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Best credit cards for travel in 2020

Choose the perfect companion for your travels.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked

Our pick for a travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card logo

60,000-point

Signup bonus after spending $4,000 in first 3 months

  • Signup bonus worth $750 with Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1:1 point transfer to partner hotels and airlines
  • Low annual fee for a travel card
Apply now

When traveling for vacation, work or to see your loved ones, plenty of travel cards on the market can make the experience more rewarding. After all, it can feel satisfying to book a trip entirely on points you’ve earned or use your card to get into a relaxing airport lounge.

We spend hundreds of hours comparing travel cards to find you the best based on how you can earn rewards, the quality of travel perks, welcome offers, annual fees and more. Learn about your options for 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 flexible rewards and large signup bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95
Annual fee
60,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 5x
Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers flexibility and a great signup bonus, though without the steep annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months when you open your account. That's $750 in value when redeemed for travel purchases via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Earn reward points. Every time you use your card toward travel and dining purchases, you earn 2x points. All other purchases earn 1x points.
  • Point transfer. You can transfer your points in 1:1 ratio with Chase's hotel and airline partners, including British Airways, Air France KLM, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, IHG, Marriott and World of Hyatt.
  • Annual fee. The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
Annual fee $95
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for travel credits

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve® logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

740
Min. credit score
$550
Annual fee
50,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 10x
Points
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® faces plenty of competition in the travel space, it pulls ahead when it comes to travel credits. You'll enjoy $300 annually on eligible travel purchases, with no airline or hotel restrictions.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months of card membership. This is worth $750 if you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
  • Earn rewards points. Earn 3x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1x points on all other purchases. The 3x points can be worth 4.5% back if redeemed on travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards. You also earn 10x points on Lyft purchases until March 2022. This can be worth up to 15% back in travel purchases via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Annual travel credit. Get $300 in statement credit as reimbursement for your travel purchases every year on your card account anniversary.
  • Annual fee. Awesome perks come with a high annual fee. You'll pay $550 annual fee for the card.
Annual fee $550
Purchase APR 16.99% to 23.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for gas

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi logo
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
n/a
Welcome offer
Up to 4%
Cash back
If you don't mind a little delayed gratification, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi offers terrific cash back on gas, restaurants and travel. You'll also enjoy surprisingly robust perks, including travel protection.
  • You won't pay an annual fee to own the card.
  • Earn 4% cash back on gas for the first $7,000 spent annually, 1% after that. Earn 3% cash back on restaurants and travel, 2% cash back on purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Use your Costco credit card to enter Costco.
  • You need to have Costco membership to apply for the card.
  • You can only redeem your Costco rewards once a year.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 15.24% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards 4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases

Compare more luxury credit cards

Best for hotels

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$89
Annual fee
125,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 25x
Points
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has a lot to offer if you're looking for a great hotel credit card. It offers up to 25x points on eligibile purchases, a huge signup bonus and free nights.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 125,000 bonus points once you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening. Most credit cards that offer such generous signup bonuses usually require a higher spend of around $4,000 in the first three months.
  • Earn points. Earn 25x points on IHG stays, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x points on everything else you buy.
  • Fourth reward night free. Redeem your points for four or more reward nights and get an additional reward night.
  • Annual fee. To use the card and its perks, you'll pay $89 each year.
Annual fee $89
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 125,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 25x points at IHG hotels, 2x on gas, groceries and dining and 1x on all other purchases

Best for everyday spending

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95
Annual fee
25,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 9x
Points
The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers solid rewards at Hyatt properties and additional earning on a surprising variety of everyday purchases. It also comes with a nice signup bonus to get you started.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 bonus points when you spend an additional $6,000 within 6 months of opening your account.
  • Earn reward points. Earn 4x bonus points at all Hyatt hotels when using your card — and get an additional 5x base points just by being a World of Hyatt member for a total of 9x points. You also earn 2x points on fitness club and gym memberships, local transit and commuting purchases, at restaurants and on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline. On all other purchases, earn 1x points.
  • Reward nights. Earn a free night at a category 1 through 4 Hyatt hotel on every card anniversary and after you spend $15,000 in a given year.
  • Annual fee. The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
Annual fee $95
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months
Rewards 9x total points at Hyatt hotels as a World of Hyatt member, 2x on gyms, commuting, dining and airlines and 1x on all other purchases

Compare more welcome offer credit cards

Best for flat-rate rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
50,000
Miles welcome offer
5x
Miles
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.
  • Earn an unlimited 2x miles on all purchases.
  • Get a 50,000-mile welcome offer after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.
  • Get various travel benefits, including a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry statement credit worth $100.
  • Pay an annual fee of $95 after the first year.
  • No 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Annual fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 17.24%, 21.99% or 24.49% variable
Foreign transaction fee 3% of the transaction value
Welcome offer 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 5x miles on Uber Eats and 2x miles on all purchases

