When you’re planning a trip, you need to consider a lot of things. Do you have enough vacation time saved up? Is your passport up to date? What about replacing your luggage?
But many people fail to consider one of the most important parts of vacation planning: applying for a new credit card.
The right travel credit card can make or break your trip. Some cards have extra perks that can save you hundreds on insurance coverage, and others have hefty sign-up bonuses that can pay for the whole flight.
Picking the right card can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never had a travel card before. Check out our picks below for the best credit cards for taking a vacation.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card is one of the best options for individuals and families going on vacation, especially internationally.
The card currently has a 60,000-point bonus offer, which equals $750 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Customers have to spend $4,000 or more in the first 90 days to qualify for this offer. The bonus is enough to pay for two round-trip tickets, depending on the time and location. This offer only applies to those who haven’t had a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card within the past two years, so if you’re unsure, call customer service to check.
Customers earn 2X points on all travel-related and dining purchases including airfare, lodging and restaurants. They earn 1X points on all other purchases.
Transfer your points to Chase’s travel partners, which include Marriott, British Airways, United Airlines, and more. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem through Chase directly.
There is a $95 annual fee and a 18.24% to 25.24% variable APR. There are no foreign transaction fees. Since the average foreign transaction fee is 3%, a couple who spends $4,000 on a vacation would save $120 in fees.
The card provides other travel benefits to make your vacation easy and stress-free. This includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance, which reimburses you for any pre-paid expenses if you get sick, have severe weather, or have to cancel the trip for another reason. This is worth up to $10,000 a person or $20,000 per trip.
Chase also provides baggage delay insurance for bags delayed more than six hours. The card provider will pay up to $100 a day for five days. The card also includes trip delay reimbursement, so if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours or you have to spend the night somewhere else, you’ll be compensated up to $500 per ticket.
Having travel insurance with the card means you don’t have to purchase it separately from your airline. Chase also has travel and emergency assistance services if you need medical or legal help while you’re abroad.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit card
Frequent travelers will benefit the most from this card, which is an upgrade from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This card currently has a 50,000-point offer when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
This may seem less valuable than the Sapphire Preferred bonus, but points from the Sapphire Reserve are worth more. The 50,000 points you earn through the Sapphire Reserve are equal to $750 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. This may be equal to two round-trip international flights.
The card has also includes a $300 annual statement credit for travel-related expenses, such as hotel or airfare. If you buy a $300 plane ticket, Chase will reimburse you on your next statement.
Users earn 3X points on travel and dining and 1X points on all other purchases.
The card has a $450 annual fee, one of the highest for a rewards card. There’s also a $75 annual fee for each authorized user. There are no foreign transaction fees and the APR is a variable rate between 19.24 and 26.24%.
Chase also reimburses a TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry application fee, worth up to $100. This is valid once every four years.
Customers also receive a Priority Pass card, which provides access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world. They can each bring two guests. If you add an authorized user to the card, they’ll receive their own Priority Pass card.
Capital One Venture Rewards
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards comes with a 50,000-point bonus offer after you spend $3,000 in three months. This is worth $700 in travel rewards.
Cardholders earn 2X points on all purchases and 10X points on hotels. The latter offer is only available through January 2020. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and rewards never expire while the card is active.
Points can be redeemed for past travel purchases as statement credit or can be used through the Capital One Rewards Center. Points may also be transferred to 15 programs including Air France, JetBlue, Qantas, and Aeromexico.
Capital One reimburses a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee once every four years, up to $100. There is a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Customers get slew of travel benefits, including 24-hour travel assistance. You’ll receive a cash advance and your card will be replaced within 24 hours if it’s lost or stolen. The card also comes with travel accident insurance.
Capital One VentureOne® Rewards
Cardholders can earn 20,000 bonus points when they spend $1,000 or more in the first three months. Users can also earn 1.25X points on all purchases and 10X points on certain hotels through January 2020.
Points can be transferred to 10 travel partners including Air France, KLM, and Flying Blue. They can also be redeemed as statement credit for travel purchases.
Cardholders also receive extra perks such as 24/7 travel assistance services, which includes card replacement and a cash advance if the card is lost or stolen. This means you won’t be stranded without a method of payment in case something happens.
Other benefits include travel accident insurance, which applies if you bought airfare with the Capital One card, and auto rental collision damage waiver.
The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards card has a 0% APR offer for 12 months and 14.24% to 24.24% variable APR after that.
There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Rewards are valid as long as the account remains open. They will expire if you close the account.
This card, like others on this list, has a 50,000-point bonus when you spend $4,000 or more in the first 90 days. These points are worth $625 in airfare if redeemed through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
Users earn 3X points on travel and gas stations, 2X points on dining and entertainment, and 1X points on all other purchases. Citi ThankYou points never expire and can also be used for retail gift cards.
You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to one of their travel partners which include Jet Blue, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines. Transferring points is free, and the minimum transfer amount is 1,000 points.
Cardholders also get free access to Citi Private Pass, which provides pre-sale tickets to concerts, sporting events, and more. There’s no discount when buying through Private Pass, but you may get tickets before the general public. If you’re traveling somewhere and want to make your trip extra special, check out Private Pass for special events.
The annual fee is $95, but is waived the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a solid choice if you’re not a frequent traveler and don’t want a card with hefty fees.
The card has a 25,000-point bonus offer when you spend $1,000 in 90 days. This is worth $250 and is one of the easiest bonus offers to earn for a travel card. Redeem this bonus as a statement credit for travel purchases — including airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars, and baggage fees.
Users earn 1.5X points for every dollar spent, and there’s no limit on how many points you can earn. Bank of America customers who enroll in the free Preferred Rewards program may earn up to 75% more points on their purchases, depending on the category.
To be eligible for this program, you must have an average of $20,000 or more in your Bank of America banking and/or Merrill investment accounts. If you meet this requirement, make sure your accounts are connected when you sign up for the Preferred Rewards program.
Discover it Miles
The Discover it Miles card is a good substitute if you already have the cards listed above, or only take a vacation every once in a while. It combines some of the best aspects of a regular rewards credit card along with travel perks.
Users earn 1.5X points for all transactions. There is no special bonus offer for travel-related purchases. Redeem points for travel or as credit on your statement.
Discover matches all points after your first year. If you earned 20,000 points, you’ll receive another 20,000 in your account. This bonus offer is only available for the first year.
Points never expire, even if you close the account. There are no foreign transaction fees. The card is the one of the few on this list with no annual fee. Discover also waives the late fee on your first late payment and doesn’t charge a penalty APR when you pay late.
Discover also provides free access to your credit score and notifies you if your information is found on the Dark Web. This is useful if you’re traveling and your card gets compromised while you’re abroad.
American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card is a rewards card perfect for couples or families who love to dine out while they’re vacationing.
Cardholders can earn 35,000 points after spending $2,000 more in the first 90 days. Members earn 4X points on restaurants and supermarkets and 3X points on airfare booked directly with the airlines or through amextravel.com.
Points may be redeemed as statement credit for travel-related purchases, but there are limitations such as car rentals and non-prepaid hotels. Points may also be transferred to participating travel partners, but a small fee of $0.0006 per point will apply.
American Express also provides a $100 statement credit for airline fees such as checked bags or in-flight meals. Fees must be from the same airline. Other travel perks include an $100 statement credit for various dining, spa, and resort activities if you stay at a hotel from The Hotel Collection.
Cardholders receive access to the Global Assist Hotline, which can help with medical, legal, and other emergency problems. Third parties supply these services, and may charge additional fees.
As a member, you get baggage insurance coverage for bags that are lost, stolen or damaged during a flight. This is worth up to $1,250 per carry-on bag and $500 per checked bag. The card also includes free roadside assistance up to four times a year.
Users will earn receive a $10 monthly statement credit for take-out companies like Grubhub and Seamless and restaurants including Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Shake Shack.
The annual fee is $250 and there are no foreign transaction fees. The card has a 20.49% APR.