Credit Cards

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2019 – The Ultimate List

There is a huge number of Travel Rewards Credit Cards on the market today. From lower end cards with no annual fee to high-end premium cards with annual fee running in the hundreds of dollars, there is plenty of choices. Choosing the right card involves some hard work comparing all the features, benefits, and earning rates of the various cards. Luckily, we have done the heavy lifting for you and here is our selection of the top travel rewards credit cards on the market today.

Our Top Picks:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Best for Almost everyone
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card – best for global travelers who jet set around the world
  • The Platinum Card® From American Express – Best for lounge access and purchasing airfare
  • The American Express Gold Card – best for foodies who love to travel
  • The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – best for fixed value redemption Options
  • The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ – best for Marriott fans and exotic FFP members
  • The Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express – best for Hilton Aficionados
  • British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card – best for BA & Avios Fans

How We Evaluated Our Cards:

1) Sign Up Bonus

When it comes to any travel rewards credit card is a very important factor to consider and can add significant value and maybe sway your decision on which card to sign up for. While the sign-up bonus should never be the only factor to consider when applying for a new card it is important. Although it is a secondary factor, the signup bonus should still be generous and rewarding. We looked for cards with generous signup bonuses as one of its strengths.

2) Earning Rates

We looked at cards that either had best in class industry leading or outstanding earning rates on travel and dining.

3) Travel Perks

Travel perks are an important factor when choosing a rewards credit card. Benefits will vary from card to card with each adding strength to the overall package. Some cards offered no foreign transaction fees, or good travel insurance coverage, while other provided lounge access or a route to elite status.

American Express  Centurion Lounge. Photo: American Express

4) Annual Fees

We also looked at the cards annual fees, while some of the cards on our list a premium high-end cards with fees running several hundred dollars per year, some are mid-tier cards with fess in the $100 range. The more premium cards tend to offer a wider range of perks and benefits, but we had to balance that out against the increased fee. When it comes to choosing the right card for you, you have to consider your travel and spending patterns and the card’s annual fee.

Now, let’s begin…

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Most suited for: Both travel Rewards experts and beginners

Signup Bonus: 50,000 points welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of membership

Annual Fee: $95

Card Synopsis:

  • 2X points on travel
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants around the world
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • $95 annual fee waived for the first year
  • Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip Interruption and Trip Cancellation insurance
  • Lost Luggage insurance
  • Car rental Collison Damage waiver cover

What we like:

If you are just beginning in the travel rewards hobby, or an experienced traveler, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the card offers an impressive list of benefits and comes with a very generous sign-up bonus. Points earned from the card are highly valuable and flexible and can be transferred to a host of Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partners. For a card that cost $95 per year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers an unmatched host of features and benefits. whether you are an experienced traveler or just beginning in travel rewards, this card is a perfect match for anyone.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Most suited for: Global travelers who jet set around the world

Signup Bonus: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership

Annual Fee: $450 annual fee

Card Synopsis

  • A $300 annual travel credit to cover travel purchases made with your card
  • Earn 3X points on travel after earning your $300 travel credit
  • Earn 3X points for dining at restaurants
  • Earn 1X on all other purchases
  • Airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select membership
  • $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • Industry-leading insurance benefits
  • Visa Infinite Card

What we like:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is our go-to card for global travelers, the card offers great lounge access, and great earning rates on dining and travel. In addition to its rich travel coverage benefits, the card also covers you for up to $300 on airline incidentals. Whether you travel regularly for business or pleasure, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the ultimate travel companion out there. this card when teamed up with the Chase Freedom Card creates the Ultimate Chase Ultimate Rewards earning combo.

The Platinum Card® From American Express – Learn more about this card

Most suited for: Lounge access and purchasing airfare

Signup Bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee: $550 annual fee

Card Synopsis:

  • Complimentary airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select membership
  • Access to Amex Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when traveling Delta
  • Earn 5X on travel and on airfare for spending with airlines directly and through Amex Travel
  • Earn 5X at Amex Travel when booking eligible hotels
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $200 worth of Uber credits annually
  • $200 statement credit for incidental airline fees annually
  • $100 statement credit on purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue
  • $100 statement credit when applying for Global Entry trusted traveler program
  • Access to Amex Platinum Concierge services, and the Amex Platinum Dining program
  • Provides access to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts worldwide collection of properties
  • Complimentary hotel Elite status with Marriott Rewards and Hilton Honors
  • Complimentary car rental Elite status with Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental
  • Complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi- requires enrollment in the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan

What we like:

When it comes to travel purchases, The Platinum Card® From American Express offers an industry leading 5X on airfare, as well as a host of other benefits that you can learn more about. When it comes to lounge access the Amex platinum reigns king in almost every case regardless of the airline or class of travel you should be able to found a lounge to relax in using The Platinum Card® From American Express; you can read more about the wide range of features offered by the card. If you fly and want lounge complimentary lounge access, this is definitely the card for you.

The American Express Gold Card- Learn more about this card

Most suited for: Foodies who love to travel

Signup Bonus: 25,000 reward points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Likewise, through Jan. 9, you can receive 20 percent back in statement credits on dining purchases at U.S. restaurants, up to $100 per account.

