Best Travel Credit Cards to Apply for in May 2021


© Courtesy of American Express
Best Travel Credit Cards to Apply for in February 2021


Courtesy of American Express It’s a great time to pick up a new credit card.

Loading...

Load Error

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. 

Part of any good travel rewards strategy is applying for the right credit card at the right time. Doing so can help you rack up the points or miles you need for your next trip, as well as ensure that you enjoy some valuable day-of-travel perks, such as free checked bags, airport lounge access, or airline elite status. However, bonuses rise and fall, benefits come and go, and new cards are introduced all the time, so it can be tricky to ascertain which deals are worthwhile. Let us do the hard work for you with our roundup of the best travel rewards credit cards to apply for right now and why you might want to consider each.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Best card for: Versatile travel rewards
  • Annual fee: $95

One of the most popular travel rewards credit cards is posting its best-ever welcome bonus for only the second time in its decade-plus history.

Current welcome offer 

Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months plus up to $50 in statement credits toward grocery store purchases within your first year. That’s 20,000 more points than usual.

Reasons to apply now

Not only is the Chase Sapphire Preferred offering 20,000 more points than normal, but it also comes with a $50 grocery statement credit at the moment, which offsets more than half the $95 annual fee. There’s no telling when this offer might end, so you don’t want to wait too long to apply.

The card earns two miles per dollar on dining and travel, and one per dollar on everything else. Chase points can be transferred to over a dozen airline and hotel partners including JetBlue, Southwest, United, Hyatt and Marriott, which makes them extra useful for travel. Or you can just redeem them for travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents each. 

>> Read More: The Best Ways to Use 80,000 Chase Points for Travel

2. The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Best card for: Premium perks
  • Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Another all-round excellent travel rewards card is posting its own all-time best introductory bonus for a limited time.

Current welcome offer

Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 10 points per dollar on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets in the first six months of card membership.

Reasons to apply now

You might be hesitant to take on that annual fee, but this card comes with a lot of statement credits including up to $200 per calendar year toward incidental fees like for checked bags on a U.S. airline that you designate (enrollment required), plus $15 in Uber cash for rides or Uber Eats orders in the United States every month, plus $20 extra in December (enrollment required). Even if you’re not traveling much these days, that welcome bonus is still worth considering since, if you max it out, you’re looking at a whopping 225,000 Amex Membership Rewards points, which transfer to 19 airlines and three hotel partners including Delta and Hilton.

>> Read More: 8 Reasons You Should Apply For An Amex Platinum Card Right Now

3. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • Best card for: Easy earning and redeeming
  • Annual fee: $95

This card has relaunched its highest-ever 100,00-mile sign-up bonus, so apply now if you missed out last time, because it won’t be around forever.

Current welcome offer 

Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Reasons to apply now

The Capital One Venture normally offers just 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Right now, though, you can earn twice that number–100,000 miles worth $1,000 in travel–if you can meet the spending requirement of this limited-time offer. 

The card earns a solid two miles per dollar on all purchases. In addition to redeeming Capital One miles for travel bookings at a rate of one cent apiece through Capital One Travel, cardholders can also transfer miles to over a dozen airline and hotel partners, including JetBlue TrueBlue, Air Canada Aeroplan, and Wyndham Rewards, among others, which makes them especially versatile. The Venture is also one of the only credit cards with an annual fee of under $100 that offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application statement credit once every four years.

4. United Quest℠ Card

  • Best card for: United fliers looking to restock their mileage account
  • Annual fee: $250

This all-new United credit card offers the easiest way to add MileagePlus miles quickly.

Current welcome offer

Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles80,000 after spending $5,000 in the first three months and an additional 20,000 miles after spending a total of $10,000 in the first six months.

Reasons to apply now

It’s still rare for an airline credit card to offer up to 100,000 bonus miles as part of its welcome offer, but it’s even rarer that we see the launch of a new airline credit card altogether. 

If you already carry one of United’s other mainstays, like the United Explorer Card or the more premium United Club Infinite Card, applying for the new United Quest might be an excellent way to continue boosting your MileagePlus balance. Especially since the card accrues:

  • Three miles per dollar spent on United purchases
  • Two miles per dollar spent on all other travel, including tickets purchased on other airlines, hotels, car rentals, and more
  • Two miles per dollar on dining
  • Two miles per dollar on select streaming services like Netflix and Hulu
  • One mile per dollar on all other purchases

Its $250 annual fee is something to consider. But also keep in mind that cardholders receive up to $125 in United purchases statement credits per year, up to $100 toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application once every four years, plus valuable day-of-travel perks like two free checked bags on United flights and 25 percent back on United in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and Wi-Fi paid for with the card.

>> Read More: United Just Launched a New Credit Card With up to 100,000 Bonus Miles

5. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Best card for: Hilton habitués who want lots of extra perks
  • Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)

This card is the best for Hilton loyalists who book frequent stays but don’t want to pay a huge annual fee for benefits like elite status.

Current welcome offer

Receive up to 180,000 Hilton Honors bonus points—130,000 after you use your card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months plus an additional 50,000 points after spending $10,000 total in the first six months. This is the highest bonus this card has ever fielded.

