The best credit cards for airline miles in 2024

Ariana Arghandewal

Jan 22, 2024 • 22 min read

Airplane's shadow over a crowded beach at Playa Caleta.

Here's what you need to know about the many benefits of airline points and miles © Orbon Alija / Getty

This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with  The Points Guy .

Advertiser Disclosure: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. All information about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and JetBlue Plus Card has been collected independently by Lonely Planet. These cards are not available through Lonely Planet.

Your next big trip doesn't have to be your next big expense, especially when you're in the know about the best credit cards that earn points and miles.  

Having an airline credit card can be highly beneficial if you’re a frequent flyer or someone who loves to travel. With the ability to earn high rewards and redeem them for flights, these cards can make your next trip even more rewarding and affordable. Flights are often the most expensive part of a travel budget , and you can lower your expenses significantly with airline miles. 

Many airline cards offer elite benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags and airport lounge access. These perks can significantly enhance your travel experience and save you money. Furthermore, most airline cards have a reasonable annual fee compared to other travel credit cards . Nearly every airline has a co-branded credit card that earns miles, making it difficult to choose the best one.

To help you decide, here is our round-up of the best credit cards for airline miles:

  • Best for transferable rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Best for American AAdvantage® miles: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
  • Best for Delta SkyMiles: American Express® Gold Card *
  • Best for JetBlue TrueBlue points: JetBlue Plus Card
  • Best for Southwest points: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • Best for United MileagePlus   miles: United Quest℠ Card
  • Best for foreign airline miles: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for businesses: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express *
  • Best for no annual fee: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

How to get started with travel points and airline miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for transferable rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred  is hands down the best card for rewards that transfer to a diverse set of airline miles. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to 11 airlines across all three airline alliances (Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance), making the Sapphire Preferred an excellent credit card for airline miles. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn 5X points on travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (excluding hotel bookings that qualify for the $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit); 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), online grocery purchases and select streaming services; 2X points on all other travel; 1X on other purchases.

Travel benefits: Annual $50 Ultimate Rewards hotel credit; trip cancellation/interruption insurance; trip delay reimbursement; travel and emergency assistance services; baggage delay insurance; primary rental car insurance; no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent. 

Annual fee: $95.

  • Generous welcome bonus and recurring spending bonuses.
  • Excellent travel protections.
  • Points transfer to 1:1 to 11 airline loyalty programs: Aer Lingus AerClub, Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
  • The travel category bonus isn’t as high as some other cards.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Approval is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule  (Chase will likely decline your application if you've opened five or more new credit cards in the past 24 months).

Best travel credit cards for hotels

The American Airlines fleet

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Best for American AAdvantage® miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is the best card for frequent travelers looking to earn AAdvantage miles. With this card, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Considering how common the first two spending categories are, it’s easy to stock up on miles with this card. Additionally, every dollar spent earns 1 Loyalty Point toward elite status. 

Cardholders also enjoy travel perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding and 25% in-flight savings on American Airlines flights. Cardholders who spend at least $20,000 in a card membership year receive a $125 American Airlines flight discount, which more than offsets the $95 annual fee. Plus, with no foreign transaction fees and access, this card is ideal for international travelers.

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 within three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn 2X miles on American Airlines purchases, restaurants and gas; 1X mile on everything else; 1 Loyalty Point for every dollar spent.

Travel benefits: Complimentary first checked bag and preferred boarding for up to four companions, 25% savings on in-flight food and drinks on American Airlines flights; Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after spending $20,000 or more every card membership year.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $99. See rates and fees .

  • Generous perks when flying American Airlines.
  • Every dollar spent earns 1 Loyalty Point toward elite status.
  • The $99 annual fee is waived in the first year.
  • The current welcome bonus isn’t the highest we’ve seen for this card.
  • The welcome bonus isn’t available to those who’ve received one for this card in the past 48 months.
  • The $99 annual fee might be hard to justify if you don’t fly with American Airlines often.

Inside a Delta A220-300

American Express® Gold Card: Best for Delta SkyMiles

Due to recent devaluations to the Delta SkyMiles program, a co-branded Delta card isn’t a great idea. The American Express® Gold Card earns flexible rewards plus higher category bonuses on everyday spending than Delta cards. * Cardholders earn 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year in purchases), plus 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel. You can transfer the Membership Rewards points from this card to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. Amex occasionally offers transfer bonuses, allowing you to increase the value of your points.

Amex Gold card members also enjoy $10 in monthly Uber Cash and $10 in monthly dining credit at participating restaurants. This can help offset the card’s somewhat steep $250 annual fee (see rates and fees ). It’s worth noting that the card’s current welcome bonus isn’t the highest we’ve seen. With Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule , you might want to hold out until a better offer comes around.

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 within the first six months.

Rewards: Earn 4X points at restaurants worldwide; 4X points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel; 1X points on all other purchases. 

Travel benefits: Receive $10 in monthly Uber Cash; $10 in monthly dining credit at Grubhub, Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations; secondary rental car coverage; baggage insurance plan; Global Assist hotline; access to experience credits and travel perks through The Hotel Collection; No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees ).

Credit score: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $250. See rates and fees .

  • Membership Rewards transfer to 18 airline loyalty programs: Aer Lingus Aerclub, AeroMexico Rewards, Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, ANA Mileage Club, Avianca Lifemiles, British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, HawaiianMiles, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Singapore KrisFlyer and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
  • High earn rates on common spending categories.
  • Monthly credits can offset the $250 annual fee.
  • Most of the airline transfer partners are foreign carriers that the average consumer isn’t familiar with.
  • The current welcome bonus isn’t the highest we’ve seen. 
  • Subject to Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule.

American Express Gold Card review: a 'gold' standard with impressive benefits

A JetBlue A321neo

JetBlue Plus Card: Best for JetBlue TrueBlue  points

Of the two JetBlue credit cards, the JetBlue Plus is the best option for earning points. The card offers a 50,000-point welcome bonus after spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. Credit card spending is generally rewarded with 6 points per dollar on all JetBlue purchases, 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus, every $1,000 in credit card spending earns one tile towards Mosaic elite status.

While the $99 annual fee appears steep, it's partially offset by recurring benefits like an annual $100 statement credit towards JetBlue Vacations, 5,000 bonus points every card anniversary and a 10% points rebate on Jetblue-operated award flights. In addition, cardmembers who reach Mosaic 1 status can choose a $99 statement credit as their reward for achieving this level.

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 and paying the annual fee in full within the first 90 days.

Rewards: Earn 6X points on eligible JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants and eligible grocery stores; 1X points on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Earn 5,000 points every card anniversary, 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases on JetBlue-operated flights, 10% points rebate on Jetblue-operated award flights, annual $100 statement credit towards JetBlue Vacation packages of $100 or more, earn Mosaic status on card spending, ability to redeem points for a statement credit, no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $99. See rates and fees .

  • High bonuses on common spending categories.
  • Excellent rewards when traveling on JetBlue.
  • The $100 annual JetBlue Vacations credit can offset the $99 annual fee.
  • JetBlue has a limited route network compared to the legacy carriers.
  • The $99 annual fee may be high for those who don’t use all the JetBlue benefits.

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A Southwest Airlines 737

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Best for Southwest points

Southwest Airlines has several credit cards offering the same welcome bonus and very similar earn rates. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card is the best option for Southwest points because it offers practical recurring perks at a reasonable $69 annual fee. The welcome bonus from this card counts towards the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to designate a travel companion who can travel for just the cost of taxes and fees. 

It’s a great way to save points on travel and get some added perks on a no-frills airline. Cardholders get two annual earlybird check-ins, 25% back on in-flight purchases, a 3,000-point anniversary bonus and 10,000 annual Companion Pass-qualifying points. 

While the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card isn’t the best credit card for international travel , it can be an excellent choice for domestic travelers who live (and fly) within Southwest’s route network.

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Rewards: Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, local transit and commuting (including rideshare), internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services; Earn 1 point for each dollar spent on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Two earlybird check-ins yearly, 3,000 points every cardmember anniversary, 10,000 annual Companion Pass-qualifying points boost, 25% back on inflight purchases, lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay insurance.

Annual fee: $69

  • Welcome bonus counts towards the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Generous rewards for Southwest flyers.
  • Reasonable annual fee.
  • Not available for those who’ve opened any Southwest credit card in the past 24 months.

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United's premium economy

United Quest℠ Card: Best for United miles

The United Quest℠ Card is the best card for earning United miles due to its generous welcome and category bonuses. The card currently offers 60,000 bonus miles after meeting spending requirements, providing a nice boost to your mileage account. Cardholders also earn generous rewards on continued spending: 3 miles per dollar on United purchases and 2 miles per dollar on all other travel, dining and select streaming services.

Your miles will go further thanks to the up to two annual 5,000-mile credits when you book two award flights. Meanwhile, credit card spending is further rewarded with Premier qualifying points (PQP) that count towards elite status. You can earn up to 6,000 PQP per year at a rate of 500 PQP per $12,000 spent.

The United Quest℠ Card is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a United credit card with tons of benefits and mileage-earning opportunities at a reasonable annual fee.

Welcome bonus: Earn 70,000 bonus miles + 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Offer extended until March 13, 2024.

Rewards: Earn 3X on United purchases; 2X miles on all other travel (including rideshare services and tolls), dining (including eligible delivery services) and select streaming services; 1X mile on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Annual $125 United purchase credit, two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits, up to 6,000 PQP, free first and second checked bags, priority boarding, 25% back on United inflight and Club premium drink purchases, Premier upgrades on award tickets, no foreign transaction fees; up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS fee credit.

  • United has a vast partner network, and miles are easy to redeem online.
  • High airline mile-earning potential thanks to generous category bonuses.
  • Generous travel perks that can offset the annual fee.
  • High spending requirement to earn the welcome bonus.
  • Above-average annual fee for an airline credit card.
  • Not available to those who have received a welcome bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Traveling to Japan using points and miles

Emirates' new Premium Economy class

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for airline miles with foreign carriers

The Capital One Venture Rewards  is the card for earning airline miles with foreign carriers due to its flexible rewards program and extensive network of airline partners. The card earns 2 miles miles per dollar on every purchase, making it easy to accumulate miles quickly. The miles earned can be redeemed for travel purchases with any airline or hotel at 1 cent per mile. Alternatively, you can transfer miles to 15 airline transfer partners.

Most of the airline transfer partners are foreign carriers that offer tremendous value. For example, Turkish Airlines Miles& Smiles has some of the cheapest domestic award flights. Since Turkish Airlines is a United partner, you can book a round-trip ticket within the US (including Hawaii) for just 15,000 miles. This is a terrific way to book United flights for much less. 

Furthermore, the Capital One Venture Card offers a variety of travel benefits that make it ideal for frequent flyers. These include no foreign transaction fees and travel accident insurance. The card also has a competitive annual fee and a generous sign-up bonus, making it a cost-effective option for earning airline miles with foreign carriers.

Whether you want to maximize your miles through foreign rewards programs or redeem miles at a flat rate for any flight, the Venture card is a great choice.

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Hertz Five Star status; up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck; rental car insurance and travel accident insurance; access to hotel discounts and perks through the Lifestyle Collection; two annual lounge passes; no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Excellent.

Annual fee: $95. See  rates and fees .

  • Substantial welcome bonus and above-average earn rate on everyday spending.
  • Miles can be redeemed towards direct airline purchases or transferred to 15 airline transfer partners (mostly at a 1:1 ratio).
  • Generous travel benefits that can justify the $95 annual fee.
  • Most airline transfer partners are foreign programs offering good value but might be unfamiliar to the average traveler.
  • Capital One pulls your credit from all three bureaus when you apply for this card.

Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for businesses

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express  is the best business card for earning airline miles because of its generous rewards program and flexible redemption options. * With this card, you can earn 2X Membership Rewards points on all purchases up to $50,000 per year, making it easy to rack up points quickly. It also has no annual fee (See rates and fees ), making this an excellent card for small businesses.

In addition to the high earning potential, the Blue Business Plus Credit Card offers a variety of ways to redeem your points for airline miles. You can transfer your points to 18 airline partners, including popular carriers like Delta, British Airways and JetBlue. This allows you to convert your points to different airline miles, depending on your travel needs. 

Furthermore, this card offers a 0% introductory APR (See rates and fees ) on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. That makes it an excellent option for businesses looking to save money on interest while still earning valuable rewards.

Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months.

Rewards: Earn 2X points on all eligible business purchases up to $50,000 per calendar year (then 1X point).

Travel benefits: Secondary rental car insurance, access to travel and retail discounts through Amex Offers.

Annual fee: $0. See rates and fees .

  • Earns generous rewards on everyday business expenses.
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening.
  • No annual fee.
  • There is currently no welcome bonus.
  • Limited travel benefits.
  • Purchases originating abroad incur a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

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The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best for no annual fee

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for airline miles without an annual fee due to its generous rewards program and travel benefits. With every purchase, cardholders earn 1.25 miles per dollar spent, which you can redeem for flights with any airline or hotel stays through Capital One's easy-to-use portal. Alternatively, you can transfer these miles to 15 airlines and three hotel loyalty programs. 

The lack of an annual fee means cardholders can continue earning and redeeming miles without worrying about additional costs.

Furthermore, the Capital One VentureOne card provides valuable travel benefits such as no foreign transaction fees and travel accident insurance. These perks make it an ideal choice for frequent travelers looking to protect their trips.

Welcome bonus: Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within three months from account opening.

Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase and unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Travel benefits: Travel accident insurance, primary rental car insurance, no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Good/Excellent.

Annual fee: $0

  • You can convert Capital One miles to 15 airline miles programs.
  • Above-average earn rate on all spending. 
  • Solid travel benefits for a no-annual-fee card.
  • Airline transfer partners consist primarily of foreign carriers.
  • Relatively low welcome bonus.
  • Capital One pulls credit from all three bureaus when you apply for this card.

Traveling to Europe using points and miles

Who should get a credit card for airline miles?

A credit card that earns airline miles is an excellent option for those who travel frequently for work or leisure. It can also be a good choice for those who want to use points and miles to save money on travel . Additionally, individuals with good credit who are responsible with their spending habits can benefit from these cards. 

This card type may not be suitable for those who want more flexibility in using their rewards. Airline credit cards often come with annual fees and higher interest rates, so they may not be suitable for those who tend to carry credit card balances or struggle with spending. Prospective cardholders should consider their travel habits, financial habits and whether they can take full advantage of the benefits offered by airline miles credit cards before applying for one.

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JetBlue's Mint Studio Suite from New York to London

How much are airline miles worth?

The value of airline miles varies by airline and how you use them. When redeeming airline miles for business and first-class travel, you can get well over four cents per mile in value (based on the cash value of the ticket). The value of airline miles for economy tickets is usually lower, but you should aim for at least 1.2-1.8 cents per mile. 

Some airlines also offer partnerships with hotels, car rental companies and other travel services where you can use your miles for discounts or freebies. These typically don’t provide the best value for your miles, but some people opt for them because it saves them points. 

It's important to carefully consider your redemption options to get the most value from your airline miles. However, keep in mind that airline miles are there to save you money on flights. So, if you want to opt for a sub-optimal redemption because it saves you cash, then go for it. 

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How to choose the best credit card for airline miles

When choosing the best credit card for airline miles, several factors must be considered. First, consider your travel habits and which airlines you typically fly with. Are you more of a domestic flyer? Do you want to use points and miles for a trip to Europe ? Are you looking to use points for a solo trip or traveling with a family ? These questions will help you narrow your options to cards offering miles with airlines that best suit your needs.

Next, look at the welcome bonus and ongoing rewards. A higher welcome bonus can give you a head start on earning miles, while generous ongoing rewards can help you accumulate more miles on your daily spending.

It's also important to consider annual fees and whether they’re worth the benefits and rewards. Some cards may also have perks, such as airport lounge access or free checked bags, that can add value and justify a higher annual fee.

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The American Express Amex Centurion Lounge in Denver Airport

The difference between airline and travel credit cards

The main difference between airline and travel credit cards is in the rewards they earn. Airline credit cards earn miles that can be used primarily towards flights and seat upgrades. Airline credit cards also offer perks tailored to frequent flyers, including free checked bags, priority boarding and elite status boosters. 

On the other hand, travel credit cards are more versatile and can be used for a broader range of expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars, dining and entertainment. Travel credit card points can be transferred to airlines or redeemed towards statement credits. They’re much more flexible than airline miles, allowing you to book travel with cash or points . These cards may also provide superior travel insurance and airport lounge access.

