Earn More than Miles: Finding the Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Features of the best travel rewards credit cards

There are generally two main types of travel rewards credit cards: those that offer points redeemable only with particular hotels or are tied to a particular airline and those that offer generic points or miles that can be redeemed for most travel expenses.

Many people look for three things from their travel rewards cards: value, flexibility and ease of miles redemption. But what if your travel card gave you more than just miles? Find out what to look for in your travel rewards credit cards and ways to maximize your benefits.

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 Decide What You Need

Are you already a loyal patron of a particular hotel chain or airline? It would probably best suit you to get a corresponding card that will give rewards specific to these places. These are affiliated travel reward cards, meaning they are associated with a carrier or hotel and let you rack up points or miles in that specific program.

If you don’t habitually use the same travel carriers, you should look into unaffiliated travel reward cards, which allow you to pool miles or points that have cash value so you can spend for a hotel stay or flight on nearly any airline.

Are you a frequent flier or a frequent buyer? Frequent fliers benefit from airline programs that link to credit cards. They can earn miles for flights and hotels. Frequent buyers—people who use their card for a lot of purchasing—should look for spending-based rewards programs.

When scouting rewards cards, look at three main things:

  • Value: The return in cents per dollar spent.

  • Flexibility: Cards that offer the most opportunities for redemptions – no blackout dates, a variety of partners, etc. Ease of using the points or miles.

  • Cost and fees: If the card’s fees are justified by its rewards and benefits.

Do Your Research

Not all travel rewards are created equal. Each card has its own perks and downfalls. Shape your decision to your personal travel and spending habits. Some cards offer a whopping two cents per dollar spent, while most offer one. Some cards have travel blackout dates while others carry an annual fee. Also be certain you understand everything a card has to offer to avoid missing out on benefits such as travel insurance or partner discounts.

Maximize Your Perks

Sign-Up Bonuses. Many travel cards have huge sign-up bonuses and oftentimes the points are worth at least a free domestic flight. It can take a while to rack up enough points for a free flight, so sign-up bonuses are appealing to people wanting a head start on their rewards.

Points Per Dollar. Most travel credit cards will offer one point for every dollar spent. The best travel cards will give you extra points when you shop at specific retailers. Some cards even give you two points per dollar spent.

No foreign transaction fees. This is extremely important to those who use their card for foreign travel or purchases.

Discover it® Miles Card

Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase.

Sponsored

Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase.

Sponsored

Get More Mileage Out of Your Miles Credit Card.

Earn 1.5x unlimited miles on every dollar you spend. Plus your rewards never expire.

Discover it® Miles Card

Sponsored

Get More Mileage Out of Your Miles Credit Card. 

Earn 1.5x unlimited miles on every dollar you spend. Plus your rewards never expire. 

Sponsored

Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase.

Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase. Let's go.

Whether you want to earn miles on everyday spending or maximize the rewards on travel habits, there’s a card for you. Make sure you do your research in order to take full advantage of all the rewards and special offers you may not know exist.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

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  • Discover it® Miles Card

    Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase.

    Sponsored

    Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase.

    Sponsored

    Get More Mileage Out of Your Miles Credit Card.

    Earn 1.5x unlimited miles on every dollar you spend. Plus your rewards never expire.

    Discover it® Miles Card

    Sponsored

    Get More Mileage Out of Your Miles Credit Card. 

    Earn 1.5x unlimited miles on every dollar you spend. Plus your rewards never expire. 

    Sponsored

    Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase.

    Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase. Let's go.
Earn Unlimited 1.5x Miles on Every Purchase. Let's go.