Best Travel Credit Cards for Travel Lovers

I’ll admit that I’ve known travel credit cards existed for a long time, but didn’t know much about them. The only thing I knew was that you earned points for travel related purchases, but I also knew that most travel credit cards also had a yearly fee. In my mind, I just assumed that the yearly fee would just cancel out any of the rewards I earned unless I traveled a ridiculous amount. Sure, I travel more than your average Joe, but I still only travel two or three times a year. I didn’t think it would be enough to make travel credit cards worth it. However, the other day I sat down and did the math, comparing a total of 33 different travel credit cards with the credit card I had been using in the past and discovered that I was very wrong. Keep reading to discover some of the best travel credit cards and figure out which one is best for you!

Best Travel Credit Cards for Travelers | Footsteps of a Dreamer

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Are Travel Credit Cards Right for You?

Before you jump in to figuring out which travel credit card to apply for, I encourage you to figure out if travel credit cards are a good fit for you. Travel credit cards have a lot of benefits, but they’re not for everyone.

First of all, part of what makes travel credit cards so appealing is that they often have a significantly large introductory bonus. However, you don’t just get this bonus upon getting approved for the card. You often have to spend so much money within a specific amount of time in order to get the bonus. If you don’t spend enough to get the bonus, the card may not be worth it, and the last thing you want to do is overextend your budget just trying to meet the bonus requirements.

Secondly, many travel cards give you more points for travel related purchases as opposed to other purchases (such as gas, groceries, etc). However, if you don’t currently travel that much, you may actually earn more in rewards from other types of credit cards such as cash back credit cards than you would from travel credit cards.

Lastly, travel credit cards can involve a significant amount of work. Many have an annual fee. In almost every case I looked at in my travel credit card research, the rewards outweighed the annual fee, but only if you can take advantage of the rewards to their full potential. However, to do this, you’ll need to be super on top of your financials and intimately familiar with the rewards and perks of your travel credit card. If you aren’t a big fan of analyzing your spending habits to maximize potential rewards, travel credit cards may not be a good option for you.

Best Travel Credit Cards (Summary Table)

NOTE #1: The numbers in the below tables are specific to my own financial circumstances and may vary significantly for your own situation. Please see the below section for an in depth explanation of how I calculated these numbers.

NOTE #2: Credit card providers are constantly changing promotions and offering new ones. I will do my best to keep the information in this article as up to date as possible, but I highly recommend confirming the information (such as annual fee amount, intro bonus, etc) on the website of the credit card provider before making a final decision.

Bank Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card 1st Year Value Following Year Value No Foreign Fees Rental Car Ins. Trip Cancelled Flight Delay Lost Lugg. Hotel Upg. Airport Lounge
Altitude Reserve$1,381.99$531.99
Sapphire Reserve
(My Choice)
$1,370.59$520.59
Platinum Card $1,211.56$411.56
Venture$1,095.50$400.50
Sapphire Preferred$1,094.88$344.88
FlexPerks Gold$1,085.78$535.78
Premium Rewards$1,028.7$428.7
Gold Card$821.58$321.58
FlexPerks Travel$811.09$436.09
Premier Traveler795.50410.50
Propel$755.93$455.93
Discover it Miles743.26371.63
Travel Rewards$621.63$371.63
VentureOne509.69309.69

Airline Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card 1st Year Value Following Year Value No Foreign Fees Rental Car Ins. Trip Cancelled Flight Delay Lost Lugg. Hotel Upg. Airport Lounge Free Bag
Aadvantage Aviator Red $1,199.11 $260.11
Explorer Card$1,133.96$378.96
Gold Delta SkyMies$1,100.58$405.58
Platinum Delta SkyMiles$1,050.58$350.58
Rapid Rewards Plus$1,032.18$352.18
Rapid Rewards Premier$1,032.18$322.18
Rapid Rewards Priority$1,032.18$272.18
Club Card$770.28$70.28
Blue Delta SkyMiles$751.98$551.98
Delta Reserve$750.58$-49.42
TravelBank Card$521.63$371.63
Spirit Card$397.75$188.75

Hotel Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card 1st Year Value Following Year Value No Foreign Fees Rental Car Ins. Trip Cancelled Flight Delay Lost Lugg. Airport Lounge
Hilton Honors Aspire$1,489.71$589.71
World of Hyatt$1,242.59$392.59
Hilton Honors Surpass$1,193.36$443.36
Bonvoy Boundless$1,101.4$301.4
Hilton Honors$1,007.44$557.44
Bonvoy Brilliant$977.66$277.66
Best Western Rewards Premium$866.82$317.82
Best Western Rewards$574.6$350.6
Bonvoy Bold$448.9$208.87

How I Calculated Rewards Value

So, how did I come up with those numbers in the above table? Well, it involved a couple of different steps.

