2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
CreditCards.com is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditCards.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. CreditCards.com does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers.
Travel credit cards offer valuable rewards for all, whether you travel for business, pleasure, or both. Excellent perks like free checked bags or complimentary airport lounge access are the standard - both enticing and well worth it. From points and miles to luxury perks, these travel credit card offers from our partners are the best around.
Travel credit cards offer valuable rewards for all, whether you travel for business, pleasure, or both. Excellent perks like free checked bags or complimentary airport lounge access are the standard - both enticing and well worth it. From points and miles to luxury perks, these travel credit card offers from our partners are the best around.
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.
Updated: August 20, 2019
Among travel credit cards' best perks are rewards toward your fall trips, whether it's relaxing in San Diego, driving up New England to see the changing leaves or exploring Yosemite. The best travel credit cards can point you toward rewards that you can redeem through travel reservations including airfare, hotels, rental cars and more.
But how to choose? Here, we arm you with the tools you'll need to choose the best rewards card for your lifestyle, both as a spender and an earner.
Whether you are trying to figure out the types of travel cards available or how to choose a card, we can help.
With the Sapphire Preferred, your 60,000 bonus points (after $4,000 spend within the first 3 months) can become $750 in travel when redeemed through the Chase Ulimate Rewards portal, compared to other travel cards. For example, you'll earn $500 in travel (50,000 miles) with the sign-up bonus of the Venture Rewards after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months.
As we alluded to, when you use points earned from the sign-up bonus or the ongoing rewards from traveling and dining, and put them to travel redemptions through the Chase Ultimate Rewards, you get a 25% boost, meaning this card should be top-of-mind when considering travel.
For ongoing rewards other than those of worldwide travel and dining, this card may not be the best choice. That's because even with the Ultimate Rewards boost, the best you're going to do is 1.25X points on most categories.
From our expert: "The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great travel card because its sign-up bonus is worth at least $750 in travel – potentially even more if you utilize their transfer partners," says Ted Rossman, industry analyst for CreditCards.com. "This card has a relatively low annual fee ($95) and especially rewards cardholders for travel and dining purchases."
If you want to really max out on rewards for hotel stays, this card's partnership with Hotels.com/venture will get you there. Through January 2020, earn 10X miles for hotel stays booked and paid for through the Hotels.com/venture site.
This general-purpose travel card was already a solid, straightforward product, not only offering excellent rewards benefits, but providing no foreign transaction fee and up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check when you use your Venture Rewards – perfect for sightseeing and shopping overseas this fall.
If you're looking to maximize your sign-up bonus (and spend), you might want to look elsewhere, because you can do better than the Venture Rewards card's 50,000 miles sign-up bonus (after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months).
Discover offers an unlimited bonus in which all of the Discover it Miles you've earned will be matched at the end of your first year. That means if you earn 30,000 miles for the year, your bounty becomes 60,000 miles at the end of the first year, or $600.
There are no blackout dates with this card, and you can redeem miles for statement credits or even cash. Also, there are Discover-wide features such as freezing your account within seconds and a free FICO Score.
Even though there's no foreign transaction fee, Discover cards do not have a robust worldwide reach, making the Discover it Miles card better for domestic travel.
If you are looking for a travel card for occasional use, the VentureOne Rewards is a fine option in part because of its no annual fee. Just think – maximize rewards while avoiding an annual fee.
With a nice little sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles after only a $1,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership, this card is a great starter travel card. Also, there are more than a dozen travel partners. It also offers the same great deal with Hotels.com/venture as the Venture Rewards, something you won't see with the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.
The ongoing rewards are not the most lucrative, making this card best for the occasional user. If you only plan to use the card enough to earn rewards for an annual trip, this is the card for you.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards' no foreign transaction fees make it ideal for world travel and even online purchases with foreign merchants, since other cards with this fee can mean you pay up to 3% on every international travel transaction or purchase that goes through a foreign bank.
The BofA Travel Rewards card beats out the VentureOne Rewards both in the sign-up bonus and the ongoing rewards, all while matching its no annual fee offer.
Unfortunately, there is no 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers and only a 0% offer on purchases for 12 billing cycles (17.24%-25.24% variable after that).
The Platinum Card's annual travel credits are unparalleled – earn a $200 annual airline fee credit for checked baggage and more, as well as up to $200 in annual Uber credits (that's up to $15 a month plus a $20 bonus in December).
