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Sometimes, the best way to travel is via a wind-in-your-hair, music-blasting road trip. And for many, a road trip through the United States is on the bucket list. As we head into summer, you may be planning a weekend road trip or a longer getaway for a change of scenery. There are still plenty of ways you can earn and use credit card rewards. Actually, these best credit cards for road trips can be your secret weapon for earning rewards year-round. Here are some top choices we recommend.
The Best Credit Card Rewards for Road Trips: Bonus Points On Every Purchase
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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.
New Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. This is equal to $750 in travel.
Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards
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.
New Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Cards cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus miles when they spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards
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.
- 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.
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
Rental Car Insurance and Restaurants
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®.
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 air travel benefits include Priority Pass Select lounge membership and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement.
New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 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
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.
This is one of the best hotel credit cards.
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.
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 (mentioned above), earn 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 $0 plan fees when using Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
The welcome bonus is the ability to earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. There is a $95 annual fee (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 $0 annual fee card that offers unlimited 4x points on all purchases!
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 for these brands:
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. Your points won’t expire as long as your account remains in good standing.
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 is available from Marcus by Goldman Sachs and 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 $500 to redeem at GM towards the purchase or lease of eligible new GM vehicles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
There is also a 0% Intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months, a variable of 15.49% to 25.49% APR after, and unlimited Earnings. Read more about the benefit terms here).
Employee cards are also free. Read more in our GM Business Card review.
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.
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:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: Primary rental car insurance and primary rental car coverage
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, redeem miles for travel statement credits and transfers to airlines or hotels
- Citi Double Cash: Get up to 2% cash back on all purchases, no annual fee
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Award nights start at 5,000 points per night and annual free night certificates
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
- 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.
- Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flight Tickets
- Best Limited-Time Credit Card Offers
For rates and fees of The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.