December 2, 2022

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Whether you travel often or just take the occasional vacation, a travel rewards credit card…

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Whether you travel often or just take the occasional vacation, a travel rewards credit card can be an excellent companion. With every purchase, you can use a good travel card to collect points or miles that are redeemable for flights, hotels or other travel bookings. And many travel cards come with extra benefits, too, from free entry into airport lounges to statement credits toward application fees for TSA PreCheck and other programs that expedite security screening at the airport. 

Take a look at our picks of the best travel rewards credit cards. If you’d rather have a card that offers cash-back rewards, see The Best Cash-Back Credit Cards. 

For each card (except premium travel cards), we’ve calculated a typical annual rebate based on spending patterns in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey and assuming $25,000 spent on the card annually. For cards that do not waive their annual fee the first year, we’ve subtracted the annual fee from the cash value of the annual rebate. Except where noted, these cards don’t charge a foreign-transaction fee.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards: No Annual Fee

With these cards, reap points or miles without paying an annual fee. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited Visa

  • Website: www.chase.com 
  • Interest rate: 0% for 15 months, then 17.24% to 25.99%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: $200 back if you spend $500 in the first three months; 5% back on gas station purchases for the first $6,000 spent in the first year
  • Typical annual rebate: 45,277 points, worth $453

Chase Freedom Unlimited is a compelling no-fee option for domestic travelers who are willing to book trips through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. It provides five points per dollar spent on travel purchases through Chase, three points on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5 points per dollar on other spending—a higher rate than the one point per dollar or 1% that most cards offer on purchases outside their maximum-rebate categories. Redeem points at a rate of a penny each for cash back, gift cards or travel. The card charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions, so for trips abroad, look to our other winners that charge no such fee.

A couple of other perks: You earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025, and you get three months of free membership to DashPass (regularly $10 a month), which waives the delivery fee and reduces service fees on eligible orders through food-delivery service DoorDash. After three months, you’re automatically enrolled for nine months of DashPass membership at a rate of 50% off (you can cancel membership anytime). 

Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa

  • Website: www.bankofamerica.com
  • Interest rate: 0% for 18 months, then 16.24% to 26.24%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: 25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Typical annual rebate: 39,000 points, worth $390 in statement credits for travel or dining purchases

Get three points per dollar for each purchase you make through Bank of America’s Travel Center and 1.5 points per dollar on all other spending. You can use points at a rate of a penny apiece for statement credits to offset travel and dining purchases. If you redeem points for a check or deposit into an eligible Bank of America or Merrill account, they are worth 0.6 cent each. All of those redemptions require a 2,500-point minimum; gift-card redemptions, for which point values vary, require 3,125 points.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Visa

  • Website: www.capitalone.com
  • Interest rate: 0% for 15 months, then 16.49% to 26.49%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: 20,000 miles if you spend $500 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 35,000 miles, worth $350 in travel rebates

With this card, get five miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.25 miles per dollar on all other spending. Miles are worth a penny each when you redeem them for statement credits on travel purchases or to book a new travel reservation through Capital One. Or transfer miles to any of more than 15 travel loyalty programs (mostly at a rate of one Capital One mile to one loyalty-program point or mile), including British Airways Executive Club and the Choice Privileges hotel program. The value of miles varies if you use them to get cash back or gift cards.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards Worth the Annual Fee

With a high payback on travel spending and some perks on the side, these cards make the annual fee worth paying.

Capital One Venture Rewards Visa

  • Website: www.capitalone.com
  • Interest rate: 17.49% to 25.49%
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: 75,000 miles if you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 56,000 points, worth $465 after subtracting the annual fee

Travel rewards are easy to earn and redeem with Capital One Venture. You get five miles per dollar spent on hotel stays and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Through May 16, 2023, you also get five miles per dollar on bookings through car-sharing service Turo. All other spending earns two miles per dollar. Redeem miles at a rate of a penny each for statement credits on travel purchases or to book a new travel reservation through Capital One. Or transfer miles to any of more than 15 travel loyalty programs (mostly at a rate of one Capital One mile to one loyalty-program point or mile), including British Airways Executive Club and the Choice Privileges hotel program. The value of miles varies if you use them to get cash back or gift cards.

Cardholders get two free yearly visits to Capital One’s own airport lounges (one is at Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport, and two more are scheduled to open at Denver and Dulles international airports in 2023); a credit of up to $100 every four years to reimburse the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck expedited airport security screening; and Five Star status with rental-car company Hertz.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express

  • Website: www.usbank.com
  • Interest rate: 16.74% to 26.74%
  • Annual fee: $85
  • Sign-up bonus: 30,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first four months
  • Typical annual rebate: 41,318 points, worth $535 in travel redemptions after subtracting the annual fee

Points that you earn with this card are worth an impressive 1.5 cents each when you use them to book travel through U.S. Bank’s Rewards Center, and you earn them at a rate of five points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked through the rewards center; three points per dollar on restaurant spending; two points per dollar on purchases with airlines, gas stations and electric-vehicle charging stations; and one point per dollar on other spending. If you’d rather redeem points for cash back, they hold a respectable value of 1 cent each. 

Points expire five years from the end of the calendar quarter in which they were earned. Other benefits include a credit of up to $100 to reimburse a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee and free Boingo Wi-Fi.

Citi Premier Mastercard

  • Website: www.citi.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 26.24%
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 50,770 points, worth $413 in gift card and travel redemptions after subtracting the annual fee

Get three points per dollar spent in a range of categories: restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel and hotels. All other spending earns one point per dollar. Points are worth a penny each if you redeem them for gift cards or travel bookings through the Citi ThankYou program. You can also transfer points to partner airline and hotel loyalty programs, including Choice Privileges (at a ratio of one Citi point to two Choice Privileges points), JetBlue TrueBlue (1:1) and Wyndham Rewards (1:1). Each year, get $100 off a prepaid hotel stay of $500 or more that you book through the ThankYou program. 

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Flexible Travel Redemptions

Redeem points for travel bookings or transfer them to a broad range of partner airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa

  • Website: www.chase.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 25.24%
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 43,291 points, worth $446 in travel redemptions after subtracting the annual fee

Sapphire Preferred is a longtime standout in this category for strong point values and the ability to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to a solid list of airline and hotel loyalty programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United Mileage-Plus, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. 

Cardholders get five points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and two points per dollar on other travel spending; three points per dollar on dining, online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs) and select streaming services; and one point per dollar on other spending. Plus, you get up to $50 in statement credits each year for hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards (purchases that qualify for the credit do not earn points). 

On each account anniversary, you get a 10% points bonus on your total purchases made the previous year. Points are redeemable at a rate of 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Ultimate Rewards as well as statement credits on purchases in rotating categories through the Pay Yourself Back program; recently, eligible spending included Airbnb bookings and donations to select charities. Or exchange points at a reasonable rate of a penny each for cash back or gift cards.

Other benefits include 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025 and at least a year of free membership to DashPass (regularly $10 a month), which waives the delivery fee and reduces service fees on eligible orders through food-delivery service DoorDash. You also get a $10 monthly statement credit toward purchases from Gopuff, a service that provides home deliveries of groceries, alcohol and home essentials. 

American Express EveryDay

  • Website: www.americanexpress.com
  • Interest rate: 0% for 15 months, then 15.24% to 26.24%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: 10,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first six months
  • Typical annual rebate: 38,330 points, worth $383 for certain travel redemptions

Amex’s Membership Rewards points are transferable to several partner airline and hotel loyalty programs, and this card provides an avenue to earn the points without paying an annual fee. You get two points per dollar on up to $6,000 spent at supermarkets per year and on certain prepaid travel purchases through Amex Travel. Other spending gets one point per dollar. Each month that you make at least 20 purchases with the card, you get a 20% points bonus on those purchases. 

Point values vary depending on how you redeem them. Your best bets include booking flights through Amex Travel at a rate of a penny per point or transferring points to loyalty programs including Delta SkyMiles (at a ratio of one Amex point to one SkyMile), Hilton Honors (1:2 ratio) and Marriott Bonvoy (1:1). The card charges a 2.7% foreign-transaction fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa

  • Website: www.chase.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 25.24%
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: Three free-night awards if you spend $3,000 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 64,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, worth about $350 after subtracting the annual fee

Frequent guests of Marriott hotels can get good value out of this card, which allows you to rack up points that are redeemable for Marriott stays or transferable to the frequent-flier programs of nearly 40 airlines, including those of American, Delta, Southwest and United. Most transfers are at a ratio of three Marriott points to one frequent-flier mile, and for each 60,000 points transferred, you get a 5,000-mile bonus. 

The card offers six Marriott points per dollar spent at Marriott properties, three points per dollar on up to $6,000 spent yearly at grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, and two points per dollar on all other spending. Each year after your account anniversary, you get a free one-night Marriott stay (with a value of up to 35,000 points), and cardmembers have automatic Silver Elite loyalty status. Points expire if your account is inactive for 24 months. If you prefer to pay no annual fee, check out the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Visa.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Premium Travel Rewards

Frequent travelers can more than overcome the high annual fees on these cards by taking advantage of a bevy of perks. Note that we do not include a typical annual rebate for premium cards because they also provide considerable value outside of the points they award for everyday spending.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Visa

  • Website: www.capitalone.com
  • Interest rate: 18.49% to 25.49%
  • Annual fee: $395
  • Sign-up bonus: 75,000 miles if you spend $4,000 in the first three months

This card comes with attractive features and an annual fee that’s lower than the fees of some of its competitors. Plus, unlike some other premium cards, Venture X doesn’t charge an additional annual fee for authorized users. 