Overall, airline credit cards are better suited for individuals who frequently fly with a particular airline or alliance. In contrast, travel credit cards are better for those who want flexibility in redeeming their rewards across different expenses.

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Ways to earn airline miles without credit cards

There are several ways to earn airline miles without using credit cards. The most straightforward way is flying or booking vacation packages through a specific airline. Many hotels partner with airlines and offer the option to earn airline miles instead of hotel points for your stay. You can also earn miles through car rentals, dining at participating restaurants and shopping through the airline's online shopping portal.

There are various ways to accumulate airline miles without relying on credit cards. By taking advantage of these methods and staying loyal to one or a few preferred airlines, you can still reap the benefits of free flights without using credit cards.

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ANA planes at Tokyo Narita Airport

What is the best credit card to collect miles?

The best credit card for collecting miles depends on your spending habits and travel preferences. Some popular options include the Sapphire Preferred , Capital One Venture Rewards  and American Express® Gold Card .

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How many credit card miles equals a flight?

The number of credit card miles needed for a flight varies depending on the airline, destination and other factors. Generally, a domestic round-trip flight in economy class should cost around 25,000 miles or less. Some airlines use dynamic pricing, which ties the mileage cost of a flight to the cash fare. Other airlines price out award tickets based on distance or region. Be sure to review the airline’s award program before applying for an airline credit card.

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How can you use credit card points to buy airline tickets?

Credit card points can be redeemed for airline tickets by either transferring the points to a specific airline's frequent flyer program or by using the credit card's travel portal to book flights.

How to travel to Spain using points and miles

* 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.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit  americanexpress.com  to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

This article was first published November 2023 and updated January 2024

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Best travel credit cards of January 2024

Most recently before joining Bankrate, Robert worked as an editor and writer at The Ascent by The Motley Fool, covering a number of personal finance topics, including credit cards, mortgages and loans.

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Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate,  focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and product comparisons, Nouri strives to demystify personal finance topics and credit card terms and conditions to help readers save money and protect their credit score.

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Stephanie Zito is a professional traveler, self-employed humanitarian consultant and collector of credit card points. She shares savvy travel tips that she’s learned firsthand circling the globe for more than 25 years. She’s a backpacker, expect and premium traveler who’s visited more than 130 countries and all seven continents. Her life motto is “See the world, change the world, have fun doing it!” and her mission is to inspire others along the journey.

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Travel credit cards help you earn valuable points and miles on your purchases. For maximum value, some cards earn rewards not only on travel, but also everyday purchases like dining, groceries and gas. You can redeem these rewards for free or discounted flights, hotel stays or to cover other travel-related expenses.

The best travel cards also come with additional features. Even no-annual-fee travel cards are likely to offer perks like sign-up bonuses, intro APR offers and travel insurance. But for top-of-the-line benefits like airport lounge access, elite status and travel credits, expect to pay an annual fee.

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Bankrate's Best Travel Credit Cards of January 2024

  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card : Best for flat-rate rewards
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express : Best for luxury travel
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card : Best for intro APR
  • American Express® Gold Card : Best for foodies
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card : Best starter travel card
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card : Best for practical perks
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card : Best for no annual fee ( See Rates & Fees )
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card : Best for companion tickets
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card : Best starter airline card
  • Discover it® Miles : Best for first-year value
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card : Best no-annual-fee hotel card
  • Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card : Best for gas
  • Citi Premier® Card : Best for everyday spending
  • Bilt Mastercard® : Best for transfer partners
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card : Best luxury hotel card
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card : Best for expedited security screening
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Best for point values
  • Credit One Bank Wander® Card : Best for fair credit
  • Compare our top cards

What to know about travel credit cards

How do credit card points and miles work.

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How we assess the best travel credit cards.

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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards.

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Intro offer

New Venture cardholders can earn 75,000 miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Offer valuation

We calculate this number by multiplying the card's intro offer by Bankrate's valuation of this issuer's rewards program , showing you how much your points or miles are worth in dollars.

2 Miles - 5 Miles

Rewards rate

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Regular APR

  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2 Miles 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card tops the list of best overall travel credit cards due in part to its flexibility. You'll earn unlimited miles and can redeem them as statement credits for a variety of travel expenses, including airfare and accommodations. Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review .

  • Zero foreign transaction fees make this an excellent choice for international travelers.
  • Earn miles at a flat rate for all purchases, with no limit on the number of miles you can earn.
  • Miles are worth less when redeemed with certain travel partners
  • Spending requirements for reaching the sign-up bonus can be pricey.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • 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
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Image of The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • 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.

Luxury travelers and big spenders will appreciate the bevy of travel benefits associated with The Platinum Card from American Express. Just be sure to factor in the value of the many perks, plus the lucrative rewards rates, when you consider the $695 annual fee. Read our full Platinum Card from American Express review .

  • Comes with a generous welcome offer and a longer time period to earn it compared to most rewards cards.
  • A robust line-up of airline and hotel partners make this card truly valuable for travelers.
  • The $695 annual fee is steep; it may deter certain cardholders from applying for this card.
  • Redeeming and maximizing the card’s credit and benefits requires some legwork and can be a bit confusing.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • 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 and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card®. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back in statement credits per calendar year on an Equinox membership, or an Equinox club membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. Learn more.
  • $100 Global Entry Credit: Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $300 SoulCycle At-Home Bike Credit: Get a $300 statement credit for the purchase of a SoulCycle at-home bike with your Platinum Card®. An Equinox+ subscription is required to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike and access SoulCycle content. Must charge full price of bike in one transaction. Shipping available in the contiguous U.S. only. Enrollment Required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Image of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

  • 1.5X 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

This entry-level travel card keeps things simple. It offers flat-rate rewards without bonus categories and lets you redeem your rewards for a broad mix of travel options not found with many travel cards. It’s even more valuable if you’re a Bank of America customer who can qualify for a rewards boost through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program. Read our full Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review .

  • Its easy-to-earn sign-up bonus and intro APR offers give this card good short-term value.
  • No annual fees or foreign transaction fees sweeten this offer.
  • You won’t get maximum value out of this card since it only offers a flat rate on purchases, and rewards can’t be transferred to airline partners.
  • The top tiers of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program may be out of reach for many cardholders.
  • 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 as long as your account remains open.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Image of American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

  • 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.

If your love of dining is a constant travel companion, few credit cards are more rewarding than the American Express Gold Card. The rewards rates at restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets and on flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com are exceptional. Read our full American Express Gold Card review .

  • This card features one of the best rewards return rate on dining currently on the market.
  • The card touts a formidable collection of travel protections and perks, like hotel upgrades (when available for onsite credit on qualifying activities).
  • The $250 annual fee is on the pricey side when compared to similar cards.
  • Flights are only rewarded at 3X when booked with airlines directly or on AmexTravel.com.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.

Image of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® 3x on dining 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more

  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x 3x on dining
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more

This popular travel card comes loaded with features that can make it easy to offset the modest $95 annual fee and come out well ahead. Its rewards program is one of the best, giving you the option to transfer your points to a airline or hotel loyalty programs or redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, where they’re worth an impressive 1.25 cents.    Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review .

  • You earn Ultimate Rewards points with this card — some of the most valuable and flexible rewards around.
  • The card touts significant long-term benefits like anniversary bonus points and travel credits, as well as travel protections like trip cancellation insurance and a car rental collision damage waiver.
  • Doesn’t offer airline- or hotel-specific perks like free checked bags, elite status or free night stays.
  • Comes with a penalty APR of 29.99 percent if you make a late payment, which you could be stuck with indefinitely.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, and 2x on all other travel purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

Image of Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

2 Miles - 10 Miles

10 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 5 Miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

  • 10 Miles 10 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel

Despite carrying a hefty annual fee, this is one of the cheapest premium travel cards around. It offers complimentary lounge access, high-earning bonus rewards categories, anniversary credits and bonus miles, which can easily offset the annual fee for frequent travelers. Read our full Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card review .

  • Offers anniversary bonus miles and a chance to earn credits worth hundreds of dollars starting at your first account anniversary.
  • Comes with complimentary lounge access at over 1,300 lounges for you and two guests per visit.
  • To earn the anniversary credit, travel must be booked through the Capital One Travel portal. That’s not as flexible as some other cards, which offer credits that cover any travel purchases, regardless of how you book.
  • Lacks some perks found on other premium travel cards like airline or hotel elite status, which can get you benefits like free checked bags or room upgrades.
  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Elevate every hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with a suite of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more

Image of Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

1.25 Miles - 5 Miles

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

  • 1.25 Miles 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers many of the same perks as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, without the burden of an annual fee. If you’re looking for a low-cost travel card, consider this one a top option. Read our full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review .

  • The welcome offer is generous for a no-annual-fee travel credit card.
  • There’s no minimum you’ll need to meet to start redeeming miles.
  • Redeeming for non-travel purchases waters down your miles.
  • Capital One has no major U.S. carrier in its line-up of travel partners.
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies

Image of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels. Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

The annual companion certificate that comes with this card after the first year carries enough value to justify the annual fee on its own. Plus, unlike the companion certificates you’ll find on most airline cards, it carries no spending requirement beyond the card’s annual fee. Read our full Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex card review .

  • Boasts several practical perks for frequent travelers, including Main Cabin 1 priority boarding, a free first checked bag, credits for TSA Precheck or Global Entry and more.
  • Comes with that get you closer to Medallion Status and discounts on in-flight purchases, complimentary upgrades, waived fees and more.
  • Its rewards rate on non-travel purchases is just okay. A flat-rate travel card could offer just as much value plus more flexibility to earn and redeem points with other airlines.
  • You won’t get complimentary Delta Sky Club lounge access — just discounted passes (effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available).
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Plus enjoy Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and settle into your seat sooner.
  • Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Get access to Delta Sky Club® at a rate of $50 per person per visit for you and up to two guests or immediate family when traveling on a Delta flight from now until 12/31/23. Effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Official Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Delta Platinum Card, up to two times through 12/31/23. Effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available, and there will be a new way to earn toward Medallion Status with the Card. Learn more at delta.com/skymilesprogramchanges.
  • $250 Annual Fee.

Image of Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

  • 2X Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • 1X Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

This card’s anniversary bonus offers enough value to nearly offset the annual fee on its own, so it should be a terrific low-stakes option if you’re new to airline cards. Plus, its sign-up bonus value is on par with the value you’ll get with much pricier airline and travel cards. Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card review .

  • You’ll automatically earn 3,000 Rapid Rewards points each year after your account anniversary. That’s valuable enough to offset much of the card’s already-low annual fee.
  • Rapid Rewards points can offer terrific redemption value based on Bankrate’s latest airline mile valuations, so they’re a good starting point if you’re new to travel rewards.
  • Southwest doesn’t have airline partners, so this card won’t be a good fit unless you’re okay with only redeeming points for Southwest flights and mostly flying domestically.
  • It may not be the best value overall. Some cards offer more rewards in more categories, let you redeem for travel with any airline and even let you transfer points to Southwest.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Image of Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

  • Unlimited Bonus: Unlimited Mile-for-Mile match for all new cardmembers - only from Discover. Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

Offer valuation is not available for this credit card.

Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

  • 1.5X Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

Another option for people looking for a low-cost travel credit card, this Discover card combines solid flat-rate rewards with consumer-friendly terms, like no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Read our full Discover it® Miles card review.

  • As part of a generous welcome offer, all miles earned in your first year will receive a match at the end of that year
  • Miles don’t lose value when they’re redeemed for cash back.
  • You’ll miss out on pretty standard travel perks like travel insurance, and car rental damage protection.
  • The rewards structure lacks flexibility; you won’t be able to transfer your miles or use them to book travel.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase
  • No annual fee
  • Turn Miles into cash. Or redeem as a statement credit for your travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 17.24% - 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites. Activate for free.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Image of Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio. Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

  • 7X Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5X Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

This card earns rewards in a terrific mix of everyday bonus categories, so it should be easy to rack up Hilton points even if you don’t spend a ton on hotel bookings. And since it charges no annual fee, it’s a great fit if you’re new to hotel cards and looking for a low-stakes starter option. Read our full Hilton Honors Amex card review .

  • Comes with automatic Silver Elite status, which includes a free fifth award night when you book at least four consecutive nights with points.
  • Earns rewards in three of the average person’s biggest spending categories, making it a terrific standalone option for earning Hilton points.
  • A higher-tier Hilton card would earn more on Hilton bookings and could be more lucrative for frequent guests, even with an annual fee.
  • You can only redeem points with Hilton and its partners. A general travel rewards card may offer more flexibility, allowing you to earn and redeem rewards with any hotel chain.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • No Annual Fee.

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.

Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Earn 1X points on other purchases

  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans.
  • 1X Earn 1X points on other purchases

The Wells Fargo Autograph card is a great option for occasional travelers and households on the go looking to earn rewards on everyday purchases while avoiding an annual fee. It’s one of a few entry-level travel cards to offer high bonus rewards for dining at restaurants and the majority of your travel needs, including gas stations, transit, airfare and hotels. Plus, your rewards won’t lose value if you want to redeem them for a statement credit. Read our full Wells Fargo Autograph Card review .

  • Several popular travel and everyday categories come with boosted reward rates
  • Comes with one of the highest welcome bonuses for a no-annual-fee travel card
  • Unlike with traditional travel cards, you cannot transfer your points to airlines or hotels
  • Depending on your creditworthiness, you could end up with a high variable APR after the intro purchase APR period.
  • Select "Apply Now" to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter.
  • Up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Redeem your rewards points for travel, gift cards, or statement credits. Or shop at millions of online stores and redeem your rewards when you check out with PayPal.
  • Find tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations and more with your complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge.

Image of Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The big draw of the Citi Premier Card is that you can earn bonus rewards on everyday expenses as opposed to just travel. A generous sign-up bonus also sweetens the deal, making this a solid travel card for everyday shoppers who want to pay a low annual fee. Read our full Citi Premier Card review .

  • Citi has a robust line-up of travel partners.
  • You can earn points on everyday purchases, making the card a good option for less frequent travelers.
  • Travel protections, like travel insurance, are not offered with this card.
  • Budget-conscious customers might balk at the annual fee.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 60,000 ThankYou® Points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Image of Bilt Mastercard®

Bilt Mastercard®

Intro offer is not available for this Wells Fargo credit card.

1X Points - 3X Points

3x points on dining 2x points on travel 1x points on other purchases Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

  • 3X Points 3x points on dining
  • 2X Points 2x points on travel
  • 1X Points 1x points on other purchases
  • 1X Points Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

Along with helping you avoid transaction fees and earn rewards when you use it to pay rent, this card boasts an extremely robust travel rewards program — especially for a no-annual-fee card. You can earn rewards on travel and dining and your points carry a high value whether you redeem through the Bilt travel portal or transfer to one of the issuer’s many airline and hotel transfer partners. Read our full Bilt Mastercard review .

  • It’s the only card that helps you avoid the fees typically associated with paying rent with a credit card.
  • Bilt earns some of the most valuable travel rewards out there thanks to the issuer’s long list of transfer partners.
  • You can only use rewards to cover rent, toward a future home down payment or for travel and shopping. Cash back isn’t an option.
  • It’s missing a sign-up bonus. Most competing travel cards — even those with no annual fee — offer at least a $200 bonus.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year.
  • 2x points on travel.
  • 3x points on dining.
  • 1x points on other purchases.
  • Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period.
  • When renting at a Bilt Alliance property, you can choose to have your rent payments automatically reported by Bilt to the three major credit bureaus each month; Experian™, TransUnion™, and Equifax™.

Image of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

  • Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines 2X points on all other eligible purchases

  • 6X Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®
  • 3X 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X 2X points on all other eligible purchases

Frequent Marriott guests looking for top-tier perks should love this card. Along with a terrific rewards rate on Marriott bookings and an annual free night award, you’ll enjoy generous annual credits for restaurant purchases and Marriott property stays, airport lounge access, elite night credits and more based on your spending. Read our full Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant review .

  • The card’s perks carry a ton of value and may even offset the card’s annual fee on their own if you take full advantage.
  • It’s one of the only hotel cards that includes both complimentary Priority Pass lounge access and credits for expedited airport security screening.
  • Unlocking some of the card’s best perks — like Five Suite Night Awards — requires a $60,000 annual spend, which may be tough to reach even for frequent Marriott guests.
  • Unless luxury perks are at the top of your wishlist, the annual fee may not be worth it and a lower-tier hotel card may offer more value overall.
  • $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each calendar year, get up to $300 (up to $25 per month) in statement credits for eligible purchases made on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card at restaurants worldwide.
  • With Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you can receive room upgrades, including enhanced views or suites, when available at select properties and booked with a Qualifying Rate.
  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you will be eligible to select a Brilliant Earned Choice Award benefit. You can only earn one Earned Choice Award per calendar year. See https://www.choice-benefit.marriott.com/brilliant for Award options.
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy® member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which offers unlimited access to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • With Cell Phone Protection, you can be reimbursed, the lesser of, your repair or replacement costs following damage, such as a cracked screen, or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month's wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim with a limit of 2 approved claims per 12-month period. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.

