Brett’s Picks: Top 5 Travel Credit Cards

We never would have been able to travel to Europe in early 2016 without the help of great travel rewards credit cards. So it’s probably not a stretch to say that this website and our Youtube channel wouldn’t exist without them either!

A strategically chosen travel rewards credit card is one of the best tools you’ll find for making your travel goals a reality. But that’s only the case if you use it responsibly. So if you carry credit card debt or find it tough to control your spending, please consider putting off the accumulation of points and miles at this time.

For the rest of you, we’ve hand-picked what we think are the 5 best credit cards for travel currently on the market. These are the ones we’d likely recommend if we were sitting down face to face to chat strategy, and knew you would qualify for them (which we can’t guarantee, of course!)


Browse all current offers available through our partners:


1. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Best Travel Perks & Premium Benefits

CURRENT OFFER: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

ANNUAL FEE: $395

With the current Capital One Venture X offer, you’ll have at least 83,000 miles after earning the sign-up bonus, which we value at a minimum of $830 — but potentially much, much more!

And the value doesn’t end with the sign-up bonus. This card provides seemingly endless perks that are worth well more than the cost of the annual fee for the right kind of traveler:

  • Up to $300 in annual statement credits for travel purchases booked through the Capital One Travel portal
  • 10,000 mile anniversary bonus (worth at least $100) every year, beginning with your first cardmember anniversary
  • 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on flights when booked through Capital One Travel
  • Complimentary Priority Pass™️ membership, giving you and up to two guests unlimited access to their network of 1300+ airport lounges
  • Unlimited complimentary visits to Capital One Lounges and to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges for you and up to two guests
  • Receive a statement credit of up to $100 on the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Hertz President’s Circle® status
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver and other travel protections & benefits
  • No foreign transactions fees

That annual fee might look hefty, especially if you’re comparing it to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (see the full review below). But if you plan to spend at least $300 on flights, hotels, or rental cars over the next year, then the Venture X will pay for itself — and that’s before factoring in any value you’ll gain from the additional premium benefits.

If you combine those benefits with the current sign-up bonus, the value of this card could easily exceed $1750, or $1355 even after deducting the cost of the annual fee.

For more info about how we recommend using the miles earned from this card, be sure to check out our review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card below.


2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best Flexible Points for Flights & Hotels

CURRENT OFFER: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

ANNUAL FEE: $95

With the current Chase Sapphire Preferred offer, you’ll have at least 64,000 points after earning the sign-up bonus, which we value at at least $800.

One of the best things about this card is that there are limitless options available for redeeming your points.

We think the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card are:

  • BAD for reimbursing yourself with a statement credit, or other options like redeeming points for gift cards. That’s because other redemption options are way more valuable. So while you can do a statement credit, just don’t do it — trust us!
  • GOOD for booking travel through Chase’s own travel portal, because you get a 25% points bonus when you do so! You could use this method to book flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, etc. That wouldn’t be a bad use of your points at all. However, there’s a better way to use the points you earn on your Chase Sapphire Preferred!
  • BEST for booking international flights through a travel partner. And here’s where the more advanced techniques come in. Chase has relationships with partner airlines and hotels, allowing you to transfer points to their loyalty programs and book directly. 

For example, United Airlines allows you to book one-way flights from the U.S to Europe starting at 30,000 points. Basically, the points you’ve earned after the sign-up bonus could literally pay for a round-trip flight to Europe!

What’s the average cost of a round-trip flight to Europe? Approximately $1,295. That means that these points could easily be worth $1295, or a solid $1200 after paying the annual fee!

Valuable Benefits:

  • 25% bonus when using points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, making 60,000 points worth $750
  • Up to $50 in credits annually for hotel stays booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5 points per dollar on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Each cardmember anniversary, receive a 10% points bonus on your total purchases for the year
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver and other travel protections & benefits
  • No foreign transactions fees

3. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best All-Purpose Travel Rewards Card

CURRENT OFFER: New Venture cardholders can earn 75,000 miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

ANNUAL FEE: $95

With the current Capital One Venture Rewards offer, you’ll have at least 83,000 miles after earning the sign-up bonus, which we value at more than $830.