In addition to the travel and transit credits with this card, you can also earn annual credits of up to $100 each year on Saks Fifth Avenue purchases (enrollment required). Also earn complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts and a rich welcome offer the first year.
The $550 annual fee might take your breath away when compared to other travel credit cards' annual fees, although if you use the credits of The Platinum Card, you will more than recoup the cost.
With just a one-time enrollment, the world of Priority Pass™ Select opens up to you, giving you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across the globe.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve's $300 annual travel credit toward travel purchases (then 3X points on travel after that) is a rare find, as well as the 3X points on dining at restaurants and 1X point on everything else. And keep in mind that because you earn a 50% boost on travel bookings through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, that 1X point actually becomes 1.5 cents towards travel.
As rewarding as the Sapphire Reserve is, from its sign-up bonus to the Ultimate Rewards offer, the annual fee is sizeable, at $450, and is not waived the first year.
With a sign-up bonus that beats other comparable cash back cards, this card also rewards on a generous tiered level of 3% on a category you choose, such as travel or dining, and 2% at grocery stores and at wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 a quarter combined).
This card's 0% intro APR offer is competitive, with 0% on purchases for 15 billing cycles and 0% for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made within the first 60 days (it's 16.24%-26.24% variable after that).
The reality is that the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is not the best choice for international travel because of its 3% foreign transaction fee.
One of the Bank of America Premium Rewards' benefits is well worth it for the frequent traveler – get up to $100 in an airport security statement credit toward a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee every 4 years.
The biggest plus about this card is that the ongoing rewards for purchases other than travel and dining is 1.5X points, which beats that of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and that's even with the CSP's Ultimate Rewards boost.
This card doesn't have the points boost of the Chase Sapphire Preferred on travel bookings, and there's an annual fee of $95, which is not waived the first year.
The Wells Fargo Propel's 3X points on dining out or in beat the Chase Sapphire Preferred's ongoing rewards for that category, and that's even with the Chase Ultimate Rewards boost for booking travel.
Earn 3X points on categories such as all forms of transit and all types of travel, and that's with no annual fee. Also, the sign-up bonus is not to be compared to other cards with no annual fee. There are also no foreign transaction fees.
This card's 0% intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers is not comparable to similar cards – it's only 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (15.99%-27.99% variable after that).
|Credit Card||Best For:||Travel Rewards Rate||Average Yearly Rewards Value*||CreditCards.com Rating|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Sign-up bonus||2X points on travel and dining worldwide||$412||3.9 / 5|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Hotels||10X miles on hotels stays booked at hotels.com/venture||$447||4.2 / 5|
|Discover it® Miles||Earning miles||Unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases||$318||4.0 / 5|
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||No annual fee||10X miles on hotels stays booked at hotels.com/venture||$293||3.5 / 5|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card||No foreign transaction fee||Unlimited 1.5X points on all purchases||$322||3.4 / 5|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Annual travel credits||5X Membership Rewards Points on flights and hotels booked through amextravel.com||$1,847**||4.5 / 5|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Lounge access||3X points on travel||$2,001**||4.6 / 5|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||Cash rewards||3% on a category you choose, including travel||$325||3.4 / 5|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||TSA precheck||2X points on travel and dining||$428||3.9 / 5|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card||Dining||3X points on flights, hotels, homestays, dining, and car rentals||$383||3.5 / 5|
*$1,325 in monthly spend
**$75,000 in annual spend
Travel credit cards analyzed: 300
Commmon features of the cards we researched (and number of cards): No foreign transaction fee (300), airport lounge access (59), free checked bag (46), elite status (37), priority boarding (28), free nights (16)
Criteria used: Rewards rates, rewards categories, sign-up bonus, point values, transfer partners, redemption options, redemption flexibility, annual fee, other rates and fees, travel credits, airport lounge access, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, concierge service, other travel benefits, travel portal functionality, credit needed, customer service, events or other perks
Everybody would love to use their credit cards to earn a free autumn vacation, but it's rarely that simple. Before you apply for a travel rewards credit card, there are several things that you need to understand, including:
A travel credit card is one whose rewards are best redeemed for travel reservations. Many credit cards offer rewards that can be redeemed in many ways, including for travel reservations. A true travel rewards card will offer the most value when its points or miles are used for travel reservations, as opposed to other options such as cash back, gift cards or merchandise. A travel rewards credit card is also more likely to offer travel-specific benefits such as travel insurance or priority service and other perks when using the card's co-branded partner.
