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An easy way to make life more exciting is by paying for purchases using credit cards with travel rewards. Whether you like to redeem your rewards for flights, hotels, or road trip expenses, these cards can optimize your travel habits. And if you aren’t ready to travel now, that’s okay too. These cards come with bonuses and perks that can be used when you are ready to travel again.

Earning bonuses with some of these credit cards with travel rewards can help you earn reward travel for next year. Airbus A350-900XWB in Singapore Airlines livery. Credit: Singapore Airlines

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is one of the best overall travel credit cards because it earns some of the most valuable credit card points on purchases. You earn 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards per $1 on travel and dining purchases worldwide. Lyft rides earn 5x points through March 2022 and non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per $1.

Each point is worth 25% more when redeeming through the Chase Ultimate Rewards dashboard for award travel. You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to airlines and hotels including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and World of Hyatt.

Other travel benefits include trip cancellation coverage (up to $10,000 per person) and primary rental car collision damage waiver.

The annual fee is $95. You can earn a signup bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards worth up to $750 in award travel. You earn the bonus by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Related: 60k Points! Chase Sapphire Preferred Review 2020 ($750 Bonus)

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another top-notch credit card for travel rewards. All purchases earn 2 miles per $1. UberEats purchases earn 5x miles through January 31, 2021.

You can redeem your miles for travel statement credits, booking upcoming travel and transfer your miles to airlines and hotels. One travel benefit you may like is a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. You can learn more about how to maximize the flight travel benefits in our in-depth Capital One Venture Card review.

New cardmembers can qualify for a limited-time 100,000-point signup bonus. You earn the first 50,000 miles by spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Earn the remaining 50,000 miles by spending a total of $20,000 in the first 12 months.

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

Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Premium travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® continue to offer the best travel rewards. The Sapphire Reserve can be the best premium option as you have flexible redemption options.

Your dining purchases earn 3x Ultimate Rewards worldwide and travel purchases earn 3x points immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. Your points are worth 50% more (1.5 cents each) when booking award travel through Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer them to airlines and hotels.

Most premium cards are most valuable when booking award flights but your Ultimate Rewards can be valuable for hotels and rental cars as well.

Some additional travel benefits include:

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership
  • Special benefits at Luxury Hotel & Resorts Collection

The signup bonus of 50,000 bonus points ($750 value) is earned after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $550 and $75 per additional user.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

Platinum Card from American Express

Another top contender for the best premium travel credit card is The Platinum Card® from American Express. It’s an excellent option for frequent flyers and international travel. Cardholders earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. However, starting January 1, 2021, cardholders will earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.

Cardholders also earn 5x points on prepaid hotels using American Express Travel. Cardholders can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, get up to $200 annually for airline fee credits (in statement credits) for baggage fees and more with one qualifying airline, and up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually, enrollment required).

  • Up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts amenities (average total value of $550)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status

Your points are most valuable when booking award flights on AmexTravel or for gift cards. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to many airlines including Delta Air Lines and JetBlue. You can read more about it in our review of The Platinum Card from American Express.

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.

The annual fee is $550 (See Rates & Fees). 

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

If you need a business card, the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is one of the best for travel and daily business spending.

You earn 3 Ultimate Rewards per $1 on the first $150,000 in combined annual purchases for these categories:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Social media and search engine advertising

Your points are worth 1.25 cents each (25% more) for award travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to airlines and hotels. Trip cancellation insurance and primary auto rental insurance cover are additional travel benefits.

The Ink Business Preferred has an exciting signup bonus worth as much as $1,250 in award travel. You get 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards by spending $15,000 in the first 3 months.

Related: Chase Ink Business Preferred Review: 100k Point Offer (Worth $1250)

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is a great option for frequent Southwest flyers. All Southwest purchases earn 2 points per $1. The purchase rewards and the 40,000 point signup bonus (by spending $1,000 in the first 3 months) count toward the annual Companion Pass point requirement.

Built-in card benefits include a $75 annual Southwest Airlines travel credit, 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available) and 7,500 bonus Rapid Rewards each card anniversary. The annual fee is $149 before redeeming the annual travel credit.

