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Best travel rewards credit cards in 2024

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Updated: June 07, 2024

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The demand for travel has skyrocketed, and so has the cost. Even if you are on a budget, there’s a simple way to save on vacations: use one of the best travel rewards credit cards. The points or cash back you earn, along with the benefits, can greatly offset your travel costs.

But which one will give you the most rewards? From hotels to airline credit cards, we reviewed some of the best cards on the market and picked 10 that will allow you to maximize your points, miles, benefits and more.

Whether you’re looking to book a lie-flat seat in business class or hoping to relax at an all-inclusive resort, the best travel credit cards can help you achieve your dream vacations.

4.5

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 30,000 points when you spend $30,000 in the first three months

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: Nine points total per dollar spent for Hyatt stays and experiences

Two points per dollar spent on transit, dining, flights and fitness

One point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Annual free night stay

Best for: Loyal lovers of Hyatt hotels

Anyone loyal to Hyatt hotels should consider the World of Hyatt Credit Card. When staying at Hyatt properties, you’ll earn up to nine points per dollar spent. That’s five base points as a World of Hyatt member and four bonus points per dollar spent with this card. In addition, you’ll get two points per dollar spent on restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit, as well as fitness club and gym memberships. All other purchases earn one point per dollar spent.

As a cardholder, you also get some great annual Hyatt benefits. You’ll get one free night at any category one to four Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary. You can earn an extra free night when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year. Plus, you get Hyatt Discoverist status and five qualifying night credits every year. There are also no foreign transaction fees when you make purchases outside of the U.S.

The annual fee is just $95, but the yearly benefits are clearly worth more than that. If you need an additional incentive, you can earn up to 60,000 bonus points when signing up. You’ll get 30,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You can earn up to an additional 30,000 points by earning two points per dollar spent in the first six months on purchases that normally earn you one bonus point, up to $15,000 in purchases.

Pros

Pros

  • High earn rate for Hyatt

  • Free annual night stay

  • Free Hyatt Discoverist status

Cons

Cons

  • High spending requirement to earn the full welcome bonus

  • Not as many global Hyatt properties compared to other brands

  • No bonus points on grocery and gas purchases

4.5

United Explorer Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 50,000 miles when spending $3,000 in the first three months

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on United Airlines, dining, and hotel purchases

One mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

Free first checked bag on United-operated flights

Priority boarding

Best for: Frequent flyers who prefer to fly with United

With no annual fee for the first year, and $95 a year after, the United Explorer Card gives you premium benefits without a premium fee. When flying economy, cardholders and one guest on the same reservation get their first checked bag free. Before you board, you can use your two annual one-time United Club passes to enjoy some downtime in the airport lounge. When boarding, you’ll get access to group two priority (one is the highest) for you and your companions. For those looking to make in-flight purchases, you’ll get 25% back as a statement credit when using your card. This includes Wi-Fi, food and drinks.

Your travel rewards don’t stop with just United Airlines. Cardholders get an application fee credit of $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The card gives you access to Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection reservations, which provides on-property benefits such as free breakfast and room upgrades. There is also auto rental collision damage waiver, trip delay protection, trip cancellation/interruption protection, and lost/delayed baggage protection are also included.

As for the earn rate, you’ll get two miles for every dollar spent on United Airlines, dining, and accommodations booked directly with the hotel. All other purchases earn one mile per dollar spent.

Pros

Pros

  • Free first checked bag on United Airlines

  • Priority boarding

  • Annual fee waived for the first year

Cons

Cons

  • Only two annual airport lounge passes

  • Free checked bag only applies to you and one guest

  • Award flights can be expensive

SPONSORED

Credit One Bank Wander Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 10,000 points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days from your account opening

Credit required: Average to excellent

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: 10X points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through Credit One Bank’s travel partner’s portal

5X points on eligible travel expenses including flights, dining and gas purchases

1X points on all other purchases

Free credit monitoring included

Customizable payment due dates

Best for: budget travelers still working on their finances

Travel rewards cards are a key money-saving tool for any adventurer, but travelers on a budget should be especially keen to squeeze every bit of value they can from their spending. 

That’s where the Credit One Bank Wander Card comes in.

Cardholders earn 10X points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through Credit One Bank’s travel portal — which is currently powered by Priceline, one of the biggest names in travel deals.

On top of that, you can earn 5X points on eligible travel expenses including flights, dining and gas purchases, plus 1X points on all other purchases.

