With summer travel season almost here, it’s time to gear up for some relaxing time away. Maybe you’re dreaming of a beach vacation, an escape to the mountains, or a familiar trip to your local theme park. Whatever is on your agenda, you’re likely ready for a break from your job and the minutiae of daily life.
Fortunately, your summer getaway doesn’t have to break the bank. There are myriad travel credit cards that can make your summer getaway both cheap and fun, although the right card for your needs depends on where you want to go and your travel style.
Top Travel Rewards Cards for your Summer Getaway
Before you sign up for any old travel credit card, it pays to explore and compare available options to see how they might help you afford your ideal trip. Here are some of the best cards available for summer 2018 — and where they can take you:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
is frequently considered one of the top travel credit cards on the market, and there are plenty of reasons why. First, this card offers 60,000 bonus points for new members who sign up for the card and spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Second, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be used in a nearly endless number of ways. Not only can you redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points through the Chase travel portal, but you can transfer them 1:1 to popular airline and hotel programs like World of Hyatt, Marriott Rewards, Ritz Carlton, United MileagePlus Explorer, Southwest Rapid Rewards®, and British Airways.
Having so many options makes this card ideal for flexible summer travel. You could transfer your points to Southwest for cheap domestic flights or flights to the Caribbean, for example. You could use them to book a log cabin in the mountains of Tennessee, or a ski resort near Denver. Or, you could cash them in for any number of beach hotels in coastal cities like Miami, Florida or San Diego via the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. This card does have a $95 annual fee.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another smart option for consumers who want some flexibility in terms of how they use their rewards. This card offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 within three months of account opening, along with 2x points for each dollar you spend.
On the redemption side, you can use your points for nearly any type of travel. You can cash them in at a rate of one cent per point for flights, hotel stays, train tickets, and any other purchase that codes as travel on your credit card statement.
The possibilities are endless, making this card is a solid choice if you want to go somewhere this summer but aren’t sure where you want to go quite yet. This card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year as well, which means you can try out its benefits the first year for free.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
While any type of travel can be pricey, one particularly expensive component of any trip is airfare. Especially when you’re traveling with kids in tow, you can spend thousands on flights before you even arrive at your destination.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® program is well known as one of the most flexible and supportive programs for families. This frequent flyer program tends to work well for families with kids because they don’t have blackout dates or capacity controls. If there are seats available on a plane, you can book them with points or cash no matter what. Southwest also offers two free checked bags per person, which is a savings of at least $200 round-trip for an average family of four.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card makes it easy to get started in this program earning 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. On all other purchases, you will earn 1 point per $1 spent. Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more. Since Southwest partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can get a premier Chase travel card to earn even more points in this program.
This card does charge a $69 annual fee, and it is not waived the first year. But, since 50,000 miles is enough for two round-trip flights to the Caribbean, paying the fee can be well worth it.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is another smart option for a summer getaway, mostly because there are so many options when it comes to redeeming your points. InterContinental Hotels Group offers hotels around the world, ranging from family-friendly Holiday Inns to upscale InterContinental Hotels and Crowne Plazas. You redeem IHG Rewards points for all-inclusive hotels in Mexico and Jamaica, in the world’s biggest cities, and even in far-flung destinations like Bora Bora and the Maldives.
The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers one of the easiest ways to rack up hotel points in this program in a hurry. Currently, this card is offering 60,000 points to new customers who sign up and use their card for $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. You also get a free night at any IHG hotel worldwide each year on your cardmember anniversary. This card does have a $49 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.
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