The last thing any of us were interested in last year was travel credit cards. But as the world starts to open back up after the pandemic, now’s the time to start looking at what that means for our wallets. A travel rewards credit card lets you earn points or miles that can be used against travel purchases. Choose the right card, and you could also benefit from a slew of other benefits, including zero foreign transaction fees, free checked bags, travel insurance, and even credits against Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications. To help you pick the best from the rest, here are the 20 best travel credit cards of 2021.
20. Chase Freedom Unlimited
As NerdWallet notes, what was once a great cash-back card now ranks as an excellent travel card thanks to the addition of a range of perks designed to appeal to frequent fliers. All travel bookings purchased through Chase earn a very welcome 5 percent cash back. There’s an additional 3% cashback available on purchases made at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on other purchases. A $200 bonus when you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 billing cycles is the icing on the cake.
19. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
With a manageable annual fee of $95, an attractive welcome bonus that gives new applicants three nights worth of points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months after account opening, 15 elite night credits per calendar year, and an annual free night award worth up to 35,000 points, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is a great option for anyone in the market for an award-heavy hotel card.
18. Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
Named by US News as one of the best travel credit cards for 2021, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is currently offering a limited time offer of 70,000 bonus miles if you spend $2000 on purchase in the first 3 months after account opening. You’ll also earn a $200 statement credit after making any purchase in the first three months. Additional benefits include getting your first checked bag free on Delta flights, a decent points scheme, $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 thereafter, and a very handy $100 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
17. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card offers plenty of perks for frequent fliers, including 65,000 points after spending $2,000 in your first three months after account opening and an additional 3,000 bonus points on each anniversary of account opening. Rack up 125,000 points over the course of a year, and you’ll get to bring a companion with you on a Southwest flight of your choice, free of charge.
16. American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
As CreditCards.com notes, American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card might not be perfect, but it offers a very comprehensive package of benefits to cardholders, including a very attractive points scheme that can be used against purchases with 25 travel partners. There’s no annual fee to worry about and as an added advantage, you’ll earn a 10,000-mile welcome bonus if you spend just $500 in the first three months after account opening.
15. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card
As thepointsguy.com says, there’s a lot to love about Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card, including a very valuable loyalty program that includes free checked bags for you and up to six companions, an Alaska’s Famous Companion Pass each year at the discounted rate of just $121, 50% off Alaska lounge day passes, along with numerous other benefits. If you fly with Alaska Airlines on a regular basis, it’s well worth considering.
14. Chase Freedom Flex
If a card that offers no annual fee, 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases, bonus rewards for travel, restaurants, and other purchases, 5% cashback on grocery store purchases, and a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 billing cycles sounds like your kind of thing, you might want to consider the Chase Freedom Flex. To round out its list of attractions, cashback rewards don’t expire within a certain period in the way they do on many other cards – providing the account is still open, the rewards will remain active.
13. United Explorer Card
The United Explorer Card comes with some great perks, including 25% back on United inflight purchases, your first checked bag free of charge when you use the card to purchase a fight, a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee credit, priority boarding privileges, 2 free one time passes to the United Club, and a very decent welcome scheme that’ll get you 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and another 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months. The icing on the cake is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year.
12. World of Hyatt Credit Card
If you’re looking for a card that gets you great hotel privileges, the World of Hyatt Credit Card makes a great option. For a reasonable annual fee of $95, you’ll receive a bunch of rewards, including free night stay certificates, credits towards elite status, and a stack of bonus points.
11. Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
Recommended as one of the best travel cards around by Money.com, the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard is somewhat unique among airline credit cards, offering cardholders the chance to earn a mile towards elite status on every dollar spent. Once you reach elite status, you’ll benefit from free carry-on bag privileges, priority boarding, and advanced seat assigned. You’ll also be eligible for a $100 flight voucher on every account anniversary, providing you spend at least $2500 on purchases during the year. The reasonable annual fee of $79 is waived during the first year.
