Best credit cards for travel in 2020

Choose the perfect companion for your travels.

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Whether you often travel for vacation, work, or to see loved ones, there are plenty of travel rewards cards on the market that can make the experience more pleasant and cost-effective. After all, it can feel very nice to book a trip entirely on points earned or to use your card to get into a nice, relaxing airport lounge. In order to find you the best travel cards, we spent hundreds of hours comparing available options based on factors like reward earning options, quantity and quality of travel perks, welcome offers, annual fees and many others.

Learn about your options to make a more informed decision before jetting off into the sunset.

The best travel credit cards

The world of travel credit cards is ultra-competitive. That means there are many top-notch products to choose from. If you want to compare these cards side-by-side, check out our comparison table below.

Quick look: Best travel credit cards

Best for flat-rate rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
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This card offers solid rewards on every purchase. Also, enjoy a fee credit on your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application — an unusual perk for a mid-tier travel card.

Annual fee$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR17.24%, 22.24% or 24.49% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards2x miles on all purchases
Rates & feesrates & fees
Pros
  • Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Rewards on every purchase. Earn unlimited 2x miles on all purchases. This is great if you don’t want to keep track of rewards categories.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. Every four years you’ll receive a credit of up to $100 when you pay for the fee with your card.
Cons
  • Potentially high APR. Without a great credit score, your APR can reach as high as 24%.

Best for luxury travel: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
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The Platinum Card® from American Express is the card of choice for traveling in style. It offers a market-leading rewards rate on eligible flights and hotels, as well as premium perks like loyalty-program elite status and access to the best-in-class Centurion Lounges.
Annual fee$550
Purchase APRN/A
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months
Rewards5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
Rates & feesrates & fees
Pros
  • Stellar rewards on flights and hotels. Earn 5x points on eligible flights and hotels. Earn 1x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Fee credits. You’ll receive a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year, up to $200 in annual Uber credits and a $100 statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years.
  • Premium travel perks. Access more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. Get upgraded to Gold Elite with Marriott Bonvoy and Gold with Hilton Honors. At select hotels you’ll get additional perks, including late checkout, Wi-Fi, expense credits and more.
Cons
  • High annual fee.You’ll pay $550 annually to use this card.

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Best for flexible rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
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Chase Ultimate Rewards is a powerhouse redemption hub, making this the go-to product for flexible rewards. You can trade your points for travel, gift cards, cash back, experiences and Amazon purchases. Also, you can squeeze more value from points by transferring them to select airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Annual fee$550
Purchase APR18.49% to 25.49% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
Rates & feesrates & fees
Pros
  • Excellent rewards on travel and dining. After you spend your first $300 covered by the annual travel credit in a card year, you’ll start earning 3x points on eligible travel. Earn 3x points on eligible dining at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Premium travel perks and fee credits. Get up to $300 in annual travel credits every card year. Get a $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, airport lounge access and special benefits at properties in The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. Enjoy a stellar 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022 and a complimentary year of Lyft Pink. Get $60 in annual DoorDash credits through 2021, as well as complimentary DashPass membership for at least a year.
Cons
  • Annual fee. You’ll pay $550 annually to use this card.

Best for reward nights: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
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The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has long been an impressive mid-tier hotel card.

Annual fee$89
Purchase APR17.49% to 24.49% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards25x points at IHG hotels, 2x on gas, groceries and dining and 1x on all other purchases
Rates & feesrates & fees
Pros
  • A top-notch signup bonus. Earn 140,000 bonus points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Rewards. Earn 25x points at IHG hotels and 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.
  • IHG perks. Earn a free night after every account anniversary that’s valid for a night worth up to 40,000 points. Also, get automatic Platinum Elite status.
Cons
  • Low minimum credit line.The minimum line on this card starts at $2,000, which is low compared to other hotel cards.

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Best for luxury travel perks with no annual fee: PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card

You’ll find two valuable perks that are unusual for a no-annual-fee travel card: an annual travel credit and a credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. Also, earn as high as 4x points on travel — a top-notch rewards rate — and a solid rewards rate on all other purchases.

