We’ve partnered with UpgradedPoints.com to help make recommendations on our favorite travel rewards credit cards.
If you love to travel, getting a great travel rewards card can take your traveling to the next level by earning you points towards free flights or hotel stays, offering perks that help you travel in style, and providing protections to help keep you covered should anything go wrong.
All of that sounds great, right? But if you’re new to the world of travel rewards credit cards, you’re probably wondering, “How do I determine which card is right for me?”
We’ve assembled a detailed look at some of the very best travel rewards credit cards available so that you can determine which card is the best fit for you based on the perks you’re looking for, your spending habits, and your overall travel goals.
|Travel Rewards Card||Best For||Main Benefits|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||First-time cardholders||Earn 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases.
Bonus valuation*: $1,200
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Frequent travelers and travel insurance||$300 annual travel credit. Earn 5x points on air travel and 10x points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, then 3x points on other travel and dining
Bonus valuation*: $1,000
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Luxury travelers & lounge access||Up to $200 in airline fee credits (enrollment required), up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. Earn 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and for flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year). Terms Apply.
Bonus valuation*: $2,200
|American Express® Gold Card||Everyday spenders||Earn 4x points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; 1x thereafter). Terms Apply.
Bonus valuation*: $1,320
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Frequent travelers||Earn 3x points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Points are worth 25% more when used in the Chase Ultimate Reward Travel Portal.
Bonus valuation*: $2,000
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Luxury travelers||Earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, complimentary access to lounges worldwide, $200 airline fee credit (enrollment required). Terms Apply
Bonus valuation*: $2,640
|American Express® Business Gold Card||Big spenders||Earn 4x points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month (up to $150,000 in combined purchases), “Pay Over Time” option. Terms Apply.
Bonus valuation*: $1,540
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||No annual fee||Earn 2x points on all eligible purchases (up to $50,000 in purchases per year; 1x thereafter), no annual fee (see rates and fees). Terms Apply.
Bonus valuation*: $330
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||No annual fee big spenders||Earn 1.5% cash-back on all purchases, no annual fee|
Best Card for First-Time Cardholders
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Bonus Value*: $1,200
If you’re just getting started in the world of travel rewards, it is likely that you would like a card that is straightforward, offers plenty of flexibility, and isn’t very expensive to hold. All of these reasons and more are what make the Chase Sapphire Preferred card the perfect option for first-time cardholders.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus your points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Cardholders also enjoy benefits like a DoorDash DashPass membership, access to Chase transfer partners, travel and rental car insurance, zero foreign transaction fees, and flexible point redemption options. When you add up all the benefits you receive, all for a low annual fee of $95, it is easy to see why this card is often the first travel rewards card that people choose.
Best Card for Frequent Travelers and Travel Insurance
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Bonus Value*: $1,000
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is widely regarded as one of the most well-rounded and versatile premium travel credit cards on the market and is effectively a significantly better version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
After cardholders redeem their $300 annual travel credit, they will earn 5x total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on other travel and dining, 10x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on Lyft purchases, and your points are worth 50% more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
You’ll also receive plenty of excellent benefits like a $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, a Lyft Pink and DoorDash DashPass membership, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, and access to the Chase travel transfer partners.
One area where the Chase Sapphire Reserve card really shines is its excellent travel insurance that covers a variety of different issues to help keep you covered no matter what happens during your travels. Here are some of the travel protection you receive from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card:
- Trip Delay Reimbursement: coverage of up to $500 in eligible expenses per ticket if your flight is delayed more than 6 hours
- Rental Car Coverage: primary coverage for damages caused by theft or collision up to $75,000
- Baggage Delay: if your baggage is delayed by more than 6 hours, you’ll receive up to $100 per day for up to 5 days
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: if your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses
- Emergency Evacuation and Transportation: if you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick during a trip that results in an emergency evacuation, you can be covered for medical services and transportation up to $100,000
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is not cheap with an annual fee of $550, we feel that you can easily get more value than that out of it when you factor in its point-earning, benefits, and top-notch travel protections, making it an easy pick for the best card for frequent travelers.
Best Card for Luxury Travelers and Lounge Access
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first 6 months. Terms Apply. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Bonus Value*: $2,200
If there is one word that comes to mind when you think of the Amex Platinum card, it’s luxury. This card is all about upgrading your travel experience and comes packed with many stellar benefits that do just that.
