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Getting rewards for travel might seem like something that is too good to be true (it’s not—we’ll show you how). Depending on your spending and your goals, you might find a perfect credit to complement your lifestyle. 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?
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
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.
Enjoy new 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.
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 all Chase travel partners.
New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $1250 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is the highest bonus offer ever for the Chase Sapphire Preferred!
The annual fee is $95.
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, have no foreign transaction fees, and have smart chip technology.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – 60,000 Miles 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 Capital One Venture miles to airline and hotel partners (and maybe visiting a new Capital One lounge). Another handy card benefit is the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, up to $100. The annual fee is $95.
New Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Learn more: Travel 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, up to $500,000 on these purchases annually. Hotels booked through AmexTravel.com also earn 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:
- $200 airline fee credit (in the form of a statement credit; enrollment required)
- Complimentary access to Centurion, Priority Pass (enrollment required), 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 (enrollment required)
Cardholders can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.
If you ride Uber or use Uber Eats, this credit will make you happy. Cardholders can enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
Plus, American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.
New The Platinum Card from American Express Benefits
There’s also a new digital entertainment credit. Cardholders can get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
In addition to enjoying TSA PreCheck or Global Entry access, cardholders can also enjoy CLEAR perks. Cardholders can use their Card and get up to $179 back per year on their CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.
Another exciting new benefit is the ability for cardholders to enjoy up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. This amounts to up to $300 annually. Enrollment required.
Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.
Platinum Card from American Express Welcome Offer
New The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. New cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms apply.
The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) but can be offset with the perks, which are valued at over $1,400.
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 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.
Plus, there’s a limited-time offer available. Apply by 9/30/21 and upon approval, you’ll receive 2 Tier-Qualifying Night Credits for each night you stay from 8/16/21 through 12/31/21.
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.
For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
Plus, earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
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 1x Miles per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
A Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate is also yours annually upon the renewal of your card. However, payment of the government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
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). Terms apply.
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. All 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. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
This is one of the best Southwest credit card options.
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.
American Express Gold Card
You can maximize your travel and daily spending with the American Express® Gold Card:
- 4x points on 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
- Terms apply
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
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- Shake Shack (only at participating locations)
This perk can save you up to $120 annually.
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. Terms apply.
You can redeem your Membership Rewards for award travel through AmexTravel.com or the airline and hotel point transfer partners. The annual fee is $250 (See Rates & Fees).
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is another attractive premium credit card. It’s one of the best cards for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Every travel (once eligible) 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.
Gas station and grocery store purchases will also count towards earning the annual $300 travel credit, through December 31, 2021. Cardholders can also earn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021.
This is in addition to the complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription that lets cardholders get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees. They also earn up to $120 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases ($60 in statement credits through 2020 and another $60 in statement credits through 2021).
Additional Chase Sapphire Reserve Perks
Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 10x points on Lyft rides, including bikes and scooters. Complimentary Lyft Pink Membership is also available when activated by March 21, 2022. Points are worth 50% more through Sept. 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 50% more when redeemed through the Chase Dining hub in Ultimate Rewards, now through Sept. 30, 2021.
New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
The annual fee for this card is $550 but the perks can help offset that.
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 150,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. There’s a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $89. There isn’t a foreign transaction fee.
You can get further details regarding these benefits in this IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review.
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:
- The 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.
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.
- The Best Credit Card Offers
- Best Travel Credit Cards for Beginners
- Best Credit Card Reviews 2021: Miles, Points, Cash Back, and More
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.
For rates and fees of The American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy new 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.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 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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