Annual fee$0
Purchase APR12.74% to 17.99% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer25,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days
Rewards3x points on travel or 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member and 1.5x points on all other purchases
Pros
  • Travel and fee credits. Enjoy a $100 annual air travel credit and $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. The air travel credit can be used for lounge access, onboard food and beverages, baggage fees and more.
  • Welcome offer. Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
  • Rewards. Earn 3x points on eligible travel purchases. If you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member, that rate is increased to 4x points. On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1.5x points.
Cons
  • Redemption fees. You’ll pay $15 when you redeem your points for travel online, or $25 if you book through phone.

Compare travel cards with flight and travel credits

Best for a welcome offer with no annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a top-notch travel card with excellent rewards on eligible travel, dining and other categories. For a no-annual-fee card, it also has a stellar welcome offer.

Annual fee$0
Purchase APR0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.49% to 27.49% variable)
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards3x points on dining, gas, transit, travel and streaming and 1x points on all other purchases
Pros
  • Rewards. Earn 3x points on eligible dining, gas, transportation, travel and streaming services. Earn 1x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome offer. Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. According to Wells Fargo, the welcome offer is worth $200 — a market-leading value for a no-annual-fee card.
  • Intro APR. Get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months following your account opening, then a variable APR of 15.49% to 27.49%.
Cons
  • Potentially high APR.Without a solid credit score, you could end up with a purchase APR of up to 27.49%.

Best for rewards with no annual fee: Uber Visa Card

Uber Visa Card

If you’re always on the move, the Uber Visa Card is for you. It offers strong cash back on eligible travel and dining purchases — a perfect combination for a frequent traveler.

Annual fee$0
Purchase APR17.24%, 23.24% or 27.99% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer$100 Uber Cash after spending $500 in the first 90 days
Rewards5% back in Uber Cash on Uber, Uber Eats and JUMP
3% back on dining, hotels and airfare
1% back on all other purchases
Pros
  • Rewards. Earn 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides and Uber Eats and 3% back on dining, hotels and airfare. On all other purchases you’ll earn 1% back.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a bonus valued at $100 after you spend $500 on purchases within 90 days of your account opening.
Cons
  • Few redemption options.Points earned on this card can only be redeemed as Uber cash.

Compare more no-annual-fee travel cards

Best for hotels: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Please note: All information about Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by Finder and this card is no longer available through this site.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy is one of the top hotel programs in the world, and its flagship card is a heavy hitter. With excellent rewards at eligible Marriott Bonvoy properties and high-value perks such as an annual Free Night Award, your annual fee goes a very long way.

Annual fee$450
Purchase APR17.24% to 26.24% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Welcome offer75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
Rates & feesrates & fees
Pros
  • Welcome offer. Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Rewards. On eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, you’ll earn 6x points. At US restaurants and on eligible flights, you’ll earn 3x points. Earn 2x points on all other purchases.
  • Premium travel benefits. Enjoy $300 in Marriott Bonvoy statement credits each card year. Get a Free Night Award after each card anniversary and Gold Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy, and much more.
Cons
  • High annual fee. You’ll pay $450 annually to use this card.

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  • Why trust us? With over 400 hours each week spent researching, comparing and writing about all manner of credit cards, we know what makes a travel card stand out. We know that not all travel cards are a great fit for each traveler, no matter the number of perks, so we want to help our readers quickly and easily compare their options so that they can find the card that suits them best. Under our strict editorial guidelines, our content is unbiased and aimed to prove as accurate and current as possible.

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Our pick for a travel rewards card

American Express® Green Card

  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3x Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network — no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $150 annual fee.
  • Terms apply.
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Compare cards with travel rewards

Updated January 29th, 2020
Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
1.25x miles on all purchases
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Citi Rewards+℠ Card
Earn 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Earn 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on all other purchases
$0
Redeem your rewards for travel including flights, hotels, cruises and more.
American Express® Green Card
30,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, 3x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases
$150
Earn 3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, 3x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases. Rates & fees
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
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Compare credit cards by credit score and card type

Let’s break down how travel credit cards work

A travel credit card offers rewards for travel purchases — typically points or miles, but sometimes cash back. Like a rewards card, you can redeem these points or miles for certain goods. In the case of travel cards, this usually includes hotel stays, flights or other travel expenses.

Travel cards also offer a variety of travel perks, such as airport lounge access or travel credits. And you tend to get what you pay for: No-annual-fee cards tend to offer fewer high-class benefits than annual-fee products.

1. Compare & apply for a card

Find a card that best suits your travel and flight preferences. Once you choose a card, you can apply like any standard credit card.

2. Earn miles

Now that you have a card, use it to make purchases that best help you earn miles toward your account. For a cobranded card, this typically includes purchases through the travel company.

3. Redeem miles

With enough miles in your account, you’re ready to cash in on a travel reward. Book a flight, hotel stay or other reward through your credit card online account.

When is a travel card worth it?

So long as you put your travel expenses on your card, a travel card often proves its worth. Here’s an example of what you can expect to earn back or save based on a short holiday trip within the US using a Chase Sapphire Reserve, putting aside the card’s annual fee.

Travel Cost Rewards earned
Round trip flight for two $300 (normally $600, but 300 removed thanks to card’s statement credit) 900 points
Meals $150 450 points
Hotel stay for 2 nights $400 1200 points
Priority pass meal credit (both ways) -$116
Total rewards
Points earned 2,550 ($38.25 when redeemed through the Chase travel portal)
Money saved $416

How to compare travel credit cards

In addition to the basics like APR, there are a few additional major factors to look at when choosing a travel credit card:


Loyalty program

If you spend heavily with a certain airline or hotel chain, consider a cobranded card. Otherwise, pick a flexible-rewards card so you can earn rewards regardless of which airline or hotel you use.


Annual fee

While annual fees can run high on travel cards and you might not like paying for them, annual-fee cards tend to have better signup bonuses and more features.


Earn rate

If you find you spend more on everyday purchases such as groceries and gas, look for a card that has a high earning rate on those categories.


Signup bonus and rewards

Many travel credit cards offer a sizable signup bonus and great that you can use for flights or hotel stays after earning them.


Foreign transaction fees

If you often travel abroad, you’ll want to make sure you don’t rack up fees when you use your card overseas.


Travel perks

While both general travel cards and cobranded travel cards come with perks, cobranded cards are typically tailored to the cobranded business.

Common perks of travel credit cards

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions

Travel credit cards offer a dizzying variety of perks and benefits. Here are the five most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. How much is a travel card mile worth? The value of a travel mile ultimately depends on the individual loyalty program.
  2. What credit score do I need for a travel card? Generally, you need a good credit score or better to qualify for a travel card. The more perks and benefits a travel card has, the greater the credit score you’ll need.
  3. What kinds of travel cards are there? The most common travel cards include airline, hotel and general travel. However, there are even cards dedicated to cruises and rail travel.
  4. How many points or miles do I need for a free flight/stay? The number of points or miles you need for a travel redemption depends on the point value as well as the pricing of a flight or night’s stay.
  5. Is a travel card annual fee worth it? A travel card’s annual fee often corresponds to the number of perks and benefits you can get from the card. If you can take advantage of all of a card’s features, a large annual fee could be worth it.

Read more about travel credit cards

Megan Horner

Megan Horner
Credit Cards Publisher

Hi, I’m Megan! I love the travel credit cards in my wallet, especially the one that gives me airport lounge acess and Global entry. Before I open up a credit card, I aways do a ton of research. Here are some articles that might answer the questions you have.

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Bottom line

If you consider yourself a jet-setter, you could get a lot from a travel card. There are a variety of options for whatever you’re looking for.

Before you start your search, consider whether you want to pay an annual fee, what you typically spend on and which travel benefits you’re looking for. Take your time to compare different products, and you’ll likely find a card that’s perfect for you.

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