/ 14 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for November 2021

14 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for November 2021

Author: Greg Johnson   Last Updated: November 22, 2021

Looking for the best travel credit card of 2021? We’ve got your back!

Whether you want to travel the world for pennies on the dollar, need a card without foreign transaction fees, or are looking for some sweet perks and benefits, the best credit cards for travel can help.

Below, you’ll find our list of the 14 best travel rewards credit cards this year.  We’ve reviewed each card’s most important benefits, explained how you can use them to earn points and miles, and listed dozens of other perks you might like. We’ve also reviewed their annual fees and answered other concerns you might have.

Thanks so much for your support! Enjoy the list and happy travels!

(Disclosure: Club Thrifty has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. If you apply for a card using our links, Club Thrifty and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Read our full disclosure statement here.)

14 Best Travel Credit Cards of 2021

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for Beginners

image of Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

If you’re new to travel credit cards and don’t know where to start, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

This is by far our favorite rewards card to recommend because the points are so versatile. It also carries a smaller annual fee than many premium cards. So, if you don’t have it yet, we think this is the top rewards card for beginners, period.

Here’s a quick rundown of the top Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits:

  • Welcome Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of opening the account
  • Signup bonus worth $750 in travel when booked through Chase portal
  • Points transfer 1:1 to over a dozen partner loyalty programs
  • [New] Earn 5x points on travel purchased through Chase portal
  • [New] Earn 3x points on dining
  • Earn 2x points on other travel purchases
  • Pay Yourself Back: Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for statement credits on existing purchases in rotating categories
  • [New] $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel credit
  • Earn 5x points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • Complimentary primary auto rental coverage
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No blackout dates or restrictions
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Learn how to apply here

Currently, you can earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account. Those points are worth $750 in travel when booked through the Chase portal.

If you don’t want to use the points for travel (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t!), you can also redeem them for cash or turn them in for a gift card instead. Right now, your points also go 25% further using Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature. Simply redeem your points for existing purchases in rotating categories and save!

So, why is this our favorite travel rewards card for beginners? We’re glad you asked!

As we mentioned above, this is a great way to earn our favorite rewards of all – Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These points transfer at a 1 to 1 ratio to over a dozen of the world’s top airline and hotel brands – including Marriott, IHG, Hyatt, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Air France/KLM (Flying Blue), JetBlue, and more.

Pretty sweet, right?!?

Just so you know, we’ve transferred points to several of these partners, and it always works like a charm. The $95 annual fee is also reasonable and the points you’ll earn the first year more than cover the cost of carrying the card.

So, if you’re new to points and miles and want to get the most bang for your buck, we highly recommend making the Chase Sapphire Preferred the first card in your wallet!

Read our full review | Learn how to apply

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for Simplicity

image of capital one venture card

Looking for a travel card that offers simple ways to redeem your points while still providing a ton of value? The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card may be a great match!

With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn 60,000 points when you make $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account. You can redeem those points for a statement credit worth $600 toward travel expenses.

Here are some more of the card’s top benefits:

  • Welcome Bonus: 60,000 points for making $3,000 in purchases within 3 months
  • Welcome offer worth $600 statement credit toward travel
  • Points transfer to over 15 travel partners
  • Earns 5 points per dollar on hotel and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earns 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck
  • Points can be used with any airline or hotel; no blackouts or restrictions
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Learn how to apply here

We love how flexible the Capital One Venture Rewards Card is. After earning your points, simply use your card to make a travel purchase. Then, redeem your points as a credit for any travel brand, any time.

Along with all the other Venture Card benefits, Capital One recently took this card to the next level with the addition of travel partners. You can now transfer points to over 10 different travel partners for even more possible value.

So, if you love versatility, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card definitely deserves your consideration.

Read our full review | Learn how to apply here

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Excellent Premium Benefits

Amex Platinum Card

When it comes to best credit cards for premium travel benefits, it is hard to beat The Platinum Card® from American Express!