Image of Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

  • Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

  • 2X 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5X 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

If you do your banking with Bank of America, this card provides an intriguing opportunity for an earnings boost. The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card provides generous rewards rates—2X points on dining and travel, with 1.5X points on all other purchases—as well as solid travel perks. Read our full Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review .

  • The $95 annual fee is relatively affordable for this card category.
  • Rewards never expire as long as the account remains open and there’s no cap on earnings.
  • Attaining the highest rewards rate is not an easy feat, since you’ll need to hold significant funds in Bank of America accounts.
  • This card does not offer premium travel perks like lounge access.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn 2.5-3.5 points on travel and dining purchases and 1.87-2.62 points on all other purchases, for every $1 you spend.
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $100 in Airline Incidental Statement Credits annually and TSA PreCheck®/Global Entry Statement Credits of up to $100, every four years.
  • Travel Insurance protections to assist with trip delays, cancellations and interruptions, baggage delays and lost luggage.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Low $95 annual fee.

Image of Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a generous points structure and comes with a $300 annual travel credit among other perks. This card is well worth the $550 annual fee if used strategically by cardholders who spend enough in the card’s rewards categories and take advantage of the added benefits. Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve review .

  • Points redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth up to 50 percent more.
  • The annual statement credit of $300 can help offset the cost of the annual fee.
  • The high annual fee could be a deterrent for some new cardholders.
  • You won’t get as many luxury travel perks with this card as you would with some of its luxury card competitors.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights 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
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Image of Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Credit One Bank Wander® Card

  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days from your account opening and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel.

Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas Earn 1x points on all other purchases

  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
  • 5X Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • 1X Earn 1x points on all other purchases

If you want to earn points on travel but have trouble qualifying for top-tier rewards cards, the Wander card is a solid option. Not only is this card available with only fair credit, but its rewards program is also quite generous, boasting a high rewards rate in several key travel categories, including gas, airfare and hotels. Read our full Credit One Wander Card review .

  • It’s one of the only travel rewards cards available with a fair credit score, making it a decent option if you want to earn travel rewards as you work on your score.
  • Its 10,000-point sign-up bonus (after you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days) is enough to completely offset the card’s annual fee in the first year.
  • Its annual fee is high compared to other cards you can get with a fair credit score, so it may not be the best fit if you prioritize building credit over earning rewards.
  • Other travel cards may offer better perks and value at this price level, so it may be worth working on your score with a lower-cost card before you focus on earning rewards.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees

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 American Express® Green Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuers.

Compare Bankrate's best travel credit cards of 2024

A closer look at bankrate's top travel credit cards.

BEST FOR FLAT-RATE REWARDS

  • What we love
  • Who it's for
  • Travel benefits
  • Alternatives

It offers an easy way to earn travel rewards, comes with a generous sign-up bonus and has several travel and purchase protections for a modest annual fee of $95. ( See Rates & Fees )

Travelers who want to earn rewards at a flat rate on all purchases and enjoy flexibility in how they redeem their miles.

Get a credit worth up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® and transfer your miles to 15+ airline and hotel loyalty programs, often for a higher redemption value.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a higher rewards rate in some everyday spending categories and potentially more valuable points. Your points are worth 1.25 cents each if you redeem for travel through Chase, versus the 1 cent per mile value you’d get with the Venture.

Best for luxury travel

If you can take advantage of all the high-value benefits packed in this card, it could be one of the most lucrative on the market. You’ll have a chance at a huge welcome offer, annual statement credits worth over $1,000 and access to Priority Pass Select lounges, Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (for Delta flights only).

Frequent travelers who enjoy luxury travel benefits and elite status.

Along with comprehensive lounge access, you can take advantage of an up to $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 in Uber Cash (benefit renews annually), an up to $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit and several other benefits.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers a taste of luxury at a much lower cost than the Amex Platinum. For a $395 annual fee, travelers unlock a generous travel rewards rate, a higher rewards rate on general purchases, complimentary access to popular airport lounge memberships and valuable annual travel credits and anniversary miles ( See Rates & Fees ).

BEST FOR INTRO APR

Unlike some travel rewards cards, this card lets you redeem rewards for more than just typical travel costs like airfare and hotels. You can also redeem points for statement credits to cover purchases at zoos, art galleries, aquariums, travel agencies and more.

Points don’t expire as long as your account remains open and you can redeem for bookings with any airline or hotel anytime without blackout dates. You can also redeem points for statement credits to pay for travel or dining purchases.

The Bilt Mastercard is another solid no-annual-fee travel card, but it stands out by earning points on rent payments and helping you avoid processing fees typically associated with paying rent with a credit card. You’ll also earn bonus points for dining and travel and, unlike many no-annual-fee cards, you can transfer your points to high-value airline and hotel partners.

BEST FOR FOODIES

It offers high rewards rates and a ton of valuable perks for foodies and frequent travelers alike, including hundreds in annual dining, hotel and rideshare credits. These benefits make the card’s annual fee more than worth it.

Foodies and frequent travelers looking to earn rewards on everyday spending.

If the Amex Gold Card’s annual fee sounds high, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It carries key travel perks, high travel and dining rewards rates, and a much lower annual fee.

BEST STARTER TRAVEL CARD

On top of an outstanding sign-up bonus, you get travel and purchase protections and a rewards program that earns points on both travel and everyday purchases, like online groceries and streaming services.

This is a great travel card for people with 2023 travel plans, as Chase recently updated its sign-up bonus to 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. If you redeem these points for travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth 1.25 cents each, making the whole bonus worth up to $750 in travel.

You’ll get up to $50 in annual statement credits for hotel stays booked through Chase and your points are worth 25 percent more when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase travel portal. 

The Citi Premier® Card not only has a comparable sign-up bonus and the same annual fee as the Sapphire Preferred, but also covers even more everyday categories, including  supermarkets and gas stations, potentially making it a better fit as a standalone rewards card. 

BEST FOR PRACTICAL PERKS

This card offers a great mix of practical, valuable perks, including complimentary lounge access and a high rewards rate for both travel and non-travel purchases. It also comes with a relatively low annual fee compared to other luxury travel cards ( See Rates & Fees ). 

Travelers looking to sample luxury benefits without paying over $400 in annual fees.

You’ll get $300 in annual credits for travel bookings made through Capital One Travel, 10,000 bonus miles each year on your account anniversary and access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide.

If a higher annual fee is no issue, consider the Platinum Card from American Express. It’s a top choice for frequent travelers thanks to its impressive welcome offer and luxury perks like annual travel credits, lounge access and hotel elite status.

BEST FOR NO ANNUAL FEE

This entry-level travel rewards card comes with a decent sign-up bonus, the chance to earn flat-rate miles on all purchases and the option to transfer miles to travel partners without owing an annual fee. ( See Rates & Fees )

Occasional travelers looking to earn flexible travel rewards without paying an annual fee.

BEST FOR COMPANION TICKETS

You can easily justify this card’s annual fee given the value of the annual companion certificate perk. The card also earns rewards on restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases — two practical, popular categories — not just airfare.

Frequent travelers looking for a way to earn Delta SkyMiles and unlock a solid roster of Delta perks.

Along with the companion ticket, you can get up to $100 in statement credits to cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee, trip delay insurance and Delta Sky Club lounge access for $50 per person when flying Delta (effective Jan. 1, 2024, this benefit will no longer be available).

The Amex Green card could be a great alternative since it charges a lower annual fee ($150), lets you earn and redeem rewards on travel with any eligible airline (not just Delta) and offers credits for Loungebuddy lounge access and Clear Plus. You can even transfer points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.

Learn more: Why credit card expert Holly Johnson loves Delta credit cards

BEST STARTER AIRLINE CARD

The card’s biggest perk — 3,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember account anniversary — could hold enough value to offset most of the card’s annual fee.

Southwest frequent flyers looking for a low-maintenance airline rewards card. 

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could offer better value overall, despite its $149 annual fee. It carries an annual $75 Southwest travel credit and 7,500 bonus points each year on your account anniversary — more than enough value to justify the higher fee.

Learn more: Why expert Tim Maxwell loves the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

BEST FOR FIRST-YEAR VALUE

Discover will match every mile you earn at the end of your first year. Depending on how much you spend, this could give you a chance at a higher bonus value than you’d get with any other no-annual-fee rewards card.

Travelers who value simplicity will appreciate this card’s straightforward rewards rate and flexible redemption.

While this card is light on perks, it’s one of the few no-annual-fee travel cards that lets you redeem miles for cash back, travel and more without worrying about redemption values. Many cards require you to sacrifice rewards value if you opt for cash back instead of travel.

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card carries a more straightforward and still easy-to-reach welcome bonus. The VentureOne card also gives you the option of transferring miles to more than a dozen airline and hotel partners, which could increase the redemption value of your rewards.

BEST NO-ANNUAL-FEE HOTEL CARD

This card earns rewards not only on Hilton bookings, but also in several popular everyday spending categories. This makes it a solid standalone option for earning Hilton points even if you don’t spend a ton on travel.

As you might expect since it carries no annual fee, this card's perks are underwhelming, but it does come with automatic Hilton Honors Silver elite status, which unlocks benefits like a fifth night free on award stays and two free bottles of water per stay.

The American Express® Green Card could be more flexible since it earns rewards on a much wider variety of travel purchases, including airfare and bookings with any hotel, not just Hilton. You can also redeem points to cover bookings with multiple airlines and hotels or even transfer points to outside loyalty programs, including Hilton Honors.

Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Hilton Honors American Express Card

BEST FOR GAS

This card does not charge foreign transaction fees and comes with valuable perks like rental car collision damage waiver coverage, roadside assistance and Visa Signature® Concierge benefits, which opens the door to additional features like access to Visa’s Luxury Hotel Collection.

BEST FOR EVERYDAY SPENDING

This mid-level travel card earns rewards at a high rate on both travel and everyday spending, making it a great standalone rewards option. It also comes with an annual hotel credit that can offset the card’s annual fee on its own.

Occasional travelers who want to earn travel rewards on everyday purchases like groceries, gas and dining.

 You’ll earn a $100 statement credit when you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more through Citi. The card also carries no foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred boasts fewer everyday bonus categories, but it may offer more valuable rewards. Chase points are worth 25 percent more than Citi points when you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Best for transfer partners

This card is a terrific choice for renters since it earns rewards and waives transaction fees when you use it to pay rent. It’s also a solid pick for beginner travelers since it offers high-value travel and dining points. Plus, it’s one of the few no-annual-fee cards to provide airline and hotel transfer partners — including American Airlines.

Long-term renters who want to earn travel rewards and minimize fees. It’s also a good fit for travelers who don’t like paying annual fees and can plan ahead. Since you earn double points on the first of every month for travel, dining and general purchases, you can earn outsized rewards not often found with other general-purpose travel cards. 

Along with stellar airline transfer partners, the Bilt card offers a solid collection of travel perks for a no-annual-fee card, including trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay reimbursement and other high-level travel protections.

BEST LUXURY HOTEL CARD

It comes with a slew of valuable perks that can help offset the annual fee and make travel more enjoyable, including complimentary Priority Pass lounge access and annual credits for eligible restaurant purchases.

Learn more: Best Marriott credit cards

BEST FOR EXPEDITED SECURITY SCREENING

The one-time sign-up bonus and an annual chance to earn up to $100 in travel statement credits enhance the value of this simple travel rewards credit card.

Frequent travelers who are Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can make the most of this card since you can boost your rewards rate by 25 to 75 percent depending on your savings.

Receive up to $100 in annual statement credits on airline incidentals like seat upgrades and baggage fees, plus up to $100 in statement credits to cover the cost of a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years.

BEST FOR POINT VALUES

The card comes loaded with short- and long-term value, including one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses on the market and a slew of perks, including annual travel credits and complimentary airport lounge access.

Frequent travelers who can take advantage of its top-of-the-line perks.

Points are worth 50 percent more when you redeem for travel with Chase and you can transfer 1:1 to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs. You’ll also unlock up to $300 in annual travel statement credits, access to over 1,300 Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide and up to $100 in statement credits every four years to cover the cost of Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck.

The Capital One Venture X card offers some of the same key perks as the Sapphire Reserve at a much lower cost. Along with a generous rewards rate on both Capital One Travel and general purchases, the card boasts valuable, practical benefits like competitive airport lounge access , up to $300 in annual Capital One Travel credits and 10,000 bonus miles every year on your account anniversary. 

Best for fair credit

You’ll earn rewards at an impressive rate in practical everyday categories like travel, dining and gas, which is rare for a card available with only fair credit.

The card comes with a sign-up bonus you can redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards or for travel.

If you don’t mind putting down a refundable security deposit, consider a no-annual-fee secured card like the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card *. It’s a unique secured card that lets you work on your credit score while earning rewards in a category of your choice (with travel just one of many popular options) as well as grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

Image of American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

Best for everyday travel + transit

  • Who it’s for

This card offers terrific first-year value via its unique welcome offer, allowing you to earn even more rewards on travel and transit spending. 

The card’s Loungebuddy and CLEAR Plus credits should be handy even if you only fly occasionally.

Learn more: Is the American Express Green card worth it?

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

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 — travel cards 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.

Co-branded travel cards vs. general travel cards

Travel credit cards are generally divided into two categories: co-branded travel cards and general travel cards. Co-branded cards are associated with a particular airline or hotel, while general travel cards offer more flexible reward opportunities. Here’s why and when you might want each.

What you get with co-branded travel credit cards

Co-branded travel cards tend to offer higher rewards rates on eligible travel purchases in exchange for limiting your reward redemption options to just one airline or hotel program . These cards may also feature more specific perks associated with the respective hotel or airline, such as free award nights, complimentary airline elite status or priority boarding — which general-purpose travel cards don’t often carry).

However, you won’t be able to use your rewards with a wide variety of different hotels and airlines like general-purpose cards allow. Plus, despite co-branded travel cards’ typically higher rewards rates, many brand-specific rewards tend to be worth less than the potential value of general-purpose cards’ points and miles.

When to get a co-branded travel card : When you often fly or stay with a specific airline or hotel and want to maximize your benefits with that brand.

What you get with general travel credit cards 

General travel cards earn rewards on various travel categories and aren’t limited to a particular airline or hotel. Such cards may lack some of the dedicated perks you’ll find on a co-branded travel card, such as in-flight discounts, but make up for this with rewards flexibility and broader perks like general travel credits, expedited security screening and wider airport lounge access. 

The top travel cards even let you transfer your points or miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, often at a 1:1 rate. Redeeming with some airlines and hotels can even make your rewards more valuable than they would be if you redeemed with the card issuer.

When to get a general travel card : When you have no preferred airline or hotel and want the additional flexibility a general travel card offers. 

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 of travel credit cards .

A travel credit card is almost always worth it for frequent travelers or anyone who wants to earn rewards toward their next vacation.

If you can 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 significant travel savings. However, the right travel card for you will depend on your travel habits.

Frequent travelers

Naturally, the ideal candidate for a travel card is someone who travels a lot or plans to book several flights and hotel stays per year. However, in some cases, you don’t have to be a frequent traveler to reap the benefits of a travel rewards card. A number of cards offer good rewards rates on general purchases, such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Card (cardholders earn 2X miles).

Travel beginners

If you’re new to travel rewards, a good place to start is with a travel card that makes it easy to earn and redeem points, without requiring you to navigate a complex rewards program or worry about tiered rewards rates or varying point redemption values. 

Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, you can explore a travel card with a more complex rewards program that may require more legwork but also offer more rewards value.

Brand loyalists

If you tend to book travel with the same brands frequently or already belong to an airline or hotel loyalty program, a co-branded travel card can offer terrific value.  Airline- and hotel-specific rewards cards often earn a top rate on bookings with the brand as well as exclusive perks like lounge access and automatic elite status. 

The Hilton Honors Amex card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card are great examples of lucrative co-branded travel rewards cards.

Business travelers

Some of the most valuable travel credit cards are business cards . Whether you're a freelancer on the go or the CEO of a Fortune 500, the right travel credit card can help you earn high rewards rates on everyday business purchases. Examples include the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business .

