The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards

The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards

If you are already a frequent traveler or just getting started, a good travel rewards credit card is a must-have. I know folks who are very hesitant to get or use a credit card and look at it as a source for piling up debt. Yes, that can be true, but if used wisely, you can use it to your advantage and avail a lot of perks.

These days, there are a lot of credit cards with some awesome perks, making it quite challenging to decide which one is right for you. To help you with that, I have created this post listing out my favorite travel reward credit cards and their benefits. I am limiting my review to only three cards because I have personally used them, and I wanted to narrow down the list to help you quickly find the best card for yourself.

I am currently using the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and I am in love with the benefits, but I didn’t want to leave out the other two excellent travel reward credit cards – The Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Preferred. Below you would see a detailed comparison of these three cards and can decide for yourself.

Tip – Travel reward credit cards, generally, have a high annual fee but do not shy away because of the fee. The benefits and perks they offer is much more than the annual fee. Some key features/perks to look for in a travel reward credit card: Travel related protections, insurance & benefits, Lounge Access, Elite Memberships, Point Earning Rates and Point Redemption/Transfer Options.

travel reward credit card beginners guide

Comparing Top Travel Reward Credit Cards

chase sapphire reserve

chase-sapphire-reserve-credit-card

My Thoughts & Recommendation

I’m currently using the Chase Sapphire Reserve and would recommend this to anyone who –

  • Travel and Dine out regularly – Its broad definition of travel helps earn you a lot of bonus point. Read more below, Points Earning Rates.
  • Likes to have flexibility to make travel purchases from any provider
  • Is looking for best Travel related protections, insurance and benefits
  • Can live with the limited airport lounges offered by Priority Pass Select (Present in most major airports)

Annual Fee

$550

Credit Score Requirement

Excellent

Welcome bonus

50K points after spending $4 K in first 3 months

Points Redemption Bonus

50-percent redemption bonus when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards portal

Point Earning Rates

  • 3 points per $1 on travel and dining
  • 1 point per $1 on other purchases
  • 10 points per $1 on Lyft rides (through March 2022)

Flexibility to make travel purchases from any provider and broad definition of travel puts more of your purchases into the 3X bonus earning category. For example, purchases such as train tickets, car rentals, parking, tolls, ferries, and much more are included in the travel definition for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Lounge Access

Priority Pass Select (Requires registration, Including Priority Pass Restaurant Access, 1 guest)

Statement Credits

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
  • Up to $120 in DoorDash credits ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021)

Elite Memberships and other benefits

Hotels

  • Elite Hotel Benifits –
  • Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection
  • Elite Hotel Benefits at Relais & Châteaux
  • Elite Hotel Benefits at sbe

Rental Cars

  • Emerald Club Executive Elite® status with National Car Rental
  • Benefits and discounts with Avis®
  • Benefits and discounts with Silvercar by Audi

Others

  • Lyft Pink Membership
  • Subscription To DoorDash DashPass

Foreign Transaction Fee

No foreign transaction fees

Points Transfer Partners

  • Aer Lingus 1:1
  • British Airways 1:1
  • Air France/KLM 1:1
  • Iberia 1:1
  • JetBlue 1:1
  • Singapore Airlines 1:1
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards 1:1
  • United MileagePlus 1:1
  • Virgin Atlantic 1:1
  • IHG Rewards 1:1
  • Marriott Bonvoy 1:1
  • World of Hyatt 1:1

Experiences and events

Reserve Experiences Program

Member Concierge Services

Yes

Car Rental Coverage

Primary Coverage

Premium Roadside Assistance

4 service calls per year, maximum benefit $50 each call

Emergency Medical and Dental

$2,500 Medical/Dental coverage ($50 deductible per day), $75 per day for prescribed hotel needed due to covered loss for up to 5 days

Trip Interruption

Up to $10,000 per trip per person/$20,000 per incident

Trip Delay

Up to $500 per ticket for delays of 6 or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)

Baggage Delay

Up to $100/day for up to 5 days for delays more than 6 hours 

Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Luggage

Up to $3,000 per person (up to $500 per person for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment)

Emergency Transportation/Evacuation

$100000

Shopping Protections

  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty
  • Return Protection

The Amex Platinum Card®

The Amex Platinum Card

My Thoughts & Recommendation

I would recommend the Amex Platinum card if  –

Best airport lounge access is your priority, by far Amex Platinum has the best lineup of Airport Lounges

