The best travel credit card options of 2018 are designed to help maximize your travel, and hopefully help you earn the most rewards, so you can keep traveling. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, most of these credit cards can help you earn miles toward your next flight or hotel stay.
Many credit card providers may also try to tempt you with large sign-on bonuses or waiving fees, but it’s important to know what to look for before you decide to apply for a new credit card in order to think about how much the card may cost you. If you pay your balance off each month when you receive the bill, you may have different concerns than if you let the balance roll over to the next month.
We have everything you need to determine which travel card is best for you. Explore our buyer’s guide to find out what features you should be on the lookout for, based on your needs and check out our list of the 9 best travel credit card options available today.
Travel Credit Card Buyer’s Guide
Paying off your credit card balance should be at the forefront of your thoughts when you choose the right card for you, so consider the interest rates and annual fees you may need to pay.
You may also need to consider your credit score, as some cards are only available to those with excellent credit. The cards with the best reward deals are typically reserved for credit scores above 740.
Here are some of the most important factors you should consider before choosing your travel credit card, based on your needs:
Most cards off reward points for each mile you travel, so look for cards with offers of 1 cent or more per point. Other rewards may come in the form of free airfare, gift cards, cash back rewards on gas or restaurant purchases, and more.
Some cards come with a generous bonus just for signing up, and the biggest bonuses are often found on cards with higher annual fees.
Nearly each best travel credit card will come with an annual fee. By weighing the value of the rewards and other perks you receive against the fee you pay, you can make sure the benefits outweigh the cost.
Some companies may wave the annual fee for the first year when you sign up, with the fee kicking back in the following year. Consider these offers carefully so you can plan to take full advantage of them. An annual fee may also be charged when a reward is offered like cash back or frequent-flyer miles and determining if the fee is worth the reward will come down to how often you travel.
However, if you have poor credit, you probably won’t receive waived annual fees in the first year. Instead, cardholders may consider you high-risk and charge you an annual fee simply to give you the credit card.
How much interest are you prepared to pay later? Your APR may be lower in the first year or two after signing up (designed as another sign-up incentive), but the regular APR is the percentage rate you will pay on your balance the majority of the time. This rate is determined by your credit score.
Not all cards can be used internationally. If you plan to travel abroad, beware that Discover and American Express cards often have limited acceptance depending on the destination. You’ll also need to look for a card that doesn’t charge foreign transactions fees.
The best travel credit card was created with travel protections to cover all your traveling needs. This can include trip cancellation coverage, car rental insurance, or lost baggage protection to help while you’re away.
For more advice on finding the best card for you, head to Citizen’s Advice for everything you need to know about choosing and applying for credit cards.
How to Make the Most of Your Card
To make the most of your travel credit card and maximize your rewards, use the following tips:
Top 9 Best Travel Credit Cards
Here are our picks for the best travel credit card options of 2018, based on the rewards and fees associated with frequent travelers.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Voted the best card for travel redemptions the best card for travel redemptions like airline miles, this travel card comes with a large bonus that people love. Receive a sign-up bonus of 50,000 reward points, which is worth around $625 in travel redemptions, when you spend your first $4,000 during the first three months after you open your account.
People who don’t commonly fly the same airline or stay at a specific hotel love the flexibility of their Chase card, and you can receive rewards on every purchase you make. The rewards never expire either.
With an annual fee is $95, waived for the first year. You can also earn two points per dollar on travel purchases, which transfer to 13 different partners like Southwest airlines and Marriot. Plus, there are no blackout dates or restrictions on where you can travel.
Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card
With Bank of America’s Travel Rewards card, you can use your card to book anywhere you want, with no blackout dates or website restrictions. You earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, with no annual fees or foreign transaction fees. Your points will never expire, and they can even be used to pay for flights, hotels, cruises, rental cars, baggage fees, or vacation packages. However, you may need good to excellent credit to apply.
Receive 0% APR for the first year, then a regular APR of 16.74 – 24.74% after. For a limited time, you can also earn 25,000 online bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases during the first 90 days of opening your account, which could amount in $250 toward travel costs.
Even better, you can earn more benefits. If you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, you can earn an additional 10% bonus on every purchase. And if you’re also a preferred rewards holder, you can boost the bonus in between 25 and 75%.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Named one of the all-time best travel credit cards this year by CNBC, Capital One Venture allows you to fly any airline and stay at any hotel, anytime you want. The mile rewards you earn will never expire, and there are no foreign transaction fees if your travel abroad.
