The Best Travel Rewards Cards of 2017


When it comes to credit cards, travel rewards are some of the most covetable benefits out there. Credit cards with travel rewards are notorious for having large sign-up bonuses, and, for the prolific consumer, can rack up some serious travel rewards. With so many different options on the market, however, it’s difficult to decide which card works best for you.



American Express Platinum

Annual Fee: $550

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after $5,000 in purchases in the first three months


When the Amex Platinum card launched in 1984, it was the high-end travel card. These days, few travel credit cards are as recognizable, or come with as hefty an annual fee. Ideal for frequent solo travelers who appreciate luxury amenities and would be able to maximize the rewards in order to balance the considerable annual fee, the Amex Platinum card is a good go-to for the jet-setting businessmen and women who values their credit card specifically for its perks and would get the most out of the Amex Platinum’s serious rewards.


Who Amex Platinum is not for: the occasional traveler, families with young children, people who travel with others, someone who isn’t primarily interested in their credit card’s rewards.


Top Rewards:

  1. 5x Membership rewards points on flights booked directly through airlines

  2. $250 Air travel credit

  3. Access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges (valued at $399/year) and Delta Sky Clubs Lounges (valued at $495/year)

  4. Amex Platinum Concierge service

  5. Global Entry application compensation


Citi Prestige

Annual Fee: $450

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made in the first three months

The Citi Prestige is the top competitor to the Amex Platinum. So what sets the Citi Prestige apart? Well, for one thing, it’s much more flexible, offering a greater number of points on a larger variety of purchases, with the exception of flights. The Citi Prestige card is the card for those who have a taste for business class and long luxury vacations, and who find themselves opening their wallet more at restaurants and entertainment venues than at the ticket counter.


Who Citi Prestige is not for: serious business travelers who spend every other day up in the air, solo travelers, those whose idea of a vacation is a short weekend away from the office.


Top Rewards:

  1. $250 Air travel credit each year

  2. Complimentary 4th night at any hotel stay at hotels booked through Citi Prestige

  3. 3x points on air travel and hotels

  4. Some of the best travel protection available, including trip delay insurance, medical evacuation coverage, and rental car insurance


Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual Fee: $95, after an introductory annual fee of $0

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases in the first three months


Another flexible card for the perks-conscious business class traveler is the Chase Sapphire card, which rewards consumers by staying within the Chase family by allowing consumers to transfer points accrued with another Chase Ultimate Rewards card to go towards Chase Sapphire benefits. If you’re already a Chase cardholder, are planning on using your Chase Sapphire as more than just a travel card, and want to be part of a top-of-the-line credit cards reward program, Chase Sapphire is the card for you.


Who Chase Sapphire Preferred is not for: the luxury traveler who wants a simple, straightforward program with a rigid reward system, people spending less than $10,000 a year on their card.


Top Rewards:

  1. 2x points on travel and dining worldwide

  2. Point sharing among Chase Ultimate Rewards cards

  3. Earn 5,000 bonus points after you ad the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months


Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual Fee: $450

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases in the first three months


Much like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, with a Chase Sapphire Reserve, consumers are able to use points accrued with Ultimate Rewards cards for Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a bit more luxe in its rewards, but that comes at the price of a $450 annual fee. With the $300 yearly credit towards travel, however, the annual fee is essentially $150–well within the budget of a casual business class traveler who appreciates luxury but isn’t necessarily always on the go.


Who Chase Sapphire Reserve is not for: hard-core travelers who wear their card’s chip down booking flights; people whose favorite part of travel is the airport lounge


Top Rewards:

  1. $300 a year on travel–including everything from flights to cruises to timeshares to campgrounds.

  2. 3x points on all travel and dining purchases worldwide

  3. Priority Pass Select membership

  4. Global Entry application compensation


Ritz-Carlton Chase

Annual Fee: $395

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn two complimentary nights at any participating Ritz-Carlton Hotel after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.


The top benefit of the Ritz-Carlton Chase card over other luxury credit cards with similar annual fees is the higher rate of points accrued for every dollar spent Ritz-Carlton properties. If you’re a business class traveler who always books at the Ritz-Carlton, this card is an excellent addition to your wallet, where you’ll appreciate its extensive perks and 5x points on every dollar spent at Ritz-Carlton and partner hotels.


Who Ritz-Carlton Chase is not for: people who love luxury but don’t particularly care where they stay, or who already have a favored hotel–and it isn’t the Ritz-Carlton.


Top Rewards:

  1. 5x points for every dollar spent at Ritz-Carlton or partner hotels

  2. Complimentary upgrades to Ritz-Carlton Club Level three times annually on paid stays of up to seven nights

  3. Automatic Gold Elite status your first year

  4. Worldwide Airport lounge access.


Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Annual Fee: $89

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days


One of the most defining things about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is its simple rewards structure. This card is a bit of an oldie in the travel credit card market, but with a low annual fee and straightforward rewards program, it stands up well to the competition. Designed for the traveler who wants a no-fuss credit card with a reward system that directly contributes to their travel expenses, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is simple, versatile and convenient.


Who Barclaycard Arrival Plus is not for: Uber-high-end travelers who expect their perks to be luxe, people who don’t like traveling (what are you doing getting a travel credit card!?)


Top Rewards:

  1. Earn an unlimited 2 miles for every dollar spent on all purchases

  2. Upgrades and discounts on certain airlines

  3. Miles are redeemable for almost any travel purchase, including airfare, hotels, cruises and more


Hilton Honors American Express Aspire

Annual Fee: $450

Not on the market until January 2018


In January 2018, Hilton and Amex are set to release what’s beginning to look like the best travel card available. Like in the case of the  Ritz-Carlton Chase card, those most set to benefit from the Hilton Honors Amex Aspire rewards would be those who stay almost exclusively at Hilton properties. While the card does come with a large annual fee, the card rewards don’t require purchasing a certain amount before kicking in, like less premium versions of the card do. Which makes the Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card perfect for luxury jetsetters who want a card that will get them the most out of their vacations.


Who Hilton Honors American Express Aspire is not for: People who don’t frequently stay at Hilton hotels, people who don’t fly often.


Top Rewards:

  1. 14x points for every dollar spent at Hilton properties worldwide

  2. 7x for flights booked directly through airlines

  3. Up to $250 a year in credit at Hilton properties

  4. Hilton Honors Diamond status

  5. One weekend night reward every year; a second weekend night reward for spending $60,000 in a calendar year.


So which is the best travel card? While there are some strong contenders, it’s not quite fair to say any one card stands completely above the rest. The right card for you depends on how often you travel, where you stay and how many amenities you like your card to provide, balanced against how much you’re willing to pay in annual fees. And, of course,  if you still can’t decide, there’s always the option to get them all.