Americans love to earn travel rewards from their credit cards. And while many credit cards offer frequent flier miles or hotel points, others offer points reward programs that can be used to book travel. The advantage of these programs is that cardholders can make their award reservations any way they want, and even earn points and miles from them. So this month, we are looking at the best travel reward cards, not including those that offer airline miles, which we awarded in November.
Choosing the Best Travel Reward Card for Your Needs
Many credit card users are turning to the travel reward credit cards that offer “miles” from the banks. These bank miles are worth one cent each as statement credits toward travel reservations such as airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. With reward miles from different banks all worth the same amount, the best cards for your needs will allow you to earn as many miles as possible per dollar spent. In addition, a top travel reward card will offer valuable perks and benefits that will help you when you are on the road. Finally, it’s important to factor in everything else you look for in a credit card, including the customer service, the terms and conditions, and of course, any fees.
Before you apply for any credit card, it’s important to do your research and make sure the card will meet your needs, and that you meet the issuer’s general credit requirements. You can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand, and to get personalized tips to help you improve your credit.
After reviewing dozens of travel reward credit card offers, we weighed the costs and benefits of each, and ultimately chose the best ones in their class. After much consideration, here are the Best Credit Cards in America for Travel Rewards.
The Winner: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Why It Won: Barclaycard continues to lead this category by offering the most value per dollar spent.
The Rewards: New applicants receive 40,000 miles as a sign-up bonus after spending just $3,000 on their card within the first 90 days of opening an account. Cardholders also receive two miles for every dollar spent in purchases, and each mile is worth one cent as travel statement credits toward travel expenses incurred in the past 120 days. But in addition, cardholders receive a 10% rebate on all mileage redeemed. This card is also part of the World Elite MasterCard program, which features many travel and shopping discounts. It also offers travelers true Chip and PIN compatibility, which is often necessary when using unattended kiosks in Europe and other parts of the world.
The Costs: There is an $89 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
1st Runner-Up: Capital One Venture Rewards Visa Signature
Why It Won: Capital One continues to offer competitive value from its flagship reward card.
The Rewards: New applicants receive 40,000 miles as a sign-up bonus after spending just $3,000 on their card within the first three months of opening the account. Cardholders earn double miles on all purchases, with no limits on the rewards they can earn. As a Visa Signature card, customers receive access to numerous shopping and travel discounts, as well as the Visa Signature concierge service.
The Costs: There is a $59 annual fee that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
2nd Runner-Up: Discover it Miles
Why It Won: This new card starts customers off with an impressive rate of return for the first year, and has no annual fee.
The Rewards: Cardholders receive 1.5 miles per dollar spent, and like its competitors, each mile is worth one cent in statement credit toward travel purchases. In addition, miles can also be redeemed for cash back, making this card somewhat of a hybrid travel reward card. But what really makes this card compelling is that Discover will double cardholders’ miles earned at the end of their first year of card membership. This means that this card is offering a total of three miles per dollar for a whole year.
Other features include a $30 annual credit toward in-flight WiFi purchases, the cardholder’s first late payment fee is waived automatically and 100% U.S.-based customer service.
The Costs: There is no annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
At publishing time, the Capital One Venture Rewards Visa Signature and Discover it Miles are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for either of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
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