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If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you value new experiences. You also know that travel isn’t always within your budget. Maximizing the best credit cards for travel rewards can help you book more trips and explore new places. So what credit cards give the best travel rewards?
Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards 2021
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The best overall credit card for travel rewards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Two reasons are the flexible travel redemption options and a reasonable $95 annual fee. If you only travel a few times a year, this card can be an excellent fit.
There are several Chase Sapphire Preferred bonuses and benefits. You earn unlimited 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Each point is worth 1 cent each for cash travel rewards and usually more for award travel.
There are two ways to redeem your points for travel:
- Book award travel through Chase for a 25% bonus (1.25 cents each)
- Transfer to Chase Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners on a 1:1 basis
For example, redeeming any award travel on the Expedia-powered Chase travel makes each point worth 25% more. This means 10,000 points are worth $125 in award travel but only $100 in cash rewards. A potentially more valuable option is 1:1 point transfers when each point is worth more than 1.25 cents each.
This is easy to accomplish with most airlines including United, Southwest, British Airways, and JetBlue who are 4 of the 9 airline transfer partners.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred review reveals a one-time signup bonus of 60,000 points (worth $750 in award travel) is yours after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Here’s how hard it is to sign up for the Sapphire Preferred.
What Credit Card Gives the Best Travel Rewards?
The Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards give the best travel rewards. They both have large signup bonuses, earn up to 2x miles on spending, no foreign transaction fees, and have smart chip technology.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – $600 Bonus, 2x Miles on Spending
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the best flat-rate credit card for travel rewards because it earns 2x miles on every $1 spent, regardless of the purchase. But how hard is it to apply for the Capital One Venture?
Each mile is worth 1 cent each and redeemable for travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel on the Capital One travel portal. A third redemption option is transferring or redeeming Capital One Venture miles to airline and hotel partners. Another handy card benefit is the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, up to $100. The annual fee is $95.
New cardholders can earn 60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of the account opening.
Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards
Check out our Capital One Venture vs Chase Sapphire Preferred comparison to see which card is a better fit for you.
The Platinum Card from American Express – Premium Credit Card for Travel Rewards
The Platinum Card® from American Express makes it possible to earn the most reward points on airfare purchases and enjoy travel benefits that defray your travel costs. It can be hard to get the Amex Platinum, but if you have a good credit score you should meet the criteria.
For starters, you earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on flights booked directly through the airline. Any flight or hotel booked through AmexTravel.com also earns unlimited 5 points per $1. Most travel credit cards award 2 points per $1 on travel bookings, so you earn double the points. Points are worth 1 cent each when booking award flights through Amex Travel.
In most cases, you will find more value by transferring American Express points (known as Membership Rewards points) to the 1:1 airline partners including British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Delta Air Lines. The real value for this card is the various travel benefits that exceed the $550 annual fee (See Rates & Fees):
- $200 airline fee credit
- Up to $200 in Uber ride credits
- Complimentary access to Centurion, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, and other lounge networks
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Automatic Gold loyalty status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy
New cardmembers can earn 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. Cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Related post: See our recommendations for the top premium travel credit cards (the Platinum Card is one of them).
World of Hyatt Credit Card
For hotel perks, the World of Hyatt Credit Card is one of the best. Why? For one, it is one of the best credit cards for free hotel nights each card anniversary. Spending $15,000 each year gives you a second free night. Both nights are valid at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort (15,000 points or less per night).
Hyatt points are arguably the most valuable hotel points as they are usually worth more than 1 cent each on most redemptions. And, the most expensive Hyatt night costs 40,000 points at a category 8 hotel. Free nights start at 5,000 points.
You can earn up to 9 points per $1 on Hyatt stays. You earn 4 points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels and 5 points per $1 spent when you are a World of Hyatt member, totaling 9 points. Restaurants, plane tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit, and fitness club and gym membership purchases all earn 2 points per $1.
New cardmembers can earn a signup bonus of up to 60,000 World of Hyatt bonus points. Earn the first 30,000 points by spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn up to 30,000 more bonus points with 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.
Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
Check out the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card if you’re a regular Delta flyer. It’s one of the best Delta credit cards you can apply for. You have the opportunity to earn 40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first 3 months.
Cardholders can accelerate their path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost. Plus, in 2021, they can earn even more bonus MQMs to help cardholders reach Medallion Status.
You also earn 3 SkyMiles per $1 on every Delta purchase made directly with Delta and 3x SkyMiles on hotels. Plus, you’ll earn 2 miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. All other eligible purchases earn 1 SkyMiles per $1. Each card anniversary, you get a domestic main cabin round-trip companion ticket. You only have to pay up to $75 in fees and taxes for their seat.
The Delta credit cards also have one of the most generous checked bag benefits. The first checked bag is free for you and up to 8 companions for each travel itinerary on Delta flights. The annual fee for this card is $250 (See Rates & Fees).
Learn more: Airline Credit Cards
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is another top contender for the best airline credit cards. You enjoy these Southwest Airlines benefits:
- $75 Southwest travel credit card
- 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
- 20% back on inflight purchases
- 7,500-anniversary points
Cardholders earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases.
