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Using the best credit cards in 2021 that can help you earn the most rewards on purchases is a great way to open yourself up to future travel. If you have a card earning travel rewards, the benefits can reduce your trip expenses, insure your non-refundable purchases, and enjoy other exclusive perks for an exciting vacation. Here are some of the best credit cards in 2021 for travel rewards.

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

The Best Credit Cards in 2021 for Travel Rewards

Here’s a quick preview of the cards featured on this list:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best overall credit card for travel rewards in most circumstances.

There are several new benefits that make this card more attractive while keeping the annual fee at $95. Some of the featured card perks include:

  • Earn up to 5x Ultimate Rewards on travel (previously 2x)
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 10% anniversary points bonus
  • Points are worth 25% more for award travel bookings
  • 1:1 point transfers to airlines and hotels
  • $50 annual hotel statement credit
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Primary car rental damage and theft coverage

You can also earn the card’s highest-ever signup bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards ($1,250 award travel value) after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Get the full details of all of the Chase Sapphire partnerships and more in our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier® Card can be an excellent option if you want several ways to earn bonus points on daily purchases. This card is also a great alternative to the Chase Sapphire Preferred (compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Citi Premier for more info) if you’re currently subject to the Chase 5/24 application guidelines.

These purchases earn 3x ThankYou points:

  • Air travel
  • Hotels
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets

All remaining purchases earn 1x points.

Each ThankYou point is worth 1 cent for award travel bookings. You can also transfer them to airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

You also receive an annual $100 statement credit after spending at least $500 on a single hotel stay on ThankYou.com.

The signup bonus is 80,000 ThankYou points ($800 value) after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $95.

Related: What Credit Score Do You Need for Citi Premier?

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® technically bills itself as a cashback credit card.

However, it’s better than many no annual fee travel credit cards as you can earn more valuable points and have flexible redemption options.

This card earns at least 1.5x Ultimate Rewards on purchases. Cardholders earn unlimited:

  • 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% back on dining and drug store purchases
  • 1.5% back on everything else

Lyft rides also earn 5% back through March 2022.

Each point is worth 1 cent for travel, cash, and gift card redemptions. This card doesn’t offer point transfers to travel partners. One additional travel benefit is up to $1,500 ($6,000 per trip) in trip cancellation and interruption coverage on non-refundable travel.

The annual fee is $0 but the foreign transaction fee is 3%. Also, the signup bonus is $200 cash after spending $500 in the first 3 months.

Our Chase Freedom Unlimited review has more details if you’re interested.

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is probably the best premium travel card for frequent flyers.

Some of the best benefits include:

  • Earn up to 5x Membership Rewards on purchases
  • Up to $200 annual airline fee credit (terms apply, enrollment required)
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash per year (terms apply, enrollment required)
  • Plus, up to $200 in annual hotel credits (terms apply, enrollment required)
  • Complimentary airport lounge access (terms apply, enrollment may be required)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • CLEAR application fee credit (terms apply, enrollment required)
  • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers

The standard welcome offer is the ability to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards ($1,000 value) after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. You may qualify for a targeted Platinum Card signup bonus as high as 150,000 points ($1,500 value) after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards    

There are several lifestyle perks too including statements credits for Equinox, Saks Fifth Avenue, and digital streaming services. Get all of the details on this revamped card in our Platinum Card review.

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

Related: How Hard Is It To Get The American Express Platinum Card?

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is a premium travel card for American Airlines. It’s a great option if you want complimentary Admirals Club membership.

Other card benefits include:

  • The first checked bag is free for you and up to 8 companions
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Earn up to 2x miles on purchases

The signup bonus is 50,000 American Airlines miles after $5,000 in purchases during the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $450.

Related: Best Credit Cards for American Airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers the most travel benefits of the airline’s consumer cards.

Featured benefits include:

  • Annual $75 Southwest travel credit
  • Up to 4 Upgraded Bookings per year
  • 7,500-anniversary points per year
  • Earn up to 2x Rapid Rewards on bonuses

The current signup bonus is 40,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. You can also earn 3x points on dining and food delivery purchases for the first year.

The annual fee is $149 and there isn’t a foreign transaction fee.

Related: Best Southwest Credit Cards

World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card is one of the best hotel credit cards for a top-notch hotel rewards program.

Card benefits include:

  • Earn up to 9x Hyatt points on purchases
  • Free hotel night each card anniversary (Category 1-4)
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist status

The signup bonus is worth up to 60,000 World of Hyatt points. Earn 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn up to 30,000 more points by earning 2x points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1point, on up to $15,000 spent. Plus, earn bonus Hyatt rewards. 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.

The annual fee is $95.

Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is another excellent hotel credit card as you get several automatic benefits with a relatively low annual fee of $89 ($0 for the first year). The signup bonus is the ability to earn 150,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus can be worth up to 30 free nights.

Travel rewards include:

  • Earn up to 25x IHG points on purchases
  • 1 reward night each card anniversary (40,000 points or less)
  • 4th reward night on 4+ night award stays
  • IHG Platinum Elite loyalty status
  • Free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

This card comes with several benefits, plus there are a number of properties available worldwide that are part of the IHG family. Get all of the details in our IHG Rewards Club Premier Card review.

Related: The Best 100k Credit Card Bonus Offers

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Small business owners have several business credit card options too. Airline and hotel co-brand cards are available plus ones that earn credit card points like Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card can be the best option for these benefits:

  • Earn up to 3x points on purchases
  • Points are worth 25% more for award travel redemptions
  • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
  • Primary collision damage waiver on business car rentals
  • No foreign transaction fee

The Ink Business Preferred annual fee is $95 for the primary card and $0 for additional employee cards.

The signup bonus is the ability to earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards ($1,250 award travel value) after $15,000 in initial spending during the first 3 months.

Some of the other Chase business credit cards are a better fit if you don’t want an annual fee or can’t meet the $15,000 signup bonus spending minimum.

Related: How Hard Is It To Get the Chase Ink Business Preferred?

Summary

These best credit cards in 2021 with travel rewards have awesome signup/welcome bonuses, valuable rewards programs, and add-on benefits. Once you find the card (or cards) that fit your purchase and travel habits, it’s time to start traveling and maximizing your daily purchases and everyday spending.

Related Articles:

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

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