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Many of us are looking forward to when travel restrictions lift so we can visit family and explore new places. As that day inches closer, now is the time to start accumulating travel points to use in the near future. The best credit cards after travel restrictions lift can also be some of the best cards to use now for purchases.
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American Express Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card is one of the best cards for maximizing your travel and daily purchases. It earns 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earns 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Plus, earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Another perk is the ability to earn up to $10 in statement credits on a monthly basis when you use your Gold Card to pay at the following dining establishments (enrollment is required):
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Milk Bar
- Shake Shack (only at participating locations)
This perk can save you up to $120 annually.
Your points are most valuable when booking award flights or gift cards. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to airline and hotel partners including Delta Air Lines, British Airways, and Avianca LifeMiles.
The annual fee is $250 and there are no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees) which is reasonable if you use the dining credits.
New American Express® Gold Card cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months. Also, Rose Gold is back! Cardholders can choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a good fit if you want a travel credit card that earns the same amount of miles on each purchase. You get 2 miles per $1 on domestic and international purchases. You can redeem your miles for travel statement credits, booking upcoming travel, or transfer to the Capital One travel partners.
One additional travel perk is getting a fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The annual fee is $95.
However, if you are wanting to earn a few more miles on travel, good news—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).
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.
Citi Double Cash Card
Citi® Double Cash Card gives you the flexibility of earning the highest cash back rates before and after travel restrictions are lifted. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn the cash back, you must pay at least the minimum due on time.
This card doesn’t have an annual fee but has a foreign transaction fee.
Related: Citi Double Cash Review
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Your best option for earning cash back on foreign purchases is the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. You get 1.5% back and don’t pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fee. However, the Quicksilver earns unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. This is a no-fuss Capital One credit card that is easy to have in your wallet.
New cardholders can earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Learn more: Cash Back Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another great card for earning travel rewards. Enjoy Chase Sapphire benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining, and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Points are worth 25% more now through March 31, 2022, when redeemed for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories with the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature.
Your points are worth 25% more (1.25 cents) when booking any award travel on the Chase travel portal. You can also redeem your points for cash and gift card rewards.
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®.
The annual fee is $95.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred Review
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card
You may decide to travel locally instead of internationally at first. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is one of the best for earning frequent flyer miles. Southwest award flights usually cost less than the legacy carriers. And your first two checked bags fly free.
Cardholders earn unlimited:
- 3x points on Southwest® purchases
- 2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
- 2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases
New Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Southwest Priority Card benefits include:
- $75 annual Southwest travel credit
- 4 Upgraded Booking per year (when available)
- 7,500-anniversary points
- 25% back on inflight purchases
The annual fee is $149.
Related: Best Southwest Airlines credit cards
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
The World of Hyatt Credit Card lets you earn some of the most valuable hotel points. Hyatt has some of the nicest properties with reasonable award night prices. Award nights start at 5,000 points, and most properties cost 20,000 points or less.
You get one free night at any category 1-4 hotel and resort each account anniversary. Making $15,000 in annual card purchases gives you a second free night.
You also get automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist loyalty status. Benefits include premium internet, free daily bottled water, and late checkout at 2 pm.
You can earn up to 9 points per $1 on Hyatt purchases.
This card also makes it easy to earn 2 points on lifestyle spending in these categories:
- Airline tickets you buy directly from the airline
- Local transit and commuting
- Fitness club and gym memberships
All remaining purchases earn 1 point per $1.
The annual fee is $95 and earns a two-step signup bonus worth up to 12 free nights.
You also have the opportunity to earn up to 60,000 bonus points as a signup bonus with The World of Hyatt Credit Card. Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $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.
The roads and skies will gradually reopen as travel restrictions are lifted. A rewards credit card with flexible point redemption options can be your best choice. But using one that earns bonus points on your daily spending can be good too.
What are the top 3 credit cards?
Credit cards with flexible point redemption options can be your best option. Here are three travel and cash rewards credit cards to consider first:
- Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture (Earns 2 miles per $1 on all purchases)
- Tiered travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred (25% redemption bonus on award travel)
- Cash rewards: Citi Double Cash (Unlimited 2% back)
You may also consider a branded airline or hotel credit card if you are loyal to that particular loyalty program.
Is American Express better than Visa or Mastercard?
American Express can be an excellent option for U.S.-based purchases. Amex credit cards also tend to have good rewards programs and card benefits, especially with their premium credit cards and Membership Rewards programs.
American Express also has co-brand relationships with Delta Air Lines, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy.
One downside of American Express credit cards is merchant acceptance. Nearly as many domestic merchants accept Amex payments as Visa and Mastercard. But you may encounter issues for international travel outside major tourist areas. In this case, Visa and Mastercard have near-universal acceptance.
How do I choose a credit card?
You can follow these steps to choose the best credit card:
- Find the best credit cards for your credit score
- Decide if you want to earn travel or cash rewards
- Compare the card benefits and annual fees (Avoid cards where the benefits are worth less than the fees)
- Find the best signup/welcome bonus you can earn
- Apply for the credit card
You can try for a credit card using the CardMatch™ tool. This step can narrow the search process quickly.
For rates and fees of The American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
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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.