This card offers a whole host of awesome (and expensive) benefits, including:

  • Welcome Offer: 100,000 points after making $6,000 in purchases the first 6 months
  • 10x points on $25,000 in combined spending at restaurants around the world and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S. (first 6 months)
  • $200 hotel statement credit each year for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection
  • $200 airline fee statement credit each year at one qualifying airline
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (basic card member only)
  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year)
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel
  • Access to “Global Lounge Collection”
  • Complimentary benefits at Fine Hotels & Resorts ($550 avg. value)
  • Terms apply
  • Annual Fee: $695 (See Rates and Fees.)
  • Learn more about this card here

In addition to the fact that this card earns a boatload of Amex Membership Rewards (our second favorite type of travel rewards), it also comes with some very nice benefits. Our favorites are the hotel credit, the airline fee credit, and the airport lounge access!

Unfortunately, the $695 annual fee is probably going to scare some people off – and for good reason. Some of the credits are extremely specific, and some come with a monthly allowance. With that said, if you travel a lot, the credits and benefits offered by the Amex Platinum Card are likely enough to be worth the fee. Terms apply.

Read our full review | Learn how to apply here

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: Best for Frequent Travelers

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

If you travel frequently, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is definitely a card you should consider. Overall, we rate it as the best travel credit card on the market…with a few caveats, of course.

Here’s a look at some of the top Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits:

  • Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points when spending $4,000 in the first 3 months ($750 value)
  • $300 annual travel credit (also good for gas stations and grocery stores through December 2021)
  • Earns 10x points on hotels and rental cars and 5x points on air travel purchased through Chase portal (after first $300 spent on travel annually)
  • Earns 3x points on dining and other travel purchases
  • Get 50% more value on travel through Chase portal
  • Free Priority Pass Select membership to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide
  • Up to $100 application fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck
  • Earn 10x points on Lyft rides
  • Complimentary Lyft Pink membership for 1-year (15% off rides)
  • Complimentary DashPass subscription (includes free delivery on orders $12+)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Learn how to apply here

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a 50,000 point signup bonus when you spend $4,000 during the first 3 months you have the card. Because your Chase points are worth 50% more through the Chase portal, this card’s signup bonus is also worth $750 toward travel.

Like the Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also offers important travel protections – including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary rental car insurance, and more. Additionally, the card offers no foreign transaction fees, up to a $100 application fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and a whopping $300 annual statement credit you can use toward travel expenses. The travel credit can also be used on spending at grocery stores and gas stations until December 31, 2021.

You’ll also get 10x points earned on Lyft rides, a complimentary Lyft Pink membership, and a complimentary DashPass membership. With the Lyft Pink membership, you’ll get 15% off Lyft rides and other perks. The DashPass membership from DoorDash waives delivery fees on orders of $12 or more. If you use either of these companies, those are some pretty nice benefits.

The biggest drawback is obviously the $550 annual fee. With that said, the annual $300 travel credit effectively makes that fee just $250. So, if you travel a lot, you’ll likely get the rest back through the card’s lounge access, additional earning potential, complimentary memberships, and more.

Read our full review | Learn how to apply

Citi Premier Card: Best for Citi ThankYou Points

Offering a big signup bonus and access to the Citi ThankYou Points program, the Citi Premier Card remains one of the best credit cards for travel on the market.

Want to know more? Here’s a list of some of the card’s top benefits:

  • Welcome Bonus: 80,000 points when you make $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 3x points on travel/gas stations
  • 3x points at restaurants/supermarkets
  • 1x points on everything else
  • Points transfer 1:1 to participating airline programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Learn more about this card here

Although Citi ThankYou Points aren’t nearly as valuable as they used to be, they can still be transferred to over 15 airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. You can also redeem your 80,000 bonus points for $800 in gift cards when purchased through the Citi ThankYou Center.

