The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards for Individuals
If the first question that comes to mind before you pull a credit card out of your wallet is, “which card gives the most points for this purchase?”, then you landed on the right article. The truth is, there are many options. The right choice for you will depend on some specifics of the program and how you like to travel. Are you more interested in flight upgrades, or stretching your points? Will it be International or Domestic travel? Are you open to trying new airlines for a big discount? Or are you determined to log your million miles with a specific carrier?
There are two ways that cards will reward you for your purchases. Either with points that can be exchanged for miles with a specific airline or generic points that can be used for travel-related experiences. A couple of programs exist that allow a hybrid of these two options as well. Understanding how they work and your travel preferences can literally save you thousands of dollars per year once you master the service (Some people even do this for other people or companies as a full-time job). Here are some the most popular options currently available.
Bank of America Travel Rewards:
A very popular choice and my personal favorite is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. Depending on what you’re purchasing, and the amount that you have deposited with them, you can get up to three points for every dollar spent on the program. To redeem the point you simply use your card to buy anything travel related and on the next billing statement you simply allocate points towards that purchase.
Another great benefit of the card as their ShopSafe Program which allows you to create a virtual credit card number for shopping online that locks itself to a particular merchant once you use it. (1)
American Express Platinum:
My second favorite is the American Express Platinum card. Having a Platinum card comes with an annual $200 airline fee credit. You earned 5X points on flights purchased with the card through AmEx travel or direct from an airline. You can easily score 5X more points when you book hotels with your AMEX Platinum card. You will also receive free entry into any AMEX lounge worldwide, reimbursement for the cost of TSA Pre-Check and upgraded status through many programs such as Hilton Honors SPG and Hertz. (2)
Chase Sapphire Reserve:
Chase Sapphire Reserve is probably the most talked about travel credit card in 2018. Like the American Express Platinum card, it also has a TSA pre-check fee credit, and you get 3 points for every dollar spent on traveling or dining worldwide. In addition to the normal benefits, the current sign-up bonuses give you 50,000 ultimate reward points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of membership!
The $95 annual fee is also waived for the first year and points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis! When used for anything related to travel, rewards are worth 1.25 cents each. (3)
There are seemingly endless options that await you in your search for the perfect Travel Card. It is important to familiarize yourself with the intricate details of whichever program that you decide to go with. It should be understood that the travel rewards are a perk from your spending, and not a reason to spend more excessively to earn the points on the cards. Carrying balances can quickly outweigh any benefit of the points due to the interest rates on credit cards.
Whether on an around the world trek or just taking the family to Disney World, travel has never been easier or more affordable! If you’re using a credit card but getting no rewards back, then what’s the point? A little bit of research can bring you the perfect card that meets your needs so you can get that suitcase packed and start traveling more often.
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”