Updated on Nov 13, 2018

Best Travel Credit Cards for 2018

Earn more travel rewards with the right card.
Advertiser Disclosure

Independently researched content by us. Free financial advice for you. To do that, we may get compensation when you click on our partners’ products. Our lists consist of the best cards from our partners. Not all cards in the marketplace have been evaluated. View our full advertiser disclosure to learn more.

Having a travel credit card makes it a lot easier to do just that – travel. With a travel credit card, you can earn rewards on your everyday expenses, which you can put toward free travel. Some cards even help you earn free stays at budget-friendly or luxurious hotels across the globe. If you’re shopping for a travel credit card, then you’re in luck. Our rundown of the best travel credit cards for 2018 showcases some of the best options available. Learn more about these cards and apply online in minutes.

The Simple Dollar’s top picks for best travel cards in 2018

Learn More on Capital One's secure website.

Best for frequent travelers

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Reward details Unlimited 2X miles per dollar Terms apply
Redeem for... Travel statement credit; travel booked through CapitalOne.com; gift cards; and more

Current Offer 50,000 miles
Annual Fee $95 (Waived first year)
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 50000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.74% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card makes it easy to convert everyday expenses into travel rewards. That’s unlimited 2X miles per dollar you spend at grocery stores, gas pumps, utilities, and more. So, if you’re on the fence about a travel credit card, this might just be a great one to start.

How to use it
  • Spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months to earn 50,000 bonus miles. That’s $500 in travel!
  • Redeem miles for travel statement credit or book through CapitalOne.com on airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more
  • Traveling abroad? Use this card while you’re traveling to avoid foreign transaction fees.
  • Take advantage of complimentary, 24-hour concierge service through Visa Signature Concierge.
Consider this

If you want to earn even more for your travels, you might consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card comes with a similar rewards rate (2X points on travel and dining worldwide). Plus, you can earn 25% more value when you redeem those points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This card also offers a larger signup bonus worth $625 toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Why you'll love it

If you’re on the fence about a travel credit card, you’ll love the straightforward Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. The signup bonus alone (worth $500 in travel) is enough to ensure even the most frugal cardholders can earn a free trip. That’s on top of the 2X miles per dollar spent on everyday purchases.

Start your application now Back to top

Great for flexible travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Reward details 2X points on travel and restaurants; 1X on other purchases Terms apply
Redeem for... Airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Current Offer 50,000 points
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.99% - 24.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re someone who prefers flexibility in their credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might just fit the bill. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about and no travel restrictions or blackout dates when redeeming your points for travel. On top of all that, there’s a massive signup bonus worth $625 toward your next travel booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

How to use it
  • Use this card for everything. You’ll earn 1 point per every dollar spent.
  • Take advantage of 2X points on dining and travel purchases worldwide. This means impressive rewards potential both domestically and abroad.
  • Spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account to earn 50,000 bonus points.
  • Transfer your points to participating frequent travel programs at a 1:1 value for ultimate flexibility.
  • Redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® to score 25% more value. This means redeeming 10,000 points actually give you 12500 points toward your next trip.
Consider this

Bear in mind that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does come with an annual fee of $95 (waived for the first year). While this amount more or less falls in line with standard annual fees, it’s something to consider. Make sure that your everyday spending habits fall in line with the incredible rewards potential of this card. If you can get the most out of this card, then it more than makes up for the annual fee.

Why you'll love it

You travel to get away from the hassles and complications of everyday life, and you deserve a card that helps make this possible. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the quintessential travel companion for anyone looking to see the world. Get this card and enjoy the ease of redeeming your reward points while saving on transportation and lodging wherever your journey takes you.

Start your application now Back to top
Learn More on Capital One's secure website.

Best flat-rate travel rewards on a budget

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Reward details Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase Terms apply
Redeem for... Travel statement credit; travel booked through CapitalOne.com; gift cards; and more

Current Offer 20,000 miles
Annual Fee None
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 20000 Miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.74% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% intro on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: For 12 Months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you prefer your travel credit cards uncomplicated, then perhaps you will appreciate the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. This card features unlimited, flat-rate rewards on every purchase made. There are no special or rotating categories to keep track of and no need to deviate from your regular spending habits. Additionally, there are also no annual fees to deal with.

How to use it
  • Spend $1,000 within your first three months to earn the 20,000 mile spend bonus.
  • Make the most of your miles by redeeming for travel statement credit or for travel booked through CapitalOne.com. Eligible purchases include airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more.
  • Traveling abroad? Use this card while you’re traveling to avoid foreign transaction fees.
  • Take advantage of complimentary, 24-hour concierge service through Visa Signature Concierge.
Consider this

If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you could earn higher-rate rewards with another card. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is very similar, with the exception of a higher rewards rate (unlimited 2X miles per dollar) and a signup bonus that’s worth much more.

Why you'll love it

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card could be a good fit if you’re on a budget and looking to earn flexible rewards toward a free trip. With no annual fee and unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase — not to mention the signup bonus — you’ll be on vacation before you know it.

Start your application now Back to top

Best no annual fee travel card

Discover it® Miles
Reward details 1.5x Miles for every $1 spent
Redeem for... Travel credit; statement credit

Current Offer First year mile-for-mile match
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re someone who tends to shy away from annual fees and punishing late fees, it’s time to discover the benefits of the Discover it® Miles card. With this card, you won’t suffer late fees on the first late payment, and there’s no annual fee. There are also no foreign transaction fees, making this a great card to travel abroad with. The fact that rewards are redeemable for travel statement credit gives you the freedom to use that credit to book through discount sites like Priceline, without having your plans restricted by blackout dates or holidays. And if you like to take the long view with accumulating miles, consider the end-of-year miles match. Basically, if you have 5,000 miles by the end of your first year, it’ll be matched to 10,000.

