Best Credit Cards For TravelFor many of us, travel is a basic part of life. Whether you're off to the airport for a leisurely sprawl on a tropical beach, a high-energy round of business meetings, or an adventure holiday, you'll be spending money along the way, usually by credit card. You'll want to choose an option with no foreign transaction fees, good acceptance outside the country, and other features designed to appeal to travelers. Plenty of cards offer just some of these features, but we’ve done the research to bring you our top picks.
Here are a few credit cards designed to help users cope with the stress and strain of travel.
ChaChase Sapphire Preferred®The first thing you want to watch out for in a travel-specific offer is foreign transaction fees. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card has none! Spend $4,000 or more within the first three months, and you'll earn a whopping 50,000 bonus points! You earn points for every dollar you spend, but travel or restaurant expenses (worldwide) will earn you double points! Adding an authorized user and having them make a transaction within the first three months will bag you another 5,000 points. If you're a member of any loyalty program with a hotel or a major airline, the points transfer rate is 1:1. No rip-offs here! There is no annual fee for the first year, but you’ll be paying $95 annually after that.
If you redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for airfare, car rentals, hotel stays, or even cruises, you’ll get 25% more value. There are no travel restrictions or blackout dates. You can even book plane seats through your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
This option is truly ideal for travelers, and it’s worth a close look if you are looking for a travel-specific card.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®This card has a triple suite of pitch points: no foreign transaction fees, 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 within the first three months, and double miles on all purchases. Not bad, eh?
You can redeem your miles for travel, which is a standard feature, but this card also gives you the option to redeem them for cash back, gift cards, and even merchandise! What’s more, the redemption process has an extra benefit: when you redeem your miles, you get 5% of those miles back to use on your next redemption. You can take your time, as there's no expiration date on miles, a pretty sweet feature. There’s no annual fee for the first year, then $89 after that.
So what about balance transfers? Make one within the first 45 days, and you'll get 0% APR on it for the first 12 months. You might not want to keep a balance on it after that initial period, though. Rates will increase to between 16.99% and 23.99% when it ends. Still, that's not much of a catch. This card is an excellent choice, with some great travel features.
Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x RewardsThis card is another option with no annual fee. What’s more, there are no special categories: it treats all purchases the same. For every dollar you spend, anywhere, anytime, you'll be bagging 1.5 miles, maximizing your rewards. You can redeem your miles for travel, or you can trade those rewards for cash with every 100 miles worth a crisp dollar bill. No matter what you do with those miles, at the end of the first year, you automatically receive a mile-for-mile match of all rewards that year. You get 0% APR for the first 14 months and then, depending on your creditworthiness, a variable APR of 11.99% to 23.99%.
We all know how unpleasant it is to look for customer service and have to face a language barrier, an automated system, or both. You'll have none of those issues here. All customer service is U.S. based, and you get a real human being on the phone. As a final perk, you even get a free FICO score each month!
BankAmericard Travel Rewards®This card doesn’t have any of those dreaded foreign transaction fees. What’s more, it also has enhanced security on its chip technology, protecting you further when using chip-enabled terminals. After all, we shouldn’t neglect credit security any more than personal security when we travel.
Every dollar you use to make purchases on this card will earn you 1.5 points on its rewards system. These points don't expire, and there's no annual fee. Spend $1,000 within the first three months, and you'll gain 20,000 bonus points! That's a surprisingly low spending requirement for a decent amount of points. There are no travel restrictions, blackout dates, or limit to certain websites. You can redeem points for flights, rental cars, hotel stays, or pesky baggage fees. You can even use them towards vacation packages and cruises! That’s pretty slick. The card carries an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months, after which you'll pay a variable rate of 15.99% to 23.99%.
If you have a checking or savings account with Bank of America, you'll get 10% additional points on all purchases, and that bonus goes up to between 25% and 75% for Preferred Rewards clients. If you are a Bank of America client, and you’re in the market for travel-specific credit, you should certainly look into this card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® PlusIf you're mainly a domestic traveler and looking to rack up points quickly, this card might be the best deal for you. There’s no expiration date on points, and every year on your cardholder’s anniversary, you'll receive 3,000 points.
As for general spending, you’ll earn a point per dollar on all purchases, while anything on Southwest® or their participating partners will score you double points. On these airlines, you’ll get to avoid baggage fees, and you won’t be subjected to seat restrictions or blackout dates. There is a catch though, you can only redeem points for flights within the United States or select destinations in the Caribbean.
If you're looking for a credit card with a good travel-specific rewards program, one of these just might be what you need. Compare the details, make your choice, and enjoy your trip! Your next destination is just a swipe away.
See them here:
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards
BankAmericard Travel Rewards®
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus