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Sometimes, the best way to travel is via a wind-in-your-hair, roadside attraction, music-blasting road trip. And for many, a road trip through the United States is on the bucket list. As we head into the holiday season, you may be planning a weekend road trip to visit friends and family or a longer getaway for a change of scenery. These best credit cards for road trips can be your secret weapon for earning rewards as you hit the gravel. Here are some top choices we recommend as the best credit card rewards for road trips.

Road to Jasper from Edmonton with the best credit card rewards for road trips
Having the best credit card rewards for road trips on hand can make travel less stressful. Road to Jasper from Edmonton. Photo by Johnny Jet

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The Best Credit Card Rewards for Road Trips: Bonus Points On Every Purchase

Earning the same number of points on every purchase keeps travel simple. Not too long ago, flat-rate cards only earned 1x point per $1. Today, you’ll find many cards earn 1.5x points or 2x points per $1—so you always earn bonus points.

Whether you are renting a car or using an RV rental service like RVshare, using a travel credit card while on the road can help you maximize purchases. If used responsibly, it’s basically a win-win. You earn points, miles, or cash back that can be redeemed in a variety of ways, including on future travel upgrades.

Here are some of the best credit card rewards for road trips.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

One of the best overall travel credit cards for road or air travel is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card earns 2x Venture miles per $1 on every purchase. However, earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Plus, Venture cardholders will earn 5x miles when booking through the Turo app or on Turo.com (through May 16, 2023).

You can redeem your Venture miles for travel statement credits, booking upcoming flights, or transferring to airline partners.

Amazon shopping points and retail gift cards are two other possibilities. However, your points are only worth 0.8 cents each instead of 1 cent each.

When you do fly, know that the Capital One Venture Card also includes a fee credit (of up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to avoid long airport security lines.

The annual fee is $95. There isn’t a foreign transaction fee when you travel abroad.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel, with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Bonus Capital One Premium Option: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Alternatively, if you like the idea of a flat-rate card but want something with a bit more pizazz, check out the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. This card earns unlimited:

  • 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2x miles on all other purchases

Cardholders can also enjoy up to $300 back annually (as statement credits) for bookings through Capital One Travel. Also, get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary.

Additional benefits include a fee credit (of up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and Priority Pass lounge access.

These benefits can offset the $395 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel, with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

If you prefer cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® might be the right option for you. This is a cash back credit card that gets at least 1.5% back on every purchase. It also has a $0 annual fee, making it an easy to have and one of the best credit card rewards for road trips.

Cardholders earn:

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3% cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

There is no limit to how much cash back can be earned.

However, new Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! That means new cardholders can enjoy:

  • 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (Chase’s premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more)
  • 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 4.5% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service)
  • 3% on all other purchases

New cardholders earn this extra 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited can be a perfect road trip option if you tend to stop at drugstores for supplies and also dine out when exploring new places.

Citi Double Cash

One of the best credit card rewards for road trips can be the ability to earn cash rewards on everything. The Citi® Double Cash Card can do just that.

It is a flat-rate cash rewards card that earns up to 2% cash back on every purchase. Cardholders earn 1% back when they make a purchase and the other 1% back when they pay for their purchase. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.

There are no special categories to think about. There are also no annual fees to worry about.

However, the Citi Double Cash card does have a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you will only want to use it for U.S. purchases.

Earn extra rewards on dining purchases with several cards on this list. If you happen to drive through Texas, you may want to try Whataburger, a Texas-based fast-food chain. Pictured above is the Whataburger Whatameal. Credit: Whataburger

Car Insurance and Restaurants

Here are a couple of options that come with some fantastic car insurance perks. And bonus, they earn more rewards on restaurant spending. Earning these rewards and having extra protections make these options some of the best credit card rewards for road trips.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent travel credit card for road trips and air travel. One reason why is for its strong travel protection benefits while having a reasonable $95 annual fee (and no foreign transaction fee). It’s also a top contender for earning bonus points on restaurants, takeout, and food delivery as well.

You can have more peace of mind on this road trip with primary rental car insurance. Decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver at pickup to qualify for this coverage. Chase can insure most rental cars up to the actual cash vehicle of the car for theft and collision claims. Your personal auto insurance policy activates after the Chase coverage pays out.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred also has these benefits that can be handy on a road trip:

  • 25% redemption bonus on award travel booked on Chase (includes hotels and car rental bookings)
  • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers

Chase Sapphire Preferred Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns unlimited:

  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit)
  • 3x points on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out)
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart®, and wholesale clubs)
  • Also 3x points on select streaming services
  • 2x points on all other travel purchases
  • 1x point per $1 spent on all non-bonus purchases 

There is a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit. It comes in the form of a statement credit that will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for hotel accommodation purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program, up to an annual maximum accumulation of $50.

