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Do you travel with a favorite carry-on bag, or an amazing smartphone that you never leave home without? While these travel essentials might have earned your affection, your most important travel tool is probably your credit card.
The best travel rewards credit card can offer benefits that speed you through airports and hotels while unlocking the possibility of award travel at little or no cost. These cards offer rewards in the form of airline miles, hotel points or travel statement credits. In addition, some of these products offer points that can be transferred to several different airline and hotel programs.
Here are five of my favorites:
1. Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® is an essential card for any traveler. Cardholders can earn 60,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. They earn two miles per dollar on every purchase. Since these miles are worth one cent each toward travel statement credits, this bonus alone is worth $600. See for more information on the Arrival Plus.
This card also gives back 5% of miles earned for travel redemption, which equates to a total rate return of 2.1%. Miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel purchases, and cardholders must redeem a minimum of 10,000 miles at once. Furthermore, this card has an EMV smart chip that is PIN-enabled, which allows for compatibility with unattended credit card terminals overseas, such as those at train stations and toll booths. There’s an $89 annual fee that is waived the first year and no foreign transaction fees.
2. The makes sense for domestic and international travelers alike. New applicants earn 50,000 bonus points after making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. ThankYou® points can be redeemed for gift cards, airline tickets and merchandise, or transferred to 11 different travel partners. Cardholders earn three ThankYou points per dollar on travel purchases, including gas and parking fees, and two ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, along with one point per dollar on all other purchases. When using the ThankYou Travel Center, earned points are worth 25% more, giving travelers 1.25 cents per point redeemed. Points can also be redeemed on nights through the Hilton HHonors rewards program or transferred to miles with 10 different airlines including Singapore, Air France/KLM and Virgin Atlantic. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived in the first year. It also includes no foreign transaction fees.
3. The offers new applicants 30,000 bonus miles after making just $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Cardholders earn double miles on all American and US Airways purchases, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere, a 10% rebate on your redeemed AAdvantage miles. In addition, this card offers plenty of perks when traveling on American and US Airways such as priority boarding, a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, and your first bag checked free for yourself and up to four other companions. Other benefits include lost baggage protection, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, and purchase protection against damage and theft of covered items. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year.
* Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer,
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