Horse drawn carriage in Disneyland

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Saving money on hotels, rental cars and flights can help you stretch your family’s travel budget — and perhaps even travel farther from home. But what if you could score some aspects of your spring break trip for no cost?

That potential is the promise that a travel rewards credit card offers for your family. Travel credit cards offer differing amounts of points or miles that work best for different types of trips, so compare them carefully to find the best fit.

Since spring break is almost here, you may be short on time when it comes to earning rewards you can redeem for spring break travel deals. But you can still earn rewards on your spring travel spending and then use those points and miles for another trip using travel rewards credit cards. For families, the right card can be just the ticket to more affordable vacations.

Here’s more good news for your budget and family: Travel rewards credit cards typically come with big introductory bonuses you can earn when you meet a minimum spending requirement within a few short months (for example, spend $3,000 within three months to earn 50,000 points) and they all offer ongoing rewards based on eligible spending. Getting you and your family a travel credit card before you book your spring break trip can turn your spring travel spending into a big bonus to use later.

Once you earn a stash of points and miles, you can redeem them for a wide range of travel including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train fare and theme park tickets. Redemption details vary depending on the loyalty program, travel dates and other factors, but it’s not overly difficult for the average family to earn enough rewards for a few flights or a weeklong hotel stay.

Best family travel credit cards for Disney World

Disney World is a bucket list travel destination for many families, but visiting the iconic park can be a budget-breaker. After all, booking two-day park tickets with a single park entry per day could cost the average family of four with children ages 3-9 over $1,000 — and that cost doesn’t include airfare or hotels.

Fortunately for you and your family, travel credit cards can help you cover the cost of accommodations and transportation. For example, you can frequently find “sale fares” on Southwest Airlines to Orlando, Florida from many U.S. cities that translate into flights that cost less than 10,000 points one-way. That means a family of four could fly round-trip to Orlando for 80,000 miles and pay just $5.60 per leg in airline taxes and fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards have an estimated value of 1.5 cents per point. Earning enough points for this trip would save this family up to $1,280 in airfare. And they could easily get started earning these points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or any Chase Ultimate Rewards® credit card that lets you transfer points to airlines and hotels at a 1:1 ratio.

Now let’s imagine the family wanted to cover the cost of a rental condo as well. They could pick up the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® to earn 70,000 miles worth $700 in travel after they spend $5,000 on their card within 90 days of account opening. They would also earn 2x miles per $1 spent on every purchase. Also, two spouses picking up this card and earning the signup bonus would wind up with $1,400 to spend on a condo rental near the resort.

Best airline credit cards for major airlines

The example above illustrates the power of travel rewards when it comes to booking spring break travel deals as well as holiday travel throughout the year, but there are plenty of other choices relevant to your family, travel credit cards and airline cards included. Here are the best airline credit cards from several major airlines.

 

Card

Intro bonus Earning structure

Annual fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases and 1 point per $1 on other purchases

$99

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months 2 miles per $1 on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile per $1 on other eligible purchases Waived first year, then $95
Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months 2 miles per $1 on gas station, restaurant and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per $1 on other purchases Waived first year, then $99
United℠ Explorer Card 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months 2 miles per dollar on United purchases and at restaurants and hotels and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases Waived first year, then $95

Gas rewards for family road trips

Planning a spring break trip within driving distance? You’ll save a bundle on airfare, but you can also earn lucrative rewards at the gas pump. Consider these best rewards cards for gas purchases before you hit the road:

 

Card

Intro bonus

Earning structure

Annual fee

Citi Rewards+℠ Card 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months 2X ThankYou® Points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and (then 1X Points) and 1X Points on other purchases

$0

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1% back on other purchases

$95

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card (not currently available)

 

30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months 3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares and travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; 1X points on other purchases

$0

For the Blue Cash Preferred Rates and Fees please click here:

The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card has been collected by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

Best family travel credit cards for hotels

Don’t forget to earn rewards good for accommodations at major hotel brands. The best hotel credit cards let you rack up rewards good for free nights, room upgrades and more.

 

Card

Intro bonus

Earning structure

Annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months 12x Hilton Honors points per $1 on eligible direct Hilton purchases, 6x points per $1 at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3x Hilton Honors points per $1 for other purchases

$95

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months 6x points per $1 at participating Bonvoy locations and 2x points per $1 on other purchases

$95

Four family vacation planning tips

The travel credit cards we shared in this piece can help you travel farther and save money all along, but there are ways to get even more bang for your buck. These spring break travel tips will help you boost your rewards haul, save money and have a more enjoyable vacation with the ones you love most:

  1. Pay your credit card balances in full every month. Remember that rewards will only work in your favor if you never pay interest on your credit card purchases.
  2. Check if your card has travel insurance. Make sure to check whether your favorite travel credit card offers valuable insurance coverage such as primary auto rental coverage, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and baggage delay insurance.
  3. Book an extended family trip and have other family members pay you back. Book flights and hotels for your extended family (travel credit card as the payment method, of course) and then have them pay you back. This means you’ll earn points and miles on their travel expenses as well as your own.
  4. Have both spouses sign up for rewards credit cards. Both spouses can earn the introductory bonus on different rewards credit cards — even if you live at the same address. This lets you double up on rewards for your family and score more free travel in the process.

The information for the United℠ Explorer Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.