It’s October, a time for frights and things that go bump in the night. But there’s nothing scarier than missing out on great travel rewards because you don’t have the right travel credit card. We’ll review all the details, including bonus offers and travel perks, to bring you a list of the very best travel cards.
While there are lots of great credit cards for travel out there, the reality is that the best one for you is the one that suits your specific travel needs.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best total value
The Platinum Card from American Express has some of the best membership benefits of any card, including:
• Up to $200 in statement credits annually on incidental fees charged by one airline you select
• Uber VIP status and up to $200 Uber credit split into monthly $15 credits for US rides plus a bonus $20 in December
• $100 fee credit for Global Entry every five years or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every four years
• $100 Saks credit split into two $50 statement credits for the two halves of the year
• Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escapes lounges, along with Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta Air Lines
• Complimentary Gold status at the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs
• Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive
• Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Annual fee: $550
With a hefty $550 annual fee, most people assume that that the Amex Platinum can only benefit first-class flyers, but that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, the standard welcome bonus offer for the Amex Platinum is 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Amex Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, which makes this 60,000-point bonus worth $1,200. That is more than twice the $550 annual fee!
Yes, the card offers quite a few luxury benefits, but those perks can also make the travel experience easier for families, backpackers and budget travelers. Families can easily take advantage of the $200 airline-fee credit to cover the cost of additional luggage and inflight food, and entertainment to keep kids happy while in the air. Lounge access with hot food and a clean shower can make all the difference after a backpacking trip.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for beginner travelers
• Earn 2 points per dollar on travel
• Earn 2 points per dollar on dining
• Transfer points to 12 travel partners
• Redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
• No foreign transaction fees
Annual fee: $95
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is designed to work for those who travel a lot, and for those who don’t travel as often. Win-win! It can benefit both the points and miles expert and the one just starting out. With a $95 annual fee, it’s not an expensive card, which makes it a good choice for a beginner. But since the card earns Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll also find this card goes a long way if you’re an experienced loyalty program whiz looking to get maximum value.
If you want flexibility in earning and redeeming rewards, this is the best travel credit card around! You will pay no foreign transaction fees when you use your card for purchases made outside the United States. For example, if you spend $5,000 internationally, you would avoid $150 in foreign transaction fees.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for travel purchases and perks
• Earn 3 points per dollar on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else
• Redeem points directly through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.5 cents apiece
• $300 annual travel credit
• Priority Pass Select lounge access (valued by TPG at $99 annually)
• Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
• No foreign transaction fees
• Trip cancellation coverage
• Primary car rental insurance
Annual fee: $450
Many people will balk at the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, and while that’s a valid concern, the $300 annual travel credit drops your real out-of-pocket cost to $150 a year. With the card, you’ll earn 3x points on all travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases worldwide and 1x points on everything else. What’s often not known is just how extensive the bonus categories are — ride-sharing services, food delivery, etc.
The Sapphire Reserve also includes access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across the world. In addition, you can pay $75 to add each authorized user to your Reserve account, they’ll be able to take advantage of one of the card’s nicest perks!