Travel credit cards are your best bet if you want to greatly cut the cost of your next vacation. One big reason why we like travel rewards cards is because they reward you in miles, points or cash for every dollar you spend on everyday purchases, which means you rack up rewards very rapidly. These credit cards also give you special travel perks, such as travel insurance, free check-in of your first bag, access to VIP airport lounges or hotel room upgrades.
Different Types Of Travel Credit Card
A travel credit card is a credit card that gives you special travel benefits. These include airline credit cards, hotel credit cards, and cards that let you earn rewards which can be redeemed for travel.
Flexible Travel Cards
These cards let you earn rewards which can be redeemed for travel with many different airlines and hotels. You can usually also redeem points (or other rewards) for travel purchases like cruises or vacation packages.
These cards often let you earn points for purchases you make every day, rather than purchases from a specific airline or hotel. So a card like this is a good choice if you want to earn miles or points fast just by using the card for your daily spending.
Airline Credit Cards
Airline credit cards usually work with specific airlines or frequent flyer programs and can be a good choice if you do a lot of flying with the same airline. The main benefits of cards like these is that you earn actual frequent flyer miles or points that you can redeem for flights directly with the airline.
These cards usually give you special benefits when you fly with their airline, such as free checked baggage, priority boarding, on-board credit (for food, beverages, upgrades), or even airport lounge access.
The downside of these airline credit cards is that the miles you earn may not be as flexible as the miles or points you earn with other travel cards.
Hotel Credit Cards
Many large hotel groups offer credit cards that let you earn rewards through their customer loyalty programs. Many of these cards come with large bonus offers that let you earn bonus points when you successfully apply and fulfill certain requirements. A hotel credit card will usually also give you benefits that can help you get more out of your hotel stays.
These perks may include free breakfasts, free room upgrades, access to a higher customer status without fulfilling minimum hotel stay requirements, and in some cases even free hotel stays every year.
What Should I Look For In A Travel Card?
Rewards are the reason why most people get travel credit cards, but there are other perks that can save you just as much money if you travel often.
Here we at GET.com list the main benefits that you should look for when choosing a travel credit card:
Many travel credit cards have good bonus offers which let you earn a large number of points (or miles, cash back, etc.) by successfully applying for the card and fulfilling additional requirements like spending a certain amount in the first few months, applying for a secondary card or even just making 1 purchase with your new card.
These bonus offers can add up to big savings because you can redeem those points or miles for flights, hotel stays or other travel basics.
This is where you will want to look at the card more closely. Although almost all travel cards will let you earn some travel rewards on all your purchases, if you want to earn higher rewards (and you probably will) you will have to spend in certain categories.
Cards that let you earn higher miles or points for everyday purchases like gas, restaurant dining, grocery shopping and other basics are a good choice because you will earn rewards for purchases you already make.
If a card only gives you higher rewards for purchases with a specific airline or hotel, you probably won't earn a lot of points unless you spend a lot of money on purchases from those specific travel companies.
If you do any serious amount of traveling, you probably spend a lot of money on things like airport lounges, internet, upgrades, hotel breakfasts, and hotel stays. These are all benefits that you could get on a complimentary basis by using the right travel credit card to pay for your travel bookings.
Travel insurance is another cost that you can avoid by using the right travel card. When you use Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for your travel purchases, for example, you get trip cancellation/interruption insurance (you could be reimbursed for up to $10,000 of your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses per trip that is canceled or cut short by severe weather, sickness and other covered situations), travel accident insurance (up to $500,000 in accidental death or dismemberment coverage), lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger if your, or your immediate family members', checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged by the carrier), trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket for overnight delays and delays of 12 hours or more when you and your family travel by common carrier travel), baggage delay insurance (get reimbursement for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries for passenger carrier baggage delays of over 6 hours, up to a maximum of $100 per day for 5 days).
All you have to do to enjoy complimentary insurance coverage is use the right credit card to purchase your travel bookings.
Foreign Transaction Fees
A travel card should be made for travel. If you travel outside of the US, then you can save a lot of money by using a card that doesn't have foreign transaction fees. A foreign transaction fee is a fee you pay every time you use your card to make a payment in a foreign currency. This usually comes to 3% of each transaction, which can add up to a lot of money. Many good travel cards do not charge foreign transaction fees.
It's important to choose a card that really suits your travel needs. A card with a high annual fee may be the best choice if it has benefits that save you hundreds of dollars. If you don't travel outside of the US, things like no foreign transaction fees and chip technology are not that important. What you do want is a card that will give you the most travel savings and perks for your personal needs.
Travel Credit Card Tips
Travel rewards cards, hotel credit cards and airline credit cards let you earn reward points or air miles whenever you spend on them, and these points or miles can be accumulated towards free flights, hotel nights, car rentals, cruises and other merchandise.
If you are a frequent flyer who is not so particular about which airline to fly with or which hotel to stay at, it may be a smarter choice to get a general travel credit card since all of the points you earn can be redeemed towards any travel purchase you make.
On the other hand, if you tend to fly with a particular airline such as United or Delta, it is better to get specific airline credit cards since they come with many travel benefits such as free check-in for the first bag. Travel credit cards have generally flexible reward redemption options, which may let you redeem your miles or points for merchandise, gift cards, hotel stays and others.
All travel cards vary in their rewards programs, and have their own point system. Generally, you can expect 1 or 2 points for every dollar spent on these cards. Many cards listed on this page let you earn bonus points or miles when you spend a certain amount after getting your card. Some cards also don't impose any foreign transaction fees and/or annual fees.
Many of these cards tend to charge higher interest rates compared to other types of credit cards, so you should always pay your balance in full by the due date each month so as to avoid paying any interest. Use your card wisely, and you will be richly rewarded!
To see our full selection of Travel Credit Cards click here.
How We Rate Travel Credit Cards
Travel credit cards are rated by GET.com based on the benefits and added value that they offer to travelers in relation to their card fees.
We look at the value of travel rewards when redeemed for travel in different ways to determine the average cash value of travel rewards. We look at whether a card offers 1:1 conversion to frequent traveler programs, actual frequent traveler points, rewards that must be redeemed through a rewards program, or rewards that can be redeemed towards any travel purchases as a statement credit.
We also look at whether or not rewards expire, and if there are any limits or caps on the amount of rewards you can earn.
Other important travel benefits like travel insurance, car rental insurance, lounge access, concierge services, chip technology, no foreign transaction fees, hotel and airline benefits and other travel perks also influence our ratings.
Additionally, we also take basic card features like APR, introductory APR periods, annual fees, other card fees and the availability of the payment network into consideration before settling on a card rating.