If you’re someone who loves to explore new horizons while maximizing your rewards, you’re in the right place. With an abundance of credit cards promising enticing benefits, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect one that suits your travel aspirations and preferences. Fear not, for we have done the research for you. Whether you dream of luxurious hotel stays, discounted airfare, or unforgettable experiences, this comprehensive guide will give you what we think are the top 3 travel credit cards.
Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Luxury cards often advertise themselves with every perk imaginable, but sometimes a card without that high price tag can provide even more. In exchange for a $95 annual fee, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers amazing reward points, no foreign fees, and major travel protections.
One of the most appealing aspects of this card is its generous rewards program. For every dollar spent on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you earn a whopping five points. This includes a wide array of travel expenses, such as airline purchases, hotel stays, rental cars, cruises, and even parking. Additionally, you’ll receive two points for each dollar spent on other travel-related expenses. This means that your everyday travel spending can quickly accumulate into significant rewards.
What sets the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card apart from other travel rewards cards is the redemption value of your points. Instead of the usual one cent per point rate, each point is worth 1.25 cents when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means that for every $100 worth of points you redeem, you receive an extra $25.
To further elevate your travel experience, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides an annual $50 hotel credit for reservations made through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This credit can be applied towards your hotel stays, allowing you to save money and enjoy more comfortable accommodations during your trips.
In terms of airline and hotel partnerships, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers an impressive lineup. With 14 airline and hotel partners, you have the flexibility to transfer your points at a 1:1 value. This means that you can maximize your rewards by redeeming points for flights or hotel stays with renowned partners like Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott Bonvoy, among others.
This card is perfect for international travelers because it offers no foreign transaction fees. It also offers travel protection and rental car coverage.
Lastly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers reimbursement for baggage delays. If your luggage is delayed for more than six hours, you can receive up to $100 per day for a maximum of five days. This benefit ensures that you are not left empty-handed while waiting for your belongings to arrive.
It is always important to read the fine print on the Card’s website, however, the general consensus from reviewers on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is that there are three main downsides. Firstly, there is an annual fee, while it may be smaller than its competitors, it is still present. The second complaint is that there is no intro APR offer. Lastly, a general complaint for some is that the best travel rates are only for bookings directly through Chase.
Runner Up: American Express Platinum Card
Luxury comes at a cost, the original premium travel card comes with a variety of perks for those who live high end lifestyles. From hundreds of dollars a year in travel benefits to up 5 points per dollar on certain expenses the American Express Platinum Card is only the runner up due to its $695 annual fee.
First and foremost, the American Express Platinum Card offers an impressive rewards program tailored specifically for travel enthusiasts. For every dollar spent directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, you earn a remarkable five Membership Rewards points, up to $500,000 per year. This means that your airline purchases are generously rewarded, allowing you to accumulate points quickly. Additionally, the card provides five points per dollar on prepaid hotel bookings made with American Express Travel, further enhancing your rewards potential.
In line with its premium status, the American Express Platinum Card waives foreign transaction fees. Beyond rewarding your travel expenses, the American Express Platinum Card offers an annual $200 credit for hotel bookings made through American Express Travel. Additionally, the card provides a $200 annual credit for Uber rides, allowing you to enjoy convenient transportation while saving money.
The American Express Platinum Card goes above and beyond in providing benefits tailored to frequent travelers. It offers a $200 annual credit for airline incidental fees, covering expenses such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments. Furthermore, the card provides a fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, allowing you to breeze through security and customs with ease. One of the most coveted perks of the American Express Platinum Card is airport lounge access. Cardholders can enjoy the luxurious comforts of Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying with Delta), and Priority Pass Select lounges.
For those seeking unparalleled luxury, the American Express Platinum Card grants access to over 1,100 properties from 69 prestigious brands through the Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection. With renowned names such as Four Seasons, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, and Waldorf Astoria, you can indulge in exceptional accommodations and exclusive benefits during your travels.
When it comes to international airline partnerships, the American Express Platinum Card has forged connections with a comprehensive range of carriers. These partners include AirEuropa, AeroMexico, Asiana Airlines, Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Delta, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines, KLM, Latam, Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, and Virgin Atlantic. This extensive network provides you with flexibility and convenience when redeeming your points for flights with partner airlines.
The American Express Platinum Card is all about luxury and therefore most of the complaints are surrounding the steep cost of the annual fee. Another point many reviewers have disliked was its complicated and intricate rewards system. It isn’t always as see-through as some of its competitors. Finally, while it isn’t a full con for the card it may be a fact that turns many away from the card. Those who want to qualify for the American Express Platinum Card must have good to excellent credit.
Best For Earning Miles: Capital One Venture Rewards
If you’re in search of a travel rewards credit card that offers exceptional value without breaking the bank, look no further than the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. With its attractive rewards program and enticing benefits, this card proves that you don’t need to pay a hefty annual fee to enjoy substantial travel rewards.
To kickstart your rewards journey, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers an impressive one-time bonus of 75,000 miles. To earn this bonus, you simply need to spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. These 75,000 miles are equivalent to $750 in travel, providing a significant boost to your travel budget right from the start.
When it comes to earning ongoing rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card continues to impress. For every dollar spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel, you earn a generous five miles. This means that your travel expenses can quickly accumulate into substantial rewards, allowing you to stretch your travel budget even further.
For jet-setters who frequently embark on international adventures, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card eliminates foreign transaction fees. This feature ensures that you can make purchases abroad without incurring additional charges, making it an ideal companion for globetrotters.
To enhance your travel experiences and expedite your journey through airport security, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides up to a $100 credit for the application fee of either Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
Despite its modest annual fee of $95, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers a compelling array of benefits and rewards. From the generous one-time bonus to the ongoing five miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals, this card ensures that you can maximize your rewards while keeping costs manageable.
The biggest downside for travelers, especially those who travel frequently in the US, is that Capital One Rewards do not include any major US airline. It also includes an annual fee for transfer ratios that are often less than 1:1.
No Annual Fees: BILT Rewards Mastercard
When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard stands out as an exceptional option that offers significant benefits without an annual fee. While its main selling point isn’t often travel, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard offers pretty decent awards for frequent travelers.
In terms of travel benefits, cardholders earn 2 points per dollar on all travel related purchases. The Bilt Rewards Mastercard allows you to transfer points to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. This means that you can convert your points into airline miles or hotel loyalty points with popular partners such as American Airlines, Air Canada, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and IHG. This flexibility gives you the freedom to redeem your points for flights or hotel stays with your preferred travel brands.
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard also offers trip cancellation/interruption protection. When you pay for travel with the card and experience a covered reason that leads to trip cancellation or interruption, you can receive up to $5,000 in reimbursement. This added protection provides peace of mind, ensuring that you are financially safeguarded against unforeseen circumstances.
With its attractive rewards program, ability to transfer points to travel partners, and trip cancellation/interruption protection, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard proves that you don’t need to pay an annual fee to enjoy valuable travel benefits. This card is a smart choice for those looking to earn rewards on their everyday purchases while gaining access to travel perks without breaking the bank.
Since the Bilt Rewards Mastercard isn’t advertised as a travel card, many reviewers say that rewards outside of rent are relatively low compared to its competitors. Another thing some dislike is the requirement to have 5 transactions per month. As well as the lack of a welcome bonus.
The Wrap Up
Ultimately, the best travel credit card for you will depend on your individual travel preferences, spending habits, and desired rewards. Consider your priorities, whether it’s luxury, convenience, or affordability, and weigh the benefits and features of each card against your travel goals.
If you have questions, contact Paragon today!