What Is the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card?

September 18, 2013, Written By Bill Hardekopf
What Is the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card?

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(Note: the Citi ThankYou Preferred card is no longer available)

As summer draws to an end, many of us are starting to plan holiday or fall vacations with the family. Whatever your plans may be, you can save some stress and money by using a travel rewards card for your trip.

What is the best travel rewards credit card? We did some digging to find out. Let’s take a look at our picks for the top travel credit cards of 2013.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred

Citi ThankYou® Preferred is one of the best travel rewards cards because it has an attractive rewards program and great travel perks associated with it. Cardholders enjoy having no annual fee, 0% APR for the first 15 months, and relatively low fees across the board. The rewards program here grants 2 ThankYou Points for dining and entertainment purchases, and 1 ThankYou Point for every other purchase. Points do not expire, and they can be redeemed for travel discounts, gift cards, merchandise and cash.

Capital One VentureOne

Capital One VentureOne made our list because it has been around for a while and it offers one of the most simplistic rewards programs on the market. You don’t have to worry about revolving categories and other hassles with VentureOne. You get 1.25 miles for every $1 spent on the card, and the miles can be used on nearly every airline. There is no limit to the miles you can earn, and the miles never expire. The main drawback is the fact that you have to have excellent credit to use this card, but those who do have access to a great rewards program. Add to this no annual fee and a onetime bonus of 10,000 miles (once you spend $1,000 in the first three months), and it’s easy to see why this is on our list. You could also select the Capital One Venture Rewards card which gives you 2 miles for every $1 spent, but there is a $59 annual fee after the first year. You just need to decide which one of these two cards is the most cost-efficient option based on your card usage.

What to Look for in a Travel Rewards Card

Here are some things to consider when deciding on a travel credit card:

  1. What do you need the rewards for? You could get discounts on flights, hotel rooms and cruises. Find a rewards program that offers benefits you can personally cash in on.
  2. How much is the annual fee? If you are only going to get $50 in rewards, it makes no sense to get a card with a $75 annual fee. Travel credit cards are known for having higher costs, so be careful before you apply.
  3. How can you earn the rewards? It is best to find a card with credit card rewards for every $1 you spend. If the card only rewards you for travel related purchases, you’ll be limited in what you can earn.
  4. What are the foreign transaction fees? This mostly applies to people who want to travel overseas. The majority of credit cards will charge a fee for every transaction made in another country, which will add up over time. Look for a card with no foreign fees.
  5. Is the card accepted where you will be traveling? For instance, some European countries will not accept credit cards without chip and PIN technology. You need to make sure you can access funds when you’re on vacation.

The best travel rewards credit card for you may not be the best one for someone else. That is why you have to carefully explore your options to find the one that fits your needs. Look for a card that is affordable and rewarding at the same time, and you’ll be able to save money on your travels. Then you can use that money for another vacation in the future.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 18, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.

About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of LowCards.com and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf