Travel Rewards Credit Cards

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Travel rewards credit cards earn flexible points that can be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel transfer partners. They’re the most valuable travel rewards currency because they are easily earned and they can help you book award travel anywhere around the globe.

For this reason, flexible points are best for anyone just getting started with points and miles, as well as for travelers who’ve been earning travel rewards for years.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

chase sapphire preferred

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening. That's $750 when you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit
  • 5x on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal
  • 3x on dining (including eligible delivery services)
  • 3x on select streaming services & online grocery purchases
  • 2x on other travel purchases
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like United, Flying Blue, and Hyatt
  • 1.25 cents per point or 25% more value if you redeem points for travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal
  • Get a 10% Anniversary points boost calculated by how much you spent on the card during the year
  • Rely on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
  • Complimentary DashPass which comes with no delivery fees and lower service charges on DoorDash orders for a minimum of a year (activate by 12/31/24)
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $95

I love earning Ultimate Rewards points with my Sapphire. These valuable flexible points have helped me travel around the globe to places like Barcelona and Botswana, Chile, Canada, and Cambodia. If you’re looking for your first travel rewards credit card, start with the Sapphire Preferred. It helped me realize my travel dreams and it can help you, too. 

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • $300 travel credit 
  • 5x on flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards Portal
  • 10x hotels and rental cars booked through the Ultimate Rewards Portal
  • 10x Lyft rides
  • 3x on other travel and dining
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like United, Iberia, and Hyatt
  • 1.5 cents per point value if you redeem points for travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $550

Although I started with a Sapphire Preferred, I now have a Sapphire Reserve. I earn Ultimate Rewards points, offset more than half the fee with the annual travel credit, and take advantage of lounge access at airports across the world.

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Current Welcome Bonus: Special Offer! Unlimited Cash Back Match. At the end of your 1st year as a cardholder, Chase will automatically match the amount of cash back you've earned with no limit! Use your card for all your purchases to maximize your cash back earnings and Chase match.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • Earn 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal
  • Earn 3% cash back on drug store purchases and dining (including takeout and delivery)
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all other purchases, with no spending cap or time limit 
  • Get a 0% Intro APR for 15 months from your account opening on purchases and balance transfers; Variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24% thereafter.
  • There's no cash back minimum in order to redeem your rewards. Choose to use your rewards as a statement credit or have them direct deposited into most U.S. savings and checking accounts.
  • Paired with a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred, cashback rewards points can be combined to become transferrable Ultimate Rewards points
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $0

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Current Welcome Bonus: (OFFER EXPIRED. Check with Chase for the most up-to-date offer.) $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months after opening your account.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • 5% on rotating bonus categories up to $1,500 each quarter 
  • 5% on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal
  • 3% on drug store purchases and dining (including delivery and takeout)
  • 1% on all other purchases
  • Paired with a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred, cashback rewards points can be combined to become transferrable Ultimate Rewards points

Annual Fee: $0

The Chase Freedoms are hybrid travel rewards earning cards. Alone, the Ultimate Rewards they earn can be used as cash back or redeemed for a fixed value in the Chase Travel Portal.

However, when paired with a Sapphire or an Ink, the points earned with a Freedom can be combined with your total Ultimate Rewards Points balance. Then, these points can be transferred to any of Chase’s airline or hotel transfer partners to book award flights and hotel nights.

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Current Welcome Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening

Favorite Card Features: 

  • 4x on restaurants worldwide
  • 4x on U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 each calendar year, then 1x thereafter
  • 3x on flights booked with an airline directly or through Amex Travel
  • $120 statement credits ($10 per month) for Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • $120 statement credits ($10 per month) in Uber Cash for rides
  • No foreign exchange fees (See rates & fees details)
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like Delta, Eithad, and Aeroplan
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $250

American Express Membership Rewards points are another of my absolute favorite to earn! They have many airline transfer partners, which can help you fly domestically and internationally in whatever your desired seat class.  Amex even offers periodic bonus transfers which help you get even more miles for your points.

3 Days in Rome
Rome, Italy

Among many other things, my hubby and I used Membership Rewards points to book our dream honeymoon to Italy!

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Current Welcome Bonus: 80,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening. Plus, choose your favorite metal Card design!

