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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 Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.
As a new cardholder, you can also earn 50,000 bonus points worth $625 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.
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
- Free 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
The budget-friendly Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Cardmaximizes 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:
- 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.
Best Travel Credit Cards for Business
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Cardoffers 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:
- 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 Cardlets 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.
The Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019
Best Travel Credit Cards for Airline Purchases
United℠ Explorer Card (Expired)
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 United℠ Explorer Card 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 Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card (Expired)
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card lets you capture the recent excitement of the Marriott Rewards program merging with the Starwood Preferred Guest program. Also, U.S. News and World Report rate Marriott Rewards as the best hotel rewards program for the current year.
Getting the Premier Plus let you enjoy these benefits:
- Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Rewards points if you spend $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening
- 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.
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 World of Hyatt Credit Card, 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
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.The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.