12 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2018

Travel reward credit cards come in many varieties, each offering different methods for accruing points. Some only award miles when customers make travel purchases, such as hotel stays and flights, while others also count everyday purchases, including gasoline and restaurant meals. Redemption options also vary; some cards only allow customers to redeem their points through a specific airline or hotel chain and some offer flexible options through various companies. Many provide additional perks such as discounts on hotel amenities and free in-flight WIFI.

1. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Earn unlimited double miles.

Earning the top spot is the Barclaycard, an excellent option for customers interested in receiving points for everyday purchases. There are no spending caps for double miles; as long as customers continue buying, they will keep earning two points for every $1 spent.

The introductory offer for the Barclaycard allows cardholders to earn an additional 40,000 miles by charging $3,000 within the first 90 days. For every point redeemed, customers will have a 5% rebate deposited back into their account. After the first year, there is an $89 fee for maintaining the card.

Customers who complete a transfer in first 45 days after opening can enjoy a 0% APR for 12 months. After the introductory offer expires, the APR rate will depend on the individual customer’s creditworthiness, with various options including 16.99%, 20.99%, and 23.99%.

Miles never expire and can be redeemed for almost any travel purchase, from hotel bookings to airline tickets and more. Points have a cash equivalent of $0.01, and customers must reach a minimum of 10,000 miles, a $100 value, before they can be redeemed. The card does not charge foreign transaction fees and has an option for trip interruption and cancellation insurance.

2. Discover it Miles

Unlimited 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases and double miles in the first year.

The Discover it Miles Card comes with an enticing sign-up incentive that allows customers to double all points earned within the first year. After the introductory offer, cardholders will receive an unlimited amount of 1.5 miles for every $1 spent.

Account perks include 0% APR for the first 12 months and no foreign transaction fees. Customers focused on flexibility will love that points can be redeemed in any amount for travel-related expenses, including flights, hotels, travel agent commissions, and more. As an extra perk, cardholders can enjoy free in-flight WIFI on any airlines and a monthly FICO score free of charge.

3. Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime.

With no blackout dates, no earning limit, and no expiration date for miles, this is the ultimate card for anyone who values options. Cardholders will earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent and can make an additional 20,000 miles, worth $200 in travel expenses, after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

Customers can receive a free credit score report every month through Capital One CreditWise, and there are no annual or foreign transaction fees. Mile redemption choices are flexible for this CapitalOne card, with options to use points for non-travel related purchases. However, while points are worth $0.01 when spent on travel expenses, the value varies when redeemed for non-travel purchases.

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Earn up to 3 points per $1 spent.

New customers of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card can earn up to three points per dollar spent on dining and travel. This card counts eligible everyday purchases as points, although the rate drops to one point per dollar. Chase offers a generous introductory offer of 50,000 points to customers who spend more than $4,000 in the first three months. When redeemed for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the sign-up bonus is worth $750. Cardholders are also eligible to transfer points to participating hotel rewards and frequent flyer programs. Each year on the account opening anniversary, Chase will send the account owner $300 in travel credit. As an added perk, Chase offers to cover TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry fees, does not charge foreign transaction fees, and grants customers access to over a thousand airport lounges and Priority Pass Select membership.

At $0.015, points are the most valuable when redeemed for travel purposes. Customers can book any available flight or hotel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, with no blackout dates or restrictions. Other redemption options include statement credits and gift cards, although point value drops to $0.01 for these purchases. Annual fees include the $450 maintenance charge and an extra $75 recurring payment for each authorized user.

5. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card

Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every $1 spent.

BankAmericard customers can accrue an unlimited amount of points at a rate of 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on the card. Customers will also receive a boost of 20,000 points, worth $200 in travel purchases, after charging at least $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening the account. An introductory offer of 0% APR is available for the first 12 billing cycles, and there are no foreign transactions or annual maintenance fees.

Customers can earn 25-75% extra points by maintaining minimum balance amounts, which vary from $25,000 to $100,000. There is also the option to acquire 10% bonus miles annually by opening a Bank of America deposit account. At just $25, the redemption minimum is easily attainable for the BankAmericard. Miles are worth a cash equivalent of $0.01 each when redeemed for travel purposes.

6. Expedia + Card from Citi. (check if there is a sign-up bonus)

Three points for every $1 spent.

At three points per $1 spent, the Expedia card offers the best mile to dollar ratio on the list. However, only travel-related purchases completed through Expedia will earn points. For non-travel purchases, customers will receive one point per dollar spent. There is no introductory APR but also no annual account fee. Foreign transactions carry a fee of 3% of the amount of the total purchase.

Redeem points for travel expenses through Expedia, such as airline tickets, hotel vouchers, and vacation packages. Point minimums for redemption vary by purchase, with hotels beginning at 3,500 points. Points are worth $0.01 each usually, although it may vary depending on the transaction.