Travel rewards cards offer points or miles that can be redeemed for travel reservations. These rewards primarily come in two ways. First, these cards may offer new applicants a sign-up bonus, typically after meeting a minimum amount of spending in a certain amount of time. For example, an airline credit card might offer new accounts 50,000 frequent flyer miles after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. Also, a travel rewards card will offer rewards for spending, often including a bonus for purchases from the airline or hotel partner, or for purchases from certain categories of merchants.
Once your account gains enough rewards, you may redeem them for award travel reservations. These might be awards made directly with hotel or airline partners, reservations booked through a designated travel agent or statement credits that reimburse you for travel reservations you've already booked.
The most difficult part of evaluating a travel credit card can be estimating the value of the rewards that you'll earn. For example, many travel rewards cards offer frequent flyer miles or hotel points, but the value of these rewards can vary. Furthermore, airlines and hotels are free to change the value of their points and miles at any time, and often with no advance notice. On the other hand, some programs have a very clear value for each point redeemed, with several simply offering one cent in value per point or mile.
There are two major types of travel rewards cards:
You'll find several types of cards with reward programs, operated by the card issuers. Some award points and miles can be redeemed for travel reservations through a designated travel agency, such as the partnership between the Capital One Venture cards and hotels.com. Other times, bank-operated programs allow cardholders to redeem their rewards as statement credits toward travel, such as with the BofA Travel Rewards credit card. Then there are bank programs that allow you to transfer your rewards to airline miles or hotel points, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou.
Some of these cards can be luxury products that offer valuable travel perks and benefits, but with a high annual fee. Also, there are general travel rewards cards that are offered to small-business owners.
Alternatively, there are many travel rewards cards that offer points or miles in programs operated by a co-brand partner. The two major types of partner cards are airline cards and hotel cards, although there are some affiliated with an online travel agency. When you use one of these cards, you'll earn points and miles with the travel provider or travel agency, and the use of your rewards will be subject to the terms and conditions of its loyalty program. However, the card issuer is still setting rates and fees, issuing statements and processing your monthly payments.
Most airline cards will offer priority boarding, a free checked bag and discounts on in-flight purchases, while premium cards will give you an airport lounge membership. A hotel card will offer you elite status which typically grants you priority service, room upgrades and late checkouts.
There are times when transferring to a partner with the points from your co-branded card is worth the effort. Whether you want to book an expensive holiday flight in first or business class or leverage partner airlines to get better flights (more on that later), partners can get you where you want to go. It's pretty straightforward: You might be transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from your CSP to say, United, to book a Lufthansa partner flight, or you might use your Gold Delta SkyMiles miles in the Delta Airlines portal.
And regardless of whether a card has a co-brand partner, it might feature a variety of other benefits from third parties. For example, the Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard programs offer many travel and shopping discounts. And a premium credit card may offer airport lounge access through a lounge network not associated with an airline, such as Priority Pass Select or the American Express Centurion lounges.
Once you decide to open a new travel rewards credit card, you should take into consideration your travel habits when choosing the right card for you.
When selecting an airline rewards credit card, the most important travel tendency to consider is how often you'll be using the co-branded airline. All of these cards will offer you more points or miles for purchases made from the co-branded airline, so it makes sense for frequent travelers to have a card affiliated with the airline they use the most. Frequent flyer cards will also offer you benefits when traveling on the airline, such as priority service, discounts on inflight purchase and checked baggage fee waivers. This is another reason why you'll want to consider a card from the airline that you use the most.
One important tip: To get the right travel card, know your airline hubs. Delta, for example, uses Salt Lake City as a hub, giving consumers who live in the area or travel to Utah for fall hiking an abundance of Delta routes to choose from. So if you live near Salt Lake, or travel there frequently, you'll want to consider the co-branded Delta cards.
Finally, you'll want to find a card that will let you redeem your reward points or miles for flights to where you want to go. For example, if you are dreaming of using your airline rewards for a summer trip to Paris, then you won't want to earn points with Southwest Airlines, which doesn't offer any overseas flights. However, you should always consider if a frequent flyer program has any airline partners that offer service to where you want to go. For instance, Alaska Airlines doesn't fly to Paris either, but you can redeem its miles for award flights on several of its partners that offer overseas service.
