If you’re a passionate traveler or a digital nomad, travel rewards credit cards are a great way to earn free flights and other perks. But some people are intimidated by the idea of navigating through offers, hidden fees, and complex rules.
As a result, they hold on to their debit card for dear life and use it for everything. Playing it safe won’t get you the fantastic benefits that come with choosing the best credit card with travel rewards.
Fortunately, there is a way to be a better and wiser traveler. In this article, you’ll learn what you need to know about travel rewards credit cards. Also, I’ll suggest seven excellent travel credit cards to consider for your next trip.
What Are Travel Rewards Exactly?
Each time you use your travel credit card for eligible purchases, you earn specific rewards. Essentially, these benefits come in the form of points or miles. The more you use your travel credit card, the more rewards you’ll collect.
Once you’ve acquired enough rewards, it’s easy to use them for airfare tickets, hotels, and other travel-related bonuses. Hence, travel rewards credit cards are not for everyone.
If you don’t often travel for leisure or business, then you probably don’t need it. However, online business owners, remote workers, and savvy travelers should always have at least one travel credit card on hand.
How Do Points and Miles Work?
The travel points system is easy to understand. For every dollar you spend, you gain a specific number of points. Sometimes that means one point per one dollar, but not always.
The type of travel credit card and type of purchase are essential factors. For example, travel rewards credit cards might bring one point per eligible purchase. But, deliver double the points when you book a hotel.
In most cases, travel credit cards are partnered with famous hotel chains and the credit card will carry the brand of both companies.
Take how Marriott partners up with Alaskan Airlines or Delta Airlines with American Express. Often, partnered travel rewards credit cards earn even more points at specific venues.
Alternatively, miles are a type of travel reward you can earn by using an airline credit card. Similar to travel points, travel miles credit cards earn rewards for the money users spend on eligible purchases. Most miles credit cards are branded, but there are a few non-branded options on the market.
How to Choose the Right Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Once you realize that a travel credit card can transform the way you travel, it’s go time. But it’s not enough to simply do the research – you need to know how to choose.
Several crucial factors should guide your decision process. If you want to find the best travel rewards credit cards for travelers, consider these features.
An Excellent Welcome Offer Is a Must
Unquestionably, the best travel cards will come with a fantastic introductory offer. Typically, you’ll also have the minimum spending requirement for the first few months of use. If the rewards are outstanding, you might even have the chance to purchase a free flight right away.
Even though the standard offers will differ, the general range is somewhere between 40,000 – 60,000 points. Occasionally, you might even receive 100,000 signing points attached to a single minimum purchase. This is enough miles for a free round-trip domestic flight, and even an international flight in some cases. Miles are a great way to take long international trips – which leads to additional perks. For example, if you have a first class or business class international flight, you can stay in the airport lounges for no additional cost. Using these bonus miles I’ve been able to travel to multiple continents.
Additional Spending Bonus Matters
One point per dollar is the standard offer. But the best travel reward credit cards also have special bonuses. If you shop at specific retailers, for example, you earn extra points.
When it’s a brand you already use, then you’ll likely earn many travel rewards fast. Without the spending bonuses, it might take way too long to get enough points to actually use them.
Keep an Eye on the Travel Perks
Traveling is amazing, but it can often be quite exhausting too. For more comfortable experiences, travel perks are the way to go.
That’s why it’s vital to look for travel credit cards that have excellent loyalty programs or other awesome bonuses. The right travel credit card can give you lounge access or free checked baggage services.
If you’re not looking forward to standing in the line at the airport, priority boarding is something you might earn. Let’s not forget about perks such as free hotel stays, no foreign transaction fees, and so much more.
Watch Out for the Annual Fees
No one enjoys paying a credit card fee every year. Unfortunately, most branded travel rewards credit cards do require cardholders to pay an annual fee.
Some premium travel credit cards might even charge over $500 in annual fees. It’s up to you to decide if their services are worth the price.
On the other hand, the average range is between $50-$100 a year. You should be able to get an excellent rewards scheme for your buck, plus excellent travel offers and protection.
Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Now that you have a better sense of what travel credit cards can do for you, let’s examine the options. You’ll quickly notice that there are a lot of choices in the travel credit card industry.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
This is one of the best travel rewards credit cards for online business owners as well as enthusiastic travelers. If you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months, you’ll earn an impressive 60,000 points.
