Travel credit cards offer many perks and rewards focused on travel discounts, free flights, airline miles as well as free meals at restaurants. There are a wide variety of travel cards to choose from with each one offering slightly different features then the other. If used correctly travel credit cards can save a lot of money for all travelers alike.

Who should get one?

These cards are ideal for anyone who makes frequent purchases with their card in an effort to accumulate points that can be used for travel. If you are a frequent traveler, a travel credit card should be the card you would want to apply for. Some of the cards are partnered and co-branded with specific hotel chains or airlines while others offer points which can be used for free rooms and flights or a discount with any airline or hotel. Below are the best travel credit cards that can help you save money while travelling.

Generally, you have two types of travel credit cards: co-branded, which are cards tied to specific companies, and regular travel credit cards. Co-branded can offer quite a few additional perks over regular travel credit cards IF you use the card with the company tied to it. If you don’t, however, regular travel credit cards will likely be much better for general travel use.

Best Features to Have on a Travel Credit Card

If you pick the RIGHT Travel card that best matches your intended usage, you can save quite a bit of money.  Here are the main ways to save money on and with a Travel Card.

1. The sign up bonus

Look for cards with the best sign up bonus, however be aware of how much you have to spend to get the sign up bonus. On average the free bonus points are good for a free domestic round trip flight if you meet the spending requirement. Stay away from travel credit cards that have a small or non existent sign up bonus.

2. Rewards earned per dollar spent

Look for cards that offer more then the average of 1 reward point per $1 dollar spent. The co-branded hotels and airlines often offer you 3-5 points per $1 dollar spent on purchases with that specific airline or hotel. Some of the non co-branded cards can also offer multiple points such as the IHG Rewards Club credit card which rewards 5 points for every $1 spent at hotels.

3. Which card should i get?

This all depends on what your main intentions are. If you are interested in avoiding as many fees as possible go with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card which features no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee. If you are more interested  on getting the most reward value per $1 spent then go with the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card which offers 5 points for every $1 spent on hotels. If you are interested in a co-branded credit card looking for high reward points go with the Marriott Rewards card which awards 5 reward points for every $1 spent at Marriott locations.

Furthermore if you are interested in free flights or flight discounts go with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card as you are awarded anniversary points every year which accumulate to free flights as well as 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest flights. It all depends on what  benefits you are most interested in receiving.

4. Annual Fees

Many of the co-branded cards have an annual fee,  however if you use the card frequently you will get more then enough value with rewards, which will equate to a lot more then the cost of the  annual fee. On the contrary if you are not a frequent user then go with a travel card with no annual fee.

5. Foreign transaction fee

Whether you choose a card with a foreign transaction fee or not depends on how often you will use your card in foreign countries. If you do use it in foreign countries theres usually a 3-5% fee on top of the purchase price. If you are spending a lot of money this can add up. However if you are racking up the rewards with a co-branded card it may over ride the costs of the foreign transaction fee and still benefit you.

How to Save Money by Using a Travel Credit Card

Travel credit cards, when used right, can save travelers quite a bit of money. Some tips to save with them.

If you plan on buying tickets or booking hotels from a specific company often, consider getting a Co-Branded Travel Credit card and put all those purchases (such as airline tickets) on that credit card. You’ll be able to take advantage of extra perks for using that credit card with the company tied to it such as extra air mile bonuses, extra hotel reward points, etc.

To access cash when you travel, use your credit card to withdraw from an ATM. You’ll have access to the bank interate exchange (the best you can get) AND you won’t have to pay any ATM fees if you have the right type of card. However, to avoid paying interest on the amount you withdraw, put extra money on your credit card so it has a surplus before leaving home to travel. For example, if you are going to be abroad for two weeks, considering adding an extra 1000 or 2000 onto your credit card so it has this positive balance on it, then withdraw that amount in cash when you are at your location.

