Credit Cards

Best Travel Credit Cards of 2016

airline-rewards-cardsToday we are taking a look at the best travel rewards cards that were offered this past year. The good news is that you have a whole lot to choose from a grand total of fourteen choices below. Each one has all of the things you would expect from a reliable and worthwhile rewards credit card.

Some offers are better suited for certain consumers. More than a few of them are going to require good to excellent credit. Yet, there certainly is a card here for anyone who does a lot of traveling and would like to benefit from earning perks with their monthly spending.

Without further ado, here are the best travel credit cards of 2016.

1. BankAmericard Travel Rewards

BankAmericard’s entry on our list works on a points system in which you can earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend on your purchases. That goes for all of your purchases and transactions. There are no categories that you need to worry about. That is convenient, as it takes all of the guesswork out of using this credit card for your best benefit.

The sign-up bonus is a nice touch as well. They will give you 20,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first three months that you own the credit card. That is equal to $200 that you can put toward your next travel reservation.

APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a full year. After that, your rate increases to a variable 15.24% to 23.24%.

Fees: No annual fee or foreign transaction fees, so feel free to use at home and abroad.

Perks: Since this is a Visa issued card, you will enjoy all of the advantages of the Visa Signature program. It comes with 24/7 concierge service and upgrades at hotels. It will even cover you should you need help with lost luggage or any other emergency assistance.

Drawbacks: Although there are no annual or foreign transaction fees, there is a balance transfer fee of 3%. You should think twice before moving a balance to this card in order to enjoy that introductory APR.

Ready to apply?

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Although you won’t have to pay a fee for the initial year of use, the Chase Sapphire Preferred does come with a $95 annual expense in order just to own it. However, it might be worth it to you for their points program alone.

This is because Chase is offering new customers a bonus of 50,000 points for making $4,000 in transactions in the first three months after signing up. There is not any introductory APR here either. Additionally, you will earn one point for every dollar that you spend. That will get your points doubled on any purchases made toward booking travel reservations, in addition to, eating at restaurants.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $95 for each year after that.

Perks: The Ultimate Rewards Booking Tool might be the best thing about the credit card. That is because it enables you to apply all of the points that you have accrued toward booking flights, hotels, rental cars, etc.

It is like having your own travel agent. If you do not have the required amount of points for a booking, you can make your reservation with a combination of points and cash. Best of all, you could save 20% on any reservations made through their The Ultimate Rewards Booking Tool.

Drawbacks: Chase is very particular about issuing this card, only those with excellent credit need apply.

Ready to apply?

3. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Capital One makes our year-end list with their card that offers airline miles, straight up. No points are needed, only miles that are applied to flights that go just about anywhere you want. Earning the points is pretty simple too, with the company offering two miles for every dollar spent on any transaction.

New customers are getting 40,000 miles when they spend $3,000 in the initial 90 days. The annual fee is not too bad either, at only $59 a year. Do not worry about that expense when you sign up either, as Capital One will waive it for you.

APR: 13.24% – 23.24% Variable, which is based on your credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. Then, $59 each year after that. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Perks: Your miles will never expire. You can forget about blackout dates. Airline miles are also good toward booking any kind of travel reservation beyond flights. They can also be applied to hotels.

Drawbacks: So far, we keep looking to find some, yet we can’t find any. This is a terrific card all the way around.

Ready to apply?

4. Gold Delta Skymiles Card

This is the first American Express credit card to make the list. It comes with some great perks that anyone who flies Delta Airlines frequently will love. Swipe it anywhere to earn your rewards. The miles you earn can be used toward flights on Delta and their 15 travel partners worldwide.

Like every good travel credit card, there is a nice signing bonus. in which you can get 30,000 miles when you reach a spending goal in your first three months. In this case, it is just $1,000. That should be a relatively easy goal.

APR: 15.99% to 24.99% variable, which is based on your credit and “other factors”, according to their website.

Fees: $95 annual fee. However, that fee is waived during your introductory year.

Perks: Your first checked bag is free on Delta flights. These days that is a real perk. Plus, you get priority boarding on the plane. Additionally, there are no limits as to how many miles you can earn each year. Even better, you will have the flexibility to pay your monthly statements at your own pace. You can choose carry a balance or pay it in full. However, you need to be sure that you qualify for the lower APR before you do the former.

Drawbacks: It is a good card, yet, it is with American Express which is not as widely accepted by all merchants.

Ready to apply?

southwest-rapid-rewards5. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

If Southwest is your airline of choice, then you are going to want their Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. One dollar equals one point. Therefore, the more points you accrue, the more flights you can book with them on any Southwest flight, anywhere anytime.

