Top 5 Travel Rewards Cards You Should Have in Your Wallet

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There are so many travel rewards cards choosing the right card can be confusing. These are the top 5 travel rewards cards you should have in your wallet.

Top 5 Travel Rewards Cards

These are my favorite travel rewards cards. If you had to only choose 5 credit cards, these are the cards you should get. The rewards you earn from most of these cards are transferable to many airlines and hotels. This means you have more options for free flights, hotels, and more. www.travelingwellforless.com

These are my favorite travel rewards cards. If you had to only choose 5 credit cards, these are the cards you should get. The rewards you earn from most of these cards are transferable to many airlines and hotels. This means you have more options for free flights, hotels, and more!

Chase Sapphire Reserve

If you want to earn points that can be used for free flights and hotel rooms, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and stay for free at hotels like the Park Hyatt Maldives

If you want to earn points that can be used for free flights and hotel rooms, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

I’ve transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United to fly First Class on Lufthansa. I’ve also transferred them to Hyatt to stay at various hotels during my Quasi-Round the World Trip.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you:

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 3x points on travel and dining
  • 1x points on every $1 spent everywhere else
  • $100 application fee credit for Global Entry
  • Free Priority Pass Select membership (free airport lounge access)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points that transfers on a 1:1 ratio to participating airlines and hotels
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $550 annual fee (not waived the first year)

If you want similar benefits but a lower annual fee ($95) you should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred you get 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, 2x points on travel and dining, earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that transfer on a 1:1 ratio to participating airlines and hotels, and no foreign transaction fees.

Check out my post on how to get into every airport lounge.

The Platinum Card from American Express

You can earn Membership Rewards points with the Platinum Card from American Express.  These points can be redeemed for airline tickets and hotel rooms.Traveling Well For Less
Transfer Membership Rewards points and fly First Class on Etihad

You can earn Membership Rewards points with the Platinum Card from American Express.  These points can be redeemed for airline tickets and hotel rooms.

Transfer Membership Rewards points to Etihad and you could shower on your flight.

With the Platinum Card from American Express you get:

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
  • 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked with the airline or through American Express Travel
  • 1x Membership Rewards points on all purchases
  • Free entrance to Centurion Lounges
  • $200 airline fee credit each year
  • Free Priority Pass Select membership (free airport lounge access)
  • $200 in Uber credits each year
  • Free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold elite status
  • $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Free Hilton Honors Gold elite status
  • Access to Fine Hotels & Resorts (free breakfast, upgrades, and more)
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi membership
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $550 annual fee (not waived the first year)

If you have a business, you can also get the American Express Business Platinum card. The benefits are the same as the Platinum Card from American Express except for two differences: you get a higher welcome offer/bonus and you don’t get the Uber credits.

You get 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card

If you fly on American Airlines or one of their many partner airlines like Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and British Airways, you should consider getting the Citi AAdvantage Executive card.
American Airlines miles can be used to fly on Cathay Pacific

If you fly on American Airlines or one of their many partner airlines like Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and British Airways, you should consider getting the Citi AAdvantage Executive card.

You can use American Airlines miles for a free trip to Hawaii.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive card gives you:

  • 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
  • 2x miles on American Airline flights and purchases
  • 1x mile on every $1 spent
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions
  • Priority check-in and priority boarding for up to 8 travel companions
  • Free Admirals Club membership
  • $100 application fee credit for Global Entry
  • Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee (not waived the first year)

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

 

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, using your miles for free travel is simple and convenient. Make a travel-related purchase then use your miles to for statement credit. You can also redeem your miles for cashback.
Redeem your miles from your Barclaycard Arrival Plus to pay for travel expenses like snorkeling
Photo courtesy: Pixabay

Confused by which points transfer to what airlines or hotels? Want a card that’s easy to get free travel? Then you should get the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, using your miles for free travel is simple and convenient. Make a travel-related purchase then use your miles to for statement credit. Which means your activities in cities like Vienna will be free! You can also redeem your miles for cashback.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus card gives you:

