Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2019 – The Ultimate List

Notice: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Read our advertiser disclosure here.

There is a huge number of Travel Rewards Credit Cards on the market today. From lower end cards with no fees to high-end premium cards, complete with annual fees running into hundreds of dollars, there’s plenty to choose from. Choosing the right card involves some work comparing all the features, benefits, and earning rates of the various options. Lucky for you, we’ve done the heavy lifting already. Here is our selection of the top travel rewards credit cards on the market today.

Our Top Picks:

How we evaluated our cards

1) Sign up bonus

When it comes to any travel rewards credit cards, it’s important to consider the sign up bonus. This can add significant value, and could 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 travel credit cards, it is important. Although it is a secondary factor, the sign up bonus should still be generous and rewarding. We looked for travel credit cards with generous sign up bonuses as one of their 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 credit card for travel rewards. Benefits will vary from card to card, with each adding strength to the overall package. Some cards offered no foreign transaction fees, good travel insurance coverage, provided lounge access or a route to elite status.

Featured Video:

American Express  Centurion Lounge. Photo: American Express

4) Annual fees

We also looked at the cards annual fees. While some of the travel rewards credit cards on our list are premium high-end cards with fees running to several hundred dollars per year, some are mid-tier cards with fees 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 credit card for travel rewards for you, it’s important to consider your travel and spending patterns alongside the card’s annual fee.

Now, let’s begin…


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase sapphire new art

Most suited for: Both travel rewards experts and beginners

Signup bonus: 60,000 points welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three 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
  • Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance
  • Lost luggage insurance
  • Car rental collision damage waiver cover

What we like:

If you are just starting out with travel rewards credit cards or are an experienced traveler, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card offers an impressive list of benefits and comes with a very generous sign up bonus. Points earned from the card are highly valuable as well as 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. It’s an ideal choice for anyone.


Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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®, creates the ultimate Chase Ultimate Rewards earning combo.


The Platinum Card® From American Express

American Express Platinum

Most suited for: Lounge access and purchasing airfare

Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first three 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 prepaid 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 or TSA Pre✓
  • 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 Bonvoy 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 find 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 regularly and want complimentary lounge access, this is definitely the card for you.


The American Express Gold Card

Most suited for: Foodies who love to travel

Welcome bonus: 35,000 reward points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months

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 amextravel.com
  • 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 travel rewards credit cards. 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® Card, although that earning is restricted to quarterly bonuses, and generally only on $1,500 of spending. Once you have accumulated your 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 set 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 miles 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 at Hotels.com/Venture
  • Receive a $100 application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • 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 transaction 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:

The key strength of the card lies 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 miles, you simply choose the purchase eraser, and you can redeem your miles 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 miles per dollar at Hotels.com/Venture.


Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Most suited for: Marriott fans and exotic FFP members

Welcome bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening

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 Bonvoy 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 Marriott Bonvoy Hotels (hotel restrictions apply)
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on everything else

What we like:

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card  has some great perks and benefits, and since its merger with SPG, one of the key strengths of Marriott Rewards Points is the ability to transfer points to a 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 credit card for travel rewards for you.


The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

Most suited for: Hilton aficionados

Welcome bonus: 125,000-point welcome bonus after spending $2,000 in qualifying expenses in the first three 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 US supermarkets, US gas stations and US 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, you will understand 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 status, which is valued at least $2,000 per year. Earning 6X points at US supermarkets, US gas stations, and US 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® Card

Most suited for: BA and Avios fans

Signup bonus: Up to 120,000 bonus Avios. Earn four Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases within your first year up to $30,000

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 substantial saving in Avios if you frequently travel with a companion. If you book a long haul in First Class, for example, you can easily save over 100,000 Avios. Fortunately, the card also has no foreign transaction fees making it the ideal credit card for travel rewards and for taking on holiday for spending.  The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers a wide range of perks that should suit any BA or Avios fan.

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 the best travel rewards credit cards are for you!

Notice: These responses 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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