This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Disclosure, visit this page.

Many of us are looking forward to holiday travel to see family, get away from work, or possibly just to take a little break from everything that has been happening over the last few months. You may be interested to know that many banks are offering exciting perks and bonuses that can help you book your travel. Here are some of the best credit cards for holiday travel to have in your arsenal.

Use the best credit cards for holiday travel and visit a Christmas market, like this one is Bratislava Slovakia that Johnny visited in December 2013. Credit: Johnny Jet

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best travel credit cards you can own. Your points are worth 25% more when booking award travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to hotel and airline partners including Southwest, United, and World of Hyatt.

Also, 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.

Some partner benefits can come in handy as well.

The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is $95.

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®.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another exciting card as you earn 2x miles per $1 on every purchase. 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). 

You can redeem your Venture miles for travel statement credits or transfer them to airlines and hotels.

One add-on benefit of the Capital One Venture Rewards card you may appreciate is a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, up to $100.

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.

Compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture if you aren’t sure which one you prefer.

Citi Double Cash Card

One of the best credit cards for holiday travel that you might appreciate for its simplicity is the Citi® Double Cash Card. This card earns cash rewards and has an above-average rewards rate.

The Citi Double Cash earns up to 2% back on purchases (1% back when you buy, 1% back when you pay). There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn. Your cash redemption options include statement credits and bank account deposits.

For a limited time, earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.

There is no annual fee, but there is a foreign transaction fee. International purchases have a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Chase Freedom Flex

A card you may enjoy that earns tiered rewards is the Chase Freedom Flex℠. This card replaces the Chase Freedom® by having more ways to earn bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards and continues to have no annual fee. You earn up to 5% back on the first $1,500 in quarterly bonus categories, once activated.

The Chase Freedom Flex earns:

  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1% back)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1% on all other purchases

New Freedom Flex cardholders can earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns:

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

New Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! That means new cardholders can enjoy:

  • 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (Chase’s premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more)
  • 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 4.5% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service)
  • 3% on all other purchases

New cardholders earn this extra 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.

There isn’t an annual fee for either card. If you already own a Chase Sapphire product (either a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve®), you can transfer your Freedom earnings to capitalize on the Sapphire family travel redemption options.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

One card you can use for local and travel purchases is The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. You earn cash rewards for these categories:

  • 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1%)
  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% back on transit, including taxis, rideshares, parking, trains, tolls, buses, and more
  • 3% back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% back for everything else

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

This is one of the best credit cards for holiday travel because you can earn on several different purchase categories. If your winter travel plans involve driving or taking mass transit, this card can earn more. The 6% at U.S. supermarkets and select U.S. streaming services bonuses are lucrative too.

Cardholders can also enjoy $0 intro plan fees when using Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 Plan It fees on plans created during the first 12 months from the date of account opening. Plans created after that will have a fixed monthly plan fee of up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.

Cardholders can also enjoy $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after spending $13.99 or more each month on an eligible The Disney Bundle package (which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+) subscription with the Blue Cash Preferred Card. Enrollment required.

The welcome bonus is the ability to earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. There is a $95 annual fee (See Rates & Fees).

Learn more: Cash Back Credit Cards

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express can be a good fit for a premium travel credit card. The Amex Platinum continues to be one of the best cards for earning airline miles quickly.

Cardholders earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, and earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Cardholders can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.

Also, get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.

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.

Other 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® from American Express 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 $189 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 when you pay with your Platinum Card®. This amounts to up to $300 annually. Enrollment required. 

There is also a $155 Walmart+ credit to enjoy. This covers the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.

Get the full details and learn more in our in-depth The Platinum Card from American Express review.

The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) but can be offset with the perks, which are valued at over $1,400. 

Welcome Bonus 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. Plus, new cardholders can choose new Platinum Card designs! Select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu. Terms apply.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards 

Southwest Airlines Credit Cards

The Southwest Airlines credit cards can almost always be a good option as the best credit card for holiday travel.

If you fly Southwest regularly, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has several perks.

  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • 7,500-anniversary points for each card renewal
  • Get 25% back on inflight purchases

The annual fee for the Priority Card is $149. 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 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

If you happen to be a business traveler or can take a “bleisure” trip, there’s the possibility to earn 80,000 bonus Rapid Rewards with a Southwest Airlines business card. New Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earning the full bonus gets you close to earning the standard Southwest Companion Pass®.

As always, your first two checked bags on Southwest fly for free and there are no change fees to worry about.

Related: Best Southwest Airlines Credit Cards

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier® Card is another top pick for air travel or road trips. You have many ways to earn ThankYou points.

These purchase categories earn unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1:

  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets
  • Gas Stations
  • Airlines
  • Travel Agencies
  • Hotels
  • Cafes
  • Bars
  • Lounges

All non-bonus spending earns 1 point per $1. You can redeem your points for award travel, transfer at a 1:1 ratio to airlines, or gift cards. Each Citi ThankYou point can be worth 1 cent each for the redemption options. Each year, you can get a $100 annual hotel savings benefit. Once annually, cardholders can enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through thankyou.com.

The annual fee is $95 and there are no foreign transaction fees.

For a limited time, new Citi Premier® Card cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. 

Summary

Banks are currently offering some of the best credit card offers and purchase rewards since the pandemic onset. You can use these incentives to finalize your holiday travel plans and make your daily purchases more rewarding as well. Hopefully, you’ll find that one of these best credit cards for holiday travel options is perfect for you.

FAQs

How does a travel credit card work?

Credit cards either earn cash rewards or travel rewards. A travel credit card, as you may expect, earns travel rewards. You earn rewards points on each purchase and travel-related purchases typically earn bonus points.

Most travel credit cards let you redeem your points as a statement credit for recent travel purchases or to book upcoming award flights, hotel nights, and car rentals. Some cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, let you transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to participating airlines and hotels.

There are also branded airline and hotel credit cards. These cards earn points for the loyalty club. For instance, a Delta Air Lines credit card earns Delta SkyMiles. Co-brand cards can be a good option if you travel with a specific airline or hotel. Despite the limited redemption options, you’re more likely to get add-on loyalty perks like free checked bags or accelerated loyalty status.

Is it a good idea to get a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards are a good option when you can earn bonus points from your largest or most common monthly expenses. More importantly, you should only consider cards that have redemption options that match your travel habits. If you have a hard time redeeming your points, you may end up losing your points in time.

A cash rewards credit card, like the Citi Double Cash, can also be a good option. The Double Cash earns up to 2% back on purchases (1% at the time of purchase, 1% when you pay your balance) and you can redeem your rewards for cash statement credits or bank deposits. Although travel miles can have a higher redemption value, you can spend cash rewards to offset travel and non-travel expenses.

There are also limited-time offers you might want to take into consideration.

How much money are 50,000 miles worth?

Most credit card points are worth 1 cent each, making 50,000 miles worth $500 in award travel.

Your miles can be worth more if you can transfer them to an airline or hotel and book your travel directly through that loyalty program. As a quick example, your 50,000 miles are worth more than one cent each when they book at least $501 in award travel.

Related Articles:

For rates and fees of The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Advertisement

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

recommended-cart-post-image
APPLY NOW
  • 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®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x 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, 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
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *