Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019

Travel credit cards turn your everyday expenses into valuable points and miles that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, cruises, and more. Most of the best travel cards require at least a “good” credit score, and will usually charge an annual fee. Use them strategically as part of a well-rounded credit card strategy and you’ll be flying off to a new destination before you know it. Take a look at some of Bankrate’s best travel credit cards from our partners and start planning your summer 2019 vacation now.

Editor's Top Picks: Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019

  1. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best overall travel credit card
  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for your first travel card
  3. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®Best for flexible travel
  4. Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Best for hotel stays
  5. Discover it® Miles: Best 0% intro APR travel card
  6. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card: best for dining out and gas spending
  7. Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best travel card with no annual fee
  8. American Express® Gold Card: Best for travel rewards on dining spend
  9. Citi PremierSM Card: Best for entertainment rewards
  10. The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for international travel

Best for overall travel

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for your first travel card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Rewards Rate:
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
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®
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
18.24% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • 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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • 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
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flexible travel

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Barclays's secure website

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
Welcome Offer:
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
Annual Fee:
$89 (waived first year)
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
Regular APR:
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness

Card Details

  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • New - Control Your Card - Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing

Best for hotel stays

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24% - 24.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best 0% intro APR travel card

Discover it® Miles Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Miles

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel!
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 14 months
Regular APR:
14.24% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates – fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Best for dining out and gas spending

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals Earn 1X points on other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR:
16.24% to 27.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.24%-27.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best travel card with no annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
Welcome Offer:
25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR:
17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR will apply
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for travel rewards on dining spend

American Express® Gold Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

American Express® Gold Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$250
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
See Rates & Fees

Card Details

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.

Best for entertainment rewards

Citi Premier℠ Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Citi's secure website

Citi Premier℠ Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual Fee:
$95, waived for first 12 months
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 50,000 Points are redeemable for $625 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for international travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Rewards Rate:
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$550
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed herein 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.


Author: Madison Blancaflor

Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


In this article:


Bankrate’s guide to the top travel credit cards of 2019

Both beginner travelers and seasoned road warriors can benefit from the rewards and perks that come with a travel credit card. If you play your cards right, you can easily use your points and miles to fund your next getaway.

What is a travel rewards card?

Travel rewards cards allow cardholders to earn points or miles on travel-related purchases. Typically, these cards also offer rewards for other purchase categories as well. Those rewards can then be redeemed for travel bookings, statement credits, gift cards or more.

Most travel cards also come with perks that help upgrade your travel experience. Trip insurance, annual travel credits, concierge services and lounge access are all common perks. Airline and hotel co-branded credit cards sometimes offer specific discounts and perks for loyalty customers.

The best travel rewards cards offer generous rewards across multiple spending categories, flexible redemption options and an array of ancillary benefits.

How do points work on travel credit cards?

Miles work the same way as credit card points. When you use miles to book travel directly through an airline or travel portal, the airline or issuer will assign a set number of award miles to each ticket. Some airlines have established award charts that give you insight into what each flight would cost in miles, but many have switched to a dynamic pricing model that bases award pricing on multiple factors, including seasonality and route popularity. When you are redeeming miles as a statement credit, they are assigned a monetary value (typically 1 cent per point, though that isn’t the case with all issuers). For example, Barclaycard values each Arrival Plus mile at 1 cent, which means its 70,000-mile sign-up bonus is worth $700 when you redeem as a statement credit for travel. Just remember you’ll have to hit the $5,000 in the first 90 days.

How we compare & review travel credit cards

Finding the right travel credit card can be complicated because there are so many different types of travel rewards cards to choose from. From points and miles to co-branded airline or hotel cards, we cut through the noise to give you the information you will need to make an informed choice. The travel cards industry is home to some of the most lucrative and expensive rewards cards. At Bankrate, we score each card out of 5 against our matrix, which was devised to take into account various card attributes, such as the card’s annual fee, rewards value, sign-up bonus, and any extras or discounts. However, everyone is unique: Just because a card has a lucrative welcome offer doesn’t mean it is the right card for your regular spending habits. Wherever possible, we have identified where we think a card will suit a particular type of spender or traveler. When looking at multiple travel credit cards to find the right one for you, there are three main factors you should consider:

  • Rewards structure. You want a card that will allow you to earn the most rewards for your specific spending habits. If you spend a lot of money on dining and an array of travel purchases, the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s 2x points on dining and travel might be best for you. If you are a heavy spender on gas, the Citi Premier might make a better fit.
  • Welcome bonus. Welcome bonuses are a large factor in determining the first-year value of a travel credit card. Take a look at the bonus, the minimum spend required and the redemption value of the bonus.
  • Additional perks. Some cards offer an impressive lineup of trip insurances while others are more focused on luxury lounge access and airline credits. Know the type of traveler you are and which perks you will use the most.

