It’s time to plan your holiday travel. That may mean cashing in the travel rewards you’ve accumulated on credit cards — or it may mean starting to use a travel rewards credit card. Chances are you spend money on some necessities, and when you do, tailoring the rewards you receive to your travel needs could end up financially benefiting you and your family even more than a cash back credit card might. Keep in mind, of course, that increasing your spending just to earn rewards doesn’t make sense, and it would be worse if you had to pay interest on your balances.
When you have controlled spending that you can afford, and you pay your credit card bill in full and on time every month, you can offset your costs of travel by earning rewards. Using the travel rewards credit card that best matches your travel needs for the spending you would be doing anyway could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. For example, some cards offer free flights and hotels while others can soften the blow of foreign transaction fees.
Listed below are the best travel rewards credit cards available today. If you’ve got a card you think deserves to be on this list, let us know and we’ll add it. These offers are subject to change so be sure to check the issuers application page and website for the most current information.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the strongest travel rewards cards out there. You earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. But what makes this a very strong offer now, is that Chase is offering a 50,000 point bonus after you spend at least $4,000 on the card in the first three months. That right – this bonus offer gets you a $625 bonus20 percent off airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, $95 thereafter. There are no blackout dates or restrictions of any kind when using your rewards points, and you’re not tied to any specific airline, hotel chain or car rental agency when redeeming points.
For more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 50,000 bonus points introductory offer, visit my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 50,000 bonus points review or go here to compare against other travel rewards cards and learn how to apply.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (compare against other travel rewards cards and learn how to apply here) continues to be one of the best travel reward credit cards you can find. You can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Enough for a weekend getaway at a Category 4 Hotel like the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa or a six night stay at a Category 2 Hotel. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
With this card you can earn up to 5 Starpoints for every dollar of eligible purchases charged directly at hotels and resorts participating in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program – that’s 2 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the 2 or 3 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases. When redeeming your points, you can select from over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates. As a new perk, they have added free in-room, premium Internet access. Booking requirements apply and some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, $95 thereafter. Terms and conditions apply. Compare this great travel card against other popular travel rewards and learn how to apply here.
The PenFed Travel Rewards American Express Card is like no other in terms of rewards.
Here are the issuer details:
• 0% APR promo balance transfer rate for 12 mos. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 10.24% to 17.99%. APR will vary with the market based on prime rate. (Subject to credit approval.)
• Rate and offers are subject to change.
• Earn 5 points on airfare purchases.
• Earn 1 point on all other purchases.
• 20,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 within the first 3 months of opening the Card account.
• No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
• Rates as low as 10.24% APR.
• Federally insured by NCUA.
The PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card. For this card, you must be a PenFed member to submit an application; but if you are not associated with the military, the American Red Cross, or any number of qualifying organizations, a one-time $15 or $20 membership donation to the Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association will do the trick. Keep in mind that membership to the credit union does not guarantee you will be approved for one of their credit cards.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the best travel rewards credit cards available today, as evidenced by the current offering (updated on 7-27-16):
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
- Travel when you want with no blackout dates
Plus, miles don’t expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card also has:
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
From our perspective, not being charged the typical 1% to 3% foreign transaction fee can be a great benefit all on its own if you spend money on purchases outside the U.S.!
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
Updated July 27, 2016 and originally published March 30, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.