Updated on Jul 1, 2019

Best Travel Credit Cards for 2019

Earn more travel rewards with the right card.
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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 redeem 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 2019 showcases some of the best options available. Learn more about these cards and apply online in minutes.

The Simple Dollar’s Top Picks for the Best Travel Credit Cards:

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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, through January 2020; 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. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • 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: 25.24% (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: 17.99% - 25.24% (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 $750 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.

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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 60,000 points
Annual Fee $95
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 27.24% 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: 18.24% - 25.24% 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 $750 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 60,000 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. 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.

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Apply Now 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
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a 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
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24% - 24.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • 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: 24.24% (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: 14.24% - 24.24% (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.

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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 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases. .
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
  • Cash Advance APR: 27.24% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.24% - 25.24% 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 35,000 miles by the end of your first year, it’ll be matched to 70,000.

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 $750 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.

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The best travel credit cards of 2019: summed up

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

Travel Credit Cards FAQ

If you’re in the market for a travel credit card but haven’t pulled the trigger yet, you probably have several important questions you need answered first. We created this travel credit card FAQ to answer all your burning questions as you search for the right travel credit card.

  • Are travel credit cards worth it? Whether you find travel rewards cards worth your time or not 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. Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $4,500 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.
  • How do you know if a travel credit card is right for you? 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!
  • 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.

How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Card

Finding the best card for travel miles or hotel points isn’t an exact science, but there are steps you can take to make sure you wind up with the ideal card for your needs and lifestyle. The following instructions can help you determine which travel credit cards might help you earn more points and miles over time, as well as which might work best for you when you go to redeem your points for the vacation you’ve been dreaming of.

Step 1: Determine the type of travel you want to book.

The first factor to consider when choosing a travel credit card is the type of rewards you want to earn most. Do you fly a lot and hope to earn airline miles, or do you prefer taking trips within driving distance? If you fly often or simply wish you could, a co-branded airline credit card or flexible card that lets you transfer points to frequent flyer programs might work best. If you are more inclined to choose destinations you can drive to, on the other hand, you may want to choose a hotel credit card or a flexible card that lets you redeem points for hotel stays.

Before you choose a travel card, it’s smart to think over the type of trips you hope to book and the rewards points you need to make them happen. That way, you don’t wind up with points you can’t use.

Step 2: Figure out which airlines and hotel brands you utilize most.

Once you’ve thought about the type of travel you hope to book with rewards, it’s important to narrow down your choices even more. After all, different frequent flyer programs work better than others depending on where you live. The same is true for hotel loyalty programs since each hotel brand has hotels in some parts of the world and not others.

To figure out which airline and hotel programs to focus on, take the time to do some basic searching online. Explore hotel websites like IHG.com, Marriott.com, and Hyatt.com to see which hotel brands offer properties you actually want to stay in, and play around with airline websites to see which ones fly to your dream destinations.

You will probably find that some programs will work better for you than others, but you’ll never know if you don’t check.

Step 3: Consider earning flexible rewards.

If you’re on the fence about where you want to travel or the type of rewards you want to earn, you can also sign up for a flexible travel credit card instead of one that is co-branded with a specific airline or hotel chain. Flexible travel credit cards that let you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points let you transfer points to an array of hotel and airline programs, meaning you can decide how to redeem your points after you earn them. You can also opt for a card that doles out flexible travel credit you can redeem for any type of travel at a rate of one cent per point.

Step 4: Look for a big signup bonus.

Another factor to consider is the signup bonus you’ll earn. Keep in mind that many travel rewards credit cards offer 50,000 points or more if you can meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months of account opening. Earning a signup bonus can help you boost your initial rush of rewards and get closer to having enough points for your dream trip sooner, so make sure to compare signup bonuses before picking a travel card.

Step 5: Consider annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and other fees.

Some travel credit cards charge annual fees, although many waive their fee for the first year. While paying an annual fee can be well worth it, you should make sure you’re comfortable with any fees ahead of time to avoid an unwelcome surprise. If you travel internationally, you’ll probably want to make sure you pick a travel credit card without any foreign transaction fees as well. By choosing a travel rewards card without foreign transaction fees, you won’t have to pay an extra 3% or more when you use your card to make purchases abroad.

Step 6: Make sure to compare travel perks.

Also note that some travel credit cards offer special perks like airport lounge access and annual travel credits. Some of the best travel credit cards even offer comprehensive travel insurance coverage such as primary auto rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, and baggage delay reimbursement. Make sure to compare cards in terms of their travel perks to ensure you wind up with a card that offer benefits that make travel more comfortable and hassle-free.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Travel Credit Card

Once you’ve finally decided on a travel credit card, it’s smart to look for ways to maximize your efforts. These tips can help you earn more points and miles over time, avoid the pitfalls of credit cards, and get more bang for your buck.

  • Use your card for all your regular spending and bills. The best way to earn more points and miles over time is making sure you’re using your travel points credit card for all your regular purchases and recurring bills. Make sure to use your rewards card for groceries, gas, utility bills, holiday shopping, college tuition, and any other bills that let you pay with credit without a fee.
  • Use shopping portals when you buy items online. Some travel credit cards have shopping portals that let you earn more points any time you make a purchase at a participating store. Examples include Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping, Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping, and American AAdvantage Shopping. By using a shopping portal whenever you shop online, you can rack up more points without any effort.
  • Make sure to spend enough to earn the initial signup bonus. If your travel credit card offers an initial signup bonus, make sure to plan carefully so you meet your card’s minimum spending requirement by the listed date. If you miss the spending requirement by even a dollar or by a single day, you will miss out on your signup bonus altogether. Credit card issuers rarely make exceptions on their deadlines for signup bonuses, so don’t leave anything to chance.
  • Pay your balance in full every month. If you’re pursuing credit card rewards, you have to make sure you’re not carrying a balance from month to month. If you do carry a balance at the average interest rate for credit cards (which is now over 17%), the interest you’re paying is wiping out any rewards you earn each month. Make sure to pay your credit card balance in full every month so you can avoid credit card interest and long-term debt.
  • Book travel with rewards early when you can. Because hotel and airline loyalty programs sometimes limit award availability, it’s crucial to plan award travel early. Start planning at least six months out for flights and hotels you plan to book with points and miles, and you’ll find more availability and dates to choose from.

Research the best travel credit cards here.

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.

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No Annual Fee
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