The Citi Premier Card does come with a $95 annual fee, which is certainly manageable. It is also why we’d choose this card over the more expensive Citi Prestige Card.

So, while there are other cards on this list we’d try first, the Citi Premier is still a card to keep on your radar.

Read our review full review | Learn how to apply

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card: Best for Cheap Flights

Picture of Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

One of the best travel credit cards for getting cheap flights is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card.

Southwest Airlines has long been known for its discount flights, and – by earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points – you can make those flights even cheaper. If you’re on a budget, it’s a great option to fly either domestically or to several spots in the Caribbean. In case you missed it, they’ve also added flights to Hawaii, making it a more affordable vacation idea for budget-conscious travelers.

The Southwest Visa Card comes in several different variations, but we think the best value for most travelers is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card because it has the lowest annual fee. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Welcome Bonus: Up to 100,000 points – 50,000 for spending $2,000 within the first 3 months; additional 50,000 for spending $12,000 in the first 12 months
  • 2x points on Southwest purchases
  • 3,000 bonus points on your card anniversary
  • Earn points toward Southwest Companion Pass
  • No seat restrictions or blackout dates
  • Annual Fee: $69
  • Learn how to apply here

Although some of the other Southwest Visa cards come with bigger benefits, they also come with higher annual fees. Most importantly, all the consumer cards typically offer the same welcome bonus, which is why we tend to like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card over the others.

Unlike some airline cards, the amount of points you’ll use to book a flight with Southwest is based on the actual fare price. So, if you find flights on sale, it takes fewer points to book the flight. This might not seem like a big deal, but once you’ve tried other airline programs, you’ll realize why it’s such a nice perk.

Read our full review | Learn how to apply

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Great for Delta

get the Delta Gold Skymiles card

If you are looking for a good airline credit card that offers travel miles, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card fits the bill. Here’s a look at what it offers:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 40,000 miles after making $1,000 in purchases the first three months
  • Earn up to $50 in statement credits for eligible U.S. restaurant purchases during first three months
  • $100 Delta Flight Credit when you spend $10,000 on card in calendar year
  • 2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets
  • 1x miles on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free
  • Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding
  • Terms apply
  • Annual Fee: $0 for first year, $99 after that (See Rates and Fees)

As with many of the best travel rewards credit cards, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card offers a nice welcome offer for meeting a relatively small minimum spending requirement. With this card, you’ll also earn 2x miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants, and at U.S. supermarkets; you’ll earn 1x miles on everything else. Additionally, you’ll earn a $100 Delta Flight Credit when you make $10,000 in purchases during a calendar year. 

Of course, when you fly with Delta, this card offers some pretty nice perks too. You’ll enjoy one complimentary checked bag and priority boarding, which is always nice.

Although other Delta credit cards come with high annual fees, the Delta Gold offers a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year. After that, the card costs just $99 a year to keep it. Of course, if you spend $10,000 in a calendar year, the $100 Delta Flight Credit covers the annual fee.

So, if you’re planning an international or domestic trip with Delta, this is one card you don’t want to miss. Terms apply.

Read our full review | Learn how to apply here

United Explorer Card: Best for United Airlines

image of the united explorer credit card

Are you a frequent traveler with United Airlines? If so, the United Explorer Card may be one of the best travel rewards credit cards for you.

Let’s take a peek at what it offers:

  • Signup Bonus: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
  • 2x miles on United purchases, dining (and eligible delivery services), and hotel stays
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck Credit (up to $100)
  • 25% back on inflight purchases (United flights)
  • First checked bag is free
  • Priority boarding
  • 2 one-time passes each year to United Club airport lounge
  • Annual Fee: $95, waived first year
  • Learn how to apply

The United Explorer Card currently offers a signup bonus of 60,000 miles. Just spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months that your account is open and you’re good to go. Not bad, right? 

