Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Intro offer
75,000 miles 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for mid-level travel perks

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x 3x on dining.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Intro offer
80,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST VALUE FOR PREMIUM TRAVEL

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 10X Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5X 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
Intro offer
75,000 miles 
Annual fee
$395
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Excellent (740 - 850)

Best for flexible travel miles with no annual fee

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Intro offer
20,000 miles 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for qualifying travel purchases

Apply now
On Bank of America's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 1.5X 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.
Intro offer
25,000 points 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.24% - 24.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for travel rewards on dining

Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™
Rewards rate
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Intro offer
60,000 points 
Annual fee
$250
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Intro offer
Earn 100,000 points 
Annual fee
$695
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best Bank of America travel card

Apply now
On Bank of America's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5X Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro offer
50,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for travel redemptions

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro offer
50,000 points 
Annual fee
$550
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Recommended credit
Excellent (740 - 850)

Best first-year miles bonus

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 1.5X Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
Intro offer
Discover Match® 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
12.24% - 23.24% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best travel card for fair credit

Apply now
On Credit One Bank's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5x Earn 5x points on eligible Recreational & Amusement Park purchases
  • 3x Earn 3x on eligible restaurant & lodging purchases
  • 1x Earn 1x points on all other purchases
Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
24.24% Variable
Recommended credit
Fair to Good (580 - 740)

Best for travel rewards on everyday purchases

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro offer
60,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
16.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit AmericanExpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex assurance company.


The information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Compare the best travel credit cards of 2022

Card name Best for Rewards rate Bankrate review score
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Overall travel 2X miles per every dollar spent 4.1 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Mid-level travel perks 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Value for premium travel 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel and 2X miles on all other purchases. 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Flexible travel miles with no annual fee 1.25x miles per dollar on every purchase 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card Qualifying travel purchases 1.5X points on all purchases 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
American Express Gold Card Travel rewards on dining 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants (Annual Fee: $250) 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
The Platinum Card from American Express Luxury travel 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.) 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card Dining purchases 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases; 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel redemptions 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Miles First-year miles bonus 1.5X miles for every dollar on every purchase 3.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Credit One Bank Wander Card Travel card for fair credit 5X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases, which includes national parks and professional sporting events, 3X points on eligible restaurant and lodging purchases (including campgrounds) and 1X points on all other purchases. 3.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Premier Card Travel rewards on everyday purchases 3X points on hotel, air travel, restaurant, supermarket and gas station purchases 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at Bankrate’s top travel credit cards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best overall travel card

  • What we love about the Venture Rewards card: It offers an easy way to earn travel rewards and comes with a generous sign-up bonus and several travel and purchase protections. The annual fee is a modest $95, which will appeal to a broad range of travelers who don’t need a luxury experience.
  • Who this card is good for: Travelers who want to earn flat-rate rewards on all of their purchases and who want flexibility in how they redeem their miles.
  • Alternatives: If you are ready to explore the realm of luxury travel rewards, the Capital One Venture X card is a great place to start. It comes with lounge access, statement credits and a sign-up bonus to help offset the $395 annual fee, which is a drop in the bucket compared to other luxury travel cards.
  • Compare this card with: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Learn more: Is the Capital One Venture Reward Card worth it?
Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to offer details.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for mid-level travel perks

  • What we love about the Sapphire Preferred card: For a $95 annual fee, this card is packed with features. On top of an outstanding sign-up bonus, you get travel and purchase protections, as well as a rewards program that earns points, not only on travel purchases but also on everyday purchases like groceries and streaming services.
  • Who this card is good for: This is a great travel card for anyone willing to put in a bit of work to get the maximum value out of their rewards. Be sure to take advantage of Chase’s hotel or airline transfer partners or book your travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards online portal, where points are worth 25 percent more value.
  • Alternatives: Travelers who don’t feel like strategizing to get the most value out of their points may prefer a flat-rate card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. It has a similar sign-up bonus and the same annual fee as the Sapphire Preferred, but there is only one bonus travel category to track. All other purchases earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar.
  • Compare this card with: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Learn more: How the Chase Sapphire Preferred pays for itself.
Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best value for premium travel

