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Owning one of the best travel credit cards can help you travel more often in 2019. You can use a large signup or welcome bonus to book an upcoming trip. Then you can maximize each future purchase by earning rewards points that you redeem at your favorite airline or hotel loyalty program.

Whether you travel for personal reasons, business reasons, are new to award travel, or are a seasoned veteran, below are the best travel credit cards you should consider.

Best Travel Credit Card for Beginners

Chase Sapphire Preferred

When you’re just starting out banking travel rewards, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card offers some of the most valuable travel rewards points. Your points are worth 25% more when booking award travel on Chase. Or, you can also transfer them on a 1:1 basis to the .

As a new cardholder, you can also earn 60,000 bonus points worth $750 in award travel after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. You also earn unlimited 2 points per $1 on all travel and dining spending. You won’t pay foreign transaction fees on this card either.

Best Premium Travel Credit Cards 

When you’re not exclusive for a particular airline or hotel brand, premium flexible travel rewards credit cards provide better benefits and point redemption options for frequent flyers.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve®earns the valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You receive a 50% travel redemption bonus when booking award travel through Chase. Or, you can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to airline and hotel travel partners including Southwest, United, Marriott, and World of Hyatt.

Key card benefits include:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening (worth up to $750 in award travel)
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement
  • 3x points on dining purchases
  • 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 1x points on all remaining purchases

If you like flexibility in earning and redeem rewards points, the Sapphire Reserve is one of the best options.

Platinum Card from American Express

When you want a card to maximize air travel, get The Platinum Card® from American Express. You earn an impressive 5x points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. You can also earn 5x points per $1 on prepaid hotels (hotel booked and paid in advance) booked on amextravel.com. Plus, you can enjoy 1:1 point transfers to airlines like Delta, British Airways, and Emirates.

New cardmembers can also earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening (worth $600 in award travel).

This card offers lots of air travel benefits that improve your flight experience:

  • $200 airline fee credit
  • Free access to airport lounge networks including The Centurion, Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Club
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $200 in annual Uber ride credits

The earning and redemption options aren’t as flexible as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. But, if you prefer award air travel benefits to flexibility, the American Express Platinum can be the better card.

Best Travel Credit Card Without An Annual Fee

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card (Expired)

The information related to Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected by Hundredbacklinks and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

The budget-friendly Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card maximizes your travel and lifestyle spending. You won’t pay an annual fee or a foreign transaction fee.

In addition to the 30,000 points welcome bonus when you spend $3,000 in purchases in 3 months (worth $300), you also earn unlimited 3x points on these purchases:

  • Dining
  • Gas, rideshares, and transit
  • Flights, Hotels, Homestays, and Car Rentals
  • Popular streaming services (that are eligible)

While you won’t get the premium travel benefits that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Propel offers similar purchase rewards earning and redemption values.

Use United Airlines miles for international business class tickets.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Business

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers the most valuable Ultimate Rewards signup bonus. It’s worth up to $1,000 in award travel. To earn it, you must spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus you also enjoy 1:1 points transfers and a 25% Chase travel redemption bonus.

Consider the Ink Business Preferred if you want to earn 3x per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account anniversary year:

  • Travel
  • Shipping Purchase
  • Internet, Phone, and Cable Services
  • Search Engine and Social Media Advertising

After maxing the 3x point per $1 spent, it is 1 point per $1.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

For a no annual fee business credit card, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card lets you earn bonus points on select purchases. You can redeem your points for cash or travel rewards. Unlike the Ink Business Preferred, you don’t get a travel redemption bonus or 1:1 point transfers. But, you can pair this with the Preferred to pool your points and earn bonus points on more purchases.

You earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year. This includes at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services.

You also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at either gas stations or restaurants each account anniversary year. All remaining purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Airline Purchases

United℠ Explorer Card

United Airlines is a popular carrier for domestic and global routes simply because of the sheer number of destinations. They are also one of the few carriers to still offer fixed mileage award flights and not charge fuel surcharges on long haul flights. The  is offering a signup bonus of 40,000 miles.

Besides this signup bonus, you can enjoy these benefits:

  • 2x miles on United purchases, restaurants, and hotels
  • Free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Free first checked bag for you and one travel companion
  • Two one-time United Club passes at account opening and each card anniversary

Best Travel Credit Cards for Hotels

These two hotel credit card can be a win-win as you’ll earn hotel loyalty points with each purchase. Plus, you get a free hotel night award each card anniversary.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card lets you capture the recent excitement of the Marriott Rewards program merging with the Starwood Preferred Guest program. The new Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is replacing the current premium Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card.

