The Best Credit Card Rewards for Family Travel

Mar 28, 2022

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When it comes to travel rewards, families have different needs than solo travelers. They need good award availability to facilitate traveling together, as well as credit cards with category bonuses to help earn points faster to cover multiple tickets.

At hotels, families often need multiple rooms or two-bedroom suites, which makes reasonable redemption rates important, too. And saving cash on fees, food and other activities when traveling can be critical.

So what are the best rewards credit cards for family travel? Below is a roundup of our top picks.

Southwest credit cards

The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is great for families who want easy award redemptions and the convenience of free checked bags. Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass is a great savings tool, since it allows a designated companion to travel free of charge — even on award flights.

When you earn the sign-up bonus from a Southwest credit card, those points count toward the 110,000-point requirement to earn a Companion Pass. Now all that’s left is deciding which Southwest credit card you should get.

Current Southwest credit cards for families worth considering include:

The Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card

Wyndham Rewards is one of the most underrated hotel loyalty programs out there. While other programs have award charts broken up into multiple categories ranging from 5,000-100,000 points per night, Wyndham keeps it simple: All hotels are either 7,500, 15,000 or 30,000 points per night. Vacation club properties range from 15,000-30,000 points per bedroom.

If you don’t quite have enough points for a free night, you can choose a Go Fast redemption for a combination of cash and points (1,500, 3,000 or 6,000 per night).

Wyndham offers condo-style properties with kitchens, in-room laundry facilities and multiple bedrooms that can be ideal for families. This is a great option if you’d otherwise spend a lot of money dining out or booking book multiple hotel rooms.

With The Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card, you earn 15,000 points after your first purchase or balance transfer — there's no big spending requirement to meet. The card earns 3 points per dollar spent at Wyndham properties, 2 points per dollar on gas, utility and grocery purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

For many families, those 2x categories are some of their biggest expenses each month, so this card may be a great way to maximize your return on money spent.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Why is a card with a $450 annual fee making this list? Because the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers lots of valuable benefits that can help families save money on travel. Cardholders get Hilton Diamond status, which comes with free breakfast and club lounge access. This could be a huge money saver (some international club lounges serve as full-blown restaurants), and it’s incredibly convenient. If the kids get peckish, the club lounge may have snacks for them throughout the day (or milk for crying babies at night).

In addition to the free food perks, this card can help families save on travel with its annual $250 airline fee credit, $250 Hilton resort statement credit and $100 Hilton on-property credit. You’ll also get a Priority Pass Select membership to over 1,000 airport lounges, which is good for you and two guests — and can be a lifesaver when traveling as a family.

Earning free nights with Hilton is also easy, thanks to the card’s category bonuses:

  • 14x Hilton Honors bonus points at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton portfolio.

  • 7x Hilton Honors bonus points on eligible purchases for:

    • Flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com.

    • Car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies.

    • U.S. restaurants.

    • 3x Hilton Honors bonus points on all other eligible purchases.

So how quickly can you earn a free night? Considering Hilton charges between 5,000 and 95,000 points for a free night (depending on the property and date), your spending could break down as follows:

  • Free night after $358-$6,786 worth of spending at Hilton hotels.

  • Free night after $715-$13,572 worth of spending on direct flight bookings, car rentals and U.S. restaurants.

  • Free night after $1,667-$31,667 worth of spending on all other purchases.

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
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The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is another good hotel credit card option. The fourth night free on award stays is great for families scrambling to get enough points together for one or more hotel rooms. If you still only have enough points for one room, the annual free night benefit can help cover a second one.

While it does have an annual fee of $99, the card offers an appealing category bonus rate:

  • Earn 26 points per $1 spent at IHG properties (including the regular points earning rate and the Platinum Elite bonus that comes with the card).

  • Earn 5 points per $1 at gas stations, travel and restaurants.

  • Earn 3 points per $1 everywhere else.

The average U.S. household has $40,814 worth of nonhousing expenditures. Putting all of that spending on the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card would earn you 81,628 points in a year. That’s enough for at least one free night at a high-end IHG hotel like the Intercontinental London Park Lane.

You can stretch your points even further with lower-level redemptions too. For example, the Intercontinental Mendoza requires just 20,000 points per night, meaning those points from regular spending could cover a four-night stay. Or you could spend a week at the Holiday Inn Express Belgrade City, which is a bargain at 10,000 points per night.

Vacation as a family for cheaper with travel rewards

Adding a hotel and/or airline credit card to your wallet can make your future family vacations more affordable than ever.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

partner programs

IHG® One Rewards
Get exclusive benefits and earn points faster
World of Hyatt
Enjoy free nights, member rates and more
Alaska Mileage Plan
Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
IHG® Rewards Program

IHG® One Rewards

Wherever you go, however you stay, IHG One Rewards offers rewards for every one.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

Highlights:
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.
Highlights
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt

With the World of Hyatt loyalty program, enjoy a world of rewards designed to revolve around you.

on Hyatt's website

Highlights:
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.
Highlights
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.

on Hyatt's website

logo image

Alaska Mileage Plan

Mileage Plan is Alaska's loyalty program for anyone who loves to travel and is free to join!

on Alaska's website

Highlights:
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend
Highlights
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend

on Alaska's website

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