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Using one of the best cards to use while traveling can get you complimentary benefits that can otherwise be expensive to purchase. Some of these benefits are even unavailable to the general public! The use of these cards goes beyond earning the most points as you can enjoy plenty of unique benefits.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Best Card to Use While Traveling: A Variety of Options
Here is a preview of some of the options available when it comes to finding the best card to use while traveling.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for Flying and Luxury Travel
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for Airport Benefits
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best Credit Card Travel Insurance
- American Express® Gold Card: Dining and Takeout Rewards
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best Card with No Annual Fee
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card: Best Business Credit Card
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express receives many accolades. Namely, it’s the best card for flying, and it’s also excellent for luxury travel.
The Global Lounge Collection includes complimentary access to The Centurion Network, Priority Pass Select, Escape, Plaza Premium, and Delta Sky Clubs (entry policies vary by network).
Its other air travel benefits include:
- Up to $200 airline fee credit annually
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit (up to $100 every 5 years)
- Up to $189 in CLEAR credits per year
- International Airline Program discounts
- Trip Cancellation and Trip Delay coverage
The travel benefits don’t stop once you step off the tarmac at your destination. It’s possible to receive up to $200 in annual statement credits and complimentary amenities at Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel (requires a minimum two-night stay).
Up to $200 in annual Uber Cash plus premium car rental perks are available too. Several lifestyle perks for retail and fitness for non-travel perks.
Its numerous benefits and valuable welcome offer make it one of the best American Express credit cards for travel.
The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) making this card ideal for frequent travel.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is one of the most affordable premium travel credit cards as its annual fee is only $395 (which is easily offset by the perks). You can also request up to four free additional cards.
Frequent flyers stand to gain the most from these core benefits:
- Priority Pass Select lounge access
- Capital One Lounge membership
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
To maximize the Venture X Rewards benefits value, you receive an annual $300 statement credit for Capital One Travel purchases. The booking portal offers flights, hotels, and car rentals along with price protection benefits.
On each card anniversary, you receive 10,000 bonus Capital One miles, which is worth $100 in travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel. You can also transfer them to participating airlines and hotels, usually at a 1:1 ratio.
This card is best for traveling for its flexible mile redemption options. In addition to earning up to 10 miles per $1 on travel purchases, you can redeem your miles as a travel statement credit with no redemption minimum.
Related: Capital One Venture X Rewards review
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
When we get asked, “what is the best card to use while traveling?” this card is always mentioned. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers extensive travel insurance benefits. It also has a budget-friendly $95 annual fee and free additional cards.
Its travel coverage benefits include:
- Trip cancellation and interruption coverage of up to $10,000 per person/$20,000 per trip
- Trip delay reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket
- Primary auto rental collision damage waiver (up to cash value of the vehicle)
- Baggage delay insurance of up to $100 per day for 5 days
You can also earn up to 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 on travel purchases and 3x points on dining. Your points are worth 25% more when redeeming them for award travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There are several valuable 1:1 point transfer partners including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and World of Hyatt.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred review
American Express Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card excels at dining rewards. First, you receive a $10 monthly credit in Uber Cash for rides and eats. Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
Second, earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at these establishments:
- Shake Shack (participating locations only)
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Milk Bar
Our American Express Gold Card review provides more details.
You may also like this card as it earns up to 4x Membership Rewards on purchases. Dining worldwide and U.S. supermarket purchases (the first $25,000 per year) earn 4x Membership Rewards. Flight reservations can earn 3x points.
The American Express Gold Card carries a $250 annual fee (See Rates and Fees).
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns some of the highest rewards for a credit card with no annual fee. It also includes several trip protection benefits to protect against cancellations, delays, and rental car accidents. You can also combine your rewards with a Chase Sapphire product, another best card to use while traveling option.
First, your purchases can earn up to 5% back:
- 5% back on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
- 3% back on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% back on all remaining purchases
You can redeem your purchase rewards for cash back, upcoming award travel, and gift cards.
Switching to trip protection perks, your travel purchase can be eligible for these complimentary benefits:
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance of up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip
- Secondary auto rental collision damage insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance (third-party fees apply)
Unfortunately, the Freedom Unlimited has a 3% foreign transaction fee. You may consider the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card to avoid this fee, have no annual fee, and earn 1.5% back on purchases.
Related: Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
Additionally, featured benefits include:
- Earn 1.5% back on purchases
- Redeem rewards for cash back, travel, and gift cards
- Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
- Roadside dispatch (service fees apply)
- Purchase protection of up to $10,000 per claim
- Free employee cards
The primary rental car coverage is unique for a $0-annual-fee credit card.
In conclusion, I hope this article has given you some clarity regarding some of the options available when it comes to finding the best card to use while traveling. These general rewards credit cards are adaptable to just about any trip as you can utilize most benefits with any carrier.
However, if you’re loyal to a particular travel brand, you may explore branded airline credit cards and hotel credit cards. These come with carrier-specific benefits that can be more valuable than broad statement credits or flexible point redemption options.
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For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold 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®.
- 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.
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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.