While the Amex Platinum card has a main category, it is a great one, as you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on purchases per calendar year; 1x thereafter), and earn 5x Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. So if you’re someone who travels often, this is an easy way to rack up points quickly.
But by far the best thing about the Amex Platinum card is all of the benefits that come loaded with it. Here are some of our favorites:
- Up to $200 annual airline fee credit upon enrollment in benefit
- Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit
- Up to $200 annual hotel credit
- Up to $275 annual digital entertainment credit
- Up to $300 annual Equinox credit
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status upon enrollment in benefit
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
- CLEAR® membership credit
- Access to Amex International Airline Program and American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts Program
- Access to American Express transfer partners
- Terms Apply
As if all of those benefits weren’t enough, the Amex Platinum card is the best card on the market when it comes to airport lounge access. While there are a handful of cards that offer Priority Pass lounge access, the Amex Platinum takes this a step further by giving cardholders access to 6 lounge networks. These lounge networks include Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium lounges, Airspace lounges, Escape lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), and its own swanky lounge network — American Express Centurion lounges.
If you’ve never visited one, airport lounges are the perfect way to level up your travel experience. Instead of waiting for your flight at the gate, or paying exorbitant food rates at the airport food court, you can relax in a secluded lounge, away from the hustle and bustle, enjoy free food and drinks, charge up your devices, and some lounges even offer spa services or shower facilities.
The $695 annual fee of the Amex Platinum card might be a little difficult to stomach at first, but if you’re someone who travels frequently, and likes to do so in style, it is easy to see how you can easily get more value out of all of the benefits of the card than what you pay for the annual fee (see rates and fees). In that case, it makes the Amex Platinum card a must-have for luxury travelers and those who want best-in-class lounge access. Terms apply and enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers.
Best Card for Everyday Spenders
American Express® Gold Card
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
Bonus Value*: $1,320
Those who are looking for a card that will really help them rack up the points quickly need look no further than the Amex Gold card. This point-earning powerhouse earns 4x Membership Rewards points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; 1x thereafter), and at restaurants worldwide, plus 3x points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel. Terms Apply.
While the Amex Gold card doesn’t offer anywhere near the level of benefits that the Amex Platinum card offers, it still has some excellent perks that make it a worthwhile addition for travelers, such as up to $120 annual dining credit, access to the American Express Hotel Collection, and access to American Express transfer partners.
So if you’re a frequent traveler who spends a lot of money at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets, and you want a card that is great at earning points but is significantly less expensive than some of its premium counterparts, then the Amex Gold card might be the perfect fit.
Best Business Card for Frequent Travelers
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Bonus Value*: $2,000
If you’re a frequent business traveler, you likely want a card that is rewarding for the items you spend the most on and comes packed with benefits that are helpful for your business and your travels — the Ink Business Preferred card is that card.
With your Ink Business Preferred card you’ll earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent (up to $150,000 per year) in the following bonus categories:
- Advertising on social media and search engines
- Internet, cable, and phone
Small business owners who have expenses that would meet the $150,000 threshold will be able to earn a staggering 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points each year, and since your points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the travel portal, this represents $5,625 in travel savings.
The Ink Business Preferred card offers much more than just the opportunity to earn points. It includes perks like cell phone theft and damage protection, purchase protection, primary rental car insurance, trip delay and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, and access to the Chase transfer partners.
When you factor in the earning potential of the Ink Business Preferred card along with the numerous perks and protections it offers, it is almost a no-brainer for any business owner who loves to travel or travels frequently.
Best Business Card for Luxury Travelers
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 within your first 3 months of card membership. Terms Apply.
Bonus Value*: $2,640
Business owners who travel often and prefer an elevated experience need a card that helps them do just that — enter the Amex Business Platinum card.
The card earns 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amex Travel, 1.5x points on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else (up to $2 million in purchases per calendar year), and 1x on all other purchases, making it easy to build up points quickly for frequent travelers and big spenders. You’ll also receive a 35% rebate when using miles to book flights on Amex Travel. Terms Apply.
