The best travel credit card signup bonus is 100,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The card also earns 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase, 2 points per $1 on all other travel purchases, 3 points per $1 on dining and online grocery purchases, 3 points per $1 on select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. You can easily redeem your points using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal.
Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee. And as with all of the best travel credit cards, Chase Sapphire Preferred features a $0 foreign transaction fee.
Best Travel Credit Card Signup Bonuses
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 100,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Points are worth more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. $95 annual fee. Chase Sapphire Preferred requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better to get approved.
Citi Premier® Card: 80,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. $95 annual fee. Citi Premier requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better to get approved.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: 150,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Points are worth more when redeemed for IHG Rewards Club hotel reservations. Annual fee of $0 intro 1st yr, $89 after. IHG Premier requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better to get approved.
United Explorer Credit Card: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10,000 miles after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months. Points are worth more when redeemed for airline miles. Annual fee of $0 intro 1st yr, $95 after. United Explorer Credit Card requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better to get approved.
In general, the best travel cards are those that reward you extra for every travel purchase and have no foreign transaction fees. Add on huge signup bonuses, and there's even more reason to apply if you have the good-to-excellent credit needed for approval. The best travel credit card signup bonuses are generally tied to credit cards with annual fees. But the bonuses you'll get are worth several times more.
The best travel credit card with no annual fee is the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card because it offers an initial bonus of 25,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. It also rewards cardholders with unlimited 1.5 points / $1 spent on all purchases. Plus, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has a 0% foreign transaction fee in addition to its $0 annual fee.… read full answer
If you aren’t planning to go anywhere too adventurous, consider the Discover it® Miles. Discover is not accepted in as many international locations as Visa or Mastercard, but its U.S. acceptance is pretty good. Discover it Miles also has good rewards. It offers 1.5 miles per $1 on all purchases, doubled the first year.
Travel credit cards are worth it for people who travel multiple times per year and who spend enough for the cards’ rewards and supplemental benefits to outweigh any annual fees. People who travel less frequently may also find travel credit cards with no annual fee to be worth it. In addition, it’s worth noting that a travel credit card could be one of multiple cards in your wallet. It’s not necessary to choose between travel rewards and cash back, for example.… read full answer
7 Tips for How to Decide if a Travel Credit Card Is Worth It
1. Compare expected rewards earnings to the cost of the card.
For a travel credit card to be worth it, the card’s rewards and benefits should outweigh its fees.
2. Compare the value to other credit card offers.
The travel credit card’s net value – rewards and benefits, minus fees – should be higher than what other comparable cards offer. A credit card is not truly worth it if getting that card means bypassing a better deal.
3. Take annual fees into account, but don’t rule them out.
Nearly all of the best travel credit cards charge an annual fee. But there are plenty of benefits that reduce the impact of such a fee. For example, an initial bonus is one factor that can easily make a travel credit card worth getting. The best travel rewards cards offer sizeable bonuses when you meet minimum spending requirements in the first year. Top initial bonus offers cover the cost of their card’s annual fee for several years.
4. Make sure the redemption options suit you.
Typically, you can redeem a travel card’s rewards for travel-focused purchases such as airfare or hotel stays, as well as other options like gift cards, merchandise or cash. The value of those rewards varies by card. But in most cases, you’ll get the highest value when you redeem for travel.
5. Consider co-branded travel cards if you have a favorite airline or hotel chain.
People who frequent a specific hotel or airline may get the most value from co-branded travel cards that offer enhanced rewards for loyal customers. Common perks on such cards include free checked bags, seat or room upgrades and lounge access.
However, you’ll lose flexibility when earning and redeeming rewards, relative to a general travel card. Co-branded travel cards tend to give the best rewards at their affiliated airline or hotel, and your rewards are usually tied to that company’s loyalty program.
6. Make sure there’s no foreign fee if you’re spending internationally.
The travel credit cards that are most worth it for international travelers and shoppers are ones that come with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign transaction fees can be as costly as 3% of each purchase made with a foreign merchant. But luckily, most travel cards don’t have this fee.
7. Check your credit score before applying.
It’s important to check your credit score before submitting an application for any travel credit card. The best travel credit cards tend to require at least good credit (a score of 700+), and some even require excellent credit (a score of 750+).
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover credit cards can be used internationally, though Visa and Mastercard credit cards are more widely accepted abroad. Credit cards without foreign transaction fees are also crucial when traveling internationally. You’ll save an average of 1.45% on each purchase, compared to a card with a foreign transaction fee. As a result, Visa and Mastercard credit cards with no foreign fees are the best credit cards to use internationally.… read full answer
When purchasing from international merchants, remember to also watch out for dynamic currency conversion. By avoiding foreign transaction fees and dynamic currency conversion, you could save up to 10% when using a credit card abroad.
Finally, be aware that chip-and-PIN cards will be slightly more useful when traveling abroad than chip-and-signature cards. Unmanned kiosks, for example, may require a PIN from a chip-and-PIN card. That said, you’ll get around fine if you have any low-fee card on the Visa or Mastercard network and some of the local currency as backup.
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