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Hotel- and airline-branded credit cards lure new customers with offers like an annual free stay or a companion pass. Those benefits are fantastic if you don’t mind limiting yourself to one hotel chain or airline.
Depending on your travel goals and needs, though, the option of booking with any airline or hotel chain could prove to be a lot more valuable.
One of the most valuable perks of the is spending flexibility. Instead of logging onto a hotel or airline website, you use your card to make purchases from just about any travel provider you choose. Then, you redeem miles for a statement credit to offset the charge on your card.
Your redemption options don’t stop there. Purchases including car rentals, cruise tickets, train and bus tickets, taxi and limousine rides and even ferry tickets are eligible. This means more opportunities to save money. You can shop around for the best price before you book, meaning your travel statement credits can be applied whether you booked through a discount travel site or directly with a hotel or airline.
Another great perk of the is its welcome offer:
» Learn more: 7 things to know about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
Another valuable perk of this card is that you earn 2 miles for every $1 in purchases — regardless of what type of purchase you’re making. This sets the apart from competitors that reward only certain types of spending, for example by paying more points for spending at restaurants and fewer points for spending at department stores.
Annual fees can be a drag because they offset the rewards you earn, taking a bite out of your bottom line. The carries an annual fee of . That means that the bonus miles earned through the card's welcome offer have a value of $700 — not $700 minus $89.
Miles kickbacks create an incentive for you to keep using your card, which helps the credit card company but it also benefits the cardholder. You redeem a certain number of miles, say 10,000, and you get 500 miles, 5%, credited back to your account. This gets you closer to your next redemption, encouraging you to keep earning miles by using the card.
Mastercard’s World Elite program bestows luxury perks to the holder of any card bearing the World Elite logo, including the . You’ll enjoy access to special travel offers through the World Elite network. When you use the card to book at any of about 2,000 eligible luxury hotels and resorts, you’ll also get complimentary breakfast, free room upgrades when available and VIP amenities. The luxury travel concierge service that comes with World Elite perks offers help planning and reserving travel, and can be your 24-hour lifeline if something goes wrong with your booking.
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the , including those best for:
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Barclaycard Arrival Plus v. Capital One Venture: Travel credit card showdown