Best travel credit cards

Best Travel Credit Cards

Note:  This page is regularly updated with new card information.

The Best Travel Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Best for beginners

World of Hyatt Credit Card – Best hotel points value

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless – Best hotel selection

Chase Ink Business Preferred – Best Business flexible rewards

Chase Ink Business Unlimited – Best Business flat rate rewards

Chase Ink Business Cash – Best Business 5% cash back categories

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Vu Restaurant

Hyatt Regency Jersey City - New York City View - 4 nights free with Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Why it’s a great travel credit card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card really has everything we want.  It has a big sign-up bonus, high rewards rate, and valuable points.  The card itself is also kind of fancy if you like that kind of thing.  And it is just solidly a top performing travel credit card.

 

Current welcome offer

60,000 Bonus Points.  After you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening - that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Great value here.  Plus the points can be worth even much more when you points transfer to a travel partner like Hyatt or Marriott.

 

Rewards Rate

Earn 2x points on dining - including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining.

Earn 2x points on travel from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains.

Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

 

Redemption rate

Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.  For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

 

Points transfer

1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

For example, 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points

 

Travel benefits

Travel and purchase protection benefits like Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance and Extended Warranty Protection.

 

Foreign transaction fee

No foreign transaction fees.

 

Annual Fee

$95 annual fee

 

Why it’s worth it

Have to say, the sign-up bonus is big and worth many hundreds of dollars when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.  Using points transfer to partners like Hyatt and Marriott can be even more valuable.

When you use the card for dining and travel you'll get 2 points per dollar spent.  You'll get 1 point per dollar spent in other categories.  All these additional points get you on vacation to become your best self.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

on Chase's website

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Oceanfront Studio Suite - One King Bed (plus sofa bed) - Balcony

Hyatt House Virginia Beach - stay for free with the World of Hyatt Credit Card

Why it’s a great travel credit card

Best hotel points value.  I rank Hyatt points as the most valuable hotel points.  We can book rooms with Hyatt for as little as 5,000 points.  I regularly book these Category 1 hotels that cost about $200 per night for 5,000 points.  That's 4 cents per point.

I've also booked New Year's week luxury resorts for 25,000 points per night - the regular price on those was $1,000 per night - still 4 cents per point.

Now, not all nights will work out to 4 cents per point.  Still, it is possible and in general the points are way up there in value.

 

Current welcome offer

50,000 Bonus Points.  Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

 

Rewards Rate

9x points for Hyatt stays.  Earn 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels, participating Small Luxury Hotels of the World, participating Exhale locations, and eligible Lindblad Expeditions.  Plus, 5 points per eligible $1 spent for being a World of Hyatt member.

2x points for dining out.  Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants.

2x points for flights.  Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline.

2x points for gym memberships.  Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on fitness club and gym memberships.

2x points for getting around.  Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including taxis, mass transit, tolls and ride-share services.

1x point for everything else.  Earn 1 Bonus Point per $1 spent on all other card purchases.

 

Travel benefits

1 Free night every year.  Receive one free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary.

Plus get 1 additional free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year.

 

Your status is upgraded.  Enjoy more benefits as a World of Hyatt Discoverist Member.
-10% Bonus Points when choosing to earn points on eligible spend at Hyatt
-Premium in-room internet
-2pm late check-out up request where available

 

A Faster Way to Higher Elite Status

5 qualifying night credit toward your next tier status every year.

2 additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card.

 

Annual Fee

$95 annual fee

 

Why it’s worth it

The sign-up bonus can be valued at hundreds and even more than a thousand dollars.

The card comes with Discoverist status with Hyatt.  I have received great help at Hyatt and they make a point to thank people for being loyal.  Besides the formal Discoverist benefits I feel that status does actually make you a little special.

Overall this card can get you out on your dream vacation - to become your best self.

World of Hyatt

on Chase's website

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Residence Inn Big Sky - The Wilson Hotel

Residence Inn Big Sky, Montana - stay for free with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Why it’s a great travel credit card

Best hotel selection.  Marriott has a large number of hotels and resorts.  In fact their brands include The Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Edition, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Marriott Vacation Club, Delta Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, Renaissance, Gaylord, Courtyard Hotels, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield Inn & Suites, AC Hotels, Aloft Hotels, Moxy Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, element, Homes & Villas by Marriott International, Autograph Collection, Design Hotels, and Tribute Portfolio.

All together they have over 7,000 hotels.  That’s a lot of hotels from luxury to value. 

This big selection means there are really thousands of hotels and resorts to choose from with your Marriott Bonvoy points.

 

Current welcome offer

3 Free Night Awards – after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening.  Each night award is good at a hotel or resort up to 35,000 Bonvoy points.

 

Rewards Rate

6x Points per $1 spent at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.

2x Points on all other purchases

 

Travel benefits

Enjoy a Free Night award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.

15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

You will automatically receive Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year as a cardmember.

Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.

Free Premium Wi-fi.

 

Foreign Transaction Fees

No foreign transaction fees.

 

Annual Fee

$95 annual fee

 

Why it’s worth it

The sign-up bonus by itself gives us hundreds of dollars of value.