International travelers

If you frequently travel abroad, a card with no foreign transaction fees like the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great pick to help you avoid extra costs on overseas purchases. 

Plus, if you hate waiting in line at airport security or customs, a lot of travel cards offer statement credits to reimburse you for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

Luxury travelers

If you’re looking for a luxury travel experience, consider a premium travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card from American Express. Luxury travel cards like these often charge a pretty penny but also offer a ton of value via perks like lounge access and annual travel credits. 

These perks not only make travel more comfortable, but also often carry enough value to offset the card’s cost on their own.

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.

Additional travel credit card perks

Travel benefits may differ from card to card, but some of the most popular travel cards on the market may feature the following perks.

Elite status upgrades

Some cards offer complimentary upgrades or a head start toward a travel program’s elite status. For example, the American Express Platinum card lets you enroll in complimentary Gold Elite status for Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors loyalty programs. Climbing the loyalty status ranks could score you exceptionally valuable benefits such as additional rewards, room or seat upgrades, expedited services, and discounts or credits for in-flight or on-site purchases.

Travel insurance

Travel cards may offer various travel insurances , such as trip delay protection, trip cancellation insurance, lost baggage insurance or car rental insurance. These benefits aren’t worth anything until you need them, but you’ll be glad you have them when your flight is canceled or your luggage lost.

Expedited airport security service credits

Credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry are a popular and common benefit on many travel cards. You can typically use this credit once every four years, which roughly corresponds to how long a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership lasts. Some cards may also provide an annual credit toward Clear Plus — another expedited security membership.

Travel purchase credits

Higher-end travel cards often offer annual statement credits toward travel purchases. For some travel cards, such as the Capital One Venture X, these statement credits can nearly offset the cost of the card itself.

Boosts on travel reward redemptions

Some travel cards will often boost the value of your rewards when you redeem them on eligible travel. Redeeming points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred through Chase Ultimate Rewards will boost your point value to 1.5 cents and 1.25 cents per point, respectively. However, boosted rewards value toward issuer travel portal redemptions are rare outside certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards nowadays, so you may need to rely on general-purpose travel cards’ transfer partners to squeeze more than 1 cent out of each point or mile.

Airline benefits

Co-branded airline cards typically offer some airport and in-flight benefits on top of their reward-earning capabilities. These can include perks like discounts on in-flight purchases (usually 25 percent back on refreshments and WiFi), free checked bags , flight seating upgrades or priority boarding . 

Free hotel award nights

Co-branded hotel cards may include annual free hotel award nights as part of their benefits. Some cards also tack an extra complimentary awards night to your stay if you’ve booked a certain number of consecutive nights. These nights are typically capped at a certain value (sometimes based on the card or your elite status), and may be valuable enough to make up for some cards’ annual fees.

Airport lounge access

One of the most popular (and valuable) travel benefits featured on high-end and luxury travel cards is complimentary access to airport lounges. The lounges you gain access to depend on the card, though co-branded cards will often grant access to the lounge corresponding to the card’s airline. The Amex Platinum card currently offers the best airport lounge access .

Credit card points and miles are two of the key types of credit card rewards , along with cash back. As with cash back, you’ll earn points and miles by making purchases with your credit card, but you can typically redeem these rewards for travel, gift cards and more — not just statement credits.

Points and miles tend to be more flexible than cash back, but since their value depends on how you redeem them — and, in the case of travel redemptions, where you’re going, when you book, your fare class and more — it make take a bit more effort to make the most of them.

What are your points and miles worth?

Since many airlines and hotels use dynamic pricing models that continually optimize airfare and room prices, it can be hard to know exactly how much your rewards are worth without doing a little math.

Luckily, you don’t need to be a travel hacker to get a sense of this. Before you redeem, you can check your reward redemption value by dividing the cost of a plane or hotel booking in cash by its cost in points or miles. This will show you the cash value of your points or miles.

You can also compare this value to Bankrate’s latest point and valuations to get a sense of whether you’re getting a good deal. Bankrate collected data on hundreds of bookings across dozens of airline, hotel and credit card rewards programs and estimated how much each program’s rewards are worth on average .

Airline rewards values

The table below shows Bankrate’s estimated reward redemption value for a variety of popular airline loyalty programs. You’ll notice how widely this varies between airlines, with some offering close to 3 cents per point in average redemption value and others struggling to meet a 1-cent-per-point value.

Keep in mind, however, that these values are averages based on a variety of fare classes, destinations, booking periods and more. For example, while Bankrate estimates Delta SkyMiles carry an average redemption value of around 1.2 cents per mile, they could be worth more or less depending on the details of your booking. 

*Based on weighted average of median point/mile values across economy and first/business class fares.

Hotel rewards values

Like airline miles, hotel points fluctuate in value. The table below shows Bankrate’s estimated point values for some of the most popular hotel brands. 

As you can see, hotel points tend to be worth less than airline and credit card rewards on average, often carrying less than 1 cent per point in redemption value. That said, hotel loyalty programs sometimes offer more favorable exchange rates when you transfer rewards from a credit card rewards program. For example, you may be able to turn 1,000 credit card points into 2,000 hotel points (a 2:1 transfer ratio). 

*Based on median point values across budget, mid-tier and luxury hotel bookings.

Credit card program rewards values

Unlike hotel and airline rewards programs, credit card reward programs typically earn points or miles that offer a consistent redemption value when you use them with the issuer. Though the redemption value of your rewards may vary based on how you redeem, each redemption method should offer a consistent baseline value. 

Some credit card rewards programs may also allow you to transfer your points or miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, which could boost their value considerably. For each major credit card rewards program, we estimate a baseline redemption value (assuming you book for travel with the issuer) and a Bankrate’s Value, which averages the program’s best-value transfer partners.

*Based on an average of the issuer’s five highest-value transfer partners (if available).

When to use rewards vs. cash

Here’s an example: We estimate American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth 1.0 cents. If you book a seat in the main cabin on a one-way flight from Boston to Miami, and it costs either $139 or 21,500 miles, your miles are only worth $0.006 ($139 / 21,500 miles = $0.006). Since your miles for this flight are worth less than 1.0 cents, you may want to save your miles and pay cash for this flight.

But if you book a first-class seat on the same flight for $433 or 31,500 miles, your miles are now worth $0.013 ($433 / 31,500 = $0.013). Since 1.3 cents is higher than our latest valuation, you’re coming out ahead if you use your miles to pay for this flight.

Tips on choosing the best travel credit card for you

The right travel credit card for you will carry features and benefits that give you the best value. To help you narrow down your choices, here are some questions to ask yourself that can guide you toward the card that fits you best:

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5 steps to choose the best travel card

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5 benefits you need from a travel credit card in 2023

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Traveler’s guide to the best frequent flyer programs

How do you prefer to travel.

Knowing whether your travel expenses lean toward airfare, hotel stays, or a mix of other travel will help you decide whether you should get an airline card, hotel card or general-purpose travel card. A co-branded airline or hotel credit card may be a good fit if you mostly travel with a certain brand and want exclusive privileges to enhance your experience. However, a general-purpose travel card is better if you prefer to keep your travel options open.

What do you want from your rewards?

You may have to pick between simplicity and maximum value when comparing cards and rewards programs. Many travel cards offer a standard point or mile redemption value of 1 cent when you redeem toward travel through the issuer portal, but some cards can get you a higher redemption value when you transfer rewards to airline or hotel partners. However, it’s common for many travel reward programs to reduce the redemption value toward non-travel options or limit these redemption options altogether. If you prefer simplicity over maximizing rewards, you may want to consider cards that allow you to redeem points or miles at an equal 1-cent value toward general travel purchase credits, cash back or other non-travel options.

What are your biggest expenses?

A general travel card with a flat rewards rate could be a good choice if you want a simple way to earn rewards on everyday spending, you want to stick with a single rewards card or if you make a lot of travel bookings with third-party booking sites. But if you don’t mind juggling multiple cards to maximize your earnings, cards that earn bonus rewards in specific spending categories could be far more lucrative. Take a look at your typical spending and find which travel categories (like airfare, hotel stays, gas or transit) and other categories (like dining, groceries or entertainment) you spend the most in and choose a card that offers a high rewards rate in those categories. Just make sure you factor in rewards spending caps.

What do you prioritize when traveling?

High rewards rates and valuable travel perks are the biggest reasons to get a travel card, but many of the best cards carry a high annual fee. You can probably stick with a no-annual-fee travel card (or at least one with around a $99 fee) if you’re mainly focused on earning rewards, but you may have to pay up to $500 or more for luxurious perks like airport lounge access, comprehensive travel insurance and hundreds of dollars in annual travel credits . Perks like free checked bags, hotel amenity credits, priority boarding, booking upgrades and complimentary elite status often only come with premium co-branded hotel and airline cards.

When are you traveling abroad next?

If you travel overseas, check to see if the card you’re considering charges a foreign transaction fee. And since some credit cards aren’t as widely accepted as others, you’ll also want to make sure your credit card will work when traveling overseas . For example, Discover and American Express cards may not be as widely accepted abroad as Visa cards and Mastercards. If a trip is coming up in the next three to six months, keep an eye out for the big $200 to $1,000+ sign-up bonuses travel cards are known for. As a rule of thumb, the higher the annual fee, the higher the sign-up bonus should be.

Here’s how a Bankrate editor chose his travel card

With all of this advice in mind, let’s see how a credit card expert made their pick. Here’s Bankrate editor Nouri Zarrugh on how he chose his travel card:

When it comes to earning rewards, I’ve always stuck with cash back cards, preferring the simplicity of knowing exactly how much my rewards are worth and the ease of redeeming for statement credits. Recently, though, I decided I wanted to travel a bit more frequently, and I figured a new travel rewards card could be a great tool to help me earn free trips. When choosing the right card for me, a few major points of consideration stood out: Cost: I didn’t feel like I traveled enough to justify a huge annual fee. Simplicity : I wanted to stick with a single, streamlined travel card and not worry about juggling multiple rewards programs or rewards rates. Perks : While I didn’t need anything too fancy, I thought it might be nice to have a perk like TSA Precheck included, since I hate waiting in long airport security lines. To my surprise, the card that stood out most was the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Though it carried an intimidating annual fee of $395 ( See Rates & Fees ), I found this cost was more than worth it once I dug into the details. In fact, its benefits were so valuable, I barely needed to worry about offsetting the cost.  Two of its annual perks — a $300 Capital One travel credit and 10,000 bonus miles every year on my account anniversary — are valuable enough to offset the fee on their own. This means as long as I take one flight a year, I can basically break even on the card. Any rewards or perks I get beyond that feel like pure upside. It’s a huge bonus, then, that the card also includes practical benefits like Priority Pass lounge access and a credit of up to $100 toward the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. While I’ve never frequented airport lounges, I see these privileges as essentially free considering the value of the annual travel credit and bonus miles. So, I figure, why not take advantage?  For me, the Venture X strikes the perfect balance: A flat rewards rate that makes it easy to earn miles on everything I buy; flexible redemption through Capital One or via transfer to airlines and hotels, and practical perks I know I’ll use when I travel. I never imagined I’d have a $395 travel card in my wallet, but for me, it’s at worst a coupon for a flight every year, which can nudge me to take that next trip. — Nouri Zarrugh, Editor, Bankrate

Expert advice on travel credit cards

Premium travel cards tend to charge hefty annual fees, so it’s important to know how to maximize your rewards and perks. Otherwise, a travel card could end up being a money pit. Here are a few pointers for making the most of your travel card: 

Combine cards to maximize rewards

Knowing how much you spend in different categories and which merchants are eligible for rewards will help you earn more rewards and build an optimized stack of rewards cards. 

A flat-rate card is often a great starting point. For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and you often buy groceries at Walmart and Costco, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card can earn 1.5 percent cash back on those purchases instead of 1X points. Then, you can maximize your Freedom Unlimited rewards spending by redeeming its Chase rewards through the Sapphire Preferred for more value toward travel.

Expert Insight:

“For a long time, I’ve used a combination of Chase credit cards known as the Chase trifecta for all my family’s spending…. [I] don’t typically use my Sapphire Reserve for everyday spending and bills. Since it only offers 1X points on non-bonus category spending, I use my Freedom Unlimited to make sure I earn a minimum of 1.5 percent cash back on everything I buy.” “I use each card strategically to earn as much in rewards as possible, then I pool them in my Sapphire Reserve account to redeem them for airfare, excursions, hotels and more.” — Holly D. Johnson — Award-winning personal finance writer and Bankrate contributor: Why I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Maximize your rewards value with transfer partners and issuer travel

Save your rewards for the most valuable redemption options. Travel points and miles often lose value toward non-travel options like cash back, so you’ll want to redeem your rewards for travel through the issuer portal for at least 1 cent per point or mile. However, transferring your rewards to the right airline or hotel partner program is usually worth the extra effort since it could net you even more value.

Expert Insight

“When I redeem my points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, the most I can get is 1.25 cents apiece, which is pretty good. However, if I transfer them to a partner airline’s loyalty program, I will often get much more. For example, I can transfer my points to United Airlines’ MileagePlus and use them to pay for flights. When I do, I generally get a value of 2 or more cents per point — in line with Bankrate estimates that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth around 2 cents apiece on average when used with the right transfer partner.” — Margaret Wack — Personal finance expert and Bankrate contributor: Why I love the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Make the most of your travel perks

Travel benefits are one of the main reasons to get a travel card, and are often key to making up a card’s annual fee. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you can take full advantage of these offers. For example, one card’s travel credit may apply to any travel purchase, including airfare, while another card’s may only cover costs like baggage fees or in-flight purchases. 

“This is the year to take inventory of your credit cards and make sure they’re serving you well. If you’re paying an annual fee, look for a card with recurring benefits. Whether it’s annual free nights, waived luggage fees or elite status benefits, these perks can offset your annual fee and make your travels more pleasant.” “Despite putting minimal spending on my Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card, I keep renewing it every year. That’s because the card provides automatic Hilton Diamond elite status, which can easily offset the $550 annual fee. Recurring card benefits like [these] can save you a lot on travel and are worth considering when shopping for a new credit card.” — Ariana Arghandewal — Travel rewards expert and Bankrate contributor: Five benefits you need from a travel credit card

Plan for the sign-up bonus

The best travel cards come with generous welcome offers, but these bonuses may require a high spend in a short timeframe. That’s why it’s important to consider whether the spending requirement fits with your typical spending habits or whether you need to plan purchases to meet the requirement. Just be sure not to overextend yourself or take on debt you can’t pay back just to earn a bonus — interest and fees can easily eat through any value you’d get from the bonus.

“While most people are focused on enjoying the fall season, I’d like to note that now is an ideal time to sign up for a new credit card with an eye toward holiday travel. Despite conflicting economic signals, credit card sign-ups are still booming. It’s a competitive market; you can use that to your advantage.” “Travel costs remain high this year, along with prices on just about everything else. Earning rewards from a new credit card could be another useful inflation-busting strategy as we head toward the always-expensive holiday season.” — Ted Rossman — Senior credit cards industry analyst at Bankrate: Best sign-up bonuses for holiday travel

Look out for limited-time offers, partner perks and other benefits

Keeping an eye out for limited-time offers like extraordinarily high sign-up bonuses, perks with partner services (like rideshares or delivery services) and other reward-earning opportunities is a great way to squeeze the most value from your travel card. Issuers sometimes provide shopping and travel portals and card-linked reward programs for select purchases (like for pre-paid dining or participating merchant spending), which can help you bank extra rewards.

“Keep an eye on your email inbox and rewards portal for any limited-time promotions your issuer may be offering. Many American Express cards feature Amex Offers, which offer perks like statement credits for spending a certain amount on specific hotels and other retailers. Other cards, like the Capital One Venture X, also have occasional promotional offers, such as a credit for 5 percent back on VRBO rentals.” — Lori Zaino — Travel expert and Bankrate contributor: How to maximize credit cards for cheaper accommodations this holiday season

Track your spending and rewards each account statement

That way, you can track your favorite stores’ and services’ merchant category codes (MCCs) to fine-tune your spending habits for maximum rewards. If you notice your expenses changing, this practice may also help you notice whether you need to change which rewards cards you carry.