Best Travel Cards (No Co-Branded)

Here’s our picks for the best travel cards that are NOT co-branded. After this

1. Bank Americard Travel Rewards Credit Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

You earn a solid 1.5% rate for every $1 spent with no limits that can be used for a wide variety of travelling rebates and perks

Benefits

  • earn 20 000 bonus points when you make at least $1000 in purchases in the first 90 days.
  • 0% intro A.P.R. for 12 billing cycles, then a regular variable A.P.R. of 14.99% to 22.99% after that
  • earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent with no limits
  • redeem points for statements credit to play for flights, hotels, and travel packages

Pros

  • no annual fees
  • no foreign transaction fees
  • points earned don’t expire

Cons

  • if you have excellent credit there are cards with better value
  • better cards if you are a frequent traveler

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal for low/medium spenders
  • ideal if you want basic card with easy reward system
  • not ideal for the frequent traveller as there is more value with other cards

How will this card save me money?

Since the points don’t expire , if you spend a lot of money and let the points accumulate you will have a large amount of points to use for free flights, hotels, and travel packages in general.

2. Capital One Venture One Rewards Credit Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

You can earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent on any purchase with no limits as well as the availability of using any airline or hotel

Benefits

  • earn 20 000 bonus miles when you spend $1000 on purchases with first 3 months
  • earn unlimited 1.25 miles on all purchases

Pros

  • no annual fee
  • no foreign transaction fee
  • high rate on the 1.25 miles per 1$ spent

Cons

  • no bonus categories

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal for the average traveller
  • not ideal for the frequent flier/travel as there are cards with better value

How will this card save me money?

This card can save u money two different ways: first there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about when travelling abroad, also the points you can earn are unlimited at 1.5 miles per dollar so they can accumulate rather quickly  to be used for any airline or hotel.

3. Citi Thank You Premier Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

Points have  the highest rate when used for travel purchases

Benefits

  • Earn 50 000 bonus points after spending your first $3000 in purchases in first 3 months
  • Earn 3X the points on travel and gas, 2X the points on dining out and entertainment and 1X the points on all other purchases
  • points have 25% more value when purchased for travel
  • regular variable A.P.R. ranges from 13.99% to 22.99%

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fees for purchases
  • points do not expire and are also unlimited
  • great rewards rate on travel purchases

Cons

  • has an annual fee of $95 per year
  • limited hotels and flights available

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal if you have excellent credit
  • great for travel rebates
  • not ideal if you stay at specific hotels as they might not be offered with this program

How can this card save me money?

There is a large reward rate for spending at hotels at 3X the points, so pay for your hotel stay with your card and you will quickly accumulate points for some free stays

4. U.S. Bank Flex Perks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

this card has a good bonus offer of 20 000 bonus points after you spent $3500 in purchases as well as a yearly 3500 bonus points when you spend $24 000 in a year.

Benefits

  • earn two flex points for every dollar spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases
  • earn 20 000 bonus points after you spend your first $3500 within first four months
  • earn 1 flex point for every $1 spent on all other items
  • earn triple flex points on charitable donations
  • regular variable A.P.R. ranges

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fees
  • earn triple flex points on charitable donations
  • can redeem points once you reach 20 000 points

Cons

  • has an annual fee
  • have to spend big money to earn the yearly bonus

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal for big spenders who use card for big purchases
  • ideal for individuals who use card frequently for gas, and groceries
  • not ideal for individuals who don’t spend large amounts with the card

How will this card save me money?

This card is suited for the big spenders. If this is you will get a lot of value in return. If you spend big throughout the year you will get another 3500 bonus points every year .The intro offer of     20 000 bonus points is enough for a nice trip in itself.

5. IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

  • the potential to accumulate points very quickly, as well as the large intro offer where only $1000 needs to be spent to earn a whopping 60 000 points.

Benefits

  • earn 5 points for each $1 spent at hotels
  • earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery, gas, and restaurants
  • earn 60 000 bonus points after you spend $1000 in purchases within first 3 months

Pros

  • large introductory offer of 60 000 points
  • become an elite status member for being a card owner
  • earn reward on a variety of items including groceries and gas which is great value for a travel card
  • pays a hight rate of points for every $1 spent at hotels

Cons

  • has an annual fee, although it is only $49

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal if you use hotels frequently to allow your to accumulate points quickly
  • ideal for the average traveller
  • not ideal for this frequent business traveller and frequent flier

How will this card save me money?

The more you use this card for hotel stays the more points you will accumulate for free hotel stays as you earn 5 points for each $1 that is spent. The intro offer of 60 000 bonus can go a long way with some free travel and vacations just for qualify for the card after spending just $1000 to get those bonus points.

Best Co-branded Travel Credit Cards

Next we will get into the co-branded travel credit cards that offer you the highest rate of rewards when you use and make payments with that specific airline or hotel that the card is branded with. You can really get incredible value  with co-branded cards because their introductory offers are so lucrative. For example the Gold Delta American Express card offers 30 000 bonus miles after spending just $1000 in the first 3 months which is easy to do. That 30 000 miles is enough for a few free flights across the country. Most of the cards have an annual fee but it is well worth it if you make most of your payments and therefore are only paying small amounts of interest.

If you want to save money travelling, signing up for the co-branded cards basically give you a free round trip or sometimes two round trips  just for meeting the initial spending requirement. The only drawback can be you usually have to make purchases with a specific airline or hotel to earn these bonuses. Be sue to pick a card that is co-branded with an airline or hotel you like.

1. Gold Delta Sky Miles Credit Card from American Express

Why we recommend as one of the best

You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, if you consistently use Delta and watch your reward miles accumulate quickly.

Benefits

  • earn 30 000 bonus miles after you spend $1000 in purchases in your first free months
  • earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all Delta purchases with your card, and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • regular variable A.P.R. of 15.24% to 19.24%

Pros

  • great introductory offer
  • highest interest rate you can pay is only 19.24%
  • free bag check on every Delta flight
  • earn a $50 statement credit after any Delta purchase on your card within the first 3 months

Cons

  • has annual fee of $95 (waived in first year)
  • need to have excellent credit

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal if you are a frequent flier
  • ideal if you are willing to fly with Delta consistently
  • not ideal if you won’t use the card often

How will this card save you money?

The free first bag checked in free for every Delta flights would say $100 for a trip of two people. The introductory bonus of 30 000 bonus miles equates to a free round trip flight.

2. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

Includes many great features such as bags fly free, no blackout dates and the points don’t expire

Benefits

  • earn 50 000 bonus points after you spend $2000 on purchases within first 3 months
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest purchases, as well as participating hotels as well as car rental partners
  • 1 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • regular variable A.P.R. at 15.99%
  • no foreign transaction fee

Pros

  • receive 6000 bonus points every year on your card anniversary
  • points don’t expire as well as no blackout dates to worry about
  • won award for best loyalty card

Cons

  • has an annual fee of $99 however it is well worth it if card is used efficiently
  • need excellent credit to qualify

Is this card right for me?

  • you don’t have to be a frequent user due to the anniversary points
  • ideal if you like flying with Southwest
  • can find higher reward rates with other cards, however this card has the best bonus offers you will see

How will this card save me money?

You can save money with this card just by accumulating the 6000 bonus anniversary points alone. Also you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees when travelling abroad.

3. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

Why we recommend as one of the best

  • You can earn many free nights with this card with one free night awarded on your card anniversary date

Benefits

  • earn 50 000 bonus points after you spend $2000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Marriott locations
  • earn 2 points on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and car rentals, and 1 point anywhere else
  • regular variable 15.99% A.P.R.

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fees
  • no limits on how many points you can earn
  • get 1 free nights on your anniversary card date

Cons

  • has an annual fee
  • need to have excellent credit
  • must always stay at the Marriott

Is this card right for me?

  • ideal if you enjoy the Marriott
  • don’t have to be frequent traveler to benefit from this card

How will this card save me money?



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You will receive 1 free night per year for being a card members that approximately a $200 savings with that feature alone. Also you will save on foreign transaction fees and frequent stays at the Marriott will get you many free nights.