Travel credit cards are one of the essential keys to any passionate traveler based in the US. With the coronavirus keeping us at home for now, it's a great time to keep up-to-date on what kind of travel credit card offers are available. From pirate to pirate, the following are a few that we personally use and highly recommend. Feel free to share more card recommendations in the comments.
Pirate Tip: Travel credit cards are only worth going out of your way for if you pay your balance in full at the end of every period — if you're able to organize a pirate trip, it should be no problem to organize your finances to make this work. If you're just starting with travel credit cards, you may need to build your credit before being accepted for the ones we've listed below — the best way to do this is get a secured credit card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees build up your credit history with it. Credit Karma offers free access to your credit report, though you may find that your secured card offers a better one for free.
1) Chase Sapphire Preferred — Great go-to card for frequent travelers
This card is our number-one pick for many reasons — just keep in mind that Chase requires you to have opened less than 5 personal credit cards in the past 24 months to be approved. Right now you can earn 60,000 bonus after spending $4,000 in your first three months of holding the card. Chase points give you, arguably, the most flexibility out of all travel rewards programs and you'll earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. We think the $95 annual fee more than pays for the benefits — a lot of great travel coverage is also included for purchases made on this card and we've always found Chase to be easy to work with.
Even better is that you can later upgrade this card to Chase Sapphire Reserve and get a whole lot more benefits — these are comparable to the Platinum Card from American Express. The annual fee is much higher with the upgraded version at $550/year, but you can save on that by using the Preferred to stock up on miles while travel's not an option anyway.
2) The Platinum Card from American Express — Wide benefits for frequent travelers w/ a higher (but worth-it) fee
The $550 annual fee might be off-putting, but truth is, as with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the benefits you get for this price are worth more than the annual fee is you make use of them. What are these benefits exactly? The ones that stand out to us are the $200 yearly credit towards airline incidentals, lounge access all around the world, $200 in annual Uber credit and VIP status, and some of the crazy high point-earning capabilities, including 5x points on most flights and hotels.
Right now you can get 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first three months.
3) Wells Fargo American Express Card — No annual fee, solid bonus, & good earning
We get not wanting to pay fees — even if the benefits are worth 2, 3, or 4 times more than the fees. This card offers a 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months and 3x points on a lot of travel and dining spending.
Why aren't any cobranded cards included?
Cobranded cards can be a great way to rack up points and miles, and some other other intriguing benefits such as lounge access, premier boarding, free checked bags, and more. That said, with a lot of current uncertainty in the travel industry we think the safest way to play the travel card game right now is to do so using awards programs that aren't owned by airlines or hotel chains. We're not saying do or don't get these cards, but we're mostly avoiding them for the time being.