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best travel rewards credit cards

The 5 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Credit Card Introductory OfferAnnual FeeOur Thoughts 
Chase Sapphire Preferred60,000 points$95Best first travel credit card.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Capital One Venture50,000 miles$95 (waived year 1)Great travel rewards credit card for simplicity.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 points$450Best premium travel rewards credit cardLEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Amex Platinum60,000 points$550Best ultra luxury travel rewards credit card.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Ink Business Preferred80,000 points$95Best business travel rewards credit card.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

 

If you’re looking to travel more often and for less money, you should consider having travel rewards credit cards. They make it possible to earn enough travel points and miles to travel for cheap and sometimes even for free.

 

Since 2012, I’ve been earning thousands and thousands of points, mostly through travel rewards credit cards. I earn massive amounts of points through the credit card introductory offers and also through earning rewards on purchases I regularly make. Because I’ve always been a little bit entrepreneurial, I’ve had at least a sole proprietorship as a business which allows me to get business credit cards as well as personal cards.

 

In this article, we’ll mostly be discussing the best personal travel rewards credit cards. But, just know that there are also many business cards that can earn a ton of travel rewards as well.

 

Using travel rewards points, my wife and I have been able to visit friends all over the country, often go on “weekend-cations” (as we like to call them), and have been able to go to Hawaii at least one time each year over. The best part is we’ve rarely had to pay for flight or hotels. We use our almost endless supply of points that we earn through travel rewards credit cards. There’s no catch to it and this type of travel is widely available. You just have to be willing to learn and put in a little time to book with points.

 

Let’s go ahead and get into the list of the 5 best travel rewards credit cards. We’ll start off with arguably the best travel rewards credit card of them all.

 

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

chase sapphire preferred credit card art

Chase Sapphire Preferred

60,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is often referred to by travel experts as one of the best travel rewards credit cards. It’s especially good for people who are just getting started with travel rewards, and is touted as the “best first travel credit card”.

 

The main reason that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best travel rewards credit card, is its introductory offer. The amount of points you’ll earn right off the bat is enough for a nice vacation. Travel Freedom values the introductory offer of the Chase Sapphire Preferred to be well over $1000 towards travel. The card also has a very reasonable annual fee compared to the value that the card offers. It’s always nice to be able to earn a bunch of travel points without having to pay a huge annual fee each year.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at what the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You'll earn 60,000 points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You'll earn 2X points on travel and dining.
BENEFITS
Points are worth 25% more when used in the Chase travel portal.
No foreign transaction fees.
1:1 point transfer partner hotels and airlines.
FEES
$95
No foreign transaction fees.
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
This is the best first travel credit card to get. It has a valuable signup bonus with easy to redeem points. You also get a boost to your points value in the Chase travel portal.

 

The Pros

  • A huge introductory offer that we value at more than $1000 for travel.
  • Low annual fee compared to the benefits.
  • Airline & hotel Chase transfer partners available.
  • 25% bonus when spending points in the Chase travel portal.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

 

The Potential Cons

  • The only rewards category is 2X on travel.
  • It has an annual fee that is not waived.

 

Our Overall Thoughts on the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our overall best travel rewards credit card for a few reasons. It offers a large introductory offer compared to a low annual fee. Plus, the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you’ll earn are the most valuable and versatile points of all. They can be used for travel in a variety of ways, including through the Chase travel portal, or by transferring points to a wide range of hotels and airlines.

 

At Travel Freedom, we value this cards introductory offer at well over $1000 if redeemed for travel. For more information on this card, you can read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

 

2. Capital One Venture Rewards

Capital One Venture Credit Card Review

Capital One Venture

50,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee (waived year 1)

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

The Capital One Venture Rewards card is similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card in many ways. It’s also a great card to get started earning travel points with because they can be used in a variety of ways to earn free travel.

 

The Capital One Venture Rewards card offers a large introductory offer that Travel Freedom values at around $700 when redeemed for travel. Capital One points also have airline transfer partners, but they’re not quite as good as the Chase transfer partners. While they do offer transfers to some airlines that offer valuable redemptions, the points, unfortunately, don’t transfer to any of the US airlines.

 

In a couple of ways, the Capital One Venture card is actually better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It offers a statement credit towards either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Both of which give you expedited airport security for a five year period. If you don’t already have either of these memberships, it’s absolutely a life-changer. You can keep your belongings all in your bag and your shoes on at security. Global Entry can also save you a ton of time re-entering the United States at customs. The Capital One Venture Rewards card offers all of this and also waives the annual fee in year one. That means in the first year of having the card, you get all these benefits without having to pay an annual fee.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at what the Capital One Venture Rewards card offers.