  1. Calculate hypothetical points earned over past year
  2. Add intro bonus points
  3. Convert points to dollar equivalent
  4. Subtract annual fees
  5. Add any credits

Calculate hypothetical points earned over past year

First and foremost, I took a little at my spending history from November 1st, 2018 to October 31st, 2019 (a full year’s worth of transactions). I then calculated the amount of points I would have earned for each transaction for each of the travel credit cards, had I actually been using that travel credit card for the past year.

This was a pit of a process because each of the travel credit cards vary in how they award points. Some travel credit cards offer 2x points for dining and travel related purchases and 1x points for all other purchases, while other travel credit cards offer 4x points for dining, 3x points for airfare, and 1x points for all other purchases, etc. However, thanks to a few formulas in Excel, it ended up not being as difficult to calculate as it may seem.

Note that because I used my own transaction history to determine points I would have earned the past year, this means that all of the dollar amounts you see in the above table are 100% unique to my personal spending history. They may vary substantially if your personal spending history were to be used instead.

Add intro bonus

So, at this point, I have a list of points I would have earned the past year for each of the travel credit cards. Most cards also offer some sort of intro bonus. They are typically along the lines of, “If you spend X amount of dollars in Y number of months, we’ll give you Z bonus points.” For these calculations, I ran under the assumption that I spent enough money within the time limit to earn the bonus points.

However, this is only a one time bonus. That means that the points you earn your first year will likely be significantly higher than the points you would earn the following years (hence the two different columns in the table). First year is points earned + bonus rewards points, while the following years are just points earned.

Convert points to dollar equivalent

I then converted these points into actual dollar amounts. Again this part is also tricky because different credit cards often evaluate points differently depending on how your redeem them. In most cases, 1 point is equivalent to 1¢, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes one point can be as much as 1.5¢ while other times it can be as low as 0.5¢. This may not seem like much of a difference, but when you are talking about thousands of points, it makes a massive difference in total rewards.

For each of the hypothetical points earned on different travel credit cards, I converted the points into dollar amounts based on how that travel credit card values points. Some credit card programs post how much each point is worth depending on how you redeem them. Other programs do not have a set conversion rate.

For the programs that don’t have set conversion rates, I used The Points Guy’s Monthly Points Valuation for my conversions. Of the programs that did have set conversion rates, if one redemption type (such as travel purchases) gave 1.5¢ per mile and 1¢ for another redemption type (such as cash back), I chose the higher of the two dollar amounts.

Subtract annual fees

Next, I subtracted any annual fees for the credit cards from the rewards dollar amount earned. In every single case, the rewards earned were more than enough to make up for the annual fee.

Add any credits

Lastly, some cards have “credits” or reimbursements. For example, some offered up to $100 reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check applications, while others offered a $25 – $325 reimbursement for travel related expenditures. I added these credits to the total rewards value.

It’s also worth noting that some travel credit cards have additional perks such as upgraded hotel rooms, travel insurance, etc. These benefits were much hard to quantify in a particular dollar amount, so I left them out of these calculations.

Bank vs Airline vs Hotel Cards

I personally am not particularly loyal to any one hotel chain or airline. Sure, I have my preferences, but at the end of the day if there is a cheaper room at a different hotel or on a different airline, I’ll highly consider taking it (assuming it’s decent quality, fits my schedule, etc). For that reason, I chose to go with one of the bank issued travel credit cards, independent of any particular airline or hotel. However, depending on your travel habits, you may benefit from one of the specific airline or hotel cards.

Bank Travel Credit Cards

Like I mentioned above, bank issued travel credit cards are not specific to any one hotel or airline, meaning you can reap the benefits of free or discounted flights, hotel stays, and other travel expenses across various airlines and hotel chains. These cards are great for travelers who like flexibility and a wide range of choices.

