Pack your bags! The best credit cards for travel rewards offer huge sign-up bonuses, valuable rewards, and extra travel perks.
With the right card, you can book free or discounted travel to just about anywhere.
At a glance: The best credit cards for travel rewards
Here’s a quick summary of the best credit cards with travel rewards. Read on to learn more about each card, along with its pros and cons.
|Credit Card||What It’s Best For|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Best for premium travel perks|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Best for general travel|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||Best for hotel rewards|
|UnitedSM Explorer Card||Best for airline rewards|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card||Best for no annual fee|
Depending on how often you travel and your preferences, you’ll want to compare each of these cards to find the one that’s best for you.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for premium travel perks
It’s “go big or go home” with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. The card’s elite-level perks come with a premium annual fee of $450.
Stellar rewards: With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll earn 3X points on travel and dining .
You’ll also Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Valuable redemption: If you redeem your points for cash back or gift cards, you’ll get a value of one cent per point. For instance, a $25 gift card would cost you 2,500 points.
But if you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you’ll get 50 percent more value. For example, a $200 plane ticket would cost only 13,333 points rather than 20,000.
You can also choose to transfer your points to one of Chase’s 11 airline and hotel partners at a one-to-one ratio. Partners include the following:
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue Air France-KLM
- Korean Air Skypass
- Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Rewards
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards
- World of Hyatt
Premium perks: If the rewards aren’t enough, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® sweetens the pot with an annual travel credit. Simply use your card to book travel, and Chase will automatically reimburse you up to $300 per year.
You’ll also get the following:
- Free access to more than 1,000 Priority Pass Select lounges.
- An application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, two programs that allow you to move through airport security or U.S. Customs more quickly.
- Special privileges when you use the card to book a rental car with National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar.
- No foreign transaction fees.
High annual fee: It can be hard for some people to justify a $450 annual fee. Even if you’re getting more value from the benefits, that’s a large expense you have to pay every year.
Requires excellent credit: Unless your credit is practically flawless, you may have a hard time qualifying for approval. The good news is that there are steps you can take to increase your credit score.
The information related to Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected by Student Loan Hero and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for general travel
If you don’t care for premium perks and you want straightforward rewards, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card fits the bill.
High rewards rate: With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. Among credit cards with travel rewards, that’s about as good as it gets.
You’ll also earn a One-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
Flexible rewards redemption: As with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can use your Venture miles to book travel through Capital One’s site.
If you want even more flexibility, simply use your card to make a travel purchase anywhere, and you can then use your miles for a full or partial statement credit against the purchase. Feel free to book international travel, too – the card has no foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: The card has an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t spend a lot, you might not earn enough rewards to make it worth it. You’d have to spend $4,750 every year to make up for the fee.
Poor cash-back rewards: If you want the flexibility to use your Venture miles on more than travel, you’re out of luck. Your miles would be worth only half as much as if you used them on travel.
The information related to Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Student Loan Hero and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Best for hotel rewards
If you spend a lot of time in hotels, you probably know that some can be sketchy. The Marriott Hotels brand is fairly upscale and has an outstanding loyalty program. That alone makes the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is worth having, but it’s not the only reason.
Valuable rewards: With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, you’ll get what are almost certainly the best hotel rewards in the business. While it doesn’t seem that way on the surface – Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy Points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Earn 3X Marriott Bonvoy Points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. Earn 2X Marriott Bonvoy Points on all other eligible purchases.
Extra perks: If the rewards aren’t enough, there are other benefits you’ll get from the card as well. As with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, it has no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also have exclusive access to ticket presales for Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events, and more.
Annual fee: $450. If you’re not a big spender, this could be a roadblock.
Not as flexible as general travel cards: Like any hotel credit card, you’re limited in how you can redeem your rewards as compared with a general travel or cash-back card. The Starwood Amex is more flexible than other hotel cards, but may not be worth it if you want to use your rewards on other travel purchases.
Limited overseas acceptance: American Express isn’t as widely accepted internationally as Visa and Mastercard. Even in the U.S., Amex lags behind those two, as well as Discover, according to The Nilson Report. That’s not to say the card is completely useless, but it might be wise to have a Visa or Mastercard as a backup.
The information related to Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected by Student Loan Hero and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.
UnitedSM Explorer Card: Best for airline rewards
If you’re loyal to a specific airline, it may be best to use their credit card. But if you haven’t settled on one, the UnitedSM Explorer Card is worth considering.
Sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
Rewards: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
To make things even more worth your while, the card throws in two United Club passes each year that you can use in the airline’s airport lounges. You’ll also pay no foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $0 Intro for First Year, then $95.
Limited flexibility: If you want to use your miles for anything other than flights, your options are extremely limited. On the bright side, United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, so you can use your miles to book flights with other alliance members, including Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines.
The information related to UnitedSM Explorer Card has been collected by Student Loan Hero and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for no annual fee
The best of the best credit cards for travel rewards have big sign-up bonuses and annual fees. But if you’re fee-averse or you don’t spend a lot, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a perfect fit.
High rewards rate: Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
Flexible redemption: Like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card lets you use your rewards on any travel purchase. Use the card to book travel – 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles, then a 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR applies.
Low sign-up bonus: 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
Poor cash redemption: If you want more than travel rewards, you may want to opt for a cash-back card instead. This one gives you half as much value for cash redemptions as for travel.
The information related to Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has been collected by Student Loan Hero and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.
As you’re considering the best credit cards for travel rewards, it’s important to understand that there’s no one best credit card for everyone.
Know what your travel goals and spending habits are, and don’t be afraid of an annual fee. In many cases, you can still get more value out of a card with an annual fee than one without one. Be sure to weigh the fee against the benefits to make sure it works for you.
Once you choose a card, make sure you research all of its benefits. Many travel credit cards offer perks that aren’t as evident as others. These can help make your next vacation a more pleasant experience overall.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2019!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.
†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com
**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.
7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
8 Important Disclosures for Avant.
*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.
|5.47% – 17.67%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|5.59% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|7.99% – 35.89%*||$1,000 - $50,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%2||$5,000 - $35,000|
|5.99% – 29.99%3||$7,500 - $40,000|
|6.79% – 20.89%4||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%5||$2,000 - $25,000|
|6.95% – 35.89%6||$1,000 - $40,000|
|5.99% – 17.24%7||$5,000 - $75,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%8||$2,000 - $35,000|