Credit card issuers are in such fierce competition these days to attract new customers that most have started offering outrageous deals to win you over, like huge introductory bonuses worth hunderds of dollars, and miles programs that pay more than ever before. For example, who can say no to earning 40k miles just taking a new credit card on a test drive?*
But with so many cards offering so many different potential rewards and bonuses, which cards have the best features, and which is best for your particular spend and travel habits? In order to help answer those questions, we researched all the miles rewards cards we could find, then put together the pros and cons of the best of the best below. Happy travels!!
Capital One® Venture® Rewards
The Top Miles Card For Those Who Spend More Than $1,500 Per Month
Industry-Leading 2 Mile Per Dollar Reward Rate. 40K Mile New-Account Bonus (essentially a free trip off the bat)
Pros: Best-in-class miles rewards rate of 2 miles per dollar of spend. Huge introductory ($400 value) bonus offer for activating and using the card to make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. That's basically a free trip just for signing up and using the card for 3 months. No blackout dates, total flexibility on where you can use your miles: any airline, any hotel, any time. Rewards are redeemable for cash value. No foreign transaction fees when you use your card abroad.
Cons: The $59 annual fee (waived for first year), although this is effectively the cost of entry to a card paying such high rewards. Requires good credit.
The Verdict: We recommend this card to anyone who will spend more than $1,500/month, as that is when it really becomes worth it to pay the fee in exchange for the higher miles per dollar earned by the card. Because there is no annual fee in the first year, it's a great move to test the card out, earn the 40k mile bonus while in the no-fee first year, and then have the full year to decide if you spend enough per month to justify keeping the card for a second year. Bottom line, for those who spend more than $1,500 a month, the large bonus and high ongoing miles reward rate makes the Venture Rewards a tough card to beat, and our highest-rated card in the travel category.
Recommended Credit: Good to Excellent
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The Top Travel Points Card For Those Who Might Spend Less Than $1,500 Per Month
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
No Annual Fee. 1.5 Points Per Dollar Reward Rate. 20k Points New-Account Bonus
Pros: We recommend this card to anyone who might spend less than $1,500 per month on their credit cards. It pays a very high points per dollar reward rate (1.5) while never charging an annual fee. This means you don't have to worry about an annual fee offsetting the rewards you worked hard to earn. Rewards are also very flexible, with no blackout dates, and there are no foreign transaction fees. The BankAmericard also features an especially appealing offer for existing Bank of America account holders: if you have an account at B of A, you will be eligible to earn up to an additional 75% (which would take your points reward rate per dollar spent to 2.6!) of the base rewards rate.
Cons: Not so much a con as a question of optimizing: if you spend more than $1,500 a month, you're better off with the Venture Rewards card.
The Verdict: High paying no fee card, highly recommended for those who either spend less than $1,500/month on their cards, or have an existing B of A account.
Recommended Credit: Good to Excellent
Runner-Up No Fee Miles Reward Card
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards
No Annual Fee. 1.25X Miles Rewards Rate, 20,000 Miles Bonus For New Accounts
Pros: It was a close call between the VentureOne® Rewards and the Discover it ® Miles. The VentureOne® features a better new account bonus (20k miles) than the Discover it® Miles. The $200 value of the bonus is quite nice, especially in the context of a no-fee card. We also like the idea of earning all those miles during the first year without paying anything in interest during the intro period.
Cons: The 1.25X miles rewards rate is lower than the Discover it® Miles.
The Verdict: A great combination of no annual fee, 0% intro APR until December 2016, solid miles rewards, and a nice fat 20k mile bonus.
No-Fee Miles-Rewards Card - Discover Matches Your Miles The First Year
Discover it® Miles
1.5 miles per dollar and matches your miles at the end of your first year. Only for new cardmembers.*
Pros: Discover is offering to match your miles at the end of the first year for new card members instead of charging an annual fee. The respectable 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on purchases is unlimited with no blackout dates on any airline, anytime. In addition, the Discover it® Miles has a 0% intro APR* on purchases for 12 months.
Cons: You trade an up-front large intro bonus for no annual fee and an intro APR on purchases for 12 months.
The Verdict: If you plan on spending more than $1,500 per month on your card, the Discover it® Miles would be a good choice because of the matched miles offer at the end of the first year. If you maintain at least a 1,500 spend per month, that will net you at least 54,000 bonus miles (a $540 value) with end of the year with your matched miles reward. There are no blackout dates on any airline anytime, and there is an unlimited 1.5 mile per dollar travel reward which can be converted to cash if you prefer. The 0% intro APR for purchases for 12 months and no annual fee are also good perks.
With so many issuers competing to offer such great incentives, it seems smart to make use of them in the right way! We hope our reviews of these cards was helpful, and if you have any comments, please dont hesitate to let us at the LendingTree Credit Card Review Team know!
*The Capital One Venture Rewards Card will pay 40,000 bonus miles after new users spend $3,000 using the card in the first 3 months.