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Best travel credit cards for October 2021

Best travel credit cards for October 2021

Preparing for your next epic adventure? The right travel credit card can help you get on your way and enhance your travel experience. Every time you use your travel card, whether at the gas station or grocery store, the points you accumulate may be used towards a future travel purchase. A travel rewards credit card may also help you score extra benefits like priority boarding, first-class upgrades, airport lounge access, TSA Precheck and Global Entry statement credits, and exclusive hotel and rental car benefits.

While the rewards system isn't as straightforward as with a cash-back credit card, travel rewards credit cards boast some of the highest rewards rates out there, and they typically include more generous perks and welcome offers. Check out our picks for the best travel credit cards if you want to start collecting points that will be useful for your next vacation.

Note: This list contains only the best travel credit cards; if you're a frequent flyer who's invested in one airline, we'd suggest checking out our best airline credit card options to maximize your rewards.

Read more about our publications. Read our blog. Which is better for you? Airline cards vs. travel credit cards: Which one is more convenient for your needs?

The best travel credit card overall for most travelers is the Visa.

Highlights of Card Highlighting Cards
Intro Bonus: Freebies for Intra Bonus! After spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, you'll earn 50,000 bonus points. When you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll get $750 toward travel.
APR APRIL 2014 Variable between 16.99% and 23.99% 16.9%-23.9% 16.99- 23.99 Variabile between 16,99%-26.99 Variabil between 16.99-22.98 Variably
Credit Recommendation Credit is available for Credits that are not recommended for credit. I really like that you can buy new clothes in the store!
Reward Rates are calculated based on Rewarded Remittances.
  • When you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll earn 10X points on hotels and car rentals.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards gives you 5X points on air travel.
  • Earn 3X points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Annual Fee $550) are given to individuals making over $525 each.
APR for Intro Purchase ADR (intro purchase price). N/A N/3 N2/A
Additional Details Additional Information Additional Specifications
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the balance transfer amount, whichever is greater, of each balance change.
Balance Transfer APR APB Balance transfer APRI Variable between 16.99% and 23.99% 16.99-23.99 Variabile
Foreign Transaction Fees (FTE) $0 (non-refundable) $0.00 $0-0 ($0)
Penalty APR APRI Up to 29,99% of the expected value is up to 29.99%.
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • When you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll earn 10X points on hotels and car rentals.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards offers you 5X points on air travel.
  • Earn 3X points on other travel and dining expenses.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great value for those who spend about $12,000 or more per year on travel. The credit card company allows you to earn rewards card points for flights, hotels, rental cars, trains, buses, and either travel or dining. Consider the Platinum Card (for the frequent flyer) or Gold Card, for high food budgets. Otherwise, I'm a huge fan of the wide variety of expenses that fall under the Chase Sapphire Reserve card's bonus points categories. And it's even better for those who appreciate its extra travel benefits, such as travel insurance, hotel discounts through The Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection, and lounge access through Priority Pass Select.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card grants you unlimited 10x points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5xpoints on air travel purchases via Chase Ultra Rewards and 3xPoints for other travel items (earn additional rewards on travel expenditures after earning the $300 annual travel credit). Plus, you can earn 3x points on dining, 1x on all other purchases, and 10x bonus points for Lyft rides until March 2022.

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card's $550 annual fee is steep, the $300 yearly travel credit reduces the annual cost by essentially $250, making the monthly payment more manageable. Plus, the 50,000-point bonus -- earned after spending $4,000 in the first three months -- is worth $750 towards Chase Ultimate Rewards travel. Finally, cardholders will be reimbursed for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (worth $100 for global entry or $85 for TCA precheck, both of which are valid for five years) and will receive a statement credit for perks such as VIP-style travel.

Apply Now!

Foodies and major grocery shoppers will find these products ideal.

Rates and Fees are listed on the Rate and Charges page. Terms and conditions apply.
Highlights of Card Highlight Highlight
Intro Bonus: Intra Bonus. After spending $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months, you'll earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points.
APR is a period of intense preparation and preparation for the APRIL See Pay Over Time APR for more information.
Credits with a Recommended Credit Excellent/Good/Excellent/Great/Small Excellent or Good/Unique Excellent
Reward Rates are based on Rewarded Repayment Rate.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Fees are determined annually and charged at the Annual Fee. $250.00 is the maximum amount you will need to pay for this.
Intro Purchase APR for Intra Purchase N/A N/3 N.A.
Additional Details Additional Information
Late Payment Fees are payable. Up to $40 for up to 40 people.
Foreign Transaction Fees (FTF) None (none)
APR for ADR for Penalty ATR for Imprisonment See Rates & Fees for details.
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • On flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, earn 3X Membership Rewards points.

The Gold Card from American Express is the only card on this list that offers a high rewards rate on both restaurant and US supermarket purchases. It's incredibly useful for those who don't currently spend countless dollars on travel each year, but would like to travel at varying prices with points earned by spending money on food.