10. TD First Class Visa Signature Credit Card
If you want a great introductory APR, some impressive rewards, and a very attractive welcome bonus, you’d do well to consider the TD First Class Visa Signature Credit Card. The rewards program is generous, offering 3X miles on every $1 spent on travel and dining and 1X mile for all other purchases. The welcome incentive is just as attractive, with 25,000 miles available when you spend $3,000 within the first 6 months of account opening. A 0% APR for the first 12 months, no foreign transactions fees, and no annual fee for the first year seal the deal.
9. Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card
If you’re not committed to one hotel brand but want to enjoy plenty of hotel perks, the Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card is worth considering. With free rewards nights at a vast selection of hotel properties and brands, no annual fee, and the additional benefit of Silver membership for the first year (a status that comes with airport transfers and free breakfast), it’s a great option for bargain hunters with an eye for the finer things.
8. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
As CNN notes, if you’re a Hilton habitué who wants to enjoy a ton of extra perks without paying hundreds of dollars in annual fees, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is an excellent option. For a very reasonable $95 per year, you’ll receive complimentary Hilton Gold elite status. As an added incentive, you’ll receive 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points if you make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening, and a further 50,000 points if you spend $10,000 in the first six months.
7. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase offers several very attractive travel rewards cards, some of them relatively basic, and some of them, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, anything but. The Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee, but unlike some providers that charge for not very much at all, Chase has put together a package that more than justifies the price. As well as a flexible points scheme that lets you transfer your points to a range of airline and hotel partners, the card comes with trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance, unlimited free deliveries and reduced service fees on orders over $12 with DashPass, statement credits, a $60 discount on Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership, and a very attractive welcome bonus.
6. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Voted one of the best travel cards of 2021 by CNN, Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a host of benefits for customers who can swallow the $550 annual fee. Cardholders can expect a highly flexible rewards program that can be used against travel reservations with brands that include Southwest, United, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG; travel insurance and purchase protection policies including primary rental car insurance; a $300 annual travel statement credit; Free Priority Pass Select Membership, and a $100 reimbursement against Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership.
5. Citi Premier Card
Named as one of MSN’s top travel card picks for 2021, the Citi Premier Card is a great all-rounder, boasting a decent welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus points if you spend $4000 in the first three months of account opening, a reasonable annual fee of $95, and a nice little bonus scheme that racks up three points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on air and travel, and one point per dollar on everything else. The points can be transferred to more than a dozen airline partners.
4. Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students
If you’re a student with plans for overseas travel or study, the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students offers some great perks, including a rewards scheme that lets you redeem points (earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases) as a statement credit to be used against travel purchases; zero foreign transaction fees; and 0% APR for the first 12 months, then 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR depending on your credit rating. Just be aware you’ll need to be 18 years or over and have proof of school enrollment to qualify.
3. Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card
If the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students sounds attractive in terms of the offer but not the eligibility requirement, you might want to consider the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card. Like the student card, this offers 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases which can then be redeemed against qualifying travel purchases. Unlike certain other cards, points don’t expire and can be redeemed at any time. As an additional incentive, new cardholders qualify for 25,000 bonus points (which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit) if they spend $1,000 in purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.
2. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you’re looking to earn some big rewards on your next hotel stay, you’d do well to consider the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. All hotel purchases and rental car bookings made through Capital One Travel earn 5X miles, with all other spending qualifying for 2X miles. Additional benefits include a $100 credit towards a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, no foreign transaction fees, travel accident insurance, 24-hour travel assistance services and an auto rental collision damage waiver. The card isn’t free, but considering the annual fee is a very reasonable $95, it’s still an excellent option.
1. Discover it Miles
The best travel card for 2021? Discover it Miles. Cardholders can expect no foreign transaction fees, a variable APR of 11.99% – 22.99% (plus a 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 14 months and a 10.99 percent intro APR on balance transfers for the same period), a generous rewards program that offers 1.5X miles for every dollar spent on all purchases that can be redeemed as a statement credit for travel, restaurants or gas station purchases, or even deposited into a bank account, and an incredible welcome bonus that will match every mile you accrue over the first year from account opening. Best of all, there’s no annual fee to worry about.