Best Credit Cards For Travel Purchases

A list of the best credit cards for travel purchases based on spend. Enter spend, calculate the return from a database of 250+ cards. Compare results.


Cards that earn bonus rewards and cash on general travel purchases can be useful for those who don't want to deal with multiple subcategories of travel such as airfare, car rentals, and hotel spending. Even if you do have a card that covers a specific branch of travel, it makes a great catch-all for categories such as tolls, parking garages, rideshares, and more.

If you're looking for annual fee free cards, Bank of America's personal and business cash back credit cards offer a 25% to 75% bonus on points earned for those who have 25k to 100k to invest with them and their partners.

The PenFed Pathfinder and Wells Fargo Propel AMEX are great fee-less cards as well and both offer about a 4.5% return on travel spend.

In terms of cards with fees, there's a few to pick from if you spend heavy in travel (a.k.a take consistent vacations). This includes classics such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ink Business Preferred, and AMEX Green Card. All of these cards can help you build up points that you can transfer to airline and hotel partners to get the best value.

Best Cards By Category Calculator

The Best Credit Cards By Category Calculator below will find the best credit cards for the listed categories based on your spend and the filter options selected. This will output a list of up to 50 credit cards sorted by total return.

Compare credit cards side by side based on spend, benefits, and fees.

I recommend using the Rewards Calculator which allows you to compare results side by side other cards, factor in sign up bonuses, add authorized users, select elite status (hotel cards), and much more.

Category Spend

Enter your spend per month, year, or quarter for the listed categories. You can then click Get The Best Cards to get the list of results.

Airfare

Hotel

Car Rental

Transit

Spend Duration

You can set the duration of the spend for the categories listed above. If you're looking for the best card for only n-months worth of spend, this is where you change the option. If you want to calculate based on a full year, you can leave it set to a duration of 'year'.

Adjust Transferable Points

Some rewards programs allow you to transfer your earned points to airline, hotel, and other loyalty programs. These programs will generally have higher point values when doing such. Since these matter so much when choosing a credit card, you can enter your own point value for these programs to include in the calculations. You can set any of the currencies listed below to 0 to calculate based on the non-transfer value (in which most are 1 cent per point with the exception of Chase's 1.25/1.5 cent redemptions).
When transferring to other programs, you should be able to get 1 to 2 cents in value for most of the programs listed below, so I defaulted most to a low average of 1.5 cents. You can click on the to learn more about the value of the currency (opens in a new tab/window).

Include Annual Credits/Bonuses

Several credit cards feature annual bonuses. These are usually anniversary bonuses for having the card, airline credits, hotel credits, and more. If you want these included in the calculation, you can check thy box below.

Bank

The bank that issues the card. De-select the banks that you do not want in the results.

Network

The network that the card is tied to such as VISA, Mastercard, Discover, or AMEX.

Card Type

The type of card such as a co-branded airline card, bank rewards card, or cash back card. Do note that some store cards will appear under cash back if you're able to redeem cash back like a normal cash back credit card.

Reward Type

The type of rewards the card earns. This will either be points, miles, or cash back.

Personal/Business

Toggle the showing of personal or business cards in the results. Card combinations are also featured on this site. The combo option is only available if it's more than one category you're enter spend for.

Annual Fee

The range of fees you're willing to pay to wield such awesome credit cards. The First Year Free (FYF) / First Year Reduced (FYR) option will only show FYF/FYR cards that has an second year (and onward) annual fee that falls within the range you entered.

Income Requirements

Some credit cards require a certain amount of annual individual or household income. Enter a max income or enter -1 to show all cards.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Toggle whether to include credit cards that have a foreign transaction fee, foreign conversion fee, or any other type of charge that has to do with making purchases outside of the region.

Results

Do note that results may take a few seconds to generate after doing a search.
You can click on the 'Rewards Calculator' for any of the cards listed in the results to calculate even more accurate results. You'll be able to enter spend for other categories, toggle fees, add authorized users, and more.
Results Will Appear Here

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