Let’s look at two popular travel credits cards: The Capital One Venture and Amex Platinum. The Venture is a mid-tier card, and the Amex Platinum is a luxury card. Assuming you spend an average of $2,000 each month ($1,500 on regular expenses and $500 on travel), here is the value each card brings to the table when you also factor in welcome bonuses and any account credits.

Annual Fee Approx. first-year value Approx. second-year value
Capital One Venture $95, waived the first year $1,080 $480
Amex Platinum $550 $1,680 $980

*Editor’s note: These valuations are calculated by the Bankrate staff and not the individual issuers. The first- and second-year value calculations do not factor in the annual fee or ancillary perks that do not have a set monetary value.

The Amex Platinum also gives you access to luxury hotel perks and exclusive lounge access — the values of both are hard to exactly quantify. While it’s obvious that the Amex Platinum offers more value on paper, you also have to consider the $550 annual fee. If you are using the card to book a considerable amount of travel through the Amex portal and taking full advantage of its luxury perks, the annual fee is definitely worth it. However, if you don’t travel a lot, the Capital One Venture (with its significantly lower annual fee) might be a better choice.

Comparison: Bankrate’s best travel rewards credit cards of 2019

Card Name Rewards Rate Annual Fee
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 2x miles per every dollar spent $95, waived in the first year
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 2x per $1 spent on dining and travel; 1x on everything else $95
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® 2X miles for every $1 spent on all purchases $89, waived the first year
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 1.25x miles on every purchase. Plus 10x miles on thousands of hotels at hotels.com/venture $0
Discover it® Miles Unlimited 1.5x miles per $1 spent $0
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card 3x points on dining, gas, rideshares, transit and travel; 1x on everything else $0
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card  1.5 points per $1 spent $0
American Express® Gold Card 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spend each year, then 1X) $250
Citi PremierSM Card  3X points on travel & gas, 2X points on restaurants & entertainment $95, waived for the first 12 months
The Platinum Card® from American Express 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. $550

Who should get a travel rewards credit card?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a jet setter to reap the benefits of a travel credit card — there is a travel credit card out there for every kind of traveler.

Beginner travelers

Simple yet flexible rewards are the name of the game for beginner travelers. If you’re just getting into points and miles, the last thing you need is a complicated rewards structure and redemption process. Cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card are great options. You’ll earn 2x miles on every purchase, and both cards come with a competitive sign-up bonus and waived annual fee the first year. If you’re just starting out, a luxury card might not be the best for your current situation. The Platinum® Card from American Express, for example, charges a hefty annual fee and only earns significant rewards on travel-related purchases.

Brand loyalists

Some people like to fly with the same airline whenever possible or stay at the same hotel brand wherever they go. If you are the same way, a brand-specific card will probably provide you with the best value. Most of the time, brand-specific cards have brand-related purchases as a bonus category and other perks for loyal customers. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, for example, earns 3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and offers a companion fare starting at $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) each year. While you’ll still get value out of a more general travel card, you can really maximize your rewards by sticking to a card that is brand-focused.

Business travelers

Some of the most valuable travel credit cards are actually business cards. Whether you are a freelancer who travels a lot to meet new clients or the CEO of a Fortune 500, the right travel credit card can help you reap the rewards of everyday business purchases while helping you keep your personal and business expenses organized. For example, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers 12x points at Hilton hotels and resorts, 6x points on select travel and business purchases and 3x points on everything else. The card comes with a competitive welcome offer and a low annual fee. Plus, Hilton has an impressive partner list. You can earn points with your Hilton card and then transfer them to your favorite airline to redeem. In order to keep business and personal expenses separate, you should think twice before getting a consumer card to use for your business travel purchases. It makes it harder to organize your receipts during tax season.