6x Points per $1 spent at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.

2x Points on all other purchases

Marriott has over 7,000 hotels and resorts, so we have choices for where we stay.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless

on Chase's website

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel - stay free with the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card

Why it’s a great travel credit card

Best Business flexible rewards.  The points from this card can be used in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to purchase travel and they can also be converted to airline or hotel points and transferred to those programs.

The points can be used with many of the great travel brands including Hyatt and Marriott.

The card also has a generous welcome offer.

 

Current welcome offer

Earn 100,000 Bonus Points.  After you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.  That’s $1,000 when you redeem for cash back.

 

Rewards Rate

Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year on:

  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines
  • Travel

Earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases with no limits to the amount you can earn.

 

Travel benefits

  • Trip cancellation/interruption service.   When you cancel or cut short a trip due to eligible reasons like illness or severe weather you get up to $5,000 in coverage – up to a maximum of $10,000 per trip.
  • Trip delay reimbursement.  Delays of greater than 12 hours due to a covered reason on a covered trip may receive this benefit.  Reimbursement up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses is possible.
  • Primary car rental coverage.  Put the entire rental car cost on the card while you are traveling for business.  You are covered for theft and damage in the U.S. and most other countries as well.  This does not include any liability coverage, but will cover the full value of the vehicle.
  • Cellphone protection.  Use the card to pay your monthly cellphone bill.  You may receive a $600 benefit for damage or theft of the phone with a $100 deductible.  The benefit has a limit of three times in a twelve month period.
  • Purchase protection.  Eligible items purchased on the card are covered against theft and damage for 120 days after purchase.  The coverage is limited to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Extended warranty protection.  When an eligible purchase from a U.S. manufacturer has a warranty of less than three years, the card will add one year to the warranty.

 

Foreign Transaction Fees

No foreign Transaction Fees

 

Annual Fee

$95 annual fee.

 

Why it’s worth it

The welcome offer can be worth hundreds and thousands of dollars.  Definitely a great help to go out and take your dream vacation.

The categories that give 3 points per dollar spent really give a big boost to points.  And many businesses will find they are big categories.

Travel benefits cover a wide range of travel options and give reason to use the card for the cellphone bill.

Ink Business Preferred

on Chase's website

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Park Hyatt Chicago

Park Hyatt Chicago - stay for free with the Chase Ink Business Unlimited credit card

 

Why it’s a great travel credit card

Best Business flat rate rewards.  The card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

The card’s big sign-up bonus is a big help, great to jump start anyone’s rewards account.

Overall the card packs a big punch and is simple as well.

And when you also have an Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Sapphire Preferred Credit Card you can increase your rewards from this card by 25% and even get more options.

 

Current welcome offer

Earn $750 Bonus Cash Back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

If you also have an Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Sapphire Preferred Credit Card you can transfer points from this account to those accounts.  Then the points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel – and the points can also be transferred to travel partners including United Airlines, Marriott, and Hyatt.

 

Rewards Rate

Earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase with no limits to the amount you can earn.

Again, these points may be transferred to an Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Sapphire Preferred Credit Card for increased value.

The Chase Ink Business Cash credit card has higher rates in specific categories.  This card gives the highest overall rate for people who prefer to use one card for everything.

 

Travel benefits

Keeping with this card’s straight forward approach the travel benefits are direct to the point.

The card comes with fraud protection and zero responsibility for unauthorized charges.

 

Foreign Transactions Fee

3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

 

Annual Fee

No annual fee.

 

Why it’s worth it

The unlimited cash back reward of 1.5% is solid.  The big value comes when you transfer the points to your Ink Business Preferred card or Sapphire Preferred card.  You can then get 1.5 points per dollar spent.  I often transfer to United or Hyatt - so I’m getting 1.5 United or Hyatt points per dollar spent.

There is huge value in getting all three of these cards over time.

Ink Business Unlimited

on Chase's website

Chase Ink Business Cash

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay - stay for free with the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card

 

Why it’s a great travel credit card

Best Business 5% cash back categories.  The real benefit from this card comes from its 5% cash back categories. 

And of course the big sign-up bonus does a lot to make this a great travel credit card.

No annual fee.

Can transfer points to the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card to get a 25% bonus on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or to transfer points to great travel partners like United Airlines, Hyatt, and Marriott.

 

Current welcome offer

Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

 

Rewards Rate

Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year:

  • At office supply stores
  • On internet, cable, and phone services

Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year at:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants

Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

 

Travel benefits

Keeping with the no annual fee, the travel benefits are limited.  This card may work well for some people when paired with the Chase Ink Business Preferred and Chase Sapphire Preferred.  The travel benefits of those cards can be leveraged, while using this card for the categories with 5% cash back.

The card comes with fraud protection and zero responsibility for unauthorized charges.

 

Foreign Transaction Fee

3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

 

Annual Fee

No annual fee.

 

Why it’s worth it

Really using this card for its 5% cash back categories of office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services will make it worth it. 

