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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.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americnexpress.com to learn more.
American Express Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card is one of the best cards for maximizing your travel and daily purchases. You earn up to 4 Membership Rewards per $1 on purchases:
- 4x points on dining worldwide, including takeaway and deliveries, plus 4x points on Uber Eats purchases
- 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1 point per $1)
- 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
- 1x points on everything else
- Terms apply
The American Express Gold Card also gives an annual $120 dining credit ($10 per month) at select restaurants including Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Grubhub, and Boxed. Enrollment is required.
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.
American Express® Gold Card cardholders can also get up to $120 in Uber Cash annually. Plus, you’ll earn 4x Membership Rewards® points for each Uber Eats purchase on your card. To use this perk, simply add your card to your Uber account and you’ll automatically get $10 in Uber Cash each month in your Uber account for U.S. Uber Eats orders or U.S. Uber rides. Any unused Uber Cash expires at the end of each month (it does not roll over to the next month).
Cardholders also get up to 12 complimentary months of Eats Pass when you subscribe with your American Express Gold Card. That’s a value of up to $119 annually (based on the $9.99 monthly price over 12 months). With the Uber Eats Pass, you can get unlimited $0 Delivery Fees and 5% off orders over $15 at eligible restaurants. Note that taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward the order minimum.
This benefit applies only in the U.S. on U.S. orders at eligible restaurants and on eligible restaurant purchases.
Enrollment is required by 12/31/2021. After that, the Uber Eats Pass will begin auto-billing 12 months after your enrollment in this offer, at the then-current monthly price. Learn more about the Uber Eats partnership for more information.
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.
New Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards
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. You get up to 2% back on all purchases and can redeem your rewards with a minimum $20 cash balance. 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. You won’t get a signup bonus either, but, getting 2% back instead of 1.5% back can be more rewarding if you use this card long-term.
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. This is no-fuss Capital One credit card 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. You earn 2 points per $1 on travel and dining.
Additional Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits include unlimited deliveries with no delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DoorDash DashPass subscription. Activate your card by December 31, 2021.
Cardholders also earn 5x points on Lyft rides, through March 2022. Through April 30, 2021, cardholders automatically earn 2x points per $1 spent at grocery stores, up to $1,000 per month.
Additionally, cardholders can earn up to $60 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021. Points are worth 25% more now through April 30, 2021, when redeemed for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories with the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature. Points are also worth 25% more when redeemed through the new Chase Dining hub in Ultimate Rewards, now through April 30, 2021.
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 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, they can earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within the first year of account opening.
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.
You earn 2x Rapid Rewards on all Southwest purchases. Non-bonus purchases earn 1x point per $1 spent.
New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
Southwest Priority Card benefits include:
- $75 annual Southwest travel credit
- 4 Upgraded Booking per year (when available)
- 7,500-anniversary points
The annual fee is $149.
Related: Best Southwest Airlines credit cards
World of Hyatt Credit Card
The World of Hyatt Credit Card lets you earn some of the most valuable hotel points. You may find yourself taking more road trips than flights for the near future. 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. Hyatt is also extending select loyalty benefits through 2021.
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. 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.
Related: Best Hotel Credit Cards
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.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 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.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
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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.