Travel rewards credit cards are an elusive idea for many people in debt. If you’re already in the red, should you open new credit cards that can lead to more debt? If you’re able to keep your spending under control and pay your cards off in full each month, the answer is a big yes, yes, yes!
Earning credit card rewards can be a simple way to score major deals, provided you play by the rules laid out by the card provider. Here are three cards that give you great value.
3 best travel rewards credit cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been the most important credit card in my wallet since I started travel hacking more than five years ago. This card comes with a 50,000 point signup bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months you have the card.
You can get an additional 5,000 points by adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first three months. That’s enough points for two domestic round-trip flights or one round-trip to Europe if you use the points to their full value.
Additionally, you earn 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, bars, and on travel-related purchases like airfare, train tickets, cruises, and hotels. The card comes with no foreign transaction fees, so you can use it without paying extra while gallivanting around Europe, South America, Asia, or wherever your travels take you.
In exchange for all that luxury, the card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. However, if you spend enough on the card each year to earn more than 9,500 points, you’re getting your money’s worth from the fee.
You can use the points to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, where you get a 20 percent discount on travel bookings. You can usually get a better deal when you transfer the points to a partner airline like United, British Airways, or Southwest to get more value per point. Chase has 10 airline and hotel transfer partners.
This is my favorite card for a new travel hacker. It is arguably the best credit card for travel rewards not specific to one airline or hotel. And the card is made out of metal — badass, right?
American Express Everyday Preferred
The Everyday Preferred from American Express is the newest of the three travel rewards credit cards on this list.
This card currently comes with an underwhelming 15,000 point signup bonus after spending $1,000 in 90 days, but the benefits are solid. You earn 3 points per dollar spent at grocery stores, 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, and 1 point everywhere else, which lets your spending turn into valuable Amex points quickly.
The real kicker is a program designed to get you to use this card as your primary spending card everywhere you go. If you make 30 or more transactions with the card each month, you get a 50 percent bonus on all points earned, including those grocery and gas station points.
The card comes with a $95 annual fee, not waived the first year, and charges a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee.
I have this card myself and use it regularly. Amex offers a handful of member perks, but this card really only beats the Sapphire Preferred on the grocery store and gas station bonuses. In addition, American Express offers different airline transfer partners, including Delta, JetBlue, Virgin America, and high-end global airlines Emirates, Singapore Air, and Etihad.
If you spend mostly on groceries and gas or prefer any of these airlines, the Everyday Preferred card could be the best travel rewards card for you.
Barclay Arrival Plus
Barclay recently lowered the value of points earned from the Barclay Arrival Plus, but it’s still competitive in the general travel rewards credit cards category.
With a 40,000 point signup bonus after spending $3,000 in 90 days and a unique point redemption system, this card is best for people who don’t want to worry about how to use each mile and point, and just want to get free travel purchases instead — you get reimbursed as a statement credit when you use points.
The card comes with an $89 annual fee, which is waived the first year, and you earn 2 points for every dollar on all purchases. You can redeem points at .01 cent per point towards travel, but get a 5 percent bonus when redeeming. You do not get the bonus when redeeming for non-travel related statement credits.
Spending $4,227 per year is the breakeven point for the annual fee if you redeem points for travel. That’s pretty easy to do if you put all possible purchases on the card, and the ease of redeeming makes this one the best rewards credit card for travel.
When choosing between any of these three travel rewards credit cards, you can’t go wrong. The trick is to find the one with the best signup bonus, earning method, and redemption options for your spending and preferred way to travel. Bon voyage!
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 6.98%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.80% – 6.22%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.57% – 8.17%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|