When it comes to choosing a hotel card, there are other travel tendencies that you need to think about. First, consider your travel budget. An economy traveler will not have much use for the benefits offered by the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card, since it can cost hundreds of dollars per night to stay at one of its properties. Likewise, there's no point in using a credit card from a budget chain when you prefer to stay at midrange or luxury hotels.
You also need to look at the geographic regions where you normally stay, and if the card's hotel chain has many properties there. For example, hotel companies such as Choice and Wyndham tend to have properties in small towns and rural areas, while you'll find most Hyatt and Starwood hotels to be in midsized to large cities. And if you are an international traveler, make sure that the hotel credit card you are using offers a sufficient selection of properties in the countries that you commonly travel to.
With a general-purpose travel card, your travel tendencies won't mean as much. While an airline or hotel card can limit how you use your rewards, the sky's the limit (as it were) with a general-purpose travel card. That is because with these cards, you are typically able to redeem your rewards for statement credits toward any travel reservation. Or, you'll be able to make reservations directly with the card issuer's designated travel agent, which will allow you to make reservations with most airlines and hotels.
However, there can be one thing to think about with a general travel rewards card. Some allow you to transfer your rewards to airline miles or hotel points with several different programs. If you are a traveler skilled at redeeming points and miles, you'll often find it possible to realize exceptional value from each point or mile. This is especially true when you're able to redeem your airline miles for expensive flights in business or first class, or last-minute reservations. You can also receive tremendous value from your hotel points when you are able to redeem them for stays at some luxury properties or for stays during high-demand periods.
With a luxury travel card, one of the primary benefits will be the airport lounge services offered. When selecting one of these cards, you'll need to look at what lounges are part of this program, and compare them to your travel habits. For example, both the Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer you a membership in the Priority Pass Select airport lounge program. And while this program features more than 1,000 lounges around the world, the vast majority is outside of the United States, and there may not be a lounge at your home airport. Or, there may be a lounge at your home airport, but it might be in a different terminal than the airline you use most often.
You also need to examine the terms and conditions of the lounge membership. Some, such as the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express, offer free access to just the cardholder, while others allow complimentary visits by a limited number of guests or family members. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for example, offers free lounge visits for the cardholder and an unlimited number of guests.
Also, many luxury travel cards affiliate with an airline or hotel reward program. These cards offer extensive benefits when you travel with that airline or stay with a member hotel. These benefits are only beneficial if they align with your travel habits.
Business travel cards are much like their consumer-focused counterparts; however, they tend to offer better rewards for common business purchases such as office supplies, advertising and telecommunications services. And when it comes to your travel tendencies, you'll need to look at how you'll benefit from the card's program.
If you'll only be charging your business travel to your small business card, then you'll want to make sure you have a card from an airline or hotel that meets your business needs. But at the same time, you'll still want those rewards to be valuable to you when it comes time to redeem them for your personal travel needs.
When looking at travel cards, you may be tempted to avoid a card with an annual fee, and there's something to be said for that. But there's a lot more to a travel card than just the annual fee. Here, we look at the different factors, including the sign-up bonus, ongoing rewards, benefits and other features.
As you know, the choices can seem overwhelming, but exciting, with hotel and airline cards, as well as cards that partner with multiple brands. Co-branded cards are good for the loyalist, while general-purpose travel cards are good for the travel shopper.
We're going to look at a general-purpose card, the Capital One Venture Rewards, and one of our favorites, the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Airline cards will typically have blackout dates and other restrictions, although in the case of our examples, this is not true. Both the Sapphire Preferred and the Venture Rewards have no blackout dates, no expiration dates and no point limits.
While the Venture Rewards sign-up bonus is 50,000 miles after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months, the Sapphire Preferred offers a higher 60,000 points after a $4,000 spend within the first 3 months. Additionally, the Venture Rewards offers 10X miles on every dollar spent at hotels.com/venture. Both allow transfers with multiple travel partners. Meanwhile, when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Sapphire Preferred, you get a 25% bonus on points. Finally, while the Venture card rewards 2X miles on all purchases, the Sapphire Preferred only rewards with 2X points on worldwide travel and restaurants and 1X point on everything else.
Most of the best travel cards offer travel and shopping benefits, such as travel insurance, rental car insurance and extended warranties. If, for example, you often rent rental cars, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be the best card for you, because its car rental insurance is primary, meaning that it covers you even before your personal auto insurance.
