20 Best Travel Credit Cards Of June 2023
How Do Travel Credit Cards Work?
A credit card that offers travel benefits is known as a travel credit cards. These benefits can be obtained in many ways. It can accrue hotel points, airline miles, or flexible points that can be transferred to other accounts or used to pay for travel expenses.
Additionally, many travel credit cards provide free checked bags, priority boarding, access to airport lounges, and even savings on lodging or rental cars. Some credit cards offer sign-up bonuses that can give you a good stash of points or miles to start redeeming for worthwhile incentives.
For frequent travelers who want to earn rewards fast and conveniently while they’re on the go, travel credit cards may be valuable. These credit cards frequently have no international transaction fees, which means there is no additional cost from the credit card issuer to make purchases abroad. They can be used in any country that recognizes major card networks (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc.).
With a travel credit card, you can accumulate points over time and use them to pay for airfare, lodging, and other travel-related expenses.
How Do Credit Cards For Travel Operate?
For each purchase made using a travel rewards credit card, miles or points are accumulated. There are typically a few redemption options available after earning miles or points, such as purchasing gift cards, airline tickets, or statement credits. Generally speaking, using miles and points to book travel offers the best value.
How Do Points on Credit Cards Work?
For each purchase made using the card, credit card points are earned, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. Every card has a unique earning structure, so one card might earn a lot of rewards for eating and travel while another can earn more points for buying groceries and using the gas station. In contrast to co-branded cards, which typically earn rewards that can only be redeemed for one product, such travel with a single airline or hotel, or merchandise, credit card points can have many redemption possibilities, such as for cash, gift cards, or travel.
How Do Travel Miles From Credit Cards Work?
A point’s value may change based on the individual redemption because airline and hotel point values are frequently erratic. Some programs will equate the worth of their points or miles to the cost of a ticket or a night’s lodging in cash. Others use a tiered system based on factors such as peak or off-peak travel periods, seat type, hotel category, or a combination of the three.
It is important to do your research before cashing in a cache of points to make the most of your redemption because most airline and hotel incentives are redeemed for nights or trips. The guide to using points and miles from Forbes Advisor is a fantastic place to start.
Different Travel Credit Card Types
Not all credit cards for travel are the same. Here is a breakdown of the many sorts so you can decide which rewards card is ideal for your particular situation.
Credit Cards With Transferable Rewards
These credit cards offer rewards that can be exchanged for benefits from loyalty programs for hotels or airlines. Capital One miles, Bilt awards, Brex Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points are a few examples of awards that can be transferred. On a few of its credit cards, Barclays also permits the conversion of points into travel partners.
Credit Cards for Airlines
When using airline credit cards, one can accrue miles that can be redeemed for future airline purchases. Additionally, you can book flights with partners or other members of the same airline alliance using those airline’s points, which could result in a higher return on your investment.
Beyond earning miles, several airline credit cards provide benefits. You will typically receive additional perks if your annual charge is larger. Free checked bags, priority boarding, a credit for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and access to airport lounges are some frequent airline credit card perks. The benefits can frequently be worth more than the annual cost if you are able to take full advantage of these extras.
Credit Cards for Hotels
A hotel credit card may be the best option for anyone who can commit to brand loyalty and stays in hotels at least sometimes. By using these cards, you can earn rewards that can be redeemed for any qualifying hotel property owned by that brand, such as Marriott Bonvoy points, Hilton Honors points, or World of Hyatt points.
Possessing a hotel credit card can accelerate the accumulation of points much more quickly than earning them solely through hotel stays. Some credit cards grant owners immediate elite status, which has its own set of perks including free breakfast, late check-out, and room upgrades. When you renew your card membership each year, certain cards will also provide you a free night’s stay in addition to additional benefits like access to airport lounges.
Floating-Price Credit Cards
When using credit card points to redeem for things like cash back or travel, the issuer frequently publishes the cash value per point. When points are exchanged for any legitimate travel purchase, for instance, a card might offer a value of one penny per point.
Fixed-value point currencies may also vary depending on the manner of redemption with specific cards. For instance, a credit card’s points can be worth 1.5 cents each when used for travel benefits but only 1 cent each when used for cash back.
Business Travel Credit Cards
A travel business credit card may be something to think about if you’re traveling for work and want to keep your business and personal costs separate. While business credit cards for travel perform the same functions as consumer credit cards for travel, they frequently have different earning rates, benefits, and annual fee structures.
Comparison of co-branded and generic travel cards
In general, a co-branded card makes sense if you frequently travel with that brand. Utilizing a co-branded card can help you advance more quickly to elite status with a hotel or airline and frequently comes with additional beneficial features. A generic travel card is perhaps a better option for your needs if you wish to fly with any airline of your choosing and stay at any hotel chain of your choosing.