As a United Airlines customer, you’ll also enjoy getting your first bag checked free when you use your card to purchase tickets. Additionally, the card provides priority boarding access, two one-time passes each year to the United Club airport lounge, and a credit of up to $100 when use your card to apply for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

To top it off, the card comes with an introductory annual fee of $0. After that, it adjusts to a reasonable $95 a year. So, if you regularly fly with United, this could be a nice card to add to your wallet.

United Explorer Card: Learn How to Apply

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: Best for Admirals Club

image of Citi AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard

If you’re somebody who flies a lot with American Airlines, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is definitely a card you should consider. Whether you travel domestically or internationally, this card offers some great perks to frequent flyers.

Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Signup Bonus: 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Admirals Club membership and complimentary lounge access
  • First bag checked free for you and up to 8 companions
  • 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, 1x miles on everything else
  • 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles after making $40,000 in purchases annually
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450

In addition to the huge signup bonus, the biggest benefit to this card is access to the Admirals Club. If you’re a frequent flyer, you already know how cozy these lounges can be. They also provide snacks and drinks, so it could end up saving you money on food.

With that said, the obvious elephant in the room is the $450 annual fee. That’s a pretty hefty fee to pay for an airline card, especially when you can get the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard for a lot less. Of course, that card doesn’t come with lounge access, so you’ll have to decide how important that perk is to you.

If you like the extra perks and want to fly in style, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard may be the best travel credit card for you.

Learn how to apply

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best for Marriott Stays

image of the marriott bonvoy boundless credit card

For years, Marriott has offered one of the best hotel loyalty programs around. The program has several credit card offerings available, but the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is our favorite of the bunch.

Here are a few of its highlights:

  • Signup Bonus: 3 free nights (up to 50,000 points each) after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • Additional Bonus: Earn 10x points on the first $2,500 in combined spending at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores for the first 6 months
  • Free night award (up to 35,000 points) each year on your account anniversary
  • Up to 17x points on spending at over 7,000 Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2x points on other purchases
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits every calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Learn how to apply

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is offering 3 free nights (valued at up to 50,000 points each) when you make $3,000 in purchases the first 3 months after opening your account. That is a huge bonus and makes this card one of our favorites!

Additionally, during the first 6 months you have the card, you’ll earn 10x points on the first $2,500 in combined spending at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.

You’ll also earn up to 17x points for spending at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2x points on other purchases. With the card, you’ll be granted Silver Elite Status and can reach Gold Status if you spend $35K on the card each year.

Finally, each year on your account anniversary, you’ll earn a “free night award.” Use this award and stay for free at Marriott properties around the world (35,000 point/night max). How sweet is that?

If you’re looking for a solid hotel card with great benefits and a huge signup bonus, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card definitely deserves a look!

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Learn How to Apply

Hilton Honors American Express Card: Great for Occasional Hilton Stays

Are you looking for a good co-branded hotel card that earns Hilton Honors points and can help you stay for less? Consider applying for the Hilton Honors American Express Card!

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months; Earn an additional 50,000 bonus points after making $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months
  • Earns 7x points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • Earns 5x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • Earns 3x points on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver Status
  • Eligible for Hilton Gold Status after spending $20,000 in calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply
  • Annual Fee: $0 (See Rates and Fees)
  • Learn how to apply

Right now, this card offers a hefty welcome bonus of up to 130,000 Hilton Honors points – 80,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months your account is open and an additional 50,000 bonus points for making $5,000 in purchases during the first 6 months.

You also earn a sweet 7 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases, while spending at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations will net you a nifty 5 points per dollar. All other purchases are worth 3 points per dollar.

Keep in mind, Hilton offers a robust rewards program with several credit card options to choose from. While an argument could be made for any of these cards, if you only stay with Hilton occasionally, we’ll give a very slight nod to the Hilton Honors American Express Card.

Although the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card come heavier on the benefits, they also carry annual fees. Sure, the Hilton Honors American Express Card won’t automatically upgrade you to Hilton Diamond or Gold Status, but you won’t have to drop an arm and a leg on an annual fee either.

