Travel

Best Travel Credit Cards Offers & Sign Up Bonuses

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I love credit card rewards! They’ve saved my family thousands of dollars on travel.

My rule is that I’m always trying to work towards a credit card bonus. My wife and I apply for around one new personal and one new business card every year. 

A simple strategy like this has been enough to take one or two free vacations every year. 

My goal with this page is to make it as easy as possible for you to find the right credit card for your travel goals.

Best Overall Travel Credit Card

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

What’s to like: A premium card with a lot of benefits. Most important for travelers are the 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, the 50% extra value-per-point when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the $300 annual travel credit, and access to over 1,000 airport lounges.

Details:

  • Bonus: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth up to $750 in travel) after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
  • Cash-back: Earn three points per dollar spent on travel (excluding travel eligible for a statement credit) and dining. Then, earn one point per dollar spent on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $550, plus $75 for each authorized user.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Excellent.

Analysis: If you travel more than once per year, you’ll likely get more value from this card than from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The $300 annual statement for travel expenses makes the $550 annual fee a lot easier to stomach, and lounge access is always nice. 

What’s great about Chase is that you can combine points with another member of your household, such as your spouse. 

In our household, we earn Chase Ultimate Rewards through a variety of personal and business cards, then transfer the points to our Sapphire Reserve account, where points are worth 1.5 cents each when exchanged for travel.

So, when we earn 5% cash-back with the Chase Freedom, then transfer those points to the Sapphire Reserve, it’s like earning 7.5% if those points are exchanged for travel.

Learn how to apply to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Runner Up: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

What’s to like: A simple, straightforward card. Earn a solid two points per dollar spent across all categories. Then, use those points to erase travel expenses from your statement. Ideal for those who don’t want to mess around with transfer partners and award availability.

Details:

  • Bonus: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months.
  • Cash-back: Earn two points per dollar spent on every purchase
  • Annual fee: $95 per year.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent.

Analysis: This is a great card for those who want a simple, straightforward way to redeem points. I’ve been using this card more and more, as we haven’t flown since January of 2020 (instead opting for road trips and staying in Airbnbs). 

Learn how to apply for the Venture Rewards card.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Beginners

Winner: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

What’s to like: Don’t want to mess around with transfer partners or have to deal with limited availability? Capital One has a simple and straightforward travel rewards program. Just spend on travel as you normally would, and then use your points for a statement credit at a rate of one cent per point.

Details:

  • Bonus: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months.
  • Cash-back: Earn two points per dollar spent on every purchase
  • Annual fee: $95 per year.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent.

Analysis: A great bonus, a low annual fee, and an easy-to-understand rewards program. What’s great about this card is the variety of expenses Capital One categorizes as “travel” (and which you can therefore use your points on). 

As you’ll learn, there are a lot of flights and hotels where rewards typically can’t help you out. That’s where the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card really shines.

For example, say you’re taking a road trip and you want to stay in an Airbnb. To help pay for your Airbnb, you can use your Capital One rewards, which will be worth at least a $560 statement credit after hitting the bonus.

In late 2018, Capital One also added 14 airline transfer partners. Between the 14 airlines, you’ll actually have access to the three major airline alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam. So now there are even more high-value redemption options.

Learn how to apply for the Venture Rewards card.

Best Business Travel Credit Cards

Winner: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

What’s to like: My favorite sign-up bonus available right now at 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s enough to book $1,250 worth of travel.

Details:

  • Bonus: 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months.
  • Cash-back: Three points per dollar spent on select categories, and 1% on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $95.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent.

Analysis: One of my favorite cards due to the huge sign-up bonus and the ability to earn 3X points in select categories.

You can then transfer points earned in a Chase business account to a personal account, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you do, you can make this 100,000-point-bonus be worth $1,500 in travel!

Learn how to apply to the Ink Business Preferred Card.

Best Hotel Credit Cards

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

What’s to like: The sign-up bonus alone is worth $750 in hotel stays, if booked through the Chase Travel portal. 

Chase does allow you to transfer points to Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz Carlton Rewards. However, these exchanges typically do not provide great value. The best value is when you can get a hotel that’s discounted.

Details:

  • Bonus: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth up to $750 in travel) after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
  • Cash-back: Earn three points per dollar spent on travel and dining, then earn one point on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $550 annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent.

Analysis: You can find lots of great deals on hotels inside the Chase travel portal. Hotels often discount how many points are needed for a stay.

Combine that with the fact that your points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and you can get a really great deal.

For example, when I search for a hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, I see that the Waikiki Resort Hotel is offering a 55% discount. So, a hotel that normally charges $321.40 per night (at 55% off), redeemed with points that are worth 50% more, is available for only 9,642 points per night.

Waikiki Resort Hotel in Chase Sapphire Reserve

Learn how to apply to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Runner Up: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

What’s to like: The thing to love about the Capital One Venture Rewards card is how the points work. Instead of having to book inside of a portal, you can use points for any travel-related expense. 

This includes Airbnb, stays inside national parks, or independent hotels not associated with any hotel loyalty program.

This opens up A LOT of opportunities.

Details:

  • Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Cash-back: Earn two points per dollar spent on every purchase
  • Annual fee: $95.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent.

Analysis: I gave the slight edge in this category to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, due to the 50% bonus when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards. But for larger families looking to stay in an Airbnb, this card is a great fit.

Learn how to apply to this card.

Best Travel Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Winner: Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

What’s to like: One of the higher sign-up bonuses available with a no-annual-fee card.

Details:

  • Bonus: 20,000 bonus points within three months of account opening for spending $500 ($200 of value in travel).
  • Cash-back: Earn 1.25 points per dollar spent on every purchase
  • Annual fee: $0 annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%.
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent.

Analysis: A solid option for a low-spender who wants to save a few bucks on an upcoming trip.

Learn how to apply for the VentureOne Rewards card.

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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