Top Travel Reward Credit Cards

Options for travel reward credit cardsOne of the things we get asked about the most is how to score cheap airline tickets. One way that we get cheap tickets is through using credit cards that have travel rewards.

Chief among these are travel reward credit cards. These are credit cards that offer a variety of deals and features that make travel cheaper, such as rewards points, frequent flyer miles, and no foreign transaction fees. There are many options, but here are some of the most interesting or popular cards out there right now.

Note: We recommend you only take out a credit card if you already have a good credit history and are good at managing your money. We pay our credit cards off in full every month. If we didn’t do this, the interest would defeat the purpose of the credit card rewards

How Reward Point Systems Work

Most rewards card systems come in two flavors, fixed and transferable.

For fixed points systems, purchases can be worth a certain amount of points, which are fixed to a monetary amount, usually 1 cent. These points can then be redeemed according to that rewards program.

In transferable reward systems, generic points accrue in an account when you make purchases on the card. These points are then transferred, at a conversion rate set by the companies involved, into other company’s rewards systems, becoming for example frequent flyer miles. Whatever that is transferred over then can be redeemed according to that rewards program.

A variation on this is a partnered rewards program, where purchases automatically convert to points or miles in a partnered company’s rewards program. All rewards programs are different and can change regularly, so make sure to read the fine print.

The Travel Cards

(Card info we have as of 1/1/2015. Please confirm for current promotions and offers.)

1. Citi® Platinum Select / AAvantage World Mastercard

Having partnered up, this travel rewards card comes with many great features associated with American Airlines. Cardholders get their first checked bag at American Airlines free for themselves and up to four travel companions, 10% back on redeemed American Airlines AAdvantage miles, and 25% off eligible in-flight snacks and drinks. While not as general as some of the other cards on this list, this card is a popular option for people who enjoy flying American Airlines.

  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • 3% foreign transaction fees
  • 2 AAdvantage miles earned for every eligible American Airline flights and 1 mile for all other purchases
  • Earn 30,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months of owning the card

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred®

With the ability to transfer points to several major airlines and hotels and electronic chip technology, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card stands as one of the most popular travel credit cards currently available. Overall, this travel card has a long list of popular features, and is the best for those that find themselves traveling often.

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2 points per $1 on travel and restaurant charges
  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in first three months
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year

3. US Airways Mastercard

If traveling with friends and family is what you live for, consider this travel rewards cards. With free check bags for you and four friends, and yearly companion tickets for two guest for only $99, this card can help those who are looking to travel in groups. However, this card does come with a 3% foreign transaction fee.

  • 40,000 bonus US Airways miles after the first purchase
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways purchases and 1 mile per $1 on everything else
  • $89 annual fee

4. CapitalOne® VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

While its 1.25 miles at any airline per $1 spent rate is fairly standard for travel cards, where this VentureOne card really shines is car rentals. 24 hour roadside assistance, auto rental insurance, and travel accident insurance make this card a good choice if you plan on driving across your chosen travel destination.

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 20,000 bonus miles with any airline after spending $1,000 within first three months
  • No blackout dates
  • $0 annual fee

5. American Express® GlobalTravel Card

If financial safety when you travel is a concern, look into the GlobalTravel card from American Express. This travel rewards card offers emergency card replacement if it’s lost or stolen, emergency access to your money, and round the clock access to medical and legal help. And since this card is not linked to your main banking account, the chance for fraud goes down even more.

  • No inactivity or foreign transaction fees
  • Currency conversion rate is automatically done
  • Access to Purchase Protection

These are only a few examples of the kinds of rewards and features you can find on the various travel reward credit cards out there. Since each card offers a different mix of rewards and features, it pays to find the travel card that suits your needs. Hopefully this can serve as a jumping off point in finding the travel reward credit card that fits you the best.

 

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