“The first step to optimizing your spending is to take the time to collect the MCCs of stores you frequently shop at. During the process, you might find that some stores in the same chain may have different MCCs, depending on their primary inventory. Even different counters or sections in the same department store may carry different MCCs. You can use this to your advantage if you know one location near you will provide a better cash back rate than the other. These “loopholes” can provide great opportunities to reap cash back on purchases that typically wouldn’t earn rewards.” — Garrett Yarbrough — Writer and credit cards expert at Bankrate: Merchant category codes: How to earn more cash back

When evaluating the best travel cards, we consider a mix of factors, including how cards score in our proprietary card rating system and whether cards offer features that fit the priorities of a diverse group of cardholders, from earning rewards in popular categories to scoring a large sign-up bonus or high-value perks. Whenever possible, we also feature cards that are available at various credit levels and price points. 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular cards and scored each based on its rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more to determine whether it belonged in this month’s roundup of the best travel cards.

Here are some of the key factors that we considered:

Great rewards value

The primary criteria for a rewards-earning card’s rating is its rewards value. This includes the card’s average rewards rate, estimated annual rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value and reward redemption value.

To estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings, we first calculate its average rewards rate based on how much it earns in different bonus categories and how closely its categories align with the average person’s spending habits. In other words, we assess whether the card earns rewards at a high rate in the most popular spending categories. 

We use consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to get a reliable third-party measure of people’s spending habits. The most recent BLS data estimates average total spending in 2022 was $72,967 per consumer. We then narrow our focus to which purchases are likely to be put on a credit card and earn rewards, subtracting expenditures like housing, vehicle purchases and education. This gives us a total “chargeable” annual spend of around $25,500.  

This includes the following spending by category:

  • Groceries: $5,700
  • Dining out: $3,600
  • Entertainment: $2,400
  • Gas: $3,100
  • Apparel and services: $1,900

Using this data, we assign a weighting to each of a card’s bonus categories. For example, a card’s grocery rewards rate receives a 22 percent weighting based on how much of the average person’s budget is spent on groceries.

We also estimate the redemption value of points or miles from various issuer, airline and hotel rewards programs.

This weighting and rewards valuation allows us to estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings — how many points or miles you’d earn with a given card if your spending was about average and you used the card for all of your purchases — as well as what those points are worth. We also use point valuations to determine a card’s sign-up bonus value

With these calculations complete, we assign each card a score based on how its average rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value, rewards rate and redemption value stack up against other rewards cards.

The better these values, the higher its score will be, making it more worthy of inclusion in our list and increasing its potential ranking.

Reasonable rates and fees

We also score cards based on how much it costs to keep them in your wallet or carry a balance. 

To start, each card is scored based on whether it offers an intro APR and how its ongoing APR compares to the rates available on other rewards cards. However, the latter rating only has a slight influence on the card’s score and whether the card is included in our list, since rewards card users generally try to avoid carrying a balance.

More important to both a card’s score and its inclusion in our list is how its annual fee influences its overall value. We consider a card’s annual fee in two ways — how it ranks relative to the fees you’ll find on other cards in the category and how it impacts a card’s overall rewards value. 

Cards with an annual fee will always be at a slight disadvantage in our scoring system since annual fees inherently cut into your rewards value. However, if a card offers terrific value via its ongoing rewards and perks, it can earn a high score and a spot in our list even if it carries a high annual fee. After all, the highest rewards rates and most valuable perks are often found on cards with annual fees. 

With this in mind, we rate a card based primarily on how its ongoing rewards value and ongoing perk value (such as annual credits or bonuses) stack up against those of other cards in the category when you subtract annual fees.

That said, we strive to include as many no-annual-fee options in our list as possible since many people would rather not worry about offsetting fees, even if a card carries impressive rewards and perks.

Redemption flexibility

Rewards cards may make it easy to earn a lot of points, miles or cash back, but how easy is it to use those rewards? After all, if it takes a ton of effort to redeem rewards or you can only redeem rewards in a couple of ways, a card may be more trouble than it’s worth. 

As such, we rate each card’s flexibility based on the restrictions it imposes on earning and redeeming rewards. We factor this rating into a card’s overall score and consider it when deciding on a card’s inclusion in our list. 

Flexibility factors include whether a card only allows you to earn a high rewards rate on only a small amount of spending or requires you to meet a certain earning threshold before you can redeem rewards. We also examine whether your points are worth less when you opt for some redemption options over others and whether a card gives you the flexibility to transfer rewards to travel partners.

Valuable perks

We also score each card’s set of features – its perks and benefits — against five tiers of features to provide a rating. 

We break down these tiers as follows:

  • Tier 1 includes fewer features than even standard credit cards (for example, an ultra-streamlined card that offers basic utility and next to nothing in the way of ancillary benefits). 
  • Tier 2 includes the benefits you’d expect on standard Visa or Mastercard credit cards, such as free access to your credit score, car rental insurance and $0 liability for fraudulent charges. 
  • Tier 3 includes “prime card” or better-than-average card features like cellphone insurance, lost luggage insurance, concierge services and purchase protection. 
  • Tier 4 includes luxury features such as airport lounge access, elite status with an airline or hotel and credits for expedited security screening membership programs. 
  • Tier 5 includes the sort of exemplary benefits you’ll find on top-tier luxury cards, such as high-value travel credits, cardholder memberships and other unique and valuable perks.

In evaluating the best cards, we tend to favor cards that offer at least Tier 3 benefits, unless they include other unique features that could make up for less-impressive perks.

In the news: What to expect for upcoming holiday travel

Predicting post-pandemic travel trends — and the best ways to save money on that travel — has been a challenge, especially considering the impact of inflation and changes in the travel card, airline and lodging markets. Although 2022 was supposedly the year of “revenge travel” after pandemic travel restrictions, a recent Bankrate survey found that more people are planning an overnight trip during the holidays. 

Bankrate expert Ted Rossman says this outcome is in line with the increase in flights and short-term rental stays compared to 2022 data. Thankfully, he says, flight cancellations and airline fares have decreased since last year; however, some travel rewards cards have started increasing restrictions on popular perks like airport lounge access and expedited security screening credits. 

Our Bankrate survey data found inflation has caused most people to adjust their holiday travel plans, such driving instead of flying and scaling back their trip itinerary. Similarly, you may be able to save some money (and headache) by re-evaluating your travel, redeeming your credit card rewards toward travel and utilizing other travel card features like travel insurance, airport benefits and hotel perks. 

For more information on ways to maximize your money on upcoming travel, check out Bankrate's Travel Toolkit .

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

More information on travel credit cards

Frequently asked questions about travel credit cards, are travel credit cards worth it.

Travel cards can be well worth it since they often carry exclusive travel perks like credits for airfare, hotel stays, expedited airport security services and more, as well as complimentary airport lounge access and airline or hotel privileges (like complimentary elite status and discounts). 

However, many of the best travel credit cards come with annual fees. It’s important to at least offset the cost of these cards by taking advantage of the various travel perks and features included on the card. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express offers around $1,700 in yearly credits but requires a $695 annual fee. If you don’t use $695 worth of perks or rewards, then the card is costing you more than it’s worth.

If you don’t travel frequently enough to justify the price tag on a premium travel credit card, it might be better to go with a no-annual-fee travel card or even a cash back or general rewards credit card.

What credit score is needed for a travel credit card?

It’s possible to get a travel credit card with bad or fair credit, but most travel rewards cards are geared toward people with good or excellent credit (a FICO score of at least 670, or a VantageScore of at least 661).

Do travel miles or points expire?

Even though many major credit cards earn rewards that don’t expire, you may lose your points and miles if your account closes or isn’t in good standing. However, some co-branded cards’ rewards may expire if you don’t earn or redeem rewards within a certain timeframe (typically 12 to 36 months after the rewards are earned).

Check out our guide to credit card rewards expiration for a thorough breakdown of several popular issuers’ policies.

Are points or miles better on a credit card?

Whether points or miles offer better value will depend on the specific rewards program and how you redeem rewards. One airline loyalty program may earn miles that offer less than 1 cent each in average redemption value while another program’s points may offer close to 3 cents each on average. Similarly, a hotel card’s points may be worth less than half of a credit card issuer’s rewards points. Some programs offer points with only average baseline redemption value but high value when transferred to a partner airline or hotel. 

Ask the experts: Is it a good idea to have multiple travel credit cards?

Thomas Nitzsche

Stephanie Zito

Erica Sandberg

Financial Educator, Debt and Credit

Whether you should have multiple travel credit cards depends on several factors, including your brand affinity, frequency of travel and ability to pay off your cards in full each month. As a credit counselor, I see many people carrying credit card debt at high interest rates while continuing to make charges to the account for the sake of earning rewards. They lose far more than they earn each month. Having more than one travel credit card could make sense for you if you’re able to maximize your earnings by strategizing spending across each card. Just take into account annual fees and actual interest paid.

Contributor, Personal Finance

If you’re up for managing multiple cards and their benefits, then there are definitely big reward payouts to be had. But if the thought of multiple cards is overwhelming, it’s also a good strategy to have one or two more flexible cards and focus on maximizing your earnings and redemptions until it becomes second nature.

Contributor, Credit Cards

Definitely! I currently have two travel credit cards. In addition to the Chase card that I use for my United Airlines purchases, I have the Capital One Venture card for all other airlines. I earn a solid amount of miles on everything I buy with it, so it's an easy go-to for non-travel related expenses.

Article sources

We use primary sources to support our work. Bankrate’s authors, reporters and editors are subject-matter experts who thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate, timely and relevant.

“ Consumer Expenditures 2022 ” Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed on December 13, 2023.

* 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.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.

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Best travel credit cards of January 2024

A good travel credit card can help you save on flights and hotel stays, upgrade your travel experience, and even provide insurance coverage if something goes wrong. With so many travel credit cards on the market, you’ve got plenty of options to match your spending habits and budget. 

Typically, the higher the annual fee, the more perks you get, like lounge access and statement credits. However, if you can’t splurge on a travel credit card, there are plenty of affordable travel credit cards that offer generous welcome offers, high rewards rates, and different types of travel insurance and protections.

We have analyzed over 50 travel credit cards by looking at factors like the welcome bonus, annual fee, and miles or points rates to determine which ten cards are the best.

See our full methodology here.

The best travel credit cards

  • Best premium travel card: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best flat-rate rewards travel card: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best travel card for foodies: american express® gold card, best starter travel card: chase sapphire preferred ® card, best travel card for airline loyalists: united sm explorer card.

  • Best travel card for hotel loyalists: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • Best travel card for credit building: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Secured Credit Card

Best travel card for earning on travel and transport: Citi Premier® Card

Best $0 annual travel card: wells fargo autograph℠ card, best 0% intro apr travel card: bank of america® travel rewards credit card, the 10 best travel credit cards in january 2024.

Note: Rates, fees, and account requirements are subject to change.

Best premium travel card: The Platinum Card® from American Express 

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see  this page .

Why we like this card 

With the Platinum Card® from American Express , cardholders pay a steep $695 annual fee in exchange for a host of statement credits totaling nearly $1,500, lounge access, a hefty welcome offer, and many types of travel protections and insurance.

Despite the flashy perks and benefits, the Amex Platinum is best for cardholders whose spending habits align with the card’s statement credits. So if you’re a regular at Equinox gym or a frequent Saks Fifth customer, this card can help cover expenses like your gym membership, department store purchases, streaming services, and more.

Beyond statement credits, the card offers Global Lounge Collection access so cardholders can visit Delta Sky Club, Centurion Network, and Priority Pass Select lounges. However, if you want generous rewards on your regular spending, think again. 

Cardholders only 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 Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and 1x points on other purchases. In other words, cardholders earn 1x points on most spending.

In fact, numerous cards on our list offer better rewards rates with lower annual fees and fewer frills, too. 

Card details 

  • Cash advance APR: 29.99% variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%
  • Penalty fees: up to $40 for late and returned payments
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Benefits: Lounge access, up to $200 Uber Cash, up to $200 airline fee statement credit, up to $200 hotel statement credit, up to $189 CLEAR Plus statement credit, up to $240 digital entertainment statement credit, up to $300 Equinox statement credit, up to $155 Walmart+ statement credit (subject to auto-renewal), premium car rental status 
  • Protections and insurance: Car rental loss and damage insurance, trip delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, cell phone protection

If you’re in the market for an affordable travel credit card with lots of redemption options, a sizeable welcome bonus, a handful of useful travel protections, and a decent rewards rate, look no further than the Capital One Venture Rewards card . 

This $95 annual fee card offers a flat 2x miles on every purchase, plus a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®. When you sign up for the card, you also have the potential to earn a large welcome bonus: You can earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. 

Once you’re ready to redeem your miles, you can transfer them to a travel partner, book a trip through Capital One Travel, buy gift cards, pay for purchases on PayPal or Amazon, or earn cashback in the form of a statement credit or check. 

  • Late payment: up to $40
  • Benefits: Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® credit, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel Accident Insurance, two complimentary visits per year to Capital One or Plaza Premium lounges

For more information about the Venture card, check out our review .

To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see  this page .

With the Gold Card® from American Express, you get dining perks and earn rewards on (almost) all of your food-related spending, whether it’s on grocery runs or outings at restaurants. 

Cardholders earn 4x Membership Rewards® Points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) , 4x Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on 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, and 1x points on other eligible purchases. 

And the Amex Gold Card isn’t just a good card option for foodies because of the rewards. Cardholders also get up to $120 dining credit and up to $120 Uber Cash, which can be used to cover Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. You can use the dining credit for purchases at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. 

While the card provides generous rewards and perks, it comes at a cost—the annual fee is $250, so it’s best for cardholders who think the benefits will outweigh the cost. 

  • Cash advance APR: 29.99%
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99%
  • Foreign transaction fee: 0%
  • Consumer benefits: up to $120 dining credit, up to $120 Uber Cash, baggage insurance plan, car rental loss and damage insurance

For more information about the Amex Gold, check out our review .

When it comes to travel credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a favorite amongst credit card enthusiasts because of its modest annual fee, solid welcome bonus, rewards flexibility, and decent rewards rates.

One of the major upsides of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is that cardholders get more bang for their buck when they redeem points for hotels, airfare, and more through the Chase Travel portal. When booking through the travel portal, each point is worth 1.25 cents. That means you can earn more with the welcome bonus, which is 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (that's $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).

Plus, if you want even more travel redemption options, you can transfer your points to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners. You can also use your points to buy merchandise, gift cards or purchases at Amazon and PayPal, but the redemption value may be lower than if you used your points to buy travel.

And while the Sapphire Preferred rewards rates don’t get as much attention as the rewards redemption options, cardholders still earn a high rewards rate on Lyft (through March 31, 2025), dining out and takeout, and streaming services.

  • Balance transfer APR: 21.49%–28.49% variable
  • Benefits: $50 annual ultimate rewards hotel credit, trip cancellation or interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, DashPass subscription for one year when you activate by 12/31/24, Instacart+ subscription for 6 months when you activate by July 31, 2024

For more information about the Sapphire Preferred, check out our review .

Learn More >

If you frequently fly with United, the United Explorer Card is a low-cost card option that offers valuable perks and benefits that can help you cut down on airline expenses. 

The Explorer Card has a $95 annual fee, but cardholders get their money’s worth. You and a companion can get the first checked bag for free (up to $35, each way, per person) on United Flights, United priority boarding, and a statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS every four years.

Though the rewards rates aren’t remarkable, you do earn a higher miles rate on United purchases. 

Cardholders earn 2x miles on dining (including eligible delivery services), hotel stays, and United® purchases.

And if anything goes awry when you’re traveling, Explorer cardholders can have peace of mind knowing they’re covered by multiple types of travel insurance. So if your trip is delayed or the carrier loses your luggage, you could be eligible for reimbursement.

  • Balance transfer APR: 21.99%–28.99% variable
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% variable
  • Penalty fees: late and returned payments up to $40
  • Benefits: free first checked bag (for you and a companion, up to $35 value, each way, per person); priority boarding; Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit; 2 United Club one-time lounge passes (after account opening and each anniversary); option for premier upgrades, one-year complimentary DashPass (must be activated by 12/31/24)
  • Insurance and protections: auto rental collision damage waiver, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Best travel card for hotel loyalists: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® credit card

Marriott has locations across the globe, so if you’re a frequent visitor of any of their hotels—like The Ritz Carlton or Sheraton—the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless could help you make the most of your hotel stays. 

The Bonvoy Boundless is a $95 annual fee card with a unique yet generous welcome bonus, lavish rewards, and a plethora of Marriott-specific and general travel perks and protections. We analyzed more than ten hotel credit cards, and the Bonvoy Boundless had one of the best welcome offers. 

You can earn three free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. And you’re also eligible for a free night every anniversary year—no spending required. 

Of course, the most valuable perks of the card are automatic Silver Elite status. With Silver Elite status, cardholders get priority late checkout, extra points on their Marriott stays, free wifi, and more. Plus, if you want to achieve Gold Elite status, you’ll get an initial boost of 15 elite night credits with the card. Then, you’ll only need 25 total credits to earn Gold Elite status.

