Travel credit cards can be very rewarding. A travel card can lead to big savings when you pay in a foreign currency, earn you points or miles for your everyday transactions and get you exclusive travel perks. Many travel cards charge an annual fee, but there are plenty of cards charging no annual fees while still offering solid rewards. Read this article to help you pick the best travel credit card, no annual fee or sign-up costs.
To pick the best travel credit card it helps to understand what the travel credit card market offers. Travel cards can roughly be divided into four categories:
No forex fee cards. Some credit cards waive the usual fees on foreign exchange transactions. These fees can be as high as 3% of the transaction, adding an effective 3% tax to your spend abroad. If you spend a lot overseas it can simply be better to focus on no forex fees as the main travel card benefit, but often 0% forex fees comes alongside a range of other benefits.
All-purpose travel credit cards. Often issued just with the credit card company’s branding (think American Express or Bank of America) these cards offer a broad range of travel benefits covering flights, hotels and more while sometimes also featuring a points program, with points redeemable for any type of travel.
Airmiles credit cards. Usually issued as a partnership between a credit card provider and an airline, these miles-earning cards help you save up for flight redemption via your everyday card use. As you pay with your card you accrue airmiles with the airline’s loyalty program. Some cards include the option to earn bonus miles and airline cards also sometimes add perks such as free luggage.
Hotel credit cards. Just like airmiles cards, hotel loyalty cards let you accrue points on a hotel’s loyalty scheme which you can later redeem for rooms at the hotel. Issued in collaboration between a hotel and a credit card company, hotel credit cards often also include automatic enrollment with the hotel’s loyalty program at an elite tier, which could lead to benefits such as room upgrades.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Don’t like the idea of paying an annual fee just to keep your credit card? Spend a lot in foreign currencies? Consider the Travel Rewards card from Bank of America. Pay abroad with this card and you won’t pay a foreign transaction conversation fee. You also earn 1.5 points per dollar spent which you can redeem for a statement credit. There are even 25,000 points on offer if you spend $1,000 within 90 days.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Card: Similar in profile to the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Card also charges no annual fee and no foreign transaction conversion fees. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card differs in this respect: it rewards you with 1.5% cash back on your purchases, which is straight-forward compared to rewards allocated in the shape of points.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Want to get a bit more out of your no annual fee travel card? The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card comes with Visa Signature benefits, including complimentary upgrades, a concierge service, and auto rental collision damage waiver. You also earn 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend which you can, in turn, redeem for a statement credit.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card: You won’t pay an annual fee on the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card and it delivers very solid rewards when you spend in certain categories. Earn 3X points for every dollar in spending when you use the card to pay for gas, travel (including flights and hotels) and even streaming services. Points are redeemable for flights and other purchases.
Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: If you frequently fly Delta you might want to get a miles-earning card that you can use to top up your Delta Skymiles balance. The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card earns you miles every time you pay and charges no annual fee. At the time of writing, you could even earn a 10,000-mile bonus just by spending $500 on your card.
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Prefer American Airlines? Top up your AAdvantage miles using the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card which carries no annual fee and is issued by Citi. You get 2X miles when you pay for groceries or flights with American Airlines. At the time of writing, you can earn 10,000 miles as a sign-up bonus if you spend $500 within 3 months.
Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card: Wyndham hotels have a wide network across the US giving you plenty of opportunities to redeem the Wyndham Rewards points that you earn with your Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card. There’s no annual fee and you get 15,000 points after your first purchase. Ongoing spend earns you 3 points per $1 you spend.
Hilton Honors American Express Card: Want a big sign-up bonus, no annual fee, and solid ongoing earnings? Consider the Hilton Honors American Express Card which gives you 75,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 within 3 months of getting the card. There is no annual fee with this card and you get at least 3 points for every dollar you spend, with some categories earning you 5 points per dollar.
We’ve covered a number of travel cards with no annual fees. The best card for your needs will depend on your travel and spending habits. That said, we think the Bank of America Travel Awards card offers a good mix of features, making it a solid choice for a wide range of users.
With zero annual fees, an introductory 0% APR covering 12 months and the opportunity to earn 25,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 within 90 days, the Travel Rewards card from Bank of America offers an attractive deal. Besides, your ongoing earnings of 1.5 points for every dollar you spend allows you to build a solid rewards stash for large redemptions in the future.