Best Travel Credit Cards of 2021

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

By just about any measure, 2020 was a year spent at home - according to data from the TSA, 178 million fewer Americans flew in the last 3 months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.* It should come as no surprise then that prospective passengers are gearing up now more than ever for a much-needed getaway as vaccines are becoming more widely available.

The good news is that it’s never been easier to save hundreds on a trip with the right travel credit card and a little planning. Many of the top travel cards have truly staggering welcome offers that usually kick in after spending a certain amount on the card after 3 months, so if you’re eyeing a post-vaccination vacation, now is the perfect time to apply.

Read on to discover how much a travel card could work for you – you might even be able to fly practically free: 

Discover it® Miles

on Discover's secure site

 

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3.7/5.0 from 180 Offer Ratings
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(180) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee. There’s a reason this card is a favorite among frequent travelers – it’s simple, easy-to-use and incredibly powerful.

Welcome Offer: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

Annual Fee: It’s so nice we’ll say it twice: this card comes with a $0 annual fee.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure site

 

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4.0/5.0 from 119 Offer Ratings
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(119) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: This card one of the simplest – but most impactful – travel rewards programs out there: earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.

Welcome Offer: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.

Annual Fee: All the rewards above come with a $95 annual fee, but this can easily be offset in your first year with this card’s solid welcome offer.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

on Bank of America's secure site

 

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5.0/5.0 from 124 Offer Ratings
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(124) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire. Those points can be redeemed for nearly any travel purchase in the form of statement credit, so you’ll always get the most out of your rewards.

Welcome Offer: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0 – and since this card also doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees, you’ll be earning rewards without having to worry about costs adding up abroad.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

on Chase's secure site

 

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3.9/5.0 from 216 Offer Ratings
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(216) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: If you’re a foodie, take note: cardholders earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases.

Welcome Offer: This is where this card really moves into the top-tier. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Annual Fee: This card comes with a $95 annual fee, but as with some other cards on this list, the astonishing welcome offer more than outweighs this in your first year.

Citi Premier® Card

on Citibank's secure site

 

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3.8/5.0 from 53 Offer Ratings
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(53) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Earn 3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels and 1X per $1 spent on all other purchases – unlike some of the other cards on this list, the rewards on the Citi Premier® Card make it equally as strong at home or abroad.

Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $95, but don’t forget about the amazing welcome offer and exceptional ongoing rewards rate.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

on Chase's secure site

 

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3.8/5.0 from 64 Offer Ratings
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(64) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Since those rotating categories change each month, this card gives you incredible flexibility in how you choose to maximize your rewards.

Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee: Even though this card has a premium rewards package, it still comes with a $0 annual fee.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

on Citibank's secure site

 

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3.0/5.0 from 14 Offer Ratings
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(14) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: This card has a solid three-tiered rewards program if you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

Welcome Offer: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0 – this is an incredible deal if you favor American Airlines.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

on U.S. Bank's secure site

 

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3.7/5.0 from 35 Offer Ratings
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(35) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Earn 4X points on travel and at gas stations. Earn 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, dining and streaming services, and a $30 credit for annual streaming service purchases such as Netflix and Spotify®. Plus, you’ll earn 1X points on all purchases outside those categories, so you’ll be earning no matter where you use this versatile card.

Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That's a $500 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more.

Annual Fee: The good news is you won't have to pay in your first year: $0 introductory annual fee for the first 12 months, after that $95.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure site

 

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3.7/5.0 from 43 Offer Ratings
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(43) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Cardholders earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5 Miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel with this premium travel card, with an additional 10,000 bonus miles rewarded every year, starting at the first anniversary. Plus, you could enjoy unlimited access to the Capital One Lounge and 1300+ Priority Pass lounges at airports and other venues worldwide - and if you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll receive up to a $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry.

Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 Miles when you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening if you’re a new cardholder.

Annual Fee: This top-shelf card comes with an annual fee to match: $395 per year. While that may seem high, don’t forget the ongoing benefits and 10X miles multipliers available on travel booked through Capital One – with frequent use, those rewards dollars could add up fast.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

on U.S. Bank's secure site

 

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3.7/5.0 from 59 Offer Ratings
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(59) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Not only is the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card a solid travel card, but it’s also an amazing card for everyday use. Earn 4X points on dining, takeout and food delivery, 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services and gas stations, and 1X points on all other eligible purchases.

Welcome Offer: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual Fee: This card immediately moves to the top of the heap with a $0* annual fee.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

on Citibank's secure site

 

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3.9/5.0 from 12 Offer Ratings
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(12) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases, so even if you aren’t regularly flying you can still earn a significant amount of rewards miles.

Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months – this is almost unheard of for cards that have an annual fee. Coupled with the strong welcome offer, this card makes a big impression in its first year.

American Express® Gold Card

on American Express's secure site

Rates & Fees

Terms Apply

 

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3.1/5.0 from 32 Offer Ratings
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(32) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.

Welcome Offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

Annual Fee: This card comes with a $250 annual fee. That may seem high, but keep in mind the best-in-class points multiplier and the generous welcome offer.

To see rates & fees for American Express® Gold Card please click here.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

on American Express's secure site

Rates & Fees

Terms Apply

 

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3.8/5.0 from 37 Offer Ratings
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(37) Over the Past 60 Days!

Travel Rewards: 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply. It should come as no surprise that this is a significantly stronger offer than the American Express® Gold Card – if you use American Express Travel, you won’t find a better rewards program on this list.

Welcome Offer: 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee: $695. That may seem eye-wateringly large, but remember that you’re absolutely getting what you pay for in this card’s top-of-the-line rewards.

To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.

Apply Now

There’s never been a better time to apply for a new travel rewards credit card. Looking to apply? It’s quick and easy. Click Apply Now to fill out the application on the issuer’s secure site - you may be able to find out within minutes if your application is approved.

Methodology

Each month, the CompareCards team reviews over 100 credit card offers examining the features most valuable to consumers including rewards, sign-up bonus, the interest rate, fees and other features to identify the best offers shown here.

*According to TSA checkpoint travel numbers, total throughput in Q4 2020 (September 1-December 31) was 99,029,511; for the same period in 2019 total throughput was 277,634,770 passengers.