Best for no annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card logo
Finder Rating: 3.2 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
25,000
Points welcome offer
1.5x
Points
Pick this card if you want a signup bonus and flat earning rate, all for no annual fee. It's simple, but effective.
  • Signup bonus. Get 25,000 bonus points — worth in statement credit — once you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of card membership.
  • Earn points. Earn unlimited 1.5x points on everything you buy. Redeem points for statement credit, flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.
  • Intro APR period on purchases. Enjoy a 0% intro APR period on purchases for the first 12 statement closing dates. After that, a variable APR of 14.99% to 22.99% applies.
  • Penalty APR. If you make late payment, your APR may increase to 29.99% variable, and it can last indefinitely.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 14.99% to 22.99% variable)
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Rewards 1.5x points on all purchases

Best for lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$550
Annual fee
60,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 5x
Points
On top of a host of other great travel benefits, the Amex Platinum Card offers access to an assortment of airport lounges, including the Amex Centurion Lounge.
  • Membership reward points. Earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked directly through Amex Travel. You can use your points toward gift cards, travel rewards, statement credit and more. If you redeem these points for the highest valued rewards, you'll get 5% back. On all other eligible purchases, you'll earn 1x points.
  • Welcome offer. Get 60,000 membership rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of card membership. That's up to $1,200 worth of rewards when transferred to travel partners.
  • Airline fee credit. Select a qualifying airline and receive a $200 airline fee credit each year to cover incidental charges, such as checked bags or in-flight purchases.
  • Annual fee. Expect to pay $550 for the card. This may seem like a lot, but if you travel often, you can easily offset the fee.
Annual fee $550
Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months
Rewards 5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases

Compare travel cards with flight and travel credits

Best for rewards with no annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95
Annual fee
125,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 12x
Points
While you wouldn't necessarily expect a hotel card to offer airport lounge access, the Surpass does just that, albeit with some limitations. On top of that, you'll also enjoy solid rewards and perks on Hilton properties.
  • Earn 12x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations.
  • Earn 3x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card.
  • Pay a $95 annual fee to use this card.
  • Use this card in limited places as it's not as widely accepted overseas.
Annual fee $95
Purchase APR 15.74% to 24.74% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 125,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 12x points on Hilton Portfolio spending, 6x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases

Best for miles match after first year

Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card

Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.7 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Other
Welcome offer
1.5x
Miles
A simple, straightforward travel card that will match your miles earned at the end of your first year. This card is a nice pick if you are planning a big travel year and want to maximize those miles.
  • You won't pay an annual fee to own the card.
  • Earn a flat 1.5x miles on your purchases.
  • Discover will match your miles earned at the end of your first year.
  • Signup bonus value ultimately depends on your spending.
  • The card's earning rate is average after you earn your one-time miles match.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer Discover will match miles earned at the end of your first card year
Rewards 1.5x miles on all purchases

Best for groceries

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (680-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

680
Min. credit score
$250
Annual fee
35,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 4x
Points
While other cards on this list might earn similar grocery rewards, they can't stand up to the suite of travel perks and benefits offered by the Amex Gold Card.
  • Earn 4x points at restaurants. You'll also earn 4x points at US supermarkets up to 25,000 per calendar year.
  • Earn 1x points after that and on everything else.
  • A solid 35,000-point welcome offer after you spend $4,000 within your first 3 months of account opening.
  • Get a great selection of travel benefits and credits, including a monthly $10 dining credit and $100 airline fee credit.
  • Pay a large annual fee of $250.
  • Deal with a restricting, if not confusing, repayment structure.
Annual fee $250
Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)

What’s changed in 2020

We updated our 2020 list to reflect sweeping alterations to travel card benefits and annual fees within the industry. In some cases, a higher annual fee left an opportunity for other cards to shine, as with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card taking over the Sapphire Reserve‘s old spot. Other cards lost their position because of product changes. The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, for example, simply beats the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card when it comes to pure hotel value this year.

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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.

Compare cards by bank

AMEX logoBarclaycard-LogoCapital-One-LogoChase-LogoCiti credit cards logo

Compare cards with travel rewards

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $750. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
N/A
4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Earn valuable cash back on everyday purchases at gas stations, restaurants and Costco as well as eligible travel with no foreign fees.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months
9x total points at Hyatt hotels as a World of Hyatt member, 2x on gyms, commuting, dining and airlines and 1x on all other purchases
$95
Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months.
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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.

TravelCostRewards earned
Round trip flight for two$300 (normally $600, but 300 removed thanks to card’s statement credit)900 points
Meals$150450 points
Hotel stay for 2 nights$4001200 points
Priority pass meal credit (both ways)-$116
Total rewards
Points earned2,550 ($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.
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Ask the experts

Dorothy Harpool
Lexi Hutto
Eliot Buchanan
Lee Huffman
Richard McGrath
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Joseph R. Stasio Jr.

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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Credit card ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

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