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Summer is a great time to travel. With the kids out of school and the weather finally warmer, it’s the perfect time to take a break. No matter where you want to go, or how you want to get there, using the right credit card can help make your trip smoother and, in certain cases, help it cost less. Credit card rewards and points can be used to offset the cost of your travel and hotel stays, or can even be redeemed for cash back to help you afford a few extra souvenirs.
If you are planning to travel this summer, here are six cards that will help you make the most out of your trip.
The Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019
- Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Best Value: Bank of America Travel Rewards
- Best for Air Travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Best for Road Trips: Wells Fargo Propel American Express
- Best for Staycations: IHG Rewards Club Premier
- Best for Simplicity: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
How we evaluated
I’m a travel writer who has been writing about credit cards for the last six years and studying card benefits for many years longer. Many credit card options help elevate your travel experience, and I’ll help you figure out which option is the best for you. To examine cards, I looked at major credit cards with flexible points, points with hotels and airlines, and cash back. The best cards were chosen based on the value of rewards (both points and perks), fees, and flexibility.
Things To Know About Credit Cards
- Many of the best cards come with an annual fee, but some cards offer perks each year that significantly defray (or even negate) the fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is a good example of this.
- APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder’s personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating these cards. One thing to remember is that if you pay your card off in full every month, you will not be charged interest.
- Banks have the final say on who they accept for a credit card. These recommendations were put together with the assumption that applicants would have average credit or above. That being said, banks decide who they will issue credit cards to using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual’s credit score when evaluating each applicant.
Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been a favorite travel credit card for its great benefits and flexible points since it was first introduced in 2009. And it’s still the number one credit card for many types of travelers. The Sapphire Preferred Card earns super flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be used for nearly any type of travel redemption including hotel stays, cruises, car rentals, and flights. So if you don’t know what you’re planning to do yet this summer, or if your plans change each year, this card offers the kind of flexibility that meets your need, for a reasonable $95 annual fee.
Points: The Sapphire Preferred card earns 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Ultimate Rewards points can then be used to book hotels, cruises, car rentals, vacation rentals, and more directly through Chase’s travel portal with a value of 1.25 cents per point ($0.0125). For additional flexibility, points can also be transferred to Ultimate Rewards partners including programs like Hyatt and United Airlines. If you just want the cash back, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for cash at a rate of 1 point for $0.01. So, those 10,000 points could cover a $125 night in a partner hotel, or could put a cool $100 back in your bank account.
Perks: The Chase Sapphire Preferred has many great benefits in addition to how flexible the points are. It offers primary car rental insurance coverage, so you can avoid paying extra for insurance with the car rental company. Primary means that if something happens to your rental car you won’t have to make a claim to your own insurance policy first. It also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for any trips you make abroad, which is key to saving up to 3% on your purchases when you travel internationally.
Best Value: Bank of America Travel Rewards
The main selling point of the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is that it has no annual fee, yet it still offers decent rewards on a variety of travel purchases, including no foreign transaction fees while traveling abroad. That said, it does offer fewer benefits and lower rewards than the other cards on this list. If you spend more than $14,833 on your card each year ($1,236 each month), the Barclaycard Arrival Plus (our best pick for simplicity on this list), is a more rewarding pick for you. And if you have specific travel goals or plans, make sure you consider the other cards on this list as well.
Points: The Bank of America Travel Rewards Card earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. In order to redeem your points, you have to pay for your travel purchase with your credit card and redeem the points as a statement credit against the cost of the purchase. Each point is worth one cent ($0.01), so if you have 10,000 points you’ll be able to cover $100 in travel purchases……..Read More>>