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.
The best travel cards offer rewards on everything from airfare and hotel stays to dining and other everyday purchases. They have good intro bonuses that allow you to quickly rack up miles or points, and flexible redemption options. Frequent travelers can find the benefits save them money and time—plus offer them luxurious experiences—making these cards worth a look.
3 Partner Offers
Best for Global Entry and TSA Precheck: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another flat-rate travel rewards card. Using the card, you can earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every eligible purchase. You can then redeem your points to book travel or pay for recent travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent each.
Additionally, you can transfer your points to one of Capital One's travel partners. Transferring points and then booking a rewards flight or hotel stay sometimes requires fewer points than paying for travel directly with points—especially for luxury bookings. But check the transfer rate, redemption requirement and current prices to see which option will be best.
While there's a $95 annual fee, there's no foreign transaction fee and you get up to a $100 credit to pay for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership. It's one of the cards with the lowest annual fee that also offers this type of credit, making it a good option if you want to benefit from shorter waits at the airport.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
2x Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- 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®
- Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options
- Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
- Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
- No foreign transaction fees
Best for Dining: American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card offers big rewards on dining and supermarket purchases, with flexible redemption options. Unlike typical credit cards, the American Express® Gold Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
The card has a $250 annual fee, but there's no foreign transaction fee and you get $10 in statement credits each month for purchases on Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and at participating partners (enrollment required). Plus, if you link your card to your Uber account, you can get $10 in Uber Cash each month.
Using the card, you can earn 4 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and on up to $25,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets each year. You can also get 3 points per dollar on flights you book directly with an airline or on AmexTravel.com, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. Terms apply.
The Membership Rewards points' value depends, in part, on how you redeem the points. Using them to book travel or transferring them to one of the American Express travel partners are some of the best options.
Best for No Annual Fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card could be a good pick for people who want to earn travel rewards but don't want to pay an annual fee.
Using the card, you can earn an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase. The flat-rate travel rewards program is easy to keep track of, and you can redeem your points for statement credits to pay for travel and dining purchases. There's also no foreign transaction fee on international purchases.
Current Bank of America Preferred Rewards members may find the card even more appealing as it's part of the Preferred Rewards program. As a member, you may be able to earn a 25% to 75% bonus (up to 2.62 points per dollar) based on your combined balance in Bank of America deposit and Merrill investment accounts.
Who Should Apply for a Travel Card?
A general travel credit card may be best for people who travel a lot or have a specific high-end trip in mind. Many of the cards can help you save money or make the experience more luxurious. However, you may also need good to excellent credit to qualify for the best travel credit cards.
How to Choose a Travel Card
Before applying for a new travel credit card, consider how you plan to use the card and your travel plans for the coming years. To make general comparisons, consider the cards' annual fees, cardholder benefits, bonus rewards categories and reward program rules.
For example, if there's a good intro offer, try to make sure you can meet the spending requirement without overspending. Or, if the card has a high annual fee, consider whether its money- or time-saving benefits will more than offset the fee based on your usage.
If you tend to stick with a single airline or hotel chain, you might want to consider a co-branded airline or hotel card instead of a general travel card. You'll be more limited in how you can use the rewards miles or points—but co-branded cards might offer higher rewards rates and additional brand-specific benefits, such as free checked bags or status in loyalty programs.
How to Make the Most of Travel Credit Cards
Once you've got your new travel credit card, consider how you can use it to get the most benefits. The big things to look for are:
- Meet the spending requirement for the intro offer (if there is one) before the deadline.
- Remember which categories offer bonus rewards and try to use your travel card for those purchases.
- Compare redemption options and see which give you the best value for your rewards. With travel cards, it's often best to redeem for travel bookings or transfer your rewards to partner travel companies.
- Review the cardholder benefits and see if you need to activate certain perks—such as a complimentary Priority Pass membership.
- Learn about the purchase-related benefits, which may include travel and purchase protections.
If your card has an annual fee, you may also want to set a calendar reminder for next year. As your anniversary date approaches, review how you used the card and decide whether it's worth keeping the card.
Check Your Travel Card Offers
Before applying for a travel credit card, you can use the Experian CreditMatch™ credit card marketplace to filter and compare cards from our partners. If you create or log in to your Experian account, you can also get personalized offers based on your unique credit profile (not available in certain states).