Travel Credit Cards
The best travel or airline credit card for you is one that closely matches your spending habits and lifestyle. It would help if you looked for cards that offer high rewards rates in the categories where you spend the most. Additionally, try to find one that has perks and benefits you can see yourself using.
Calling all frequent travelers! If you want to earn enough miles or points to fund your next trip, you’ll have to shop around to find the best travel credit card for your spending habits and lifestyle. It will need to be the right match of high rewards rates, low costs and valuable perks. To help you in your search, here’s a list of the best travel credit cards of 2020.
Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible travel rewards
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card: Best for U.S. gas stations and supermarkets
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Best for airline miles
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for no foreign transaction fees
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for a sign-up bonus
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card — Best for flexible travel rewards
- APR: 17.24% to 24.49% variable
- Annual fee: $0 for the first year, $95 after
- Primary feature: Unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
- Introductory bonus offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — Best for U.S. gas stations and supermarkets
- APR: 12.99% to 23.99% variable (0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months)
- Annual fee: $95
- Primary feature: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year, then 1%; 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services; 3% back on gas at U.S. gas stations and on transit; 1% back on everything else
- Introductory bonus offer: $250 when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card — Best for airline miles
- APR: 15.74% to 24.74% variable
- Annual fee: $0 for the first year, $99 after
- Primary feature: 2X miles on Delta purchases and at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, 1X miles on everything else
- Introductory bonus offer: 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months and 10,000 more miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 4/1/2020.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card — Best for no foreign transaction fees
- APR: 16.49% to 24.49% variable (0% intro APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles)
- Annual fee: $0
- Primary feature: Unlimited 1.5X points per dollar spent on all purchases
- Introductory bonus offer: 25,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — Best for a sign-up bonus
- APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable
- Annual fee: $95
- Primary feature: 5X points on Lyft through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining, 1X points on everything else
- Introductory bonus offer: 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months
Compare Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020
|Card||0% Purchase APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||N/A||17.24-24.49%||$0 first year, $95 after|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card||12 mo||12.99-23.99%||$95|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express||N/A||15.74-24.74%||$0 first year, $99 after|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards||12 mo||16.49-24.49%||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred®||N/A||17.49-24.49%||$95|
How do travel credit cards work?
Travel credit cards offer rewards like miles, points and cash back on everyday spending. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, for example, offers unlimited 2X miles on everything you buy. However, some travel credit cards only offer rewards on purchases in certain categories like dining or groceries. So if you want to maximize your rewards, it’s important to choose a card that aligns with your spending habits.
In addition to points, miles or cash back, most travel credit cards offer extra perks that will make your next vacation more enjoyable. Depending on the card you choose, you may get benefits like travel accident insurance, access to airport lounges, hotel upgrades or free checked bags.
How can I avoid foreign transaction fees while traveling?
One of the best ways to avoid foreign transaction fees is to find a credit card that waives them. Many of the cards on this list, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, don’t charge foreign transaction fees. This will save you roughly 3% on all the purchases you make while you’re abroad.
Another thing to watch out for are currency conversion fees. If your credit card charges in your home currency instead of the local currency, you may have to pay a 3% conversion fee. So if you want to avoid fees while you’re traveling, make sure you pay in the local currency with a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
If a travel credit card has an annual fee, is it worth it?
Some travel credit cards come with a hefty annual fee of $95 or more. Depending on the benefits the card provides, though, the fee may be worth it.
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, for example, has an annual fee of $99 after the first year. But it also has plenty of perks to make up for it. You’ll be able to check your first bag for free on Delta flights booked with your card and get 20% off of inflight purchases. Considering that it costs $60 to check a bag on a roundtrip Delta flight, the savings from these two perks alone could be enough to outweigh the annual fee.
When deciding whether or not an annual fee is worth it, consider how often you’ll utilize the benefits that the card offers and how much money you’ll save from them. If you can’t see yourself taking advantage of the perks, then you may want to find a different credit card that’s better suited to your lifestyle and travel habits.
How can you save money with a travel credit card?
You can often save a lot of money with a travel credit card by using your rewards to pay for purchases like flights and hotels on your next trip. Many card issuers have travel portals that you can use to reserve flights and hotels with your miles and points. Some providers, like Chase, even give you more value for your rewards when you book through their portal. Most travel credit cards also allow you to transfer your miles or points to partner airlines and hotels.
Before you redeem your rewards, check to see how many points or miles your flights and hotels will cost on both the travel portal and partner websites. Sometimes you can save a lot of money and make your rewards stretch further just by choosing one redemption option over another.
Another way to maximize your rewards is to make sure you pay off your credit card balance in full each month. If having a travel credit card causes you to rack up high-interest debt, then it won’t save you money in the long run. Further, please take full advantage of the extra benefits a card offers, whether it be a free checked bag or access to a VIP airport lounge.
The final word
Once you’ve chosen the right card for you, make sure you use your it wisely to maximize your rewards. Try not to carry a balance and rack up high-interest debt that will cut into your earnings. And when you use your rewards to book flights and hotels, make sure you compare your redemption options to find the route that offers the best value.