Right off the bat, the Credit One Bank Wander Card boasts an enticing welcome bonus. You can earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening. Bonus points can be redeemed for a $100 statement credit, gift cards or travel. 

It’s not as big as some welcome bonuses, but it’s also much more attainable than other offers that require you to spend $3,000 to $6,000 to benefit.

Pros

Pros

  • High reward potential

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Average-excellent credit score

Cons

Cons

  • Higher than average APR

  • No option to transfer points to other rewards programs

4.5

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Three points per dollar spent on select streaming services, restaurants, online grocery purchases (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)

One point per dollar on all other purchases

Best for: Travelers that aren’t loyal to a single airline or hotel chain

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you earn points that can be redeemed for things such as travel, merchandise and more. This is ideal for travelers that aren’t loyal to a single airline or hotel chain. Redeeming your points is easy as shopping the merchandise catalog found on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. As for travel rewards, when you book through Chase, your points are worth 25% more.

What really makes this card appealing is the high earn rate. You get five points per dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (excludes hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit), or two points on other travel purchases. Dining, streaming services, and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs) earn  three points per dollar spent. All other purchases get you one point per dollar spent.

For every hotel stay purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you get a $50 statement credit each year. There is also trip cancellation or interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement and no foreign transaction fees.

It’s also worth noting that with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can transfer your points to multiple airline and hotel travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. This includes British Airways Executive Club, Air Canada Aeroplan, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards Club and more.

Pros

Pros

  • Generous welcome bonus

  • Increased points value when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Airline and hotel transfer partners

Cons

Cons

  • Travel must be booked through Chase to maximize value

  • Has an annual fee

  • Lacks premium travel perks

4

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 175,000 points when spending $3,000 in the first three months

Credit required: Good or excellent credit required

Annual fee: $99

Rewards: 26 points total per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts

Five points per dollar spent on travel, dining and gas stations

Three points per dollar spent on all other purchases

Annual free night stay

Best for: IHG loyalists looking for points and insurance

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has an incredible earn rate of up to 26 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts. You get 10X points with the card, another 10X points just by being an IHG Rewards member, and 6X extra points with your included Platinum Elite Status. Travel, dining, and gas station purchases earn you five points per dollar spent. All other purchases get you three points per dollar spent.

As a cardholder, you get a free night after each account anniversary. You also get Platinum Elite Status, which gives you 20% off when you purchase points with your IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. With IHG Rewards, you get the fourth night free when redeeming three nights on points. 

Despite the fact that this is a co-branded IHG Rewards credit card, you still get a few travel benefits. You’re entitled to a credit of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS application fees. The offers also include baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Pros

Pros

  • Generous welcome bonus

  • High earn rate at IHG hotels

  • Free annual night stay

Cons

Cons

  • Limited luxury IHG hotels

  • Has an annual fee

  • Points not as valuable as others

4.5

British Airways Visa Signature Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: Up to 100,000 Avios points if you spend $25,000 in the first year

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent on British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia flights

One point per dollar spent on accommodations booked directly with the hotel

10% off British Airways flights starting from the U.S.

Up to $600 in reward flight statement credits

Best for: Frequent travelers to the U.K. from the U.S.

If you travel often across the pond Anyone that frequently travels to the United Kingdom from the United States or or prefer Oneworld partners, you should consider the British Airways Visa Signature Card. The card has an annual fee of $95, but the benefits you get are appealing. As a cardholder, you get 10% off British Airways flights that originate from the U.S. (if you book through the website). In addition, you get up to $600 in statement credits when booking reward flights to London with British Airways. 

Some people would argue that the greatest benefit of this card is the Travel Together Ticket you get when you spend $30,000 on your card each calendar year. With this ticket, you get a second seat for your companion in the same cabin, when you book a reward flight. All you have to pay are the taxes and fees for your travel partner. Alternatively, if you’re traveling solo, you can use your ticket to get 50% off the Avios fare. The Travel Together Ticket can be worth thousands of dollars since it applies to any reward seat, including business class.

As for the earn rate, it’s a respectable three points per dollar spent on British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia flights. You also get two points for every dollar spent on hotels booked directly, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The welcome bonus is worth up to 100,000 points, but it’s broken into two parts. You’ll get 75,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months of opening your account and an additional 25,000 points when you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months.

Pros

Pros

  • Generous welcome bonus

  • 10% off British Airways flights departing from the U.S.

