Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

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Looking for another travel rewards card? With so many miles, points, and cashback cards and constantly changing offers, it can be confusing so I’ve made it easy for you. These are my picks for the best travel rewards credit cards.

My family and I have used miles and points to travel the world since 1994. Thanks to travel hacking we’ve gone on millions of dollars worth of trips without spending anywhere close to that amount. If we had paid cash for our second trip to Australia it would have cost $26,000 but we only paid $208. All our trips to Hawaii were practically free.

Flying First Class and Business Class for free (paying only the taxes) let us arrive refreshed and eager to start our vacation. But it’s not always about First Class, luxury hotel suites, and experiences like showering on a plane.

Miles and points let you vacation how you want, where you want, and provides flexibility in the event of emergencies.

In short, having a stash of miles and points gives you freedom.

That’s why it’s important to know which cards offer the best welcome offers and benefits. Then you can create a plan to decide which cards you should apply for and when.

Contents

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

woman in white dress and white hat lounging on while building overlooking deep blue sea

These are the best travel rewards credit cards with the best credit cards offers. The list includes a selection of cards to pick from so you can choose travel rewards or cashback.

Credit card welcome offers are the fastest way to reap the benefits of travel hacking. Cards with high bonuses or incentives mean you can travel sooner instead of later. And if you’re creative you can travel often.

Whether you want to earn thousands of points and/or hundreds of dollars in cash back, these best travel rewards cards can help you travel more and spend less.

Card Name Welcome OfferFavorite PerksWhy You Should Get This CardFind Out More
Chase Sapphire Preferred60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. Low annual fee and points transfer to airlines and hotelsYou want a great first card for travel hackingLearn More
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card - Learn More$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 monthsUnlimited 1.5% cash back and no annual feeYou want a no annual fee card without minimum cash out restrictionsLearn More
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - Learn More50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months10X miles on hotels through January 31, 2020You want a card with flexible points and low annual feeLearn More
Chase Freedom Unlimited$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 monthsNo annual fee and you can transfer points to cards like the Chase Sapphire PreferredYou want the freedom to use points for cash or travelLearn More
Chase Ink Business Preferred100,000 points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your accountRedeem points for 1.5 cents; points transfer to hotels and airlinesYou want a business card that earns 3X points on travelLearn More
Chase Ink Cash$500 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account5% cashback at office supply stores, internet, cable and phoneYou want a no fee cash back card lets you put more money into your business and pocketLearn More
The Platinum Card from American Express - Learn More60,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months$200 yearly flight credit and $15 in free Uber ridesYou want a card with free airport lounge access (free drinks, free food, free Wi-Fi, and more)Learn More
Chase Ink Business Unlimited$500 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your accountUnlimited 1.5% cash back, no annual fee, points transfer to cards like the Chase Sapphire PreferredYou want a no annual fee cashback card with primary insurance coverage on rental carsLearn More
Chase Freedom$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. No annual fee and you can transfer points to cards like the Chase Sapphire PreferredYou want to earn lots of cash back from revolving quarterly bonus categories Learn More
Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account$300 yearly travel credit, free airport lounge access, and points transfer to hotels and airlinesYou travel a lot and want the $300 annual travel credit, 3X points on travel and dining, and free airport lounge access Learn More

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the best card for travel hacking if you’re a beginner and learning about miles and points.

A high bonus combined with the low annual fee and flexible points make it the perfect starter card. You earn 2X points per dollar on travel and dining (including fast food restaurants) and 1X point on everything else.  

Points earned instantly transfer to 13 airline and hotel partners like Southwest, United Airlines, and Hyatt. You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to go to Hawaii, fly First Class on Lufthansa, and stay in hotels like Hyatt Regency London – the Churchill.

Bonus

60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents when redeemed through the Chase travel portal. With the current bonus, you can get $750 towards travel or $600 cashback.

With 60,000 points you can:

  • Fly roundtrip coach to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines (points transfer to Singapore Airline which you can use to book flights on Alaska Airlines)
  • Stay a week at the Hyatt Place Las Vegas
  • Experience United Polaris Business Class one-way to Europe.
  • Relax for four nights at the Hyatt Residence Club Sedona, Pinon Pointe, the Andaz San Diego, Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa, or one of the many other Hyatt hotels. 
  • Savor JetBlue Mint First Class one-way from the West Coast to the East Coast and vice versa

Pro-tip: Chase allows you to transfer points to members of your household and authorized users. There’s no fee to add an authorized user to your account. 

Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

No foreign transaction fees so you can use it outside the US without paying fees. When you pay for your rental car you get primary car rental insurance which covers damage from collision and theft.