New cardholders can also earn a promotional Companion Pass, which is valid through 02/28/2022, plus 30,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
Best Credit Cards for Travel Points
The best credit cards for travel points have some of the highest payouts for your largest and most common purchases. Besides quickly earning points, you can easily redeem them to book your next trip and save some cash.
Do you want to earn travel points quickly? It’s not a secret that some credit cards for travel points are better than others. Whether you want to earn air miles, hotel points, or flexible points, these cards can help you accomplish that goal.
You can rack up travel points with the best credit card bonus offers. Although, focusing on earning the most points on a daily basis can consistently build a small fortune.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Card earns unlimited 2 miles per $1 on every purchase. Earning a flat amount of miles makes it easy to maximize your everyday purchases instead of select bonus categories like travel, dining, and groceries.
Each Venture Mile is worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel on the Capital One travel portal. You can also transfer your Capital One miles to airline partners like JetBlue, Asia Miles, and Singapore Airlines.
Platinum Card from American Express
Most credit cards only award 2 or 3 points per $1 spent on plane tickets. This includes co-brand airline credit cards. The Platinum Card from American Express earns 5x points on plane tickets booked directly from an airline or on AmexTravel.com. Hotels booked through AmexTravel.com also earn 5x points.
You can also easily redeem your points for award flights on AmexTravel.com for one cent each. A better option is usually transferring them to many 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners including British Airways, Delta, Singapore Airlines, and Air France Flying Blue.
This card also offers complimentary airport lounge access, a $200 airline fee credit, $200 in Uber ride credits, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit.
The annual fee is $550 (See Rates & Fees) which means you will need to fly often to maximize the Platinum Card benefits.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
American Express Gold Card
You can maximize your travel and daily spending with the American Express Gold Card:
- 4x points on all dining
- 4x points on the first $25,000 at U.S. supermarkets (then 1x points)
- 3x points on flights booked through an airline or on AmexTravel.com
- 1x points on everything else
Unlike most American Express credit cards, the Gold Card earn bonus points on dining in foreign countries. Dining benefits also include a $120 credit ($10 monthly) at select partners including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
You can redeem your Membership Rewards for award travel through AmexTravel.com or the airline and hotel point transfer partners. Another travel benefit you can easily maximize is the annual $100 airline fee credit.
New cardmembers can earn 35,000 bonus travel points by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve review unveils another attractive premium credit card. It’s one of the best cards for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Every travel and dining purchase earns 3 points per $1 spent. All non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per $1. Your points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for award travel on Chase. You can also transfer them on a 1:1 basis to more than a dozen travel partners including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, and World of Hyatt.
Key Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass airport lounge access, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit.
The annual fee for this card is $450 but the perks can help offset that. New cardmembers can also earn a 50,000-point signup bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That’s a great Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Get an earnings boost on every IHG card purchase with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. You will earn up to 25x points total on IHG purchases and 2x points at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores (plus 1x points on everything else).
Each year after your account anniversary, you get one reward night valid at any property that costs 40,000 points or less. You also get automatic Platinum Elite status which includes space-available room upgrades and extended check-out.
Another exclusive card benefit for IHG members is getting a 4th reward night on 4+ night award stays. Non-cardholders don’t get this benefit. Reward nights start at 5,000 points, although most properties require 15,000 to 25,000 points per night. You can imagine the savings this perk is worth if you use it regularly.
Cardholders also get a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. New cardholders can earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. You can get further details regarding these benefits in this IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review.
The annual fee is $89 per year. There isn’t a foreign transaction fee.
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
Some of the best miles credit cards now award bonus travel points on non-airline purchases. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® earns 2x points on restaurants, gas stations, and American Airlines purchases. Everything else earns an unlimited 1 point per $1.
Other American Airlines advantages include:
- First checked bag is free for you and up to 4 travel companions
- Preferred boarding
- 25% savings on in-flight purchases
- $125 flight credit after $20,000 in annual card purchases
The current signup bonus is 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months. The $99 annual fee is also waived for the first year.
Ink Business Preferred – Best Business Credit Card for Travel Rewards
When it comes to business credit cards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is one of the best for maximizing your business purchases.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred has the most valuable signup bonus for any card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards. You earn 100,000 bonus points that are worth $1,250 in award travel after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months.
This card also earns 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined spending on these purchases:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising on search engines and social media
All remaining purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 with the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.
Your points are worth 1 cent each for cash rewards and 1.25 cents on award travel booked through Chase. You can also transfer them to the Chase 1:1 transfer partners including United Airlines, Southwest, British Airways, and World of Hyatt.
Check out the other top contenders for the best business credit card to earn the most points on your business purchases.
Summary Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards
The best credit cards for travel rewards make it easy to earn and redeem rewards points for award travel. In most cases, you can enjoy other free travel benefits that can make each trip more enjoyable.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
And for rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, 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®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel 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.
- 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.
- Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
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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.