  • Potential to earn a Travel Together Ticket

Cons

Cons

  • No free checked bags

  • Limited travel insurance

  • High airline surcharges on reward flights

4.5

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 100,000 points when spending $3,000 in the first six months

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: 17 points total per dollar spent at Marriott properties

Three points per dollar spent on groceries, gas and dining ($6,000 limit)

Two points per dollar spent on all other purchases

Annual free night stay

Best for: Marriott hotel fans who like to earn points fast

Those loyal to Marriott properties will find the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card enticing. You’ll get 100,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first six months of card membership. You also get free Silver Elite Status, 15 elite night credits, and an annual free night stay with a redemption value of up to 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

The earn rate that comes with the card is also incredible. When staying at participating Marriott properties and paying with this card, you’ll get 17 points per dollar spent. You get six points per dollar spent when paying with this card, 10 points for being a Marriott Bonvoy Member and one point for having Silver Elite Status. In addition, you’ll earn three points per dollar spent (up to $6,000 spent) on groceries, gas stations and dining purchases. All other purchases earn you two points per dollar spent.

Marriott has over 8,000 properties in more than 130 countries, so there will be lots of opportunities to redeem your points. Plus, whenever you redeem four nights on points, the fifth night is free. The annual fee is just $95, and it has no foreign transaction fees. 

Pros

Pros

  • Generous welcome bonus

  • High earn rate at Marriott hotels

  • Free annual night stay

Cons

Cons

  • Only Silver Elite Status included

  • Has an annual fee

  • Free night only has a value of up to 35,000 points

4

American Express Green Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 40,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first six months

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $150

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent on travel, transit and restaurants

One point per dollar spent on all other purchases

$189 annual CLEAR credit

$100 annual LoungeBuddy credit

Best for: Travel, transit and restaurant perks, no matter the airline or hotel

The American Express Green Card is a card that may appear to lack benefits, but it can actually be a good choice for many people’s wallets. The strength of the card is its earn rate. You’ll earn three points per dollar spent on restaurants(including takeout and delivery), transit and travel(airfare, hotels, car rentals). All other purchases earn you one point per dollar spent.

This card also has no foreign transaction fees, so you can earn those points while traveling without paying any additional fees. The points you earn can be used to book any type of travel through the American Express Membership Rewards portal. In addition, American Express has many hotel and airline travel partners that you can transfer your points to.

As for travel benefits, you get a $189 annual CLEAR credit. This service allows you to move faster through security since your fingerprints and eye scan can verify your identity at select airports nationwide. The annual $100 LoungeBuddy credit can be used to purchase lounge access through the LoungeBuddy network without having a membership. You also get trip delay insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, and a baggage insurance plan. These benefits are clearly worth more than the $150 annual fee.

Pros

Pros

  • Great earn rate

  • Annual travel credits for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy

  • No foreign exchange fees

Cons

Cons

  • No increased earn rate on groceries or gas

  • Higher annual fee than other cards with similar benefits

  • American Express not widely accepted outside of the U.S.

4

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 7,500 bonus points annually on your card anniversary

Credit required: Good or excellent

Annual fee: $149

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines

Two points per dollar spent on hotel and car rental partners, local transit, streaming, internet, cable, and phone services

One point per dollar spent on all other purchases

$75 annual Southwest travel credit

Best for: Frequent flyers looking for perks

Southwest Airlines may be known as a low-cost carrier, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is outstanding. Those who frequently fly Southwest need to have this card since you get an annual $75 Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings every year, 7,500 points every card anniversary, and 25% back in statement credits for any in-flight purchases.  

Besides the Southwest benefits, you do get some additional travel benefits. Cardholders get an auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, lost luggage reimbursement, and baggage delay insurance. The card also has no foreign transaction fees.

The earn rate for this card is clearly focused on travellers. You’ll get three points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases. You’ll get two points per dollar for purchases on local transit, rideshares, internet, cable, phone services, select streaming services, and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. All other purchases earn you one point per dollar spent.

Pros

Pros

  • Great earn rate

  • Annual travel credits

  • No foreign exchange fees

Cons

Cons

  • No increased earn rate on groceries or gas

  • Higher annual fee than other cards with similar benefits

  • Limited additional travel benefits

4

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

Credit required: Very good or excellent

Annual fee: $550

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent on all other travel after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually

10 points per dollar spent on Chase dining purchases, three points per dollar spent on all other restaurants

One point per dollar spent on all other purchases

$300 annual travel credit

Complimentary airport lounge access

Best for: Those looking to treat themselves to premium travel benefits

The $550 annual fee that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card will be an instant no for many travellers, but when you look at the perks with this card, you’ll quickly realize that there’s incredible value to be had.