Furthermore, you get a $300 Annual Travel Credit in reimbursements for travel expenses. Soon after you earn your travel credit, you get to earn 3X points on travel. If you use Lyft services frequently, every dollar you spend comes with additional seven points.
- Excellent welcome bonus
- Unlimited 3X points on travel and dining
- Special benefits for using Lyft
- Annual travel credit
- Access to 1,300 airport lounges worldwide
- $550 annual fee
- Large minimum spending requirement
Citi Prestige Card
Citi Prestige is one of the best travel cards out there for travelers looking to earn airline miles. If you choose this travel credit card, you’ll get 50,000 Thank You points immediately.
However, strings are attached, and you’ll need to spend at least $4,000 in the first three months to use them.
This bonus translates into $850, which isn’t the greatest but still pretty decent. Every calendar year, you also get up to $250 travel credit for various purchases.
- 5X earnings at travel agencies and restaurants
- Priority Pass Select membership
- 2X fourth-night-free awards per year
- Excellent travel credit bonus
- $495 annual fee
Capital One Venture Card
If travel miles are the most important reward of all, the Capital One Venture card is the right pick. You can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles.
But only if you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first year of holding the card. In case that turns out to be too much, you can still earn 50,000 miles.
All you have to do is spend $3,000 in the first three months on eligible purchases—no need to worry about miles expiring either. You can keep them on your account for life, and there is no limit to how much you can earn.
- 100,000-mile bonus
- Miles do not expire
- Low annual fee ($95)
- No foreign transaction fees
- High spending minimum
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Travel rewards credit cards for remote workers and online business owners should earn hotel points first and foremost. Those flying for business likely spend a lot of time in hotels, so they might as well make the most of it.
By signing up for this card, you will earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you spend $1,000 on purchases. On top of that, you can get 50,000 more points after you spend an additional $5,000 on the next six months.
- No annual fee
- No foreign transactions fee
- Excellent perks for purchases at Hilton hotels
- Great for business travelers
- Not ideal option for vacations
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
Delta Airlines and American Express are a match made in heaven. You get a limited-time offer of 90,000 bonus miles. It’s an excellent offer, but you have to spend $3,000 in three months to use the miles.
You can earn 3X the miles with purchases made directly with hotels and restaurants too. Also, you get a domestic main cabin round-trip when you choose to renew your card. Plus, the annual fee of $250 is mid-range, considering all the perks.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free first checked bag
- An accelerated path to Medallion Status
- Priority boarding for you and a companion
- Expensive airport lounge access
Business Platinum Card From American Express
There are many lucrative benefits to Business Platinum from American Express. For example, you get 100,000 membership reward points in the first three months.
Undoubtedly, the $15,000 minimum spending required sounds shockingly high, but only at first glance. For small business owners who need to travel a lot for work, this is an excellent opportunity.
You will earn up to 5X rewards points on prepaid hotels and flights. Furthermore, you’ll get half an extra point for every dollar spent.
- Up to $200 in annual Dell credits
- Easy access to Global Lounge Collection
- 35% airline bonus redemption
- Elite status in Marriott and Hilton hotels
- $595 annual fee
- Authorized user fee
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Hyatt isn’t as big of a name as some of its competitors. However, it’s still a worthy contender in the category of best travel rewards credit cards for digital nomads and travelers.
The rewards rate varies. You may earn one point per one dollar you spend on some purchases. But also get nine points per dollar if you buy in Hyatt hotels. The introductory offer is not impressive but relatively decent.
You get automatic 30,000 reward points if you spend $3,000 in three months. Although, you can earn an additional 30,000 if you focus on purchases that bring more points in the first six months.
- $95 annual fee
- Free night at Hyatt every year
- Automatic Hyatt elite status
- Ideal for business travelers
- Fewer hotels than some competitors
Pick Your Winning Travel Credit Card and Pack Your Bags
The best travel rewards credit cards market truly holds excellent choices for frequent travelers. For the most part, you’ll have to pay some annual fees to get the best service. The initial rewards are essential, but they won’t matter much if you can’t spend the minimum purchases.
Also, the process of choosing the best card will heavily depend on your needs. Do you mostly travel for business or leisure?
Earning hotel points, for example, will be less important to those only staying in rentals. Others who depend on hotel accommodations for business purposes need an excellent travel credit card to earn points. In any case, the travel credit cards we’ve talked about are great options in so many ways.