The bulk of travel rewards cards offer no foreign transaction fees, but it's important to check to make sure the card you select doesn't have the charge, which can otherwise run 3% of every purchase made overseas or processed through a foreign bank.
Finally, consider a travel rewards strategy that includes multiple cards. For example, you might have an airline credit card primarily to enjoy priority boarding and to receive a free checked bag. At the same time, you might also have a general travel rewards card that you use for most of your spending. In fact, frequent travelers may carry an airline card, a hotel card and one or more general travel rewards cards, to realize the unique benefits offered by each.
Make sure your credit matches the required score for the cards you are looking at and be sure to pay in full each and every month so that you don't pay interest charges.
One of the primary disadvantages of travel credit cards is that most come with an annual fee. While some credit card users will always refuse to pay an annual fee, many have found these fees to be worth it to receive these benefits. To decide if a fee is worth it, you must first consider the net cost of the card, after any fee credits. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, but it also has a $300 annual travel credit, making its net cost $150 per year, so long as you use the credit.
Next, consider the added value of the benefits and rewards you receive, compared to the best available alternative with a lower annual fee or none. If the value of these rewards and benefits comfortably exceeds the difference in annual fees, then the card will be worth it for your needs. Nevertheless, it's important to re-evaluate the card each year before paying the annual fee. Heads up that we've found that consumers have had good luck with getting the annual fee waived when they asked, so that's an option.
Many credit cards offer some form of travel insurance, but travel rewards cards tend to offer the strongest set of policies. The most common is travel accident insurance, which will offer you a benefit if you are injured or killed in an accident on a common carrier, such as an airline, train, bus or cruise. Another form of travel insurance found on most credit cards is rental car insurance, which can replace the costly policies that you would buy from the rental car company.
Travel rewards credit cards are likely to carry trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, which will compensate you if you are unable to take or complete a trip due to illness or a variety of other covered reasons. Trip delay insurance will cover your expenses if a flight is delayed or canceled, causing you to incur unexpected costs for meals, hotels or alternate transportation. Also, baggage loss and delay insurance can supplement any compensation provided by the airline. Finally, there are some premium travel cards that will offer you medical evacuation insurance, that will fly you home for treatment if you become sick or injured in a foreign country.
How you spend your travel rewards is at least as important as how you earn them. Airlines and hotels are making it easier to earn rewards from their travel credit cards, but it can be an ever-increasing challenge to find the most value when the time comes to redeem the points and miles that you earned.
If your travel rewards credit card offers you points or miles with an airline or hotel program, then you'll have to work especially hard to get the most value per point or mile redeemed. With many airline frequent flyer programs, you'll realize the most value by redeeming your miles for expensive, last-minute flights, or for seats in business or first class. However, it can be very difficult to find available award seats on these flights.
Thankfully, there are several ways to increase your chances of success when looking for award seats.
First, you'll want to plan your award trip as far in advance as possible. Most airlines will open their flights to new reservations about 11 months in advance, and if you're able to book your travel then, then you'll have one of the best opportunities to find available award seats on the flights you want. However, you may also find the seats you need later, as some airlines will vary their airline award seat availability.
Another suggestion is to be as flexible as possible by considering different dates, times and destinations, rather than just hoping to find a specific award flight available on a certain day. You can also consider alternate departure and arrival airports near your destination. Furthermore, the fewer award seats that you need on the same flight, the more likely you are to find them on a single flight. Therefore, a family of four will have a lot better chance of finding award flights if they are willing to “split the team” and divide their reservations between two different flights.
Another important way to maximize the value of your frequent flyer miles is be sure to consider all available airline partners. Most carriers are part of one of the three major international airline alliances: SkyTeam, Oneworld and the Star Alliance. These airlines allow you to redeem your miles on flights operated by their partners, as well as some partners that are not part of the alliance. These partners can offer award seats to your destination, and most airlines will price their partner awards at the lowest mileage levels. Also, these partner awards sometimes don't appear on the airline's website, so you'll have to call to book these awards.
Alternatively, you could consider hiring an award booking service, such as Expert Flyer. There are several enterprising award travel enthusiasts that use special tools to find award availability and have extensive experience doing so. While it will cost about $200 per person to hire an award booking service, this could be money well spent when you are able to use the lowest possible number of miles to book business or first-class award reservations that can be worth thousands of dollars.
