Updated on Feb 20, 2018

Best Travel Cards for 2018

Earn more travel rewards with the right card.
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Ever find yourself wishing you had a credit card that could help you travel? Well, our top picks for best travel credit cards for 2018 might just have what you’re looking for. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, these cards offer flexible rewards and bonuses when you use them. Take a look at our in-depth reviews of the year’s best cards and apply online in minutes for the one that’s right for you

Money360’s top picks for the best travel credit cards

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card LEARN MORE
    Best for frequent travelers Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
    Learn More on Capital One's secure website.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card APPLY NOW
    Great for flexible travel rewards Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
    Apply Now On Chase's secure website.
  • Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card LEARN MORE
    Best flat-rate travel rewards on a budget Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
    Learn More on Capital One's secure website.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express APPLY NOW
    Partner Offer
    Best hotel card Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
    Apply Now on American Express's secure website.
  • Discover it® Miles APPLY NOW
    Best no annual fee travel card Discover it® Miles
    Apply Now on Discover's secure website.
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business LEARN MORE
    Best business travel card Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
    Learn More on Capital One's secure website.
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card APPLY NOW
    Best for Bank of America customers Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
    Apply Now on Bank of America's secure website.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card APPLY NOW
    Best airline card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
    Apply Now on Chase's secure website.
Learn More on Capital One's secure website.

Best for frequent travelers

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Reward details Unlimited 2X miles per dollar Terms apply
Redeem for... Travel statement credit; travel booked through CapitalOne.com; gift cards; and more

Signup bonus 50,000 miles
Annual Fee $95 (Waived first year)
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 50000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.24% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card makes it easy to convert everyday expenses into travel rewards. That’s unlimited 2X miles per dollar you spend at grocery stores, gas pumps, utilities, and more. So, if you’re on the fence about a travel credit card, this might just be a great one to start.

How to use it
  • Spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months to earn 50,000 bonus miles. That’s $500 in travel!
  • Redeem miles for travel statement credit or book through CapitalOne.com on airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more
  • Traveling abroad? Use this card while you’re traveling to avoid foreign transaction fees.
  • Take advantage of complimentary, 24-hour concierge service through Visa Signature Concierge.
Consider this

If you want to earn even more for your travels, you might consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card comes with a similar rewards rate (2X points on travel and dining worldwide). Plus, you can earn 25% more value when you redeem those points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This card also offers a larger signup bonus worth $625 toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Why you'll love it

If you’re on the fence about a travel credit card, you’ll love the straightforward Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. The signup bonus alone (worth $500 in travel) is enough to ensure even the most frugal cardholders can earn a free trip. That’s on top of the 2X miles per dollar spent on everyday purchases.

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Great for flexible travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Reward details 2X points on travel and restaurants; 1X on other purchases Terms apply
Redeem for... Airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Signup bonus 50,000 points
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.24% - 24.24% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re someone who prefers flexibility in their credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might just fit the bill. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about and no travel restrictions or blackout dates when redeeming your points for travel. On top of all that, there’s a massive signup bonus worth $625 toward your next travel booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

How to use it
  • Use this card for everything. You’ll earn 1 point per every dollar spent.
  • Take advantage of 2X points on dining and travel purchases worldwide. This means impressive rewards potential both domestically and abroad.
  • Spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account to earn 50,000 bonus points.
  • Transfer your points to participating frequent travel programs at a 1:1 value for ultimate flexibility.
  • Redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® to score a 25% points bonus. This means redeeming 10,000 points actually give you 12500 points toward your next trip.
Consider this

Bear in mind that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does come with an annual fee of $95 (waived for the first year). While this amount more or less falls in line with standard annual fees, it’s something to consider. Make sure that your everyday spending habits fall in line with the incredible rewards potential of this card. If you can get the most out of this card, then it more than makes up for the annual fee.

Why you'll love it

You travel to get away from the hassles and complications of everyday life, and you deserve a card that helps make this possible. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the quintessential travel companion for anyone looking to see the world. Get this card and enjoy the ease of redeeming your reward points while saving on transportation and lodging wherever your journey takes you.

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Learn More on Capital One's secure website.

Best flat-rate travel rewards on a budget

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Reward details Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase Terms apply
Redeem for... Travel statement credit; travel booked through CapitalOne.com; gift cards; and more

Signup bonus 20,000 miles
Annual Fee None
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your VentureOne card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.24%-23.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 20000 Miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.24% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% intro on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: For 12 Months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 13.24% - 23.24% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you prefer your travel credit cards uncomplicated, then perhaps you will appreciate the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. This card features unlimited, flat-rate rewards on every purchase made. There are no special or rotating categories to keep track of and no need to deviate from your regular spending habits. Additionally, there are also no annual fees to deal with.

How to use it
  • Spend $1,000 within your first three months to earn the 20,000 mile spend bonus.
  • Make the most of your miles by redeeming for travel statement credit or for travel booked through CapitalOne.com. Eligible purchases include airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more.
  • Traveling abroad? Use this card while you’re traveling to avoid foreign transaction fees.
  • Take advantage of complimentary, 24-hour concierge service through Visa Signature Concierge.
Consider this

If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you could earn higher-rate rewards with another card. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is very similar, with the exception of a higher rewards rate (unlimited 2X miles per dollar) and a signup bonus that’s worth much more.

Why you'll love it

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card could be a good fit if you’re on a budget and looking to earn flexible rewards toward a free trip. With no annual fee and unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase — not to mention the signup bonus — you’ll be on vacation before you know it.

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Partner Offer Apply Now on American Express's secure website.

Best hotel card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Reward details 2 Starpoints® on purchases at SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels; 1 Starpoint for all other purchases Terms apply
Redeem for... Hotel and resort stays; flights

Signup bonus 25,000 Starpoints®
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% - 20.49% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

Those who frequent the Starwood hotels and resorts (this includes Westin and Sheraton hotels, among others) will get the most out of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. It also comes with no foreign transaction fees, which is perfect for trips to any of the 100+ countries with Starwood properties.

How to use it
  • Redeem your Starpoints stays at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® properties or for travel via SPG flights.
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints when you make $3,000 in purchases during the first 3 months.
Consider this

American Express isn’t always as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard, which could make earning rewards a little more complicated. (Still, it’s hard to beat all the perks you’ll get using this card at participating properties. Not to mention that if you were to pair this with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, you could earn points even faster and take advantage of the Crossover Rewards™ program.) For a widely accepted travel card backed by Visa, we recommend our top pick, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Why you'll love it

Another card that rewards customers for their brand loyalty, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is perfect if you enjoy staying with Starwood properties. If you like to travel and you need a place to stay, Starwood has properties in over 100 countries, where you’ll be able to earn some extra points using this card.

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Apply Now on Discover's secure website.

Best no annual fee travel card

Discover it® Miles
Reward details 1.5x miles for every $1 spent
Redeem for... Travel credit; statement credit

Signup bonus First year mile-for-mile match
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.24% - 24.24% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re someone who tends to shy away from annual fees and punishing late fees, it’s time to discover the benefits of the Discover it® Miles card. With this card, you won’t suffer late fees on the first late payment, and there’s no annual fee. There are also no foreign transaction fees, making this a great card to travel abroad with. The fact that rewards are redeemable for travel statement credit gives you the freedom to use that credit to book through discount sites like Priceline, without having your plans restricted by blackout dates or holidays. And if you like to take the long view with accumulating miles, consider the end-of-year miles match. Basically, if you have 5,000 miles by the end of your first year, it’ll double to 10,000.

How to use it
  • Earn 1.5x miles for every dollar you spend on purchases.
  • Earn as many miles as you can before the end of the first year to make the most of Discover’s year-end bonus miles.
  • Book a trip with any airline at any time without having to worry about blackout dates.
Consider this

A year is a long time to have to wait for those year-end bonus miles. If you’re not in a rush to earn miles, then this might be the card for you. However, if you’d prefer to start with a huge signup bonus right off the bat, consider picking up the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Its signup bonus is worth $625 toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Why you'll love it

The Discover it® Miles is a sensible, uncomplicated way of saving up miles without an annual fee. Those with a lot of patience will also appreciate the fact that their miles will be matched at the end of the first year.

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Learn More on Capital One's secure website.

Best business travel card

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
Reward details 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, every day. 50000 Miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
Redeem for... Airline tickets, hotel stays, vacation packages, and more

Signup bonus 50,000 miles
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
  • Plus, a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account, and there are no categories to limit where or what you buy
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • There's no limit to the amount of miles you can earn
  • Redeem miles for travel, cash back, gift cards and more
  • No foreign transaction fees and fly on any airline, anytime, with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, every day. 50000 Miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn a one-time bonus of 25,000 miles once you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.24% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 18.24% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: 30.65% (Variable)

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re a business owner and travel a lot for work, consider the Capital One® Spark Miles for Business. As a cardholder, you’ll earn 2X miles per dollar on every business purchase — no blackouts, no restrictions, and no redemption minimum. This means if you spend $10,000 a month in business expenses, you could earn 240,000 miles every year! Additionally, spend $4,500 in the first three months to earn 50,000 bonus miles (worth $500 in travel).

How to use it
  • Use your card for business-related expenses to earn 2X miles per dollar spent.
  • Spend $4,500 within the first three months to earn a one-time signup bonus of 50,000 miles (worth $500 in travel).
  • Take your card with you for international business trips to avoid paying foreign transaction fees.
  • Get employee cards at no additional costs to earn even more miles.
Consider this

You can redeem your miles for cash; however, the redemptions rates vary and are subject to change so you might not get the best return. If you’re worried about using up miles because you don’t have any travel planned in the immediate future, don’t worry. Your miles never expire!

Why you'll love it

Business owners who travel a lot for work can easily keep their professional travel separate from their personal accounts while earning miles to fund future trips. You won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees, blackout dates, restrictions, or expiring miles with the Capital One® Spark Miles for Business.

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Apply Now on Bank of America's secure website.

Best for Bank of America customers

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Reward details Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 on all purchases
Redeem for... Statement credit toward travel purchases

Signup bonus 20,000 bonus points
Annual Fee $0.00
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account. 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
  • Annual Fee: $0.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

Not surprisingly, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is ideal for both Bank of America account holders and those looking to earn free travel. With this card, Bank of America® account holders can get an additional 10% customer points on every purchase. There’s also a sizable 20,000-point signup bonus (if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening) along with the ease and flexibility of redeeming your points for air travel, hotel stays, car rentals and more. Because the points you’ll earn with this card are redeemable for a travel statement credit, you can book through the travel website or service of your choosing. This allows you to shop travel sales to make your rewards points stretch even further. And with no blackout dates, you’ll still have access to your travel rewards as well as special discounts and promotions regardless of major holidays.

How to use it
  • Receive 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Redeem your points for a travel statement credit good for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, and baggage fees.
  • Take advantage of an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase if you have (or open) a Bank of America checking or savings account. (Note: It may take up to 35 days to begin earning the Customer Points Bonus on Purchases when you open a qualifying account.)
Consider this

This card is most beneficial to those who have an active Bank of America savings or checking account. If the 10% customer bonus points aren’t incentive enough for you to open an account, you might consider an alternative like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® for 2X miles per dollar and a 5% points bonus at redemption.

Why you'll love it

The ease of earning points and flexible redemption make the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card all the more appealing. Add to that the 10% bonus customer points when you pair this with a Bank of America account, and you’ve got a card that makes earning — and redeeming — points a snap.

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Best airline card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Reward details 2X points on Southwest® & eligible Rapid Rewards® purchases; 1X points on all other purchases
Redeem for... Travel with Southwest Airlines or other partners

Signup bonus 50,000 points
Annual Fee $69
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Annual Fee: $69
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.24% - 24.24% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

For those who prefer to travel with Southwest Airlines, you might want to consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Southwest frequent flyers can earn points (2X per dollar) when booking through Southwest and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partners. On top of all that, your rewards never expire, and there are no blackout dates, seat restrictions, nor flight change fees to worry about.

How to use it
  • Earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Save your points for the trip you want to take; they will not expire as long as your account is open.
Consider this

This card is most ideal for traveling within the country, since there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you travel abroad, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best alternatives to avoid those fees (and rack up significant rewards quickly).

Why you'll love it

Current customers of Southwest Airlines will find plenty to love about earning extra points with Southwest purchases using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. And, it might just be worth making Southwest your #1 airline for all the extra points earned through Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases, as well.

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Are travel credit cards worth it?

That depends on how frequently you travel. Your ability to pay off the balance on a monthly basis and whether you can afford to charge your trip to qualify for the rewards are also key factors. Using your travel rewards card to facilitate the bulk of your purchases helps you earn miles quicker. Some cards also grant a bonus when you redeem those rewards for travel.

How do travel credit cards work?

In a nutshell, travel credit cards allow you to earn points, rewards, or miles on your travel-related expenses. Some credit cards – like the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card – fall into the fixed value category where each mile is worth 1 cent toward travel. Other cards feature a transferrable pool of points where you can use them in a partner program.

Is a travel credit card right for me?

If you travel frequently, you aren’t brand-loyal (or like to keep your options open), and you can pay off travel-related expenses in full and on time each month, then one of the best travel credit cards could help you save money and earn rewards on your next trip!

Resources for frequent travelers

The science of mastering rewards with your travel credit card is more of a journey than a destination, and even the savviest cardholder still has things to learn along the way.

In addition to rewards, many credit cards also provide travel insurance to help you protect yourself as you ramble around the globe.

The following section offers useful information to help you maximize the benefits of your travel credit card — not just the rewards points, but also insurance and other features that can improve your travel experience.

Do you need additional travel insurance?

Although it’s easy to brush off travel insurance as an unnecessary expense, you should always give it a second look. With all the upheavals that can unravel your travel plans, not to mention your own personal health, you might be wise to purchase a simple travel insurance plan — or at least pay for your trip with a credit card that offers this benefit for free. Your best option might be a combination: buying a travel insurance policy that supplements the coverage provided by your credit card and fills in the gaps.

Research the best travel credit cards

Below is a directory of the most popular travel credit cards. I used this directory as a starting point for my research and analysis on travel cards. The directory is updated weekly to reflect any new changes, to add new cards, and to remove expired cards.

The travel credit cards directory is a sub-directory of rewards credit cards. This directory highlights the most important features specific to travel cards and displays all important information about each card.

Travel credit cards directory

The travel rewards credit card directory lists every travel credit card and high level information for each of the cards, so you can make quick comparisons. In order to rank and value each of these cards, certain features were weighted accordingly based on overall importance to the prospective cardholder.

Sort, filter, or search for what matters most to find the best travel credit card for you.

Sort By
Card Name
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Rewards Tier Level
Common Filters
Good Signup Bonus
Great Ongoing Rewards
Great Perks
No Annual Fee
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Search
Credit Card
Annual Fee
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Apply Online
Credit Card
Annual Fee
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Apply Online
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent
Excellent
* (?)
$89 - Waived first year
Average
Excellent
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
None
Average
$0 intro for first year, then $85
Average
Good
* (?)
$0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
None
Average
* (?)
Average
* (?)
Excellent
* (?)
$495
Good
* (?)
Excellent
* (?)
$0 for the first year, then $195 See Details
None
Good
* (?)

The best travel credit cards for 2018

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card : Best overall
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card : Great for flexible travel rewards
  • Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card : Best flat-rate travel rewards on a budget
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express : Best hotel card
  • Discover it® Miles : Best no annual fee travel card
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business : Best business travel card
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card : Best for Bank of America customers
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card : Best airline credit card

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our rankings and recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.