Related: Best Southwest Credit Cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

If you fly for business on Southwest Airlines, check out the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. You can earn a signup bonus of up to 100,000 Rapid Rewards by spending $25,000 in the first 6 months. Spending $5,000 in the first 3 months lets you earn the initial 70,000 bonus Rapid Rewards.

Additional business travel rewards include:

  • In-flight wifi credits (up to 365 per year)
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • 9,000 Rapid Rewards each card anniversary

While most airline credit cards earn up to 2x miles on airline purchases, the Performance Business earns 3x Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases. Online advertising along with internet, cable and phone services earn 2 points per $1. Non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per $1.

The annual fee is $199.

Related: Best Credit Card Offers

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

One of the most exciting hotel credit cards is the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. As IHG properties like the Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites are in many cities across the US.

First, you can earn an exciting signup bonus of 140,000 IHG points by spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. This signup bonus is worth up to 28 free nights.

Other card benefits include:

  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • IHG Platinum Elite loyalty status
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year
  • Fourth reward night on 4+ night award stays
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

The annual fee is $0 for the first year and then $89.

Related: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: 140,000 Bonus, 25x Points, Reward Night, & More

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is one of the best premium hotel credit cards. Card benefits include earning:

  • 7x Hilton Honors points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 7x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at U.S. restaurants
  • 4x Hilton Honors points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio
  • 3x Hilton Honors points for all other eligible purchases on your card

Other benefits include Hilton Honors Diamond status, up to $250 Hilton resort in annual statement credits,  up to $100 in Hilton property credits, and Priority Pass Select lounge access.

There is also the opportunity to get one weekend night reward upon application approval and each card renewal and a second weekend night reward after spending $60,000 per year. The annual fee is $450 (See rates & fees). The welcome bonus is 150,000 Hilton Honors (worth up to 30 free nights) by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Related: Best Hilton Honors Credit Cards

United Gateway Card

Not all credit cards with travel perks charge an annual fee. The United Gateway℠ Card is one of the better options if you like flying on United Airlines. You 2x United miles on United purchases, gas stations, local transit and rideshares.

To help cardmembers earn even more rewards during a time where travel may not be possible for everyone, the new United Gateway Card will also offer an accelerated 3x miles on grocery purchases, up to $1,500 per month, through 09/30/2021.

You get 25% back on in-flight purchases and get expanded seat availability on United flights. The signup bonus is 20,000 miles by spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Learn more: Airline Credit Cards

Summary

You will find that the best credit cards with travel rewards offer flexible redemption options for (almost) any travel purchase. Airlines and hotel credit cards can offer exciting loyalty perks that add value to your travel experience and can save you money as well.

FAQs

Which credit card gives the best travel rewards?

The best “consumer” travel credit card with travel rewards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You earn 2 Ultimate Rewards per $1 on travel and dining purchases. Your points can be redeemed for 25% more for most types of award travel including flights, hotels and rental cars. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to airlines and hotels.

While you won’t get travel statement credits or automatic lounge access, you can easily earn and redeem valuable credit card points.

The annual fee is $95 which makes this a good option for frequent and casual travelers. You can get a valuable signup bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards worth $750 in award travel. You earn the bonus by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Are credit cards with travel rewards worth it?

You should get a travel rewards credit card if you prefer redeeming your credit points for flights, hotel nights and other travel purchases. The best cards may offer a point redemption bonus for award travel that you book through the credit card travel portal. Flexible travel credit cards let you transfer your points to airlines and hotels to find better redemption values.

A cash rewards credit card is better if you want monthly statement credits when you don’t travel often. Also, cash back credit cards are less likely to have an annual fee and may offer more relevant bonus categories to match your purchase habits.

How much is a credit card mile worth?

Most credit card miles are worth 1 cent each when booking award travel through the credit card travel portal. In most cases, you will need to book an award flight to get the best redemption value.

Your points can be worth more than 1 cent each if you have the ability to transfer your credit card points directly to an airline or hotel. Saving your points for business class and first class tickets tend to have the highest redemption value of up to 6 cents per mile.

Redeeming credit card miles for non-travel rewards like cash or gift cards means your redemption value will most likely be less than 1 cent per mile.

Related Articles:

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

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.

Josh Patoka
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 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.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases 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.

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