7.Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Care

Earn 6 Hilton Honors Points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels.

If Hiltons are your go-to hotel, this is the card for you. It allows customers to earn six Hilton Honors Points for every dollar spent at a Hilton portfolio hotel. As a bonus, cardholders receive three points for every dollar spent on everyday purchases such as groceries and gas. This card has a generous introductory offer, shelling out 75,000 Hilton Honors Points to anyone who spends at least $2,000 in the first three months. Customers who maintain good standing can graduate to the Hilton Honors Silver Status, which comes with a 15% point bonus and complimentary night on any stay at least five days long. Customers who spend $20,000 in the first year or stay at least four times within the initial 90 days will earn Gold Status and a 25% point bonus. The card also comes with VIP treatment and access to the Citi’s Private Pass events.

Redemption minimums are relatively high for this card, starting at 5,000 points. Points have variable values depending on the purchase, although they are worth less than $0.01.

8. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Earn double points.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is great for customers with flexible travel needs. With no blackout dates or travel restrictions, customers can choose any seat on any flight available through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The card offers a generous two points for every dollar spent on dining or travel, one point per dollar for all other expenses, and the option to transfer points to participating frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs. New cardholders who complete a purchase or add an authorized user to the account during the first three months will receive 5,000 bonus points. Customers can earn an additional 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points by spending $4,000, worth up to $625 in travel purchases, within three months of joining. Although there is no annual account fee for the first year, there is a $95 charge for every year after that. There is no introductory APR rate or foreign transaction fee.

Points have a value of $0.01 or less when redeemed for non-travel purchases, such as gift cards, checks, and merchandise. They are worth up to $0.0125 when used for travel expenses. Customers can also enjoy VIP deals such as passes to the PGA Championship.

9. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Earn double miles on every purchase

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card offers many of the same perks as the Sapphire Preferred Card, namely the flexibility to use any airline or hotel without any blackout dates. Customers can earn two miles for every dollar, with no expiration date or earn limit. Spend $3,000 within the first three months, and customers will gain a bonus of 50,000 miles, worth $500 when spending on travel needs. The account waives the $95 service fee for the first year, and there is no introductory APR offer. There are no foreign transaction or balance transfer fees.

Points have a cash equivalent of $0.01 when redeemed for one of the many eligible travel-related expenses, including flights, cruises, vacation packages, and incidental expenses. This card also allows customers to redeem points at a lesser value for non-travel related purchases, such as checks.

10. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Earn double points for every dollar spent at Starwood and Marriott hotels.

Frequent Starwood guests will enjoy this card, which offers two Starpoints per $1 spent at Marriot and Starwood properties, including the Sheraton, Westin and W. The account also provides a 20% Airline Points Transfer Bonus. For purchases made outside of the double point offer, customers earn unlimited points at a one-to-one ratio. Although there is a $95 fee from the second year on and it does not have an APR offer, customers can enjoy free WiFi at thousands of hotels around the globe and can complete foreign transactions for free. Starwood offers an introductory offer of 25,000 points to customers who spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Points are worth various values, up to $0.025, and are redeemable towards stays at Starwood hotels. Starpoints can also be redeemed for flights when transferred to one of the 30 participating frequent flyer programs that include 150 airlines. Transfers of 20,000 points or more earn cardholders a 5,000 point bonus. Accounts must have at least 2,000 points before customers can redeem any rewards.

11. Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Earn double miles on Delta purchases

This card, ideal for anyone who frequently flies with Delta, offers two SkyMiles for every dollar spent on Delta flights and any in-flight purchases. Customers earn one mile per dollar for all other purchases. New cardholders get a bonus $225 worth of points, 30,000 SkyMiles, by spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Purchasing a Delta flight within the same term will earn them a $50 statement credit. Perks include priority boarding, one free checked bag, and a 20% discount, through statement credit, on all in-flight food, drinks, and entertainment for all Delta flights. Customers will also have the $95 annual fee waived for the first year and will not incur a foreign transaction fee.

Points are usually worth $0.0075 but vary depending on the purchase. Customers can begin redeeming points when they reach at least 10,000 SkyMiles.

12. United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Double points on United Airlines airfare

The Explorer Card is perfect for any loyal United customer. Cardholders earn two miles for every dollar spent on United flights and one mile per dollar for all other purchases. New customers who spend $1,000 in 90 days will receive an extra 30,000 miles, valued at $600. There is a $95 maintenance fee starting after the first year, and foreign transactions are free.

Redemption minimums begin at 10,000 miles and points can be worth as much as $0.02 each. Customers who purchase flights through the card will enjoy one free checked bag and priority boarding.

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