Best travel credit cards of 2023 (2023)

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MoneyWatch: Managing Your Money

By Kendall Little

/ CBS News

Best travel credit cards of 2023 (2)

If you're planning to go on a trip this year, it pays to have a travel credit card in your wallet.

With this type of rewards card, you can save on travel expenses while enjoying added benefits, annual credits and travel protections. Whether you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime whirlwind vacation or a family road trip for the summer, applying for the right card now can save you money and stress both while booking and when it's time to go.

Below, we've gathered our top picks for today's best travel credit cards.

Get started by comparing thetop travel credit cards you can qualify for now.

6 best travel credit cards of 2023

Our list of best travel credit cards includes options for both beginners and travel pros. These cards offer a range of benefits, rewards and costs to help you maximize your spending at home and away.

To find the best option for you, choose a card with rewards categories and redemption options that align with your spending and travel preferences. And remember, the best way to maximize the value of anyrewards credit cardis by paying your balance in full and on time each month, so you can maintain good credit and avoid high-interest credit card debt.

  • Best sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Best everyday rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for dining out: American Express® Gold Card
  • Best for premium perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Best for annual credits: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Best for no annual fee: Discover it® Miles

Best sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardisn't just one of the best travel cards — it's also offering one of the best sign-up bonuses you'll find on any card. You can get 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of the account opening. And because Sapphire Preferred points are worth 25% more when you use them to book travel through Chase, you can get up to $1,000 in value from the bonus alone.

As for added benefits, this card has a $50 annual credit for hotel stays booked with Chase, a 10% anniversary points bonus each year, a free year of DoorDash DashPass (activate by Dec. 31, 2024), bonus points on Lyft rides (activate by March 31, 2025) and more.

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Rewards:5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases

Best everyday rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Cardhas one of the most straightforward rewards structures for travel rewards, with a flat rate on everything you purchase. The Venture card benefits from flexible redemptions, too; you can use miles to book travel through Capital One's portal, transfer to partners or put them toward travel purchases made within the past 90 days as a statement credit. When you sign up, you can earn a 75,000-mile bonus after spending $4,000 within the first three months.

  • Annual fee:$95
  • Rewards:2x miles on every dollar you spend, plus 5x miles when you book hotels or rental cars through Capital One Travel

Learn more about how to earn 2x miles with the Capital One Venture today.

Best for dining out: American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is a great option for anyone who spends a lot on food. Benefits include up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month) and up to $120 in dining credits ($10 monthly) to use at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly,, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. When you sign up, you can also earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first six months. Terms apply and enrollment is required for select benefits.

When you're ready to redeem your rewards, you can transfer your points to partners at a 1:1 value or book travel through American Express — as well as standard redemption options like statement credits and gift cards.

  • Annual fee:$250 (see Rates and Fees)
  • Rewards:4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x), plus 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on and 1x points on everything else (Terms Apply)

Start saving on travel and dining now with Amex Gold.

Best for premium perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express caters to travelers looking for both convenience and luxury. It charges a whopping $695 annual fee but offers plenty of premium perks in exchange (see Rates and Fees).

To start, you'll earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 within the first six months of the account opening. Just a few notable benefits include airport lounge access, hotel elite status and more. And, to top it all off, annual travel credits include:

  • Up to $20 in monthly statement credits toward eligible digital entertainment services
  • Up to $200 back in statement credits on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel (requires a minimum two-night stay)
  • $155 in Walmart+ credit, put toward your monthly membership charge to your card
  • Up to $200 airline fee credit with your choice of airline
  • Up to $200 Uber Cash and Uber VIP status
  • $300 Equinox credit toward Equinox+ or gym membership
  • $189 CLEAR® credit
  • Up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit
  • Annual fee:$695
  • Rewards:5X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year), 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel and 1 point per dollar on other purchases (Terms Apply)

Learn more about upgrading your travel experience with the Platinum Card from Amex.

Best for annual credits: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase's premium travel credit card option, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, also has plenty to offer frequent travelers. The card comes with a $300 annual travel credit — which itself goes a long way to offset the annual fee. You'll also get Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership; an up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck and more.

You can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. Like the Sapphire Preferred Card, this card earns a boosted rate for redemptions. Sapphire Reserve cardholders will get a 50% points boost when redeeming points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, making the bonus worth up to $900 in value.

  • Annual fee:$550
  • Rewards:10x points on hotels and car rentals and 5x points on flights purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on other travel (this rate kicks in after you've used the $300 travel credit) and dining and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Best for no annual fee: Discover it® Miles

If you're looking for an option with no annual fees, the Discover it Miles card offers solid rewards value and a welcome bonus. Not only will you earn on every dollar you spend — which you can use toward any purchases on your card statement — but Discover also doubles your total rewards earned in the first year. With the Cashback Match first-year bonus, you'll get an unlimited match of every mile you earn within the first year of the account opening, with no limits.

  • Annual fee:$0
  • Rewards:1.5x miles on every dollar you spend

What to consider before opening a travel credit card

Choosing the right travel card can depend a lot on how you spend your money and how you like to travel.

First, you'll want to decide what type of travel card user you are. Do you want to maximize your spending at home to put toward future travel? Then a travel card with everyday rewards but great redemption options, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture, might be the best choice.

If you want to earn rewards when you book travel to put toward future travel, on the other hand, you'll want to focus on high-earning travel rewards. The Platinum Card from Amex or Chase Sapphire Reserve could be good options, in that case.

Another thing to consider is the annual fee. While travel cards with high annual fees have a lot to offer, make sure you'll actually use the benefits before you apply. If you don't like to get to the airport early and rarely fly with layovers, for example, airport lounge access may not hold much value for you. With the right travel card, the value of your benefits and rewards should more than make up the annual fee cost.

Finally, explore all your redemption options. Many travel credit cards are most valuable when you use your points or miles toward travel. This includes booking on your issuer's portal or transferring to airline and hotel partners. Look into the value of your points when you make certain redemptions — the Chase Sapphire cards, for example, offer boosted value when redeeming for travel — and review travel partners to make sure they include the travel brands that you prefer.

Learn more about top travel credit card options today.

The bottom line

A travel credit card is one of the best tools you can use to save on your next vacation. But timing is important. Apply early enough so that you can earn the sign-up bonus and start banking rewards to redeem toward your trip. Then, you can enjoy the annual perks and ongoing rewards to keep getting value from your card long-term.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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