The Best Travel Credit Cards For Travel in 2020

Cost To Backpack Europe: Edinburgh

Everyone should have a credit card that garners some sort of reward! If you’re just using cash or debit cards then you aren’t cashing in on the many free offers and rewards that are offered to you! Plus the most important benefit of purchase protection in a foreign country.

It may be tough to pick the right credit card. Things only get tougher with the constant onslaught of credit card ads, sign up offers, and mail flyers that seem almost impossible to avoid.

First, you want to identify your needs and the right rewards for you. Here are our personal recommendations for top travel credit cards.

After years of travel plenty of money spent on travel, we’ve tried just about every travel credit card available, at least all of the ones that we find to be valuable. We’ve personally used or currently have all of these cards.

Disclaimer:

The World Pursuit has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The World Pursuit and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.



Best Credit Card for Travel Benefits


Best Travel Rewards Credit CardChase Sapphire Preferred
Best Premium Travel Rewards Credit CardChase Sapphire Reserve
Best Flat Rate Travel Rewards CardCapital One® Venture®
Best Airlines Reward CardGold Delta SkyMiles(R) Business Credit Card from American Express
Best Hotel Credit CardMarriott Bonvoy Boundless
Best Annual No Fee Credit CardCapital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards

1.) Chase Sapphire Prefered


Chase Sapphire Preferred Travel Credit Cards

We love the Chase Sapphire Preferred as it was one of the first travel rewards we received and it’s well-loved by plenty of others. The travel credit card has a generous signup bonus of 60,000 points that has plenty of flexibility in redemption options. Once you meet the minimum spend requirement you’ll receive the 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points which can be redeemed for $750 of free flight if booked through the Chase travel portal. The other option is to transfer the points to a large selection of airlines such as United, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, or Korean Airlines. It also carries

Benefits
  • 2 x Points per dollar on travel
  • 2 x Points per dollar on dining
  • Ability to transfer points
  • Redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards at 1.25x multiplier for travel.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Primary CDW on Rental Cars
  • Discounts on DoorDash with free DashPass subscription
  • Trip interruption and baggage delay insurance
  • Extended Warranty Protection
Sign Up Bonus
  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Annual Fee
  • $95

Pros
  • 2 x Points per $1 on Travel
  • 2 x Points per $1 on Dining
  • Point Transfer to Partners
  • Redeem points on Chase Ultimate rewards, and you get 25% more on travel redemption
  • Primary insurance coverage on car rentals
Cons
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • No Loyalty Perks Like Hotel or Airline Cards

2.) Chase Sapphire Reserve


Chase Sapphire Reserve Best Travel Credit Cards
*Best Premium Travel Rewards Credit Card*

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is our daily driver when we’re traveling and the first card we’ve continued to carry despite a high annual fee, $550. This is due to the great perks and benefits that come with the card. Notable features such as a Priority Pass, $300 annual travel credit, primary CDW car rental insurance and credit up to $100 for TSA Precheck or Global Entry are awesome features. In particular, the Priority Pass has made flights much more enjoyable with easy lounge access around the globe. The card also provides primary car rental insurance a key feature for travelers who rent vehicles. We place over the Amex because of the lower annual fee and we find a better value with Chase Ultimate rewards. On top of all that earning is easy for frequent travelers as travel charges earn 3x the points.

Benefits
  • 3 x Points per dollar on travel (excludes $300 annual travel credit)
  • 3 x Points per dollar on dining
  • $300 Annual travel credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass giving worldwide lounge access
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink
  • Ability to transfer points
  • Redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards at 1.25x multiplier for travel.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip interruption and baggage delay insurance
Sign Up Bonus
  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Annual Fee
  • $550

Pros:
  • 3x miles per $1 on travel worldwide
  • Lounge pass is an awesome benefit for travel
  • Redeem points on Chase Ultimate rewards, and you get 20% off travel
  • Primary insurance coverage on car rentals
Cons
  • $550 annual fee not waived the first year

3.) Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card


Capital One® Venture® Rewards

This is one of our favorite credit cards to recommend for travelers. It has a low annual fee, an easy rewards program, and a great early spend bonus. When combined with awesome perks such as 10x miles when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture, annual credit up to $100 for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fee, and a wide range of points transfer partners it makes it a winning travel credit card. We personally love the 2 x miles on all purchases which makes this card a great all-around card.

Benefits
  • 2 x Miles on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Ability to transfer miles
  • Extended warranty
  • Travel accident insurance
Early Spend Bonus
  • 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Annual Fee
  • Waived First Year, $95 After The First Year
Pros:
  • Great early spend bonus 50,000 miles ($500) after $3,000 spend in 3 months.
  • 2x miles per $1 spent on ANYTHING
  • Update to $0 annual fee for the first year; then $95
  • Easy reward redemption.  You can redeem your miles for any travel expenses right on their website.  This is a great feature since you can book with any airline, any car rental company, and any hotel and don’t have to stick to certain affiliates.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Great Customer Support
Cons:
  • No brand perks

Learn More About Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card


4.) Wells Fargo Propel Card from American Express


Wells Fargo Propel Card from American Express

The Wells Fargo Propel Card From American Express is a no-frills credit card, but it has no annual fee and it’s easy to earn points. The card is great as you receive 3x on dining, gas, transit expenses, and rideshares. So it’s a great card for daily life if you don’t need the perks associated with a high annual fee premium card.

Benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 3x points per dollar in tons of categories including travel
  • Retail Protection
  • Warranty Extension
Sign Up Bonus
  • 30,000 points (after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months)
Annual Fee
  • $0
Pros:
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Decent sign up bonus
  • No blackout dates when booked directly via their rewards portal, and 3x the points on a ton of areas (including travel)
  • No annual fee
Cons:
  • No Brand Perks
  • Lack of Benefits

Wells Fargo Propel Card from American Express


5.) The Platinum Card® from American Express


American Express Platinum Card

If you’re looking for the best premium travel credit card then it’s hard to do better than the Platinum Card from American Express. We love the card for all of it’s added benefits such as the up to $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $200 in Uber credits, and up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits and an array of lounge access options. On top of all this comes 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American
Express Travel and Hilton Honors Gold status. It’s one of the most impressive travel cards to date that without taking into account the 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. The one downside to this card is the $595 annual fee. Due to this, we recommend it to frequent travelers or those who will be able to make use of the annual credits.

Benefits
  • 5 x points on airfare booked directly with the airline
  • Up to $200 annual airline fee rebate
  • Up to $200 annual Uber credits
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Avenue credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $100 Credit for TSA precheck or Global Entry
  • Roadside Assistance
Welcome Bonus
  • 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months
Annual Fee
  • $595 Annual Fee

Pros:
  • Extensive lounge network that includes Centurion Lounge
  • All those credits
  • Perks at hotels
  • Concierge service
  • Fantastic Welcome Bonus
Cons:
  • Hefty Annual Fee
  • 1 x point per dollar on all other purchases

Learn More About The Platinum Card® from American Express


6.) Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards


Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards

We love how straight forward Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is with a simple 1.5% cashback on all purchases. It’s not as high as many of the other cards on this list, but it’s easy to use, has no annual fee, and great for those good credit scores. The cashback welcome offer is easy to earn when you spend $500 in the first three months. To top it all off the card has no foreign transaction fees so you’ll 98.5% of all purchase essentially, that’s a sweet deal!

Benefits
  • 1.5% cashback on all purchases
  • Purchase protection
Early Spend Bonus
  • $150 after you spend $500 in the first three months on purchases
Annual Fee
  • $0
Pros:
  • Simplicity
  • No annual fee
  • Easy to redeem
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee.
Cons:
  • No Brand Perks
  • Only cash redemption

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards


7.) Gold Delta SkyMiles Business


Gold Delta SkyMiles Business

Delta is our favorite major airline in North America so we love any card that scores us extra points. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Business has a great sign up bonus that’s easy to earn when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Earning points is also easy as you earn double the points when flights are booked directly with Delta. It also comes with priority boarding and status that will put you on track for free upgrades.

Benefits
  • Priority boarding,
  • No foreign transaction fees,
  • 2x points on purchases made with Delta
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Sky Club Lounge Discount
  • Inflight purchase discount
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty
Early Spend Bonus
  • 30,000 points (after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months)
Annual Fee
  • Waived First Year, $95 After The First Year
Pros:
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Brand perks
  • Roadside assistance
Cons:
  • Better Delta cards for higher spenders available

Gold Delta SkyMiles Business


8.) Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card


Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Travel Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card was our first hotel credit card after an enticing sign up bonus with our preferred hotel chain. When Marriott and Starwood merged they amassed an impressive amount of properties ranging from business hotels to luxury resorts across the globe. After years of travel, it’s become of our favorite hotel networks.

Benefits
  • 6 x points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels
  • 2 x points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Annual free night stay, valued up to 35,000 points (each account anniversary)
  • 15 Elite Night credits towards Marriott Bonvoy status
  • No foreign transaction fees
Sign Up Bonus
  • 100,000 point signup bonus after $5,000 on purchases in the first three months
Annual Fee
  • $95

Pros:
  • Excellent signup bonus
  • Great way to start a hotel loyalty program
  • Extensive hotel network
Cons:
  • Limited to perks with Marriott Bonvoy
  • Not great for general travel

9.) Chase Freedom Unlimited


Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is their version of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card. Almost everything is identical; however, there are some differences in reward redemption. It’s basically a straight 1.5% cash back card, but users receive 1.5 Chase Rewards points for every dollar spent. Each Chase point converts to roughly 1 cent piece when used for cash or statement credit redemption. The Chase points allow for some flexibility too as they can be combined with other Chase cards, used to purchase gift cards, transferred to other loyalty programs. This is great for reward redemption, but Capital One is better for traveling abroad as it has no foreign transaction fees while the Chase Freedom Unlimited charges 3% on foreign transactions.

Benefits
  • 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards for every dollar spent
  • Purchase protection
Early Spend Bonus
  • $150 after you spend $500 in the first three months on purchases
Annual Fee
  • $0
Pros:
  • Simplicity
  • High rewards rate and no minimum redemption
  • Points transfer
  • No annual fee
  • Easy to redeem
  • No annual fee
Cons:
  • No brand perks
  • No bonus categories for earning points
  • Foreign transaction fee!

10.) United(SM) Explorer Card


United(SM) Explorer Card

The United Explorer Card is one of the best airline cards available to consumers right now. You get great value at an affordable cost that comes with great perks for travel. Points are easy to earn and most people will find value if they fly only a handful of times a year. We love that the annual fee is waived the first year, and for $95 annually afterwards continues to deliver perks. Cardholders receive two lounge passes a year, reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees, and primary car rental insurance. Car insurance is a big one for us as it can save you big time when renting cars around the world. The Free checked bags, car insurance, and lounge passes make this card worth the annual fee for anyone who takes a few United flights a year.

Benefits
  • First checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Primary Car Insurance
  • Priority Boarding
  • Two United Club lounge passes a year.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck statement credit every four years.
  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases.
Sign Up Bonus
  • 60,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months
Annual Fee
  • $95
Pros:
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Waived Annual Fee
  • Nice Benefits for low fee
  • Car Insurance
  • Free Checked Bags
Cons:
  • United is our least favorite North American airline
  • Low mileage value that can only be redeemed with United

United(SM) Explorer Card



What to Know About Travel Credit Cards


It’s all about the best card for you!

There is no perfect travel credit card for everyone. We all have different goals, lifestyles, financial situations, credit scores, and


What to look for in a travel credit card?


best travel wallet - Long Haul Flight

Welcome Offer

We love to earn a welcome offer or signup bonus when we get a new travel rewards credit card. These introductory offers provide a large mileage or points bonus once you meet a minimum spending requirement. This can often mean free flights, hotels, or even cash in your pocket.

To receive a signup bonus or welcome offer you need to make either a single purchase or meet a spending threshold in a certain timeframe. This may vary from $500 to $8,000 in the first 90 days. The most common we find is around $3,000 mark for premium travel rewards credit cards. Welcome offers often change so always verify the offer before submitting your card application (all of the welcome

No need to be afraid of high-minimum spending cards as they often offer the largest rewards. However, it always best to look at your average spending or future purchase and verify that you will be able to meet the minimum spend requirements. Of course, you could go out and apply for a ton of cards, but if you miss the meet the minimum spends you could miss out on the welcome offers. So take it easy and be realistic with your credit card goals, it’s always best to take a smart and cautious financial approach to rewards credit cards.


Category Spending Bonus


Many credit cards offer one point for every dollar spent. However, our favorite cards often provide a category spending bonus on particular purchase categories, retailers, airlines, or hotel chains. This is great with branded cards such as the airline or hotel rewards credit cards.

One of our favorite cards the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers amazing 3x points per dollar on travel or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless that gives 6x per dollar on spent at participating Marriott hotels. If you use a particular company regularly it’s great to get a branded card to earn more points.


Special Perks


Business Class on American Airlines

Travel credit cards often come with great perks this means loyalty status, upgrades, free nights, priority boarding, travel credit, free checked bags, and a lot more. Premium cards are often loaded with special perks like our favorite perk, a Priority Pass card (lounge access around the world) with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

There are other important perks that are travel-specific such as car rental insurance, baggage insurance, and trip delay insurance. We love these features as they give us peace of mind when traveling. When shopping for a new travel credit card we like to look at any stand out special features.


No Foreign Transaction Fees


One of the most important features we look for in a travel rewards credit card is no foreign transaction fees. It’s become so ubiquitous with many travel credit cards we take it for granted. However, many debit cards or basic credit cards often come with a 1-3% surcharge on any transactions that happen in a foreign currency, that can really hurt when traveling abroad.

If the majority of your spending is done at home you can still use a credit card with foreign transaction fees to earn rewards, but you may want something better for when you travel. No travel credit card should come without the feature these days!


Low Annual Fees


Annual fees can really stink every time they roll around. These fee-based cards can be a hard pill to swallow and typically range from $50-95 a year. On the high end are cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Platinum Card from American Express that both will set you back $550 a year.

However, cards with annual fees often come with better rewards schemes and perks that are worth the fee. The $550 annual fee hurts, but we find with the points structure and perks we save far more in a year. However, we wouldn’t recommend too many cards with high annual fees as it would be tough to get your value.


What If You Have Poor or No Credit?


Travel Banking

Some of our favorite rewards cards are premium cards that are only available to people with a high credit score. If you have a low credit score of 650 or less you’ll likely find yourself declined by many rewards cards. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for rebuilding a credit score. However, there are a number of ways to earn credit and a few points-earning credit cards that you can utilize along the way.

Credit scores can improve over time and it does not take years for the score to begin improving with some smart moves. You don’t need to be debt-free either with smart money management it’s possible to improve your score and end in a better financial place. Financial institutions and credit unions all have products for people with poor or no credit and can help you reach a strategy to improve. You just need to be proactive, we often make phones call to increase credit lines or move along a credit card application. Check out these cards for no credit and these ones for rebuilding credit.

Here are a few ways to improve your credit score:

  1. Make use of AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit report. This will allow you to see your credit score, any delinquent accounts, and give you information on how to improve your score.
  2. Apply for a secured credit card. This is great for those with no credit. A secured credit card requires you to place a cash deposit to guarantee your credit line but operates much the same as a normal credit card. Over time you can increase your credit line and help you on the application for a regular credit card.
  3. Dispute anything that appears incorrect on your credit score.
  4. Settle any delinquent accounts such as medical bills or old lines of credit. It’s also possible to consolidate your debt. This includes credit card debt, a great strategy is to open a new line of credit with a lower interest rate that allows for free credit transfers. This can help you get a handle on the debt.
  5. Operate as an authorized user (additional cardholder) on another’s credit card else with good credit such as family or a spouse. This allows you to inherit some of their good scores, they are in effect vouching for you. Make sure that they are responsible for how they use their credit cards and that you are as well because you both impact each other’s scores.
  6. Pay all of your bills on time and if possible always treat your credit card as a debit card. We never spend money we don’t have and pay off our credit cards in full every month with auto payments.

Disclaimer:

The World Pursuit has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The World Pursuit and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.


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About the Author

Cameron

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Cameron Seagle is one of the creative forces behind The World Pursuit. He is a writer and photographer for the travel website. Cameron has been traveling for the last four years. He found a passion for conservation and safari while living out of a truck in the African bush. Obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products, he loves to research new product releases. In his free time, you can find him shooting photographs, summiting mountains, and snowboarding. Cameron currently lives in Banff with his partner and blogging co-conspirator Natasha. Cameron's favorite countries are Ireland, Scotland, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Japan. And he can never resist an excellent beach destination.

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