The 10 Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019

travel credit cards

Let’s face it- there are almost as many travel cards in the world as there are fish in the sea. Which one of those is best will really depend on your own specific preferences and needs. What’s best for frequent flyers may be less appropriate for people who prefer to vacation at home, and vice versa. Some cards offer superior airport lounge access, others have better hotel discounts. Some have great purchase and warranty protection plans, while others offer equally superb roadside assistance and car rental discounts. Some come with low annual fees but a correspondingly low number of benefits, while others offer extensive benefits but a staggeringly high annual fee. Deciding which is the best option for your own set of needs will require extensive research, endless comparison checks, and some detailed reading of the fine print. Alternatively, you could save yourself the bother by simply reading our ultimate guide to the best 10 travel credit cards for 2019.

10. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Main Benefits

  • 50,000 points sign up bonus
  • 10x points on eligible hotels
  • 2x points on all other purchases
  • Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) application fee reimbursement
  • No foreign transaction fees

You’d expect the winner of CNBC’s Best Travel Card 2018 to be a solid proposition, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is certainly that. Chief among its benefits is the $0 intro annual fee for the first year, and comparably low $95 per year thereafter. Other than that, frequent flyers will appreciate the chance to transfer miles over to 12 plus leading travel loyalty programs. All in all, an above average offering for anyone looking for a flexible travel card with a decent range of benefits.

9. Citi Prestige Card

Main Benefits

  • 50,000 points sign up bonus
  • 5 x points per dollar on air travel
  • 5 x points per dollar on restaurants
  • 3 x points per dollar on hotels
  • 3x points per dollar on cruise lines
  • $250 annual travel credit
  • Priority Select Lounge Membership
  • Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) Application Fee Reimbursement

One thing to note before we even touch on the benefits is the annual fee; at $495 per year, the City Prestige card certainly isn’t cheap. Leaving that shocker to one side, the Prestige is still a very decent travel card. Its points system is generous and covers certain expenses (like cruise lines) that others in the category don’t. its annual travel credit bonus also makes a tempting offer: unlike some providers who offer the credit but limit its use to flights and incidentals, Citi will let you use it against almost all travel related expenditures. Key to note is its 4th-night free hotel benefit: while Citi has recently introduced a twice a year cap on the perk, it still makes a great addition to what’s ultimately a very solid package of benefits.

8. American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Main Benefits

  • 80,000 SkyMiles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) sign up bonus
  • 2 x miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases
  • 1 x mile per dollar on all other purchases
  • Main cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta flights
  • First bag checked free
  • Annual companion certificate upon renewal of your Card
  • Earn a miles boost after spending $25000
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 20% in-flight savings

Fly Delta? Then get yourself one of these bad boys. Admittedly, the benefits are very heavy on all things Delta and slightly limited when it comes to other thrills and spills. If you don’t fly with the airline, you might want to move on quickly. If you do, you stand to make some serious savings with an Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card. All the accrued miles you earn can be put to good use on flights, seat upgrades, car rentals, merchandise, gift cards and more besides. The miles aren’t capped and don’t expire, so there’s no limit on how much you can either earn or spend. In addition to those lovely air miles, you’ll get the usual Amex benefits of roadside assistance, baggage insurance, and travel accident insurance.

7. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

Main Benefits

  • 60,000 miles sign up bonus
  • 2 x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases
  • 2 x miles per dollar at restaurants and gas stations
  • 1 x mile per dollar on all other purchases
  • Access to preferred boarding on American Airlines
  • Free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries
  • $125 flight discount after spending $20,000
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 25% saving on in-flight food and beverages

For frequent flyers, the range of flight benefits with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select is more than reason enough to apply. While the redemption value of its points system doesn’t compare to the likes of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for American Airline miles, it’s pretty unbeatable. Use your card for the bulk of your spending and you’ll soon start to reap the rewards in air miles- the add on bonus of the $125 flight discount, meanwhile, is a temptation in itself (although be mindful of the minimum spend requirement to qualify: a hefty $20000 per membership year). The final benefit? The $99 is waived for the first year, meaning you’ll get to enjoy all the perks of the card completely free for the first 12 months.

6. Citi Premier Card

Main Benefits

  • 60000 points sign up bonus
  • 3x points per dollar on travel including gas stations
    2x point per dollar on dining and entertainment
  • 1x point per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Special access to presale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more
  • Add an authorized user at no additional cost

For frequent fliers, the main perk on the Citi Premier Card is the ability to transfer points to leading airline loyalty programs such as TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer for no additional fee. If you don’t want to transfer the points over, you get the chance of boosting their value by 25% when you use them towards flights booked on thankyou.com. Use them in that way, and that 60000 sign up bonus will equate to $750 in airfare. With no blackout dates to worry about, we’d call that a bargain- especially when you consider the annual fee is a fairly minor $95. One last key benefit to mention is the pretty liberal interpterion Citi has of “travel”, something they take to include gas purchases. Even if you question the interpretation, you can’t question the fact it makes the cards one of the easiest to maximize earnings on.