Annual Fee: $250 annual fee

Card Synopsis:

  • 4x points at restaurants in the US
  • 4x points at US supermarkets, only on the first $25,000 of spending per year, 1X after you reach the $25,000 limit
  • 3x points on flights (booked directly with airlines) or travel booking with
  • Up to $10 monthly statement credit, when you use your card at participating dining partners.
  • $100 annual airline incidental fees statement credit

What we like:

When you Learn More about the American Express Gold Card, it becomes clear that it is the go-to card for those who like to dine out and travel. The 4X points on dining is industry leading for a  travel rewards credit card. While the 4X at US supermarkets is close to industry leading, you can earn 5X or 5% cashback with other cards like the Chase Freedom. Although that earning is restricted to quarterly bonuses, and generally only on $1,500 of spending. Once you have accumulated a host of Membership Rewards points, you can redeem them directly with American Express or transfer them to a host of travel partners. This card will earn you a ton of Membership Rewards points every time you go to a supermarket or eat out; you should not step foot in a restaurant without it.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – Learn more about this card

Most suited for: Fixed value redemption Options

Signup Bonus: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months

Annual Fee: $95 waived for the first year

Card Synopsis:

  • 50,000 bonus points sign-up offer
  • No annual fee for the first year, followed by a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 2x miles on every purchase
  • Earn 10x miles on hotels
  • Receive a $100 application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Use your miles for airlines and hotels at any time with no blackout dates
  • There are no miles-earning limits, and your miles never expire
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • 24-hour travel assistance service
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Extended warranties for purchases made on the card

What we like:

When you learn more about The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you find the card features and benefits amount to a great overall package for a travel rewards credit card. The key strength of the card likes in its fixed value redemption; you don’t have to worry about transfer rules and minimum ratios, or how to maximize every cent of value. Redeeming your points, you simply choose the purchase eraser, and you can redeem your points for any travel purchase you have made. Alternatively, you can book your travel awards directly with Capital One’s Reward Center. This is the ultimate earning card for hotel stays. Just pay with your card and earn 10X the points per dollar.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card

Most suited for: Marriott fans and exotic FFP members

Signup Bonus: 75,000-point bonus after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $95 annual fee

Card Synopsis:

  • Free Night Award every card membership anniversary (Can be redeemed at properties up to 35,000 points per night)
  • $95 annual fee
  • Complimentary Silver status with Marriott Rewards as long as you hold the card
  • Earn Marriott Rewards Gold after spending $35,000 each year
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each year from 2019
  • Earn 6X points per dollar spent at SPG and Marriott Hotels (hotel restrictions apply)
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on everything else

What we like:

The The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™  has some great perks and benefits, and since its merger with SPG, one of the Key strengths of Marriot Rewards Points is the ability to transfer points to a side range of airline partners. You can transfer Marriott Rewards to far more airlines that you can with either Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. Points normally transfer at a ratio of 3:1, although Marriott has an inbuilt bonus when you transfer 60,000 points. Instead of receiving 20,000 miles, you will also receive a bonus of 5,000 miles on your transfer for a total of 25,000 miles. The bonus gives you an effective transfer ratio of 2.4:1 which is excellent for any hotel points. If you want to earn points that are transferable to over 40 airline programs, this is the ultimate card for you.

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express – Learn more about this card

Most suited for: Hilton Aficionados

Signup Bonus: 125,000-point signup bonus after spending $2,000 in qualifying expenses in the first 3 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $95 annual fee

Card Synopsis:

  • Earn 12X points for spending with Hilton directly
  • Earn a Free Weekend Night Reward after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year
  • Earn 6X points at supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 3X points on all other spending
  • Earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 on your card in a calendar year

What we like:

When you learn more about  The Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express and the host of features of and perks that come with it, and you will know why it belongs in the wallet of any Hilton devotee. The card has some outstanding earning rates, especially the 12X per dollar at Hilton properties, and if you are a big spender and willing to put $40,000 on the card per year, you end up with top Tier Hilton Diamond which is valued at least $2,000 per year. Earning 6X points at supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants is also a decent return, although it is not the best available. Once you have learn more as a package with an annual fee of $95 The Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express is a very attractive proposition. If you love staying at Hilton Hotels, then this is the perfect companion for your stays.

British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card

Most suited for: BA & Avios Fans

Signup Bonus: up to 100,000 bonus Avios. You can receive 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months, plus 25,000 more bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 on purchases within the first year, plus an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first year. This is a must-have card for BA Executive Club members. If you love flying BA, this card will earn you a ton of Avios for your travels.

Annual Fee: $95 annual fee

Card Synopsis:

  • Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases
  • Earn 1 Avios for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Automatic enrollment into the Executive Club
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel Together Tickets
  • Travel and purchase coverage

What we like:

The stand out feature of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is the Travel Together ticket, once you have earned the pass,  you book one award flight and get another one for free. This travel together ticket can lead to a very substantial saving in Avios. And if you book a long haul in First Class, you can easily save over 100,000 Avios. Fortunately, the card also has no foreign transaction fees making it the ideal card for taking on holiday for your shopping.  The British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card offers a wide range of perks that should suit any BA or Avios Aficionados.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right card for you is simple, look at your travel patterns, and then check our list out to figure out which is the best card for you!

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