You can compare travel rewards credit cards by visiting WalletHub's selection of the best travel credit cards. For a wider selection, go to the "Compare Credit Cards" page and use the filter on the left-hand side to check the boxes for rewards and other features that best match your needs.
Travel cards tend to be the most rewarding credit cards overall. And it's not just about the generous initial bonuses and ongoing rewards. Travel cards can also offer additional benefits like rental car insurance and various types of travel insurance covering events such as travel accidents, lost luggage and trip delays/cancellations.
The best vacation credit card is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. It offers 60,000 miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and it gives 2 miles per $1 on all purchases. Also, you are not tied down to a particular travel provider, since you can redeem rewards for any recent travel expense. Capital One Venture is a VISA, too, which means it’s accepted in 200+ countries and territories.… read full answer
Ultimately, the best credit card for a vacation really depend on the cardholder’s interests and what types of travel they favor. Each of the best vacation credit cards has something unique to bring to the table, whether it’s specializing in a certain type of vacation or offering supplemental benefits. Most vacation credit cards also have an annual fee, but the fee is often outweighed by the value the card gives in return.
On that note, big spenders may want to consider a relatively pricey card in order to get better perks. For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve costs $550 per year. But it offers an initial bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a $300 annual travel credit, an annual lounge membership, and more in return.
The best travel rewards programs are the United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer programs as well as the Wyndham and Marriott hotel loyalty programs. If you don’t want to commit to a single travel provider, the best general travel rewards program is Capital One Venture Rewards.
United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles are the best travel rewards programs for frequent flyers because they offer a variety of perks ranging from free checked bags to airport lounge access. The exact benefits each program gives depends on the level of membership. Generally, though, all members will receive free checked bags and priority boarding on their respective airline’s flights. Higher-level members will also receive access to United and Delta lounges. The programs are free to join and the more you spend, the higher your level of membership. Plus, members can earn free flights faster by applying for a … read full answerUnited credit card or a Delta credit card. Some very rewarding offers are available.
Wyndham Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy are the best travel rewards programs for frequent hotel guests because their members earn the most rewards value per dollar spent and have lots of properties to choose from. For example, Marriott Bonvoy now includes all Ritz-Carlton and SPG properties as well. If you decide to join either of these free loyalty programs, you might also want to consider applying for the Wyndham Credit Card, the Wyndham Credit Card with No Annual Fee or one of the Marriott credit cards. They all require at least good credit for approval.
In other words, there are plenty of different travel rewards programs to fit whichever method of travel you use most often.
Best Travel Rewards Programs:
United MileagePlus – Best Frequent Flyer Program
Wyndham Rewards – Best Hotel Loyalty Program
Capital One Venture Rewards – Best General Travel Rewards Program
Chase Freedom Unlimited® – Best Everyday Travel Rewards Program
Delta SkyMiles – Honorable Mention
Marriott Bonvoy – Honorable Mention
With the best frequent flyer programs, the stress of flying is lessened thanks to priority boarding, lounge access and free flights. With hotel rewards programs, you can easily earn free nights just for staying at your favorite hotels and resorts.
Travel isn’t always limited to just flights and hotel nights, though. Credit cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card can also help you save on other everyday purchases. And if you travel a lot but not always with the same company or using the same mode of transportation, a credit card with general-purpose travel rewards is a good choice.
Choosing between cash back rewards and travel rewards ultimately comes down to your spending preferences, the perks that specific cards offer, and how you plan to redeem rewards earnings. In general, people looking for flexible redemption options and rewards with clear values that can’t be changed by the card’s issuer should choose cash back rewards. But frequent travelers who enjoy perks such as free flights, airport lounge access, and hotel room upgrades have the chance to earn more total value from travel rewards.… read full answer
With travel rewards credit cards, the number of points or miles you’ll need to redeem for a free flight or hotel night, for instance, varies from issuer to issuer and card to card. Points/miles can also lose their value any time the card’s issuer decides to raise the number needed to get a certain dollar amount in redemption value. Cash back rewards, on the other hand, are easy to understand and will retain their value because they’re already expressed in terms of dollars and cents.
All told, cash back rewards are the better way to go for most people. However, there are a number of variables to consider on both sides. Not everyone always needs to choose between cash back and travel rewards, either. Having both a cash back credit card and a travel rewards card in your wallet can make sense in some situations.
Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Average Initial Bonus
Average Earn Rate
1.11% cash back
1.19 point/mile per $1 spent
More redemption options
More value on travel purchases
Generally higher fees, from $0-$400+
Foreign Transaction Fee
Up to 3%
Rewards never lose value
Rewards may be devalued
Recommended credit score
Offers for all credit scores
Offers for all credit scores
When choosing between cash back and travel rewards, it’s important to be realistic in how you’re going to use the card. And whichever type of rewards you pick, make sure to pay your bill in full each month, or else you could end up spending more in fees and interest than the rewards are worth.
Bottom Line: Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards
You should get a cash back credit card if you want to earn everyday rewards and enjoy straightforward, flexible redemption options.
You should get a travel rewards credit card if you travel multiple times per year and are confident you’ll earn enough in rewards to cover the cost of the annual fee – without overspending.
You should have both if you can manage more than one account responsibly and want the best collection of earning rates for your biggest spending categories. Just make sure you pay your balances in full each month.
As long as you use your credit cards responsibly, you have the potential to reap lucrative rewards on your everyday purchases. Just be sure to actually put those rewards to use. Rewards that go unredeemed defeat the purpose getting the card in the first place.
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