Silver Elite benefits mean you can enjoy free in-room premium Wi-Fi at Marriott Bonvoy properties. You also get 10% bonus points on stays, priority late checkout, and no blackout dates on free night awards. You also have access to exclusive experiences.

There’s also a limited time offer that comes with the ability to earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of travel.

By getting the Bonvoy, you can enjoy these benefits:

  • Automatic Silver Elite status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits
  • 1 Free Night Award (each card anniversary)
  • No foreign transaction fee

You also earn unlimited 6x points at 6,700+ participating Marriott Rewards® and SPG®hotels. All remaining purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent. Check out the other new Marriott Bonvoy credit cards .

World of Hyatt Credit Card

While World of Hyatt isn’t the largest hotel rewards program, they offer low-cost reward nights for their properties. For their most upscale properties, you pay a very reasonable 40,000 points per night.

With the , you can enjoy these card benefits

  • 50,000 bonus points worth up to 10 free nights at Category 1 hotels
  • One free night each card anniversary
  • Second free night with at least $15,000 in annual card purchases
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist Status
  • 9x points at Hyatt hotels, resorts, restaurants, and spas
  • 2x points on dining, airfare purchased directly from the airline, local transit, and fitness clubs and gyms
  • No foreign transaction fee

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

There is a truly an overwhelming selection of travel rewards credit cards on the market, with options for just about every kind of traveler. So, to narrow down those options a bit, we’ve picked out the best travel rewards credit cards for 2018 and compared their most appealing features.

I used my points from the best travel credit cards to fly first class
I used my points from the best travel credit cards to fly first class

Key Features in Finding the Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

We’re comparing these travel credit cards based on a few features that might sway your decision:

  • Annual fee: Some travel rewards credit cards come with no annual fee, some come with a massive annual fee, and some waive their fee for the first year. Generally, the more you pay, the bigger the perks.
  • Sign-up bonus: Don’t cheat yourself out of points or miles by signing up for a travel card with no sign-up bonus. Once you decide on what kind of spending minimum you can reliably meet, you can compare the best travel rewards credit cards based on which will give you the most points for that initial spending.
  • Extra points: Some travel cards will give you 2x points or miles on all of your purchases, and some will award as much as 5x points or miles on specific spending categories. It’s worth the time to look through your recent credit card statements and compare the rewards you would have earned with different travel cards.
  • No foreign transaction fee: Period.
  • Travel perks, benefits, and protections: Each travel credit card comes with different perks, but most will offer varying levels of protection for travel mishaps like canceled flights, stolen luggage, and collision damage waivers for car rentals.

You don’t have to find a travel rewards credit card that checks off each of these boxes for you– but you might be able to. We’ll rank the best credit cards based on how they compete in each of these categories. Also, please read this post on Chase’s 5/24 rule if you’re not familiar with it.

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2018:

Best Travel Rewards Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a 60,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening– that’s worth at least $750 toward travel through Ultimate Rewards. But you can receive even more value by transferring your Ultimate Rewards points out to a travel partner.

With a $95 annual fee, 2x points on travel and dining, and a long list of travel protections, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers excellent value for its cost.

The Sapphire Preferred’s flexibility comes from its redemption options. You’ll be able to redeem points for statement credit (at a rate of 1 cent per point) or for an elevated rate of 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through Ultimate Rewards.

But your best bet with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will usually be to take advantage of Chase’s 1:1 transfer ratio (more here)with its hotel and airline transfer partners. That’s a huge draw and makes your Ultimate Rewards points very flexible.

With the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll be able to transfer your points to these airline & hotel loyalty programs:

  • British Airways Avois
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Korean Air Skypass
  • United MileagePlus Miles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • JetBlue
  • Aer Lingus
  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • Ritz Carlton

Another feature that makes this travel rewards card remarkably flexible is your ability to transfer your points immediately to another Ultimate Rewards account held by you, your spouse, or your domestic partner. If you already hold a card like the Chase Freedom or the Chase Ink Business Preferred, that could be a huge boost in meeting your rewards goals. And it’s definitely worth noting, that there’s the Sapphire Reserve card, which comes with a higher annual fee, but also comes with more benefits.

