All you jetsetters out there know that traveling these days is anything but cheap. From airfare to hotel costs to baggage fees, it seems like travelers just can’t catch a break. I wouldn’t be surprised if airlines started charging per inch of leg room (though, we wouldn’t want to give them any ideas). If you’re a regular traveler and want to get the most out of your vacation or business trips, here are the top travel credit cards to consider.
Capital One Venture card
Listed as Money Magazine’s “Best Rewards Card if you aim to rack up airline miles,” this card offers some of the best rewards in the areas that matter the most. The Capital One Venture card offers 10,000 bonus sign up miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months, and 2 miles for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Your miles can be used toward any travel expenses, including flights, hotels, cruises, and rental cars. There’s no limit on how many miles you can earn and they’ll never expire. The Venture card boasts even more flexibility by allowing you to redeem rewards flights on any airline, anytime, no blackout dates. And with ZERO foreign transaction fee (as opposed to the industry standard 3%) and no annual fee for the first year (you save $59), the savings just keep on coming.
Continental Airlines OnePass Plus Card (Best Airline Rewards Miles)
If you’re looking for an extra flyer-friendly card, take a look at the Continental OnePass card from Chase. For new signups, it offers a 25,000-mile sign up bonus and an additional 5,000 if you add an authorized user to the account, a total that’s already enough for a round trip reward ticket, plus a $50 statement credit after your first purchase, and no annual fee for the first year ($85 value). In terms of ongoing rewards, you get 2 award miles for each dollar spent on tickets at Continental Airlines, and 1 award mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases. It’s also one of the few cards that lets you avoid baggage fees on your first checked bag, and that offers two annual complimentary passes to the Continental Presidents Club lounge, both features geared towards the airborne crowd.
Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express (Best Hotel Rewards)
Though not the best card for bargain travelers, the Starwood Preferred Guest card is great for those who frequent luxury hotels like Sheraton or the Westin. At 1 point for every $1 spent, their rewards may not sound glamorous, but when redeemed for hotel stays, that can translate to redemptions of 2-3%. Plus, you earn 4 to 5 Starpoints for every $1 spent at Starwood Preferred Guest Hotels and Resorts, and get your third night free at participating Sheraton locations worldwide. The card isn’t just good for hotels though; you can also transfer your Starpoints to over 350 airline mileage programs. The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card offers a 10,000 Starpoint bonus after the purchase you make and no yearly fee the first year ($65 in savings). The savings are excellent, but you’ll need excellent credit to match if you want to qualify for this card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (Most Unusually Lucrative Rewards Program)
And by “unusual,” we mean in the good way. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card pays 1 point per $1 spent, or 2 points for hotels and airfare booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Rewards are paid out in Ultimate Rewards Points, which can be redeemed for cash, gift certificates, or travel at a 100-point-per-$1 value, or transferred 1:1 to a few frequent flyer and hotel programs. So far, pretty standard. Here’s where it gets unusual. Booking your travel through Ultimate Rewards makes your points worth 25% more, meaning your 50,000 sign up points (normally worth $500) can be used toward $625 worth of travel, including airfare and cruises. On top of that, Chase pays a 7% dividend on any rewards points you earn in a year, a feature that no other cards offer. So your rewards can earn rewards even if you’ve already spent them. On top of all that, toss in no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee for the first year (you save $95), plus 50,000 points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Unusual in a very, very good way.