Luxury travelers

If you’re interested in upgrading your travel experience, there are many great choices. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a fan favorite, offering a well-rounded selection of perks and a 50% redemption bonus when you book award travel through the Chase portal. Another popular choice is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with access to Centurion Lounges. While top-tier cards also come with higher annual fees, the costs are outweighed when you take full advantage of the trip insurance, travel credits and other perks. While the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred are both great all-around cards, they lack some of the luxury perks that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum. If you’re really looking for a luxury travel experience, you need a top-tier travel card.

Summer travel can be hard on your wallet

Think a 2019 summer vacation is too far out of reach financially? You aren’t alone. In a recent study, we found that only 52% of Americans are definitely taking a vacation this year. Unsurprisingly, most people who aren’t planning a summer vacation cited affordability as the number one reason.

Specifically, day-to-day bills and paying down debt were the most common financial roadblocks to affording a getaway. Considering, Americans expect to spend an average of $1,979 on a summer vacation, it’s no wonder many are worried about a trip busting their budgets.

With the right travel cards in your wallet, you can help minimize the costs of your trip while you upgrade your overall experience.

Check out a deeper analysis of our 2019 Summer Vacation survey results here. 

How to use your travel credit card during your 2019 summer vacation

A travel rewards credit card can help you mitigate the costs of summer travel while also upgrading your overall experience.

Family vacations

Simple rewards can be a game changer for busy families. Cards like the Capital One Venture that offer rewards on every purchase take the guesswork out of earning rewards. The sign-up bonus and Hotels.com partnership add even more value for families looking to cash in miles on this year’s vacation.

Honeymoon trips

If you’re getting married this summer, the right credit card can help you fund an amazing honeymoon. If you’re planning a luxury vacation to celebrate your nuptials, a card like the Amex Platinum is a great choice. You’ll have access to exclusive lounges across the world (for some added privacy and relaxation during your layover), and booking your travel directly with airlines or through amextravel.com with the card can help you easily hit the minimum spend for the introductory bonus — all while earning 5x points.

Music festival road trip

The Citi Premier is one of the only credit cards that offers bonus points for travel (including gas), dining and entertainment purchases. Plus, the card comes with Citi Private Pass, which can help you score presale tickets and exclusive access to events. If you use this card for your 2019 music festival road trip, you can rack up enough points to pay for holiday travel or next year’s vacation.

Editor’s notes on our picks for the best travel credit cards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

If you’re looking for a simple way to earn and redeem rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great option. Because of Capital One’s partnership with Hotels.com, the Venture is an exceptionally great card if you prefer hotel accommodations over Airbnb and similar sites.

Partner this card with: The Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card. Use the Savor for dining and entertainment purchases and the Venture for everything else. Use the cash back you earn from the Savor to cover travel expenses that your Venture rewards does not.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

This card is easily one of the best all-around travel cards on the market. The points you earn with the Sapphire Preferred are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through the Chase portal. Plus, the card offers one of the most competitive sign-up bonuses.

Partner this card with: The Chase Freedom Unlimited. This is an all-star combination for beginner travelers, especially in the first year. You can earn 3% cash back on your first $20,000 spent with the Freedom Unlimited in the first year, then transfer those points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred for maximum value when you redeem. If you hit the minimum spend for the Sapphire Preferred and the $20,000 cap for the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 120,000 points (worth $1,500 when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal).

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard isn’t quite as well-known as some of the others in this list, but it still offers a lot of value. With a strong sign-up bonus and possibly the most flexible redemption process, it’s a great card for beginners just getting into the travel rewards game.

Partner this card with: A co-branded card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless†. You’ll be able to rack up a lot of Marriott Bonvoy points on hotel stays and reap benefits like an annual night free (conditions apply) and automatic silver elite status. For airline and other purchases, use your Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

Read Bankrate’s full Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard review.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

If you’re not a fan of annual fees, try out the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. You’ll be able to cash in on the Capital One partnership with Hotels.com, but you won’t have to pay the $95 annual fee that comes with the Venture. Partner this card with: The Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card. This is essentially the same matchup as the Venture/Savor, but without the annual fees. You’ll still earn some impressive rewards, just not at the same rate. If you one day decide the annual fees are worth it, you can always call Capital One to request these cards be upgraded to their big sisters.

