4 Simple Ways Retirees Can Earn Travel Rewards

Rachel Smith
By Rachel Smith 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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With no day job to return to each week, retired life is all about free time and relaxation.

And many retirees take advantage of their newfound flexibility to travel more.

So whether it’s just a few hours drive to visit your grandkids or an international excursion, here are a few things to look for when picking a travel rewards credit card that makes sense for your retired lifestyle.

How to earn travel rewards during retirement

1. Travel flexibly

A beneficial travel perk to look for in a travel rewards credit card is travel flexibility. Why? With no need to rush home, the option to extend your travel can come in handy.

» Learn More: NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards

One program that is known for great rates on flights and zero change fees is Southwest Airlines. Use the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card to earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest travel, local transit and commuting (including rideshares), internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming, plus 1 point per dollar on everything else. There’s also no fee to change a flight. So if you decide to extend a stay, there’s no need to worry about your awards.

2. Leverage dining out rewards

Another benefit to being retired? Skipping the cooking and dirty dishes and dining out. Whether dining at your favorite local restaurant or while traveling, make sure your spending is filling up belly and your rewards account by using a card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that earns bonus points at restaurants.

3. Choose a card with no foreign transaction fees

To travel without worry or additional fees, make sure to use a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, to save more money on trips abroad.

4. Book vacation packages with rewards

The only thing needed while on that type of vacation is to relax. With a guided tour or all-inclusive resort, there is no worrying about directions or which sites to see. The itinerary is set and retirees simply get to enjoy.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® has several options for these, and you get access by owning a Chase credit card.

If you want to earn travel points during retirement

The world is your oyster — and these vacations are well-earned. Even beginners to the points and miles game can take simple steps to travel more affordably with the help of travel credit cards. Whether its a lifestyle or a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, spend smartly and you'll be able to reap the benefits of travel rewards.

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 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more travel cards
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