  • What we love about the Venture X card: This card offers top-of-the line benefits, including complimentary lounge access and a high rewards rate for both travel and non-travel purchases. It also comes with a fairly affordable annual fee compared to other luxury travel cards on the market.
  • Who this card is good for: Travelers looking to sample luxury benefits without paying a huge annual fee. The premier perks you’ll get with this card aren’t quite as luxurious as those found with other premium travel cards like the Amex Platinum Card, which packs in a bigger welcome offer, hotel elite status, more travel- and non-travel-related credits and the broadest airport lounge selection around. But the Venture X’s annual fee is far more modest and can be quickly offset thanks to an annual credit and anniversary miles bonus.
  • Alternatives: The Platinum Card® from American Express is for frequent travelers looking for the best of the best when it comes to premium travel experiences. From an impressive sign-up bonus and annual credits to luxury lounge access and everyday benefits, this card packs it all in.
  • Compare this card with: Platinum Card from American Express

Learn more: Read our experts take on the Capital One Venture X.
Read our full Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible travel miles with no annual fee

  • What we love about the VentureOne Rewards card: This entry-level travel rewards card comes with a nice sign-up bonus, the chance to earn unlimited miles, and a good amount of travel and purchase protections.
  • Who this card is good for: Beginner and occasional travelers looking for flexibility and savings. Cardholders don’t need to worry about maximizing rewards to offset an annual fee or travel rewards redemption restrictions.
  • Alternatives: A general-purpose flat-rate credit card that offers 2 percent cash back on all purchases may bring more value if you don’t travel often and aren’t ready to upgrade to a travel rewards credit card with an annual fee.
  • Compare this card with: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Learn more: Reasons to get the VentureOne Rewards Card.
Read our full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to offer details.

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card: Best for qualifying travel purchases

  • What we love about the Bank of America Travel Rewards card: Unlike other travel rewards cards, this card counts more than just airfare and hotel rooms as travel. You can redeem points  for statement credits to cover purchases at zoos, art galleries, aquariums, travel agencies and more.
  • Who this card is good for: Occasional travelers looking for a no-annual-fee travel card that offers a simple flat rate for all purchases.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Flex℠ takes a little getting used to, but its rotating and fixed categories earn bonus rewards in travel and everyday categories, which could bring in more value than a flat-rate travel rewards card.
  • Compare this card with: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Learn more: Is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card worth it?
Read our full Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review or jump back to offer details.

American Express Gold Card: Best for travel rewards on dining

  • What we love about the Amex Gold Card: Amex gives users plenty of chances to offset the high annual fee of $250. This includes annual credits and high-earning bonus categories that will reward your spending in numerous areas, including dining, U.S. supermarkets and flights.
  • Who this card is good for: Travelers who want to earn rewards for dining out and ordering in. The generous rewards rate on dining at restaurants and Uber Eats in the U.S. makes it easy for foodies to rake in a lot of points.
  • Alternatives: If your budget can’t handle the Amex Gold card’s annual fee, try the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. It lacks travel rewards, but for $95 a year, food lovers will appreciate the impressive 4 percent cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services, as well as 3 percent cash back at grocery stores (all other eligible purchases earn 1 percent cash back).
  • Compare this card with: The Platinum Card from American Express.

Learn more: Amex Business Gold Benefits Guide.
Read our full American Express Gold Card review or jump back to offer details.

The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for luxury travel

  • What we love about the Amex Platinum card: With a $695 annual fee, the Amex Platinum card doesn’t come cheap. But it will be worth it for those who can take advantage of all the high-value benefits packed in this card. That includes a welcome offer worth up to $1,000 when redeemed through American Express Travel (100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months), annual statement credits worth well over $1,000, and complimentary access to the expansive American Express Global Centurion Lounge Collection.
  • Who this card is good for: Frequent travelers who enjoy luxury travel benefits and elite status with select hotels.
  • Alternatives: Thanks to the Capital One Venture X card, it’s possible to get a taste of luxury for far less than the cost of the Amex Platinum card. For $395, travelers get a card packed with high bonus rewards categories, a higher base rewards rate, complimentary lounge access, as well as a travel credit and anniversary miles.
  • Compare this card with: Citi Prestige Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Learn more: Amex Business Platinum Benefits Guide.
Read our full The Platinum Card from American Express review or jump back to offer details.