  • 40,000 points (miles) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of getting your card
  • 2x miles on travel-related purchases
  • Get 5% of your miles back when you redeem miles
  • $89 annual fee (waived the first year)

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The best First Class seat on the 747-8 on Lufthansa. https://www.travelingwellforless.com
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines, then book a flight on Lufthansa

If you’re looking a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, you should get the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt hotels and stay for free in Hawaii.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited you get:

  • $150 cash back after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points that transfers on a 1:1 ratio to participating airlines and hotels when you transfer to your Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred account
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Conclusion

Just starting out with travel rewards cards? Not sure which cards to get? These are the top 5 travel rewards you should have in your wallet:

You can use the points you earn from these cards to get free flights and hotels rooms. With some of these cards, you can get free airport lounge access.

Which are your top 5 travel rewards cards?

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The best travel rewards cards let your transfer points for free flights, hotels, and activities. You should get these top 5 travel rewards cards. | travel for free | travel hacks | travel hacking | travel rewards cards | www.travelingwellforless.com

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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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34 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.
  • Candy December 13, 2017 at 5:28 am

    We love to travel. I could get spoiled real fast traveling in luxury. Will have check out these cards

  • Amber Myers December 13, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I need to look into some of these. We have some rewards Credit Cards that we pay off the following month. The rewards are always a lovely bonus! I’d love to earn some trips.

  • Jeanette December 13, 2017 at 6:04 am

    I just bookmarked this because I do travel quite a bit. And I have been trying to find ways to get more travel reward points!! Thank you or sharing!

  • Alli Smith December 13, 2017 at 6:20 am

    I’m glad to see that my card is in the top 5! I enjoy earning points for free flights and saving money when traveling.

  • Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh December 13, 2017 at 9:59 am

    I hate credit cards…they got us into a huge mess. However, if I ever decide to go back to them, these are the way to go!

  • valmg @ Mom Knows It All December 13, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    The only card I’ve ever had related to travel was with United. By having the card there was no charge for luggage. It saved nice money.

  • Jenn @ EngineerMommy December 13, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I do a fair amount of traveling and these are some great cards to keep. I love rewards cards. My everyday credit card has wonderful cash back incentives.

  • Emily December 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    This is all really helpful to figure out what rewards cards are worth it! Now that our kids are a little older we want to start traveling a lot more and this is a great way to get started saving money too.

  • Anita December 13, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I’m going to look into these. I travel a lot with my job and this would be very helpful considering how much I am on the road now.

  • Amanda December 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Wow, those sound like some absolutely amazing cards with great benefits. My goal for 2018 is to travel more, so I should get one of these cards to help me with my resolution!

  • Tomi C December 13, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    We have benefited from our travel rewards credit card and used it for discounts on hotel rooms, flights, car rentals, etc. It really comes in handy. Great list.

  • Rach Ferrucci December 13, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    I have a couple of these cards and I agree. I use my points for lots of travel perks like hotels and upgrades on flights. It’s definitely worth it to at least have one of these cards and see what you can get.

  • Kita Bryant December 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I’ve been looking at a few of these. I want to travel even more next year and having a rewards card would seriously be useful.

  • Our Family World December 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I would love to fly first class/business class some day in one of those luxurious airlines! I am glad I came across this post. I will have to check with my bank and see how many rewards points I have so far. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Bohemian Babushka December 14, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Never looked into using miles for traveling. You’d of thought Babushka would love that twofer!!! Gracias for the idea, will definitivamente look into it. BB2U

  • Mellissa December 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you soooo much for this list. Its’ going to help out a bunch with getting things in gear for my upcoming travel next year. I love how there are so many ways to save and earn.

  • Ricci December 15, 2017 at 1:51 am

    I have a good travel rewards card and I seriously love it! I love earning points toward hotel rooms and flights!

  • Dina Demarest December 15, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    It’s been a while since I last traveled with my family so I think I would love to have this so my family and I can travel soon!

