At Experian, one of our priorities is consumer credit and finance education. This post may contain links and references to one or more of our partners, but we provide an objective view to help you make the best decisions. For more information, see our Editorial Policy.
Taking a road trip is more than hopping in your car and seeing where the highway takes you. You'll want to plan ahead, make a budget, and be sure you're carrying a credit card that earns rewards or scores you discounts on your travels. The best credit cards for road trips can save you money on gas, earn bonus points on expenses like groceries and dining, and even insure you against accidents if you rent a car. Here are five of the best credit cards for road trips, and when you might want to use each.
3 Partner Offers
Best for No Annual Fee: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Of course, one of the major expenses of a road trip is gas, so you want to be sure you have a card you can maximize at the pump.
What sets this card apart from the other best credit cards for gas is that it earns 3% cash back in the category of your choice from a list that may include gas and EV charging stations, dining, travel, drugstores, online shopping, cable/internet/phone plans/streaming, home improvement and furnishings, as well as 2% automatic cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, up to $2,500 in combined spending quarterly. It earns 1% back on all other purchases.
The downside is that there are so many 3% categories to choose from that gas might not be the best one for you. Plus, there's a $2,500 cap in the bonus categories, which might hamstring you. That said, for a card with no annual fee, this is still a strong earner.
Best for Fair Credit: Credit One Bank American Express® Card for Rebuilding Credit
If you're trying to raise your credit score, this could be the card for you. Unlike many other rewards credit cards, this one has lower credit score requirements, so you may qualify with poor or fair credit.
You earn 1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services. Terms apply.
As this card is for folks who might need to improve their creditworthiness, there is a high APR, so it's best to apply for it if you know you'll be able to pay your balances in full and on time every month. There is a $75 annual fee your first year, then it bumps up to $99 which is billed monthly at $8.25.
Credit One Bank American Express® Card for Rebuilding Credit
Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services, terms apply
$75 First year. $99 thereafter, billed monthly at $8.25
- Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services, terms apply
- With $0 Fraud Liability, you won't be responsibe for unauthorized charges
- Retail Protection covers you if an eligible item is accidentally damaged or stolen, terms apply
- Get deals on shopping, dining travel, and entertainment through Amex Offers
- Enjoy exclusive access to pre-sale tickets for some of the hottest nationwide concerts and events
- Know you're covered when the unexpected happens while traveling with Travel Accident Insurance, terms apply
- If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
Best for Everything Else: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Simple to earn, simple to redeem—what more do you need?
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 5 miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases. Each mile is then worth one cent when you redeem it for purchases made through Capital One Travel, or toward travel purchases made elsewhere with your card recently.
The card's annual fee is $95, but earning enough rewards with this card could potentially offset this cost completely.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
2x Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, 5x Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
2x Miles on All Purchases
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
- 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
What's a Road Trip Credit Card?
You might have heard of airline and hotel credit cards, and cash back cards, but there's no specific category of "road trip credit cards." That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of options you can maximize on your next extended drive, though.
The credit card or cards you tote along on your trip should include perks you can take advantage of both at home and on the road. Those might include extra rewards on gas and dining purchases, statement credits that save you money on your trip expenses, and even roadside assistance to help with a tow if you run into trouble.
What Are the Benefits of a Road Trip Credit Card?
Many rewards cards offer benefits that can come in handy on a road trip. Among the ones to look out for include the following.
Bonus Earning Opportunities
Make sure any card you pack on your road trip will earn bonus points or cash back on the things you're likely to buy.
Discounts and Statement Credits
Certain rewards cards offer statement credits toward travel purchases that can save you money on a road trip.
Auto Rental Insurance
If you plan to rent a car for your trip, it pays to use a credit card with rental car insurance. Keep in mind that cards may have some limitations, such as a maximum rental period or the exclusion for certain types of vehicles, such as exotic or commercial ones.
Certain cards may offer roadside dispatch assistance, including a flat fee for towing up to a certain distance, tire changing, jump starting, lockout service, fuel delivery and more.
How to Choose the Best Credit Card for a Road Trip
Which credit card is best for a road trip will depend on what your plans are and your financial outlook. Here is what you need to think about as you choose a card.
Consider the Annual Fee and APR
It's not worth signing up for a credit card with a high annual fee if you're not sure whether you will be able to get more value from its benefits year after year, so keep that dollar amount in mind.
If you plan to carry a balance, or need to transfer a balance from another card, look at whether the credit cards you're considering offer attractive introductory financing, such as 0% intro APR on purchases or balance transfers for the first year to 21 months. By taking advantage of such terms, you can avoid paying interest and late fees on purchases, or make headway in paying down debt from other cards you might have. Just beware, balance transfer fees are usually around 3% to 5% of the transfer amount or $5, whichever is greater.
Check the Score Requirements
Many of the best travel rewards cards are geared toward consumers with high credit scores. So before you apply for a new card, double-check whether your credit score is within the right range for it by reviewing your Experian credit report and your FICO® Score☉ with a free Experian CreditWorksSM account.
Finally, make sure you're getting the best deal on a new card by comparing offers currently available through a service like Experian CreditMatch™, and then apply for the card whose benefits most closely match your needs.
Although there are no road-trip-specific credit cards, many of the best rewards cards offer several perks you can maximize on road trips. Look for cards that earn bonus points on purchases like gas and dining, and at the higher end, those that include statement credits toward a variety of expenses such as parking and tolls. It also pays to use a card that extends insurance on car rentals if that's the route you intend to go. By maximizing a credit card on a road trip, you can rake in rewards and perks that you might even be able to put to use on your next journey out on the open road.