Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards (2021)

Updated: 2 weeks ago

One of the keys to traveling the world for next to nothing is having the right credit cards.

Virtually all airlines and hotel chains have co-branded credit cards that allow you to accrue points in your preferred program.

Not only do credit card companies offer huge sign-up bonuses just for being approved for a card, but they also offer bonus points for spending in certain categories, even on cards with no annual fee, or the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

I earn around a million miles a year through credit cards, about half of which come strictly from the sign-up bonuses earned by being approved for a credit card and completing a minimal amount of spend. The other half I earn through maximizing everyday spend (allowing me to earn anywhere from 2x to 5x points per dollar) and taking advantage of every bonus promotion available to me. Every year I redeem these points for a handful of first class trips around the world.

There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores work, as most people believe that applying for a credit card will negatively impact their credit score. As long as you keep your credit utilization low and make your payments on time, you shouldn’t see a negative impact on your credit score from applying for cards. Keep in mind you’ll need Very Good or Excellent credit to be eligible for many of the more lucrative cards below, and I would recommend never carrying a balance on a rewards-earning card, as the monthly interest payments can easily negate and exceed the value of the rewards.

My credit score is actually much better now than it was before I started applying for lots of credit cards, and I apply for multiple each year.

Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

This is a great bonus for a no-annual-fee card, and the earnings structure can make this a very rewarding card if you want to earn points for Hilton properties.

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Card Details
Additional Temporary Perks through 2020

on American Express' secure site
Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $95
Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Being a cardmember provides you complimentary Gold status, which gets you free breakfast and upgrades at Hilton properties across the world

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Earn 15,000 Bonus Points

Citi Rewards+® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
Annual Fee: $0
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

Arguably the coolest feature of this new card is Citi will round up your purchase to the nearest 10 ThankYou points. Make a $1 purchase? You’ll earn 10 ThankYou points. Make an $11 purchase? You’ll earn 20 ThankYou points. This is a very interesting rewards structure that makes this card perfect for everyday purchases.

Read our Review

Current Offer
• The Citi Rewards+® Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
• Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
• 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
• Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
• The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

on Citi's secure site
Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards® points

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7%
Annual Fee: $95
The card details for the Amex EveryDay Preferred have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

If you make frequent transactions in a month the Amex EveryDay cards are a great option. In addition to accruing points in bonus categories, these cards offer an additional incentive based on how many times the card is used in a month. This can be quite lucrative, especially as these cards accrue Membership Rewards points. Membership Rewards points can be transferred to airline partners for the best value, or used to pay for all or part of your flight, prepaid hotel, vacation or cruise through amextravel.com.

Current Offer
Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Card Details
3x points at US Supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases; 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases. Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.

Earn 4,500 Bonus Stars

Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $49
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer

  • Earn 4,500 Bonus Stars after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening + $0 intro annual fee
  • Earn 300 Bonus Stars the first time you use your Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card to add money to your Starbucks Card
  • Stars won't expire, an exclusive Starbucks benefit for Cardmembers
  • You will receive eight (8) complimentary food or beverage items ("Barista Picks")
  • Earn up to 3 Stars per $1 spent at Starbucks Stores: 1 Star per $1 when you digitally load your Starbucks Card with your Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card (excludes money added at the register), plus 2 Stars per $1 spent when that Starbucks Card is used to pay at Starbucks stores.
  • Earn 1 Star per $2 spent at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and on internet, cable, and phone services.
  • Earn 1 Star per $4 spent everywhere else
on Chase's secure site
Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
Annual Fee: $0
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer
• Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
• No Annual Fee
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
• Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
• Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
• The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

on Citi's secure site
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7%
Annual Fee: $0
The card details for the Amex EveryDay Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

If you make frequent transactions in a month the Amex EveryDay cards are a great option. In addition to accruing points in bonus categories, these cards offer an additional incentive based on how many times the card is used in a month. This can be quite lucrative, especially as these cards accrue Membership Rewards points. Membership Rewards points can be transferred to airline partners for the best value, or used to pay for all or part of your flight, prepaid hotel, vacation or cruise through amextravel.com.

Current Offer
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Card Details
2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases. Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.

Earn 60,000 bonus points

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $0
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • No Annual Fee
  • Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Fourth Reward Night Free
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
on Chase's secure site
$200 Cash Back

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
on Capital One's secure site
Why we like this card

This card has a great return for a cash-back card with no annual fee.

Current Offer

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
on Capital One's secure site
$200 Cash Rewards Bonus Offer

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of each transaction
Annual Fee: $0
The card details for the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

This is a great card if you're looking for no annual fee, cash back type of card. If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can get a 25% - 75% rewards bonus on every purchase.

Read our Review

Current Offer
• $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
• Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
• 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days.
• No expiration on rewards
• If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase

Earn Up to $300 Back

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Annual Fee: $0
Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer

  • Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back.
  • Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Earn 10,000 bonus miles

United Gateway℠ Card

Earn 3 miles per $1 spent at grocery stores, on up to $1,500 per month through 9/30/2021
Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $0
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 3 miles per $1 spent at grocery stores, on up to $1,500 per month through 9/30/2021
on Chase's secure site