The card also gives you trip delay reimbursement for up to $500 if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or overnight If the airlines misplace your bags more than six hours you get baggage delay insurance of up to $100 a day for five days

There are a few things you should know before you apply. You won’t earn the bonus if you’re previously earned it on this card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve within the past 48 months. Chase may deny you if you’re 5/24. Meaning you’ve opened five (or more) personal credit cards in the past 24 months. Small business cards like the Chase Ink Preferred are exempt from the 5/24 rule. There can be only one. You can’t have both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card makes our list of the best travel rewards cards.

Unlimited 1.5% cashback, points that are easy to use, and no annual fee make it one of the cards you’ll want in your wallet.

This is a straightforward no-frills travel rewards card. You earn 1X point on everything you spend.

You can use rewards points for statement credit or cash out for a check. There’s no minimum redemption amount and you can cash out any time. So you redeem for any amount including using your points for $0.99 candy bar.

Bonus

$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards points don’t expire as long as you have a Capital One account.

Pro-tip: You can transfer your points to another Capital One account including family and friends’ accounts.

Benefits of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

No foreign transaction fees so it’s a great card to use traveling abroad. The card provides secondary car rental insurance for damages from theft or collision. Purchases are covered by an extended warranty.

Capital One offers a free price tracking program if the price drops you get money back. Plus they offer a virtual card number for online purchases.

Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 

The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card is one of the best travel rewards cards for people who want an easy way to earn travel rewards points. It’s one of our picks for the top travel rewards cards that earn points and cash with welcome bonus.

Big bonus, easy to use points, and low annual fee that’s waived the first year make this a simple card to travel for free.

You earn 2X points on all purchases so you don’t have to keep travel of what categories earn points. 

Use rewards points for all travel expenses like hotels, cruises, tours, etc. by logging into your account and applying your points to your charges. Or transfer to 15 airlines like JetBlue, Singpore, and Etihad. 

Bonus

50,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account. 

Venture points are worth 1 cent, with the current bonus, you can get $500 in travel.

Pro-tip: The card comes with a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Benefits of the Captial One Venture Rewards Card

No foreign transaction fees so using it’s a good card to use outside the US because there aren’t fees. If the airline, cruise line, or tour company misplace or lose your bags you’re covered for up to $3,000 each trip by the card’s lost luggage insurance.

The card provides secondary car rental insurance for damages from theft or collision

Click Here to learn more about the Captial One Venture Rewards Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited 

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is among the best cards for earning cashback and travel rewards.

With no annual fee, a $150 welcome offer, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases it’s easy to earn lots of travel rewards points with this card. Because you earn cashback on everything it’s like getting a 1.5% discount. 

Pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you use points for free travel. Points transfer to more than a dozen hotel and airline partners like Southwest, JetBlue, and Hyatt including all-inclusive hotels! Prefer road trips? Redeem points for rental cars

Bonus

$150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months of opening your account

Pro-tip: Once you get this card you can earn $100 cash back up to $500 when you refer friends.

Benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

No foreign transaction fees so there aren’t fees when you use the card internationally and secondary rental car insurance against damage from theft and collision.  

You can’t get this card if you currently have the Chase Freedom or received a bonus on this card or the Chase Freedom card in the past 24 months.

Chase may deny you if you’ve gotten five or more personal credit cards in the past 24 months aka 5/24. 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred card is one of the best business travel rewards cards for business owners.

Flexible points, a huge bonus and a low annual fee make it a great business card. You earn 3X points for every dollar spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and ads on social media and search engines and 1X point on all other purchases.  

Earned points transfer to 13 airline and hotel partners like British Airways, Southwest, and Marriott. Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for trips to Hong Kong and Australia, Florence, and hotels like Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.

Bonus

100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership.

When using points for travel booked through the Chase portal they’re worth 1.25 cents each or $1,000. or use those 100,000 points to:

Pro-tip: Earn points faster by issuing cards to your employees. Chase doesn’t charge a fee for employee cards

Benefits of the Ink Business Preferred Card

No foreign transaction fees and primary car rental insurance which covers damage from collision and theft when renting while on a business trip or for business purposes. 

The card also provides trip cancellation and interruption insurance for up to $5000, extended warranty protection, and up to $600 in cell phone protection.

What you should know before you apply. Chase may deny your application if you’re 5/24 (have opened five or more personal credit cards in the past 24 months). 

Click Here to learn more about the Ink Business Preferred Card

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash card is one of the best cash back travel rewards credit cards for small business owners.

High cash back rate, no annual fee, and points that can be used for cash back or travel make it an easy choice for businesses. You earn 5% cash back on at office supply stores like Staples and on phone, internet, cable services and 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $25,000 each year. You earn unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.