 

Capital One Venture

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You’ll earn 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You’ll earn 2X points on every purchase.
BENEFITS
Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Transfer points to airline and hotel travel partners.
FEES
$95 annual fee. (waived year 1)
No foreign transaction fees.
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
This is a great travel credit card. It offers a large introductory offer, free TSA PreCheck for 5 years, plus the annual fee is waived the first year.

 

The Pros

  • A large introductory offer that we value at $700 for travel.
  • Waived annual fee in the first year.
  • Airline transfer partners available.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on every purchase.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

 

The Potential Cons

  • Airline transfer partners are limited. No US airlines.
  • It has an annual fee after the first year.

 

Our Overall Thoughts on the Capital One Venture Rewards

The Capital One Venture Rewards is our second favorite travel rewards credit card for a few reasons. First, it offers a great introductory offer and also waives the annual fee in the first year. On top of that, it has airline transfer partners for redemption and allows you to get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for free.

 

At Travel Freedom, we value this cards introductory offer at around $700 if redeemed for travel. For more information on this card, you can read our full Capital One Venture review.

 

3. Chase Sapphire Reserve

chase sapphire reserve card art new

Chase Sapphire Reserve

50,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months

$450 Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best of the premium travel rewards credit cards. If you want to start traveling in more luxury, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can help get you there. It’s like the Chase Sapphire Preferred on travel benefit enhancing steroids.

 

The main reason that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best premium travel rewards credit card, is its extraordinary travel benefits. While you’ll get a lower introductory offer and a higher annual fee than the Preferred card, it offers amazing benefits that more than offset the negative differences. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a travel rewards credit card that is aimed at people who travel often and can frequently take advantage of its benefits.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at what the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You'll earn 50,000 points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You'll earn 3X points on travel and dining.
BENEFITS
$300 annual travel credit.
Priority Pass Select airport lounge access.
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Points are worth 50% more when used in the Chase travel portal.
No foreign transaction fees.
1:1 point transfers to partner hotels and airlines.
FEES
$450
No foreign transaction fees.
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
This is one of the best premium travel credit cards if you want some luxury. It has a valuable signup bonus with easy to redeem points. You also get a boost to your points value in the Chase travel portal. The biggest key to this card is the airport lounge access. If you travel a lot, it's extremely valuable.

 

The Pros

  • A large introductory offer that we value at around $1000 for travel.
  • Tons of luxurious travel benefits.
  • Airline & hotel Chase transfer partners available.
  • 50% bonus when spending points in the Chase travel portal.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Primary car rental insurance.

 

The Potential Cons

  • The only rewards categories are 3X on travel and dining.
  • The annual fee is very high.

 

Our Overall Thoughts on the Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best premium travel rewards credit card in our opinion. For someone who travels often, it offers benefits that far outweigh the high annual fee. Having expedited security, airport lounge access, primary rental car insurance, a $300 annual travel statement credit, and a 50% bonus when redeeming in the Chase travel portal, make this card one of our favorites. We originally thought that we’d end up converting this card to a no-fee credit card, but the benefits are so valuable that we continue to keep this card in our wallet.

 

At Travel Freedom, we value this cards introductory offer at around $1000 if redeemed for travel. For more information on this card, you can read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

 

4. Amex Platinum Card

american express platinum card

Amex Platinum Card

60,000 points after spending $5,000 in 3 months

$550 Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

The American Express Platinum Card is another premium travel rewards credit card. It has benefits similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and is another card that adds a ton of value for those who travel often. Due to its rewards, the Amex Platinum Card allows you to travel in luxury without paying the big bucks.

 

The Amex Platinum offers a very good introductory offer that Travel Freedom values at over $1000 when redeemed for travel. It also comes with a very high annual fee. Fortunately, the annual fee is offset by the vast travel benefits that the card offers. With the best airport lounge access of any credit card, expedited airport security, multiple types of travel statement credits, hotel elite status, and huge discounts on luxury hotels and premium seats on flights, the Platinum card is the most luxurious travel rewards credit card of all. Even more so than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card is meant for people who like to travel often and luxuriously.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at what the Amex Platinum Card offers.

 

Amex Platinum Card

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You’ll earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You’ll earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. You’ll earn 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
BENEFITS
Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month (bonus $20 in December).
Enjoy access to the exclusive Global Airport Lounge Collection.
$200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 every calendar year with one qualifying airline. Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your card. Enrollment required.
Fine Hotels & Resorts Access.
Hilton & Marriott Gold Status.
Discounts on First/Business/Premium Economy tickets.
FEES
$550 annual fee.
No foreign transaction fees.
Terms Apply
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
With a large introductory offer, statement credits, and airport lounge access, this is an excellent premium travel credit card.

