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Best Credit Cards For Travel

What if I told you you could travel the world for free? Okay, we know nothing in life is free, but it is possible to pay for your travels without cold hard cash. In fact, if you play your (credit) cards right, you can cover all the costs of your trip with credit card points. But how exactly do they work? And what are the best travel credit cards to apply for? Let’s take a closer look!

How Do Travel Credit Cards Work?

Travel credit cards may seem complicated, but they are quite simple. Depending on the card you have, for every dollar you spend, you will receive points in return for your purchases. Most credit cards will equate certain purchases with different points. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gets 2x the points on travel purchases, but 3x the points for each dollar spent while dining in restaurants.

Additionally, many cards will offer sign-on bonuses that can help you rack up points quickly. For example, if you spend $4000 on purchases in the first three months of getting your Chase card, you will get an extra 60,000 bonus points. If you strategically sign-up for a credit card at the right time, you can majorly benefit from point deals. All of the points you earn will be able to be redeemed when booking flights instead of using cash.

➡️ Pro Tip: Use your travel credit card to book a trip to one of these 10 Most Affordable Places To Travel in 2023.

Should You Get An Airline Credit Card?

Many people's first introduction to travel credit cards is usually through airlines offering you to sign-up for their own credit card. These credit cards will earn points you can trade in for the specific airline. For example, you can use your Delta card points on Delta flights. They also typically come with added perks like lounge access, priority boarding, and free baggage.

If you consistently fly one airline, considering an airline card may be the better choice for you. However, if you do not have other credit cards, you may first want to consider a more general card to earn credit card points. You will want flexible options and only being able to use your points on specific airlines isn’t ideal.

Woman using credit card for travel
Earn points through your credit card that you can later redeem for flights.

Best Travel Credit Cards

So if you’re ready to sign-up for a credit card and rack up points you can use on flights and foreign fun, these best travel cards are the perfect place to start. Just keep in mind, you’ll only want to get a credit card if you can responsibly use it and won’t make purchases you cannot pay off.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Yearly Fee: $95

This credit card has been my preferred travel card for years. If you’re new to credit cards and looking for a card with a virtual platform that is straightforward and easy to use, Chase is a great bank. For every dollar spent on travel purchases, you will get 2x the points. Plus, on every dollar spent while dining in a restaurant, you will get 3x the points. Rack up 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4000 on purchases in the first three months of getting your Chase card.

Chase Sapphire Reserved

Yearly Fee: $550

On the Chase credit card platform, it is easy to redeem your points for cash back, cover your purchases, or book a flight using their flight selection navigation screen. While the Chase Sapphire Preserved card is a great first credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserved takes its perks one step higher. With a similar sign-on bonus that racks up the points, plus a redemption of $300 in travel purchases each year and 3x the points on travel, you can’t go wrong with the Reserved card. Other benefits include airport lounge access and VIP access to events, early ticket sales, and premium seating.

Man using credit cards to pay for travel
Traveling doesn't need to break the bank!

Capital One Venture X

Yearly Fee: $395

Capital One is one of the top credit card companies and the Venture X card shows why the company is loved by many. When you spend $4000 in the first three months of opening your account, you will rack up a whopping 75,000 bonus miles. Better yet, get an extra 10,000 bonus miles on every anniversary of your Venture X account. Another perk of this travel card is it also provides up to $300 back as statement credits when you book your travels through Capital One Travel. And for those who don’t love waiting around in crowded airports, the Venture X card gives you lounge access in participating airports.

Capital One Venture

Yearly Fee: $96 yearly fee

Every time you use your Capital One Venture card, no matter what the purchase is on, you will earn points that you can apply to future adventures. While this card does not give unlimited lounge access year-round, it does include two free lounge visits, making it the perfect card for the once or twice-a-year traveler. If you’re new to using credit cards to pay for your flights and want a straightforward easy to use account, the Capital One Venture card is a great starting point.

Pile of credit cards
Chase, Capital One, and Amex are all known for being excellent travel credit cards.

American Express Gold Card

Yearly Fee: $250 yearly fee

Enjoy access to presales to music, theatre, and sports events with your American Express Gold Card all while earning points for your travels. If you love exploring new restaurants, off-the-beaten-path food trucks, dive bars, and more, this card is perfect for you. For every dollar spent in a restaurant or on groceries, you will earn 4x the points, plus earn 3x the points on flights.

➡️ Pro Tip: Worried the bills you have to pay back home will stop you from exploring? Find out Can Digital Nomads Travel With Student Loan Debt?

Playing the credit card game to travel full-time isn’t always easy and does require smart spending techniques. However, if you are ready to make your money work for you, considering a credit card to earn points for travel can be a great option. After all, if you are going to spend money on day-to-day needs like gasoline, groceries, and fun with friends, you might as well earn points from doing it. Chase, Capital One, and American Express are trusty and easy-to-use companies that will help you be hopping on planes more often!

Where would you fly to first with credit card points? Tell us in the comments!


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