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card: Best Bank of America travel card

  • What we love about the Premium Rewards card: The one-time sign-up bonus and annual chance to earn up to $200 in travel statement credits enhance the value of this easy travel rewards credit card.
  • Who this card is good for: Frequent travelers who are also Bank of America Preferred Rewards members. Eligible Bank of America customers can boost their rewards rate by up to 75 percent based on the size of their accounts.
  • Alternatives: The Capital One Venture Rewards card might be a safer bet. The bigger sign-up bonus, higher flat rewards rate, and supersized hotel and rental car bonus categories come packed in a card with great travel benefits and flexible redemption options.

Learn more: Bank of America Premium Rewards Card Benefits Guide.
Read our full Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review or jump back to offer details.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for travel redemptions

  • What we love about the Sapphire Reserve: Even with an annual fee of $550, this premium travel rewards card is in demand and for good reason. The sign-up bonus alone is worth $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening). And the card comes loaded with long-term value, including annual travel credit, bonus points for travel and dining purchases, and complimentary airport lounge access.
  • Who this card is good for: Frequent travelers who can take advantage of the top-of-the-line travel benefits.
  • Alternatives: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card also has a generous sign-up bonus, rewards program and travel credits, but comes with a smaller annual fee of $395.
  • Compare this card with: The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Learn more: 5 Reasons to love the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve review or jump back to offer details.

Discover it Miles: Best for earning unlimited miles

  • What we love about the Discover it Miles: Discover will match every Mile you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder. It’s like essentially earning 3X Miles instead of 1.5X Miles during your first year.
  • Who this card is good for: Travelers who want simplicity. There are no complex redemption programs and cardholders are free to redeem rewards for statement credits they can apply to recent travel purchases.
  • Alternatives: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card won’t make you wait as long as the Discover it Miles to earn your sign-up bonus. The VentureOne card also has more than a dozen transfer partners, which can help increase the value of the rewards you earn.

Learn more: Read our experts take on the Discover It Miles.
Read our full Discover it Miles review or jump back to offer details.

Credit One Bank Wander Card: Best travel card for fair credit

  • What we love about the Wander Card: Even cardholders with fair credit are eligible for this card, which comes with unique travel-related perks like 5X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases (including national parks and professional sporting events).
  • Who this card is good for: People who can justify the card’s $95 annual fee by taking advantage of its select travel categories, which include eligible restaurant & lodging purchases. Plus, the card is open to people with average credit.
  • Alternatives: Depending on your spending habits, a general-purpose travel rewards card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card may be a better fit. The unlimited 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 2 miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases will add up fast for people with a wide range of spending habits.

Read our full Credit One Bank Wander Card review or jump back to offer details.

Citi Premier Card: Best for travel rewards on everyday purchases

  • What we love about the Citi Premier: This mid-level travel card packs a punch thanks to high-earning travel- and household-related bonus categories, an annual hotel credit and a modest fee of $95.
  • Who this card is good for: Occasional travelers who want to earn travel rewards for all their grocery, gas and dining purchases.
  • Alternatives: Depending on your spending habits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may not have the everyday value of the Citi Premier. It doesn’t reward you for gas purchases and only earns 1 point per dollar on in-store supermarket purchases. But it does outclass the Citi card when it comes to travel value, especially when you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to redeem points for travel.
  • Compare this card with: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Learn more: Read our experts take on the Citi Premier Card.
Read our full Citi Premier Card review or jump back to offer details.


What is a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards allow cardholders to earn points or miles on a variety of purchases (typically travel-related), which are redeemable for travel bookings, statement credits, gift cards and more.

The best travel credit cards do more than help you foot the bill for your next flight—they’ll also offer perks to upgrade your entire travel experience. Trip insurance, annual travel credits, concierge services and lounge access are all common benefits. Airline and hotel co-branded credit cards sometimes offer specific discounts and perks for loyalty program members.

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What can your travel credit card do for you?
When researching a new travel card, look beyond the obvious features like the sign-up bonus and APR. The top cards will feature benefits that give the card better long-term value and give you additional savings and peace of mind. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your travel credit card, check out travel expert Ariana Arghandewal’s article on the top 5 travel credit card perks to look for in 2022.

