Best Travel Credit Cards for Summer 2014

Last update: Apr 16, 2014
Best Travel Credit Cards for Summer 2014
With the economy improving and more families expected to travel in 2014 than in years past, lucrative travel rewards credit cards figure to receive a great deal of consumer attention in the coming weeks and months. Initial rewards bonuses, in particular, have displayed impressive and continued growth in the post-Great Recession environment. It is now possible to get $400 cash, a couple of free flights, or weeks of free hotel nights just by opening the right new credit card.
But in order to leverage plastic to maximum benefit this spring and summer travel season, you’ll need to find a card that complements your spending and payment habits and then open it far enough in advance of your trip to qualify for your rewards bounty.
In order to help in that endeavor, CardHub compared more than 1,000 credit card offers in order to identify the most rewarding cards for spring and summer travel. You can find our best in class selections below, followed by CardHub’s money-saving travel tips and expert insights on the outlook for spring and summer travel.
  • All-Around

    You’ll only have to spend $3,000 during the first 90 days to nab this card’s 40,000-mile rewards bonus, which is redeemable for a $400 statement credit attributable to any travel-related charge. This card doesn’t assess foreign transaction fees and its $89 annual fee doesn’t take effect until the second year.
  • All-Around

    Spending at least $3,000 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

    Charging $500 or more to this card during the first 90 days that you have it will get you 40,000 bonus miles, which can be redeemed for 2 free round-trip domestic flights. You’ll also get 2 miles per $1 spent on FlyFrontier.com and 1 mile/$1 on all other purchases. The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard charges a $69 annual fee.
  • Airline Rewards

    In addition to a $200 initial bonus for spending at least $2,500 during the first three months, this card also provides you with 5 points per $1 spent on 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 $10 membership charge if you don’t initially meet PenFed’s eligibility requirements.
  • Hotel Rewards

    This card offers 50,000 bonus points with your first purchase and 35,000 additional points for spending at least $2,500 within 90 days. You can redeem the 85,000 points for up to 18 free hotel nights, depending on the category of hotel you select and the number of consecutive nights you book. (The last night of your stay is free when you use rewards to book at least two consecutive nights.) There is a $75 annual fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Hotel Rewards

    You’ll get 60,000 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 12 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, 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 an annual fee during the first year ($49 thereafter) and does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • Hotel Rewards

    Charging $3,000 to this card over the first three months that you have it will trigger a 75,000-point initial bonus –redeemable for up to 15 free hotel nights, depending on how your hotel of choice is classified. This card has a $75 annual fee as well as a 2.7% foreign transaction fee that makes it best suited to domestic travel.
  • Road Trip Rewards

    This Pentagon Federal Credit Union product offers 5 points per $1 spent on gas, 3 points/$1 on groceries, and 1 point/$1 on everything else through the end of the year. Points can be redeemed for a statement credit at a 1% rate (i.e. 5,000 points = $50). The Platinum Rewards Card doesn’t have an annual fee, but you might have to pay a one-time $10 membership charge if you don’t initially meet PenFed’s eligibility requirements.
  • Road Trip Rewards

    This card offers 6% cash back on groceries, 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 it charges a $75 annual fee and a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, you also get a $100 initial rewards bonus for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months.
  • Road Trip Rewards

    This card provides 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 2% at restaurants and on travel-related purchases, and 1% on everything else. There is no annual fee for users with a Costco membership, which will run you $55 a year.
  • Financing Travel

    This card charges 0% interest on new purchases for the first 18 months and does not have an annual fee, thereby offering a lot of flexibility to families who plan on paying off holiday costs over time. Keep in mind that this card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, which means another offer might be better suited to in-trip spending if you’re headed abroad.
  • Financing Travel

    If you have existing credit card debt, you could transfer what you owe to the Slate Card before using it to pay for your trip in order to take advantage of its lack of a balance transfer fee as well as its 15-month interest-free introductory period. While this card does not have an annual fee, it does charge a 3% premium for purchases that are processed internationally.

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