If you regularly stay with Hilton, the Aspire or Surpass card may be a better fit. For the rest of us, Hilton Honors American Express Card and its $0 annual fee is often the better value. Terms apply.

Learn how to apply here

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG Hotels

IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card

If you’re a fan of IHG hotels – like Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Intercontinental, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, and more – the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card may be for you!

IHG has over 5,500 hotels located around the world, and this card is a great way to earn tons of points toward free stays. Here’s a quick look at what this card has to offer:

  • Signup Bonus: 150,000 points after making $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • Free award night on your cardmember anniversary
  • Free award night when you use points to stay for 4 nights or longer
  • Up to 25x points at IHG hotels
  • 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants; 1x point on other purchases
  • Complimentary Platinum Elite Status
  • Up to $100 credit toward Global Entry/TSA Precheck every 4 years
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $89
  • Learn how to apply

Te IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is offering a 150,000 point signup bonus with $3,000 minimum spending requirement to meet in the first 3 months. So, if you’ve been considering this card, now is the time to get it.

The IHG Rewards Club Premier still comes with an annual “Free Night” award, although IHG has decreased its value in recent years. In the past, we used this award night at the Holiday Inn Montego Bay. Unfortunately, that hotel no longer meets the 40,000 point per night qualification.

With that said, this is still a pretty good card to have. When you book with points, you still get a free night on stays of four nights or more. You also get complimentary Platinum Elite Status and up to $100 in credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees. Spending on the card also earns a decent return, especially on IHG hotel stays.

Although it can’t go pound for pound with the very best travel credit cards, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is a solid way to earn free and reduced stays at IHG properties. Since Chase points also transfer to IHG, consider using this card in combination with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve to get the most value.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Learn How to Apply

Chase Ink Business Preferred: Best Travel Credit Card for Business

Do you own a business? If so, you can earn even more points and miles with a business credit card.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred is our top travel rewards credit card for businesses. You’ll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to any of Chase’s travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Let’s take a look at the card’s key features:

  • Signup Bonus: 100,000 points after making $15,000 in purchases over the first 3 months
  • Redeem your bonus points for $1,250 in travel through Chase portal
  • 3x points on first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories
  • Unlimited 1x points on all other spending
  • Points worth 25% more when used through portal
  • Employee cards at no cost
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Learn how to apply

Let’s start with the biggie: You can earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $15,000 in the first 3 months your account is open. That’s worth a whopping $1,250 in travel when you redeem those points through the Chase portal!

Additionally, you’ll earn 3x points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business expenses. So, what are those expenses? If you use the card for shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone, or advertising on social media or search engines, you could be earning a ton of points!

So, if you’re looking for the best travel rewards card for your business, look no further than the Chase Ink Business Preferred. It’s the card we use and the first one we recommend to our fellow business owners.

Read our full review | Learn how to apply

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Excellent Premium Business Benefits

Amex Platinum Business Card image

If you’re looking for a business card with all the bells and whistles, the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is an excellent travel credit card for you.

Like the personal version of the card, this card is packed with premium benefits that you’re bound to love. Here’s a quick look at some of the top features:

  • Welcome Offer: 120,000 Membership Rewards points after making at least $15,000 in qualified purchases the first 3 months
  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels through Amex portal
  • Earns 1.5x points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1M points/year)
  • Get 35% of points back when used to pay for flights (up to 500K/year)
  • Access to Global Lounge Collection
  • Up to $400 annual credit with Dell (terms apply)
  • Up to $179 annual credit toward CLEAR (enrollment required)
  • Terms apply
  • Annual Fee: $595 ($695 if application received on or after 01/13/22) (See Rates and Fees)
  • Learn how to apply

The Amex Business Platinum Card offers a welcome bonus of up to 120,000 points. Simply make at least $15,000 in qualified purchases during the first three months you have the card, and you’re good to go.