  • Benefits: free night award every anniversary, 15 elite night credits annually, automatic silver elite benefits annually, path to gold status (when you spend $35,000 on purchases each calendar year)
  • Insurance and protections: baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement

Best travel card for credit building: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Secured Card

Why we like this card.

Most travel credit cards require a good credit score or better to be eligible. But if you have less than stellar credit, you can earn rewards on your spending and build your credit score with the Bank of America Travel Rewards Secured Card. 

With a secured card, you must put down a security deposit, which acts as collateral if you fail to make payments. Then, if you make payments on time and in full, you’ll be eligible to receive your security deposit back.

The security deposit also determines your credit limit—if you put down $2,000, you’ll receive a $2,000 credit limit. To open a card, you’ll need a minimum security deposit of $200 (the maximum is $5,000). 

When it comes to rewards, you won’t be raking it in, but you’ll still be scoring a modest rewards rate: Cardholders earn 1.5 points for every $1 they spend on all purchases. 

And since this is a secured card, don’t expect much in terms of perks or benefits—the card doesn’t offer a welcome bonus, a 0% intro APR period, or any type of travel insurance or protections.

  • Balance transfer APR: 28.24% variable
  • Cash advance APR: 29.24% variable for direct deposit and check and bank cash advances
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% variable 

While people use the rewards they earn from travel credit cards to book flights, hotel stays, cruises, and more, some travel credit cards also offer cardholders the ability to earn extra rewards on their travel-related spending. 

With the Citi Premier Card, cardholders earn 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotels, plus 1x points on all other purchases. The annual fee is also a reasonable $95, so it’s accessible to cardholders who might not want to splurge on a travel card.  

And if you’re planning to book any hotel stays, you’ll get a $100 annual hotel savings benefit. With the benefit, you’ll get $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more every calendar year. When you’re ready to redeem your points, there are a variety of ways you can use your ThankYou® points.

You can redeem your points for travel by transferring them to one of Citi’s airline or hotel partners or booking a trip through Citi Travel. You can also use points to shop at select retailers, buy gift cards or earn cash rewards.

  • Balance transfer APR: 21.24%–29.24% variable (for balance transfers completed within 2 months from date of account opening)
  • Penalty fees: up to $41 for late and returned payments
  • Benefits: $100 annual hotel savings benefit

If you want a travel credit card but don’t want to pay an exorbitant annual fee, consider the Wells Fargo Autograph Card. With this $0 annual fee card, you can earn rewards on everything from restaurants to transportation. 

Autograph cardholders earn 3x points on travel, gas, transit, popular streaming services, phone plans, and at restaurants, and 1x points on all other eligible purchases. So if you want to earn rewards on your daily subway commute or your Hulu subscription, you can.

This card offers stellar rewards and some solid perks: You can score a modest welcome bonus and get benefits like phone protection, which provides up to $600 of reimbursement if your phone is damaged or stolen.

Plus, if you’re planning to finance a big-ticket item and need a longer period to pay it off (without interest), the Autograph can be a solid card option because it offers a 12-month 0% intro APR period on purchases (20.24%, 25.24% or 29.99% variable APR thereafter). 

  • Balance transfer APR: 20.24%–29.99% variable, plus an intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5.
  • Penalty fee: up to $40
  • Consumer benefits: phone protection, auto rental collision damage waiver

For more information about the Autograph card, check out our review .

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a no-frills travel credit card for those who want a $0 annual fee card with a long intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers. 

Whether you need time to pay off a big purchase or you’re trying to consolidate your credit card debt, Bank of America Travel Rewards cardholders get a 0% intro APR on their first 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (these must be made within the first 60 days of opening your account). After that, 18.24% to 28.24% variable APR. 

Since this is a no-annual-fee card, you won’t get a lot of perks or protections. You will, however, get a decent rewards rate, 1.5 points on eligible purchases, and a solid welcome bonus—cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus points by making $1,000 of purchases within 90 days of account opening.

  • Balance transfer APR: 18.24%–28.24% variable, plus a fee of 3% of the amount of each transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 21.24%–29.24% variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% variable
  • Penalty fee: up to $40 for late payments

Our methodology

The Fortune Recommends TM team analyzed more than 50 travel credit cards across various issuers to come up with the top picks.

Here are the key elements we ranked each card by:

  • Annual fee: Some card issuers require cardholders to pay an annual fee for cards with rewards and extra features or benefits. For most of our rankings, we rated cards with lower or zero-dollar annual fees higher.   
  • Annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases: The APR for a credit card is the yearly cost of borrowing money from your card issuer. The APR is typically represented as a range with creditworthy customers charged a rate closer to the minimum APR. We scored cards with lower minimum and maximum APRs more favorably. 
  • Rewards: Travel cards typically provide rewards in the form of points or miles. For some rankings, we rated cards with better rewards rates higher on our list. 
  • Insurance and protections: When you use your card to make purchases, you may be eligible for different types of protections on those purchases. Some cards offer insurance on travel-related expenses, like trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and more. Some cards also provide non-travel-related reimbursements like cell phone protection. For some rankings, we rated cards higher based on the number of protections they offered.
  • Welcome bonus: When you sign up for a new credit card, you may be eligible for a one-time welcome bonus in the form of points or miles. You’ll need to spend a certain amount within a few months of card opening to earn the bonus. We ranked cards with higher bonuses and lower spending requirements higher on our list. 
  • Perks: Travel credit cards may offer a variety of perks—like statement credits for TSA PreCheck, airport lounge access, a free checked bag, and more. We rated cards with more perks higher for some of our rankings. 
  • Foreign transaction fees: Some cards charge a flat rate on purchases when you use your card abroad. We rated cards with no foreign transaction fees higher.  
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers: A 0% intro APR credit card on purchases can help you revolve your balance without interest accruing for a period of time. Some cards also provide a 0% intro APR period on balance transfers, so you won’t have to pay interest on your balance if you transfer debt from another card. Depending on the card category, we rated cards based on whether they had a 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers and the length of the APR period

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

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.

Follow Fortune Recommends on  Facebook  and  Twitter .

EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE : The advice, opinions, or rankings contained in this article are solely those of the Fortune Recommends ™ editorial team. This content has not been reviewed or endorsed by any of our affiliate partners or other third parties.

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Best Airline Credit Cards of January 2024

Some of the card offers on this site are from companies who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact where and in what order offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions, such as which card products we write about and how we evaluate them. Terms apply.

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express : Best feature: Rewards with premium cardholder benefits.
  • Discover it® Miles : Best feature: Travel rewards.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Best feature: Travel rewards with an annual travel credit.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card : <b>Best Feature:</b> 75,000-mile sign-up bonus.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card : Best feature: Travel rewards.

Airline credit cards offer some of the most lucrative rewards and perks available for frequent flyers. Annual fees can also make airline credit cards some of the most expensive rewards cards to have in your wallet. So, if you choose a card that matches your spending style, your rewards should outweigh the cost of the fee. Terms apply.

U.S. News’ Best Airline Credit Cards of January 2024

See all of our credit cards here .

On This Page

  • Best Airline Credit Cards
  • How Airline Credit Cards Work

Commonly Compared Airline Credit Cards :

Popular categories:.

best air miles travel credit card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

best air miles travel credit card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Rewards Credit Cards

Travel Credit Cards

Credit Cards With Sign-up Bonuses

How Do Airline Credit Cards Work?

When you make purchases with your credit card, you earn points or miles that can be redeemed for free flights and for many other travel-related expenses. Often, travel spending on airlines, rental cars and hotels earns bonus points. Some airline credit cards even allow for higher point valuations when points are redeemed for airline rewards.

Most airline credit cards earn at least two points or miles per dollar on airline purchases.

Many airline credit cards earn rewards that you can redeem as cash back, travel bookings or transfers to travel partners. Some airline cards have rewards you can redeem with multiple partners, such as within an airline alliance.

Sign-up bonuses worth at least $100 are common, and many cards offer sign-up bonuses worth $500 or more.

Most airline credit cards have an annual fee, but a few waive the annual fee for the first year.

Many airline cards have a minimum annual percentage rate between 15.99% and 18.99%.

In addition to earning free flights, many airline credit cards come with travel perks such as free checked baggage, priority boarding, seat upgrades, concierge services or access to members-only airport lounges.

Is an Airline Rewards Credit Card Worth It?

Before you apply for an airline credit card, take a look at this checklist to see if these cards are a good fit for you.

  • You frequently fly with the airline or plan to do so in the future. If you don't travel frequently or visit destinations served by a particular airline, a general travel rewards card may be a better choice than an airline credit card.
  • You have good or excellent credit. Airline credit cards usually require good to excellent credit. You should have a FICO credit score of at least 670 before you apply for an airline rewards credit card.
  • You can pay off your balance each month. You should be debt-free and avoid carrying a balance on your airline rewards credit card, as interest charges can quickly wipe out any rewards you earn.

How Can You Choose the Best Airline Credit Card?

Airline loyalty, spending habits and preferences are different for every traveler, so the "best airline credit card" will differ from person to person.

When you're trying to pick the best airline credit card, follow these six simple steps to evaluate each card:

1. Pick the right rewards program for you.

Co-branded airline credit cards sometimes offer the biggest benefits toward airfare and related purchases. Travel rewards cards provide broader rewards categories, but many don't offer the same level of rewards for airline-based earnings.

Co-branded cards: Airline credit cards are often called "co-branded cards" because they are tied to a particular airline, such as Delta or United, which can limit your travel options.

If you're signing up for a co-branded airline card, consider airlines with hubs at your local airport. For example, many frequent flyers in Atlanta fly with Delta because the airline has a huge hub there.

Travel rewards cards: With travel rewards cards, points or miles can be used for flights, hotels and rental cars without being restricted to a particular airline or an airline partner. They can also be redeemed for merchandise or cash back.

Take your time and decide which type of rewards will benefit you the most. The best type of credit card is the one that works best for you.

2. Calculate earning potential.

With the best rewards on airfare and related purchases made directly with the airline, co-branded airline cards promote brand loyalty.

General travel rewards credit cards often provide you with more chances to earn a higher rewards rate. They may offer broader bonus spending categories or simply earn a higher rate on all purchases.

3. Calculate sign-up bonuses and welcome offers.

Sign-up bonuses and welcome offers provide a lot of points or miles, but only after you meet certain spending requirements.

But a warning: Don't get dazzled by a fabulous sign-up bonus. Make sure the credit card is right for you, apart from the sign-up bonus. In other words, keep a cool head and choose wisely.

4. Calculate redemption value.

For most travel rewards cards, one point is equal to 1 cent. Co-branded airline cards may offer from 1 cent to 5 cents per point, depending on the flight, but it's difficult to put a consistent value on what you earn in rewards because it's always changing based on flight prices, route, availability and more.

While some airlines have a published award chart you can use to estimate value, others don't. Understanding how an airline card's point system works is an important part of selecting a credit card.

5. Subtract annual fees.

Subtract annual fees from your potential earnings to estimate the true rewards value of a card. Although a card may have annual fees, the benefits and rewards could offset those costs.

6. Understand travel benefits.

Airline rewards cards come with benefits that can be helpful for traveling and making purchases. Many travel cards offer perks, including trip cancellation or interruption insurance, auto rental insurance, lost baggage protection and no foreign transaction fees.

Airline co-branded cards typically provide more valuable cardholder benefits than general travel cards. They may offer benefits directly with the airline, which could include free checked bags, priority check-in, priority boarding, companion tickets and access to airport lounges.

How Can You Maximize Airline Rewards?

Make sure the fees are worth it. Consider your plans for using the card, earning rewards and taking advantage of benefits. If you won't use it enough to offset associated fees, the card may not be worth it.

Combine cards. If you have a general travel rewards card but often fly one airline, it may make sense to supplement with an airline credit card. Your general travel rewards card may offer better rewards on bonus categories, but your airline card will earn the most when you fly with that specific airline.

Maximize loyalty tier rewards. To do this, you have to travel as much as you can with a single airline. Keep close track of your qualifying purchases, points and flights, and find out when qualifications expire. Schedule your trips so that you can maximize earnings within the calendar year and earn a tier upgrade. You'll need to think ahead to make it work out.

Maximize bonus category returns. Understand the criteria for earning bonuses, and keep track of any promotional programs your credit card company offers. Keep in mind that bonus spending with airlines may not be limited to flights. And don't overspend to get the bonus or the rewards. Have a budget for your airline credit card and stick to it.

What Are the Perks of Owning an Airline Credit Card?

  • Earn points for travel. Rewards can be a major incentive for frequent travelers. Airline credit cards may offer bonus points for purchases with the airline, for other travel-related purchases, or on categories such as dining, entertainment and groceries.
  • Airfare discounts. Even when you're not redeeming rewards points or miles, you may still be able to use your airline card to save money.
  • Airline privileges. Many airlines offer special privileges for airline credit card holders, including free checked bags, priority boarding, discounts on in-flight purchases and seat upgrades. Your card may also get you into private airport lounges with complimentary beverages, snacks, internet access and workspaces.
  • Travel perks and protections. Many airline credit cards waive foreign transaction fees, which is important if you travel overseas. They may also offer protection for travelers including trip cancellation insurance, car rental insurance, lost baggage protection and emergency assistance.

What Are the Drawbacks of Owning an Airline Credit Card?

  • Complicated rewards structure. With airline co-branded credit cards, point valuations are fluid. Determining just how much a point or a mile is worth can sometimes be a challenge.
  • Annual fees. Many airline credit cards have annual fees, so you'll have to make sure your rewards will outweigh the cost.
  • Higher purchase and balance transfer APRs. Purchase and balance transfer APRs for airline credit cards may be higher than other types of rewards cards.
  • Credit score requirements. Airline credit cards are often reserved for consumers with at least good credit (FICO score of at least 670).
  • Restrictions on earnings. Many airline credit cards only earn bonus points or miles on purchases with a specific airline. Or some bonus categories may only earn the bonus rewards rate on a limited amount of annual purchases.
  • Restrictions on redemptions. Points or miles earned with an airline credit card may only be usable with a particular airline or with its partners. There may be blackout dates, which limit the flights you have access to as well as the dates when you can travel.

Alternatives to Airline Credit Cards

  • General travel rewards credit cards. Some of the best airline credit cards are general travel rewards cards . But there are also cards such as the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card that you can consider if you want to earn travel rewards that aren’t as focused on air travel.
  • Hotel credit cards. If your travel spending tends to focus on hotel stays, you can consider hotel credit cards . There is some overlap among the best airline, best hotel and best travel credit cards, but consumers loyal to a particular hotel chain can look into co-branded cards.
  • Airline rewards programs. You can still earn in an airline’s frequent flyer program even if you don’t have a co-branded credit card.

Best Airline Credit Cards Methodology

U.S. News has helped consumers make money decisions for decades. Our ranking of the Best Airline Credit Cards factors in overall issuer satisfaction, APR, cardholder benefits, and each card’s annual fee, foreign transaction fee and balance transfer fee. We also consider several factors related to rewards: ease and flexibility of redemption, airline rewards earning rate, rewards redemption value and sign-up bonus value. Satisfaction data is based on an annual nationwide survey.

Our top picks include both co-branded cards and general travel rewards cards, so you can find a good option whether or not you’re loyal to a particular airline. Annual fees among top airline cards range widely, so be sure to consider whether you’d get enough value from a card to make up for any annual fee. Most of the cards on our list offer a sign-up bonus. Be sure to consider whether you could unlock the extra rewards with your normal spending.

Airline Credit Cards FAQs

Is it worth getting an airline credit card.

A good airline credit card is worth it as long as the rewards you earn outweigh the annual fee.

Do Airline Credit Cards Get You Free Checked Bags?

The majority of airline credit cards come with some sort of checked bag allowance, though they are usually airline-specific cards with perks that can only be used with that brand.

Do Airline Credit Cards Typically Charge an Annual Fee?

It is common for the card issuer to charge an annual fee, but not in every case.

Are Credit Card Miles the Same As Airline Miles Bought From an Airline?

That depends on the rewards program. For example, an airline-specific card may earn miles with the same value as miles earned from that airline’s frequent flyer program. With travel cards that earn points, the point value usually varies by redemption method; using the credit card issuer’s travel-booking platform may give you more value for your points than transferring them to an airline’s frequent flyer program.

Comparative assessments and other editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

Beverly Harzog , Credit Card Expert

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What is a no-annual-fee airline credit card?