Transfer points earned from the Ink Business Cash card to a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeem for free travel. Chase points instantly transfer to 13 airline and hotel partners like JetBlue, Southwest, and Marriott. 

Bonus

$500 cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Pro-tip: This card charges a foreign transaction fee so use a different card when traveling internationally.

Benefits of the Ink Business Cash Card

Primary car rental insurance which covers damage from collision and theft and extended warranty protection. 

Click Here to learn more about the Ink Business Cash card

The Platinum Card from American Express 

The Platinum Card from American Express is the best card for airport lounge access.

With this card you get free access to thousands of airport lounges all over the world including the American Express Centurion Lounges where you can get free massages, manicures, and facials. Massage, facial? Yes, please!

A reasonable high bonus, flexible points, and a variety of perks makes the Platinum Card a keeper. You earn 5X points on flights booked directly with the airlines or booked through American Express travel. And you earn 5X points on hotels booked on Amex travel. You earn 1X point on everything else.

The Platinum card has one of the highest fees of the travel rewards cards but offers $500 in yearly travel credits: $200 airline credit for one airline that you choose each year, $200 Uber credits for $15 in rides each month and $35 in December plus Uber VIP status, and a $100 credit at Saks Fifth Avenue.

The card also offers a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit. So after offsetting from the $500 in yearly credits, the annual fee is quite low. 

Plus the card gives you Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite statusHilton Honors Gold status, preferred seating at sporting and cultural events and invitation only events.

Membership Rewards points transfer to 22 airline and hotel partners like Hawaiian Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Hilton. Most transfers post immediately but some can take up to two weeks so plan accordingly.

Bonus

60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Membership rewards points are valued at 1 cent per point through Amex travel so the bonus equals $600 in free travel.

Pro-tip: Sometimes Amex offers 100,000 points for this card. If you weren’t targeted for a 100,000 point offer here’s how to use someone’s Amex RSVP code

Benefits of the Platinum Card from American Express

Fine Hotels & Resorts Program which includes perks like free breakfast, upgrade, and $100 resort credit. There are no foreign transaction fees so you avoid extra charges when using your card internationally. Rental cars are covered under the car rental loss and damage insurance. Feel confident when you buy things thanks to the card’s purchase protection. 

Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.

Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card

The Ink Business Unlimited card is a great cash back and travel rewards card for business owners who want an easy way to earn cash back free from restrictive categories.

Unlimited 1.5% cashback on all purchases, no annual fee, and easy to use points make it a solid choice for businesses, nontraditional businesses, businesses without a storefront, and internet based businesses.

Redeem points for free travel by combining points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Points transfer to 13 airline and hotel partners like United, Southwest, Hyatt, and IHG (International Hotel Group). 

Cash back points don’t expire as long as you have a Chase card.

Bonus

$500 cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Pro-tip: This card has a foreign transaction fee so don’t use it outside the US.

Benefits of the Ink Business Unlimited Card 

Primary car rental insurance which covers damage from collision and theft and extended warranty protection. 

Click Here to learn more about the Ink Business Unlimited Card

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is one of the best no annual fee travel rewards credit cards.

No annual fee, an introductory bonus, transferrable flexible points, and quarterly bonuses of 5% make it a nice choice for those seeking to maximize their cash back. You earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases. Each quarterly you earn 5% cash back on rotating categories like gas, Amazon, and shopping.

Select from redeeming cash back against purchases, having a check issued, or transfering points to cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve and using for travel.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points instantly transfer to 13 airline and hotel partners like JetBlue, Southwest, and Hyatt. Use points to stay at a hotel with a shuttle to Disneyland, visit places like Hawaii and Malaysia

Bonus

$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Pro-tip: Maximize your cash back by transferring to your Chase Ink Business Preferred card. Because points from an Ink Business Preferred card cash out at 1.5 cents vs 1 cent from the Chase Freedom. 

This card has foreign transaction fees so leave it at home when you travel abroad.

Benefits of the Chase Freedom Card

Extended warranty protection and purchase protection.

There are a few things you should know before you apply. You won’t earn the bonus if you’re previously earned it on this card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited within the past 24 months. You can’t have both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Chase may deny you if you’re 5/24. Meaning you’ve opened five personal credit cards in the past 24 months. 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Freedom

Chase Sapphire Reserve 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers some of the best benefits from a best travel rewards credit card

Lots of perks including a $300 yearly travel credit, a large bonus, and flexible points make the Chase Sapphire Reserve is invaluable for frequent travelers. Dining and travel purchases earn 3X points on every dollar spent including Airbnb and Lyft (double points for drinking smart after visiting the best bars in the San Diego Gaslamp).