Favorite Card Features: 

  • Get Uber VIP Status + $200 each year in the U.S. for Uber rides or eats with monthly statement credits. Uber Cash & Uber VIP Status is only available to the Basic Card Member.
  • 5x on flights booked with an airline directly or through Amex Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year
  • 5x on prepaid hotels with Amex Travel
  • Get $200 back in statement credits every year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts(R) or The Hotel Collection* bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum. (*For The Hotel Collection, a minimum 2-night stay is required.)
  • Get through security in a flash with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, entertainment venues, and stadiums nationwide with up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Card. Learn more.
  • Get up to $20 in statement credits every month (up to $240 annually) when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card(R) for one or a combo of the following: Disney+; a Disney Bundle, Peacock, ESPN+, SiriusXM, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • Earn a statement credit of $12.95 for a monthly Walmart+ membership when you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card(R). Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
  • Choose one qualifying airline and receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees charged by the airline paid with your Platinum Card(R).
  • Earn up to $300 back each year in statement credits on an Equinox+ subscription, or any Equinox club memberships (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card(R). Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll. 
  • Lounge privileges with Priority Pass, Centurion, and others around the globe
  • No foreign exchange fees (See rates & fees details)
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like Delta, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, and Choice
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $695

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Current Welcome Bonus: 75,000 Capital One Miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening. 

Favorite Card Features: 

  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day 
  • Get a $300 annual credit for travel bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • Get unlimited complimentary access for you and 2 guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 10 Miles per dollar spent for hotels and rental cars booked through the Capital One Travel Portal
  • Earn 5 Miles per dollar for flights booked through the Capital One Portal
  • Receive 10k Capital One Miles each year for your card anniversary
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Get up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit
  • Enhance each hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with an array of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more!
  • Redeem your Capital One Miles with their airline and hotel transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio.

Annual Fee: $395 

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Current Welcome Bonus: 75,000 Capital One Miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening

Favorite Card Features: 

  • Get 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Get 5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One Travel
  • Get 2 complimentary visits each year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges, Capital One's Partner Lounge Network
  • Enhance each hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with an array of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more!
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for travel purchases on your statement or transfer them to one of the Capital One transfer partners like Flying Blue or Aeroplan.
  • Up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit

Annual Fee: $95 

Capital One miles used to be limited to offsetting travel expenses from your statements. But, Capital One added airline and hotel transfer partners, which added a ton of value to this familiar travel rewards card. This versatility means you can transfer your miles to an airline like Air Canada Aeroplan or use the miles to cover travel expenses that can’t be booked with points or miles like car rentals or vacation rentals.

Citi Premier

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou(R) Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Also, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou(R) Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel(SM) portal through June 30, 2024.

Favorite Card Features: 

  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on air travel, gas, and other hotels
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants and supermarkets
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Transfer Citi ThankYou Points to airline and hotel partners like Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, and Asia Miles.

Annual Fee: $95

ThankYou Points are a valuable addition to a diversified flexible points portfolio. I’ve used ThankYou Points to book award flights with partner airlines like Virgin Atlantic and Etihad which saved thousands of points had I booked with another airline.

Best Business Travel Rewards Credit Cards

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months as a cardholder. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R)

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x on travel, shipping costs, internet, phone & cable services, and advertising with social media sites and search engines on the first $150k in combined category spending
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like United, Flying Blue, and Hyatt
    1.25 cents per point value (or 25% more value) if you redeem points for travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $95

This Chase business card earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be combined with your overall Ultimate Rewards balance. I love this because I can use the card for expenses like internet, cable, and phone and then combine all my points earned with my Sapphire Reserve to book an unforgettable trip!

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn $900 after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months from opening your account.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 5% on office supply stores and internet, phone & cable services on the first $25k in combined category spending
  • 2% on gas stations and dining on up to a combined $25k in spending
  • Paired with an Ink Preferred or Sapphire, the $900 welcome bonus becomes 90k Ultimate Rewards points that have access to valuable airline and hotel transfer partners like United, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Hyatt.
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $0

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn $900 after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months from opening your account.

Favorite Card Features:

  • Earn 1.5% on all purchases with no spending cap made for your business
  • Paired with an Ink Preferred or Sapphire, the $900 welcome bonus becomes 90k Ultimate Rewards points that have access to valuable airline and hotel transfer partners like United, Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic, and Hyatt.
  • Member FDIC

Annual Fee: $0

Similar to the Chase Freedoms above, the Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited credit cards are hybrid travel rewards cards. On their own, they earn cash back rewards. However, when put together with the Ink Business Preferred or a Sapphire, these rewards gain access to Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners.