 

The Pros

  • A large introductory offer that we value over $1000 for travel.
  • Luxurious travel benefits at airports, on flights, and at hotels.
  • Multiple statement credits each year (Uber, airline, Saks 5th Ave).
  • Airline and hotel transfer partners available.
  • Earn 5X rewards on certain travel.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

 

The Potential Cons

  • Very high annual fee.
  • Only earns bonus rewards on travel categories.
  • Not as useful for non-frequent travelers.

 

Our Overall Thoughts on the Amex Platinum Card

While we grade the Chase Sapphire Reserve as the best premium travel rewards credit card, the Amex Platinum isn’t far behind. The only reason we don’t like it quite as much is the travel credit is not as broad and the annual fee is higher. Other than those two features, the Amex Platinum is superior. It’s especially valuable to people who like to travel luxuriously, as there are no other cards that match the premium benefits of the Amex Platinum.

 

At Travel Freedom, we value this cards introductory offer at over $1000 if redeemed for travel. For more information on this card, you can read our full Amex Platinum Card review.

 

5. Chase Ink Preferred (this one’s a business card)

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Chase Ink Business Preferred

80,000 points after spending $5,000 in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is by far the best business travel rewards credit card. In fact, we consider it to have the best introductory offer of ANY rewards card. It also has some benefits worth mentioning.

 

The Chase Ink Preferred card offers the best introductory offer of any credit card on the market. Travel Freedom values the introductory offer at a whopping $1600 when redeemed for travel. That’s more than double the value of many other popular travel rewards cards. Like the Sapphire cards, it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that are extremely valuable.

 

With the Chase Ink Preferred, you have access to the Chase airline and hotel transfer partners, as well as a 25% bonus in the Chase travel portal (like the Sapphire Preferred). This isn’t the only benefit of the Ink Preferred though. It also offers insurance on your cell phone in case you lose or break it, and primary insurance on rental cars. With a reasonable annual fee, this business card is quite possibly, pound for pound, the most value-packed credit cards of all.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at what the Chase Ink Preferred card offers.

 

Ink Business Preferred

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You'll earn 80,000 points after spending $5000 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You'll earn 3X points on travel and select business expenses (including online social media ads).
*Limited to first $150k per year.
BENEFITS
Points are worth 25% more when used in the Chase travel portal.
No foreign transaction fees.
Employee cards at no additional cost.
FEES
$95
No foreign transaction fees.
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
The signup bonus alone for this card is amazing. Pair that with some great rewards earning for your business and this card is great. If you have a business, we find the Ink Preferred to be the best offer available.

 

The Pros

  • The best introductory offer of any card. Valued at around $1600.
  • Low annual fee compared to the benefits.
  • Airline & hotel Chase transfer partners available.
  • 25% bonus when spending points in the Chase travel portal.
  • Cell phone protection.
  • Earns bonus rewards on many popular business expenses.
  • Primary car rental insurance. (during business trips)
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.

 

The Potential Cons

  • It’s only available to business owners (including sole proprietors).
  • The annual fee is not waived.

 

Our Overall Thoughts on the Chase Ink Preferred

The Chase Ink Preferred is our favorite overall card. While it’s a business card, it also earns travel rewards points and can be used to get a lot of free travel. We love this card for its enormous introductory offer (valued at $1600), but also find it great for its other benefits and rewards. If you have any type of business (even a sole proprietorship such as a reseller, garage sale host, eBay seller, or offer a local service) you should consider adding this card to your wallet. It pays off big time!

 

At Travel Freedom, we value this cards introductory offer at around $1600 if redeemed for travel. For more information on this card, you can read our full Chase Ink Preferred review.

 

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

As you can see, there are many great travel rewards credit cards available. These are the Travel Freedom top 5 travel rewards credit cards. Any of them are great options if you’re looking to travel more and hopefully travel for free. We earn enough points through travel rewards credit cards to travel for free most of the time. You can do it too! Good luck choosing the best travel rewards credit card for yourself and have fun traveling!

 

Credit Card Introductory OfferAnnual FeeOur Thoughts 
Chase Sapphire Preferred60,000 points$95Best first travel credit card.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Capital One Venture50,000 miles$95 (waived year 1)Great travel rewards credit card for simplicity.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 points$450Best premium travel rewards credit cardLEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Amex Platinum60,000 points$550Best ultra luxury travel rewards credit card.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Ink Business Preferred80,000 points$95Best business travel rewards credit card.LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>
Advertiser Disclosure: Travel Freedom has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Freedom and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
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