Rewards credit cards continue to be very popular today, especially travel rewards credit cards. After all, who doesn’t love getting extra perks to travel! Let’s look at the best travel rewards credit cards today.
If you’re looking for a new credit card, you’ve come to the right place. As soon as the global pandemic is over, travel will come back with a vengeance as demand is currently being suppressed.
Today we are ranking the latest top 3 card offerings in this best travel rewards credit cards review and highlighting important features to make your decision easier.
Financial Samurai is the most popular personal finance blog today, and our product reviews are easy to read, informative, and designed to help you make well informed financial decisions for financial success. Let’s get started.
What To Look For In Travel Rewards Credit Cards
One reason travel rewards credit cards are a wiser choice for travel lovers compared to cash back credit cards is you can get more bounce for the ounce.
In other words, while cash back credit cards may offer more reward flexibility, travel credit card rewards tend to be bigger. For every dollar you spend with a travel rewards credit card, you can get more value for your money when you redeem for travel (hotels, flights, car rentals, etc).
Alluring Introductory Offers – One of the best features of travel rewards credit cards is the incentive bonus typically offered when you first become a cardmember. Popular bonus offers include miles or points towards travel.
The catch is you’ll likely need to spend a specified dollar amount or more in order to qualify for introductory offers. And you’ll have to spend that amount by a specific deadline too, usually within the first few months of being a new cardmember.
Cards with steep spending requirements are great if you have large upcoming expenses or the financial means to afford a splurge. Otherwise, consider a travel rewards credit card with an introductory offer that has a low spending requirement that fits comfortably within your budget.
Ways To Redeem Rewards – Pay attention to how a travel reward credit card’s rewards system is setup. The most common ways to redeem rewards are either by:
- Earning points or miles that you can redeem for travel expenses like airfare and lodging offered through the card’s rewards portal or
- Paying off travel-related expenses you’ve charged to your card with the points or miles that you’ve accumulated through the card’s rewards program.
Annual Fee – Many travel rewards credit cards have an annual fee. Occasionally, you can find one that waives the fee in the first year or doesn’t have any annual fees with lower bonuses and rewards.
If you plan to sign up for a card that has an annual fee, run some numbers first and check if your anticipated annual spending will more than cover the cost of that annual fee with the rewards you’d receive.
Many cardholders earn enough rewards to easily cover the cost of annual fees under $100. But please beware of cards with 3-figure annual fees. I’ve seen some that charge $450-550 a year – that’s ridiculous; steer clear of those unless the rewards more than make up for the cost.
Waived Foreign Transaction Fees – Do you like to travel overseas? Did you know that some credit cards will charge you foreign transaction fees every time your credit card is used outside the US? Fortunately most travel rewards credit cards have zero or waived foreign transaction fees. This is an important feature that can add up to a lot of savings.
Top 3 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards Review
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This popular travel rewards card waives its annual fee for the first year and offers flexible 2X miles rewards on every purchase. I’ve partnered with Capital One on several occasions and have always been pleased with their product offerings and customer service.
- Earn a 100,000-mile bonus when you spend $20,000 within the first 12 months of membership. Or, earn 50,000 miles (equals $500 travel) if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
- Earn unlimited 2X miles fast on every purchase you make
- Transfer miles to any of Venture’s 10+ travel partners
- No foreign transaction fees
- No limit on how many miles you can earn
- Rewards don’t expire for the life of the account
- Get up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
- Built-in coverage and purchase protections
Learn more in our Capital One Venture credit card review.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
I’ve been a happy Chase customer and cardmember for over 10 years. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is another popular choice among travel rewards credit cards.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That equates to $750 in travel rewards when you book in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
- Receive a $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. This is free money that knocks down the fee just for having the card.
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning the $300 travel credit
- 3X points on eligible dining at restaurants and delivery/takeout
- 1X points per every $1 you spend on everything else
- $550 Annual Fee. See note above annual travel credit.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Features of the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card:
- Great cash back percentage: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- Annual fee: $0
- Sign up bonus: Get a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
- Bonus cash back categories: 5% cash back on travel purchased in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3% cash back dining at restaurants and eligible delivery/takeout, 3% cash back on eligible drugstore purchases.
- Rewards expiration: None as long as your account is open.
- Credit score needed: good to excellent
Read More About Credit Cards
Want more helpful guides on Credit Cards? Here are just a few recommendations for further reading.
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About the Author: Sam worked in investment banking for 13 years at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34. This is due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. His main passive income focus is on real estate crowdfunding. He spends time playing tennis and taking care of his family.
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