To begin, you get an annual $300 travel credit. Once you’ve spent that credit, you’ll earn five points on flights and 10 points per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals made through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You’ll also get 10 points per dollar spent on Chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards and three points per dollar spent on other dining purchases. All other purchases earn you one point per dollar spent.

As a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, your points are worth 50% more when used for travel through Chase’s online portal. For example, 60,000 points are normally worth $600. However, if you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve member, your points are worth $900 toward travel.

Besides the incredible value you get from your points, you’ll also get some excellent travel benefits. You get free airport lounge access to 1,300+ lounges in over 500 cities via Priority Pass Select. A statement credit of up to $100 every four years is also provided for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, NEXUS application fees. No foreign transaction fees and some travel insurance are also included.

Pros

Pros

  • High earn rate

  • Airport lounge access

  • Annual travel credits

Cons

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • No increased earn rate on groceries and gas

  • Very good to excellent credit score required

4

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Quick Facts

Welcome bonus: 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

Credit required: Very good or excellent

Annual fee: $450

Rewards: 14 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and resorts

Seven points per dollar spent on select flights, car rentals, and dining

Three points per dollar spent on everything else

Free Diamond status

Best for: Free hotel stays

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card should be on your radar because it  gives you a free night right away when you sign up, plus another one for every card anniversary. In addition, you get free Diamond status, which gives you immediate benefits such as daily food credits, room upgrades, lounge access, and more. Plus, you can get up to $250 in statement credits for eligible purchases made at participating Hilton Resorts.

The earn rate is 14 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties. When booking flights directly through the airline or American Express’ travel portal, car rentals directly from select car rental companies and U.S. restaurants, you’ll earn seven points per dollar spent. All other purchases earn three points per dollar spent.

Other travel benefits that come with the card include up to $250 in annual airline fee credits. This would apply to things such as checked bags, seat selection, lounge passes, and change/cancellation fees. Note you must select the airline in advance, and it can only be changed once a year. You also get a Priority Pass membership that gives you and two additional guests free airport lounge access.

Should I get a travel rewards card?

If you like to travel and you want to save money, then the answer is yes, you should get a travel rewards card. However, if you don’t like to travel or prefer simplicity when it comes to your rewards, a travel rewards card may not be for you.

For those that decide a travel card is the right choice, there are still a few decisions to make. You need to think about what type of travel credit card you want. Do you want to earn airline, hotel, or general travel rewards? Once you know the type of rewards you want, you can narrow down your choices. Don’t forget, you can also apply for more than one credit card.

To help you select a specific card, think about what your travel plans are for the future. If you plan on heading to a certain destination, it might make sense to try and collect airline points since it’ll help you offset the cost of your flight. That said, if you just want free nights, and have no idea where you plan on going, then opting for hotel rewards is a safe choice.

You should also consider the additional travel perks you can get. Benefits such as free checked baggage, lounge access, annual travel credits, and priority boarding can have a huge impact on your overall travel experience.

Finally, think about the annual fee. Are the benefits you get worth more than what the annual fee is? If the answer is yes, you shouldn’t worry too much about the yearly fee, since you’ll get more back in perks.

  • Methodology

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    Product rankings are determined by the Moneywise editorial team and are based on factors and features that everyday users care about most. We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. The products and companies featured in this article were independently selected, but please be aware that some products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

    Moneywise rates products and services on a sale of 1 to 5 stars, where 5 stars is the best rating possible. Ratings are rounded up to the nearest 0.5 of a star.

    Our rating system is based on the factors that mean the most to the everyday user. These factors include:

    Annual fee

    Credit required

    Welcome bonus

    Ease to earn points

    Points value

    Ease of points redemption

    Additional features and perks

    Customer service

    We collect data from providers' websites, by using the services and watching demonstrations as required. The data is analyzed and the result is a star rating. Each factor is weighted depending on the category in which the product is being evaluated, in order to ensure it meets the needs of different users.

    Our goal is to provide an independent review, and give you the information you need to make a decision on which service is best for you.

Barry Choi Moneywise Contributor

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes frequent media appearances. When he's not educating people on how to be smarter with money, he's earning and burning miles and points for luxury travel.

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