Credit Cards Blog

Finance Blogs » Credit Cards Blog » Best travel credit cards: Top picks

Best travel credit cards: Top picks

By Mitch Strohm · Bankrate.com
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Posted: 6 pm ET

Best travel credit card

This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. This post contains references to our partners, and Bankrate may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on certain links posted on this website.

The best travel credit cards offer outstanding rewards, hefty sign-up bonuses and low fees. Nearly all frequent travelers should have one of these cards in their credit card arsenal.

But not all travel credit cards are worthy of consideration. Some offer better options for your personal travel preferences than others.

CreditCards.com rounded up the best travel credit cards for its most recent travel rewards credit card competition, which were rated by a panel of judges to narrow the list down to the top three.

Here are the three best travel credit cards:

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® card

The first-place position goes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card for its industry-leading bonus opportunities, generous points and low annual fee.

Highlights:

  • Cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account. That's $625 toward travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers cardholders two points per dollar on travel and restaurants worldwide. All other purchases on this card earn one point per dollar.
  • For adding an authorized user within the first three months of opening an account, this card offers 5,000 bonus points.

Who should get this card:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is ideal if you're looking for an everyday, low-fee travel card with a solid sign-up bonus and great perks. It's especially useful when paired with the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, where points are worth 25 percent more. Cardholders who frequently fly or stay with Chase's travel partners -- like Virgin Atlantic, Southwest and Hyatt -- will particularly enjoy this card. You can transfer points at a 1-to-1 rate through the card's loyalty program.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card has a $0 introductory fee for the first year. After that, the fee is $95 annually. The card has a variable APR from 16.49 percent to 23.49 percent.

RATE SEARCH: Compare the best travel and airline credit cards today.

2. Capital One® Venture® Rewards

Straightforward rewards, a nice sign-up bonus and a low APR earn the Capital One® Venture® Rewards card the second-place spot on CreditCards.com's list.

Highlights:

  • The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card offers a one-time bonus opportunity of 40,000 miles for spending $3,000 within the first three months of approval. That's equal to $400 in travel.
  • This card offers unlimited 2X the miles per $1 spent on every purchase: 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards. Miles don't expire and there's no limit on how many you can earn.
  • This card allows you to make purchases on any website, app, airline, hotel, rental car service and more.

Who should get this card:

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card is ideal for the frequent traveler who likes rewards but doesn't want to be tied down to a specific brand of airline or hotel. Its simple points structure and sizable sign-up bonus opportunity make it a favorite in travel circles. This card also offers flexible redemption options — you can either use its platform to find deals or get a statement credit to use elsewhere.

There are no foreign transactions fees with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards card. It has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year. After that, the annual fee is $59. The APR is variable.

RATE SEARCH: Compare the best rewards credit cards.

3. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®

Its simple rewards structure, generous sign-up bonus and flexibility put the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® in third place.

Highlights:

  • The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® gives you the opportunity to earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchase within the first 90 days of opening an account.
  • This card offers 2X the miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Every time you redeem, you get 5 percent of your miles back to use toward your next redemption.

Who should get this card:

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® is a great card for the avid traveler who wants easy-to-use rewards and big bonus opportunities. It offers the flexibility to book with any airline or hotel. It also includes travel accident and trip cancellation insurance and a 24/7 travel card concierge service.

This card has a 0 percent introductory APR for 12 months for all balance transfers made within 45 days of opening an account. It comes with a variable APR of 16.49 percent, 20.49 percent or 23.49 percent, based on creditworthiness. The annual fee is $89, which is waived for the first year.

The bottom line:

The travel card you should choose depends on your personal preferences and situation. If you enjoy Chase products and frequently use its travel partners, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is a great choice. But if you want more flexibility in hotels and airlines, then the Capital One® Venture® and Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® are better options.

RATE SEARCH: Compare the best travel credit cards now.

Best Travel Credit Cards: Top Picks
Card Annual fee Rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® $95 Two points per dollar on travel and restaurants worldwide, one point per dollar on other purchases
Capital One® Venture® Rewards $59 Unlimited 2X miles per dollar spent on every purchase
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® $89 2X miles for every dollar spent on all purchases

Follow me on Twitter: @MitchStrohm

«
»
Bankrate wants to hear from you and encourages comments. We ask that you stay on topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, and illegal content. Please keep in mind that we reserve the right to (but are not obligated to) edit or delete your comments. Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

By submitting a post, you agree to be bound by Bankrate's terms of use. Please refer to Bankrate's privacy policy for more information regarding Bankrate's privacy practices.
9 Comments
Add a comment

(Comments may take 5-10 minutes to appear)