Plus, on each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year. So, if you spend $25,000 on purchases, you’ll get 2,500 bonus points.

New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Dining and Restaurants

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Most premium travel credit cards cater to air travel rewards. These benefits tend to be the most valuable travel rewards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be a good option because it’s making it easier to redeem the premium travel benefits.

While this card has a $550 annual fee (and no foreign transaction fee), it’s a good option for frequent travelers.

Like the Sapphire Preferred, rental car insurance is primary on most rentals. The maximum coverage limit is up to $75,000 for theft and collision-related damages.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has these benefits:

  • 50% travel redemption bonus on award travel booked on Chase travel portal
  • Special benefits at the Luxury Hotel and Resorts Collection
  • 1:1 point transfer partners (with top travel brands including Marriott, Hyatt, United, and more)

Chase Sapphire Reserve Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve® purchases earn up to 10x Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Cardholders can earn unlimited: 

  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
  • 10x total points on Chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards
  • 5x total points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
  • 3x points on other travel worldwide (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
  • 3x points on other dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out
  • 1x points for all remaining purchases

 You will not receive rewards points on your first $300 in annual travel purchases as the annual travel statement credit reimburses these purchases.

Elite travel benefits include Priority Pass Select lounge membership and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement.

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,200 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

If you do a bit of travel via plane, train, and automobile, this card may be the perfect companion.

Free Hotel Nights

Depending on your trip, you may need to book a hotel. Here are a few options if you are looking for hotel perks that make these options some of the best credit card rewards for road trips. Also, check out our best hotel credit cards post for more options.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Lodging can be your largest road trip cost. Hotel loyalty can have its perks. The World of Hyatt Credit Card (and the WoH loyalty program) can be one of your best options. Hyatt requires fewer points for award nights than most other hotel loyalty programs.

First, the signup bonus of up to 60,000 points is worth up to 12 free nights at category 1 hotels and resorts (5,000 points per night). Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 Bonus Point, up to $15,000, in the first 6 months of account opening.

Each card anniversary, get one free night certificate for a category 1-4 hotel or resort stay. Earn a second free night by making at least $15,000 in total annual card purchases.

Your purchases earn up to 9 points total for Hyatt stays – 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member.

You also get instant World of Hyatt Discoverist loyalty status. Perks include getting 5 qualifying night credits toward elite status. Plus you get another 2 elite night credits for every $5,000 in card purchases. Discoverist perks also include resort fee waivers on free nights, premium internet, and one free bottled water daily.

The annual fee is $95, and there isn’t a foreign transaction fee.

Related: What Hotel Credit Card Has A Great Annual Free Night Certificate?

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is the best hotel credit card for Marriott loyalists.

On each card anniversary, you also get one free night reward valid at any property that costs 35,000 points or less. Earn up to 17x Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. You can also earn 3x Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.

All remaining purchases will earn 2 points per $1 spent.

Automatic Silver Elite status also gives you an extra 10% points on bonus stays. Other Silver Elite benefits include free in-room WiFi and late checkout.

New Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card cardholders can earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

There is a $95 annual fee.

IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers travel benefits and purchase rewards. Cardholders can enjoy a Reward night annual certificate after each account anniversary. For air travel, you’ll be happy to know that a Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck fee credit is also included.

Cardholders earn:

  • Earn up to 26x points total per $1 when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • 5x points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants
  • 3x points per $1 spent on all other purchases

New IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card cardholders can earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

There’s a $99 annual fee.

Automatic Platinum Elite status lets you enjoy space-available room upgrades and extended checkout. To earn this status without the card, you need to stay at least 40 nights per year.

This IHG Rewards Premier Card review can show you how you might get the most value out of this card.

venture x Chase Sapphire
Driving through Tennessee? Stay at the Grand Hyatt Nashville. Credit: Hyatt

Gas Station Rewards

Road trips mean stopping at gas stations to fuel your car and keep the journey going. Many hotel and airline credit cards give you bonus points at gas stations. You can read more in our detailed post on the best gas credit cards.

Alternatively, flexible travel rewards credit cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (mentioned above), earn at least 2x miles per $1 on all purchases, including gas.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Most families may appreciate The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express for buying gas, groceries, and other daily purchases.