Pros and cons of an airline credit card without an annual fee, how to choose an airline credit card, how to maximize your airline credit card, alternatives to airline credit cards with no annual fee, how to apply for a credit card.

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Best Airline Credit Cards with No Annual Fee for January 2024

Earning airline miles is easy with one of these no-annual-fee credit cards..

Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson

Contributor

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and writer who covers rewards and loyalty programs, budgeting, and all things personal finance. In addition to writing for publications like Bankrate, CreditCards.com, Forbes Advisor and Investopedia, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love."

Evan Zimmer

Evan Zimmer

Staff Writer

Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.

United Gateway℠ Card

United Gateway℠ Card

Most airline credit cards offer valuable benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, discounts on flight awards or a head start toward achieving elite status. However, some cards charge an annual fee in exchange. While you’ll find the best benefits with airline credit cards that charge an annual fee, there are a few co-branded airline and general travel cards without annual fees that can still help you cut back on travel costs.

The United Gateway℠ Card from Chase is a valuable option for travelers who want to earn miles for United Airlines or other Star Alliance partners. The Star Alliance includes 26 different member airlines and flies to more than 1,200 destinations around the world.

New cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus miles when they spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. The card itself earns 2x miles on United purchases, gas station spending and on local transit and commuting, plus 1x miles on other purchases. You can even avoid interest charges on an expensive trip while you work to pay it down thanks to its introductory purchase APR. You won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees, either.

American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®

The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®* card lets members earn miles that work with American Airlines and its oneworld partners, which fly to more than 900 destinations around the world. The card starts new members off with 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit when they spend $500 on purchases within three months of account opening. In addition to American Airlines rewards, it also earns rewards at grocery stores.

Members also get 25% back on American Airlines in-flight food and beverage purchases made with this card. The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® also earns Loyalty Points that count toward American AAdvantage elite status requirements. American AAdvantage elite status benefits include complimentary upgrades for you and one companion and free checked bags, among others.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card makes it possible for cardholders to earn miles in the Delta SkyMiles program. Delta is in the SkyTeam alliance, which includes Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. This means you can earn miles with Delta and redeem them in house or with Delta’s partners to get to more than 1,050 destinations worldwide.

In addition to no annual fee, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card earns new cardholders 10,000 miles after they spend $1,000 on purchases within six months of account opening. This Delta card will reward you for eating at restaurants wherever you choose to land, and make your inflight purchases a bit less expensive with a 20% discount (in the form of a statement credit) for eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card* doesn’t earn miles within a specific program. Instead, you’ll earns miles on everyday purchases that can be used to book travel through Capital One or transferred to Capital One airline and hotel partners. Miles earned with this card can be transferred to Air France / Flying Blue, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, TAP Portugal and other programs. Capital One partners with more international partners than other issuers.

You can finance your trip and avoid interest for a period of time by using the card’s intro APR offer. Its welcome bonus is also slightly better than other cards on this list, with an overall higher payout.

An airline credit card with no annual fee is typically a co-branded credit card offered through an airline or credit card issuer, without charging a yearly fee. No-annual-fee airline cards tend to offer fewer benefits as a result. There are also general travel credit cards that aren’t tied to a specific airline brand but provide rewards for purchasing airfare.

Airline credit cards that charge annual fees tend to offer higher earning rates for spending and more perks like annual travel credits and airport lounge access. If you can take advantage of these benefits or travel frequently, an airline card with an annual fee might better fit your spending habits.

Before you pick up an airline credit card with no annual fee, you should compare it to its annual fee counterpart to determine if saving on the yearly price tag is worth fewer rewards and perks. Here are some benefits and drawbacks to weigh:

Avoid paying a yearly fee

No pressure to use your card to offset an annual fee

Earn miles with your preferred airline

Fewer perks and rewards than airline cards with an annual fee

Lower welcome offers

Choosing between airline credit cards comes down to more than just their annual fees. Consider the following as you choose a credit card that earns airline miles.

Make sure the airline card you select makes sense for your home airport and where you typically fly. This is important regardless of where you live but may be crucial if you live in an airline’s hub city and have scarce options from other airlines and alliances. 

For example, people who live in Delta hub cities like Atlanta and Minneapolis may have an overwhelming number of flight choices with Delta and SkyTeam partners and fewer options from other airlines to choose from.

Redemption options

You should also know how a card’s rewards program works and how easily you’ll be able to use your miles. You can do this by playing around with various airline’s websites and searching for flights you may want to book in the future. This can help you get an overview of typical availability and how many miles you’ll need for specific destinations.

If you’re planning to transfer points or miles to airline partners, like with the VentureOne card, check to see which airlines are partnered with the card you’re looking into. Reward transfers could increase the value of your rewards.

Airline cards with no annual fees have very few perks compared with their more expensive counterparts. If an annual fee fits into your travel budget, you can get an airline credit card with benefits like free checked bags, elite status points, early boarding on the plane, travel credits and airport lounge access.

Once you find the right airline credit card, consider these tips:

  • Be flexible with travel dates . Many frequent flyer programs limit award availability throughout the year, particularly over peak travel dates like holidays. To get more value for your miles, consider several sets of travel dates and even destinations for each trip.
  • Look for additional ways to rack up miles . Airline mile shopping portals and dining clubs may help you earn additional miles when you make eligible purchases. Just avoid overspending for the sake of earning more rewards.
  • Never carry a balance . Airline credit cards tend to have high APRs, and paying interest can typically wipe out the value of the miles you earn. You should charge only purchases you can afford to pay off quickly.
  • Take advantage of frequent flyer perks . Make sure you use any card perks, such as free checked bags and early boarding, to get the full benefit of your card. You can do this by adding your frequent flyer account number to your flight reservation each time you travel.

If an annual fee of $95 to $550 fits into your travel budget, consider an airline card with an annual fee. Those at the lower end of the scale can still come with lucrative benefits like free checked bags and discounts on award flights. Some credit cards might waive their annual fees for the first 12 months.

You can also look at general travel credit cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points or points in the Citi ThankYou program. Cards in all of these programs let you book airfare through a travel portal, and some let you transfer rewards to an array of airline and hotel partners.

If you don’t travel often enough to warrant an annual fee, a general cash-back card might work better for you.

Follow these steps to apply for an airline credit card:

  • Find out if you have a frequent flyer account : If you belong to a frequent flyer program already, you’ll have a frequent flyer number you can list on your credit card application. If not, you’ll be assigned a frequent flyer number when you apply for your card and get approved.
  • Apply for a card : Airline card applications ask for information like your full name, address, phone number, frequent flyer number, monthly housing payment, household income and Social Security number.
  • Get your card : Earn the welcome offer if you can through your normal spending and remember to pay your card bill in full and on time each month.

A co-branded credit card is a type of card that is offered through a credit card issuer and a third-party company, such as a travel brand. For example, airline credit cards are offered by issuers like American Express and Chase partnered with brands like Delta Air Lines, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus.

Annual fees may make sense if the benefits you get are worth more than the annual fee. For example, an airline credit card that charges a $95 annual fee can be a good value if you fly a few times per year and save $30 on a checked bag for you and a travel companion for each trip you take.

CNET’s pick for the best airline credit card with no annual fee is the United Gateway℠ Card. We like the card’s competitive ongoing rewards rate and welcome offer, as well as its discounts on in-flight purchases and intro APR offer.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card, click here .

* All information about the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and hasn’t been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Best credit cards for American Airlines flyers of January 2024

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The best American Airlines credit cards offer benefits for both occasional and frequent American flyers. Whether you’re looking to earn AAdvantage miles and unlock perks like lounge access and free checked luggage or seeking a more general travel card that offers flexible rewards and benefits across multiple airlines, there’s a great option for you.

Our expert team has firsthand experience with getting and utilizing the best American Airlines credit cards — so check out our analysis of the current offers below.

Why Trust Us?

At The Points Guy, our goal is to help you maximize your travel experiences while minimizing spending. Our travel and credit cards experts share their own experiences and give honest analyses to help you make decisions that benefit you the most. While we do receive compensation through our credit card application links, ads, and clearly indicated sponsored content, our editorial content , points valuations and card analysis are entirely our own.

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Since 2010, TPG has been dedicated to helping you make informed credit card and travel decisions. We know that credit card rewards can unlock travel that changes lives, and we strive every day to help our readers achieve their financial and travel goals.

In addition to credit cards expertise, we have a variety of industry experts on our editorial team to help every reader make the best travel decisions available. We believe every redemption matters, whether someone is using points and miles to take a dream trip or looking to save money on holiday travel.

As our team and library of resources has grown, so has our influence in the industry. Our TPG Awards are a badge of honor that winning banks, hotel groups and airlines all wear proudly. Our dedication to producing honest reviews and helpful content for our readers is what allows readers and companies alike to place their trust in us.

  • No Annual Fee

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

  • 4X Earn 4x AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • 1X 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

Why We Chose It

The  Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®  is best for American Airlines flyers who value lounge access. It provides a full Admirals Club membership, as well as a number of other benefits that make flying American Airlines more enjoyable, such as a free checked bag, priority check-in, priority airport screening and priority boarding privileges, along with a boost toward elite status.

  • Offers Admirals Club lounge access.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, boarding and a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions.
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit.
  • Miles redemption limited to American Airlines and its Oneworld partners.
  • 25% inflight credit doesn't include Wi-Fi.
  • Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation

Pros & Cons

More details, chase sapphire preferred® card.

  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x 3x on dining.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card .

  • You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2 points per dollar on all other travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance..
  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, and 2x on all other travel purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 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.

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full review of the Platinum Card from American Express .

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more (enrollment required).
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.
  • The $695 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards. "
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • 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 and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card®. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back in statement credits per calendar year on an Equinox membership, or an Equinox club membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. Learn more.
  • $100 Global Entry Credit: Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $300 SoulCycle At-Home Bike Credit: Get a $300 statement credit for the purchase of a SoulCycle at-home bike with your Platinum Card®. An Equinox+ subscription is required to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike and access SoulCycle content. Must charge full price of bike in one transaction. Shipping available in the contiguous U.S. only. Enrollment Required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, bonus points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card. Read our full  review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card .

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners.
  • 10 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Steep initial $550 annual fee.
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights 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
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

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Comparing the best American Airlines credit cards

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Frequently asked questions

Who should get an american airlines credit card.

I wouldn’t recommend building your entire points-earning strategy around an American Airlines cobranded credit card since having all your eggs (er, miles) in one basket is very limiting. American moved to dynamic pricing on award tickets , which has made some awards more affordable but others extremely expensive .

However, if you fly even a few times a year with American, you can save a lot of money with some of the perks provided by the cobranded cards. Perhaps the most valuable is the free checked bags. Many American Airlines cobranded cards offer free checked bags for four or even eight additional people on the reservation, making it a money saver for the whole family.

I like to think of airline credit cards as offering “elite-lite” perks, such as priority boarding and lounge access, similar to the benefits you might receive if you have elite status. If you frequently travel with American but don’t fly enough (or don’t spend enough) to earn AAdvantage elite status, these credit card perks become even more valuable.

Related: How to avoid checked bag fees

How much are AAdvantage miles worth?

In TPG’s latest monthly valuations, American Airlines AAdvantage miles are pegged at 1.77 cents each. The carrier has been rapidly expanding economy web special deals utilizing miles, which can be a steal when they line up with your needs. AAdvantage miles are worth slightly more than United (1.21 cents) and Delta (1.41 cents), partly because of the value you get redeeming them for Oneworld partner awards.

For just 70,000 miles, you can fly Cathay Pacific’s excellent business class to anywhere in Asia.  You can also fly Iberia business class to Europe for 57,500 miles and avoid some of the nasty fuel surcharges that British Airways is known for.

Can you have more than one American Airlines credit card?

Yes! That was easy.

Thankfully, unlike the very complex rules with Marriott credit cards that are issued by both American Express and Chase (also a result of a merger, in that case between SPG and Marriott), having a Citi American Airlines card doesn’t automatically impact your eligibility from getting a Barclays-issued American Airlines card, and vice versa.

Additionally, you can theoretically have more than one Citi-issued American Airlines card if you wish. For example, if you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® but decided you also wanted to get the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard for its lounge access, nothing is stopping you from having both. However, it’s important to note that you can’t get a sign-up bonus on a new card if you previously received one on that same card within the previous 48 months .

As always, read the fine print in the terms and conditions carefully, but there are ways to have more than one American Airlines branded card if you wish.

Related: Comparing Citi and Barclays American Airlines cards

More details on our best American Airlines credit cards

With 850+ mainline aircraft in its fleet flying to more than 350 destinations in 50 countries, American Airlines is the largest carrier in the world.

Heck, the name “America” is even in the airline’s name, so if you live in the U.S., the odds are high you’ve at least occasionally found yourself flying on American Airlines. 

Whether you’re an avid or occasional American Airlines flyer, it can be a good idea to strategize about having a credit card that makes flying cheaper, easier or more rewarding.

American Airlines has revamped the way flyers can earn elite status with its new “Loyalty Points” program, which not only rewards flying but other qualifying activities such as spending on co-branded credit cards and other non-flying activities. You can read more about the changes here , but essentially, you’ll earn one Loyalty Point for each qualifying AAdvantage mile earned from qualifying activities. 

Here are the elite status qualification requirements for: 

  • Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points.
  • Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points.
  • Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points.
  • Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points.

These changes are especially beneficial for co-branded cardholders, since your spend can directly help you move up the ranks of elite status. Here are the best American Airlines credit cards of 2023, and why you may want to consider applying for one, now more than ever.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

Best American Airlines cobranded credit cards

If you’re in the market for an American Airlines-issued credit card, you’ve got choices. Due to the US Airways and American Airlines merger in 2013, there are still two different banks that issue American Airlines credit cards: Citi and Barclays . This means you have more choices as an American Airlines flyer than you would as say, a United Airlines flyer, since all United credit cards are issued by Chase.

Here’s a comparison of the available Citi- and Barclays-issued American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards currently available for new sign-ups:

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, AAdvantage Aviator Red and the AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Note that these are the cards available for new customer sign-ups, but some other Barclays-issued American Airlines cards may only be available for current Aviator cardholders . Note : Bonus valuation is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here .

Those are the basics. Now here’s a closer look at the best American Airlines cobranded credit cards and what type of American Airlines flyers they serve best.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Sign-up bonus: Earn 70,000 miles after you spend $7,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $1,239.

Annual fee: $595.

Benefits: In addition to the sign-up bonus, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard comes with the following perks:

  • Full Admirals Club membership, including access privileges for authorized users to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. You are required to show a same-day boarding pass for American or a partner airline to use these lounges.
  • First checked bag free for yourself and up to eight traveling companions when traveling on a domestic American Airlines flight,
  • Priority check-in, airport screening and boarding privileges.

Who should get it: This is a card for American Airlines elite flyers — or those who fly American a lot but just not quite enough for a meaningful status level. Having this card is a lot like having elite status — without the first class upgrades.

For more information, read our AAdvantage Executive card review .

___________________________________________________________________________

Official application link: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp

Sign-up bonus: 10,000 AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $227 (including statement credit).

Annual fee: $0.

Benefits: This card rounds out Citi’s American Airlines card lineup as the no-annual-fee , entry-level option. It’s light on benefits but offers the following in addition to the current sign-up bonus:

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases — equal to a 3.54% return based on TPG valuations .
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
  • 25% savings on food and beverages on AA inflight purchases made with the MileUp card.

Who should get it: This card is good for those who want to earn American Airlines miles but absolutely don’t want an annual fee and also don’t fly American Airlines with regularity, so don’t care about waived check bag fees.

For more information, read our AAdvantage MileUp card review .

Official application link: AAdvantage MileUp .

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $885.

Annual fee: $99 (waived the first 12 months).

Benefits: In addition to the current sign-up bonus, you also receive:

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on restaurants, gas stations and on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • First bag checked free on domestic AA itineraries for yourself and up to four companions on the same reservation.
  • $125 American Airlines flight discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card year and renew your card.

Who should get it: With a lower annual fee and minimum spending requirement than some of the higher-tier American Airlines cards, such as the Executive World Elite card, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select is the best card for the casual American Airlines flyer who isn’t invested in earning elite status, but wants a better experience when flying American.

For more information, read our AAdvantage Platinum Select card review .

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and paying your annual fee, both within the first 90 days of card opening.

Bonus valuation:   $885.

Annual fee: $99.

