Credit Cards with the Best Travel Rewards

credit cards with the best travel rewards

It’s no secret I’m a sucker for credit cards with the best travel rewards. Credit cards get a bad reputation, but if you use them responsibly, you can reap some pretty amazing travel benefits. A lot of credit cards offer awesome sign-up bonuses for new customers if you meet a certain spending threshold within a certain number of months. I have managed to accumulate over 200,000 miles since January 2016 between sign up bonuses and using my credit cards like a debit card.

**Reward information updated January 2020

Without further ado, here are the credit cards with the best travel rewards

CREDIT CARDS NOT AFFILIATED WITH AN AIRLINE OR HOTEL

American Express Platinum Card

I call the AMEX Platinum Card the “Mother of Cards” because it really is, in my opinion, the best credit card available. Not just for travel benefits, but in general.

New Card Member Offer

  • All new cardholders will earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000.00 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Main Rewards and Benefits

  • Access to AMEX Centurion Lounges worldwide (including up to 2 guests).
  • Access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta (guests are an additional fee).
  • Free Priority Pass membership.
  • $200.oo in Uber Cash every year.
  • $200.00 airline credit every year (for things like checked bags, seat selection, etc.).
  • $100.00 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Additional Benefits

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $100.00 statement credit every year to Saks.
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status.
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status.
    • Enjoy a 2:00pm late checkout and enhanced room upgrade.

Cons

  • There is a hefty annual fee of $550.00, but with all the rewards and benefits that come along with the card, it’s justifiable. The lounge access you receive at airports alone is worth the $550.00 in my opinion.
  • Balance must be paid in full every month.
    • The Platinum card is considered a “charge card”; therefore, there is no set spending limit (this doesn’t mean unlimited spending though) and you cannot carry a balance from month-to-month.
  • AMEX is not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

New Card Member Offer

  • All new cardholders will earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000.00 within the first 3 months of account opening.
    • That’s equivalent to $750.00 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Main Rewards and Benefits 

  • Free Priority Pass membership.
  • $300.00 annual travel credit.
  • $100.00 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
  • 3X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases worldwide.

Additional Benefits

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance.*
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.*
  • Rental car insurance.**

*Credit card must be used to purchase airline ticket in order to claim insurance benefits in case of an accident.

**Credit card must be used to rent an eligible vehicle in order to claim insurance benefits in case of an accident.

Cons

  • There is a hefty annual fee of $550.00.

Capital One Venture Card

New Card Member Offer

  • All new cardholders will earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Main Rewards and Benefits

  • $100.00 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
  • Unlimited 2X Venture miles per dollar on every purchase.

Additional Benefits

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Travel accident insurance.*
  • Rental car insurance.**

*Credit card must be used to purchase airline ticket in order to claim insurance benefits in case of an accident.

**Credit card must be used to rent an eligible vehicle in order to claim insurance benefits in case of an accident.

Annual Fee

  • $95.00 – however, it’s waived for the first 12 months.

Cons

  •  Not a ton of benefits, but for only $95.00 a year, it’s a great intro card for anyone interested in earning miles.

AIRLINE BRANDED CARDS

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

New Card Member Offer 

  • All new cardholders will receive 70,000 American Airlines miles after spending $4,000.00 within the first 4 months of account opening.

Main Rewards and Benefits

  • Preferred boarding (Group 5).
  • 25% savings on American Airlines in-flight Wi-Fi.
  • Free checked bag for you and up to four people traveling on the same reservation.
  • You’ll earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate (redeemable for $99.00, plus taxes) for domestic main cabin travel after you spend $30,000.00/year in purchases and your cardmembership is renewed.

Additional Benefits 

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 2X American Airlines miles per dollar when booking directly with American Airlines, at restaurants, and gas stations.
  • One mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual Fee

  • $99.00 – however, it’s waived for the first 12 months.

Cons

  • Citi took away a lot to the old benefits for this card which is unfortunate. Trip protection and car rental insurance are not available anymore, but for $99.00 a year, it’s not a bad card if you fly American Airlines a lot.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Priority Card

credit cards with the best travel rewards

New Card Member Offer 

  • All new cardholders will receive 40,000 Southwest Airlines points after spending $1,000.00 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Main Rewards and Benefits

  • $75.00 annual Southwest Airlines travel credit.
  • Four upgraded boardings every year (when available).
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases (includes drinks and Wi-Fi).
  • 7,500 anniversary points every year on your cardmember anniversary.

Additional Benefits 

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 2X Southwest points per dollar on all Southwest Airlines purchases.
  • One point per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual Fee

  • $149.00

Cons

  • Can’t really use your points outside of Southwest Airlines or locations were Southwest Airlines flies. This is a great card if you love Southwest Airlines and only want to enjoy travel perks through Southwest with a low annual fee.

HOTEL BRANDED CARDS

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

credit cards with the best travel rewards

New Card Member Offer 

  • All new cardholders will receive 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000.00 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Main Rewards and Benefits

  • Automatic Silver Elite Status.
  • 15 elite night credits every year.
  • Free night award for a stay at any Marriott branded hotel with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points.

Additional Benefits 

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 2X Bonvoy points per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual Fee

  • $95.00

Cons

  • Not a ton of benefits, but great for anyone who stays at Marriott branded hotels frequently and wants to rack up points with a low annual fee.

Well, there you have it. My thoughts on credit cards with the best travel rewards. Which card, or cards, were your favorite? Do you have any tips or tricks for maximizing your card benefits? Leave me a comment below with any of your suggestions.

**All information contained in this blog post is based on my personal opinion. Always remember to read all fine print before signing up for any credit card. 

If you’re looking for more travel tips + tricks, you might like these posts:

How to Become a More Sustainable Traveler

How to Afford to Travel

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2 Comments

  1. Dia Jin
    June 3, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    I applied for the chase reserve card! It comes with a hefty annul fee but the perks are great! Also I feel so fancy when I swipe my card hahaha

    • Pursuing Wanderlust
      August 8, 2018 / 8:54 pm

      For some reason I never got a notification that you commented! The perks on the Chase card are awesome!! I was leaning toward that one, but went with the AA card instead.

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