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The 9 Best Travel Credit Cards for 2017

We lay out the fees, rewards, and APRs, so you can choose the card that aligns with your travel and spending habits.
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London travelers

Whether you go on vacation a couple of times a year or travel more frequently for work, there's a good chance you could use some extra rewards and perks. Although there are multiple ways to get these extras when you travel, credit cards and rewards programs offer some of the most valuable.

If you go the credit card route, first calculate the relevant numbers and weigh the benefits against the fees. Then you'll be ready to choose a travel card. To get you started, we present the best credit cards for travelers — and tips for picking one.

5 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Card

With so many credit cards available to choose from, figuring out which ones are the best for your needs can be costly and confusing. Should you pay an annual fee for a credit card? Which is better: cobranded hotel and airline cards or general travel rewards cards? To find the answers to these types of questions, consider how you might use the card. Ask yourself these questions before you make your choice:

  • Are the benefits worth the annual fee?
  • Can you pay your balance in full every month to avoid interest charges?
  • Do you regularly spend on the purchases that earn the most rewards?
  • What is the value of new cardholder sign-up bonuses, and can you earn them with normal spending?
  • Is there a foreign transaction fee if you travel abroad?

SEE ALSO: 8 Hidden Vacation Costs and How to Avoid Them

9 Great Travel Credit Cards to Consider

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Fees: Introductory $0 annual fee the first year, then $95; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 16.74% to 23.74%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn 5,000 more points if you add an authorized user to your card and make a purchase also within the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn 2X points on travel and dining, and one point per dollar on other purchases. You can transfer your points to other airline and hotel partners, often at a ratio of 1:1, or you can redeem them for cash, travel, gift cards, or merchandise.


Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Fees: Annual fee waived the first year, then $89; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 16.74% to 23.74%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn 2X miles on all purchases. You can also earn 5% of your miles back every time you redeem. Redeem miles for travel statement credits once your reach 10,000, for $100 toward travel purchases of $100 or more made in the past 120 days.


The Platinum Card from American Express

Fees: $550 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: None (charge card)

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn 5X points for flights booked with airlines or American Express Travel, 5X points on hotels booked with amextravel.com, and one point for other purchases. Also includes $200 a year in airline fee credits, VIP treatment, credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, and airport lounge access at more than 1,000 lounges globally.

SEE ALSO: How Just 2 Phone Calls Saved Me $120 on a Hotel Room


Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Fees: $59 annual fee waived the first year; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 13.74% to 23.74%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn two miles per dollar spent on any purchase. Redeem for travel purchases, including flights with any airline, car rentals, hotel expenses, travel agent charges, and many others.


Citi Prestige Card

Fees: $450 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 15.99%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn three points for each dollar you spend on air travel and hotels, two points on restaurants and entertainment, and one point on other purchases. Benefits include a $250 annual air travel credit, up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry application, and complimentary airport lounge access.


Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Fees: $95 annual fee waived the first year; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 15.99% to 19.99%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 30,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn up to 5X Starpoints at Starwood hotels, 2X Starpoints at Marriott Rewards hotels, and one point on other purchases. Get Gold status in the SPG program if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. You can transfer points to airline loyalty programs, often at a ratio of 1:1. You also earn a 5,000-point bonus when you transfer 20,000 points.


Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Fees: $99 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 16.74% to 23.74%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn two points per dollar at Southwest Airlines and participating hotel and car rental partners, and one point for other purchases. Other benefits include free first and second checked bags, no change fees, and an anniversary bonus of 6,000 points each year.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Save on Your Next Flight


Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Fees: $95 annual fee waived the first year; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 16.49% to 25.49%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. Plus, get a $50 statement credit when you use your card for a Delta purchase, also in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and one mile on other purchases. Also, get your first checked bag free, priority boarding, a discount on Delta Sky Club access, and an in-flight savings of 20% on purchases made with your card.


Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Fees: $95 annual fee waived the first year; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 16.49% to 24.49%

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn 2X miles on American Airlines purchases and one mile on other purchases. Other benefits include a 10% rebate on redeemed miles for up to 10,000 miles each year, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, free first checked bag, and preferred boarding on domestic flights.

Readers, which travel credit cards do you recommend? Do you think having a travel-specific card is worth it? Let us know in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Christina Majaski is a freelance writer and mom of daughter Chloe and dog Monty in Central Minnesota. She has covered social media, personal finance, law, business, and travel for various online and print publications since 2003. You can read her work online at Wise Bread, Digital Trends, PayScale, and many others.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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2 comments
snowmanjack
Can't comment on the rest, but I've had the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard for a few years now, and it's excellent. Essentially it's cash back for travel - regardless of airline, hotel, etc. It's been much easier to redeem that airline-specific rewards. The $89 fee has more than paid for itself, but I usually put $2000-4000/month on the card.

For those seeking a free option, Barclay's did have a free option at one time. Rewards weren't as high, but if you don't use the card much, might be worthwhile.
pdot
Expensive cards only, it seems.
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