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% cash back on transit, including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Cash back comes in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Cardholders can also enjoy $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after spending $13.99 or more each month on an eligible The Disney Bundle package (which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+) subscription with the Blue Cash Preferred Card. Enrollment required.

The welcome bonus is the ability to earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (See Rates & Fees). 

Related: Gas Rewards Credit Cards

My GM Rewards Card

If you are interested in a card that earns points that can be redeemed for a new vehicle purchase or lease, the My GM Rewards Card™ might be for you. Earn unlimited 7x total points per $1 spent with GM when you use your My GM Rewards Card on qualifying purchases, including on paid GM Certified Service, GM Genuine Parts and ACDelco Parts, eligible accessories, and most OnStar® and Connected Services plans.

Even better, all remaining purchases earn 4 points per $1, everywhere, every day. This is the only U.S. co-branded card that offers unlimited 4x points on all purchases and no annual fee!

You can redeem your points for your next GM vehicle. Each point is worth approximately one cent when you redeem them for a new vehicle purchase or lease.

You can also redeem points, with no limit, towards:

  • GM Financial – GM Financial is the company through which most customers have their Loan or Lease, so customers can now redeem unlimited points to pay for their loan/lease
  • Paid GM Certified Service – Repairs or Service at dealers
  • GM Genuine Parts and ACDelco Parts
  • Eligible accessories
  • OnStar and Connected Services plans
  • Protection Plans
  • SiriusXM

GM Certified Pre Owned Vehicles are also eligible for the maximum redemption value. It’s also possible to redeem your points for gift cards to participating brands.

Additionally, receive a $100 card statement credit after making $1,500 in fuel purchases per calendar year. Or, get a $100 statement credit by paying 6 months of electric bills per calendar year for a registered GM electric vehicle owner.

The card has a $0 annual fee and a $0 foreign transaction fee (See Rates & Fees).

New My GM Rewards Card™ cardmembers can earn 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in their first 3 months.

You can read more about this card in our My GM Rewards Card review.

GM Business Card

If you were looking for a business card that can be a road trip option, the GM Business Card™ might work for you. This Goldman Sachs Bank-issued option has a $0 annual fee and a $0 foreign transaction fee (See Rates & Fees).

Additionally, cardholders earn an unlimited:

  • 5% on GM dealership parts and service purchases
  • 3% at gas stations, restaurants, and office supply stores
  • 1% for everything else

The GM Business Card is also a World Elite Mastercard for Business product, which can add more value to your wallet. Perks of the World Elite Mastercard program include discounts on business services and cell phone protection.

New GM Business Card™ cardholders can earn $750 in Bonus Earnings towards the purchase or lease of eligible new GM vehicles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 5 months from account opening.

Employee cards are also free. Read more in our GM Business Card review.

Summary

Hopefully, this post narrowed down your picks for the best credit card rewards for road trips. It’s easy to find a rewards credit card that is a good fit for your road trip plans if you have an idea of what your spending will look like. You may want a card that’s perfect for travel and has flexibility. Other options are excellent at balancing your travel and at-home purchases.

FAQs

Which credit card is best for traveling?

The best credit card for traveling and road trips depends on what purchases you want to maximize. Here are some of the first cards to consider:

What is a travel statement credit?

A travel statement credit is redeeming credit card points for recent travel purchases (usually within the last 90 days). One card offering travel statement credits as a redemption option is the Capital One Venture.

Some of the qualifying travel purchases include:

  • Plane tickets
  • Hotels and vacation rentals
  • Rental cars
  • Camping
  • RV rentals

Most credit card points have a 1 cent redemption value (1,000 points equals $10) when requesting travel statement credits.

Should I get a travel rewards credit card?

Getting credit card rewards on road trips is a great way to maximize your travel spending. A travel credit card can be a good option if you want to redeem your credit card points in these ways:

  • Statement credits for recent travel purchases
  • Book upcoming travel on the credit card travel portal
  • Transfer points to airline and hotel partners

You might also consider getting a co-brand airline or hotel credit card to get special loyalty program benefits. For instance, you might get accelerated loyalty status, free hotel night certificates, or earn bonus points on qualifying travel purchases with that airline or hotel.

A cash rewards credit card can be better if you only travel sporadically and the travel credit card benefits are not worth the annual fee.

The best cash back credit cards–like the Citi Double Cash—earn up to 2% back on all purchases and don’t charge an annual fee. Tiered rewards credit cards earn up to 5% back on select purchase categories.

Related articles:

For rates and fees of The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

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