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.

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

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$195
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99%-26.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases. Miles don’t expire.
  • Check your first bag for free and save up to $60 on a round trip Delta flight.
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit with the American Express Delta Card.
  • $195 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for loyal Delta Airlines customers

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent Credit (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 American Express's secure website

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
2 miles per dollar at US restaurants. 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99%-26.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for Delta frequent flyers

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

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn one mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months
Annual Fee:
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99%-26.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Earn one mile for every eligible dollar you spend on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $240 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for luxury travel

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent Credit (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 American Express's secure website

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
Welcome Offer:
Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$595
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply

Best for flexible rewards

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

American Express® Business Gold Card

Rewards Rate:
Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month** Earn 1X on other purchases Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
Welcome Offer:
Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
Annual Fee:
$295
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.49% - 24.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
  • More Rewards: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month**
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • Exclusive Offers: Get up to 1 year free on subscriptions to both G Suite Basic for up to 3 users and ZipRecruiter Standard, a combined value up to $3,200.*
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
  • Expense Management Tools: Connect to Quickbooks, access SpendManager℠, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.*
  • *Terms Apply

Best for a large sign-up bonus

Bank of America 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® Premium Rewards® credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Receive 50,000 bonus points - a $500 value - after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill Edge® and Merrill Lynch® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for hotel rewards and a large welcome bonus

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent to Good (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

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
Welcome Offer:
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99%-26.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent Credit (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 American Express's secure website

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Earn double Membership Rewards® points for each dollar of eligible purchases made when you book on the American Express Travel website Earn one Membership Rewards® point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points after your first purchase on the Card
Annual Fee:
$0 intro annual fee, then $95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points after your first purchase on the Card
  • Earn double Membership Rewards® points for each dollar of eligible purchases made when you book on the American Express Travel website
  • Earn one Membership Rewards® point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases
  • Choose rewards from over 500 leading brands in travel, gift cards, merchandise or entertainment
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Terms & Limitations Apply

Best for balance transfers

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 Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter
Annual Fee:
No annual fee
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on balance transfers for 12 months
Regular APR:
15.49% - 21.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 15.49%, 18.49% or 21.49%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Terms Apply

Best Hilton card with no annual fee

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

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
Welcome Offer:
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99%-26.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No 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: 2019’s Top travel rewards offers

Top travel rewards cards
Card Name Best for Rewards Bankrate Score
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Overall travel 2x miles per every dollar spent 4.6 / 5
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Beginning travelers 2x per $1 spent on dining and travel; 1x on everything else 4.7 / 5
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Flexible travel 2X miles for every $1 spent on all purchases 4.4 / 5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Hotel Stays 1.25x miles on every purchase. Plus 10x miles on thousands of hotels at hotels.com/venture 4.1 / 5
Discover it® Miles Low APR travel card Unlimited 1.5x miles per $1 spent 4.8 / 5
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Dining and gas spending 3x points on dining, gas, rideshares, transit and travel; 1x on everything else 4.5 / 5
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Traveling with no annual fee 1.5 points per $1 spent 4.3 / 5
American Express® Gold Card Travel rewards on dining spend 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spend each year, then 1X) 4.4 / 5
Citi PremierSM Card Entertainment rewards 3X points on travel & gas, 2X points on restaurants & entertainment 4.8 / 5
The Platinum Card® from American Express International travel 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. 4.8 / 5

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 unlimited 3 miles for every dollar spent 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. You can also redeem miles with no blackout dates on any of Alaska’s 1,200 daily flights or choose from over 900+ destinations with more than a dozen global airline partners.

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

What we love:

  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels booked and paid for on hotels.com/venture (through Jan. 2020)
  • $95 annual fee is waived your first year
  • 50,000-mile bonus offer when you spend $3,000 in three months
  • Up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Credit
  • Purchase Eraser® feature allows you to redeem your miles for an account credit that covers the cost of a past travel purchase made with your Venture card
  • No foreign transaction fees

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 doesn’t cover.

Read the review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

What we love:

  • 60,000-point bonus when you spend $4,000 in your first three months
  • Chase offers a competitive list of 12 transfer partners
  • Top-notch travel coverage like trip cancellation insurance and trip delay reimbursement
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • No foreign transaction fees

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 1.5%) for a total of up to $600 cash back (equivalent to 60,000 points). 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 (earning 60,000 points) and the $20,000 cap for the Chase Freedom Unlimited (earning $600 cash back which is equivalent to 60,000 points), you’ll earn 120,000 points (worth $1,500 when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal).

Read the review and apply on Chase’s secure website.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

What we love:

  • Generous 70,000-mile welcome bonus when you spend $5,000 in your first 90 days
  • Get 5% of your miles back each time you redeem
  • Miles can be redeemed directly for travel or as statement credit
  • $89 annual fee is waived your first year
  • No foreign transaction fees

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 the full review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

What we love:

  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels booked and paid for on hotels.com/venture (through Jan. 2020)
  • 20,000-mile bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first three months
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ travel partners, including Aeromexico and Air Canada Aeroplan
  • No foreign transaction fees

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 the review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Discover it® Miles

What we love:

  • Discover will match all of the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically
  • No blackout dates on travel, including airlines, hotels and rental car services
  • 14-month 0% introductory APR on purchases (14.24% – 25.24% variable APR thereafter)
  • Redeem your miles for travel, statement credit or cash back
  • No annual fee

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 the review and apply on Discover’s secure website.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

What we love:

  • Widely inclusive 3X category that will earn you points on everything from eating out to renting a car to ordering popular streaming services
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in your first three months
  • No blackout dates on air travel redeemed through Go Far® Rewards
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

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.

The information about the Wells Fargo Signature Visa Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Read the review and apply on Wells Fargo’s secure website.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

What we love:

  • Preferred Rewards members can earn 25% to 75% more points on top of the 1.5X base points you’ll earn with each purchase
  • Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

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 the review and apply on Bank of America’s secure website.

American Express® Gold Card

What we love:

  • 35,000-point bonus when you spend $2,000 in your first three months
  • Get up to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year for incidentals charged to your card
  • Enjoy AmEx’s baggage insurance plan and car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Up to $120 in dining credit for places like Shake Shack (participating locations) and Grubhub (enrollment required)
  • When you book The Hotel Collection for two consecutive nights, get a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fees

Partner this card with: A co-branded luxury card like The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card†. 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.

The information about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Read the review and apply on the American Express secure website.

Citi PremierSM Card

What we love:

  • Earn a 60,000-point bonus when you spend $4,000 in your first three months
  • When you book airfare at thankyou.com, your points gain a 25% boost
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
  • Choose from 15 travel partners to transfer your points to (minimum of 1,000 points)
  • No blackout dates when you book travel at thankyou.com
  • No foreign transaction fees

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 the review and apply on Citi’s secure website.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

What we love:

  • 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in your first three months
  • Enjoy premium lounge access at American Express’ proprietary lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (if you’re flying Delta) and Priority Pass™ Select lounges
  • Get up to a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year
  • Receive complimentary Hilton Honors™ Gold Status and Guest Gold Elite status at Marriott Bonvoy Hotels (Terms Apply)
  • No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees)

Partner this card with: The Blue Business℠ 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 the review and apply on the American Express secure website.
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.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.