Read our full Capital One VentureOne Rewards card review.

Discover it® Miles

Another flat-rate card, the Discover it® Miles is a solid option for the no-frills traveler. This card comes with a great intro APR offer, and you’ll also earn 1.5x miles on every purchase. Discover matches all of the miles you earn at the end of your first year, which is a great first-year perk.

Partner this card with: The Discover it® Cash Back. The Discover it® Cash Back offers 5% cash back on rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%; enrollment required). You can maximize rewards across every purchase category when you pair these cards strategically.

Read our full Discover it Miles card review.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

If you’re looking for a way to maximize your earning potential across a wide range of spending categories, you should check out the Wells Fargo Propel. Bonus categories include all dining — whether you’re going out or ordering in — and all travel — including gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Plus, this no-annual-fee card comes with a 30,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Partner this card with: The Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card†. With your Propel card, your points are worth 1 cent each pretty much no matter how you redeem them. However, you can pool your Go Far Rewards between Wells Fargo cards. The Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card allows cardholders to redeem points for airfare at a rate of 1.5 cents per point (if you book through the Wells Fargo portal). For two cards with no annual fee, this is an amazing value. Read our full Wells Fargo Propel card review.

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America banking customers can earn some serious rewards with this card. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% to 75% more points — on top of the 1.5x base points you’ll earn with each purchase.

Partner this card with: The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. You can choose one category to earn 3% cash back in, plus earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined bonus rewards quarterly). You’ll earn the same Preferred Rewards bonus with both cards. Read our full Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review.

American Express® Gold Card

One of the top luxury cards available, the American Express® Gold Card offers some great perks for frequent travelers. The card’s annual fee is lower than most luxury cards, and you still get a lot of value, including a strong rewards structure and benefits like up to a $100 airline fee credit.

Partner this card with: A co-branded luxury card like The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant†. You can earn bonus rewards on travel purchases with your co-branded card (along with some sweet brand-specific perks like automatic elite status or exclusive discounts) while earning awesome rewards on everyday spending categories with your Amex Gold Card. Membership Rewards can be transferred to many loyalty programs, which is another reason to pair your Amex strategically with a co-branded card. Read our full American Express® Gold Card review.

Citi PremierSM Card

Citi’s mid-tier credit card in its ThankYou® Rewards lineup offers impressive rewards on travel (including gas stations), dining and entertainment. It’s rare to find a card that assigns bonus points to all four of those categories. If you’re willing to book your award travel through Citi’s portal, this card is definitely worth the $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months).

Partner this card with: The Citi Rewards+ Card. These two cards make a great matchup. You’ll earn 2x points at gas stations and supermarkets with the no-annual-fee Citi Rewards+ on up to $6,000 in purchases each year (then 1x). Plus, every time you earn points, they get rounded up to the nearest 10. Make sure to hit the minimum spend on your Premier first, and use it for all of your travel, gas, dining and entertainment purchases. The Citi Rewards+ is great for groceries and smaller purchases. Then, you can pool your points and maximize their value through the Premier’s travel portal. Read Bankrate’s full Citi Premier Card review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

If you’re looking for a card to help you upgrade your travel experience, The Platinum Card® from American Express is an excellent choice. The card offers a generous rewards structure for frequent travelers, premium lounge access (including Centurion Lounges), up to a $200 airline fee credit, complimentary gold elite status with both Hilton and Marriott and many more luxury perks.

Partner this card with: The Blue BusinessSM Plus Credit Card from American Express. The Platinum Card’s high annual fee makes the no-annual-fee Blue Business Plus a great supplement option for business owners who travel often for work or fun. You’ll earn 2x points on your first $50,000 in business purchases each year, then 1x thereafter. Your Membership Rewards points automatically pool to one account (even if one is a business card and one is a personal card), so it’s easy to maximize your points with both of these cards. Read Bankrate’s full The Platinum Card® from American Express review.

 

The information on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, the Wells Fargo Signature Visa, and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant has been collected independently by Bankrate.com and has not been provided or reviewed by the respective card issuers.

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