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Top 15 Travel Credit Cards for November 2018

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.

This list is based on what travel credit cards I would recommend to most people with a good credit score and with taking the Chase 5/24 rule into major consideration.

5/24 is a rule that prevents you from being approved for certain Chase cards if you’ve opened up five or more accounts in the previous 24 months. If you have fewer than five cards opened in the past 24 months, then you’re “under 5/25” but if you’ve opened five or more accounts then you’re “over 5/24”

The result of the 5/24 rule means that you typically want to pursue cards affected by 5/24 first while you are still eligible for them. This list has a handful of Chase cards which are affected by 5/24 and thus are cards you’ll want to consider first.

The non-Chase cards on the list are all very solid cards but before going for those cards, make sure you’ve given the Chase cards a proper look. Unless you’re over 5/24, some of those cards might be better putting off into the future.


1. Chase Ink Preferred

The Chase Ink Preferred is a business card so it won’t report to your personal credit report. This means that it won’t affect your 5/24 status and that’s a major reason why you would want to pursue it first. The Chase Ink Preferred has a high sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. The card also earns 3X per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on all of the following categories:

  • Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets and taxis
  • Shipping purchases
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
  • Internet, cable and phone services

With its high sign-up bonus of 80,000 points and solid bonus categories, this is the #1 business card offered by Chase and one of the best ways to quickly accumulate Ultimate Rewards that you can transfer out to valuable transfer partners like United, Southwest, Avios, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, and more.

First class on Singapore Airlines.

2. Chase Ink Cash

The Chase Ink Cash also won’t report to your personal credit report so again this is one of the first cards you’d want to consider if you were under 5/24. The Ink Cash comes with a great sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after you spend $3,000 in the first three months along with a 0% APR period.

That’s worth at least $500 which is very competitive for a no annual fee credit card but the card also has some fantastic bonus categories. The Chase Ink Cash earns 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year at:

  • Internet
  • Cable
  • Phone services
  • Office supply stores

And it also earns 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each year at:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants

You can’t transfer your Ultimate Rewards directly to travel partners with the Ink Cash, though. However, if you have a premium card like the Chase Ink Preferred or a Sapphire card like the ones below, you can still transfer them to partners. Thus, the Ink Cash is a great partner card to other Chase cards.

If you want to explore more of the top business cards which can keep you below 5/24 since they don’t report to your personal credit report then check out this article (most of those cards won’t report to your personal credit report).

I’ll now focus the rest of the article on the personal travel cards.


3. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Top 10 Travel Credit Cards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the ultimate travel credit cards. It’s got a great sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months but it also has some other valuable perks. Two of the strongest benefits include a $300 travel credit along with the ability to earn 3X on dining and travel. The card also comes with Priority Pass and the ability to redeem points at 1.5 cents per point through Chase Travel Portal.

It also offers some of the best travel and purchase protections offered by any credit card. You might be turned off by the $450 annual fee, but with its $300 travel credit you can knock down that fee to $150. And it’s really easy to earn more than $150 of rewards with the bonus spending.

The $300 travel credit can be used on just about anything that codes as travel.

4. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Top 10 Travel Credit Cards January 2018

The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a solid sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. This card is still one of the top travel credit cards available to the public, since it earns 2X on a broad travel category and 2X on dining and also offers primary rental car insurance.

While not as impressive as the Sapphire Reserve, its annual fee is waived the first year and after that it’s only $95. For many people paying $450 for the Sapphire Reserve is just asking too much, regardless of the potential return in value, and so the Sapphire Preferred is often the more practical option. If you’re averse to high annual fees but want a solid travel credit card, this card might be perfect for you.


5. Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is another card affected by the 5/24 rule. The card currently offers a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. But it also comes with a 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.

With the Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 1.5% back on all purchases regardless of the category that they fall in. The 1.5% back and the 0% APR, make this an ideal card for holiday shopping coming up if you think you’ll need to carry a balance for a little while. Also, this card comes with no annual fee and it’s one of the easier Chase cards to get approved for.