How to use it
  • Earn 1.5x miles for every dollar you spend on purchases.
  • Earn as many miles as you can before the end of the first year to make the most of Discover’s year-end bonus miles.
  • Book a trip with any airline at any time without having to worry about blackout dates.
Consider this

A year is a long time to have to wait for those year-end bonus miles. If you’re not in a rush to earn miles, then this might be the card for you. However, if you’d prefer to start with a huge signup bonus right off the bat, consider picking up the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Its signup bonus is worth $625 toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Why you'll love it

The Discover it® Miles is a sensible, uncomplicated way of saving up miles without an annual fee. Those with a lot of patience will also appreciate the fact that their miles will be matched at the end of the first year.

Start your application now Back to top

The Simple Dollar’s best travel credit cards: summed up

Best for... Credit Card
Frequent Travelers Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Learn More
Great For Flexible Travel Rewards Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Apply Now
Flat-Rate Travel Rewards On A Budget Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Learn More
No Annual Fee Travel Card Discover it® Miles Apply Now

Are travel credit cards worth it?

That depends on how frequently you travel. Your ability to pay off the balance on a monthly basis and whether you can afford to charge your trip to qualify for the rewards are also key factors. Using your travel rewards card to facilitate the bulk of your purchases helps you earn miles quicker. Some cards also grant a bonus when you redeem those rewards for travel.

Do travel credit cards have foreign transaction fees?

Some travel credit cards might come with foreign transaction fees. This means that if you were to use one of these cards, you could get hit with a fee on any souvenirs you purchase abroad. However, some travel credit cards – Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example – waive this fee. It’s wise to contact your travel credit card provider before you go and make any purchases abroad. The last thing you want to do is sample the local cuisine only to have a foreign transaction fee spoil the mood.

Are travel credit cards good for business travel?

For the most part, travel credit cards can make a welcome addition to any business travelers wallet. Take the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business as a prime example. When you use this card for your professional expenses, you can earn 2 miles per every dollar spent. Since business expenses can be pretty high, you could actually earn up to 200,000 miles. Earn a bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. You can then put those miles toward booking a business trip.

How do travel credit cards work?

In a nutshell, travel credit cards allow you to earn points, rewards, or miles on your travel-related expenses. Some credit cards – like the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card – fall into the fixed value category where each mile is worth 1 cent toward travel. Other cards feature a transferrable pool of points where you can use them in a partner program.

Is a travel credit card right for me?

If you travel frequently, you aren’t brand-loyal (or like to keep your options open), and you can pay off travel-related expenses in full and on time each month, then one of the best travel credit cards could help you save money and earn rewards on your next trip!

Resources for frequent travelers

The science of mastering rewards with your travel credit card is more of a journey than a destination, and even the savviest cardholder still has things to learn along the way.

In addition to rewards, many credit cards also provide travel insurance to help you protect yourself as you ramble around the globe.

The following section offers useful information to help you maximize the benefits of your travel credit card — not just the rewards points, but also insurance and other features that can improve your travel experience.

Do you need additional travel insurance?

Although it’s easy to brush off travel insurance as an unnecessary expense, you should always give it a second look. With all the upheavals that can unravel your travel plans, not to mention your own personal health, you might be wise to purchase a simple travel insurance plan — or at least pay for your trip with a credit card that offers this benefit for free. Your best option might be a combination: buying a travel insurance policy that supplements the coverage provided by your credit card and fills in the gaps.

Which travel credit cards have the best rewards?

If you’re looking for a travel credit card with the best rewards on the market, a great place to start is our in-depth rundown. However, there are lots of options to consider and, at the end of the day, it all boils down to what you want. What are you looking for? Free travel? Free hotel stays? Easy signup bonus requirements? In addition to our reviews, we have also put together this handy travel credit cards directory to help you find the best card for your needs.

What is the best travel credit card for earning miles?

Ultimately, this is a matter of opinion as well as your own personal preference. In general, the most ideal travel credit card for earning miles would be the one that best complements your spending habits. For example, if you’re the type of person who uses their credit card on everything, you’d want a travel card that rewards all of that spending. In this case, I’d tell you that the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card was a great place to start.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2x miles for every dollar you spend. That can add up quickly if you’re using the card for groceries, gas, etc. Furthermore, it has a signup bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Again, not a terribly difficult threshold to hit if you use your travel credit card for everyday purchases.

Research the best travel credit cards

Below is a directory of the most popular travel credit cards. I used this directory as a starting point for my research and analysis on travel cards. The directory is updated weekly to reflect any new changes, to add new cards, and to remove expired cards.

The travel credit cards directory is a sub-directory of rewards credit cards. This directory highlights the most important features specific to travel cards and displays all important information about each card.

Travel credit cards directory

The travel rewards credit card directory lists every travel credit card and high level information for each of the cards, so you can make quick comparisons. In order to rank and value each of these cards, certain features were weighted accordingly based on overall importance to the prospective cardholder.

Sort, filter, or search for what matters most to find the best travel credit card for you.

Sort By
Card Name
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Rewards Tier Level
Common Filters
Good Signup Bonus
Great Ongoing Rewards
Great Perks
No Annual Fee
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Search
Credit Card
Annual Fee
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Apply Online
Credit Card
Annual Fee
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Apply Online
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent
Excellent
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
None
Average
$0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
None
Average
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 See Details
Poor
Average

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our rankings and recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.