  • Fi Ni Neachtain December 16, 2017 at 8:19 am

    These travel reward cards all sound amazing and I love the rewards they’re offering. So perfect for those who love to travel and reap the benefits of it all too whilst enjoying their holidays! 🙂

  • Brenda Tolentino December 23, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I love our Chase Sapphire Preferred but I need to look into more of these other credit cards. Looks like I should have at least one other card to gain more rewards. Thank you for the tip!

  • Medha December 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Wow you’ve listed some pretty cool cards with such amazing incentives! Unfortunately I have never looked into travel rewards points or incentive cards and from what I know, we don’t have a lot of options in the UAE. But the ones you’ve listed here seem just perfect. Think I need to research this in greater detail and start benefiting from these cards soon. Thanks for sharing !

  • Natalia December 24, 2017 at 5:44 am

    These cards look so handy if you have favourite brands you use a lot in travelling) I was always wondering if there is a possibility of creating a common travelers’ card which can gather points for you wherever you stay, go and shop in any destination (at least within one country) and then give a possibility to redeem in future. But it sounds utopic 😀

  • Nathalie Caty December 24, 2017 at 7:47 am

    1 out of 5 ain’t bad 🙂 I have the AMEX and I love it. I heard so many great things about Chase sapphire. I may have to get that card.

  • Tamara Elliott December 24, 2017 at 10:18 am

    I’ve heard such good things about the Chase Sapphire card, that it makes me super jealous of you Americans who can sign up for it. Sadly, we don’t have that one here in Canada.

  • Lois Alter Mark December 24, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    As someone who is constantly traveling, I try to stay up to date on my points and rewards cards. This list will be super helpful as I try to make sure I’m getting the most out of my travel in the new year. Plus, that Chase card would be perfect for my daughter!

  • Claire December 25, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I’m always useless at deciding which card to get, this breaks it all down nicely so thank you! It’s great to have an excuse to spend more money – anything that helps towards free flights & travel is very useful!

  • Leah December 26, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I’m a total miles junky and have looked at each of the cards you mention. I considered the Chase Sapphire, but have remained loyal to my Chase United Club card. It’s a great one for my needs.

  • Marvi December 26, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Admittedly, I just recently got interested with local travel reward cards I haven’t used any when I travel. Reading your post makes me realize I’m indeed missing a lot of cool perks and rewards, especially on free flights and hotel rooms. 🙂

  • Dorene December 26, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Great breakdown of the best cards, and what you get from each of them. No shortage of options for Americans to travel! Unfortunately, we don’t have these card available to us in Canada but many of my friends would appreciate the information in this post!

  • Nisha December 26, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Reward cards are so useful. These are perhaps some of the best. We don’t have any of these in India but there are other alternatives. Only this summer I used up my card to get us a couple of tickets from India to Europe and back.

  • Sandy N Vyjay December 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Reward cards are really useful and this is a good list. However in spite of all our travels we have not fully utilized our reward points. This is because we do not stick to the same airlines or hotel chains. One card that we have been using regularly is the Citibank card. With the onset of 2018 we hope to better plan our travels and capitalize on the advantages of these reward cards.

  • Lauren December 26, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I’m not sure that I can take advantage of any of these as a Canadian. But I love my Capital One World Aspire credit card because I collect lots of travel points on it! I get quite a few free flights out of it every year 🙂 I keep hearing great things about that Chase Sapphire one though. Thanks for explaining all the perks!

  • Elena December 27, 2017 at 5:23 am

    This list is very helpful. I never had a travel card, but I am very interested in getting one, considering that I travel a lot throughout the year. Thanks for the info, I will definitely look into all of these in more detail.

  • Alli December 27, 2017 at 6:49 am

    I’ve heard so much about Chase Sapphire! Unfortunately, I don’t think that one or any of the others are offered in Canada! But as I don’t have any kind of reward cards, this post certainly inspires me to look into what options I do have! 🙂

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