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Travel purchases might be some of your largest and maybe even one of your most common purchases. Every time you book travel is a perfect opportunity to earn bonus points. You also can maybe even take advantage of some of the perks you get when doing what you love. So here are the best credit cards for travel purchases.
If you’re loyal to a certain airline or hotel, using a co-brand credit card can be your best option. For instance, both Avianca LifeMiles credit cards and Hawaiian Airlines credit cards have limited-time offers to earn 60k miles. These cards tend to offer outsized rewards points and travel perks in exchange for your loyalty.
However, a flexible travel credit card, many of which made our best rewards credit cards 2019 list, can be a better option. These cards can help you maximize travel purchases from multiple travel brands and even third-party booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz.
The following credit cards to stretch your dollars and travel miles further.
Best Credit Cards for Travel Purchases
- Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Above-Average Earning and Redemption Value: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Earning Air Miles: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards)
- No Annual Fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards)
- Flat Rate Rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Business Travel: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does a fine job at offering impressive travel rewards with a reasonable $95 annual fee. You get unlimited 2x points on travel and dining. Points are worth 1.25 cents when booking award travel on Chase. Another redemption option is transferring to airline and hotel partners like Southwest, United, and Hyatt where you can get more value from each point.
Booking travel directly through the airline, hotel, rental car agency, tour provider, or with a third-party booking site qualifies as a travel provider. To be clear, Chase doesn’t consider gasoline purchases as a travel purchase and they only earn the base rate of 1 point per $1. Still, as one of the best credit cards for travel miles, this card comes with plenty of perks.
The benefits include travel protections that can be especially useful when renting vehicles. Check out our in-depth article on the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits to learn more.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns unlimited 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all travel (once you’ve earned the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases. In addition to earning 3x points on travel purchases, it’s possible to redeem fewer points to book award travel than with other travel credit cards. Your points are worth 50% more (1.5 cents each) when booking any award travel using the Expedia-powered Chase travel portal.
While other cards require you to redeem 10,000 points to book $100 in award travel, you only need 6,700 points to book $100 in award travel with Chase. You can also transfer your points directly to 1:1 airline and hotel travel partners including United, JetBlue, Southwest, and Hyatt. It’s possible to book award travel and have each point worth more than 1.5 cents each.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve perks and benefits can justify the $550 annual fee. These benefits include a Priority Pass lounge membership, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, and a $300 annual travel credit. Although you don’t earn award points on the $300 travel credit, this credit covers the first $300 in travel purchases you make each year.
To add to the glamour of this premium card, it is also one of the best metal credit cards available.
Platinum Card from American Express
Do you relish the thought of earning 5x miles on air travel purchases?
When most cards award 2 miles per dollar spent, The Platinum Card® from American Express gives you 5 miles per $1 spent on flights booked directly through the airline and on AmexTravel.com. For this reason, it is one of the best credit cards for purchasing flights. Hotel stays booked on AmexTravel.com also earn 5 points per $1.
All other travel purchases only earn 1 point per $1 spent. Your points are worth 1 cent each when booking award flights through American Express. A more valuable redemption option can be transferring your points to the American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners on a 1:1 basis. Airline partners include Delta, Asia Miles, Avios (British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia), and Emirates.
This card also has lavish travel benefits. For instance, the annual $200 airline fee credit covers incidental airline charges like baggage fees, in-flight purchases, or seat upgrades. Other perks include $200 in annual Uber credits, access to several airport lounge networks, and accelerated hotel and rental car loyalty status.
Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Wells Fargo Propel
The information related to Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected by Johnny Jet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card proves you can maximize travel purchases while also being one of the best no annual fee travel rewards credit cards. This can be a good card if you want above-average earning and redemption options and don’t need the travel benefits that come with cards that charge an annual fee.
You earn unlimited 3x rewards points on travel, gas, rideshares, and transit. Dining and popular streaming services also earn triple points. Non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per dollar. Your points can be worth 1.5 cents each when booking award flights using the Wells Fargo Travel Center. Each point is only worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash and gift cards.
Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card removes the guesswork from figuring how many miles you earn with each purchase. If you only want to own one credit card, this can be your option for getting bonus miles on travel and daily spending.
Every travel and non-travel purchase earns unlimited 2x miles. Plus, Hotels.com/venture purchases earn 10 miles per $1 through January 2020. Each mile is worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel statement credits or future travel. There isn’t a redemption minimum either.
This means you can redeem your miles in any amount to save when booking your next trip. Capital One also waives the $95 annual fee for the first year, another valuable perk. The in-depth credit card comparison of the Capital One Venture vs Chase Sapphire Preferred can help you compare these two traveler favorites.
Ink Business Preferred
The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card might be the best for you because you earn 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined spending on travel, shipping, social media or search engine advertising, and Internet, cable and phone services. Your points are worth 1.25 each booking award travel through Chase. You also have access to the 1:1 Chase Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel transfer partners.
The annual fee for the Ink Business Preferred is $95. There isn’t a foreign transaction fee for the Ink Business Preferred, one of the best Chase business credit cards available.
Although this is a business credit card, Chase might decline your application if you have opened at least 5 new personal or business credit cards in the last 24 months. The “Chase 5/24 rule” that applies to most personal Chase-issued personal credit cards also applies to the Ink business credit card family. There are several fine business travel credit cards that emphasize business travel purchases if this rule affects you.
Summary of the Best Credit Cards for Travel Purchases
Are you getting the most points from your travel purchases? If not, there are several cards that make it easy to maximize your travel spend. These best credit cards for travel purchases may also earn bonus points on your other most common purchases. Or, they have travel benefits to offset the cost of future journeys.
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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.