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Best Travel Credit Cards

Last update: Jun 15, 2015
Best Travel Credit Cards
The 2015 summer travel season is shaping up to be one of the busiest in recent memory, with consumers expected to spend a total of $65 billion on online travel bookings between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and some 37.2 million people having kicked things off with a trip over the Memorial Day long weekend. Buoyed by a household windfall borne from depressed fuel costs and the dollar’s global strength, approximately one-third of Americans are planning a trip overseas, taking advantage of dollar’s strength relative to the Euro, Yen, etc.
Nevertheless, the average summer trip for a family of four carries a $4,580 price tag, according to an American Express survey. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to defray the costs associated with travel, especially the international variety. For starters, you could apply for a lucrative initial rewards bonus or 0% introductory interest rate offer, thereby saving $400 -$1,000+ in a matter of months. Using no foreign transaction fee credit cards and debit cards while traveling abroad as well as avoiding dynamic currency conversion will also save you up to 10% on currency conversion.
But which particular credit cards offer the best deals for travelers? The best travel credit cards can be difficult to identify since there are more than 1,000 cards on the market – each offering a different type of incentive. To help you in this endeavor, CardHub’s editors compared all of the cards in our database, regardless of sponsor status, in search of the best money-saving deals for summer travelers. You can find our best-in-class selections below, followed by CardHub’s money-saving travel tips and expert insights on the outlook for summer travel.
  • All-Around

    Spending $3,000 in the first 3 months will award you with 40,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit attributable to any travel-related expenses. The ongoing reward rate is 2 miles per $1 spent, with no limits or expiration dates. This card charges a $59 an annual fee, beginning in the second year and does not assess foreign transaction fees for purchases processed abroad.
  • Perhaps the best rewards credit card on the market, Arrival Plus offers a 40,000-mile rewards bonus – redeemable for $400 in travel expenses – in return for cardholders spending $3,000 during the first three months their accounts are open. You’ll earn the miles equivalent of 2% cash back on all other purchases and receive 10% of the miles you redeem back upon redemption.

    This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee and its $89 annual fee is waived for the first year.
  • Spending at least $4,000 during the first three months your account is open will trigger a 40,000-point rewards bonus, which can be redeemed for $500 in travel accommodations booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Program or a $400 statement credit.

    This card does not charge an annual fee during the first year ($95 thereafter) and does not assess foreign transaction fees for purchases processed abroad.
  • Airline Rewards

    Spending $500 or more with this card during the first 90 days that you have it will get you 40,000 bonus miles, which can be redeemed for 2 round-trip domestic flights.

    You’ll also get 2 miles per $1 spent on and 1 mile/$1 on all other purchases. This card has a $69 annual fee.
  • In addition to a $200 initial bonus for spending at least $2,500 during the first three months, this card provides you with 5 points per $1 spent on all airfare and 1 point per $1 on everything else.

    It does not have an annual fee, but you might have to pay a one-time $15 to join an eligible association, if you don’t initially meet PenFed’s eligibility requirements.
  • Hotel Rewards

    You may not have heard of Club Carlson, but it represents a number well-known hotel brands such as Radisson, Park Plaza, and Country Inn & Suites. This eponymous card Club offers 50,000 bonus points with your first purchase and an additional 35,000 points for spending at least $2,500 within 90 days.

    You can redeem your 85,000 total bonus points for up to 9 free hotel nights and your 40,000 annual bonus points for up to 4 more nights, depending on the category of hotel you select. There is a $75 annual fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • You’ll get 70,000 bonus points in return for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months you have the IHG Credit Card. That bounty is redeemable for up to 14 free nights, as IHG offers rewards nights for as low as 5,000 points through its PointBreaks program.

    IHG card users also receive one additional free night each year on their account anniversary and an annual 10% point rebate (up to 100,000), in addition to 5 points per $1 spent at IHG hotel chains, 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 point/$1 on everything else.

