Best Travel Credit Cards
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FAQs on Travel Rewards Credit Card
How do travel rewards credit cards work?
- General-purpose travel credit cards — including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the American Express® Gold Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card — give you rewards that can be used like cash to pay for travel or that can be exchanged for points in airline or hotel loyalty programs. With their flexible rewards, general-purpose options are usually the best travel credit cards for those who don't stick to a single airline or hotel chain.
- Airline- and hotel-specific cards — such as the Gold Delta SkyMiles From American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Card — give points and miles that can be used only with the brand on the card. (Although it's possible in some cases to transfer hotel points to airlines, we recommend against it because you get a poor value.) These so-called co-branded cards are usually the best travel credit cards for those who always fly one particular airline or stay with one hotel group.
Why choose a travel reward credit card?
How do you find the right travel rewards credit card for your lifestyle?
- How much do you typically spend (and fully pay off) on credit cards in a month? This will help you determine what travel sign-up bonuses will work best for you. Many require you to reach a spending threshold within the first few months to get the bonus.
- Where do you spend your money? Some of the best travel rewards cards give bonus points for categories like dining or entertainment. For example, for those who like to go out, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers triple points for dining out and entertainment.
- How much do you spend in a month? Knowing your average monthly expenditures will help you get great sign-up bonuses. It will also help you earn more in rewards than you pay in annual fees.
- Is there someone else in your household who could also be a cardholder? Several credit card companies offer bonus points for additional cardholders. Plus, you’ll have someone else to boost you toward that sign-up bonus.
- What can you expect to spend on credit cards in a year? This helps estimate your annual rewards. If a card’s annual fee is higher than your expected annual rewards, you’ll lose money even if you pay off your bill on time.
What in general should you look for in a travel card?
- Make sure the sign-up bonus is attainable. You can easily negate a sign-up bonus by outspending your income and getting charged interest as you pay the card off.
- Find out if the annual fee changes after the first year. If your spending habits net you $200 in travel rewards each year, don’t get a card with a $200 annual fee.
- Make sure the rewards fit your lifestyle. When evaluating cards, look at both how they earn rewards and how you can redeem those rewards. Some cards offer higher rewards on travel spending and a lower base rate (usually 1%) on everything else. If you love to dine out, find a card that gives you extra points when you do, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Other cards pay the same rate on all spending. Look for at least 2% rewards on a card with an annual fee and 1.5% on a no-fee card. As a general rule, avoid cards that give you less than 1 cent per point or mile when you redeem.
- Understand how you will use the rewards. If you are loyal to certain airlines and hotel chains, consider a travel card from those brands. If you don't care about the brand, consider a general travel rewards card that gives you more places to redeem your points. The Capital One Venture Rewards Card lets you redeem your travel purchases as a statement refund, while the Citi Prestige Card lets you book on any airline through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
- The points should be easy to redeem.According to AICPA, only 15% of all Americans have used points to pay for a trip. Meanwhile, 14% have gone into debt for a trip. Make your credit card work for you, not the other way around. And remember, one point is generally equal to $0.01 in rewards.
- Using multiple cards? Choose ones that complement each other. If you're going to use more than one travel credit card, make sure they work well together! For example, if you have a card that provides high reward rates on dining and travel, combine it with a card that has high rates on gas and groceries.
Should you apply for multiple travel cards to get multiple signup bonuses?
What do you get with a general travel credit card?
What do you get with an airline credit card?
What are travel credit card points / miles worth?
|Average value per point/mile, in cents
|Average value per point, in cents
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