How To Choose The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card
Updated On September 5, 2023
Editorial Note: This content is based solely on the author's opinions and is not provided, approved, endorsed or reviewed by any financial institution or partner.
When you want to know how to choose the best travel rewards credit card, the good news is that you have multiple options. The best travel rewards credit card can offer you travel rewards such as airlines miles, hotel points and other travel rewards. The best credit rewards program can help you earn points, miles and free travel on your favorite airlines and hotels.
Here’s how a travel rewards card works: for every dollar you spend with a travel rewards card, you earn travel rewards that you can redeem for airline travel, hotel stays or other travel rewards.
The best travel rewards credit cards often include signup bonuses, which may offer bonus points or bonus miles if you spend a certain amount of money in the first few months of having your best travel rewards credit card. Many of the top travel rewards credit cards, including the best credit card for international travel, do not charge a foreign transaction fee, which can help you with international travel.
Finding The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card
If you want to know how to choose the best travel rewards credit cards, ask yourself how much you travel and the types of travel rewards that you would like. Here are some considerations when deciding how to choose the best travel rewards credit card for you
1. Determine how often you travel
A travel rewards card is best for people who travel frequently. Therefore, the best travel credit card or travel rewards card will be for people who travel often for work or vacation. When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, determine how much you plan to travel and spend on airfare, hotels or other travel. If you travel frequently, then you will want to compare the best credit card for travel points, the best credit card for travel miles or even the best credit card for international travel. This way, you can save money when it comes to travel because you can use travel rewards card instead. If you are not a frequent traveler, then you may prefer the best cash back credit cards or the best rewards credit cards.
2. Determine if pay off your credit card balance each month
The best travel rewards credit cards are for people who pay off their credit balance in full each month. If you plan to have a credit card balance each month, the interest rate with even the best travel credit cards can be costly. In fact, with the top travel rewards credit cards, the interest rate can be higher than the travel rewards. Therefore, make sure to pay off your full credit card balance each month if you plan to have a travel rewards card.
3. Determine if you like hotels and airlines rewards
When looking for the best travel rewards credit card, you can earn free flights, free hotel stays and other attractive travel rewards. The good news is that the top travel rewards credit cards can be redeemed at many leading airlines and hotels. So, if you are interested in the best credit card for travel points or the best credit card for travel miles, make sure that your travel reward card matches your preferences.
The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card: Key Factors To Consider
When you want to know how to choose the best travel rewards credit card, there are several factors to consider.
The best travel rewards credit card is the one that makes most sense for your personal preferences. When you choose the best credit card rewards program, here are some helpful search criteria to find the best travel rewards credit card for you:
- Sign-up bonus
- Other perks
- Ongoing rewards
- Tier levels
- Annual Fee
- Foreign transaction fee
Look for high travel rewards and a big sign-up bonus
Many of the best travel rewards credit cards come with high travel rewards and a big sign-up bonus.
Most of the best travel rewards credit cards will offer travel rewards equal to 1% to 2% of your spending. If you choose a travel rewards credit card with a higher annual fee, your travel rewards program may offer even higher rewards and benefits.
The best credit cards rewards program will also offer a big sign-up bonus. Many of the best travel rewards credit cards offer a sign-up bonus that can earn you a free airline ticket. Typically, the higher the annual fee, the higher the sign-up bonus. The best travel rewards cards ask you to spend a certain amount – such as $2,000 or $3,000, for example – in the first few months of having your travel rewards card. Once you meet that minimum amount of spending, you will receive your sign-up bonus, which is a great way to earn travel rewards points or travel rewards miles quickly.
The best travel rewards credit cards offer great rewards and great perks
When you go to choose the best travel rewards credit card, make sure you understand how the travel rewards credit card earns rewards and how you can redeem rewards. Many of the best travel rewards credit cards offer higher rewards for spending on travel and a lower rate (such as 1%) on all other types of spending.
The best travel rewards credit cards typically offer 1% to 1.5% rewards on a travel rewards credit card with no annual fee and offer 1.5% to 2% rewards on a travel rewards credit with an annual fee.
You should avoid travel rewards credit cards that only offer you less than 1 cent per airline mile or 1 cent per point when you redeem for travel rewards.
Remember, in addition to the best travel rewards program, you can also earn great perks through the top travel rewards credit cards such as:
- Free checked bag
- Priority boarding
- Rental car insurance coverage
- Lost luggage insurance
- Accident insurance
- Travel delay insurance
- Concierge services
- Emergency services
How should I use the best travel rewards credit cards?
When it comes time to use the top travel rewards credit cards, there are multiple ways for you to maximize your benefits:
1. Use your travel rewards credit cards when you travel
Your travel rewards credit cards will come in handy when you travel. First, with the best credit rewards programs, you can earn more travel rewards when you travel and spend with your travel rewards card. Second, the best travel rewards credit card for you may also include travel benefits such as no foreign transaction fee and other benefits with airlines, for example for international travel. Third, your travel rewards credit card may include free rental car insurance.
2. Travel off-peak to maximize travel rewards
If you are thinking about the best credit card for international travel, consider booking your travel during off-peak travel times. This will save you points and miles when redeeming through the best credit card rewards program. The best travel rewards credit card may also benefit you if you travel mid-week and not during holidays to ensure that the travel rewards are available.
3. Focus on having a strong or excellent credit score to qualify for the best travel rewards credit card
The best way to be approved for top travel credit cards is to have a strong credit score or excellent credit score. If you have a strong credit profile, you will maximize your chance to be approved for the top travel rewards credit cards. Credit card companies prefer customers with strong credit profiles to reduce their own credit risk as the lender. Therefore, you have a better chance to be approved for travel rewards credit cards when you have a strong credit score.
What can the best travel rewards credit cards be redeemed for?
You can redeem the best travel rewards credit card for many rewards and benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Free airline travel
- Flight upgrades
- Airport lounge access
- In-flight refreshments
- Much more
So, choose the best travel rewards credit card that matches your preferences. For example, if you like free flights or free hotel stays, you can choose the best credit cards for travel miles or best credit cards for points. Airline miles are helpful with specific airlines for free flights, whereas points are more flexible to redeem for free flights or free hotel nights.
What is the best credit card for international travel?
For the best credit card for international travel, you can expect to consider the following when you travel internationally:
1. Choose a vacation destination where the U.S. dollar is strong
This means to choose a location when the U.S. dollar is strong relative to the local currency. This will help you save money and maximize your benefits of travel credit cards.
2. Make sure to use your travel credit cards when you travel abroad
The best rewards travel credit card should be used while you travel internationally. Typically, the best travel rewards card will provide better currency exchange than changing your money at a bank or currency exchange kiosk in the country or at the airport. Plus, you will also earn more travel rewards with your best travel credit card when you spend more in the country you are visiting.
3. For international travel, use the top travel credit cards with no foreign transaction fee
Foreign transaction fees are incurred whenever you make a purchase in a foreign country. With the best credit card for international travel, you typically will have no foreign transaction fees, which will save you money. Many of the best travel rewards credit cards offer this benefit, and it saves you money when you travel abroad. This is because even booking foreign airlines before your trip could result in a foreign transaction fee.