Benefits: This Barclays-issued card offers an annual $25 annual statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases, an annual $99 companion ticket after you spend $20,000 on the card, waived check bag fees for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same American Airlines reservation, and a 25% statement credit for eligible onboard AA purchases. The category bonuses are fairly standard:

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

Who should get it: The AAdvantage Aviator Red card is a fantastic option for those who want a big sign-up bonus that can be earned after buying something as small as a pack of chewing gum. The perks are solid for the occasional American Airlines flyer.

Related: The many flavors of Barclays’ AAdvantage Aviator credit cards

AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Sign-up bonus: Earn  80,000 miles and a $95 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days.

Bonus valuation:  $1,511 (including statement credit).

Annual fee: $95.

Benefits: The AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard offers benefits that improve the business traveler experience:

  • Free checked bags for you and up to four people on the same American Airlines reservation.
  • Annual $99 companion voucher awarded after $30,000 in spending.
  • 5% bonus on American Airlines miles earned on the card each year.
  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on eligible office supply stores, telecom expenses and car rentals, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.

Who should get it: This small business card is good for frequent American Airlines travelers who want an extra push toward elite status or a chance to earn a companion certificate each year with their small business spending. The 5% annual bonus on miles earned on the card also boosts the effective earning rate above other options on this list.

Related: The best cards for each business credit card category

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

Sign-up bonus: 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening.

Bonus valuation : $1,151.

Benefits: The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard offers fewer benefits than the Barclay Aviator Business Mastercard, but small business owners will still find them valuable:

  • $99 companion certificate after you spend $30,000 or more on the card in a calendar year and renew the card (account must remain open for at least 45 days after the anniversary date).
  • 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.

Who should get it: The additional spending category bonuses on this small business card make it an attractive option for small business owners who want to earn extra American miles on various charges.

For more information, read our CitiBusiness AAdvantage card review .

Good cards for buying American Airlines tickets

You’ll earn American AAdvantage miles just about anytime you fly with a paid ticket, calculated on the base price of your ticket minus taxes and fees. The amount of miles you earn also varies based on your AAdvantage elite status . And while it can make a whole lot of sense to have and use an American Airlines cobranded credit card for your American ticket purchases, there are also situations where other credit cards may be an even better choice.

For example, if you want to earn more flexible rewards , you could pay for your American Airlines ticket with a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards , Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards Points . Consider the following cards for your American Airlines tickets, some of which carry generous built-in travel protections compared to some of the Barclays or Citi cobranded American Airlines cards.

Let’s take a closer look at these alternate options to see how well they’d work for an American traveler.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Bonus valuation: $1,200 according to TPG valuations .

Benefits: This card offers 2 points per dollar on all other travel and 3 points per dollar on dining purchases (not just American tickets) at a reasonable annual fee. The Ultimate Rewards points earned can be transferred to United, British Airways, Southwest Airlines, and several other airline and hotel programs .

You can also book flights and other travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also features primary rental car insurance and some travel and purchase protection benefits .

For more information, read our Sapphire Preferred card review .

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred .

The Platinum Card from American Express

Welcome offer: 80,000 Membership Rewards points after new cardholders spend $8,000 on purchases within six months of card membership. You may be targeted for a higher welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time).

Bonus valuation: $1,600.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees ).

Benefits: Although the Membership Rewards points earned by this card can’t be transferred to American, they can be transferred to Oneworld partners — such as British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific — along with Etihad Guest, one of American’s non-alliance partners. You can use points transferred to any of these programs to book award tickets on American-operated flights.

The Platinum Card earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on all flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), as well as prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Other cardholder benefits include an up to $200 annual statement credit toward incidental airline fees (although not airfare), monthly Uber credits , biannual Saks credits , Marriott elite status, Hilton elite status, Centurion Lounge access , Priority Pass Select membership and much more . Enrollment is required for select card benefits. For more information, read our Amex Platinum card review .

Official application link: Amex Platinum .

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Sign-up bonus: 6 0,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. 

Annual fee: $550.

Benefits: Chase Ultimate Rewards points don’t transfer to American Airlines, but you can actually use them to book American-operated flights via Ultimate Rewards transfer partners such as British Airways , starting at 7,500 Avios points each way. This card is a great choice if you’re eyeing future award travel with a diverse group of airline partners. Or if you prefer the simplicity of cash fares. You can redeem your points for 1.5 cents each for airfare, hotels, car rentals or cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal .

The Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points per dollar on all other travel purchases (excluding its $300 travel credit) and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. If you spend a lot in these two categories, you could be ready to book an award flight in no time.

The card also awards 10 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2025. Its $550 annual fee is offset by a $300 annual travel credit that is automatically applied to any eligible purchases — from airfare to hotel stays to sightseeing tours. You get lounge access through Priority Pass Select membership , plus excellent travel protections if you put the airfare or the taxes and fees on award flights on your card.

Here’s an example of how using a card like this to book a flight resulted in Chase picking up the tab for a $1,000 last-minute hotel when flights were canceled.

For more information, read our Sapphire Reserve card review .

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve .

Bottom line

When travel is more normal, deciding which American Airlines credit card is best comes down to how often you fly the carrier, how much you value lounge access, whether you need help achieving elite status and what other cards you have in your wallet.

For most occasional American Airlines flyers, the Aviator Red is the way to go. The card provides a sizable 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after you hit the spending requirements to boost your account from the beginning and some nice perks like your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries.

For those who want Admirals Club access, you may prefer the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard , while if you have a small business, the answer on which is best will be different.

Then there’s also option B: Get a more flexible travel card. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express awards 5 points per dollar spent on American Airlines ticket purchases (made directly with the airline) and includes Priority Pass access. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another great choice for travelers who want some built-in travel protections and bonus points without being locked into earning miles with American Airlines.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here .

Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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INSIDER

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of January 2024

O ur experts answer readers' credit card questions and write unbiased product reviews ( here's how we assess credit cards ). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners ; however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

Foreign transaction fees are some of the most irritating charges associated with credit cards. They punish you, often to the tune of 3%, for spending your money outside the US. Whenever you travel abroad, you may be subject to foreign transaction fees. Luckily, plenty of the best credit cards don't charge pesky foreign transaction fees. 

Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee in January 2024

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card : Best travel card with an annual fee under $100
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Best premium travel card
  • Discover it® Cash Back : Best with no annual fee
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express : Best premium card with the most benefits
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card : Best card with the simplest reward structure

Below, you'll find some of our favorite rewards credit cards without foreign transaction fees, with an emphasis on travel rewards credit cards that offer bonus points and miles for airfare, hotels, and more.

Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees

Chase sapphire preferred® card - product name only.

One of the most popular and recommended travel rewards credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards ® points per dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2025, 2x points on all other travel purchases, including internationally, and 3x points on dining.

Dining includes things like restaurants, bars, pubs, coffee shops, and more, while travel includes airfare, hotels, Airbnb, taxis, rideshare services like Uber, subways, and more. Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review

Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Product Name Only

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is essentially a beefed-up version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, with a higher annual fee and a few key differences.

You get a $300 travel statement credit each cardmember year to cover your first $300 of travel charges, and a higher earning rate of 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after earning the $300 travel credit) and 3x points on other travel and dining (plus 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2025 and 1 point per dollar on everything else).

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a welcome bonus of Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Reserve cardholders can now activate a complimentary two-year Lyft Pink All Access membership (value of $199 per year) for discount pricing, priority pickup, unlimited rides, and more. And with the card, you can access the new Chase Sapphire Terrace at Austin Airport (AUS).

As with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® got a refresh, with improved or new bonus categories and benefits like access to the new Chase Sapphire Lounges at Hong Kong airport (HKG) and Boston (BOS), with more locations to come. As a Visa Infinite card, it offers top-notch travel insurance and purchase protection as well.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review

Discover it® Cash Back - Product Name Only

The Discover it® Cash Back earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter in bonus categories once activated (then 1%) Discover It Cashback rotation. There's no traditional welcome bonus; instead, Discover will match all the rewards you earn after the first year. Along with no foreign transaction fees, Discover cards do not charge an annual fee.

Discover it Cash Back Card Review

The Platinum Card® from American Express - Product Name Only

Platinum Card® from American Express is more or less the flagship premium travel card and one of the best metal credit cards , offering rewards, perks, and benefits that can net a ton of value for cardholders — whether you're traveling or staying close to home. You can more than offset the card's $550 annual fee if even a handful of card perks fit into your normal spending habits.

Platinum Card® from American Express has no foreign transaction fees and earns 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline and through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 

There's also an excellent welcome offer: 60,000 points after your spend at least $5,000 in your first 3 months of account opening.

You'll also get up to a $200 annual airline incidental fee credit **, up to $200 in Uber credits (including Uber Eats)** each year ($15 each month, plus a bonus of $20 in December), access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world, complimentary hotel elite status with Hilton and Marriott**, and up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits per year**.

American Express Platinum Card Review

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - Product Name Only

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another great option without foreign transaction fees and with an annual fee under $100, especially because you can transfer Capital One miles to various airline and hotel programs with an improved 1:1 ratio for most partners.

The card earns 2 miles per dollar on most purchases (along with 5 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through the Capital One Travel Portal) — the simplest rewards structure among travel credit cards. You can also redeem Capital One miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each toward travel purchases made with your card, without having to worry about award charts and blackout dates.

Capital One also issues the premium Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card that comes with upscale perks like travel credits and airport lounge access, with a Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card annual fee (Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card - Rates and Fees - Editorial Name Only). It also waives foreign transaction fees.

Capital One Venture Card Review

Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees Frequently Asked Questions

How do foreign transaction fees work.

When you're using a credit card that charges a foreign transaction fee and you make a purchase abroad, you'll be charged an extra fee, as a percentage of your purchase amount. The fee is generally 3% of your purchase, and it will be added to your monthly bill.  

Your foreign transaction fee may be broken down into two parts: a fee charged by the payment network (as in Visa or Mastercard) and a fee charged by your credit card company.

Do foreign transaction fees apply online?

In addition to applying to purchases you make while traveling abroad, a foreign transaction fee could be charged when you purchase from a vendor that's based outside of your home country. If you're shopping with a retailer or travel company based abroad, your best bet is to pay with a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees just to be safe.

Should I pay in local currency or US dollars with my credit card when traveling?

Some merchants may offer the option to pay in local currency or your home currency when you use your credit card for a purchase. You should always pay in local currency because merchants can give a conversion rate much lower than the market exchange rate. Therefore, local currency rates will be closer to the actual market rate.

Plus, if you pay in US dollars, you'll typically be charged an additional fee (usually around 3%) from Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), which is an unaffiliated third-party service that converts transactions to your home currency. 

Why Trust Us: How We Chose the Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees

Virtually all of the best travel rewards credit cards waive foreign transaction fees by this point, so for this guide, we focused on narrowing it down to the best options in a variety of categories. We drew heavily from our editors' expertise and the input of experts, as quoted in our guide to the best rewards credit cards , to come up with this list of the most popular categories of cards. 

You'll find a top pick for cash back, a top pick for travel rewards (in two different budget categories), our top airline credit card options, and more.

You can learn more about how we rate credit cards at Personal Finance Insider.

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of January 2024

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How to Think About Airline Elite Status in 2024

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

2023 was a turbulent year for airline elite status. A few major airlines announced significant loyalty program changes — many of which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. In most cases, it’s made a more challenging path with higher spending requirements to earn airline elite status.

Some of the most notable and drastic shifts happened to the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles loyalty program. In September, the airline announced it would award Medallion elite status solely based on spending and limit Delta Sky Club access for many customers starting in 2024. The updates were so drastic that Delta walked back some of its most controversial changes, including reducing the spending requirement to earn status.

Other airlines have made minor loyalty program modifications:

Frontier Airlines overhauled its loyalty program to align status earning with dollar spending rather than based on physical miles flown. This kicked in with the new year. 

Southwest Airlines made it easier to earn elite status in 2024 by reducing the number of flights needed to earn status.

As of March 2024, Alaska Airlines will simplify partner redemptions based on distance and cabin. According to Alaska Airlines, more than 60% of partner nonstop routes will start at a lower price point (but that implies others will become more expensive).

American Airlines made some changes in 2024, including adding new earning and redemption opportunities. It’ll also soon offer one-day lounge passes for sale.

In short, airline mileage programs widely vary. A mile with one airline is not worth the same as a mile in another, and status tiers differ among the airlines. NerdWallet compared the value of airline elite status programs to determine which ones offer the best value and ultimately find the best airline rewards program for 2024 .

Which airline program provides the most value?

NerdWallet’s analysis focuses on elite status perks that offer concrete value, such as bonus rewards, seat upgrades and free checked bags. We compared these values against the spending needed to earn each status level. That indicates which elite programs truly offer excellent value per dollar spent.

To generate a single number to compare loyalty programs, we calculate an “effective rewards rate,” which accounts for the value of the benefits you receive relative to the amount you already spent with the airline.

There’s variation across airline loyalty programs, but the average return across all programs is 6.28% in value per dollar spent, meaning you’d get an average of a little over $6 per $100 spent.

Alaska’s rewards program stands out at the top end with its 9.7% rate — the equivalent of earning nearly $10 in value for every $100 spent. Hawaiian Airlines, which in December announced plans to merge with Alaska, isn't far behind with an 8.89% earning rate.

Frontier and Spirit Airlines trail far behind with paltry 3.92% and 3.45% rewards rates, respectively.

Understand what status is worth

Some programs slap labels like “Gold” and “Platinum” on benefits that hardly sparkle, so be skeptical of chasing titles that sound fancy but ultimately offer mediocre benefits.

A-List Preferred is the highest level of status with Southwest, but its value is low, with no option for premium class seats or airport lounges. You’d have to spend an estimated $14,400 to earn A-List Preferred (though you could get it for less if you fly a lot of low-cost flight segments), yet NerdWallet values its benefits at less than $1,400. Don’t try too hard to chase Southwest status.

Meanwhile, the top tiers at Alaska, Hawaiian, United Airlines and American Airlines mean something. With Alaska MVP Gold 100K , you’ll receive nearly $9,000 in value with the first-class upgrades, free checked bags and lounge passes. Earning it requires an estimated $12,000 in Alaska spending, translating to a roughly 73% rewards rate.

Earning United Premier 1K status is neither cheap nor easy, as you’ll have to spend an estimated $30,000 with United for the honor. But NerdWallet values the benefits (which include instant premium cabin upgrades and priority check-in) at nearly $19,000, offering a 64% return.

Look for promotions

You can sometimes find limited-time promotions with easier routes to earning elite status. For example, United MileagePlus is currently running a Premier Status Match Challenge through the end of 2024.

Leverage airline credit cards

Some airline credit cards help you qualify for elite status by earning points at a faster rate.

If you’re chasing elite status for benefits like free checked bags, Wi-Fi or early boarding, many airline credit cards offer those perks without awarding you elite status.

How to approach airline elite status in 2024

As more airlines tie elite status to spending, it can feel like the value of your loyalty has taken a nosedive, especially if you previously earned status through low-cost flights. On the other hand, some high rollers are rejoicing. After all, a higher threshold to earn status only makes it more valuable for folks who have it through reduced competition for seat upgrades or fewer people overcrowding airport lounges.

However, having elite status is only part of the reason to pick which airline to fly. Sometimes elite status can be more limiting than freeing, as you might be more inclined to fly at an inconvenient time or book a more expensive flight just to flex your benefits.

By leveraging credit card bonuses, seeking targeted promotions and being open-minded to the best flight rather than one operated by the brand you have status with, you can maximize the value of your travel.

Not to mention, airfares have dropped over the past year despite inflation affecting most other sectors. Some experts expect airfares to continue dropping. According to American Express Global Business Travel’s 2024 Air Monitor report, economy class flights from North America to Europe are expected to drop by 3.5% versus their 2023 prices, while those to Asia are expected to drop by 7.5%.

For price-conscious consumers, that might be a better trade anyway.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-6.5% Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

$300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. 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.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

best air miles travel credit card

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COMMENTS

  1. Best Travel Credit Cards of January 2024

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    Best for foreign airline miles: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Best for businesses: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express * Best for no annual fee: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card How to get started with travel points and airline miles Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card © The Points Guy

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    Best travel card for foodies: American Express® Gold Card. Best starter travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred ® Card. Best travel card for airline loyalists: United SM Explorer Card. Best travel ...

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  14. How to pick the right travel credit card for you

    Since cobranded cards help you earn rewards within a specific travel program, they're best suited for frequent travelers loyal to a particular brand, like United Airlines or Marriott. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY. General travel rewards credit cards allow you to earn rewards within a credit card rewards program with various redemption options.

  15. Best Airline Credit Cards with No Annual Fee for January 2024

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  21. Best credit cards for American Airlines flyers of January 2024

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