Cardholders earn 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, five miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and two miles per dollar on all other purchases. You can redeem miles at a rate of a penny apiece for statement credits on travel purchases or travel bookings through Capital One, or transfer them to partner airline and hotel loyalty programs. 

Perks include 10,000 bonus miles on your account anniversary each year, an annual statement credit of up to $300 for bookings that you make through Capital One Travel, free entry to more than 1,400 Priority Pass and Plaza Premium airport lounges, complimentary access for you and two guests to Capital One’s airport lounges, a credit of up to $100 every four years to reimburse the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and President’s Circle status with Hertz.  

Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa

  • Website: www.chase.com
  • Interest rate: 19.24% to 26.24%
  • Annual fee: $550; $75 for each authorized user
  • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months

Reserve provides 10 points per dollar on spending at participating restaurants through the Chase Dining program as well as on hotel and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and five points per dollar on flights booked through Chase. You also get three points per dollar on other restaurant and travel spending and one point per dollar on the rest of your purchases. Points are transferable to partner airline and hotel loyalty programs. Or you can trade points at a healthy rate of 1.5 cents each when you redeem them for travel bookings through Ultimate Rewards or for statement credits against purchases in rotating categories through Pay Yourself Back (recently, eligible spending included Airbnb bookings, dining, donations to select charities and the card’s annual fee). 

Among Reserve’s other benefits are an annual statement credit of up to $300 for travel purchases (purchases that qualify for the credit do not earn points), a Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access, and a fee credit of up to $100 every four years for the Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS airport-screening programs. At properties in the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, you enjoy perks such as complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out. 

Additionally, Reserve cardholders get 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2025, at least a year of free membership to DashPass (regularly $10 a month), which waives the delivery fee and reduces service fees on eligible orders through food-delivery service DoorDash, and a $10 monthly statement credit toward purchases from Gopuff, a service that provides home deliveries of groceries, alcohol and home essentials. 

American Express Platinum

  • Website: www.americanexpress.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 25.24%
  • Annual fee: $695, plus $175 for up to three authorized users and $175 per card for each user beyond three
  • Sign-up bonus: 150,000 points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months

At nearly $700, Amex Platinum’s annual fee has climbed to a level that may seem out of reach for the typical card user. But the card packs in a laundry list of perks to overcome the fee. They include annual statement credits of up to $200 on select hotel bookings through American Express, yearly credits of up to $200 for incidental fees (such as for checked baggage or in-flight entertainment) charged by one airline of your choice, up to $189 in yearly credits to reimburse the membership fee for the CLEAR airport-security program, up to $100 in reimbursement for Global Entry (every four years) or TSA PreCheck (every 4.5 years) application fees, $15 monthly in Uber Cash ($35 in December) for rides or food deliveries from Uber, and elevated loyalty status with Marriott and Hilton. Frequent fliers will appreciate free access to many airport lounges, including Amex’s own Centurion lounges as well as Airspace, Delta Sky Club, Escape, Plaza Premium, Priority Pass and select Lufthansa lounges.

Amex Platinum has been increasing non-travel benefits, too. Cardholders get statement credits to cover the $12.95 monthly fee of a Walmart+ membership, which provides free shipping and other benefits—including a Paramount+ video-streaming subscription—from the superstore; up to $300 yearly ($25 monthly) in statement credits for a membership with fitness club Equinox; up to $300 in statement credits to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike; up to $20 monthly in statement credits for subscription fees to Audible, Disney+, the New York Times, Peacock and SiriusXM; and up to $50 in semi-annual statement credits for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue. 

You’ll earn five points per dollar spent on prepaid hotel bookings through AmexTravel.com and on flights purchased directly from airlines or through Amex Travel (up to $500,000 spent per year on flights), plus two points per dollar on other Amex Travel bookings and one point per dollar on all other spending.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards: Dedicated Airline Cards

If you’re loyal to the airlines associated with these cards, you’ll be well served by using them to rack up frequent-flier miles and taking advantage of extra discounts and perks, such as free checked baggage and preferred boarding. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Visa

  • Website: www.chase.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 25.24%
  • Annual fee: $149
  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Rapid Rewards points if you spend $1,000 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 33,315 points, worth about $320 after subtracting the annual fee

This card charges an annual fee that’s higher than many competitors charge, but frequent fliers on Southwest Airlines should be able to offset the fee with the card’s $75 annual credit for Southwest purchases and its bonus of 7,500 Rapid Rewards points on each account anniversary. Plus, you get three points per dollar on purchases with Southwest Airlines and two points per dollar on purchases with Rapid Rewards hotel and car-rental partners. You also get two points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting (including ride-sharing services), on internet, cable and phone services, and on select streaming services; all other spending earns one point per dollar. 