5. Delta Reserve Credit Card

Main Benefits

  • 5000 Medallion qualification miles (MQMs) and 75000 bonus miles sign up bonus
  • Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on purchases, and an additional 15,000 MQMs and an additional 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $60,000
  • 2 x miles on Delta purchases
  • 1 x miles on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Sky Club access
  • Concierge service
  • Delta Reserve annual companion
  • First checked bag free
  • Baggage Insurance Plan
  • Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Car Rental and Damage Insurance
  • Extended Warranty
  • Complimentary ShopRunner Membership
  • Fraud protection

Granted, this card isn’t the best if you’re not a Delta Reserve Card enthusiast, but if you are, the comprehensive catalog of benefits makes the $450 annual fee more than worth the expense. The Delta Sky club access and chance to earn extra medallion qualification miles to take you to Delta Elite Status (and all the lovely extra benefits that entails) are particularly noteworthy, as is the chance to offer your flying companion some luxury in First Class or Comfort Plus with Delta Reserve’s annual companion certificate.

4. American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card

Main Benefits

  • 150,000 point sign up bonus
  • 14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points on eligible hotels
  • 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights and dining
  • 3x Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Diamond Status
  • Weekend night rewards
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • $250 airline fee credit
  • $100 Hilton On property credit
  • No foreign transaction fees

A fairly steep $450 annual fee is countered by the generosity of the benefits on this one. If you’re a frequent traveler and an equally frequent user of Hilton hotels, you’ll find the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card a combination of travel rewards and hotel specific benefits a killer combination. Outside of the travel perks, you’ll get access to some handy additional services such as fraud protection, a flexible repayment plan, Extended Warranty as standard, and (of particular value to retail therapy lovers) membership of Showrunner with free 2-day shipping on eligible items at a network of 100+ online stores.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Main Benefits

  • 60000 point sign up bonus
  • 2x points per dollar on travel and dining
  • 1x point per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • 25% more in travel redemption when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The generous sign-up bonus and option to boost your redemptive power by spending your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards are the real attractions here. Use your bonus towards any qualifying purchase on the Rewards program, and you’ll basically be looking at $750 towards your travel costs just for signing up. That’s the $95 annual fee taking care of for the next few years, right there. If you’re a member of a frequent traveler program, one of the main perks you’ll find with the Chase Preferred is the option to transfer your points to a leading frequent travel programs at 1 to 1 value- something few other cards are generous enough to equal.

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Main Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign up bonus
  • 3 x points per dollar on Travel Worldwide
  • 3 x points per dollar on Dining at Restaurants Worldwide.
  • 1 x point per dollar on eligible purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Free access to 1,000+ VIP lounges
  • 24/7 roadside assistance for rental or personal vehicles
  • $75,000 in collision or theft expenses on rental cars
  • Complimentary upgrades at the Avis, National, and Silvercar rental car agencies
  • Complimentary room upgrades with Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) Application Fee Reimbursement
  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Trip Delay Insurance

A close second goes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which misses out on the top spot by barely a whisper. Although its annual fee is pretty hefty (a stonking $450, in fact), its extensive reward scheme more than compensates. Its reward points redemption value is among the highest of all providers: $0.01 for travel rewards and $0.15 for non-travel rewards. As an added bonus, Chase offers you the chance to double the value of your points by redeeming them against airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Elsewhere, the $300 annual travel card is a great little addition to the list – unlike some providers who seem to make claiming and redeeming such credits as difficult as possible, Chase simply loads your card with $300 annually and lets you get on with spending it on any eligible purchase you like. All in all, a very worthy silver prize winner.

1. American Express Platinum Card

Main Benefits

  • 70,000 point sign up bonus
  • 5 x points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
    5 x points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com
  • 1 x point per dollar on eligible purchases
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit & $15 in Uber Cash for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December ($200 in total)
  • Free access to more than 1,200 airport lounges
  • Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) Application Fee Reimbursement
  • The Hotel Collection – 100 hotel credits, to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
  • Up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary discounts and upgrades with car rentals
  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

Number one on our list has to go to the Amex Platinum. It may have one of the highest annual fees ($550) of all those listed, but judicial use of its sweeping range of benefits will allow you to recoup those initial costs without breaking a sweat. Of all the cards, its membership rewards are the most generous, and its sign-up bonus is similarly lavish. Its VIP airport lounge access covers more airports than any other provider, while its $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue adds a nice little addition to an otherwise travel-heavy reward scheme. A handy Year-End Summary, an invaluable Premium Global Assist hotline and the option to transfer your reward points to participating frequent flyer programs all add to an already jampacked program.


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