However, the overall total potential rewards for the year aren’t as high as some of the airline or hotel specific credit cards. For example, the Hilton Honors Rewards card has a much higher rewards potential, but since I almost never stay at Hilton hotels, I don’t believe I’d really take advantage of the rewards to their full potential.

Airline Travel Credit Cards

Airline travel credit cards are great for travelers who find themselves always flying with the same airline. This is especially common for travelers who tend to visit the same destinations over and over again (whether traveling for business, visiting family, etc).

These cards are the only travel credit cards that will potentially offer the ability to get your first, and sometimes even your second, checked bag for free. They also can often be combined with the airlines own loyalty rewards program, allowing you to get upgraded seats, access to airport lounges, and other benefits of membership status. Some even often significantly reduced flights for a companion after your card membership anniversary.

Hotel Travel Credit Cards

Hotel travel credit cards are good for those who find themselves always staying with a specific hotel chain. Maybe you’ve stayed at a variety of hotels over the years and found that you’ve always had good experiences with one particular hotel chain, or maybe you travel to the same destinations frequently and always stay at the same hotel when you go.

These cards have some of the highest rewards potential, so if you do stay at the same hotels frequently, I’d highly consider going with a hotel credit card. Like airline credit cards, points earned through these cards can often be combined with the hotel’s loyalty rewards program, allowing you to get upgraded rooms and sometimes even free rooms.

Best Travel Credit Cards (In Depth Review)

Bank Travel Credit Cards

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $400
Rewards Rate:
  • 3x points on travel purchases and mobile payments (ie Apple Pay)
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.5¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1.1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 90,466 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 40,466 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,381.99Following Years’ Rewards Value: $531.99
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Airport Lounges
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $325 Reimbursement for travel purchases
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • 12 complimentary Gogo® Inflight Wi-Fi passes per year

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $450
Rewards Rate:
  • 3x points on travel and dining purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.5¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 94,706 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 44,706 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,370.59Following Years’ Rewards Value: $520.59
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $300 Reimbursement for travel purchases
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • Emergency Evacuation & Transportation – If you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick during a trip far from home that results in an emergency evacuation, you can be covered for medical services and transportation
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Return Protection – You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

The American Express Platinum Card®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 70,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $550
Rewards Rate:
  • 5x points on flight and hotel purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for flight purchases
  • 1 point = 0.7¢ for hotel and cruise purchases
  • 1 point = 0.6¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 126,156 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 56,156 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,211.56Following Years’ Rewards Value: $411.56
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $200 Reimbursement for travel incidentals (i.e. checked bags, in-flight refreshments)
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities
  • Uber VIP status and enjoy $15 in Uber Cash for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue or saks.com
  • Platinum Travel counselors specialize in providing custom itineraries and tailored recommendations
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Return Protection – You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase

Venture® Rewards from Capital One®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 10x points on hotels.com (through Jan 2020)
  • 2x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 0.5¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 99,550 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 49,550 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,095.5Following Years’ Rewards Value: $400.5
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 60,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on travel and dining purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.25¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 95,190 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 35,190 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,094.88Following Years’ Rewards Value: $344.88
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 15,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 75,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 30,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $85
Rewards Rate:
  • 3x points on restaurant purchases
  • 2x points on gas and airline purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.5¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1.1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 66,385 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 36,385 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,085.78Following Years’ Rewards Value: $535.78
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi
  • $25 Reimbursement for travel incidentals (i.e. checked bags, in-flight refreshments) per round-trip air travel award ticket

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5 points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 92,370 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 42,370 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,028.7Following Years’ Rewards Value: $428.7
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • $100 Reimbursement for travel incidentals (i.e. checked bags, in-flight refreshments)
  • Concierge services
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 90 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items
  • Emergency Evacuation & Transportation – If you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick during a trip far from home that results in an emergency evacuation, you can be covered for medical services and transportation

American Express® Gold Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $250
Rewards Rate:
  • 4x points on dining and US Supermarket purchases
  • 3x points on flight purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for flight purchases
  • 1 point = 0.7¢ for hotel and cruise purchases
  • 1 point = 0.6¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 85,158 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 35,158 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $821.58Following Years’ Rewards Value: $321.58
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $100 Reimbursement for travel incidentals (i.e. checked bags, in-flight refreshments)
  • $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 25,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $49
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on gas and cell service provider purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.5¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1.1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 52,339 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 27,339 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $811.09Following Years’ Rewards Value: $436.09
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $25 Reimbursement for travel incidentals (i.e. checked bags, in-flight refreshments) per round-trip air travel award ticket

PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 30,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $85 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on every purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 0.5¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 79,550 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 49,550 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $795.5Following Years’ Rewards Value: $410.5
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Visa Signature® Concierge
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 30,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 3x points on transit and travel purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 75,593 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 45,593 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $755.93Following Years’ Rewards Value: $455.93
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Lost Luggage
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Cell phone protection helps protect your cell phone from damage or theft
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Discover it® Miles Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: Points MatchAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 1.5x points on every purchase
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 1¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 74,326 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 37,163 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $743.26Following Years’ Rewards Value: $371.63
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • None

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 25,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 1.5x points on every purchase
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 0.6¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 62,163 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 37,163 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $621.63Following Years’ Rewards Value: $371.63
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase

VentureOne® Rewards from Capital One®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 20,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 1.25x points on every purchase
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for travel purchases
  • 1 point = 0.5¢ for cash back
1st Year Points Earned: 50,969 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 30,969 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $509.69Following Years’ Rewards Value: $309.69
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Airline Travel Credit Cards

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 60,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $99 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on American Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.4¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 85,651 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 25,651 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,199.11Following Years’ Rewards Value: $260.11
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Lost Luggage
  • Flight Delay
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
Additional Benefits:
  • Preferred boarding
  • Earn an introductory Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making your first purchase and paying the annual fee in the first 90 days.
  • Each anniversary year, earn a Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after spending $20,000 on purchases and your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date
  • Receive 25% inflight savings as statement credits on food and beverages when you use your card on American Airlines operated flights

UnitedSM Explorer Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 40,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on hotel, dining, and United Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.4¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 73,854 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 33,854 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,133.96Following Years’ Rewards Value: $378.96
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Airport Lounges
Additional Benefits:
  • Two United Club one-time passes per year
  • Complimentary Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24 hours a day
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 10,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 50,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 30,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on Delta Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 2¢ for award flights
  • 1 point = 1¢ for pay with miles flights
1st Year Points Earned: 55,029 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 25,029 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,100.58Following Years’ Rewards Value: $405.58
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Ins.
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Flight Delay
  • Lost Luggage
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounges
Additional Benefits:
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 5,000 MQMs, 35,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $250
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on Delta Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 2¢ for award flights
  • 1 point = 1¢ for pay with miles flights
1st Year Points Earned: 60,029 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 25,029 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,050.58Following Years’ Rewards Value: $350.58
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
Additional Benefits:
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card
  • Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding
  • $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 40,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $69
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.7¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 64,775 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 24,775 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,032.18Following Years’ Rewards Value: $352.18
Standard Benefits:
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Free Checked Bag
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
Additional Benefits:
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 10,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 50,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 40,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $99
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.7¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 64,775 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 24,775 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,032.18Following Years’ Rewards Value: $322.18
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
Additional Benefits:
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 10,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 50,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 40,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $149
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.7¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 64,775 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 24,775 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,032.18Following Years’ Rewards Value: $272.18
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
Additional Benefits:
  • $75 Reimbursement for Southwest purchases
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 10,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 50,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

United ClubSM Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $450
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on United Airlines purchases
  • 1.5x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.4¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 87,163 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 37,163 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $770.28Following Years’ Rewards Value: $70.28
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Premier Access® travel services
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® President’s Circle®
  • Complimentary Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24 hours a day
  • Price Protection – If a card purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft
  • Return Protection – You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase
  • Extended Warranty Protection – You’ll get additional warranty protection at no charge on eligible items

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 10,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on dining and Delta Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 2¢ for award flights
  • 1 point = 1¢ for pay with miles flights
1st Year Points Earned: 37,599 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 27,599 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $751.98Following Years’ Rewards Value: $551.98
Standard Benefits:
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets

Delta Reserve® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 10,000 MQMs, 40,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $550
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on Delta Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 2¢ for award flights
  • 1 point = 1¢ for pay with miles flights
1st Year Points Earned: 65,029 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 25,029 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $750.58Following Years’ Rewards Value: $-49.42
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
Additional Benefits:
  • Concierge service
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club® Access
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card
  • Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets
  • Earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year
  • Return Protection – You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase

UnitedSM TravelBank Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 15,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on United Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 52,163 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 37,163 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $521.63Following Years’ Rewards Value: $371.63
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Price Protection – If a card purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft

Spirit Airlines World Mastercard®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 30,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $59 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 2x points on every purchase
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.5¢ for flight purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 79,550 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 49,550 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $397.75Following Years’ Rewards Value: $188.75
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • 5,000 anniversary bonus Free Spirit™ miles when you spend at least $10,000 in purchases annually

Hotel Travel Credit Cards

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 150,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $450
Rewards Rate:
  • 14x points on Hilton hotel purchases
  • 7x points on flight, car rental, and dining purchases
  • 3x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.6¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 239,952 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 89,952 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,489.71Following Years’ Rewards Value: $589.71
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $250 Reimbursement for Hilton purchases
  • $250 Reimbursement for travel incidentals (i.e. checked bags, in-flight refreshments)
  • Concierge service
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • Enjoy one weekend night reward with your new Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and every year after renewal
  • Earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year
  • Return Protection – You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase

World of Hyatt Credit Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 50,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95
Rewards Rate:
  • 4x points on Hyatt hotel purchases
  • 2x points on dining, travel, and gym membership purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 1.7¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 78,682 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 28,682 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,242.59Following Years’ Rewards Value: $392.59
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status
  • Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Complimentary Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24 hours a day
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 5,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 25,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 125,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95
Rewards Rate:
  • 12x points on Hilton hotel purchases
  • 6x points on dining, US supermarket, and gas purchases
  • 3x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.6¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 214,726 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 89,726 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,193.36Following Years’ Rewards Value: $443.36
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Earn a Free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors when you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 100,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $95
Rewards Rate:
  • 6x points on Marriott hotel purchases
  • 2x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.8¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 149,550 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 49,550 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,101.4Following Years’ Rewards Value: $301.4
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • 15 Elite Night Credits annually
  • Automatic Silver Elite Benefits
  • Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary
  • Complimentary Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24 hours a day
  • Refer A Friend – Earn 20,000 points for every friend that gets approved (max of 100,000 per year)
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft

Hilton Honors Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 75,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 7x points on Hilton hotel purchases
  • 5x points on dining, US supermarket, and gas purchases
  • 3x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.6¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 167,907 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 92,907 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $1,007.44Following Years’ Rewards Value: $557.44
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Silver status

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 75,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $450
Rewards Rate:
  • 6x points on Marriott hotel purchases
  • 3x points on flight and dining purchases
  • 2x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.7¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 128,457 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 53,457 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $977.66Following Years’ Rewards Value: $277.66
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • $300 Reimbursement for Marriott purchases
  • $100 Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee
  • 15 Elite Night Credit
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary.
  • Return Protection – You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase

Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 70,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $59 (waived 1st year)
Rewards Rate:
  • 10x points on Best Western hotel purchases
  • 2x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.7¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 123,831 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 53,831 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $866.82Following Years’ Rewards Value: $317.82
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Automatic Platinum Elite Status

Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 32,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 3x points on Best Western hotel purchases
  • 2x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.7¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 82,085 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 50,085 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $574.6Following Years’ Rewards Value: $350.6
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • Automatic Gold Elite Status

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card

See the full card details on their website

Intro Bonus: 30,000 pointsAnnual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:
  • 3x points on Marriott hotel purchases
  • 2x points on travel purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption:
  • 1 point = 0.8¢ for hotel purchases
1st Year Points Earned: 56,112 pointsFollowing Years’ Points Earned: 26,112 points
1st Year Rewards Value: $448.9Following Years’ Rewards Value: $208.87
Standard Benefits:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Flight Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Hotel Upgrades
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • Free Checked Bag
Additional Benefits:
  • 5 Elite Night Credits annually
  • Complimentary Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24 hours a day
  • Purchase Protection – Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft

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Best Travel Credit Cards for Travelers | Footsteps of a Dreamer

Best Travel Credit Cards for Travelers | Footsteps of a Dreamer

1 Response

  1. Ine says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. Great comparing the benefits of all these card. I have been looking into airline credit cards as I think it would be of good value overall but hate that it costs so much per month. I wonder why none of these travel credit cards cover medical travel insurance if something happens abroad and you need to go to the hospital or something?

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