit score requirements will vary across different card issuers and travel cards, in most cases, you'll likely need a good to excellent credit score to get approved for a travel rewards credit card.

Methodology: How we picked these cards

To select the best travel rewards credit cards, we looked for cards from our partners that offer great ongoing travel perks, bonus rewards for travel expenses, 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.

Our #1 Travel Card

Current Offer

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

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Typically need to spend thousands to reap rewards
Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases