Applying for one of the best travel credit cards will help you maximize your work and leisure travels. Since many of the best travel credit cards have large sign-up bonuses picking the right one can help you save thousands of dollars on travel, and help you maximize your holiday shopping. And with so many different travel rewards credit cards on the market, choosing the best one is overwhelming.
Here are some of the best travel credit cards 2017:
- Overall Best Travel Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Best Premium Travel Credit Card: Sapphire Reserve
- No Annual Fee Rewards Travel Card: Bank of America Travel Rewards
- Chip & Pin Travel Rewards Card: Barclays Arrival Plus
- Best Hotel Rewards Credit Card: Starwood Preferred Guest
Best Travel Credit Card of 2017: Chase Sapphire Preferred
If you’re not loyal to a specific hotel or airline, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best travel credit cards of 2017 for flexible travelers. Here’s the information on what credit score the Chase Sapphire Preferred requires.
Here are a few of the highlights of the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- Earn Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase
- 2 points for travel & dining
- 1 point on everything else
- Reward points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel
- Points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to many of the leading airline & hotel partners
- Primary Rental Car CDW Coverage
- Annual Fee of $95 is waived for the first year
In addition to the credit card benefits listed above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also has a current sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $625 in award travel redemptions) after spending $4,000. Plus, you can earn an additional 5,000 points by adding an authorized user within the first 90 days.
The icing on the cake: the Chase Sapphire Preferred was also listed as the Best Credit Card for Flexible Award Travel Redemption by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in 2016. This is largely because Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most valuable in the travel credit card industry. And as long as you keep your Sapphire Preferred active, your Ultimate Rewards points will not expire.
They can be redeemed through the Chase travel portal for nearly any method of travel including air, taxi, cruise, rental cars, or hotel stays. Or, you can transfer them to boost your loyalty point balance with airline and travel partners like Southwest, United, Hyatt, and Marriott to name a few.
Best Premium Travel Credit Card 2017: Chase Sapphire Reserve
If the sky is your second home or you really like to travel, then you might be in need of a “premium” travel credit card that has a high annual fee ($450) but also comes with lots of travel perks. Hands down, one of the best of the premium travel credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s the Sapphire Preferred’s (recommendation #1) big brother and was rolled out in the summer of 2016. See this post for an in-depth review on how the Sapphire Reserve and Preferred compare.
- Earn 3 points on travel and dining
- Earn 1 point on all other purchases
- Points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for award travel
- Points can be transferred on 1:1 basis to several airline & hotel loyalty programs
- $300 annual travel credit
- TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee is reimbursed
- Primary Rental Car CDW Coverage
- Complimentary Priority Pass Lounge Access
If you are seeking credit card benefits, this is where the value of the Sapphire Reserve lies. The $450 annual fee seems really steep, but with a $300 travel credit that can be used to cover any travel expense and not just checked bags or in-flight purchases, the true annual fee is more to the tune of $150. That’s only $55 more than the Sapphire Preferred.
One bummer is that the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 is the same offer as the cheaper Sapphire Preferred. Of course, the points are more valuable, making the bonus worth $750 with the Reserve compared to $625 with the Preferred.
Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card 2017: Bank Americard Travel Rewards
If you only make one or two trips throughout the year or are simply looking for a secondary credit card, the Bank Americard Travel Rewards credit card is another solid choice because it is a fee-free travel credit card with a nice reward rate.
With the Bank Americard, you can expect the following:
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- Earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent
- Receive a 1% award travel statement credit (example: 10,000 points=$100 statement credit)
- No expiration date on points
- All travel purchases eligible for statement credit
- Bank of America customers with a checking or savings account earn a 10% bonus on all purchases
The sign-up bonus for this card is 20,000 points ($200 value) after spending $1,000. This isn’t the best bonus, but it’s not the worst either as it has a low spend minimum.
This card is most valuable if you are a Bank of America customer because of the loyalty bonus.
Even if you don’t bank with Bank of America or their investment partners, it still earns and redeems slightly less than the best travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred listed above.
TIP: Only apply for a credit card if your credit score is in good condition, and you can be responsible managing it.
Best Chip & Pin Travel Credit Card 2017: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Despite all the credit cards in your wallet having an embedded EMV chip, they still might not work at select self-pay machines across the globe that require a pin number to be entered like when you withdraw cash from an ATM machine. This is because most American credit cards only require a signature and do not assign you a pin number to verify your identity as European credit cards do. But the Arrival Plus has chip & signature AND Pin capability.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has the following benefits:
- Earn 2 miles on all purchases
- 5% mile redemption bonus when redeeming miles travel purchases
- Redeeming 40,000 miles on reward air travel equals a 2,000-mile credit
- 1% statement credit cash back reward
- Redeeming 10,000 miles =$100 statement credit
- $89 annual fee waived for the first year
- Chip & Pin Technology
New cardholders also have the opportunity to earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. This bonus is worth $500 in statement credits or 2,500 in reward miles with the 5% miles redemption option.
It’s important to know that you have 120 days to redeem your miles for a statement credit on a travel purchase made with your Arrival Plus.
Best Hotel Rewards Credit Card: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
There is still a lot of speculation on the future of the SPG Amex as the Marriott & Starwood hotel merger finalizes later in 2017. For now, it is arguably the best of the hotel travel cards and the only recommendation on this list that’s brand-specific.
These are the benefits that make it a great card:
- Earn up to 5 points per $1 at Starwood properties
- Earn 2 points per $1 at Marriott properties
- Earn 1 point on all other purchases
- Transfer points on a 1:1 basis to Marriott, Delta, or Emirates loyalty programs
- Complimentary Boingo wi-fi hotspot access
- $95 annual fee waived the first year
This card is most valuable if you stay at Starwood properties (i.e. Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Four Points, etc.) since their reward night requirements are usually much lower than other hotel brands, as it’s not uncommon to find a quality hotel for 10,000 or 15,000 points per night that would cost at least 25,000 with other reward programs like Marriott’s.
The regular sign-up bonus is worth 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000
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