Q&A: What’s a Good Credit Card for Domestic Travel?

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by on June 13, 2013

I travel within the US for my job about once every other month, spending between $700 – $1,000 each. I’m looking at getting my first rewards card. I have excellent credit and normally pay everything on a debit card, but O want something to build up rewards and my credit score for those trips. The card would mostly be for travel. I’d like to earn hotels and miles and or cash back. Any suggestions?

If you fly any particular airline and check bags, I’d recommend looking for an airline miles credit card that gives perks like free checked bags or priority boarding. Here’s a brief overview of cards that have additional perks, and where you can redeem your miles:

Card Annual fee/signup bonus Perks Redeem on
Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® - $95 fee, waived first year 30,000 American Airlines Miles Bonus after spending $1,000 - in the first 3 months First checked bag free up to 4 people
Priority boarding
American Airlines, British Airways and other OneWorld airlines
British Airways Visa Signature® Card  - $95 fee Get 50,000 bonus Avios after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Amazing for American Airlines domestic short-haul flights
Companion ticket every year you spend $30k+
The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®  - $89 fee Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles with qualifying transactions. Annual companion certificate for up to 2 companions at $99 each
First-class check-in and Zone 2 boarding
US Airways, United and other Star Alliance partners
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card  - $95 fee, waived first year Get 50,000 bonus Avios after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. First checked bag free for up to 2 people
Priority boarding
2 United Club passes a year
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express  - $95 fee, waived first year Earn 30K bonus miles after you make $1K in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. First checked bag free for up to 9 people
Priority boarding
Discounted access to Delta Sky Club
SkyTeam partners

You can also check out our review and roundup of the best airline credit cards.

However, know that this will lock you into redeeming for award flights on just one airline and its partners. If you prefer discount-hunting, flexibility with dates or booking on comparison sites, you’ll find these restrictions chafing.

If that’s the case, you’re better off with a more general rewards credit card. If your annual spending exceeds around $12,000, you’re best off with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. This card offers 2 miles per $1 spent, which can be redeemed against any travel expense: airfare, hotels, the works. It comes with a $59 annual fee, waived the first year. If you’re not going to meet the $12k threshold, you’re better off with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: it gives a full 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee.

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  • Tom Ainsworth

    If you are 50 years of age or older I would also suggest the AARP Visa Travel card. NO annual fee, and it earns 3% cashback on travel (airfare, car rentals, hotels, cruises) and 1% everywhere else, and of course your cash can be spent anywhere, or just deposited in your bank account. It also comes with one of the least mentioned benefits – Price Protection. If you see an eligible item you have purchased advertised for less within 60 days, Price Protection can refund the difference up to $250.