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Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Travel Rewards Credit Cards Confessions of a Travaholic

All three of my favorite travel rewards credit cards offer great benefits like priority pass lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, credits for Global Entry and TSA Precheck applications, and savings at hotels worldwide.  While they all come with a heavy annual fee, they make up for the expense with annual travel credits and perks.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Travel Rewards Credit Cards Confessions of a Travaholic

Annual Fee: $450

Benefits:

$300 annual travel credit

$100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

Priority Pass Select Membership with access to  >1,000 airport lounges worldwide

No foreign transaction fees

Perks at hotels in the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Travel Insurance

Earn Points:

3 points per dollar spent on travel including airfare, hotels, taxis, trains

3 points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Spend Points:

Transfer points 1:1 with Chase Ultimate Rewards Partners: British Airways, Iberia, Southwest, Singapore Air, United Airlines, Korean Airlines, Air France/KLM, Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Marriott, and IHG

 

American Express Platinum

Travel Rewards Credit Cards Confessions of a Travaholic

Annual Fee: $550

Benefits:

$200 in Uber credit ($15/month Jan-Nov, $20 Dec)

$200 Airline fee credit for things like checked bags and in-flight meals

$100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

Airport lounge access to the Global Lounge Collection with 1,100 lounges across 120 countries including access to Delta Sky Club while flying on Delta flights

Perks at hotels in the Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio

SPG Gold Status

Hilton Honors Gold Status

No foreign transaction fees

Travel Insurance

Earn Points:

5 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or via Amex Travel

5 points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked via amextravel.com

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

 Spend Points:

Transfer Points with partners: Aeroplan, Alitalia, Asia, British Airways, Delta, and Etihad frequent flier mile programs as well as Hilton and SPG Hotels

 

Citi Prestige

Travel Rewards Credit Cards Confessions of a Travaholic

Annual Fee: $450

Benefits:

$250 Air Travel Credit including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more

$100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

Complimentary 4th night free at any hotel with a minimum 4-consecutive night booking through ThankYou.com or the Citi Prestige Concierge

Priority Pass Select Membership with access to  >1,000 airport lounges worldwide

No foreign transaction fees

Earn Points:

3 points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels

2 points per dollar spent on dining, restaurants, and entertainment

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Spend Points:

Transfer points to airline and hotel loyalty programs: Jet Blue, Turkish Airlines, Asia Miles with Cathay, Avianca, Etihad, Eva Air, Air France/KLM, Garuda Indonesia, Jet Airways, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, and Hilton Honors

 

Choosing between travel rewards credit cards:

While all of these cards offer great benefits, my card of choice is the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  My aversion to American Express stems from my desire to use one card for all of my purchases. I can’t stand the idea of my card not being accepted at certain stores and restaurants, especially out of the country.  Since I use points for the majority of my hotels and flights, I enjoy the $300 travel credit and the variety of travel partners that I can transfer points to with my Chase card.  If I were paying for my hotel stays, rather than using points, I’d likely switch to the Citi Prestige in order to take advantage of their 4th night free program.  I have friends who have all three cards and spend strategically to make the most of the point earning opportunities.  You really can’t go wrong with any of these cards, but it is up to you to see which is the best fit for your budget and spending habits.

Another important thing to note is that the credit card companies also offer entry level cards with similar reward earning power, but with lower fees and fewer benefits.  If the annual fees scare you away from these cards, you do have options like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Thank You Premier, and the American Express Gold cards to explore.  Chase and American Express also offer business versions of their cards with the Chase Ink and the American Express Corporate cards.

With so many good options out there, it just doesn’t make sense to use a credit card that doesn’t earn you rewards!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Kyle
    February 26, 2018 at 10:51 AM

    Hey Lisa – Thanks for the info. I have the Citi Prestige card and one important aspect is the 4th night credit is the average of all four nights. It used to be the actual amount for the fourth night plus taxes, which was great if you could time the fourth night being the most expensive, but wasn’t good if hotels were offering stay three and get the fourth night free (no benefit), or your fourth night was a low rate day. I’m still happy and wouldn’t change it for booking hotels.

    • Reply
      Lisa Adams
      February 26, 2018 at 12:27 PM

      Thank you, Kyle. That is helpful detail!

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