Of course, there is  lot more about this card that you’ll like as well – including the 5x points you’ll earn on prepaid hotels and flights booked through the Amex portal.

When you fly, you’ll also get complimentary entry to their Global Lounge Collection, which is pretty sweet. You can also get up to $179 reimbursed through a statement credit when you use your card to enroll in CLEAR. Where available, this program helps you move quicker through security lines at airports, stadiums, and more. There’s also an annual credit of up to $400 that you can use toward computer costs with Dell. Terms apply.

Although the Business Platinum Card from American Express comes with a pretty large annual fee, the benefits may outweigh the cost. Compare it with other business cards by using the link below.

Learn how to apply

Best Travel Credit Cards: Final Thoughts

Whether you want to explore the sites in London or book a trip to Disney World, the best travel rewards credit cards can help you do it for less. Many of these cards earn points and miles with some of the world’s top airline and hotel loyalty programs. Others let you to take a travel statement credit, allowing you to travel with any brand you choose.

Even better, some cards provide more than just free travel. Select travel rewards cards earn special perks like free checked bags, airport lounge access, and credits toward Global Entry and TSA Precheck applications. Some cards even come with important protections like travel insurance and rental car coverage.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page! We’ll continue to update this list with the most current information and more of the best travel rewards credit cards when they become available.

Best Travel Credit Cards Pin - picture of airplane on runway

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best travel credit cards for 2021! Again, we’d really appreciate your support by using our affiliate links to apply. Thanks for reading, and happy traveling!

> Compare all the best travel credit cards here

(Disclosure: Club Thrifty has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. If you apply for a card using our links, Club Thrifty and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Read our full disclosure statement here.)

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FAQs


How does a travel credit card work?

A travel rewards credit card earns points (a.k.a. miles) every time you use the card to make a purchase. These points can be redeemed at a later date to pay for various travel expenses. This may include airfare, hotel stays, car rental fees, excursions, and more. In some cases, your points and miles may also be redeemable for cash or gift cards.

To earn points, simply make a purchase using your card. Typically, you’ll earn about one point per dollar spent, although several cards provide additional points for spending within certain categories (like travel). Many cards also offer bonus points to new members who meet certain spending requirements.


How do I choose the best travel credit card?


Not all travel rewards cards are a good fit for every traveler. The best travel credit card for you depends entirely on your own particular situation and travel goals.

For example, if you are partial to a certain airline or hotel, grabbing their co-branded credit card may provide valuable benefits you’d be able to enjoy by frequenting that brand. On the other hand, if you aren’t brand loyal, choosing a travel credit card that offers flexible points may be a better fit.


How much is a point or mile worth on a travel credit card?


The value of points and miles varies by the card you use and the way in which your points are redeemed. Because of this, it is always important to compare apples to apples when choosing a travel rewards credit card.

In general, the best travel credit cards offer point values that average between one and two cents per point. Depending on how you redeem your points, you may be able to obtain more or less value from them.


What kinds of travel rewards credit cards are there?


There are two basic types of travel rewards cards to be aware of – each with their pros and cons.

Co-branded travel credit cards earn points and miles for use with a single brand. They may also provide cardholders with certain perks while frequenting the brand. Examples of co-branded cards include the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card.

Flexible travel rewards credit cards earn points and miles that can be used across multiple brands. In some cases, you may redeem your points in the form of a statement credit. Other cards let you to transfer points to partner loyalty programs, allowing you to stretch your point values even further. Examples of flexible rewards cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Amex Platinum, and Capital One Venture Rewards cards.


What credit score do I need to get the best travel credit cards?


To qualify for the best travel rewards cards, you’ll need a credit score in the good to excellent range. Typically, this means having a credit score of at least 700 or more – although this does not guarantee that you’ll be approved.

To see rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, use the following links: American Express Platinum Card: See Rates and Fees; Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card: See Rates and Fees; Hilton Honors American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; The Business Platinum Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees.