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Best Travel Credit Cards of 2023

Compare cards offering travel rewards
  • Discover which credit cards give you the perks you’re looking for
  • Earn rewards to enhance your travel experience
  • Find out if a travel credit card is right for you
  • Get advice from our experts on how to choose the best card
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Holly D. Johnson - Contributor Updated: 26 January 2023 8 Min Read
Reviewed By Bestcovery - Editorial Team
Why Trust Us?

The best travel credit cards let users earn points or miles for each dollar they spend, yet each one offers a different set of benefits. With that in mind, it’s crucial to pick a travel credit card that earns the type of rewards you really want with a selection of travel perks you can actually use.

The travel rewards credit cards we profile below offer bonus points on travel purchases and a generous sign-up bonus that can have you traveling in no time. Some of the premium travel credit cards we profile even offer benefits like travel credits, airport lounge access, and expedited airport security membership.

Before you start planning your next trip, it’s smart to pick up a credit card that will reward you for non-travel purchases as well as every trip you take. Read on to learn which travel rewards credit cards we recommend and how they could work in your favor.

Our picks for the best travel credit cards

Best Travel Credit Cards of 2023

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best for International Travel

Rates & Fees

Why we like it

The Platinum Card® from American Express is excellent for international travel due to the unique transfer partners you can find within the American Express Membership Rewards program. This program lets you transfer your points to various airline partners around the world, which include options like Emirates, Etihad Guest, Delta SkyMiles, Singapore Airlines, and more.

Meanwhile, this card has a ton of travel credits as well as the broadest airport lounge membership benefit available today. You can also get credits for Global Entry, TSA Precheck, and CLEAR membership, which is unique among travel rewards credit cards.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

PROS

  • Generous rewards rate on travel purchases
  • Excellent transfer partners for international travel
  • Other flexible redemption options available, including direct travel bookings through AmexTravel.com

CONS

  • High annual fee
  • High APR
  • Travel credits can be difficult to use

Travel rewards rate

This premium travel rewards card from American Express gives you the chance to earn 5X Membership Rewards points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and 1x points on other purchases.

Separately, the sign-up bonus on this card is definitely worth pursuing. New cardholders can earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points if they can spend $6,000 on purchases within six months of account opening.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best Overall Travel Rewards Credit Card

Why we like it

When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you get the chance to earn best-in-class Chase Ultimate Rewards points that are redeemable for gift cards, merchandise, cash back, travel through the Chase portal, or 1:1 transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners. This means you have a plethora of ways to use your rewards for travel, whether you prefer to book directly through the Chase portal that partners with Expedia, or whether you prefer to transfer points to other loyalty programs including Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and more.

Despite this card’s high annual fee ($550), cardholders can get plenty of value in return thanks to the $300 annual travel credit, airport lounge membership, credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, and other perks.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

PROS

  • Earns flexible rewards for travel
  • Excellent airline and hotel transfer partners
  • Generous travel insurance protections included

CONS

  • High annual fee
  • High APR on purchases
  • Smaller sign-up bonus than some other top travel credit cards

Travel rewards rate

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 10x points on hotels and car rentals through the Chase portal, 10x points on Chase Dining purchases, and 10x points on Lyft rides. Cardholders earn 5x points on flights booked through Chase, 3x points on other travel purchases after the $300 travel credit has been earned, and dining and 1x points on other purchases.

Upon signing up, consumers also have the chance to earn 50,000 points worth $750 in travel after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Best First Travel Card

Why we like it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is an excellent first travel credit card due to its low annual fee and the flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You can use this card to get acquainted with Chase airline and hotel partners if you want, but you can also redeem your rewards directly for hotel stays, airfare, car rentals, and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards. When you do, you’ll even get 25% more value for each point you redeem.

The earning rate on this card is also spectacular, and that’s especially true for people who spend a lot on travel, dining, online grocery delivery with companies like Instacart or Shipt, and streaming services.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

PROS

  • Reasonable $95 annual fee
  • Earn flexible rewards
  • Get 25% more value for points when you redeem for travel through Chase

CONS

  • Fewer travel benefits (i.e. no airport lounge access, etc.)
  • High APR
  • Requires excellent credit

Travel rewards rate

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® comes with a much lower $95 annual fee, yet you can earn generous rewards on travel and other non-travel purchases you make. As a cardholder, you can earn 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3x points on dining, online grocery delivery, and select streaming services, 2x points on other travel purchases, and 1x points on other purchases.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for Earning Miles

Why we like it

There are several reasons we like the Venture Rewards Credit Card from Capital One, including its generous sign-up bonus, generous rewards rate, and reasonable $95 annual fee. However, we also like how flexible the rewards you earn can be, especially when you consider the fact you can redeem your miles to cover any travel purchase charged to your card, or for Amazon or PayPal purchases.

Capital One miles can also be transferred to an array of airline and hotel partners, including options like Air France / Flying Blue, British Airways, and Wyndham Rewards.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

PROS

  • Reasonable $95 annual fee
  • Earn flexible rewards for travel
  • Receive travel insurance protections and a handful of travel perks

CONS

  • High APR
  • No everyday spending bonus categories
  • Requires excellent credit

Travel rewards rate

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card keeps things simple by offering flat-rate rewards of 2x miles for each dollar you spend. However, cardmembers can also earn 5x points per dollar when they book hotel stays or rental cars through Capital One’s travel portal.

Citi Premier® Card

Best for Travel Rewards on Everyday Purchases

Why we like it

We like the Citi Premier® Card for a few reasons, including the fact you earn 3x points in so many everyday spending categories. However, you should also note that this card earns Citi ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for gift cards, payments toward a student loan or a mortgage, statement credits, travel through Citi, or transfers to Citi airline and hotel partners.

While the Citi Premier® Card charges a $95 annual fee, the ongoing rewards and $100 annual hotel stay travel credit can more than make up for it.

Citi Premier® Card

PROS

  • Excellent rewards categories
  • Very generous sign-up bonus
  • Flexible rewards can be redeemed in more than one way

CONS

  • High APR
  • Minimal cardholder perks and travel credits
  • Less popular transfer partners than Chase Ultimate Rewards

Travel rewards rate

As a cardholder, you get the chance to earn unlimited 3x points on restaurant spending, gas purchases, supermarket spending, air travel, and hotels. Cardholders also earn 1x points on other purchases.

Compare the Best Travel Cards

Learn more about travel rewards credit cards
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What is a travel credit card?

A travel credit card is a specific type of rewards credit card that lets you earn points, miles, or various other types of travel rewards on eligible purchases.

Many rewards-earning travel cards also come with specific perks such as elite status with airline or hotel loyalty programs, annual travel credits, tier-qualifying miles, airport security benefits, airport lounge membership, and more.

Types of travel rewards credit cards

There are quite a few types of travel credit cards, and they all work differently.

Before you choose a travel card for your wallet, make sure you understand the different options and how they work.

Flexible travel rewards credit cards

Flexible travel credit cards typically let users redeem their rewards in several different ways. For example, you may be able to use your points directly for travel bookings through a portal or for fixed-value travel statement credits. However, many flexible travel credit cards also let users transfer their points to a select number of airline and hotel partners.

Airline-specific credit cards

Airline-branded credit cards let users earn airline miles with a specific frequent flyer program. In some cases, users also get airline perks just for being a cardholder, such as early boarding, free checked bags, discounts on in-flight purchases, and even airline lounge access.

Hotel-branded rewards credit cards

Hotel-branded travel credit cards offer hotel-specific benefits such as elite hotel status or annual hotel credits you can use. When you use a hotel co-branded credit card for spending, you’ll earn hotel loyalty points that can be used for free hotel stays, room upgrades, and more.

How travel rewards work

When you earn travel rewards with a credit card, how they work depends on the type of points or miles you’ve accrued.

For example, airline miles can be used to book free flights or upgrades to a premium cabin, whereas hotel points can be used for free hotel stays, vacation packages, or room upgrades.

With flexible travel rewards points, on the other hand, you tend to get a lot more options.

For example, flexible programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points let you redeem your rewards for travel through a portal, transfers to airline and hotel partners, merchandise, gift cards, and more.

Who should get a travel card?

Travel rewards credit cards are for travel-focused people who prefer to earn points for flights, hotels, rental cars, and other types of travel benefits instead of cash back.

For those who travel often, premium travel perks like airport lounge access, Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, or elite hotel status can also be a major plus. These are especially handy if you travel for work, have family you visit often in another city, or simply like to shake up your routine with regular adventures and trips.

Also, be aware that travel credit cards aren’t just for frequent flyers.

If you travel even a few times per year and want to save on airfare or hotel stays, a travel credit card could leave you better off. That yearly family vacation could cost a lot less if you save up your travel points all year.

They offer a great opportunity for students who have already begun building their credit and are not focused on earning cash back. While most student credit cards are focused on establishing credit and offer few rewards, travel credit cards are an asset to those who have already begun building credit, show responsible spending habits, and would prefer to spend school breaks exploring the world before graduation.

Travel cards rarely have 0% APR offers, so they are likely not your best bet if you are looking to consolidate debt through a balance transfer. But for those who don’t mind spending a little extra on an annual fee and are more interested in hotel or airline perks than cash back, travel credit cards offer some of the finest luxury benefits available.

How to compare travel credit cards

Before you decide on a travel credit card, you’ll want to consider the most important factors.

Compare travel credit cards in the following categories:

How we chose our best travel credit cards

To find the best travel credit cards on the market today, we looked for cards that offer bonus points in popular categories as well as generous sign-up bonuses worth several hundred dollars or more.

We also looked for popular credit cards that offer premium travel perks and insurance protections that provide more value in exchange for their annual fees.

Best travel credit cards FAQ

Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson Contributor

Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who covers topics like insurance, investing, credit and family finance. As a leading voice in the travel and loyalty space, Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries over the last decade. 

The author has also written extensively on the power of household budgeting, and she even co-authored a book on the topic. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love was originally published in 2017, and it teaches families how to use zero-sum budgeting to reach their financial goals. She is also the co-owner and founder of the family finance and travel website, ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson’s 10+ years of writing have focused on helping families make important financial decisions at each stage of their lives. The author also applies the financial principles she teaches to her own life, and she is currently on track to retire in her late 40’s with her partner. She currently lives in Central Indiana with her husband and children, and she is a regular contributor for Bankrate, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report Travel and many other notable publications.