Best Travel and Airline Miles Credit Cards – September 2017

I’ve already listed the best cash back rewards credit cards, but another popular area is travel rewards credit cards. These are often sponsored by airlines and hotel chains, but not always. While travel rewards won’t be as flexible as cash, the potential value can be much greater. I’ve been able to stay at historic hotels and fly all around the world with these kinds of cards, something I probably would never do otherwise.

Here are what I see as the top travel and airline miles credit cards available on the market today. For each card, I’ll try to provide real-life examples on how what you can use the miles or points to redeem for rewards.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit CardMarriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card – The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is another card that is great at racking up free nights at hotels. You can get:

  • Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Plus, earn 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get free stays faster
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at 4,000 Marriott locations, 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies and restaurants and 1 point everywhere else.
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards points towards free nights
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status.  Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better.  Plus, Earn 1 Elite Credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases.
  • All for an $85 Annual Fee

Marriott properties include Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn & Suites. You can also earn 5 points per dollar at 4,000 Marriott locations, 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point elsewhere.

Chase Sapphire Preferred ImageChase Sapphire Preferred® Card – The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers new cardholders 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. This is quite an excellent deal, as 50,000 points can be redeemed for $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards™. Earn 5,000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.

The card features 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants as well as travel expenses, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. No foreign transaction fees when using the card abroad. No annual fee the first year, $95 after that.

bofa_travelrewards191BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card – New cardholders of the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card can acquire 20,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases during the first 90 days.  Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent are earned on all purchases and there are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees to worry about. See terms for pricing details. Bank of America customers can get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when they have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account.  If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%.  Learn more about the Preferred Rewards Program.

Expedia Card from CitiExpedia®+ Card from Citi – Just launched, the Expedia®+ Card from Citi gets out of the gate with a 15,000 Expedia+ bonus points after $1,000 is spent in purchases during the first three months of account opening which is redeemable for $200 in coupons at +VIP Access™ hotels.  Every cardholder will automatically receive Expedia+ silver status each year their card stays active and one elite qualifying hotel night towards Expedia+ gold status for each increment of $2,500 in purchases in a calendar year.  Last but not least, there is no annual fee to own the Expedia®+ Card from Citi.

Capital One Venture Rewards ImageCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – Immediately out of the gate, Capital One offers 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in purchases for the first three months; which is good for $400 in travel rewards.  Double miles are earned on all purchases, everyday so no tiers or crazy structures to worry about.  Fly any airline, stay at any hotel and there are no blackout dates when you look to redeem your points.  The annual fee to own the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is $59, but it is waived for all first year cardholders.  There are also no foreign transaction fees associated with this card.

Discover it Miles ImageDiscover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card – The brand new travel rewards card from Discover, the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card offers 1.5 points on every dollar spent, all year round.  As a HUGE added bonus, Discover will double your points for the entire first year, effectively making your cash back rate 3%!  Also included with the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card is a $30 annual fee rebate on in-flight Wi-Fi fees, a monthly free FICO score (part of all Discover it products) and NO ANNUAL FEE.  You’re not going to find a card with a better rewards program on this list and no annual fee.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest CardStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express –The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is a very flexible travel rewards card, I’ve had one for years. Starpoints can be used towards hotel stays (Sheraton, Westin, W, and more), converted to various airline miles (20,000 points = 25,000 miles), or converted to things like gift cards. The best value is for hotel stays or converting to airline miles to reach an award that you want. I have stayed at the Westin Madrid in Spain for 10,000 points instead of paying over $300 a night.

New cardholders will get 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card ownership. 30,000 points is enough for a weekend getaway to a category 4 hotel, or 30,000 frequent flier miles. You earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent, No annual fee the first year, then $95 after that.

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