Sifting through the scores of airline credit cards, co-branded hotel cards, and flexible travel cards is a pesky chore at best, and downright confusing at worst. With so many travel credit cards on the market, it's hard to know which one is best. So, how do you choose?
First off, it helps to know what to look for. While all travel cards come with their own set of benefits, the ones consistently rated at the top of their class come with similar features and perks, plus some type of flexibility in how you redeem your rewards. Case in point: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is considered the top travel credit card year after year due to its relationship with popular transfer partners, flexible redemptions for travel, and slew of lucrative perks. Here's how it works:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: The Details
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll earn 2X points on travel and dining and 1X points on all purchases with no limitations and no exclusions. However, that's not the best part; the reason the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is so popular is because of its affiliation with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, plus its huge signup bonus that's worth hundreds of dollars in free travel.
Because the points you earn belong in the Ultimate Rewards program, you can redeem them in a number of ways. Not only can you score gift cards by redeeming points for around a penny a piece (20,000 points = $200 in gift cards), but you can book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a 20 percent discount or transfer your points to a handful of popular frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs at a ratio of 1:1.
Airline partners currently include Southwest Airlines, United MileagePlus, British Airways, Korean Air SKYPASS, and Singapore Airlines, and hotel programs partnered with Chase include Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz Carlton. You can also transfer points to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio. If you're already a member of one of these programs, signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great way to beef up your point balances and score plenty of free travel.
Another reason the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is so popular with travel enthusiasts is its array of travel benefits. Not only does this card waive all foreign transaction fees, but it also comes with free primary rental car coverage (if you use your card to pay for your rental), free trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and industry-leading 24/7 customer service at home and abroad. Whether you travel frequently or just once in a while, these perks can come in handy.
Other Travel Credit Cards to Consider
Other popular travel cards to consider include the no-fee Chase Freedom® card, which doles out 1X points on all purchases and 5X points on purchases made in categories that rotate every quarter. If you pair this card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll be in even better shape. Although points earned with the Chase Freedom® card don't transfer to travel partners or garner a 20 percent travel discount on their own, you can pool points if you have both cards and use them in the Ultimate Rewards program.
Meanwhile, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2X points on all purchases, plus a hefty signup bonus. Once you rack up a healthy stash of "miles" with this card, you can use them to book any type of travel with any airline, hotel chain, or discount travel site. Points earned are worth a penny a piece if used to redeem for travel (i.e. 40,000 points = $400), but this card offers the flexibility to book any type of travel you want. And just like comparable travel credit cards, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.
Travel credit cards come and go all the time, but popular cards stand the test of time. To find the best card for your travel goals, look for one that will help you get where you want to go for as little out-of-pocket cost as possible. A card with a flexible rewards program and some free travel perks is also a plus if you want to parlay your rewards into travel that is meaningful, secure and inexpensive. And if you plan to travel overseas often, a card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees is also a must.
The best travel credit card won't be the same for everyone; your best card depends on your personal travel goals, spending habits, and credit needs. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card appeals to a wide range of consumers due to its superior rewards platform, flexible redemption options, and clout. If you're unsure of which card to start with, it's best to start there!
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.