Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019
February 5, 2019
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If you’re considering a new travel credit card for the new year, it’s smart to pay attention to new offers as well as tried and true favorites. Fortunately, there are an array of lucrative travel credit card offers available all year long — some with signup bonuses worth $500 or more.
Before you sign up for the next card you see, make sure you compare options to see how they might fit with your travel goals and spending style. Also consider our list of the best travel credit cards for 2019:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred®
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Discover it® Miles
How We Ranked Our Cards
Before we dive into the details of each offer, you may be wondering how we came up with this list. To curate this selection of travel credit cards, we compared options from popular issuers based on the following factors:
- Earning rate: We gave preference to cards that offer bonus earnings in certain categories.
- Flexibility: Cards with flexible rewards programs that let you redeem points in more than one way received top billing.
- Signup bonus: We only considered cards with big signup bonuses or a strong potential for lucrative rewards the first year.
- Cardholder perks: Cards that offer premium travel perks scored higher in this category.
- Fees: We considered annual fees as well, although we did consider how much value each card offers in return.
#1: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been hugely popular since its release, and for good reason. This card offers 50,000 points worth $750 in travel after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening plus 3x points on travel and dining. You’ll also earn 1x points for all your regular purchases, and Chase lets you redeem points for travel through their portal or 1:1 transfers to popular airline and hotel partners like Southwest, British Airways, Marriott, and Hyatt.
This card does charge a $450 annual fee, but you do get some perks in return. Annual benefits include a $300 travel credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit, and 50 percent more travel when you book with points. This card also comes with no foreign transaction fees.
#2: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another popular travel credit card that offers all the flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You can redeem points for travel through the Chase portal (and get 25% more travel for free), transfer them 1:1 to popular airline partners, or cash them in for gift cards, statement credits, or merchandise.
The current offer on this card is for 50,000 points worth $625 in travel after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. You’ll also earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases. There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Like most top travel credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees.
#3: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
We love the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® because you can redeem your points for any type of travel at a rate of one cent per point . This includes flights, hotels, train fare, campgrounds and more — basically any purchase that codes as travel on your credit card statement. The only caveat is that all redemptions have to be made for 10,000 miles ($100) or more.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® also has no foreign transaction fees and one of the best signup bonuses out right now. Currently, you’ll earn 70,000 miles worth $700 in travel after you spend $5,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening. You’ll also earn a flat 2x miles for every dollar you spend. There is an $89 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.
#4: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is yet another card that offers a flat 2x miles for each dollar you spend. However, you can also earn 50,000 miles worth $500 in travel after you sign up and spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening.
The ease at which you can redeem your rewards is the main reason this card made our list. You can cash them in for any type of travel at a rate of one cent per point, making this card a smart option if you don’t want to have to deal with complicated airline or hotel programs. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card does have a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.
#5: Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
While the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is the only hotel credit card that made our list, there’s plenty of reason this card deserves our praise. Not only does it offer a big signup bonus (150,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening), but you get important travel perks. Benefits include a $250 annual airline credit, a $250 Hilton resort credit each year, a free weekend night award your first year and each year on your cardmember anniversary, and a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, among others.
On the earning side of the equation, this card gives you 14x points on eligible Hilton purchases, 7x points on flights booked with airlines or AmexTravel.com, and 3x points on all other purchases. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express does have a $450 annual fee that is not waived the first year.
#6: Discover it® Miles
Last but not least, make sure to take a long and hard look at the Discover it® Miles. This card doesn’t have any annual fee, and you can earn a flat 1.5 “miles” for each dollar you spend. The kicker is, Discover has promised to double all the rewards you earn the first year.
While the Discover it® Miles doesn’t have a signup bonus, earning double the rewards leads to a similar result and may be extremely lucrative for those who spend a lot. We also love that miles you earn with this card can be redeemed for any type of travel at a rate of one cent per point.