Finally, you may find that after you've made your reservation, the airline could make a schedule change. This is your opportunity to contact the airline and request alternate flights that are more ideal for your schedule, even if there isn't award availability. So long as the alternative flights are operated by the airline whose miles you redeemed, not a partner, it will be able to open up award space in response to a schedule change that affected your reservations.
It's a lot easier to redeem hotel points than airline miles. Many of the major hotel loyalty programs have a policy of allowing customers to redeem their points for any unsold standard room. Companies with this policy include Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham and Hyatt. To receive exceptional value from your points, you can redeem them for award nights during peak travel periods such as holidays and special events. And if you find that a hotel has rooms for sale, but you can't redeem your points, it can help to contact the property directly, or reach out to their corporate headquarters to ensure that the property is following the program's policy.
When it comes to the travel rewards programs offered by card issuers, it can be easier to redeem your rewards for the most value. When your points or miles are worth a fixed amount toward statement credits or travel reservations, then it doesn't really matter how you redeem them. However, some of these programs give you the choice of redeeming your points for travel reservations or transferring them to airline miles or hotel points. Programs with this feature include American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou points and the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program.
Transferring your rewards to airline miles or hotel points can offer you the most value, but only when you can find the award seats you want, or a great hotel award stay. You want to examine all the different frequent flyer programs that you can transfer your points to, including which airline partners you can book flights with. Often, this can be a complicated task. To ensure that you are getting the best value, you should compare the number of points needed to book a flight or hotel directly, with the number of frequent flyer miles or hotel points you would need to transfer.
With the fall season upon us, now's a great time to redeem rewards for a long weekend to San Diego, a jaunt to Japan, or enjoying the off-season in the Caribbean. That can mean redemptions for a hotel stay in your favorite town; business class on an international flight; or a trip to the Bahamas.
Here are a few examples of trips you might opt for and how to maximize those redemptions:
You and your significant other want to take a long weekend to San Diego using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. First, you can book through Chase Ultimate Rewards and earn a 1.25 cents boost, or transfer your points to airline partners such as American, which flies into San Diego. American MileSAAver awards are available for as low as 7,500 miles each way plus any applicable taxes and carrier-imposed fees points or miles, and if you opt for Southwest Airlines, remember, there are no blackout dates with Southwest's Rapid Rewards.
When it comes to using your credit card rewards for free hotel stays, you could transfer points to Hyatt's loyalty program, called World of Hyatt, where free night stays are often available for 12,000 points a night at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina. Or splurge and stay 30 miles north at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa at 20,000 points a night.
Finally, you'll want to find a card that will let you redeem your reward points or miles for flights to where you want to go. For example, if you are dreaming of using your airline rewards for an autumn trip to Paris, then you won't want to earn points with Southwest Airlines, which doesn't offer any overseas flights. However, you should always consider if a frequent flyer program has any airline partners that offer service to where you want to go. For instance, Alaska Airlines doesn't fly to Paris either, but you can redeem its miles for award flights on several of its partners that offer overseas service.
You've decided to take a trip to Japan, and want to use your credit card rewards to travel in business class. You have miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program that you received from your personal and business travel, as well as miles from your credit card. While you don't have the 125,000 miles American requires for a business-class flight to Japan, you have hotel points in the Hilton Honors program. By transferring some of your hotel points to American Airlines miles, you'll have enough miles for this award. You find the award seats on American's partner, Japan Airlines, and ask American to hold the award, which it will do for up to five days, at no charge. Then you transfer some of your Hilton points to American miles and ticket the award.
Say you and your family of four want to get away to the Bahamas. You choose to earn miles with the Discover it Miles because of its easy redemption options. You'll get unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases plus double that at the end of your first year of card membership. You can then use your credit card rewards to receive statement credits to offset the cost. By the time you take the trip, you've earned even more miles, which you are able to use to pay for your rental car and some of your activities.
Finally, there are some credit card users who simply aren't excited about travel rewards. This can include those who rarely travel and others who just drive to their destinations and stay with friends and family, and have no need for award flights or hotel stays. Also, there are consumers who prefer to spend their vacation time at home, perhaps doing a summer home renovation. These types of consumers would be better served by foregoing points and miles and using a cash back credit card instead.
Jason Steele is a credit card journalist and a leading expert in the personal finance industry. He specializes in award travel and is a Senior Points and Miles Contributor at The Points Guy. His work has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, and Business Insider. You can reach Jason by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account number, phone number, or email address. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.
The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by the card issuers or advertisers. Additionally, the card issuer or advertiser does not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.