Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

A great travel credit card can be one of the most useful tools at your disposal when planning any adventure. I’ve personally brandished dozens  over three years of full-time globetrotting — they’ve gifted me free flights, premium travel perks, and some of the best hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in.

In short, they’ve saved me thousands of dollars and allowed me to travel the world for next to nothing Fortunately you don’t have to optimize every dollar you spend or sign up for multiple cards to enjoy highly-discounted flights and hotels, just having one good travel card can put you in a position to save big on your future trips.

But not all cards are created equal, and no two travelers are the same, making the tool best fit for purpose all the more important. If you’re a frequent flier like me, your cards should be covering most, if not all, of your major expenses. But if you’ve got your eye on that one big bucket-list trip, first-class seats and luxury suites might take priority.

Whatever your travel goals, there’s a card that can help you get there while keeping cash in your pocket. To help you on your way, I’ve compiled the best travel cards currently available.

When considering what makes a great travel credit card, we considered the value of the welcome bonus, how many points you earn for your ongoing spend, benefits like travel insurance and airport lounge access and a card’s annual fee.

Let’s get to the points!

Best travel credit cards of November 2022

Best Credit Card for Luxury Travel Perks:
The American Express Platinum Card

Who’s This For: The frequent traveler with an eye on top tier perks like airport lounge access.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® points

after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership. 

Best travel credit card for keeping it simple:
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Who’s This For: The regular or occasional traveler who wants to keep points-earning simple and avoid carrying multiple cards.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card​

75,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Best travel credit card for foodies:
American Express® Gold Card

Who’s This For: The traveler with a penchant for eating out, while also spending big on their own groceries

American Express® Gold Card

60,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Best travel credit card with no annual fee:
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Who’s This For:  The eager traveler hoping to learn the ropes about points and miles

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

20,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $500 on purchases in 3 months of card opening.

Best premium travel credit card: 
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Who’s This For: Any traveler seeking a premium travel card with maximum flexibility and some perks for good measure

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

80,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in 3 months of account opening.

Best mid-tier travel credit card: 
Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Who’s This For: Both beginner earners who can use it as their primary card and seasoned points pros who can utilize its well-above weight class potential

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

60,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Best travel credit card for business travelers: 
Chase Ink Business Preferred®

Who’s This For: The small business owner or freelancer who wants their business spending to pay dividends in their travel

Chase Ink Business Preferred®

100,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $15,000 on purchases in 3 months of account opening.

Best travel credit card for families: 
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Who’s this for? The traveler with several dependents in tow; both old and young

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

75,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Best Travel Credit Card For Everyday Earning:
Citi Premier® Card

Who’s this for? The traveler not concerned with premium perks but who wants to know they’re getting good value from all of their purchases

Citi Premier® Card

80,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Best Travel Credit Card For Everyday Earning:
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Who’s this for? The occasional traveler just dipping their toes into the world of travel rewards

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

25,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Best Travel Credit Card For Gas Guzzlers:
U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

Who’s this for? The traveler who spends spends more time than average on the road, whether commuting or otherwise, and wants to maximize that spend.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

50,000 Bonus Points

after you spend $2,000 within 120 days of account opening.

Best Travel Credit Card For Renters:
Bilt Mastercard®

Who’s this for? The traveler who wants to be rewarded for their largest monthly expense.

Bilt Mastercard®

No Welcome Bonus

FAQs

How should you use miles and rewards points?

The answer to this question is varied and depends on your situation. Some cards only offer limited ways to redeem miles and points. In this case, it’ll usually be cash back or statement credits. These are excellent ways to offset purchases or beat inflation, and don’t require too much thought or planning.

If you have a more specific travel goal in mind, you need to do a little more work. As a rule of thumb, almost every reward system that allows you to transfer points to an airline or hotel partner offers a higher value proposition for your points. The trade-off is that you need to delve into which partner is best for where you want to go, and locate the best deals.

The other option is using credit card travel portals. These are simple and function like a traditional travel search engine, like Expedia, and can usually score you good value for your points. But again, compared to transferring to a partner, you could be losing out.

I’ve used all three in different situations, but generally aim to transfer my points where possible.

Are annual fees worth it?

Annual fees can be scary, especially if you’re new to the world of points. Why would you pay almost $700 for a card like the Amex Platinum? The answer, again, varies depending on your situation.

An intimidating fee like the Platinum can be more than worth it if the card is being used to the fullest extent. These cards offer a number of perks, like statement credits for travel purchases, complimentary hotel elite status, widespread airport lounge access, travel insurance and more. If purchased individually these perks can be worth thousands of dollars.

Just a large intro bonus, if used well, could easily offset the yearly fee. But after that initial year, it might be harder to pull maximum value, especially if you find yourself spending on things you would never purchase. Ask yourself if the benefits a card offers are something you would have paid for anyway.  I’ll likely be dropping my own Platinum next year, as I can’t validate the fee anymore, despite loving the perks.

Mid-tier travel cards can bridge that gap easily. Many offer easy to use, direct benefits that counter the fee each year, allowing you to accumulate points with no concern for the looming annual charge. Even some premium cards like the Sapphire Reserve Venture X practically write-of the fees with easy-to-use statement credits.

Should I open a card for the intro bonus?

The simplest answer to this question is: only if you would hit the required minimum spending amount without changing any of your normal spending habits. If you force yourself to eat out more or make big purchases just to hit the threshold, you’re not really saving money.

I have paid for things earlier than I intended to. For example, I paid for three months of Airbnbs well ahead of time to ensure I grabbed the bonus on my Sapphire Preferred. I would have spent the money anyway, and it gifted me with some free travel. But this isn’t always ideal, and does run the risk of holding a larger balance and accruing interest if you don’t have the cash available to pay it off on-time and in full.

How do I choose the right card?

The best way to choose a card is to pick a travel goal, say a free round-trip flight to Paris. Work out how many points you would need with a few different airlines, and then check which credit cards’ points transfer to those airlines.

Check out the bonus offers, as these are the easiest way to earn a lot of points quickly, and ensure that you can realistically hit that spending goal. If the stars align, and you’re confident you can use the card responsibly, then go for it. 

Bottom line

When used correctly, a travel credit card can easily save you thousands of dollars on flights and hotels.. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a points geek or want to earn rewards on auto pilot.

Just make sure you do your research to pick the best card that maximizes your spending and offers the perks you want and will actually use.

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