Pairing this card with the Chase Ink Business Preferred and/or Chase Sapphire Preferred will maximize the travel benefits

Ink Business Cash

on Chase's website

How I select the best travel credit cards

Grand Hyatt Vail

Grand Hyatt Vail

 

Sign-up bonus

Often called the Welcome Offer, these are the points you get when you sign-up for a new card and purchase the amount of money set for that card.

These sign-up bonuses can be very large - as we can see on this page.  Even with a travel credit card with a high reward rate the sign-up bonuses give us a big boost. 

Often these bonuses may be valued at hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Of course, this makes the sign-up bonus with a few thousand dollars of spend a big shortcut.

We're all about getting out there on our dream vacation - so any way to be quick about it is great for us.

Absolutely we look at the sign-up bonus when deciding whether we will get a card.

Now there are still other factors for us to think about.

 

Rewards earning rate

The rewards earning rate is how many points we get for each dollar we spend.  An earning rate of 1 point per $1 spent is common.  In general getting 2 or 3 points per $1 spent is better. 

More points is always better if we're getting the same points.  Still 2 of one type of point may not be better than 1 of another kind of point. 

We have to compare apples to apples...it can get confusing.  We like to keep it simple though.  More of the same points is better. 

 

Travel credits

Travel credits are reimbursements the credit card gives you - often as a credit on your statement.  This is a way for the credit card to give you more value in the travel area.

For example some cards may give you a limited credit for our Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee.  These credits are money in our pocket, if we want to buy them.

 

Status

Status could be elite status with a hotel or an airline.  It could also be status that gives you access to a type of airport lounge.

Status at a hotel can give us huge value.  I have received room upgrades - and getting an ocean view room is a big benefit. 

My favorite benefit of hotel status is the free breakfast and sometimes even free dinner with lounge access.  That feels like money in my pocket and real value for me.

Access to an airport lounge could be a fun thing if you are flying for vacation.  When we took our Grand Tour we had something like 13 flights.  We got free access to Priority Pass airport lounges - and it was a welcome benefit.  Free food that was often a nice buffet and also a nicer place to relax than the airport terminal.

Status is kind of secret sneaky.  The more you travel the more value you will get from it.  And if you travel a lot the value can be really huge.  Status gave us weeks of free meals when we traveled for the Summer.

 

Rewards program

The rewards program is the type of points you get with the credit card.  For example you might get Hyatt points or Marriott Points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

The types of points does matter.  Of course we can't book a Marriott hotel with Hyatt points.  It's more than just that though.

All points have a different value in terms of what we can get for them.  And some points like Ultimate Rewards can be used like cash to make travel reservations - and can also transfer to partners like Hyatt and Marriott.

Overall we want points that will get us on our dream vacation - as quickly as possible.

 

Foreign transaction fees

Foreign transaction fees definitely matter when you are outside the U.S.A.  Of course they don't matter at all at home or when we travel domestic.

I would only use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee when I travel international.  The fee is easily avoided just by using another card.

Some cards have great benefits and still have foreign transaction fees.  That’s ok.  I just use them in the U.S. and enjoy the benefits.  Of course if you live outside the U.S. you may want to avoid these cards.  Here in the U.S. they have been good cards for me.

 

Travel insurance coverage

Travel insurance can reimburse when there is an eligible loss - so the coverage can have value when things go bad.  This kind of coverage is a consideration when selecting the best travel credit cards.

Types of Travel Credit Cards

Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee

The Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee

 

There are two general types of travel credit cards.

General travel credit cards

General travel credit cards are mostly issued by banks.  They don't directly give you a travel service like a hotel or airline would. 

This type of card can be used in a couple ways.  The first is that the points can be used like cash when booking travel.  The second is the points may be transferred to a partner hotel or airline.

You might be able to use some cards in one way or the other.  And some cards may be used in both ways.

The main advantage of the general travel credit cards is that they are flexible.  If they can be used like cash you can purchase many types of travel - often including flights and hotel stays.  If they can transfer the partners often include both airline and hotel partners.

 

Co-Branded credit cards

Co-branded credit cards are with a specific brand - usually a hotel or airline.  These points may only be used with that brand. 

We can see these points are in a way not as flexible as the general travel credit cards.  After all, they can only be used with one brand.  Still, with a brand like Marriott having more than 7,000 hotels that may not be a problem for us.

There are a couple advantage for these cards.

  • They may give us status when traveling with that brand.  Status can be hugely valuable - and it doesn't run out.  You can keep using it over and over and over.
  • The value of the points you earn with these cards can be high. 

Perks of hotel credit cards may include:
Free nights

Elite status

Upgraded room or suite.

Early check-in/late check-out

Final Thoughts

Papa Ed's Pool Bar and Grill

Hyatt Regency Hill Country, TX

 

When choosing the best travel credit card for you, keep these things in mind:

  • most valuable bonuses
  • get the best value for your purchases
  • change your life

My whole thing is getting out on my dream vacation to become my best self.  Breaking away from our normal is a way to enjoy luxury.  It's also a chance to relax and get in our best mood.

Let's take our dream vacation and become our best self.