Best Travel Credit Cards for January 2020
Travel rewards credit cards are one of the best ways to save on your trip all throughout the year. There are a lot of great options out there, but choosing the best travel rewards credit card depends on what your specific travel goals are.
There are unique benefits for each card and the best option will be different for every type of traveler. For example, lounge access may be important to you if you are a frequent flyer, or maybe having no annual fees is more of a priority if you are looking for something more affordable.
We’ve created this list of the best travel credit cards for 2020 based on comparative research. Unlike other websites, we are not getting paid for this; there are no affiliate links or motives here other than helping you choose the best travel credit card for your needs.
Why? This card is one of the best travel rewards cards in 2020 because it’s easy to use and you can earn rewards with every use. It has a $0 annual fee on the first year (goes up to $95 after that) and there are no foreign transaction fees, so you can use it for points towards travel and affordably while you travel.
Rate and Bonus: Their reward program offers 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase. Miles don’t expire either and there is no limit on how much you can earn.
You’re also not limited to which airlines/hotel chains you use, and there are no restrictions on travel or blackout dates. They also reimburse you up to $100 on the application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
You get an initial bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account, which is $500 in travel. They also offer a 12-month, 0% APR promotion on purchases, but keep in mind that after the 12-month period, it will go up to 13.49% to 23.49% (will vary based on the Prime Rate).
Additional Features: You can transfer your miles to over 12 other travel loyalty programs. You can also get access to a variety of VIP food, music, sports events with the travel card.
Best for: It’s a low-cost travel rewards card, best for the infrequent flyer who uses their card for everyday purchases. Since there’s no limit on how much you can earn, the more you utilize the card, the more you gain from it. There’s no complicated bonus structures here and you won’t be getting luxury flyer status with this travel rewards card, but it’s a good choice for anyone looking for something simple and easy-to-use. More details here.
Why? This Chase travel credit card is one of the best to help offset your overall travel expenses for almost everything including airfare, hotels, and transport. That being said, the Chase travel credit card does have a $550 annual fee; however, the added bonuses make it well worth it — if these features are important to you. It is a good travel credit card in terms of building travel credit.
Rate and Bonus: They have a great initial rewards system that can give you up to $750 in travel credit if you spend $4000 in the first 3 months of opening an account, which is the equivalent of 50,000 points. Every card owner receives $300 in travel credit every 12 months when you spend that amount in travel purchases. So, when you spend $300 in the travel category (anything from food to hotels to parking) you get $300 back in credit.
You get 3x the points on travel after earning $300 in travel credit, 3x points on dining out worldwide, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases. There are $0 foreign transaction fees.
It has a Regular APR of 18.49% - 25.49% (variable).
Additional Features: You can get access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide by enrolling in their Priority Pass Select. If you are a frequent traveler, this is a great added bonus.
You can now earn 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022, which is 3x points in addition to 2x the points that you can already earn on travel. And if you activate your Chase card by December 2021 and sign up for DashPass from DoorDash, you can get free delivery on select items at a $100 value.
Best for: The moderate to frequent traveler looking for a high-value travel rewards card. If you travel often enough and use your card for major purchases, the rewards from the Chase Sapphire Reserve are well worth the $550 annual fee. One of the big perks this card offers is lounge access, so if you’re someone who flies often and wants to enjoy the comfort and status of the VIP access, this card is for you. Also, the fact that you can pretty much earn back $300 of the $550 annual fee (if you were spending that money on travel anyway) makes it a super affordable option in comparison to other premium cards. More details here.
This is pretty basic in terms of travel rewards. If you tend to spend more on travel, paying even a modest annual fee might make the rewards more worthwhile.
Rate and Bonus: For travel expenses such as flights on any airline or stays at any hotel, you can redeem points at a value of 1 cent per point for any travel expense, with no restrictions or blackout dates. And you earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.
Your points also don't expire, which means you don’t need to book something just for the sake of it, and can plan your trip well in advance.
You can get an online cash rewards bonus of $200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account. And you can earn 3% cashback on a variety of different categories, 2% at grocery stores and retail stores, and 1% (unlimited) on other purchases.
There is 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first year opening the account (12 billing cycles). After that, it has a regular APR of 16.49% - 24.49% on purchases (variable).
Additional Features: You can become a preferred Rewards Member and earn 25% - 75% more cashback on every purchase.
Best For: If you’re looking for a no nonsense card that doesn’t require a lot of effort booking with points and doesn’t have a giant annual fee that needs justifying, the BOA Cash Rewards Card is a perfect fit. Just use the card for normal everyday purchases and then easily redeem your points for travel expenses before paying your statement. If you’re a somewhat infrequent traveler and tend not to spend a lot on your credit cards, this can be a much better option than the other cards on this list with annual fees. More details here
Why? This Chase travel card is one of the best credit cards for travel miles. There is a $95 annual fee, a lower fee than the Reserve card, but many of the rewards are similar, just not as luxurious as some of the additional benefits of the Reserve card.
Rate and Bonus: Similar to the Reserve card, this travel credit card rewards you 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months upon account opening ($750 toward travel when you redeem it through the Chase Rewards system).
You get 3x the points on travel after earning your $300 travel credit, 3x points on dining out worldwide, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases. And there are $0 foreign transaction fees.
This card is best for the sign-on bonus, but in addition to that you'll earn 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the rewards system, so there are a lot of opportunities to earn rewards when you use your card for travel purposes.
Additional Features: The same Lyft and DoorDash bonus features apply for the Preferred card and the Reserve Card.
Best for: Anyone looking for a beginner travel rewards card, not yet ready to take the plunge on the high annual rate of other premium cards. It’s another high-value rewards card that offers a lot of flexibility for redeeming points and has a great sign-on bonus. If you’re a moderate to frequent flyer and are looking to start earning miles and want to get a taste of the benefits of a rewards card, this is a great option. More details here.
Why? Even though AmEx has some excellent features as a travel rewards card, it’s important to note that it’s becoming even more difficult to use outside of North America. It’s no secret that AmEx is not accepted in many places in Europe, but from our personal experience, it’s becoming even less accepted worldwide.
The American Express Platinum Card is best for travel rewards. It is designed for frequent travelers who enjoy luxury benefits. Though it has a pricey annual fee like the Chase Reserve of $550, if used correctly, it is well worth it.
Rate and Bonus: There is a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after making $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months with the card. It has an APR of 26.74% (varied). You earn 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels purchased with the airlines and through AmEx.
Additional Features: The Platinum Card is best known for its additional features such as:
-$200 Airline credit for ancillary fees (not airfare).
-Access to the Global Lounge, more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide
-Access to complimentary upgrades, late check-in, and free WiFi (worth a total of about $550)
-$15 in Uber cash each month and $20 in December (about $200 in annual Uber savings)
-TSA Precheck or Global Entry fee credit
Best For: If you spend enough on your cards to outweigh the annual fee and travel enough to take advantage of the additional features and benefits, this is hands down the best rewards and perks card. You’ll want to have an additional card to use during your travels, as AmEx is accepted sparingly abroad, but the flight, hotel and additional travel perks will make it more than worth the trouble. More details here.
The Best Travel Rewards Card for You
Again, it’s important to figure out what’s important to you when determining the best travel rewards credit card. We’d recommend doing a budget to see how much you realistically spend on travel expenses and whether those additional bonus features would help you save in the long run.
The best part of a travel rewards credit card is that it’s there to help you save money while making the most of your travel experience. So picking the best 2020 travel credit card can really take your travels to the next level, starting from your everyday spending throughout the year to your purchases made while traveling.