This card comes with awesome travel rewards and no annual fee, which makes it perfect for those with good to excellent credit score ratings. If your credit is between 670 and 850, you could sign up to receive a 50,000-mile intro bonus once you spend your first $3,000 within the first three months and a waived annual fee for the first year.
After your card’s newness wears off, you will pay a $95 annual fee with an APR around 14.74 – 24.74%. The rewards you earn will 10x your miles on thousands of different hotel options, which you can find at hotels.com/venture. You’ll also receive double your miles on every purchase you make, no matter what day or item you use your card on.
Uber Visa Card
With no annual fees, this newer card option offers great travel bonuses. Receive points per every dollar you spend on restaurants, bars, Uber Eats, hotels, vacation home rentals, airfare, online purchases, online shopping, music, and even Uber rides.
If you spend $500 within the first 90 days, they’ll even give you $100 bonus. You’ll also receive an added $50 subscription credit you can use for online subscription services after spending $5,000 on your card every year and up to a $600 bonus used toward mobile phone damage of theft if you pay your phone bill with your card.
The only catch is that the APR is a bit high, at 16.74 – 25.49%, depending on your credit.
The Platinum Card from American Express
Travelers who love rewards pick this card for the airline fee credits and worldwide lounge access while they wait for flights. You could earn $200 for Uber rides each year, 5x the points on flights booked with airlines and on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com, complimentary benefits with hotels, and a $200 airline fee credit used for baggage fees at qualifying airlines.
The annual fee, however, is $550, so you’ll need to make sure to use the card enough. You’ll need good to excellent credit as well for this high-end card. Travel in style and receive perks at hotels like concierge service, but for this high fee, make sure you travel often.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve is still great for travel rewards. However, this card comes with an annual travel credit for those who enjoy traveling often. With an annual fee of $450, you can earn back nearly $300 in annual travel credits alone.
Earn 50,000 reward points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months after signing up, and earn 3x points on travel, 2x points on restaurants, and a point on everything else you spend money on. There are no foreign transaction fees, and you may even earn trip cancellation coverage or car rental insurance perks. The amount of bonus goes on, making up for the high annual fee.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
The Ink Business card helps you earn the maximum value for every penny you spend traveling, and new cardholder receive huge perks. When you sign up, you could earn 80,000 bonus points on the first $5,000 you spend within three months, and other typical Chase Ultimate Reward perks like three points per dollar on travel, shipping and advertising fees on social media, or telecommunications fees.
Even better, points can be transferred to partners like United, Marriott, Southwest, or Hyatt. You’ll need good credit to apply, and APR rates land around 17.74 – 22.74%.
United Explorer Card
If you fly with United often, a loyalty credit card with an airline like this comes with cardholder perks. You could earn 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $2,000 within the first three months and pay no annual fee for the first Year (only $95 afterward). Plus, you get two miles per dollar you spend on restaurants and hotels as well as United flights.
The APR is a bit higher, at 17.74 – 24.74%. Again, this depends on how good your credit score is. However, with free checked luggage and low fees, you could save money on flights, land a spot in the United Club airport lounge, and earn free rental car insurance.
Holton Honors American Express Ascend Card
This card is perfect if you’re looking for rewards with a great hotel and a large sign-up bonus. Staying at Hilton hotels often could earn you 14 points per dollar, plus seven points on flights booked on amextravel.com and car rentals from select companies, rewards on restaurants, and at least three points per dollar on every other purchase you make.
You could earn fee weekend night stays if you spend $60,000 in a year as well as a slew of Hilton resort bonuses. The annual fee is $450, but with all the perks when you stay at Hilton, you won’t have to spend as much on fees and airport luggage. Plus, it even comes with a priority pass for airport lounge membership and no foreign transaction fees.
How We Choose Our Ratings
Honestly and integrity are important to us, so we take the time to create accurate buyer’s guides and best-of lists. To find all the facts, we scour the internet to find the best travel credit card options available on the market today. We research the rewards and fees, read real user reviews, and see what the masses have to say before making a valid suggestion.
Our goal is to help you find the best travel credit card options available for you, so we indicate which card is best for which type of traveler. The information we provide is all available online, and we create our list based on the information provided.