    This card does not have a first-year annual fee ($49 thereafter) and does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Hotels operating under the IHG umbrella include the Holiday Inn family of hotels and Crowne Plaza.
  • Charging $3,000 to this card over the first three months you have it will trigger a 60,000-point initial bonus – redeemable for up to 12 free hotel nights, depending on how your hotel of choice is classified. Unfortunately, this offer comes with a $75 annual fee as well as a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, making it best suited to domestic travel.
  • You’ll earn a 25,000 points bonus after if you can manage to charge $3,000 to this card in the first 3 months your account is open. This bounty will score you 8 free hotel nights, depending on your hotel choice.

    Another interesting feature of this card’s rewards program are the varied point transfer options, which are sweetened by the 25% bonus points offered with each 20,000-point transfer. The point transfer ratio is 1:1, so transferring will only bring more benefits. The card has no annual fee in the first year, but will charge $65 after and has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
  • Road Trip Rewards

    This Pentagon Federal Credit Union product offers 5 points per $1 spent on gas (at any station, as long as you fill up at the pump), 3 points per $1 spent on groceries, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. The Platinum Rewards Card doesn’t have an annual fee and no fee for foreign transactions, but you might have to pay a one-time $15 to join an eligible association, if you don’t initially meet PenFed’s eligibility requirements.
  • This Amex offers 6% cash back on groceries (up to $6000 per year), 3% on gas and department store purchases and 1% on everything else – making it a great card for everyday spending as well as road trips.

    While this card does charge a $75 annual fee and a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, you also get a $150 initial rewards bonus for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months.
  • Financing Travel

    If you have existing credit card debt (or you will after your impending summer vacation), transferring what you owe to the Slate Card could save you more than $1,000 in finance charges and help you reach debt freedom way earlier than you would otherwise. Just make sure to use our Balance Transfer Calculator to determine how much you’ll need to pay each month in order to be debt free by the time Slate’s 15-month 0% intro term gives way to high regular rates.

    What really sets Slate apart from the balance transfer pack, however, is it’s lack of fees. More specifically, Slate charges neither an annual fee nor a balance transfer fee – which itself will save you hundreds. New applicants will also benefit from Slate’s new credit score tracking feature.
  • This card offers the longest 0% purchase APR on the market, at 21 months. So, if you won’t be able to pay off the cost of your coming trip in a single month, this is a great option to consider. All you have to do is use our calculator to see what monthly payments you’ll have to make in order to be balance-free by the time regular rates take effect.

    It’s also important to note that this card probably isn’t your best bet when it comes to balance transfers, despite its near two-year interest-free term. That’s because it charges a 3% balance transfer fee. For the average consumer, who owes roughly $7,100, that fee alone would amount to $213.

Reviews & Discussion

Help others find the Best Credit Card for their needs by providing recommendations, caustions, and insider tips
Jun 29, 2015
The best travel credit card out there is the one that doesn’t charge annual fees. I hate fees and I don’t see a reason to get a card that requires you to pay one when there are several that do not charge an annual fee. The Chase Slate is the travel card that I like the best. The best part of the card is that there are no annual fees whatsoever. There is also no balance transfer fee. The only bad thing about this card is that it does not offer rewards. So that’s definitely a negative. I am okay with that as long as I don’t have to pay any fees.
Jun 26, 2015
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Rewards card is a great travel credit card to have. They reward you for making purchases on the card within the first 3 months with 40,000 extra points. In addition, the card offers 1 point for every $1 spent and also has promotions with 2 points for every $1 spent. The extra 40,000 points equates to $500 in travel which is pretty decent and competitive.
Jun 2, 2015
How may i obtain my credit card and others who are ready to travel with me to US?
Our editors' recommendations for the Best Travel Credit Cards are a reflection of their own subjective opinions, and they should not be relied upon as the sole basis for choosing your credit card. We work hard to present you with the most accurate credit card information, however, the credit card terms and conditions do not originate from us and thus we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Before applying for a credit card we recommend that you verify the credit card terms and conditions on the credit card company's web site. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Ad Disclosure: Certain offers originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on a card's details page using the designation "Sponsored Card", where applicable. Advertising status does not affect which cards show up on this page but may impact the order in which they appear. At CardHub we try to list as many credit card offers as possible and currently have more than 1,200 offers, but we do not make any representation of listing all available offers.
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