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9 Apr 2018

What’s the Best Credit Card for Travelers in 2018?

When choosing a credit card, it can be difficult to decide which cards are best for your spending habits. Do they carry an annual fee? What about the interest rate?

And, choosing a travel rewards card can be even more difficult, especially with enticing special offers to get you started with one program or another. The bottom line is, however, that if you travel a lot and don’t mind spending money on your credit card, you need the best credit card for travel.

Here’s our review of six different rewards programs that are geared toward each type of traveler. This way you can decide which card is right for you and your travel habits. Keep reading to learn more.

Best Credit Card for Travel for Students

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Credit Card for Students will earn you high rewards that you can use for travel with no annual fee. The points you earn will be known as ThankYou points and can be transferred to a variety of airline partners. These partners include Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Turkish Airlines, and more.

Pros

This card earns two points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment including bars, clubs, movie theaters, and video rentals. Subscription services like Hulu and Netflix are also included in this category. It’s a flexible card that can earn points quickly for a college student immersed in a college lifestyle.

Points can be saved for the life of the card and never expire.

Cons

Students that travel abroad may want to consider their options when it comes to the best credit card for travel. The Citi ThankYou Preferred Credit Card for Students charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on international purchases. That means that anything you buy on your card while out of the country is subject to this fee.

Verdict

Students that plan to travel on their breaks or want to save points for after they graduate have a good option with this card. With no annual fee and rewards on just about every purchase a college student makes, it could be a good fit for you. It’s always a good idea to have at least one secured credit card in your wallet during college.

Best Credit Card for Business Travelers

The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express is one card that every business traveler should carry. You’ll get a $0 introductory annual fee. It’s $95 per year after that.

If you spend $3000 on your new card within the first three months of opening it, you’ll earn 25,000 Starpoints right off the bat.

Pros

This card has a relatively low interest rate for a Travel Rewards credit card at 16.49%-20.49 Variable. You’ll earn 2 Starpoints with each dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels. You’ll also earn one point on all other purchases.

There are no foreign transaction fees with this card. You can redeem your Starpoints at over 1300 participating hotels and resorts worldwide. Not to mention that you can also use it for flights on more than 150 different airlines.

Cons

The $95 annual fee after the first year may seem a little hefty to some. It depends on how you use the card and earn points.

The penalty APR on this card is a hefty 29.99% variable so don’t be late with your payments or go over your limit.

Verdict

There’s not much bad to say about this card. It could be the best credit card for travel for you if you’re a responsible credit card user. You must have Good to Excellent credit to qualify for this card.

Best Credit Card for Hotel Stays

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is the card best suited for travelers that often find themselves needing a hotel room. It’s issued by Chase and requires Excellent credit to qualify. You’ll enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee and it’s only $85 per year after that.

Pros

This credit card boasts a fair APR at 17.24%-24.24% based on your creditworthiness. There is no penalty APR.

You’ll earn 80,000 Bonus Points within the first three months of opening your card if you use it to spend $3000 in that first three months. For every dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, you’ll receive five points. And, you’ll get two points per dollar spent on airline tickets when you purchase directly through the airline.

There are plenty of other benefits redeemable at Marriott hotels with this card. You can even earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status to guarantee other amenities.

Cons

If you’re a stickler for annual fees, this one isn’t too bad, but still a little hard to miss. If you prefer to have a variety of choices for your hotel stays, you might consider a different card, too.

Verdict

Overall, this could be the best credit card for travel for those that prefer the Marriott chain of brands. You’ll earn points faster when you spend on your hotel stays, and earn free nights and additional points in the long run.

Best Credit Card for Airline Miles

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card tops our list because you can use your points with any airline. You can also use them for hotel stays and earn even more points when you use your card for those purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

Pros

This card carries an APR of 14.24%-2424% with a $0 introductory annual fee. New cardholders will enjoy 50,000 miles added to their card with $3000 spent in the first three months. Then, you’ll earn 2X miles for every dollar spent on every purchase.

There are no blackout dates for your travel and miles don’t expire for the life of the account. There is no limit to the number of miles you can earn. Capital One also recently introduced 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels when you pay with your card.

Cons

The $95 annual fee can irk some people but if you earn more rewards, you’ll see the benefits.

Verdict

This is the best credit card for travel for those that want a simple card without a bunch of confusion. You’ll earn points for every dollar spent and you can use it for air travel or hotel stays. Why not save up and use it on both?

Best Credit Card for Travel With No Annual Fee

The Bank Of America Travel Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for travel that allows you to use your points just about anywhere you travel. And, it doesn’t have an annual fee. There are too many pros to this card to list them all, and the cons are limited.

Pros

You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5 points on every dollar spent on every purchase you make. If you spend at least $1000 on your card within the first three months, you’ll also receive 20,000 online bonus points. Points never expire.

There are no limitations on how or where you book your travel and you won’t run into any blackout dates or other restrictions.

If you have a Bank Of America checking or savings account, you’ll get even more points on every purchase with your credit card.

Cons

With no annual fee and a competitive APR, the Bank Of America Travel Rewards Credit Card might be the best credit card for travel because we can’t find anything negative to say about it.

Verdict

This card even offers a 0% introductory APR for the first twelve months. You’ll only be charged 16.24%-24.24% variable after that. You’ll need Good to Excellent credit to be eligible for this card but overall it’s worth it for the average consumer that enjoys traveling.

Best Credit Card For Travel Overall

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is rated as the best credit card for travel overall because the benefits of carrying this card far outweigh the cons.

Pros

As with many other cards on this list, you’ll earn a sign-on bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your card. This equates to $625 in travel right away.

You’ll earn 2X points on travel and dining worldwide. There are no foreign transaction fees on international purchases.

There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions, either. Simply use your card to stack up points, and go somewhere.

Cons

With a $95 annual fee, one might expect that the interest rate could be a little lower than the stated 17.24%-24.24% based on creditworthiness. You’ll need Excellent credit to get this card, anyway, so you might get lucky and fall in the lower end of the spectrum with the interest rate.

Verdict

This is the best credit card for travel for those that intend to use it well. With points earned on every purchase, there’s simply no way to go wrong. You’ll even get more value from your card when you redeem your points through Chase’s own Ultimate Rewards program.

Final Thoughts

No matter which credit card you choose to earn rewards points for travel with, make sure to pay off your monthly balances. Carrying a balance with these higher interest rate credit cards will negate the number of rewards you earn. Besides, you shouldn’t be carrying credit card debt if you can avoid it, anyway.

Choosing the best credit card for travel should make good financial sense. Choose wisely and enjoy the benefits for years to come.

If you still have questions about finding the best credit card for travel, feel free to submit a request. Our support staff will respond promptly.