What General Travel Credit Cards Offer
The amount of perks offered by travel credit cards will probably be correlated with the annual cost. A premium credit card may offer access to airport lounges, travel insurance that covers trip cancellation and delay, and special benefits at five-star hotels. A mid-range card could nevertheless include benefits like Global Entry or TSA Precheck and motor rental insurance. Depending on the card, even one without an annual charge might provide some fundamental advantages.
What Co-Branded Travel Credit Cards Offer
A co-branded travel card will provide advantages exclusive to that company. You might receive a discount on in-flight purchases or a bonus for checked bags with airline cards. You might see a status level, a free night each year award, or anniversary points for hotel cards. You might be able to spend on greater levels of status with either sort of card.
See our guides below to learn more about the top co-branded credit cards:
- Outstanding Southwest Credit Cards
- The best credit cards for American Airlines
- Optimum Delta Credit Cards
- Top United States Credit Cards
- credit cards from Hyatt
- Recommended Mariott Credit Cards
- Travel credit cards: Positives and Negatives
Travel credit cards’ benefits
rapid access to free or reduced travel. By spending money, you’ll earn incentives that can be used to future trip expenses.
Elite advantages and perks. Numerous cards provide perks that save money, such as free luggage or breakfast.
international transaction costs are absent. Some of the top travel credit cards don’t impose additional fees when used overseas.
Travel Credit Cards’ Drawbacks
restricted awards. Redeeming rewards for more travel is where a travel rewards card’s best value lies.
Annual fees may be expensive. The most expensive credit cards typically have the most expensive fees.
Redemptions may be challenging. Depending on the incentive program, it may take some effort to get the most value out of your points or miles.
When Is a Travel Credit Card Appropriate?
journeys for work. Having a specific travel card can make it simple to keep business and personal costs apart if your job needs you to travel.
worldwide travel. International travel credit cards frequently provide benefits like no foreign transaction fees, access to airport lounges, and application fee reimbursements for TSA Precheck or Global Entry that might make your trip more comfortable if you’re intending to travel overseas.
posh travel. A travel credit card with these advantages can provide you access to upmarket experiences like admission to private airport lounges, automatic hotel room upgrades, and property credits.
How many credit cards should I have for travel?
Depending on how frequently you travel, what perks are important to you, your financial status, and your willingness to spend time managing several cards, you should have a certain number of travel credit cards. Those who travel frequently will find value in having at least one travel card, but they might think about having many. Having an airline card and a hotel card, for instance, might offer complementing advantages and the chance to accrue rewards for all facets of your travel plans.
Reasons to Think About a Travel Credit Card
Travel cards frequently come with a wide range of membership perks, including as elite status when using partner programs, free checked bags, access to lounges, or reductions on additional travel costs. Your excursions may be simpler, more comfortable, and more economical as a result of these advantages. Additionally, travel credit cards give users the chance to accrue worthwhile benefits, and in some situations, these rewards can be more profitable than cash back or other reward kinds.
Why You Should Understand Travel Credit Cards
Compare the points and benefits offered with the annual fees connected with each card while considering travel credit cards. Many cards have extensive benefit lists and generous reward schemes, however they could have higher annual fees than other cards. Make sure you locate a card that offers an appropriate ratio of fees and perks to meet your unique requirements.
How to Select and Evaluate Travel Credit Cards
Things to compare when evaluating travel credit cards include:
Credit cards have yearly fees that might be as low as $0 or as much as several hundred dollars. Generally speaking, the benefits and rewards are richer the more expensive the card is. If you intend to use the perks offered, paying an annual subscription may be well worth it. Our ranking of the Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards contains further information.
Fee for Foreign Transactions
Make sure your travel card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees if you’re going abroad. Everything you buy with a card in a foreign country will cost more than it would with a card that doesn’t charge this fee because there may be an additional 2% to 3% surcharge added on top of the price of your purchase. Even if you haven’t left the country, foreign transaction fees still apply to purchases made with foreign corporations. See our ranking of the Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards for more information.
Consider the welcome offer on a certain card if you’re trying to choose between two identical cards. These welcome offers fluctuate, so if the card you’re considering has a particularly generous offer, it might help you save on the annual fee and/or future travel expenses.
Rate of Reward
Consider your spending habits while selecting a card. It might not be wise to get a credit card that offers the greatest rewards on airline expenditures if you don’t fly frequently.
All credit cards might be accepted everywhere, but that isn’t always the case. Visa and Mastercard are typically accepted in more countries than American Express or other cards when going abroad. As a result, if you travel frequently, you might wish to use a Visa or Mastercard instead of or in addition to other credit cards.