Similar to the personal version of the card, the Amex Business Platinum card is absolutely loaded with benefits that give tons of value to cardholders. Here are some of the best perks:
- Up to $200 annual airline fee credit upon benefit enrollment
- Up to $400 annual Dell statement credit
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status upon enrollment
- Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
- Purchase protection and return protection
- Access to 6 different airport lounge networks (including Priority Pass and Amex Centurion lounges)
- Rental car elite status with Avis, Hertz, and National
- Access to Amex International Airline Program and American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts Program
- Access to American Express transfer partners
- Terms Apply
Business owners that make large purchases, travel frequently, and can take advantage of the card’s purchase protections, annual credits, and luxury travel perks will easily be able to get more value each year than what they’re being charged for the annual fee. This makes the Amex Business Platinum card the perfect option for the luxury business traveler.
Best Business Card for Big Spenders
American Express® Business Gold Card
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Amex Business Gold card within the first 3 months of card membership. Terms Apply.
Bonus Value*: $1,540
Business owners who have a large level of annual expenses can really rack up points with the Amex Business Gold card thanks to its 6 bonus categories.
With the Amex Business Gold card, cardholders earn 4x Membership Rewards points per $1 where your business spends the most each month from 2 of the following categories:
- Airfare purchased from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- Terms Apply.
The limit for earning 4x points per $1 is capped at $150,000 per calendar year, but those whose business expenses would meet that threshold will earn 600,000 Membership Rewards points each year — worth at minimum $7,500 in airfare. After you’ve hit the cap earning, you’d earn 1x.
Ames Business Gold cardholders will receive more than just the ability to earn points, though. You also receive access to the American Express transfer partners, Amex Offers, purchase protections, travel protections, and a 25% airline point bonus when paying with points. Terms Apply.
All in all, if you’re a business owner who would value the benefits of the Amex Business Gold card and you have a large amount of business spend that falls within 1 or more of the card’s 6 bonus categories, then the Amex Business Gold card just might be a must-add to your wallet.
Best No Annual Fee Business Card
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Current Welcome Offer: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Bonus Value*: $330
The Amex Blue Business Plus card is a fantastic option for small business owners who are looking for a no-annual-fee credit card with flexible rewards and an uncomplicated earning structure.
With the Amex Blue Business Plus card, cardholders earn 2x Membership Rewards points per $1 on everyday business purchases, up to $50,000 in spending each year. After that, your rewards rate drops to 1x point per $1.
So a small business whose annual expenses are around the $50,000 threshold on the Amex Blue Business Plus card can earn upwards of 100,000 Membership Rewards points each year — worth $2,200 by our valuations.
Plus, the Amex Blue Business Plus card offers all of the same redemption options as other Amex Membership Rewards earning cards, including the ability to transfer your points to airline and hotel transfer partners. But that’s not all — cardholders also receive purchase protection, extended warranty protection, and can add employee cards at no additional cost. Terms Apply.
So all-in-all, those looking for a 1 size fits all card option that they can use to help maximize all of their business expenses will love the simplicity and flexibility of the Amex Blue Business Plus card.
Best No Annual Fee Business Card for Big Spenders
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Current Welcome Offer: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
Bonus Value*: $750
Another great business credit card that priorities simplicity and flexibility is the Ink Business Unlimited card, which earns an uncapped 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on the card. Why is it a great fit for businesses with high spending? Since the 1.5x rewards are uncapped, there is no limit to the number of Ultimate Rewards points you can earn each year.
The no annual fee Ink Business Unlimited card also offers great benefits like rental car insurance, extended warranty protection, purchase protection, and free employee cards. Plus, you have all the flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program when it comes to redeeming your points for cash-back, through the Chase travel portal, and even access to Chase transfer partners when paired with a premium Chase card like the Ink Business Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
If you’re a busy business owner, you probably have better ways to spend your time than to worry about which credit card to use for which purchase. The Ink Business Unlimited card fixes that by providing you with an option that helps maximize every purchase you make for your business.
When it comes to picking a travel rewards card, you’ve got no shortage of good options. Fortunately, just as each traveler has their preferred style of travel, so do travel rewards cards.
If you’re brand new to the world of points and miles then maybe the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the perfect fit. If it is premium benefits that you’re after then perhaps the Amex Platinum card would suit you best. Or if you prefer a premium card that is well-rounded and offers great insurance protection, consider opting for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Whichever you decide, you’re sure to take your travel to the next level by earning valuable points and miles to reduce the cost of future travel or allow you to travel in luxury for pennies on the dollar. After all, the best travel is free travel!
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.[/mn-up-bottom]