Plus you get a free DashPass subscription which means no fees on DoorDash orders. All other purchases earn 1X point.

As a Chase card, these points transfer to 9 airline partners like Southwest and 4 hotel partners like IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group). Save thousands by using points for hotels in expensive cities like New York.

Bonus

50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Fifty thousand points go a long way for free travel.

When booked through the Chase travel portal, points are worth 1.5 cents so the bonus equals $750 towards travel. Or use the points outside of the portal and transfer directly to participating hotel and airline partners. This is my favorite way to use Chase points.

Pro-tip: You should add an authorized user because they get their own Priority Pass Select membership = free airport lounge access

Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 

$300 yearly travel credit that’s automatically applied against travel charges, $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement, and no foreign transaction fees so there aren’t any extra costs when using your card outside the US. 

Primary car rental insurance covering damage from collision and theft is included along with trip delay reimbursement for up to $500 and baggage delay insurance of up to $100 a day for five days

What should know before you apply. New cardholders can’t have both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  If you’ve had this card in the past, you have to wait 48 months since you got your bonus before you can apply again.

Chase could deny your application if you’re opened five personal credit cards in the past 24 months (aka 5/24). 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Conclusion

Looking for the best travel rewards credit cards? These are the top 10 cards with the best bonuses for free travel, free flights, and free hotels.

By using miles and points along with cashback you can travel the world for free. Big bonuses let you travel sooner instead of later.

These are the best travel rewards credit cards for free or cheap travel with points and miles. These cards offer the highest bonuses like the Chase Ink Business Preferred bonus of 80,000 points and unlimited 1.5% cashback on cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards and Chase Ink Business Cash, some like the Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Business Unlimited have no annual fee!

Cards like the Platinum Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve include perks like free airport lounge access, Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credit, and more! The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a low annual fee and is easy to use.

Maximize your miles and points pairing cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 

Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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10 Comments

  • The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Theresa August 3, 2019 at 12:37 am

    I wish we had this kind of variety to choose from in Canada, but an interesting read nonetheless.

  • Danik August 3, 2019 at 8:38 am

    As a British person in the UK, we don’t have this choice of credit cards but wish we did. A great variety for Americans to choose from. Looks like you guys get better deals than us (but we are going through a #BrExit at the moment…ugh!)

  • Linda (LD Holland) August 4, 2019 at 7:31 am

    I sure wish we had this number of good travel reward cards in Canada. Chase used to issue some in Canada but has pulled out for most of them. We are lucky that the Marriott Bonvoy card is still available in Canada. And of course, Canadian airline cards. We are big believers in using credit cards to add to loyalty points! I am sure people will find this valuable.

  • Carol Colborn August 4, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Do Bank of America or Wells Fargo not gave any good travel rewards cards?

  • Hannah August 4, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I can’t believe the amazing points credit cards you can get in the US… it’s so frustrating that we don’t have the same offerings in the UK. I have an Amex air miles card, so I get as many benefits as I possibly can, but am jealous of all the deals you list here!

  • Rosemary August 5, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    This is a great comparison of the best credit card offers especially for travel. I currently Chase Sapphire and thinking about getting the Sapphire Reserve. What are your thoughts about canceling a card to get a new one and the impact on one’s credit score? Whenever I see so many amazing credit card deals with travel points, I always hesitate when it comes to canceling a card for a new one. Any guidance on future articles would be appreciated 🙂

  • Anda August 6, 2019 at 12:53 am

    Good to know what each of these cards offers as incentives. I also like to travel on miles, points and timeshares. It’s only that lately we gave up our timeshare and we not count only on accumulated miles. I agree, it’s a lot of savings to use one of this credit cards. We use Citibank and are very pleased with our deal.

  • Renata August 6, 2019 at 6:16 am

    It’s amazing how many perks there are in the US – makes me wonder why US-citizens do not travel the world like crazy since it seems to be practically free if you play your….cards…right.

  • Milijana August 6, 2019 at 7:09 am

    I wish we had an offer of travel rewards credit cards like this in Croatia! Anyway, I am bookmarking this post as I am eager to find the best card for travel hacking for myself. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I appreciate your effort to show the pros and cons of each card!

  • Adonis Villanueva August 7, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Great suggestion here! I think I’ve swiped through 80% of all the credit cards you mentioned here. I’m all about travel hacking and propelled myself to over 53 countries utilizing all the points! You haven’t mentioned it here but the Spark Business Visa gives you $1,000 after 10k spend in 3 months – hard to get but if you have a huge expense you can get 1k for free 🙂

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