Best Business Card: Chase Ink Preferred

The Ink Business Preferred carries a $95 annual fee, which it more than makes up for with its ridiculously tempting sign-up bonus:  80,000 bonus points when you meet the $5,000 spending minimum in the first 3 months from account opening.

Those 80k bonus points are worth $1,000 towards travel when you redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal, or potentially even more if you can transfer them to the right airline partner.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred also offers extra points in some bonus categories that might appeal to freelancers and small business owners: you’ll earn 3x points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, and advertising on social media sites and search engines.

Keep in mind, you’ll earn those 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined purchases in each account anniversary year. After that, all purchases will earn 1x points.

This card also comes with some helpful travel protections:

  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Roadside Dispatch
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Purchase Protection
  • Cell Phone Protection

Best Premium Card: The Platinum Card from American Express: Luxury Travel

If you travel frequently, value luxury travel then you might consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. It doesn’t have the high rewards offered by some other travel rewards cards, but it does come with some competitive travel perks. And of course, it makes sense to compare the Amex Platinum with the Sapphire Reserve which is also a great premium card.

You’ll be able to earn a 60,000-point welcome bonus when you use your card to spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

On top of that welcome bonus, frequent travelers can earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines and 5x points on eligible hotels booked through AMEX travel. Anything else will earn just 1x points.

Those Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for statement credit, gift cards, and Uber credits, but you’ll get the most value out of using them to book travel through  or by transferring them to an airline or hotel partner:

  • AeroMexico
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia Millemiglia
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Asia Miles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Israel Airlines
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue True Blue
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Choice Privileges (Hotels)
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Again, you won’t get a 1:1 transfer ratio with all partners, so it’s worth checking before you make any final decisions.

The Platinum’s travel perks include $200 in Uber credits annually, a $200 airline fee for incidentals on your preselected qualifying airline, access to the , and valuable benefits when you stay at a property in the . Take full advantage of this card’s welcome bonus, annual credits, and airline transfer partners.

Additionally, cardholders can get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on their Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. However, they must be enrolled for this benefit to apply.

Here’s how hard it is to get approved for the Amex Platinum, and the credit score needed for approval. 

Best Flat Rate: Capital One Venture Rewards Card: Everyday Rewards

The Capital One Venture Rewards card has a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year) and offers a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus. Unlike the Sapphire Preferred, that bonus will be worth only $500– but you’ll only have to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to earn it.

The Venture card stands out for awarding 2x miles on all purchases unlike the CSPs 2x on dining & travel, with miles worth 1 cent each as travel statement credit. That means this card carries a flat rewards rate of 2%, with miles redeemable toward eligible travel-related purchases made in the last 90 days or toward travel purchases made through the Capital One portal.

Frequent travelers might get more value out of a card that offers extra points on travel spending, and you won’t get much in the way of perks and protections out of the Venture card. Still, the card’s flexible statement credit redemption option and 2x miles on all purchases makes it a solid option for people who want to rack up rewards on everyday purchases for their next trip.

Hotel Credit Card: Marriott

This information could change since Hilton is changing its offers and there will be 4 new Marriott – SPG credit cards.

With Marriott, you can transfer your points to:

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  • Alitalia Millemiglia
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Korean Air
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • United Mileage Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

The  includes over 30 frequent flyer programs, but keep in mind that not all of them offer a 1:1 transfer ratio. You’ll want to check on your preferred airline before you finalize any transfers.

Other Travel Rewards Credit Card Options

These travel credit cards each offer great value in different areas, but they aren’t the only valuable travel rewards cards out there.

If none of these credit cards suit your needs, don’t worry, you’ve still got options. Some other rewards credit cards options include valuable cash back rewards cards like the Blue Cash EveryDay card from American Express or the AMEX EveryDay from American Express.

Summary of the Best Travel Credit Cards

For this list of the best travel credit cards of 2019, the Ink Business Cash is the only card that charges a foreign transaction fee. As a tradeoff, you don’t pay an annual fee and you earn highly valuable rewards points. The Southwest credit cards also come with that sweet Companion Pass that you can earn.

My advice is to plan ahead. Decide how you want to use one of these best travel credit cards. With the right planning and budgeting, you can enjoy a travel-filled 2019.

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The Best Travel Credit Cards 2019
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