Additional features include reimbursement for up to four upgraded airline boardings per year; 1,500 tier-qualifying points toward A-List status for each $10,000 spent on the card; and 25% back on in-flight purchases. And cardholders get a year of free membership to DashPass (regularly $10 a month), which waives the delivery fee and reduces service fees on eligible orders through food-delivery service DoorDash.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

  • Website: www.citi.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 27.24%
  • Annual fee: $99, waived the first year
  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles if you spend $2,500 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 31,943 miles, worth about $380

Cardholders get two American Airlines AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants and on American Airlines purchases; all other spending earns one mile per dollar. Other benefits include a $125 flight discount each year that you spend $20,000 on the card; a free checked bag on domestic flights for you and up to four companions on the same reservation; preferred boarding; and 25% off in-flight food and beverage purchases. For every mile you earn on Platinum Select card purchases, you get one Loyalty point toward heightened AAdvantage status. If you prefer a no-fee card that earns AAdvantage miles, check out the AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard

JetBlue Plus Mastercard

  • Website: www.barclaycardus.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 27.24%
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 JetBlue TrueBlue points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Typical annual rebate: 47,317 points, worth about $510 after subtracting the annual fee

Regular JetBlue fliers can build up a lot of TrueBlue points with this card, which provides six points per dollar spent on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on other spending. Each year after your account anniversary, you get 5,000 bonus points, and if you spend $50,000 on the card in a calendar year, you get high-level Mosaic status with JetBlue. 

The card also comes with a 10% point bonus when you redeem points for a JetBlue Award Flight, a free checked bag for you and up to three traveling companions on the same reservation, an annual statement credit of $100 if you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of at least $100, and a 50% discount on eligible in-flight food and drink purchases. Rather use a no-fee card to earn TrueBlue points? Check out the JetBlue Mastercard.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards: Dedicated Hotel Cards

Frequent guests of the hotel chains associated with these cards can get great value out of them, earning extra points for hotel stays and certain other purchases. Plus, enjoy benefits such as free-night awards and elevated loyalty status. 

World of Hyatt Visa

  • Website: www.chase.com
  • Interest rate: 18.24% to 25.24%
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: 30,000 World of Hyatt Bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months; two points per dollar on up to $15,000 spent on purchases that typically earn one point for the first six months
  • Typical annual rebate: 36,262 points, worth about $520 after subtracting the annual fee

High point values paired with the ability for cardholders to stack points in a few useful categories help the Hyatt card rise to the top. You get four World of Hyatt Bonus points per dollar on Hyatt purchases; two points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, on local transit, and on fitness club and gym memberships; and one point per dollar on other spending. Each year after your cardmember anniversary, you get a free night at a Hyatt hotel or resort (in hotel categories one through four), plus an extra free night if you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. 

Cardholders also get automatic Discoverist loyalty status, five qualifying nights toward the next loyalty tier each year, and two more qualifying night credits each time you spend $5,000 on the card. Membership to DashPass (regularly $10 a month), which waives the delivery fee and reduces service fees on eligible orders through food-delivery service DoorDash, is free for one year for cardholders.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Visa

  • Website: www.barclaycardus.com
  • Interest rate: 0% for 12 months, then 17.99% to 27.24%
  • Annual fee: $75
  • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Wyndham Rewards points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Typical annual rebate: 64,791 points, worth about $510 after subtracting the annual fee

Cardholders collect six Wyndham Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases with Hotels by Wyndham, as well as on gas; four points per dollar on restaurant and grocery-store purchases; and one point per dollar on all other spending. Each anniversary year, cardholders get a 7,500-point bonus. You’ll also get an additional discount on the best available rate when making reservations at participating properties and automatic Platinum loyalty status. Points expire if your Wyndham Rewards account is inactive for 18 months. For a no-fee option, look to the Wyndham Rewards Earner Visa.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass

  • Website: www.americanexpress.com
  • Interest rate: 17.99% to 26.99%
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
  • Sign-up bonus: 130,000 Hilton Honors points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months
  • Typical annual rebate: 119,655 points, worth about $600 

Although the value of Hilton Honors points is lower than that of some other brands, cardholders can make up for it by amassing a high number of points in everyday spending categories. You earn 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and resorts, six points per dollar on restaurant, supermarket and gas purchases, and three points per dollar on other spending. 

Extra benefits include a Priority Pass Select membership that provides 10 free yearly visits to participating airport lounges, a free weekend night stay if you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, and complimentary Gold loyalty status. If you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’re bumped up to Diamond status. 

Points typically expire if you are inactive in the Hilton Honors program for 24 months, and earning points with the credit card counts as activity; however, as a pandemic-related relief measure, no points will expire until December 31, 2022. If you prefer to skip the annual fee, try the Hilton Honors Amex card instead.