Numerous travel credit cards come with different types of travel insurance, like trip interruption protection or collision damage waivers for rental cars. These built-in insurance coverages might cost less than separately purchased ones, but they might not be as thorough. For details on the conditions of your coverage, consult the card’s benefits guide. In our lists of the Best Credit Cards with Travel Insurance and Best Credit Cards For Car Rental Insurance, you may learn more about the various travel protections provided by credit cards.
Also take into account any unique benefits linked to the cards you analyze. These could provide things like access to airport lounges or statement credit refunds for certain purchases made with particular brands or on purchases in particular categories.
Analyzing Credit Cards for Airlines
A review of hotel credit cards
How to Utilize Your Travel Credit Card to Its Fullest
Utilizing a credit card that matches your spending habits is the greatest way to get the most out of it. In other words, utilizing a card that offers high rewards in both categories will make the most sense if a significant portion of your budget is allocated to dining and travel. Another choice is to link credit cards and allocate different cards to various spending categories.
How to Increase Travel Rewards
To get the most out of your travel rewards card, take use of transfer partners whenever you can. You can shift points to a list of preferred airline partners and benefit from airline discounts with points from a single flexible reward program thanks to cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s ability to transfer points 1:1. This is especially useful when looking for discounted fares from a particular airline.
Hotel and Airline Loyalty Programs
Utilizing the reward programs provided by the majority of airlines and hotel chains goes hand-in-hand with knowing how to maximize the points and miles you earn from your travel credit card. You can join as many loyalty programs as you’d like, and it’s free to do so. Typically, if you aren’t already a member of the loyalty program when you sign up for a co-branded credit card associated with a specific brand, you will be.
Keep Tabs on Your Credit Card Points and Miles
By monitoring your spending, you can make sure that you always use the card that will give you the best benefits when you make a purchase. This entails being aware of which card to use in whatever circumstance based on the purchase’s unique merchant’s coding. For instance, it might not make sense to use the airline card to pay your restaurant bill if you have two credit cards, one of which gets significant rewards on dining and the other of which has an airline co-brand. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways, from the complex to the simple. For example, you could put stickers on each card to remind you when to use it.
How to Travel Using Credit Card Points
In addition to collecting rewards, there are methods to maximize the value of your awards when it comes time to use them. There are typically two ways to redeem your travel points when the time comes. You can create the itinerary you want and use your points to cover the fee in full or in part. Alternately, you may do some study to find out how to use your prizes in the best way possible. It all depends on how much work you feel confident doing.
How to Use Credit Cards to Travel for Free
When compared to paying full price, credit cards can help you save a lot of money on travel. Redeeming rewards for travel is frequently the best option to travel for free with credit cards. The incentives you receive with regular shopping and welcome bonus deals can add up to hundreds of dollars toward free vacation. To do this, though, you’ll need to understand how to use the points and miles from your particular program.
You may also be able to travel for free with included statement credits or card advantages. Premium credit cards could provide annual credits that can be used as a rebate on certain travel purchases. As an alternative, you can have hotel free night certificates or airline companion certificates, which function more like coupons.
Benefits May Be Outweighed by Interest Rates
Rewards from credit cards might be a worthwhile advantage. Your earnings could reach hundreds of dollars in some circumstances, particularly if a welcome bonus is involved. However, if you have credit card debt, resist the temptation of these offers. The annual percentage rate (APR) for credit cards is typically in the double digits. It won’t make financial sense to pay 20% interest to receive 5% in rewards.
In a OnePoll study conducted in May 2023 for Forbes Advisor, 27% of participants claimed not to be aware of their credit card interest rate. 16% more people were unsure. If you carry a balance, being in that posture can be frightening.
Even if you normally pay off your credit card balance in full, use this as a reminder to check the interest rate on your card. It’s still important to know. Our credit card interest calculator may also show you how much more carrying a load could cost you over the course of a month or a year. Maybe it’s time to use those incentives to pay down that balance as a statement credit. Although it’s not a spectacular reward, it can end up saving you a lot of money.
Are Credit Cards for Travel Worth It?
In general, travel credit cards are worthwhile—if you’ll take use of the perks. If you travel frequently, travel rewards credit cards can be a wise addition to your finances. Every purchase you make will allow you to accrue rewards that you may subsequently use toward future travel, frequently at a larger rate than if you had opted for cash back or other reward types. Many travel cards also come with other features that will improve your trip and add even more value. Examples are the American Express Platinum Card®, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cards.
Please visit this page to examine the rates and costs for the American Express® Gold Card.
Visit this page to discover The Platinum Card® from American Express rates and fees.