Spending with Southwest’s partner merchants will also earn you points. They give you twice the points for each dollar spent. Additionally, your miles will not expire. You also do not have to deal with those annoying blackout dates. This is a promising trend that seems to be gaining a foothold in the industry.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% based on credit.

Fees: $99 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees.

Perks: Another industry trend is at play here as well. You get a signing bonus of 40,000 miles if you spend just $1,000 in your initial three months. Southwest will also gift you 6,000 points every year you own the card. It is Southwest’s way of saying thanks.

Drawbacks: Much like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, this card will require a high credit score.

Ready to apply?

6. United MileagePlus Club Card

Chase has partnered with United Airlines for the MileagePlus Club card. You will get a lot of goodies when you keep this one in your wallet. However, you will pay for the privilege. That is because they charge a whopping $450 a year.

Consequently, there are plenty of advantages here starting with the United Club membership that comes with it. Show your card at any United lounge or one of the many other Star Alliance locations in airports around the globe for instant access. Earning points for rewards is a 1.5 to $1 ratio on all purchases with 2 points earned for every dollar spent on booking travel on United Airlines.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $450 annual fee.

Perks: The card also offers standard travel and purchase protection. Cardholders can get reimbursements and returns on their lost or stolen items or if travel their plans change.

Yet, what is even better, is that you get your first two checked bags free on every flight. Chase Inside Access allows you to enjoy exclusive events year round.

Drawbacks: Consider that a membership to the United Club lounges is $550 a year, and your checked bags will cost you almost as much. Depending on how frequently you fly, a $450 annual fee may seem like a bargain. Yet, it may not be worth it to every consumer, particularly since the points you earn on this card are only applicable to United Airlines.

Ready to apply?

7. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Similar to the MileagePlus Club card, this MasterCard from American Airlines also comes with a high annual fee. But it also gives you access to the airline’s network of airport lounges worldwide: The Admirals Club.

Earning rewards is easy with a point given for each dollar you spend on any purchases. You get double the rewards when those purchases are made with American Airlines.

As you may have guessed, there is a sign-up perk, which is 50,000 points for spending $3,000 in your initial 90 days. There is an annual fee; however, it is only $95 a year. Plus, you will not have to pay it for the first 12 months.

APR: 15.99% – 23.99% variable APR based on your creditworthiness.

Fees: $95 annual fee.

Perks: You get Citi’s Price Rewind feature which reimburses you the difference if something you bought is lower in price. Additionally, you get other perks like one checked bag on all flights. You also get priority boarding on flights. There are discounts on in-flight meals and all of the standard consumer protections that you will find on all high-end credit cards.

Drawbacks: Anyone who flies with American on a routine basis will enjoy the card the most. If that is not you, it may be too restrictive for the redemption of points.

Ready to apply?

8. JetBlue Plus Card

Barclaycard makes the list with their JetBlue affiliated travel credit card. With this card, you can earn 6 points for every dollar spent on JetBlue purchases. You get 2 points for every dollar you spend at restaurants and supermarkets and one point on all other transactions — one of the better rewards ratios you are going to find here.

Even the sign-up bonus is competitive with 30,000 points for $1,000 in 90 days. You need to keep in mind, however, like some of the other cards we have just covered, the rewards you accrue are exclusive to JetBlue. So you should fly them regularly if you want to apply for the JetBlue Plus Card.

APR: 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for up to 12 months on any transfer made within 45 days of your initial sign-up. 12.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% variable APR, based on your credit.

Fees: $99 annual fee

Perks: No blackout dates apply when redeeming your points. They are good on any JetBlue flight. The points you earn will not expire, so use them whenever you wish.

Drawbacks: As noted earlier, rewards redemption is exclusive to JetBlue.

Ready to apply?

hotel-rewards9. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Our next American Express card was the only one on the list that gives those hotel warriors a chance to earn rewards as well. If you do not fly as often as you stay in hotel rooms, then the Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express is the card for you.

It works much the same way as airline miles cards, but you earn points for every night you stay in a Starwood network property. Redemption works the same as well. You can apply your points in order to get free rooms across the globe. There is even a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Starpoints for $3,000 spent in the first three months.

APR: 15.49% to a 19.49% variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $95 each year after that. No foreign transaction fees.

Perks: The points you earn are applied to getting hotel rooms. Yet, if you would rather, you may convert your miles into air miles that are applicable with 24 different major airlines.

Drawbacks: In keeping with the overall theme, this is a great card that really only benefits you if you frequent Starwood properties.

Ready to apply?

10. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Barclaycard makes the list again with this MasterCard that gives you 2 points for every dollar spent on any transaction. Sign up and you will get started earning points right off the bat. You will enjoy 50,000 points on your first $3,000 in 90 days.

Since you have the World Elite MasterCard you also get the myriad of benefits that come with it. Included is their many consumer and travel protection programs, as well as concierge services 24 hours a day. Redeeming your points is easy too, with just 10,000 needed for every $100 on travel reservations.

APR: 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24% variable, based on your credit. They have a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers made within the initial 45 days of opening the account for a period of one full year.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $89 each year after that.

Perks: Each time you redeem points toward travel purchases, you automatically receive 5% of them back to use toward the next redemption. Your miles never expire, as long as the card is still active and you are in good standing. The card also offers access to your FICO scores.

Drawbacks: The annual fee is on the high side, so it’s a good idea to use this card often.

Ready to apply?

11. SunTrust Travel Rewards MasterCard

The first SunTrust issued MasterCard on our list is their Travel Rewards card which offers rewards in the form of cash back. 5% is rewarded on a maximum of $6,000 on travel purchases in your first year of ownership.

You get 3% unlimited cash back on all travel purchases after that. You will enjoy 1% on all your purchases outside of travel. The APR is low too, even after the 0% introductory period that is good for 15 months. This one comes with an annual fee.

APR: 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then it switches to 10.49% to 21.49% based on your credit.

Fees: $89 annual fee. No foreign transaction fee. $10 or 3% balance transfer fee. $10 or 4% cash advance fee.

Perks: FICO score monitoring, EMV security chip. Also, you get all the protections and perks that are part of the World Elite MasterCard program.

Drawbacks: The card is light on advantages and extra perks. Plus, you can have the annual fee waived only if you are a SunTrust Signature Advantage, Premier, or Private Wealth Management Client.

Ready to apply?

12. TD Cash Visa Credit Card

This Visa Card from the folks at TD Bank is great for anyone who dines out often. That is because you earn the most rewards by using at a myriad of restaurants and delis. There is an attractive 0% APR offer up front that applies to balance transfers only.

However, the APR on everything else is lower than some of the other options on this list. Therefore, as usual, your credit better be good enough to qualify. Perhaps the best part is that you do not have to pay an annual fee.

APR: 0% Introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers only. APR is variable at 13.24%, 18.24% or 23.24% on approved credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee. $0 foreign transaction fee. $10 or 4% balance transfer fee.

Perks: All Visa Signature program benefits are available with this card. Also, they offer new customers a sign-up bonus of $100 for spending $500 in your first three months. When you break down the way that points and miles redeem with other cards, those rewards are comparable in cash value, and you are spending less to get that bonus.

Drawbacks: It would be nice if the introductory APR was applicable towards purchases. Sadly, it is not.

Ready to apply?

13. Hilton HHonors Card from American Express

This is another card in which you earn points by staying in a hotel instead of flying on a major airline. This time it is with the Hilton Hotel chain.

Additionally, you can earn a lot of points through a number of ways. Every dollar spent at a Hilton Hotel or a Hilton Resort earns you 7 times the points. Also, purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations get you 5 times the points. Every other purchase gets you 3 points per dollar spent.

APR: 15.49% to 19.49%

Fees: No annual fee. $5 or 3% on balance transfers.

Perks: Spending only $750 in your first three months earns you 50,000 Hilton HHonors points. That is a great signing bonus. If you make $20,000 worth of qualifying purchases in one year, you are given Gold Status in the company’s HHonors program.

Drawbacks: No introductory 0% APR.

Ready to apply?

14. SunTrust Cash Rewards MasterCard

The second of our SunTrust issued MasterCard options gives you many similar advantages as the previous card. However, instead of getting the most rewards on travel purchases, you earn more points at gas and grocery stores to the tune of 5% back on transactions up to $6,000. Then you get 2% back on those same transactions after the limit is reached. You still get 1% back on all other qualifying purchases.

APR: 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then raises to a variable rate of 10.49% to 21.49% with eligible credit scores.

Fees: $0 annual and foreign transaction fee. $10 or 3% balance transfer fee.

Perks: FICO score monitoring, EMV security chip in every card. All MasterCard protections and guarantees.

Drawbacks: Like the other SunTrust card it is not packed with as many additional features and perks as the other cards on our list.

Ready to apply?

Our Final Thoughts

These are the best travel cards that were offered this year. However, making a decision regarding applying for any of these cards must take their various costs and requirements in mind.

That could mean asking yourself if you are content with paying an annual fee, or if you travel enough to enjoy the rewards that these types of cards provide their owners. If you are a frequent traveler then it makes great sense to apply.

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