Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards (in 2020)

Want to start earning travel rewards, points, or miles with top credit cards? Credit cards are a quick and easy way to start racking up travel rewards. With many cards offering welcome bonuses, you may be surprised to learn than you can earn enough travel miles or points for a round-trip flight in 90 days or less. Discover the best travel rewards credit cards for 2020 below.

best travel rewards credit cards 2020

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Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards in 2020

Looking to start racking up some frequent flyer miles? Hoping to earn lucrative travel rewards points ahead of your next trip? Travel rewards credit cards are a simple, quick, and smart way to earn rewards. However, with so many travel rewards credit cards now on the market, it can be difficult to determine the best rewards credit card. We’ve gone through dozens and dozens of travel rewards credit cards to find the top cards available now. We’ve also worked with our partners to find and compare additional travel rewards credit cards. Here are the best travel rewards credit cards in 2020.

Top Travel Rewards Credit Card for October 2020

Recommended Credit to Apply
Good/Excellent

Top Travel Rewards Card October 2020

We compared travel rewards credit cards available in October 2020 and determined the the best overall travel rewards card.

Why It’s The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card Right Now: The Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card is currently offering new cardholders 80,000 Hilton Honors points when they use their card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening an account. Additionally, the Hilton Honors American Express Card features no annual fee and cardholders receive complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status. 

Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card Highlights

The Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card is a solid no annual fee co-branded hotel travel rewards credit card. Despite not having an annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 80,000 Hilton Honors points after qualifying purchases within 3 months of opening an account. Additionally, cardholders receive complimentary Hilton Honors Silver elite status with the opportunity to earn Gold status after making $20,000 in eligible purchases with your card in a calendar year. This card is especially great for travelers that are loyal to the Hilton Honors program as cardholders will earn 7x Hilton Honors points when they use their card at a participating Hilton hotel or resort.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Citi AAdvantage Platinum World Elite Mastercard Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Bonus Offer: Earn 50,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $2,500 with your card in the first 3 months.

Card Highlights:

The Citi AAdvanatge Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is a well-rounded travel rewards credit card. Though this card only comes with a few added benefits and perks, this is reflected in the reasonable $99 annual fee. (This fee is waived for the first year.) Benefits include preferred group 5 boarding, a free checked bag when traveling on American Airlines, and 25% back when you use your card for eligible in-flight purchases. If you’re looking to earn AAdvantage miles, enjoy a few added perks, but don’t want a card with a high annual fee, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is your best option.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Fair/Good/Excellent
Best Travel Rewards Card Citi Rewards+ Card

Bonus Offer: Earn 15,000 bonus ThankYou Points when you spend $1,000 with your card within the first 3 months.

Card Highlights:

The Citi Rewards+ credit card is one of the better no annual fee travel rewards credit cards out there. With no annual fee, it’s not loaded with benefits and perks. However, the card makes up for a lack of benefits with the card’s earning structure. The Citi Rewards+ credit card is the only rewards card to round up to the nearest 10 points you earn on each purchase. The card also earns 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 in combined purchases. You’ll also receive 10% of your points back when you redeem the first 100,000 points per calendar year. The Citi Rewards+ card is also offering new cardholders a 0% introductory APR for 15 months from date of account opening.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Fair/Good/Excellent
Best Travel Credit Card 2020 Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

Bonus Offer: Earn either 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points or $200 in cash back when you spend $500 with your card in the first 3 months.

Card Highlights:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a solid no annual free travel rewards credit card. While the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is marketed as a cash back credit card, you’ll actually earn Chase Ultimate Rewards which can then be redeemed for cash back. However, you can also redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards as you would with other Chase credit cards. One of the more notable features of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is that the card earns 5x points on airfare, car rental, hotels, Lyft ride-sharing, and other eligible travel purchases booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card also features a welcome bonus that is easy to reach as you’ll have to spend just $500 with your card in the first 3 months to earn 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Good/Excellent
Best Travel Credit Cards with Bonus Offer Avianca Vuela Credit Card

Bonus Offer: Earn 40,000 bonus LifeMiles after you make your first purchase with your card.

Card Highlights:

If you’re unfamiliar with the LifeMiles program, we recommend you do a quick search as to just how useful LifeMiles can be for travelers across the globe. The quickest way to start earning LifeMiles is with the Avianca Vuela Visa Card. This card is one of the only travel rewards credit cards that still features a welcome bonus that doesn’t come with a spending requirement. To earn 40,000 bonus LifeMiles, simply make a purchase with your Vuela Visa Card. It’s that simple. The Avianca Vuela Visa Card is also great for earning LifeMiles on everyday purchases and also offers a few added perks that are great for travelers.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Fair/Good/Excellent
Best Travel Card Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Visa Card

Bonus Offer: Earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 with your card in the first 3 months.

Card Highlights:

The Southwest Rewards Plus Credit Card is Southwest Airlines’ entry-level travel rewards credit card. This is reflected in the $69 annual fee. As this card is the entry-level Rapid Rewards credit card, benefits and perks are quite limited. However, new cardholders still have the opportunity to earn a quick 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of having their card. Additionally, each year you renew your Southwest Rewards Plus Credit Card, you’ll receive 3,000 Rapid Rewards points.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Good/Excellent

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Students in 2020

Finding a student credit card that earns rewards can be somewhat of a challenging task. With most student credit cards offering the benefit of no annual fee, credit card issuers and banks are not all that eager to also offer the benefit of earning rewards. However, there are still a few student credit cards that earn rewards. Whether you want to maximize cashback or earn travel rewards, here are our top picks for student credit cards that earn rewards in 2020.