Annual Fee

$550

Credit Score Requirement

Good/Excellent

Welcome bonus

60K points after spending $5 K in first 3 months

Points Redemption Bonus

None

Point Earning Rates

  • 5 points per $1 on travel booked with airlines or through AmexTravel.com
  • 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com
  • 1 point per $1 on other purchases

Lounge Access

  • Airspace Lounges (up to 2 guests)
  • The Centurion Lounge Network (up to 2 guests, 3 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart)
  • Delta SkyClub (No guests, guests charged $29 per-visit)
  • Escape Lounges (up to 2 guests)
  • The International American Express Lounges
  • Priority Pass Select (Requires registration, Excludes Priority Pass Restaurant Access, 1 guest)

Statement Credits

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck Credit
  • Up to $15 in Uber credits each month, an additional $20 in Decemeber
  • $100 hotel credit
  • Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credit

Elite Memberships and other benefits

Hotels:

  • Hilton Honors Gold
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold
  • American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts Access

Rental Cars:

  • National Emerald Club Executive Status
  • Avis Preferred American Express Benefits
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Benefits

Foreign Transaction Fee

No foreign transaction fees

Points Transfer Partners

  • Aer Lingus 1:1
  • AeroMexico 1:1.6
  • Air Canada 1:1
  • Air France/KLM 1:1
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1
  • ANA 1:1
  • Avianca 1:1
  • British Airways 1:1
  • Cathay Pacific 1:1
  • Delta SkyMiles 1:1
  • El Al Israel 50:1
  • Emirates 1:1
  • Etihad Guest 1:1
  • Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
  • Iberia 1:1
  • JetBlue 1.25:1
  • Qantas 1:1
  • Singapore KrysFlyer 1:1
  • Virgin Atlantic 1:1

Experiences and events

By Invitation Only Program

Member Concierge Services

Yes

Car Rental Coverage

Secondary Coverage

Premium Roadside Assistance

None

Emergency Medical and Dental

None

Trip Interruption

None

Trip Delay

None

Baggage Delay

None

Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Luggage

Up to $3,000 for carry-on, $2,000 for checked

Emergency Transportation/Evacuation

$100000

Shopping Protections

  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty
  • Return Protection

chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

My Thoughts & Recommendation

I initially had the Chase Sapphire Preferred card then later upgraded to the Reserve, I would recommend this to anyone who –

  • Is getting started and hesitant to pay a $550 annual fee but willing to evaluate the perks
  • Is looking for Travel related protections, insurance and benefits

Annual Fee

$95

Credit Score Requirement

Good/Excellent

Welcome bonus

60K points after spending $4 K in first 3 months

Points Redemption Bonus

25-percent redemption bonus when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards portal

Point Earning Rates

  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants, 1X points on all other purchases
  • 5 points per $1 on Lyft rides (through March 2022)

Lounge Access

None

Statement Credits

None

Elite Memberships and other benefits

Subscription To DoorDash DashPass

Foreign Transaction Fee

No foreign transaction fees

Points Transfer Partners

  • Aer Lingus 1:1
  • British Airways 1:1
  • Air France/KLM 1:1
  • Iberia 1:1
  • JetBlue 1:1
  • Singapore Airlines 1:1
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards 1:1
  • United MileagePlus 1:1
  • Virgin Atlantic 1:1
  • IHG Rewards 1:1
  • Marriott Bonvoy 1:1
  • World of Hyatt 1:1

Experiences and events

None

Member Concierge Services

Yes

Car Rental Coverage

Primary Coverage

Premium Roadside Assistance

$59.95 per service call

Emergency Medical and Dental

None

Trip Interruption

Up to $10,000 per trip

Trip Delay

Up to $500 per ticket for delays of 12 or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)

Baggage Delay

Up to $100/day for up to 5 days for delays more than 6 hours 

Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Luggage

Up to $3,000 per person (up to $500 per person for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment)

Emergency Transportation/Evacuation

None

Shopping Protections

  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty

Pl. Note – This is not a sponsored post. I personally use these companies for my travels, and based on my experience, I recommend them. Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission that helps me run this website and keeping it free for everyone to use. There are several other resources to help you plan your travel, including My Travel Planning ChecklistThe Ultimate Carry-On Packing GuideMust Have Travel Gear GuideMy Best Travel ResourcesBest Places To Visit In USA By MonthUltimate Collection of Inspirational Quotes & Sayingsand more.

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