Different types of travel rewards credit cards

As with other types of cards, travel credit cards offer you a lot of variety to choose from. To zero in on which card might best fit your needs, consider the different categories of travel cards.

How do credit card miles work?

Credit card miles are one of the three types of credit card rewards in addition to points and cash back. Credit card miles and credit card points work in mostly the same way, but miles are usually associated with air travel. You earn credit card rewards by making purchases using your card and storing up those points for travel, gift cards and other options.

Types of credit card miles

Travel miles typically come in three forms:

  • Miles tied to a specific airline through a frequent flyer program
  • Miles redeemable for travel purchases like airfare
  • Miles that are worth more when they’re redeemed through a credit card company’s online travel booking portal.

When using a co-branded credit card the airline—not the card issuer—sets the number of miles needed to reach the various levels of a loyalty rewards program. With these types of cards, customers who frequently use a specific airline will see the most value. If you’re not partial to any particular airline, a general travel or miles credit card would serve you best.

How to redeem points and miles

The most common way of redeeming air miles is to use them for free flights, sometimes called award flights. Co-branded hotel points are typically redeemed for free nights at that particular hotel chain. All-purpose points offer more flexibility in how you redeem them since they aren’t tied to any single brand. Depending on the card, your options could include redeeming points for statement credits to help pay for previous travel purchases, booking current travel purchases or transferring them to the issuer’s hotel and airline partners.

Who should get a travel credit card?

A travel credit card is almost always a good idea if you want to offset the cost of future travel. If you are able to save up airline miles, rack up points for free nights at hotels or get discounted travel through your credit card issuer you’re on your way to saving significantly on travel costs. The right travel card will vary depending on your travel habits, but might be worthwhile if you identify with any of the following types of travelers:

Pros and cons of travel credit cards

Although a well-chosen travel card can pay huge dividends, it might not be the right move for every traveler. Before you apply, take time to weigh the benefits versus the drawbacks.

Pros

  • Rewards optimized for travel: Rewards categories are often designed to earn more points or miles for purchases directly related to travel, mainly expenses such as airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars and more.
  • Travel-friendly benefits: Many travel cards offer perks such as travel insurance, free checked bags and credits for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.
  • High reward rates: Travel credit cards typically have some of the most generous rewards rates. It’s not uncommon to see travel purchases earn 5X, 6X, 7X or more points or miles.
  • The convenience of travel portals: Many card issuers have their own online travel portals where you can book travel and redeem your rewards toward those purchases in one session. Sometimes, using these portals may even boost your rewards value.

Cons

  • Credit score requirements: The typical baseline credit score requirement for a travel card is good-to-excellent, which could make it difficult to qualify with a credit score below 670.
  • Using rewards can be complex: You’ll frequently have to calculate points, check for eligibility requirements for flights and hotel stays and otherwise navigate the process to get full value of your rewards.
  • Annual fees: Some of the top travel credit cards have annual fees starting in the $95 to $100 range. Upper-tier hotel and airline cards and luxury travel cards could have annual fees exceeding $200 or even $500.
  • Losing value on non-travel redemptions: Points or miles typically lose value when redeemed for cash back, gift cards or merchandise, rather than travel.
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Bankrate insight
Airbnb and VRBO offer travelers the feeling of a home away from home, but that’s not all. You can also earn miles or points if you book your stay with travel cards that reward eligible vacation rentals.

How to choose the best travel credit card for you

A good travel credit card can make traveling easier and more affordable. The best travel credit cards earn cardholders free or heavily discounted trips, assist during travel emergencies and keep fees to a minimum (or skip them altogether). With the right information, you can find the best travel credit card for you and your travel habits. When deciding on a travel credit card, keep these questions in mind.

  • Do you have an airline or hotel preference? A co-branded credit card will carry the name of a specific airline or hotel. You’ll get the most value out of its rewards when redeeming them with that airline or hotel. While your options for redeeming points are limited, these cards also give you access to exclusive perks, like priority boarding or free room upgrades with the carrier or chain in question.
  • Does the card offer the travel protections you need? Many credit card issuers offer cards that provide protections like trip cancellation/interruption insurance, rental car coverage in case of an accident, emergency assistance, lost luggage insurance and concierge services.
  • Can you offset the annual fee? If you have a luxury travel card, chances are high that the card carries a steep annual fee. A card’s high cost can typically be offset by lucrative rewards and added perks, such as airport lounge access and free checked bags. Before you receive a bill for your card’s annual fee, calculate whether it’s still worthwhile. Compare the cost of the annual fee to the value you receive from rewards, statement credit offers and added perks that you actually plan to use.
  • Does the card offer a sign-up bonus? A good sign-up bonus could translate into free airfare or other travel purchases. As a rule of thumb, the higher the annual fee, the higher the sign-up bonus should be. Before you sign up, ensure that you can reasonably cover the spending required to earn the bonus.
  • Do you want more travel rewards or cash back rewards? Credit card rewards generally come in two varieties: cash back or travel. You should get a travel credit card if you purchase plane tickets or hotel stays several times per year and you’re comfortable with paying an annual fee (in many cases) in exchange for higher rewards rates and travel perks. A cash back card is a better fit if you don’t travel regularly but still want to earn decent rewards on your spending.

Still unsure if a travel credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool, where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

A beginner’s guide to travel hacking with credit cards

Travel hacking with credit cards is the practice of signing up for travel credit cards to collect free or discounted airfare, hotel stays or transportation when traveling. Many people use unique methods with travel credit cards to finance trips of a lifetime.

Be sure you can qualify for the welcome bonus. The best travel credit cards will offer sizable welcome offers to attract customers. These generous sign-up bonuses—which can range between 30,000 to 100,000 points—typically come with spending requirements that cardholders must meet to obtain the welcome offer.

Get the right card. With rewards credit cards, not all purchases are rewarded in the same way. If you’re going to sign up for a travel credit card to get free or discounted travel, be sure that the card rewards purchases that are in line with your everyday spending habits.

Avoid credit card churning. Credit card churning is when someone frequently applies for and opens new credit cards in order to obtain the welcome bonus with no intention to use the card long-term. Many card companies have strict rules about card churning and it can impact your credit score negatively.

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Bankrate insight
Despite the Omicron variant’s spread, travel is not slowing down. The TSA tally of passengers for the first few days of 2022 saw a 54 percent increase of travelers compared to 2021. After nearly two years of compromised or canceled travel plans, 40 percent of respondents to an Expedia survey say they’re ready to splurge on trips to give themselves the experience of a lifetime in 2022.

How we chose our list of top travel rewards cards

Bankrate evaluates credit cards on a 5-star system that factors in attributes such as annual fees, APR, rewards value and welcome bonuses. To make our list of best travel rewards cards, our writers and editors pay particular attention to:

Rewards structure

The best travel card for you will allow you to earn the most rewards for your specific spending habits. The cards in our lineup cover a variety of programs geared toward hotel lodging, dining, air travel costs and other factors. In general, the best travel cards reward you with two to three points per dollar on bonus categories.

Travel perks

The top travel rewards cards offer travel-specific benefits that take the hassle out of travel. Some perks we looked for are designed to save you money, including trip cancellation insurance, delayed baggage insurance, rental car insurance, checked bag discounts and travel credits. Other perks are all about making your experience more comfortable, such as airport lounge access, flight and hotel upgrades and concierge service.

Annual fees

Annual fees are common among travel credit cards, but our top picks that charge these fees make it easy to get your money’s worth. Some luxury cards with very high annual fees might be worth the expense for frequent travelers who put a premium on comfort.

Sign-up bonus

Though long-term value should always be weighed the most heavily, travel credit cards often come with sign-up bonuses that can be worth a flight or two. We highlight the most competitive offers so that, all other factors equal, the better sign-up bonus can help you make a decision.

Foreign transaction fees

Foreign transaction fees can make or break the value of a travel credit card, especially if you travel outside the country often. This fee typically tacks on an extra 3% to purchases made overseas, so our top-rated travel cards tend to be of the no-foreign-transaction-fee variety.

Find out more about rewards cards for travelers


Video guide: What is a travel credit card?



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

Travel credit card frequently asked questions

about the author
Former Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina.
about the editor
Mariah Ackary is a personal finance writer who specializes in small businesses and credit. Mariah is a lifelong writer, but joined the Bankrate team in 2019, excited by the opportunity to help people make good financial decisions. Send your questions to mackary@bankrate.com

* 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.