Top 5 Travel Cards: A Traveler’s Guide

A good travel credit card helps you earn free trips, comes to your aid in travel-related emergencies and doesn’t charge you extra fees for using it overseas. If you know what to look for, you can more easily find the travel credit card that best suits your lifestyle. These are the top 5 travel cards that have high ratings for global travel usage.


To find out more about the most reputable travel cards for post pandemic adventures, read on or jump to the following headlines:

Top 5 travel cards

How to compare travel cards

Travel Card Pros

Summary

The Top 5 Travel Credit Cards

#1 Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Good for: Flat-rate rewards

Flat-rate cash back cards feature the simplest rewards structure you can find, offering the same amount of cash back on every purchase you make. That makes it easy to earn rewards on a wide variety of purchases without having to keep track of spend categories or bonus rewards.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is well known due to its advertising. You earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and miles can be redeemed at a value of 1 cent apiece for any travel purchase. The card offers a sizeable sign-up bonus as well as other worthwhile perks.

#2 Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Good for: Bonus travel rewards + high-end perks

The high annual fee may deter but customers can make this sum up in rewards; with the sign-up bonus, annual travel credits, airport lounge access, 3X points on travel and dining, and a 50% increase in points value when you redeem for travel booked through Chase. Points can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners.

#3 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Good for: Flexibility, point transfers & big sign-up bonus

This Card can earn you twice as many points on travel and dining for a reasonable annual fee. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel bookings with Chase, or you could transfer them for airline and hotel partners. The sign-up bonus is also impressive.

#4 American Express® Gold Card

Good for: Big rewards on everyday spending 

The American Express Gold Card can earn travellers large amounts of points from everyday spending, with generous rewards at supermarkets, at restaurants and on certain flights booked through specific partnerships. Other benefits include hundreds of dollars a year in available dining and travel credits and a solid bonus offer for new cardholders.

#5 Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Good for: Airline credit card

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card pays bonus rewards not only on Delta flights but also at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets, making it the rare airline card that’s great for everyday spending. A best-in-class checked-bag benefit, priority boarding and the opportunity to earn a flight credit each year make this card a bargain for Delta stalwarts.

Other contenders:

Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Top 5 travel cards: How to compare travel credit cards

No travel rewards credit card is going to have everything you want. You’re going to be disappointed if you expect to find a high rewards rate, a generous sign-up bonus, top-notch perks and no annual fee. Each card delivers value through a different combination of features; it’s up to you to compare cards based on the following features and choose the best travel credit card for your needs and preferences.

Annual fee

Most of the best travel cards charge an annual fee. Fees in the range of $90 to $100 are standard for travel cards. Weigh the value of the rewards and perks you’ll get to make sure they’ll make up for the fee.

Can you find good cards without an annual fee? YES! Just be aware that if you go with a no-fee travel card, you’ll earn rewards at a lower rate, your sign-up bonus will be smaller, and you won’t get as many perks.

Rewards rate

Rewards can be thought of in terms of “earn rate” and “burn rate”.

  • The earn rate are points credit cards reward you for every dollar you spend. You may even get extra points for making certain types of purchases. For example, a credit card might offer 3 points per dollar on all travel purchases (hotels, airfare, etc.), while giving 1 point per dollar on other types of purchases
  • The burn rate like the earn rate, is like the rate charged when exchanging your money for a foreign currency – the provider or issuer decides on a rate. 

When comparing rewards rates, don’t just look at the numbers. Look at the categories to which those numbers apply, and find a card that matches your spending patterns.

Sign-up bonus

Travel cards tend to have the biggest sign-up bonuses — tens of thousands of points that you earn by hitting a certain amount of spending. But there’s more to consider when comparing sign-up bonuses than just how many points or miles you earn. You must also take into account how much you have to spend to earn the bonus. While cash-back credit cards often require just $500 to $1,000 in spending over three months to unlock a bonus, travel cards commonly have thresholds of $3,000 to $5,000.

Finally, keep in mind that the biggest bonuses will come on cards with annual fees.

Foreign transaction fees

A good travel card will not charge a foreign transaction fee.

International acceptance

Not all travel credit cards are great companions for international travel. It is important to make sure of a card’s international acceptance before travelling.

Travel protections

Consider which travel protections car rental insurance, trip cancellation coverage, lost baggage protection which are important whilst travelling.

Perks

“Rewards” are what you get for using a credit card and the points earned with each transaction and the bonuses you unlock with your spending. “Perks” are extras that you get just for carrying the card. There’s a very close correlation between the annual fee on a card and the perks you get for carrying it.

Assuming you take advantage of them, the perks often make up for the annual fee on a card quite easily. This is especially true with co-branded cards. Free checked bags can pay for an airline card several times over, and a free night is usually worth more than the fee on a hotel card. When comparing the perks of various cards, be realistic about which ones you will and won’t use.

GETTING A TRAVEL CARD? PROS

Pros: Why it’s worth getting a travel card

  • The sign-up bonus gives you a big head-start on travel.
  • Perks make travel less expensive and more relaxing.
  • Rewards get you closer to your next trip with every purchase.
  • No foreign transaction fee can mean big savings.
  • Opportunities to give you more points on travel purchases.
  • Strategic redemption can multiply your value.

Summary

Travel credit cards are convenient for booking trips, and the best ones save you money plus offer travel perks. These cards typically allow you to earn miles or points for every dollar you charge on travel, or in some cases, everyday expenses. Have you used any of the travel cards mentioned above? How did they assist you on your travels?

Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this guide on insights into recommended travel cards, you may be interested by our best travel insurance and the love for travel blogs.


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