Top 5 Credit Cards for Travelers

There are different credit cards that are tailored to the needs of frequent travelers, whether for business, a trip abroad, leisure, or anything else.

Basics and Benefits

Cardholders are offered plenty of perks and benefits such as free nights, flight discounts, free airlimes, and more. Issuers advertise cards with free money, upgrades, free first class flights, and attractive sign up bonuses. Travel cards feature rewards points on ongoing spending, double and triple points on some categories, and deals and promos. Customers also enjoy benefits such as free baggage, priority boarding, access to lounges, free Wi-Fi, premium programs, complimentary companion tickets, and anniversary bonuses. Some issuers also allow customers to transfer bonus points to different airmiles programs. In this way, holders can fly on multiple airlines.

Best Credit Card Offers

Many issuers offer travel cards, including big and small banks, online banks, credit card companies, airlines, and credit unions. The best offers feature competitive rates, affordable annual fees, and high earn rates. Many holders use their cards to charge purchases and collect points toward domestic and international flights. Some share that they have travelled everywhere on airlimes, from Canada and Mexico to the UK, France, Cambodia, and Nepal. The best credit card deals also feature large spending minimums, best rates at upscale properties, vacation planning assistance, vouchers on meals and beverages, and discounts at participating retailers, hotel partners, and affiliated airlines. The answer to which credit card is best depends on many factors. American Express, MasterCard, and Visa offer different travel perks. Visa, for example, offers concierge service with restaurant reservations, recommendations, and other benefits. American Express also offers signature programs and multiple benefits such as airline fee reimbursement, access to luxury lounges, generous incentives, and double rewards points. MasterCard also offers perks to cardholders, including assistance with non-refundable fare, luggage reimbursement, and more.

All issuers work with hotel chain, cruise, and airline partners and offer perks and discounts. With some issuers, customers also get extra points for booking through their travel agency. The best credit card also features signature benefits, roadside dispatch, emergency assistance services, shopping security, and more.

When choosing from different travel cards, it pays to look at details such as foreign conversion fees, annual fees, penalty interest, introductory period, blackout dates, point expiry, grace period, and others. The majority of credit cards feature fees in the range of $50 - $95 but some cards go with higher fees of $200 - $300 in exchange for generous incentives and premium rewards.

Top 5 Travel Credit Cards

Specialty credit cards with rewards programs are offered by major issuers such as Barclays, Chase, Citi, Capital One, and others. Most cards feature no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a rewards card which makes travel hassle-free and saves customers money in foreign transaction fees (there are none). Chase offers plenty of benefits such as zero introductory fee, no restrictions or blackout dates, and 20 percent off cruises, car rentals, hotel accommodation, and airfare. Cardholders enjoy the fact that Chase offers double points on dining and travel. A large complimentary bonus (5,000 points) is offered with the first purchase.

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Interest rate: 15.99 percent
  • Penalty interest: up to 29.99 percent
  • Grace period: 21 days
  • Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard

    This is a great specialty card for frequent travelers, which offers miles back, double miles on purchases, introductory bonus of 40,000 miles, and points toward travel statement credit. The fact that Barclay offers zero introductory APR over a 12-month period allows cardholders to save money on interest. Customers who book cruises, accommodation, and airfare earn miles that can be redeemed toward travel purchases. Similar to Chase Sapphire, Barclays features no foreign transaction fees. To top this, customers are offered a longer grace period of at least 23 days and an annual fee waiver during the first year. Rewards never expire provided that the account is in good standing.

  • Annual fee: $89
  • Interest rate: 18.99 or 14.99 based on credit rating
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

    With unlimited rewards and shopping discounts, this card is an excellent choice for consumers with excellent credit. It offers a number of beneficial features:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel assistance
  • Exclusive access to events
  • Complimentary concierge service
  • Fraud coverage
  • Capital One also offers travel upgrades and discounts at spas, resorts, and hotels, a complimentary one-time bonus, double rewards points, and flexible redemption options. Points can be redeemed toward hotel accommodation, cruise vacations, car rentals, airfare, and more. Customers also benefit from generous discounts from top retailers, both online and in-store. Emergency card replacement is also offered. Capital One also offers a handy online calculator to help users calculate their rewards. For instance, customers who spend $2,600 earn 62,400 points a year.

  • Annual fee: $59
  • Interest rate: 20.9, 16.9, or 13.9 percent based on credit rating
  • Penalty interest: 24.9 percent
  • Grace period: 25 days
  • BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card

    This is yet another rewards credit card that features no transaction and annual fees, no blackout dates or restrictions, exclusive complimentary bonuses, and points to be redeemed toward car rentals, cruise packages, vacations, hotel stays, and accommodation. The card is equipped with a chip for enhanced security and features perks such as bonus points for maintaining an active savings or checking account, account alerts, overdraft protection, and more. The fact that the card features a zero intro rate during the first 12 months makes it a good choice for balance transfers. Customers pay a balance transfer fee of 3 percent. The card features a variable interest rate.

  • Annual fee: none
  • Interest rate: 14.99 to 22.99 percent
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard

    Partnering with American Airlines, Citi also offers a rewards credit card that features generous discounts on in-flight beverage and meal purchases, miles back, free checked bags, flight discounts, and bonus miles. Customers who spend $2,000 on their card during the first three months are rewarded with a complimentary bonus of 50,000 rewards points. The card also features an annual fee waiver during the first 12 months.

  • Interest rate: 21.99, 19.99, 17.99, 15.99, or 13.99 percent based on credit rating
  • Penalty APR: 29.99 percent
  • Interest-free period: 23 days
  • Annual fee: $95
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