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Can money buy happiness? When it comes to vacation travel, the answer may be yes! Recent research shows that how you spend your money can impact your overall level of happiness.
Spending money on experiences brings people more lasting happiness than buying material things, according to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, professors and authors of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending.
Whether you are dreaming of a relaxing vacation in Myrtle Beach, an Alaskan cruise or a snorkeling trip in the Galapagos Islands, using the right credit card with a massive sign-up bonus can offset the cost of your next vacation. A new vacation experience equals more happiness. A big sign-up bonus means less money spent.
We've done the research and identified the top travel credit card offers available. These cards could be more valuable than what you have in your wallet now, simply because of the sign-up bonus. Plus, once you book your vacation you will get a nice happiness boost in anticipation of the new experience, according to the research. Here are the six best travel cards to get you started on your next vacation today.
Discover it® Miles
Sign-up bonus: Discover promises to match the points you earn in your first year of using the card. If you earn 30,000 miles, you get 60,000 miles!
In a crowded field of expensive travel cards, this is a first-class, no annual fee performer. This versatile card offers you the choice of travel statement credit or cash-back on an unlimited 1.5 miles earned for every $1 spent. Most travel cards don’t have a 0% intro period. You will get a generous 0% introductory APR on purchases for 14 months. If you have a big trip coming up, use this card and take 14 months to pay it off with no interest. No blackout dates, fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
Why We Like It: 0% intro APR, flexible rewards, no annual fee.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: Snag a generous one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $400 in travel.
You've seen the commercials. Say goodbye to airline blackout dates with this card in your wallet. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers an all-star line-up of benefits that will take travelers far. Earn unlimited 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. These miles are easy to redeem and can be used to fly on any airline or stay at any hotel with no blackout dates. Don't forget your camera.
Why We Like It: Flexible redemption, and Miles won't expire for the life of the account. No foreign transaction fees. There is an annual fee, but it's waived the first year, then $59. If you don't want an annual fee consider its sister card the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. That's worth a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.
The sky is the limit with this flexible travel rewards card with no annual fee. Pull down big travel rewards that can be used for any travel purchase if you have this card in your wallet. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card is one of the few travel rewards cards with no annual fee. Rack up Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. Points can be redeemed for any travel purchase in the form of a statement credit. That includes hotel, airlines, rental cars, baggage and even cruises.
Why We Like It: No annual fee, flexible travel rewards. Points won't expire.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Sign-up bonus: This flexible travel card starts out with a bang. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.. That's worth $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
The breathtaking sign-up bonus will go a long way toward making your next vacation dream a reality. Cash in your points on hotels, airfare, and even car rentals or cruises with this flexible travel card. Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Your points are worth 25% more when you book airfare, hotels or car rentals through the easy to use Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
Why We Like It: Valuable sign up bonus. No blackout dates, flexible travel rewards. Annual fee waived the first year (then $95). No foreign transaction fees.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $200 in travel.
If you are looking for a no-annual fee credit card, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card can help you earn travel rewards fast. This card has a relatively low bar to meet for the sign-up bonus. That means you won't feel pressured into spending more just to get the bonus. You will earn 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. What’s best about this card? The miles you earn are good for any travel expense like airfare, hotel rooms, cruises and car rentals. To figure out how many miles you need, add 2 zeros to your travel cost. If a flight costs $210, you would need 21,000 miles in rewards.
Why We Like It: This card comes with an APR of 0% intro on purchases for 12 months. You can use this to pay off a big purchase, like an upcoming trip and pay it off interest-free during that time. Start earning unlimited miles on every purchase now. No annual fee.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months..
American Express rolled out the red carpet with a new set of high-end benefits this year for its premium travel card. If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, you will be handsomely rewarded with this prestigious card in your wallet. There is a seemingly endless list of exclusive, high-end perks for Platinum Card Members. Here are the high points: 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.. Get up to $200 Uber savings annually and a $200 airline fee credit. Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Escape into a luxurious airport sanctuary with access to over 1,000 airport lounges, including the renowned Centurion® Lounge. You'll get up to a $100 statement credit when you apply for Global Entry or TSA Pre ✓® every four years. Did we mention you'll get access to complimentary Wi-Fi access with Boingo?
Why We Like It: This card opens the door to a new layer of luxury and exclusive benefits. If you appreciate quality, when you do the math, the benefits far outweigh the $550 annual fee.
Bump up the happiness level in your life! Planning your next vacation means memories for a lifetime. Each one of these credit cards offers a big sign-up bonus that can help offset the cost of your next vacation.