A lot of the times, signing up for a credit card can be a grueling and confusing process. Rewards, due dates, balances, fees, etc. all get jumbled together and sometimes make credit cards just not seem worth all the hassle. However, if you’re patient and willing to learn a little bit, there are actually lots of great perks you can get from using a credit card the right way. One of those great perks is rewards for airline passage and other travel expenses. Here is a list of some of the best credit cards out there that give you the most back for all your vacation and travel needs.
- Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard. This card gives you bonus miles when you make a certain dollar amount in purchases within the first three months of opening the account. For a limited time, the offer is 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000. When you use this card to make American Airline purchases, you will earn double miles every time. For all other purchases, you get one mile per dollar. You also get a free checked back every time you fly with this card, which can save you quite a bit of money if you fly frequently. Along with a free checked bag, this card also allows you access to group 1 boarding priority, so you don’t have to wait in long and obnoxious lines. Also, for those of you who love to have things to snack on when flying, you can get discounted prices on in-flight food and beverages. Depending on how much you use this card, you can qualify for up to 10,000 miles that can be redeemed back to your account. Not too shabby! Plus, with no foreign transaction fee, this is a card that you can take anywhere around the world and reap in the benefits. However, it does have a $95 annual fee, but that is waived for the first year. So, if you have excellent credit, love to travel, and want to earn miles, then this is a great card.
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card. While a lot of features on this card are the same as the previous, there are a few differences in numbers that are important enough to note. With this card, you earn double miles on all United ticket purchases and one mile per dollar for all other purchases. After spending $3,000 in the first month, you get 30,000 bonus miles, which isn’t as much s the Platinum Select MasterCard, but still a large amount. This card also gives you your first checked bag for free (saving up to $100 roundtrip) and priority boarding. Okay, so those are the similarities, now here are some great differences! You get a bonus when you add an additional user to this card, so if you’re married then that’s pretty much just free money. The amount depends if they’re running any promotions at the time, but it’s still a great benefit. You also get a 10,000-mile bonus if you spend more than $25,000 on this card annually. That’s pretty much getting paid to spend money! Another great benefit with this card are the two one-time passes you get to the United Club—that’s an airport lounge where you can spend your time waiting for your plane with complementary beverages and food, outlets, good seating, etc. Like the other card, this has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for your first year.
- British Airways Visa Signature Card. As you can tell by the title of this card, this is best for international travelers. If you’re looking for domestic travel perks, then the first two cards mentioned are probably a better fit. Also, this card has a point system called Avios, which some people haven’t liked very much. However, that doesn’t mean you need to forget this card; it has some really great features that can benefit a frequent traveler. Like the others, you get points for the money you spend. If you spend $2,000 in the first three months, you get 50,000 Avios. You also get 3 Avios for each dollar you spend on British Airway purchases. These rewards are higher than the other cards we’ve talked about so far. One of the best things about this card is its Travel Together ticket option. Pretty much, if you spend more than $30,000 a year on this card, you have the option of purchasing a Travel Together ticket. When you book a flight using Avios, you can also book another seat by using your Travel Together ticket— and the only things you have to pay are the applicable taxes and fees! Now that’s a great deal!
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. For travelers with a budget (which is probably most of us), then this is a pretty good card to have around. Beyond the points, you get for every dollar spent on normal purchases, you get double the points for purchases made to Southwest Airlines as well as Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental programs. For this card, you only have to spend $1,000 in the first three months before getting the reward of 25,000 bonus points. You also get 6,000 bonus points after your card member anniversary every year; so pretty much you make money just by having this card. The points on this card never expire, too, which is nice if you have limited vacation days. One of the best features about this card is that, if you complete 100 qualifying flights or earning 110,000 points in a calendar year, you earn Companion Status, which lets you bring a guest on every Southwest flight for free! Not only is that a terrific reward, it also lots the rest of that calendar year and the next year, so you can really enjoy that benefit.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (from American Express). We’ve talked so much about airlines, but what if you aren’t traveling by plane? Have no fear, this is a great card if you’re driving but will still stay in a hotel. Like the other cards, you get 1 point for every dollar spent on normal purchases, but you get up to 5 points per dollar spent at a Starwood hotel or resort. You also get 25,000 bonus Starpoints (their branded type of point system) once you’ve spent $3,000 in the first three months. Another great feature of this card is that you can transfer the points to numerous other frequent flier programs, so they don’t have to just go to hotels if you don’t want them too. The annual fee is waived for the first year and then it’s $95 a year.