6 Travel Credit Cards for US Residents That'll Help You See the World for Free
Make Money to Travel
The rewards and bonuses provided by certain credit cards can help you take to the skies and enjoy more holidays around the world. While there are plenty of ways to travel for free, let’s look at how you can make it happen by picking the best travel rewards credit card for you.
Choosing a Travel Rewards Credit Card
There are many kinds of travel rewards credit cards, and they all have perks that might suit different travel aspirations. Along with the benefits, cards also each have a certain set of drawbacks — these could be the costs and fees involved in having the card, the value in terms of return after the amount spent, or restrictions that limit how, when, and where you can take advantage of the rewards, so it’s always worth weighing up both the pros and cons.
Other factors to take into account include the types of purchases you are most likely to make with your credit card, how much you spend, and whether or not you prefer to stick with a particular airline when you travel. Ease of redemption, partnerships and card acceptance can also influence your decision when choosing your travel rewards credit card.
That sounds like a lot to unravel, and it is. To make things a little simpler, we’ve put together this list of the best credit cards for travel rewards.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The main benefit of this rewards card is its flexibility. You’ll earn two miles for every $1 that you spend, and you can use your rewards to book travel with any airline or hotel — you’re not limited like you would be with co-branded cards.
This might not be so beneficial if you are loyal to one particular airline though, as there are no airline-specific perks like extra baggage allowances. You can, however, also redeem miles for extras such as taxi fares and cruises.
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Perfectly cut out for maximizing travel rewards, this credit card is ideal for anyone who frequently uses their card for dining or travel. You’ll earn two points for every dollar spent on — surprise — dining and travel, and one point per dollar for all other purchases.
When you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, travel points are worth 25% more, or alternatively you can swap them with other rewards programs for a 1:1 rate. In terms of earning and redeeming rewards, this is one of the most flexible cards you’ll find.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards
An annual fee of exactly $0 makes this an attractive rewards card. As well as what you save on fees, you’ll be able to enjoy earning one and a half points for every dollar spent, which is a great rate considering you can redeem your rewards for credit against travel purchases.
This allows you to book with any airline or hotel chain, and you can use your points for credit for up to 12 months after those purchases. One major downside to the card though is a relatively low signup bonus — so this may be best for people who are already with Bank of America.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
This card by American Express is a top choice for hotel stays. You can get up to five Starpoints for every dollar you spend at certain SPG locations, as well as two Starpoints for every dollar spent with Marriott, and one point per dollar on everything else you use the card for.
Redeeming points accumulated on hotel stays is the best way to get the maximum benefit out of this rewards program, but you can also transfer them to various frequent flyer programs to take advantage of rewards flights as well. Obviously this card is fairly limited in that it doesn’t offer great rewards unless you regularly stay at Starwood hotels.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
For big spenders, this is one of the best travel rewards cards out there. It’s notable for its simple earning structure and easy redemption. The high rewards can be earned on all purchases, with a generous two miles for every $1 you spend with it.
The annual fee of $89 is waived for the first year and you’ll get 5% of your miles back each time you redeem them. That means that if you redeem 40,000 miles for travel you’ll get back 2,000 as a bonus. There are also no foreign transaction fees for purchases made abroad which is handy for keen travelers (and spenders).
As an added bonus, check out our top pick for the best travel reward card in Canada:
The American Express® Gold Rewards Card
The American Express® Gold rewards card is head and shoulders above other cards in Canada. It offers unparalleled flexibility and exceptional rewards value, ticking all the boxes for keen travelers.
You’ll earn double points on all travel-related expenses such as transport, accommodation and tour operator fees, plus, as a welcome bonus, you’ll automatically be credited 25,000 rewards points and have the first year’s fee waived when you sign up. When it comes to using your points, you can convert them to Aeroplan or British Airways AVIOS at a rate of 1:1, and use points to book cruises.
Naturally, with any kind of credit card it’s important to pay off the balance each month in order to get the most out of it. Incurring large amounts of interest could negate any of the great travel perks the card comes with, so be careful to read the fine print carefully and consider whether or not this is a commitment that will suit your lifestyle before you sign up.
If keeping on top of your credit card balance isn’t a problem for you then you don’t need to hesitate — pick the card that suits you best and leap right into the world of free travel and irresistible rewards.