We love this travel rewards card because it provides all the miles redemption options of the Venture X, at a much lower annual fee — perfect for travelers who don’t need the premium benefits.

We think the miles earned from the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card (and the Capital One Venture X) are:

  • BAD for gift cards or paying yourself back for non-travel related expenses. The value of your miles is often cut in half, and no one wants to see that happen!
  • GOOD for booking flights, hotels, or car rentals through Capital One’s own travel portal. This works just like booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. But in this case, there’s no miles bonus, and we think there are better redemptions available.
  • BEST for using miles to cover travel-related purchases paid on the card. We find this option a little better than the travel portal even for flights, hotels, and rental cars because you’ll earn 5x miles on your spending. But where this option really excels is when you redeem miles for train rides, metro tickets, and other smaller travel expenses that normally can’t be reimbursed with points and miles.

For example, you could charge up to $830 for these types of expenses and make them effectively free by paying yourself back with your miles, or $735 if you factor in the cost of the annual fee.

But wait…there’s an EVEN BETTER way to use the miles from the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card! Like with the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you can transfer miles to a travel partner and book directly through their program. And there are some pretty stunning options. Here are two examples:

  1. Avianca. One of the transfer partners is Avianca. Incredibly, you can fly from New York to Zurich Switzerland for just 16,500 miles, meaning you could fly to Switzerland 5 times just with the miles you earn from the sign-up bonus! That’s a value of at least $3,000.
  2. Turkish Airlines. You could fly business class between the U.S. and Europe for as little as 45,000 miles. That might cost you $4,000 if you paid with cash!

Valuable Benefits:

  • Receive a statement credit of up to $100 credit on the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase (5 miles per dollar on travel booked through the Capital One Travel Portal)
  • Two complimentary visits per year to a Capital One Lounge or to one of the 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges
  • No foreign transactions fees

4. Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

Best for Points & Miles Newbies

CURRENT OFFER: Receive 50,000 online bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

ANNUAL FEE: $95

With the current Bank of America offer, you’ll have at least 54,500 points after earning the sign-up bonus, which we value at $545.

This travel credit card is best for beginners because the points are so easy to redeem!

  1. Simply login to your account
  2. Choose to redeem your points as a statement credit on your next month’s statement
  3. Type in the number of points
  4. And you’re done!

You’ll see the money value of those points issued as a credit to your account on your next statement.

We think the points you earn with the Premium Rewards Card are:

  • BAD for flights and hotels because another card could be a lot more valuable
  • GOOD for travel expenses like Airbnb, trains, rental cars, etc.
  • BEST for expenses such as groceries, restaurants, and other incidentals, because Bank of America allows you to use points to reimburse any expense you charge to the card—not just travel-related ones!

It might be great for beginners, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great perks as well. Here are a few!

Valuable Benefits:

  • Receive a statement credit of up to $100 on the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn up to $100 in airline incidental credits each year
  • Unlimited 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transactions fees

For someone new to travel credit cards who’s looking for a single, simple card to put in their wallet for an upcoming trip, this one would be hard to beat!


5. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Best Business Card for Huge Welcome Bonus & Flexible Points

CURRENT OFFER: 100,000 Bonus Points After You Spend $15,000 On Purchases In The First 3 Months From Account Opening

ANNUAL FEE: $95

With the current Ink Business Preferred offer, you’ll have at least 115,000 points after earning the sign-up bonus, which we value at at least $1435.

If you’re a business owner or freelancer with expenses high enough to reach the minimum spending requirement, this card will catapult travel rewards earning faster than a rocket ship headed to Mars!

To see how we recommend using points earned with the Ink Business Preferred, see our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred above!

Transfers to travel partners offer the best redemptions, and the sign-up bonus from this card could easily provide you a $2875 value, or $2780 after paying the annual fee.

In fact that could potentially grab you 2 round-trip flights between the U.S. & Europe!

Valuable Benefits:

  • 25% bonus when using points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, making 100,000 points worth $1250
  • 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 in combined spending during each account anniversary year in select categories (Shipping; advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines; internet, cable and phone services; travel)
  • No foreign transactions fees

Opinions expressed here are ours (Aplins in the Alps) alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.