There are so many travel credit cards out there it can be confusing what matters and what doesn’t. What makes one card better than another? You want all the best perks you can find. While all the advertising speak can make this confusing, it can actually be broken down pretty simply.

You need a credit card you can depend on when you’re on the road and one that gives you the best benefits.

Unless you’re loyal to a particular airline or hotel, the best travel credit cards will have flexible rewards programs that you can get the most perks out of. They’ll work everywhere you want to shop. They’ll give you benefits for using them and make redeeming your rewards simple.

Below you’ll find more information on deciding what perks matter the most to you when you’re looking for a travel credit card and specific cards that can get you the most benefits right now.

What To Look For In a Travel Credit Card

A 0% foreign transaction fee. If you’re traveling internationally, most credit cards will charge you a foreign transaction fee. These are often 1-3% of your purchase. You may think that sounds small and wonder why you should care about that, but if you’re traveling a lot, this can add up. We’re not just talking about your morning coffee purchase, but when you book hotels at foreign companies or foreign airlines. A card meant for travel will offer a 0% foreign transaction fee.

The perks! The rewards are one of the main reasons to use credit cards instead of just using your debit card or cash while you travel.

There are two types of travel credit cards: co-branded and general. With a co-branded credit card, you are using a card associated with a specific company, like an airline or hotel chain. If you only ever stay at the Hilton, or you always fly Delta, then you get the most benefit from your rewards stacked up on a co-branded card with one of those companies. If you are someone who needs more freedom than that, a general travel card will let you redeem your rewards points in a variety of ways. You’ll need to choose what works best for your spending habits.

When you’re choosing between multiple cards, look at how the rewards points are earned and how you can redeem them. Many cards will offer you a higher reward value on certain purchases, like travel spending or restaurants, and a lower rate of around 1% on your general purchases outside of that category. You’ll also find cards that offer the same rate on all purchases.

Cards with a higher annual fee will offer higher rewards values and sign-up bonuses. Make sure to balance that out when you’re comparing cards.

When you’re looking at the redemption program, you want to be sure that the ways you can redeem your points make sense for you. Also that you earn at least one cent per point/mile when you go to redeem.

Check the Sign-up Bonus

This is less important than your overall points over time, especially if you plan on keeping this card in the long term, but the best travel credit cards will offer a hefty sign-up bonus that can be a great incentive.

This is less important than your overall points over time, especially if you plan on keeping this card in the long term, but the best travel credit cards will offer a hefty sign-up bonus that can be a great incentive.

Typically, these work by giving you a large number of points once you reach a certain level of spending within the first 90 days. So if you spent $3,000 over the first 90 days of having the card, you’ll get a bonus of 30,000 points.

You’ll need to be sure that the amount of spending makes sense for what you would typically spend over that time period. Do not go into debt just to get your reward bonus.

Consider Where You Can Use the Card

If you’re traveling internationally, Visa and Mastercard will be accepted several more places than American Express and Discover cards. This is something to keep in mind. Read the details regarding international travel before you decide on the best card for you.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card1

This card has been on the list of best travel credit cards for several years. It’s a general travel credit card that offers two miles per dollar on every purchase. That’s a solid rewards rate. Right now, up until January 2020, you can earn ten miles for every dollar you spend at http://Hotels.com/venture. If you use Hotels.com, this is a huge bonus.

One of the best things about this card is the way you can redeem your points. Your miles can be redeemed for statement credit on any of your travel purchases. Better yet, there is no minimum amount needed to redeem. So you can redeem your miles to cover all (or part) of a $300 transaction you made on Airbnb, or a $0.76 Uber ride. This flexibility is great for someone who makes a variety of travel purchases with many companies and isn’t interested in planning out how they will use their rewards. Book your travel plans and then redeem your points to cover the purchase after.

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening the account. This equals $500 in travel redemption points.

Other Perks:

  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • $0 for the first year; $95 annual fee every year after
  • A $100 application credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee
  • No expiration date on your miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card2

This is another general card that has been on the list of best travel credit cards for many years. It has many similar benefits to the Capital One Venture, except this one has a larger sign-up bonus. It offers great ongoing rewards rates. The points on this card are transferrable to other programs. It offers a lot of flexibility in how you earn rewards and how you spend them.

This card offers two points for every dollar you spend at restaurants or on travel purchases. You earn one point for every dollar on general purchases. You can use your points at a one to one ratio if you transfer them to other loyalty programs, but they are worth 25% more if you spend them by booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

There is a $95 annual fee.

Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months you have the card. That equals $750 worth of travel if you redeem the points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You also have the option to transfer your points 1:1.

Other Perks:

  • Primary rental car insurance
  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • No blackout dates

The Platinum Card® from American Express3

If you looked at the above cards and thought “But I want something more,” then this is the card for you. This is the best travel card when you want luxury–but of course, that comes at a price.

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with decent base rewards, like five points for every dollar spent on airfare or hotels. Be aware that you have to book these things right away and read the terms and conditions before you use your card. You earn one point for every dollar you spend on other purchases.

Read below for the other perks, which is where this card really gets its benefits.

The downside to this card is that the annual fee is $550. Also, if you are traveling internationally, the American Express card isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.

Sign-up Bonus: You will earn 75,000 rewards points once you spend $5,000 on your new card in the first three months.

Other Perks:

  • $200 in annual Uber savings
  • Access to the Global Lounge Collection of airport lounges around the world
  • $200 airline fee credit
  • $200 per year in baggage fees on one qualifying airline
  • $100 in statement credits per year for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases
  • Every five years, you’ll be reimbursed for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee
  • Exclusive perks at select hotels