6. American Express Gold Card

The new Amex Gold Card is a very attractive option. the standard public offer is for 25,000 Membership Rewards but you can find referral offers that offer 50,000 Membership Rewards Points after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Also, as part of a limited time offer, you’ll also be able to receive 20% back as a statement credit at US restaurants within the first three months of Card Membership, up to $100 back.

But what really makes this card stand out are the bonus categories which are:

  • 3X on airfare 
  • 4X points at U.S. Restaurants
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spend per calendar year)

The card also comes with a $120 dining credit, which offers a $10 monthly credit that can be used at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Shake Shack (read more about that credit here). With the addition of a $100 airline credit, it’s very easy knock down the effective annual fee to just $30.

I plan on putting all of my US dining and supermarket spend on this card for the foreseeable future and am very excited about the prospect of earning more rewards. If you’re under 5/24, I wouldn’t jump on this card unless you have no need for any of the Chase cards on this list, though. But once you’re over 5/24, this is a really valuable card for dining and grocery spend. 


7. Platinum Card from American Express

Top 10 Travel Credit Cards

The Platinum Card comes with a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months (75K offer in Google Incognito and there are even methods to get 100K offers). This card is loaded with benefits which include:

If you’re able to utilize the $200 annual travel credit and the $200 in Uber credits, you’re looking at an effective annual fee of $150, which is fantastic considering the benefits listed above.

American Express has arguably better transfer partners than Chase. With American Express, you can transfer Membership Rewards to airlines like ANA, Aeroplan, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways/Iberia, Flying Blue, Delta, JetBlue, Etihad, Emirates, and several others. These partners give you maximum flexibility across several alliances and partnerships making it much easier to find good rewards to use your points on.

I personally would also hold off on the Platinum Card unless I was able to pick up a 100K offer. In that case, I’d be willing to burn a 5/24 slot for the Platinum.

Click here to learn more about this card. 


8. Hilton Honors Aspire Card

Hilton Aspire Bonus

If you are interested in staying at Hilton properties then the Amex Hilton Aspire should be on your radar for several reasons. This card offers a welcome bonus of 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. It also has some great bonus categories of:

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases

The Aspire also comes with a number of credits that help offset the $450 annual fee:

  • $250 airline incidental fee statement credit
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • $100 on property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking the exclusive Aspire Card package

You’ll also earn complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status and one weekend night at any hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio (upon opening account and on account anniversary). For someone looking for meaningful hotel benefits, it’s harder to find a better hotel credit card than the Hilton Aspire.


9. Barclays Aviator Red

The Aviator Red comes with an offer for 50,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase. Sign-up bonuses don’t get much easier than these, as all it takes is making a single purchase to earn your bonus!

It’s essentially like paying $95 for 50,000 AAdvantage miles, which is a deal I’d go for just about any day. This offer does at times rise to 60,000 so you might want to hold off until that higher bonus rolls around. I like to use AA miles for partners and have had some of my top award travel “moments” flying on partners like Etihad, Qatar, and Cathay Pacific.

You might also want to the consider the Citi Platinum Select, which if offering 50,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and 10,000 bonus miles after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 12 months. If you go for that card, be sure to request a match to 75,000 offer (YMMV).


10. US Bank Altitude Reserve

The US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card comes with  a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points (worth $750 in travel) after spending $4,500 within the first 90 days. It also has one of the highest travel credits of $325 making it easy to offset the $400 annual fee.

This is a great card for those who utilize mobile wallets because it earns 3X on eligible mobile wallet purchases, which can be a significant advantage for some.  The card also earns 3X on travel booked directly with airlines, hotels, taxis, trains, etc. (but no OTAs).

Finally, the card also comes with the following benefits:

  • Priority Pass (with only 4 entries)
  • 12 complimentary GoGo passes each membership year
  • TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry $100 credit
  • $400 annual fee

The biggest drawback of this card for many will be getting approved. You need to have been an existing US Bank customer for at least 5 days (e.g., hold a checking account or similar) to be eligible. Also, US Bank is notoriously strict when it comes to approving applicants with many inquiries on their credit report so a lot of folks might be facing a rejection.

Still, you can net $675 in travel from the sign-up bonus + travel credit after you factor in the annual fee and that’s one of the most generous bonuses available right now.


11. World of Hyatt card

The World of Hyatt card is one of the best hotel credit cards available since it comes with a great sign-up bonus, great bonus category earning, and the opportunity for free nights. It’s also one of the best hotel cards for climbing your way up the elite status tiers for Hyatt.

Here’s what the sign-up bonus looks like:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Plus, earn an additional 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

And here’s what the bonus earning looks like:

  • 4X spent with your card at Hyatt hotels, including participating restaurants and spas
  • 2X on local transit and commuting, including taxis, mass transit, tolls and ride-share services
  • 2X at restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
  • 2X on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline
  • 2X spent on fitness club and gym memberships

The card also comes with the ability to earn free nights and to climb up the elite status tiers of Hyatt.

  • Free nights: 
    • Receive one free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary
    • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Elite status:
    • Comes with Hyatt Discoverist status
    • Receive 5 qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year
    • Earn 2 additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card

If you value the Hyatt program and you put a lot of spend on your card then this could be a great way to obtain and hold on to Hyatt elite status for only $95 a year.


12. Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card comes with a 50,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 (worth $500) within the first 3 months and has a tiered bonus earning structure (read more here). It only has a $95 annual fee but comes with a $100 credit for airline incidentals, (baggage fees, in-flight drinks, etc. but excludes airfare) and a $100 Global Entry credit

The card offers you maximum flexibility when redeeming your points since they effectively act as a credit that can be used on any purchase, starting at $25. Factoring in the purchases needed to meet the minimum spend requirement, you’ll be left with $560 worth of statement credit with this card. Having the flexibility to use your miles on any purchase makes it a lot easier to purchase airfare and hotels and put your itinerary together.

I’m not crazy about the cash back earnings on this card (1.5% back on all purchases and 2% on travel and dining), but it’s still a great way to cover $500+ worth of travel expenses with its sign-up bonus. Also, the travel credits are issued by calendar year, so it’s easy to come out ahead even with the $95 annual fee that is not waived.


13. Avianca Vuela Visa Card

The Avianca Vuela Visa Card is definitely one of the lesser-known cards but it’s currently offering a 60,000 point bonus when you enter promo code  LM17WB. That’s huge because the bonus if offered to you after you make your first purchase though the annual fee is a little high at $149.

The card offers some interesting bonus earning potential which includes:

  • 3 LifeMiles on Avianca purchases
  • 2 LifeMiles on groceries and gas
  • 1 LifeMiles on other purchases

You’ll also get the following benefits:

  • 15% discount when purchasing miles with Multiply Your Miles
  • 50% off an award ticket to Colombia or Central America after $12K spend in a year
  • 50% off a second award ticket to Colombia or Central America after $24K spend in a year
  • Free additional bag when flying between the U.S. and Central America

The card issued by by Banco Popular which is a bank based in Puerto Rico. This is nice because it gives you a break from some of the other main banks like Chase, Amex, BOA, etc. so you can mix up your credit card applications.

Avianca is a Star Alliance member, so you’ll be able to use your miles on some great redemptions and will be able to avoid surcharges. You can read more about this card here. 


14. Barclays Arrival Plus 

The Barclays Arrival Plus comes with a great 70,000 points sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. It’s a bit of higher spend requirement than they offered in the past, but $700 worth of travel that can be used on just about any travel expense is a great offer.

The card will earn 2% back towards travel on all purchases going forward but you’d need to spend a lot to justify the $89 annual fee (that is waived the first year). Still, I love the Arrival Plus and I’ve used it to cover things like surcharges on award flights and hotel stays as well. It’s a great option to have in your wallet.


15. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture has an early spend bonus of 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. It earns unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 10X on purchases with Hotels.com.

The card comes with a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, and it’s $95 after that. If you don’t want to bother with transferring out your miles and point to travel partners, the Venture card is one of the most practical options for you.

Click here to learn more about this card. 

H-Town based Attorney turned credit card rewards expert. Founder of UponArriving.com.