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There are a number of travel rewards credit cards with boosted welcome bonuses to have on your radar.
Here’s a look at some of the best travel credit card offers out there right now, based on the value of the welcome bonuses, which were calculated using NerdWallet's valuations of credit card and loyalty program points.
This is the shortlist of the best travel credit card deals of 2021:
New travel credit card offers
If you're in the market for a credit card designed with travelers in mind, start here.
A closer look
Learn more about these new cardholder incentives, each vying to offer the best credit card welcome bonus for travel today.
Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Annual fee: $595.
Value of welcome bonus: $2,000. According to our analysis, American Express Membership Rewards are worth about 2 cents each for this card.
Why you should get it: The current welcome offer is 15,000 points more than the previous offer, which would have been about $1,700 in award travel.
Who should get it: Entrepreneurs or people who qualify for small-business credit cards through their side hustles or freelancing. Find out if you can apply for a small-business credit card.
Who should skip it: People who don't own a business or don't have good credit.
Learn more: Read our full review of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Annual fee: $95.
Value of welcome bonus: $1,800. According to our analysis, Chase Ultimate Rewards® are worth about 1.8 cents each for this card. This is the highest bonus ever for this card. Previous welcome bonuses have ranged from 60,000-80,000 points.
Why you should get it: This card is essentially the poster child for travel rewards credit cards — and for a good reason. These rewards can be redeemed for a respectable rate of 1.25 cents each when booking travel through the Chase portal, but can be worth even more if you transfer points to some of the issuer's high-value partners.
Who should get it: Anyone who doesn't already have it. Those who already have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards® should definitely consider adding this one. Take it one step further to achieve the Chase Trifecta and earn points on other cards at higher earning rates, then transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for travel redemptions.
Who should skip it: Cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or those who've already reached the max in the 5/24 of Chase cards.
Learn more: Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.
Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.
Annual fee: $95.
Value of welcome bonus: $1,225. Marriott Bonvoy points are worth about 0.7 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations.
Why you should get it: This Marriott card offers a bonus on gas stations, restaurants and groceries, which can help you rack up points even if you don't plan on traveling much in the next few months. The most notable benefit is the one Free Night Award (up to 35,000 points) every year after the account anniversary.
Who should get it: People who are ready to dip their toes into co-branded hotel credit cards and can spend at least two nights every year at a Marriott.
Who should skip it: If you want a more luxurious hotel travel experience, like a higher level of automatic elite status and a Free Night Award you can use at higher category hotels, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card instead. Terms apply.
Learn more: Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.
Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021. Terms Apply.
Annual fee: $250.
Value of welcome bonus: $1,170. Delta SkyMiles are worth about 1.3 cents each according to NerdWallet's valuations.
Why you should get it: Airline credit cards don't generally have huge welcome bonuses like other travel rewards cards, so this one really blows the others out of the water. It's 40,000 miles more the previous welcome bonus, and it comes with a huge chunk of MQMs, which means you're already halfway to earning the lowest tier of Delta elite status.
Who should get it: People who fly Delta at least once a year with a friend or family member. This card has a high annual fee, but the annual Companion Pass certificate could easily make it worth it if you book a cross-country or high-demand flight for you and your travel buddy.
Who should skip it: People who don't want to be stuck with one major airline when they fly or who don't live near a Delta hub. If the annual fee is too expensive, consider some of the other Delta co-branded cards, which also have increased welcome bonuses right now.
Learn more: Read our full Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card review.
Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $89.
Value of welcome bonus: $1,200. IHG Rewards Club points are worth about 0.8 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations.
Why you should get it: The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is already one of our favorites because the free nights come easy, the elite status helps you get room upgrades and the annual fee just got a lot more attractive for people who want to test out the card before they commit to an annual fee. This offer is one of the largest we've seen for this card (even bigger than the 140,000-point bonus earlier this year).
Who should get it: People who plan to do some four-night or longer stays. Because you can get a fourth night free on award stays, you will save a bunch of points and you'll be able to spend a little more time in that upgraded room that comes as part of the elite status perks.
Who should skip it: People who don't plan to stay at IHG hotels. Get familiar with the IHG brands before you apply for this card.
Learn more: Read our full IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review.
Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent. Limited time offer: Apply by 9/30/21 and upon approval you'll receive 2 Tier-Qualifying Night Credits for each night you stay from 8/16/21 through 12/31/21.
Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $89.
Value of welcome bonus: $1,140. World of Hyatt points are worth about 1.9 cents each according to NerdWallet's valuations, but the real value is in the Tier-Qualifying Nights.
Why you should get it: Elite status. During any other year, it would be crazy to try to earn elite status so late in the calendar, but this isn't a normal year. Hyatt has cut the number of qualifying night credits you need to earn status in 2021 in half. Plus, the card already comes with five elite qualifying nights and two for every $5,000 of spending. To reach Explorist status (their middle tier) with this offer, you would only need to stay five nights (earning 10 credits) before the end of the year to qualify or even just four nights (earning eight credits) and spending of $5,000 (for an additional two credits) on the card.
Who should get it: Maximizers. People who want the perks of elite status and enjoy squeezing the most value out of their points. With the points earned on this card and the upgrades that come with elite status, you could save hundreds on hotel stays.
Who should skip it: People who don't care about elite status. If you don't mind the rooms with a courtyard view and you don't need late checkout, this offer probably isn't the best one for you. The base number of points in the sign-up bonus is low, especially if you won't get close to spending $15,000 in the first six months.
Learn more: Read our full World of Hyatt Credit Card review.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page.
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 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card