Best Credit Cards for Advanced Travel

The best credit cards for advanced travel can help you get overseas faster and reward you for your travel spending. Save you money with no foreign transaction fees while traveling abroad!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card

This travel card is one of the best for any kind of traveler. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card is great for any travel purpose, for travel newbies, and for tempted travelers.

  • Large signup bonus: 50,000 reward points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Additional 5,000 bonus reward points if you add an authorized user to your account;
  • Nice rewards for dining out and travel purchases;
  • No foreign transaction fee;
  • Access to rewards maximization strategy if combined with Chase Freedom® credit card;
  • $95 annual fee waived for the first year.

Signup bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card offers you a great signup bonus – as soon as you spend $4,000 on this card within the first 3 months, you get 50,000 reward points. You also get an additional 5,000 points when you authorize the first user on your card.

Reward points

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card, you get 2 reward points per each $1 spent towards travel purchases and dining out, and 1 point per each $1 spent on all other purchases. Notably, not only airfare and hotel stays are considered as “travel purchases,” but also a wide range of other travel-related expenses, such as taxis, toll roads, car rentals and others.

Points redemption

The points earning rate offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card might not seem very profitable as compared to other travel credit cards, but this card really shines when you travel a lot and redeem your points for travel. When you redeem points obtained on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card on airfare and other travel-related purchases, you get a 25% increase in your redemption rate, i.e., you redeem points with an effective rate of 1.25 cents per 1 point. You also can transfer your points to one of the Chase partners – to see the full lists, check our review of Chase transfer partners’ airlines and hotel loyalty programs.

What is also important about this card is that holders of the Chase Freedom® credit card can use a travel maximization strategy focused on points transfer from one Chase credit card to another. To learn more about this strategy, read our guide “Combine Chase Cards to Maximize Travel Rewards.”

How much it costs

$95 annual fee is waived for the first year. A variable 16.99% - 23.99% APR is applied based on your creditworthiness. The bank might apply a penalty fee of up to $37 on late or returned payments.

To learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card, read our full review.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards®

This is one of the best options for those who want to earn points at a good rate on all purchase categories (if Elite status has been reached). Points redemption for travel works as a reimbursement of expenses. You are not tied to a particular list of transfer partners anymore!

  • No annual fee;
  • 0% foreign transaction fee;
  • Rewards on all purchases;
  • Quite valuable 20,000-point signup bonus (worth $200 if redeemed for travel);
  • Flexible options for redemption on travel.
  • Basic rewards rate is lower compared to most other travel cards (1.5 points per $1).

Reward points

Spend $1,000 on this card within the first 3 months and get a 20,000-point signup bonus. Each $1 spent on all purchases grants you 1.5 reward points. This is a distinctive feature of the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card – you get quite a good amount of points without the need to worry how to maximize your rewards.

Points redemption

Of course, such an earnings rate might seem low compared to other travel credit cards, but tempted Bank of America customers might increase their effective points earning rate up to 2.62 points per each $1 spent on all purchases. To do this, you need to have a checking or savings account at Bank of America and reach a certain Elite status tier within the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® loyalty program.

Another great option to earn a lucrative number of points is to pay for airfare and hotel stays with this card – travel purchases will bring you 3 points per each $1. Points redemption on travel with this card works as travel expenses reimbursement – first you make a purchase, then you redeem points to get compensation for it in the form of a statement credit.

How much it costs

Annual fee is $0. This card has an introductory 0% APR for 12 months. After that, a variable 15.99% - 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers applies, based on your creditworthiness. A cash advance APR is 25.99%. Penalty APR up to 29.99% applies indefinitely if you make a late payment. Also, a penalty fee of up to $38 for late payments, and an up to $27 penalty fee for returned payments.

To learn more about the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card, read our full review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

This is one of the greatest airline co-branded credit cards that allows your companions travel for free!

  • No foreign transaction fee;
  • 60,000 points signup bonus;
  • Companion Pass after 110,000 points earned;
  • Card anniversary points bonus.
  • $99 annual fee;
  • Limited list of destinations to fly with Southwest airlines;
  • No luxury perks.

Reward points

You get a 60,000-point signup bonus after you spend $2,000 on this card within the first 3 months. You get 2 reward points per each $1 spent towards Southwest Airlines flights and car rental agencies. 1 point per each $1 will be earned on all other purchases. Your points never expire as long as you keep your account open. Plus, each credit card anniversary you get 6,000 bonus points. Moreover, for the first 3 months after account opening, you get 1 point per each $1 of the balance transfer (for the first $15,000).

Additional benefits

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier credit card provides mostly flight-related benefits. First and second checked bags (if they meet size and weight requirements) are free, and no change fee will be applied. Plus, you can book Southwest tickets without blackout dates.

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier credit card, you can easily move towards Southwest Rapid Rewards® Elite status, called “Companion Pass.” As soon as you perform 100 one-way trips with Southwest during a calendar year, or earn 110,000 reward points during a calendar year, you will be able to get a free ticket for any companion to fly with you on any flight with Southwest.

How much it costs

The annual fee is $99 A variable 16.99% - 23.99% APR applies according to your creditworthiness. Also, the bank charges penalty fees of up to $39 in case of a late or returned payment.

To learn more about Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier credit card, read our full review.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express

This card is a winner in the “best for hotel” category among travel credit cards. It has a great points earning rate for purchases at SPG® and Marriott properties, great redemption rate for hotel stays, and a bonus for points transfer to partner airlines.

  • Relatively low 16.24% - 20.24% variable APR;
  • Cost-efficient rewards offer for hotel stays;
  • No foreign transaction fee;
  • Opportunity to move towards elite Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) status;
  • List of benefits at SPG® brand hotels, such as free in-room Wi-Fi.
  • Best rewards available only if you stay at Starwood brand hotels (Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, etc.);
  • $95 annual fee waived for the first year.

Reward points

Spend $3,000 on this card within the first 3 months to earn a 25,000-point signup bonus. With The Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express credit card, you earn up to 5 reward points per each $1 spent at Starwood brand hotels, 2 points at Marriott hotels, and 1 point on all other purchases.

Points redemption

Most of the redemption options available with this card are quite regular (gift cards, merchandise, etc.), but the most profitable one is to redeem points on hotel stays within the SPG® hotel chain. If you redeem points on hotel stays at SPG®, you get one of the most attractive redemption rates among hotel credit cards – around 2 cents per 1 reward point.

Additional benefits

Also, each time you transfer 20,000 points to one of 30 airline partners, you get an additional 5,000 points on your account. In addition, with this card you automatically get a list of complimentary services, such as free in-room Wi-Fi and late checkout.

How much it costs

$95 annual fee is waived for the first year. A variable 16.24% - 20.24% APR applies according to your creditworthiness. A 29.99% penalty APR to new transactions on your account might be applied (for at least 6 months) if you make a late payment or your payment is returned. Also, the bank may charge an up to $38 fee for late or returned payments.

To learn more about The Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express, read our full review.

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