If you spend more than $7,000 annually on restaurants and US supermarkets (including smaller grocery stores, but excluding big-box stores like Walmart or Target), the $250 annual fee is well worth it. Many households may benefit from the Gold card, considering the average American household spent $7,923 on food in 2018. (If you spend a lot of money on both food and travel each year, I'd recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve.)

The Gold Card offers a wide range of rewards categories for acquiring if you're pursuing shopper loyalty, with 4x points on restaurants and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 in US grocery purchases each calendar year, then 1x) and 3x bonus points for flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com, the website where rewards may be redeemed. The $250 annual fee is partially offset by up to $120 in annual dining statement credits (up to $10 per month) at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

American Express benefits and offers are subject to certain restrictions. Select American Express benefits and offers may require enrollment. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Apply Now.

The best travel card for first-class fliers.

Rates and Fees are available under Rate and Charges. Terms and Conditions apply.
Card Highlights
Intro Bonus: Intra Bonus After spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership, you'll receive 100,000 Membership Rewards Points.
APR: See Pay Over Time APR for more information.
Credit Reference Credit is a minimum credit rating for credit cards that are approved by the credit bureau. Excellent/Good
Reward Rates are based on Rewarded Reloads.
  • During your first 6 months of Card Membership, earn up to 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the United States, on upto $25,000 in combined purchases.
  • On these purchases per calendar year, earn 5X Membership Rewards Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Fees Annual Fee $695, or $645 per square foot.
Intro Purchase APR for Intra Purchase N/A N
Additional Details
Late Payment Fees Up to $40 per hour.
Foreign Transaction Fees None.
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • During your first 6 months of Card Membership, you'll earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the United States, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases.
  • On these purchases per calendar year, earn 5X Membership Rewards Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and up to $500,000 in Membership Point bonuses.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

The Platinum Card is Amex's top-tier travel card, with the highest potential ongoing reward rate of any we've reviewed, topping out at 10%, depending on how points are redeemed (details below). This card is for anyone who already spends more than $10,000 per year on flights and hotels, as well as those who value premium travel benefits such as lounge access and hotel upgrades. The skewed ongoing rewards structure -- which doesn't include food or dining -- and the steep annual fee of $695 make this card a good choice for discerning spending, so do your math before applying.

The Platinum Card grants 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express Travel portal, as well as on hotels -- which require prepayment -- that are booked through Amex portal. Flights or hotels booked through a third-party service or company, like Orbitz, aren't eligible.

The high annual fee of $695 is offset by up to $200 airline fee statement credit per calendar year for travel incidentals, such as a checked bag, in-flight food or beverage, or Wi-Fi; 'a statement charge for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (worth $100 for global entry or $85 for TSF precheck, both of which are valid for five years); and upto $200 in Uber Cash per year to pay for US rides and eats. The new-member bonus is on the high end at 100,000 points when you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership, which can be worth up to $2,000 when transferred to a travel partner and redeemed at its maximum value (to determine the value of rewards, bonuses, and points, we use the most recent The Points Guy valuations). The Platinum Card also offers a number of premium travel benefits, including room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, early check-in and late checkout on eligible hotel stays, and access to the Global Lounge Collection.

Benefits and offers from American Express are subject to the following restrictions: For certain American Express benefits and discounts, enrollment may be required. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Apply Now.

The best travel credit card for earning miles on your everyday spending is the Travel Credit Card.

Highlights of Card Highlight Highlight
Intro Bonus - Intra Bonus 60,000 miles will be granted once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $600 in travel.
APR (Avant-Principal Rate of Return on Equity) 15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Credits with a Recommended Credit Score are not allowed. Excellent, Good, Excellent.
Reward Rates are determined by Rewarded Relay Rate.
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Fees: Annual Fee $95,95 for a total of $9.95 for each dollar spent on this item.
Intro Purchase APR is $20.00 per month. N/A N.B. N-A
Additional Details: Additional Information
APR for Intro Balance Transfer APB ATR for intra-balance transfer N/A N.O.A. N1/A
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR.
Balance Transfer APR APE 15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fees Up to $40 per day.
Foreign Transaction Fees are charged on foreign transactions. Keine.
APR for ADT for Penalties Keine.
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card* is a simple, easy-to-use option for those who would like to book travel with travel reward miles generated from general spending but would rather not worry about eligible purchase spending categories.

With an unlimited 2x miles on every purchase, the Venture card is the largest-earning travel card available. After spending $3,000 in the first three months, you can earn 60,000 miles (compared to $4,000 for most other cards). That's a significant sum -- especially given the relatively low $95 annual fee. The Capital One Venture also provides cardholders up to a $100 statement credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, as well as travel accident insurance and rental collision insurance (more on that later).

Apply Now!

FAQs for FAQ

What are the best travel credit cards right now?

Chase Sapphire Reserve is the top travel credit card for most people with a welcome bonus of 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) and 3x points for general travel and dining. The American Express Gold Card has emerged as the best card for foodies, while The Platinum Card from American express is the choice for first-class fliers.

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards convert purchases into points or miles that may be redeemed for travel purchases, such as flights and hotel stays. You may exchange those points for cash or a gift card, but you'll usually get the lowest rate when you use them to book travel. The top cards have their own travel booking portals through which you can book flights, hotels, and rental cars; points are sometimes worth more when they are used in those credit card company portal.

Airline and hotel credit cards -- which we didn't include in this list -- operate like loyalty programs in that you're kept in a closed loop rewards system. You earn rewards when you book flights or hotels through your chosen airline or hotel company, and you may use those points for additional benefits or future bookings through the same airline ou hotel group.

How do you choose the best travel credit card?

The points and travel benefits you earn through a travel rewards program are often redeemed through your credit card issuer's website (or app) or appear as recurring credits that reimburse you for past travel-related and everyday purchases you made with your travel credit cards. Points or miles may also be transferred to travel partners -- mostly hotels and airlines -- at a fluctuating conversion rate, where they may then be used to book sa flight or hotel room.

There are a few essential factors to consider when choosing the best travel credit card:

  • Annual fees are calculated monthly. Every single travel rewards program reviewed here has annual fees, some as high as $695, but those costs are usually slashed by monthly or annual credits.
  • Exclusive perks are offered at no extra charge. : Some of these travel rewards card options also provide access to exclusive travel benefits, such as airline lounges, priority boarding or VIP welcomes at hotels. The value of those benefits is subjective, and you'll have to evaluate it based on your needs and desires.
  • Foreign transaction fees are applicable to transactions outside of the United States. No one of the best travel cards requires a foreign transaction fee, so no foreign transactions fee is an issue with any of these credit cards.

Other travel credit card benefits include a travel card for free.

Most travel credit cards -- which charge outrageous annual fees -- include incentives that add value to those cards. Benefits like rental car collision coverage and even lost luggage reimbursement have become standard. Here's what'll be on offer for the cards chosen:

Travel accident insurance is mandatory. CapOne Ventures, Capone Venture, Reserve, Reserve,

Trip cancellation insurance is required. :Reserve, Platinum

Return on or protection against trip delay for reimbursement or prevention Reserve, Platinum

Lost luggage reimbursement for lost luggage Reserve, Platinum, Gold : Reserve

Rental car collision insurance is a must for all drivers involved in unforeseen accidents. Reserve, Platinum, Gold, Venture

How we chose the top travel credit cards.

To obtain our recommendations for the best travel credit cards, we examined 20 of the most popular travel rewards credit card brands (listed below) and selected them based on the highest monetary value for certain customer profiles, such as frequent travelers, those who spend a lot on dining and groceries, or those looking for an easy way to travel at 0% interest with miles earned on daily spending. Overall net value is always first, since choosing the right rewards credit card is about saving money and being financially responsible, not being lured by flashy or irrelevant perks or offers.

Cards studied for Card types were also tested.

  • American Express offers The Platinum Card from American ExxonMobil.
  • American Express Gold Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a Chase Prism card that is offered with the Sapphire SapphireTM card.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve is a Chase Chase Reserve ReserveTM that is owned by Chase Bank.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a credit card used to pay for capital one venture rewards.
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is a reward program for utilizing CapitalOne Venture One Rewards.
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card is a bank of American card.
  • PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature Card is a Pen-Feed Pathfind rewards card.
  • Uber Visa Card is an Uber card that can be used to pay for transportation.
  • Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is a bank of American travel rewards card.
  • Miles from Discover it
  • Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is a card that allows you to earn coveted Virginatlantic World Master Card.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is a Hilton Surround card that is available through the Hilton Hotels.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is available for Marriott Bonvis Bounvoy credit card.
  • JetBlue Plus Card is a Jet Blue Plus card that is used for up to six months.
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card is a unique credit card offered by Visa.
  • UnitedSM Explorer Card (UnitedSM) is a United-SM MasterCard.
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is a Delta Air Lines Reserve Card.
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card is a Delta skyMILE platinum American express card.
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is a Delta Sky Miles Card.

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For details on the American Express Gold Card's terms and fees, click here.

For more information on the American Express Platinum Card and its terms and conditions, see this page.

*All information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this document, including rewards program features, program fees, and credit cards that may be used to pay for such programs, may change from time to time and is provided without notice. When evaluating offers, please visit the credit card provider's website and read its terms and conditions for the most up-to-date offers and information. Opinions expressed here are the author's own, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This information has not been evaluated, approved, or otherwise approved by any of the entities mentioned in the post.

The comments on this article are not provided or requested by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

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