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards(R) points after spending $3,000 in eligibile purchases using the card in the first 3 months as a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features:

  • Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards(R) points after spending $3,000 in eligibile purchases using the card in the first 3 months as a cardholder.
  • 2x American Express Membership Rewards points for up to $50k a year
  • Add Amex Offers to the card to earn bonus points and statement credits for qualifying purchases
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to valuable airline and hotel transfer partners including Delta, Aeroplan, Virgin Atlantic, and ANA
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $0

Memberships Rewards points are among my favorite travel rewards currency to earn! I love the variety of airline transfer partners American Express offers. I’ve booked premium class seats on flights operated by Iberia, Aeroplan, and ANA to name a few, as well as taken advantage of bonus transfers that give a 10%-40% bonus on the points I transfer!

Seville Spain Plaza de Espana
Seville, Spain

If you have business expenses, consider maximizing what you’re paying by using a Membership Rewards card to earn valuable travel rewards points for future trips. 

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Current Welcome Bonus: 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening.*

Favorite Card Features:

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards(R) points on the 2 categories your business spends the most on in each billing cycle out of 6 eligible categories. Even if your 2 highest spending categories change, you'll earn 4X points on the first $150k in total purchases from these categories each calendar year (then 1X after that). Only your top 2 categories each billing cycle counts toward the $150k limit.
  • Earn up to $20 in statement credits every month when you use the Business Gold Card for eligible U.S. purchases at FedEx, Grubhub, and Office Supply Stores. Annual savings can be up to $240. Enrollment required.
  • Get $12.95 back in statement credits every month by paying for a monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with your Business Gold Card. $12.95 plus applicable taxes.
  • Choose from a Gold or Rose Gold card.
  • No foreign exchange fees (See rates & fees details)
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like Aeroplan, Delta, ANA, and Etihad. 
  • *Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $295 ($375 if application is received on or after 2/1/24)

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account

Favorite Card Features:

  • 5x the Membership Rewards(R) points on airfare and hotels booked & paid for in advance through AmexTravel.com
  • 1.5x on each eligible purchase at U.S. construction materials, hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, shipping, software & cloud services, as well as on purchases of $5k or more
  • $189 CLEAR(R) Plus Credit: Use your card and get up to $189 in statement credits per calendar year on your CLEAR(R) Plus Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Business Platinum Card(R).
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to valuable airline partners like Aeroplan, Avianca, Delta, Etihad, and Virgin Atlantic.
  • With the American Express Global Lounge Collection(R), get complimentary access to 1,400+ airport lounges across 140 countries and counting. You'll have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market as of 03/2023.
  • Get 35% of your points back when booking economy flights with your selected airline or on premium class flight bookings with any airline when you book through American Express Travel.
  • Unlock more than $1,000 per year in statement credits on select purchases, including tech, recruiting, and wireless services.
  • $200 Airline credit with your one selected, qualifying airline for incidental fees
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $695 

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Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 Capital One Miles after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • Earn 2x miles per $1 spent on all purchases with no spending caps or restrictions. Miles don't expire as long as the account is open.
  • Earn 5x the miles for rental cars and hotels booked using Capital One Travel
  • Skip the lines with up to $100 in a statement credit for TSA PreCheck(R) or Global Entry
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Transfer miles to Capital One's 15+ airline transfer partners like Aeroplan, Avianca, and Flying Blue or redeem your miles instantly for travel purchases 

Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 starting the 2nd year

Capital One miles can now be used to transfer to a variety of airline and hotel transfer partners at a 1:1 transfer ratio. This can be a much better value for your Capital One miles compared to using them to offset travel purchases on your statement. Premium class bookings are worth a lot more than the fixed 1 cent per point value you get when using these miles as a statement credit.

Important Things to Know about Flexible Points

The tips below will help you learn more about the value of travel rewards credit cards and the flexible points they earn. To learn more, sign up for my free travel hacking basics course.

1. Flexible points should be what everyone starts with and consistently earns. They can be used to book flights and hotels around the globe.

2. Each airline sets its own award pricing. Flexible points can be transferred to the airline with the best pricing, unlike specific airline miles that can’t be transferred or converted.

3. Flexible points offer some protection against airline devaluations. If an airline transfer partner devalues its award program, you can transfer your points to another partner offering a better value.

4. Never transfer your flexible points until you’ve searched for available award space.

Disclosure:

The Globetrotting Teacher has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Globetrotting Teacher and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments & responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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