Best Student Credit Cards for Rewards

Bonus Offer: Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Card Highlights:

The Capital One VentureOne credit card is a no annual fee travel rewards credit card. While not marketed as a student credit card, students that have already begun establishing their credit history should consider this card. Cardholders earn unlimited 1.25x miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Additionally, for a limited time, cardholders will also earn 5x points with Uber Eats.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Good/Excellent
Best Student Rewards Credit Cards Bank of America Travel Rewards Student Credit Card

Bonus Offer: Earn 25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.

Card Highlights:

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card is one of the few student credit cards earning points that can be redeemed for travel. Earn 1.5 points for each dollar spent on all purchases. Points can be redeemed for air travel, hotels, and other travel services. Plus, enjoy no blackout dates.

Recommended Credit to Apply
Limited/Fair
Best Student Credit Card for Rewards Citi AAdvantage MileUp Credit Card

Bonus Offer: Earn 10,000 AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 with your card in the first 3 months of account opening.

Card Highlights:

The American AAdvantage MileUp® Card from Citi® is a better fit for students with a more robust credit history. The MileUp® Card is currently offering is sign-up bonus of 10,000 AAdvantage Miles after spending just $500 in the first 90 days of opening an account. Additionally, there’s no annual fee. 

Recommended Credit to Apply
Fair/Good/Excellent

Choosing a Travel Rewards Credit Card in 2020

How Do I Choose The Best Travel Rewards Card?

One of the most common questions we get is, “How do I choose a travel rewards credit card?” It’s a great question. With the travel rewards credit card market quite saturated with credit cards, it can be challenging to find the card that’s best for you. However, there are ways to cut through the countless featured offers you’ve likely encountered when searching for a travel rewards credit card. Ultimately, the best travel rewards credit card for an individual is entirely up to them. We all have our standards and expectations. We also have our reasons for wanting to get a rewards credit card. That being said, the first step in choosing the best travel rewards credit card is deciding what you want out of a travel rewards credit card. It’s a simple first step, but it’s also crucial when searching for credit cards.

The first thing you should ask yourself when searching for credit cards that earn points, miles, or other rewards is, “Why do I want a rewards card?” Typical answers to this question include:

  • I want to earn travel rewards over time with my everyday purchases.
  • I want to earn travel rewards now through a welcome offer.
  • I want a credit card that offers a suite of premium benefits.
  • I want a credit card that offers well-rounded benefits that I can use on an everyday basis.
  • I want a well-rounded, possibly premium, credit card that I can use daily and also earn rewards at the same time.

 

Once you’ve answered the question posed above, you can begin searching for travel rewards credit cards. However, there are other things to consider that can assist you in your search for the perfect rewards credit card.

Types of Travel Rewards Credit Cards

First and foremost, there are three basic types of travel rewards credit cards. The first type consists of entry-level rewards credit cards. These credit cards are relatively easy to get and typically don’t come with an annual fee. At the same time, these cards probably won’t come with a lucrative sign-up bonus or premium benefits and perks. Nevertheless, these entry-level rewards credit cards are often ideal for younger individuals who might just be starting with rewards credit cards. They’re also suitable for cardholders who want to earn some rewards over an extended period.

The second type of travel rewards credit cards includes most co-branded hotel and airline credit cards and mid-tier cards issued by major banks and financial institutions. The annual fee on these cards will range from as low as $49 to as high as $250 a year. Benefits offered by these cards are usually hit or miss. However, as the annual fee increases, this will typically mean an increase in the number of perks and benefits you’ll receive as a cardholder. Mid-tier travel rewards credit cards may also offer a welcome bonus. When searching through cards in this category, you will want to take time to note the features, fees, and earning rate for each card.

The third and final type of travel rewards credit cards is the luxury or premium tier of cards. Cards in this category will come with hefty annual fees but also offer an extensive list of benefits. Additionally, nearly all cards in this category will offer a welcome bonus. One thing to consider when applying for a premium travel rewards credit card is the rate at which you will earn rewards. While premium credit cards often come with an extensive suite of luxe benefits, they may not always be ideal for individuals looking to rack up travel rewards points or miles.

Ultimately, it is your decision when choosing the best travel rewards credit card. Each credit card comes with pros and cons. The best thing you can do when searching for travel rewards credit card is to know precisely what you want in a credit card. Though welcome bonuses and benefits are an easy sell and are quite enticing, they may be short-lived or underwhelming. When searching for a travel rewards credit card, consider every detail of a credit card. This will provide you with a clear image of what you can expect as a cardholder. If you find a card you think fits your requirements, apply for it, and use it for a year. If a year passes, and the card isn’t living up to your expectations, you can put the card to the side or even cancel it and start over.

More Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan frequent flyer program was ranked as the best frequent flyer program for college students by The College Points. With a variety of redemption partners including British Airways and Icelandair, Mileage Plan miles are quite valuable. That being said, one of the best ways to earn Mileage Plan miles quick is the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card®. While not loaded with benefits, the card’s low annual fee ($75) and reasonable welcome bonus makes it an attractive card for most travelers. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card also comes with a free checked bag and discounted access to Alaska Airlines Lounges.

American Express’ latest personal credit card, the Green Card is a solid mid-tier travel rewards credit card. With a reasonable annual fee and a variety of traveler friendly benefits, the Green Card is the perfect balance between basic and premium travel rewards credit cards. The Green Card currently comes with a 30,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months of opening an account. Benefits of the American Express Green Card include up to $100 in credit for lounge access with LoungeBuddy and up to $100 in credit with CLEAR.

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