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How did travel go from being an exciting adventure to a constant series of degrading experiences? Today, hopping on a plane or checking into a hotel can be an ordeal composed of long lines, poor service and endless fees.
Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. Some travelers are afforded access to special lines, VIP service and waivers from many of the most onerous fees, just because they happen to hold the right credit card in their wallet. The best credit cards for travelers will also feature valuable policies and a competitive rewards program.
But with hundreds of credit cards offered by dozens of card issuers, how can you tell which ones are the best? Here are five of the best credit cards for travel benefits that will help you get to your destination with less aggravation and fewer fees than ever before:
1. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a favorite among travelers because of its extensive travel benefits. With no foreign transactions fees and an embedded chip for greater security and acceptance overseas, cardholders can transfer earned points at a 1:1 ratio for many frequent travel programs, including airlines like Southwest, United and British Airways, along with hotel partners such as Marriott, IHG and Hyatt. Cardholders are rewarded for travel purchases by earning two points per dollar on restaurants and travel, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. When making reservations through Chase Ultimate Rewards, travelers get 20% off flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and cruises. Cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points for future travel after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived in the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
2. The Platinum Card® from American Express (expired)
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great card for those want to travel in style. First, cardholders receive a $100 fee credit for the Global Entry application every five years (or $85 credit for TSA PreCheck), which can allow them expedited security and immigration processing. Once traveling, cardholders have access to the airline club lounges in over 800 domestic and international airports and can transfer miles to seven airline partners, including Delta, Air Canada and Singapore. Travelers can access complimentary benefits at over 800 hotel properties worldwide, and cardholders can transfer points to stay at Hilton and Starwood hotel partners. Finally, cardholders can choose a qualifying airline and receive up to $200 in airline credit each year when travel fees are charged to this card, including checked bags and in-flight purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, this card has a $450 annual fee.
3. The Citi Prestige® Card is great for both domestic and international travelers. Cardholders receive a $100 application fee credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every five years and a $250 air travel credit for flight-related fees each year. Cardholders can also access American Airlines Admirals Clubs including two guests or their immediate family. Points earned in Citi’s ThankYou Program transfer to 10 different travel partners including Hilton, Singapore Airlines and Air France/KLM. With no foreign transaction fees and chip technology, this card has a $450 annual fee.
4. Domestic travelers greatly benefit from the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard®. Like the Platinum and Prestige cards, this card provides a fee credit for the Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application. Cardholders have access to Admirals Club at airports worldwide, and American Airlines and US Airways travelers can benefit from priority check-in, priority airport screening, and priority boarding privileges where available, along with a free first checked bag on domestic flights and 25% off for in-flight purchases. Cardholders can earn 75,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months, which can be redeemed for travel to over 1,000 destinations worldwide. In addition, cardholder who spend $40,000 in the calendar year receive 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles to help them qualify for elite status. This card has a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
5. The Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card is arguably the best card for loyal Hilton customers. Cardholders automatically hold Hilton HHonors Gold Status and can upgrade to HHonors Diamond Status after spending $40,000 or more each calendar year. Gold Status members receive a 25% bonus on all earned HHonors Base Points, fifth night free for stays of five nights or more, and others benefits depending on the Hilton property (including bonus points per stay and complimentary snacks and beverages). Cardholders can earn two weekend night certificates for stays at over 4,100 hotels and resorts after spending $2,500 in the first four months, with an additional weekend night certificate after spending $10,000 each year. With this card, you earn 10 points per dollar on hotel stays at Hilton properties, five points per dollar on airline and car rentals purchases, and three points per dollar on all other purchases. With no foreign transaction fees and chip technology, this card has a $95 annual fee.
* Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer,
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