While travel in 2021 may seem like some far off concept at this point, it is never too early to start saving for your next trip. One of the best ways to save up for your next trip is with travel credit cards. Whether you are a beginner to credit cards or a vet, hopefully these cards will help you rack up travel points in no time!

Traveling can be an expensive hobby, which is why travelers are constantly looking for ways to save money on things like plane tickets and hotels. One of the most popular routes for saving money on travel is by using credit cards, which reward you with points towards buying future trips when you spend money on everyday purchases like groceries, gas, or shopping online.

Should I get a credit card?

While it can be hard to determine the best credit card for travel points, here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before looking for a card:

  • Can I afford to have a credit card? Do I have any outstanding debt that I should pay off first? (Getting into large amounts of debt just to earn a free trip is not worth it)
  • Does my credit score qualify for this card? (You will need a credit score above 720 for most travel credit cards)

If the answer is yes to both questions above, then pay attention to these factors below when shopping for a card:

Top Things to Look For in a Credit Card

  • What is the annual fee? Do the benefits I earn on this card seem to make up for that annual amount
  • What is the signup bonus?
  • How much are points I earn worth? 
  • What other benefits does this card offer for travel? 

Top Travel Credit Cards in 2021

Without further ado, here are my picks for the top travel credit cards of 2021:

Best Overall Travel Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • 2x Points on Travel & Dining
  • 1x Points on everything else
  • Sign up bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel
  • No foreign transaction fees

There’s a reason that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been a favorite of travelers for many years now, me included.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card was my first ever travel card and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. The sign up bonus of 60,000 points plus the amount of points you can easily rack up with this card through restaurant and dining purchases has purchased 2 round trip flights to Europe for me in the past 4 years. It certainly helps that the points that you earn are worth 25% more when you turn them in for travel, meaning trips are earned faster.

If you are looking for a card that has a lower annual fee, but still offers the possibility of earning a lot of points towards future trips, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred card would be a great choice for you.

Best Cash Back Card: Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants (includes takeout)
  • 3% cash back at drug stores
  • 1.5% cash back on everything else
  • Sign up bonus: $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months

For a $0 annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers excellent opportunities to gain a lot of points quickly towards future trips. The fact that you can earn 1.5% cash back on anything you buy makes it a great every day card. Chase has also recently added a boosted cash back options for travel, dining, and drug store purchases to make it that much better.

One of my favorite strategies that includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is to pair it with another Chase card where the points you earn are worth more, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (worth 25% more) or the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards (worth 50% more).

Overall, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a great option for beginners who are looking to start racking up a lot of points without having to worry about an annual fee. Either that, or you can use it alongside another card to boost the points you earn even more. Whatever you choose, the Freedom Unlimited card is a great option.

Best Deluxe Travel Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

  • Annual Fee: $550
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit
  • 3x Points on Travel & Dining
  • 1x Points on everything else
  • Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months
  • Points worth 50% more when redeemed in Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • $100 credit for TSA Pre-check or Global Entry application
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary Lounge Access to 1000+ Airport Lounges Worldwide

Looking for a card that can help you travel in luxury? Look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. While the annual fee may give you a bit of sticker shock, those who dig a little deeper will find that the benefits you gain from having this card make this an absolute steal if you utilize all of its benefits.

For starters, the card gives you an annual credit of $300 for travel expenses, which essentially brings the annual fee down to $250. Add on top of the sign up bonus (worth $750), the credit for a TSA pre-check or Global Entry application, and access to 1000+ airport lounges and the $550 annual fee ends up looking like nothing.

All in all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is chock-full of amazing benefits for frequent travelers. If you travel pretty often throughout the year, this needs to be high on your list.

Best Card for Hotels: Hilton Honors Surpass Card

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • 12x Points on Hilton Purchases
  • 6x Points on Groceries & Dining
  • 6x Points on Gas
  • 3x Points on Other Purchases
  • Sign Up Bonus: 130,000 Bonus Points after spending $2,000
  • Complimentary Gold Status
  • Free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after spending $15,000 in a year

If you are someone who frequently stays at hotels when traveling, then I would recommend taking a look at the Hilton Honors Surpass card as a way to help you feel more like a VIP when staying at one of Hilton’s hotels worldwide.

The Hilton Honors Surpass card allows you to generate a lot of points through a few different routes: including 6x points on groceries & dining, 6x points on gas, 12x points on Hilton purchases, and 3x points on everything else. On top of that, you get 130,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.

Some of the best benefits of this card come from the hotel-specific benefits. For example, you get complimentary Hilton Honors gold status just for signing up, which gives you things like late checkout, possible room upgrade, and free internet access. This card also gives you a free weekend night reward at any participating Hilton around the world after spending $15,000 in a year.

Let us know what you think of our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out our tips on the best ways to save money on plane tickets in 2021.

Photo Credit from Chase.com and American Express


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