Reasons to apply now 

The main reason to apply for this card currently is that the welcome offer is a full 50,000 points more than it typically has in place, the highest ever extended by this card. The automatic Hilton Honors Gold elite status that cardholders enjoy includes complimentary continental breakfast at most of Hilton’s higher-end hotels and earning 80 percent bonus points (so 18 per dollar instead of 10) on stays. Plus, if you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, you also earn a free weekend night reward that’s redeemable at nearly any Hilton property around the world.

>> Read More: New Hilton Credit Card Offers Could Lead to Free Nights at Waldorfs and Conrads

6.  American Express® Gold Card

  • Best card for: Earning on groceries and takeout
  • Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

A high bonus and strong everyday earning are this card’s two biggest strengths.

Current welcome offer

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months. That’s 25,000 points more than usual.

Reasons to apply now

The Amex Gold is uniquely positioned to help cardholders accumulate rewards points for travel at a time when people are taking far fewer trips than usual. It earns four points per dollar at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and on up to $25,000 per calendar year in spending at U.S. supermarkets. Members also get up to $10 per month in Uber Cash towards rides or Uber Eats orders in the U.S. (enrollment required). Like points earned with the Amex Platinum, those you accumulate with this card can be transferred to over 20 airline and hotel partners.

>> Read More: How to Earn and Redeem American Express Membership Rewards Points for Travel

7. Chase Sapphire Reserve® 

  • Best card for: Travelers who want a lot of ways to redeem their points plus premium perks
  • Annual fee: $550

Current welcome offer 

For a limited time, you can earn up to 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. That is 10,000 points more than this card usually offers. Its annual fee is $550.

Reasons to apply now

The Chase Sapphire Preferred might be a better option for some since it’s offering 20,000 more bonus points than the Chase Sapphire Reserve right now. However, points earned with the Reserve are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, compared to just 1.25 cents with the Preferred. So the introductory bonus is worth $900 instead of the $1,000 you would net with the Preferred. 

What’s more, this card earns three points per dollar on travel (after earning the $300 in statement credits the card offers toward travel purchases annually) and dining, and comes with other benefits like up to $100 for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application once every four years, and the ability to enroll in Priority Pass Select for lounge access. So it might just be the better all-round selection for premium travelers.

>> Read More: Which Credit Card is Better: Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve?

8. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • Best card for: An annual free night
  • Annual fee: $89

IHG Rewards Club is the loyalty program of brands like InterContinental, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn, so there’s a property for every price point.

Current welcome offer

Earn 125,000 IHG Rewards Club points plus a reward night worth up to 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Reasons to apply now

The sign-up bonus is a good 45,000 points more than this card typically offers, and 125,000 points are enough for two free nights at world-class hotels like the InterContinental London Park Lane. More than that, though, it comes with automatic IHG Platinum elite status and perks like room upgrades, as well as a free night award each year worth up to 40,000 points (this rules out most top-tier hotels, but still provides a lot of value). Cardholders also receive a fourth night free on award redemptions, which can amount to huge potential point savings.

9. Citi Premier® Card

  • Best card for: Earning transferable points on a variety of purchases
  • Annual fee: $95

Another excellent earner with points that transfer to over a dozen airline frequent-flier programs.

Current welcome offer

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Reasons to apply now

This card’s bonus has hovered at a steady 60,000 points for a couple years now, so you don’t have to time it just right. But you might want to apply when you’re ready because it is one of the best cards for earning points on everyday purchases. It racks up three per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, on air travel and hotels, and then one point per dollar on everything else. 

Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer to 16 airline partners including Emirates and Singapore Airlines, and can be used to book travel directly through the Citi ThankYou portal at a rate of one cent per point.

10. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

  • Best card for: Lots of points for a manageable annual fee
  • Annual fee: $95

With an introductory bonus that’s higher than usual, you can leverage this hotel card to earn tons of bonus points without much effort.

Current welcome offer

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless recently raised its welcome bonus to 100,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s 25,000 points more than usual.

Reasons to apply now

Not only is the Boundless currently offering more bonus points to sign up than any other Marriott cobranded credit card, but it also offers decent ongoing earning rates of six points per dollar on Marriott purchases and two points per dollar everywhere else. (Keep in mind, the company has 8,000 hotels in 30 distinct brands like Ritz-Carlton and Moxy around the globe.) Cardholders receive 15 elite night credits per calendar year, enough for Silver status or for a healthy boost toward a higher echelon. (You can also earn Gold status by spending $35,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year.) Perhaps its best benefit, however, is an annual free night award worth up to 35,000 points. That can be worth hundreds of dollars each year, depending on where you redeem it, more than making up for the card’s annual fee.

As travel begins to rebound, this is one of the best times to apply for a new travel rewards card–especially since there are currently so many unprecedented welcome bonuses. Before you apply for a slew of new cards, however, think about your specific travel goals, your purchase activity, and the perks you value, and then pick the card or cards that can take you the furthest. 

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

>> Next: The Best Rewards Credit Cards for International Travel

Source: Read Full Article