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8 Excellent Travel Credit Cards of 2021

While some people might be home avoiding the COVID-19 crisis with TV binges and copious amounts of ice cream, it’s important to remember that someday travel will again become safe. It's not clear when, and it will certainly look different than pre-COVID travel, but it will return eventually.

If you have the travel bug and are itching to get back out there when it’s safe to do so, here are some of the best travel rewards credit cards you can be using now, to reap the benefits later. Building up a balance of miles or points with any of these top cards will have you back on the road as soon as it’s safe, and at a fraction of the price — that’s what travel rewards are all about.

NerdWallet's Excellent Travel Credit Cards of 2021

Excellent for

Flat-rate travel rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day

  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options

  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel

  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • No foreign transaction fees

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day

  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options

  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel

  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • No foreign transaction fees

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Airline Miles and a Large Bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • 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 Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories

  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.

  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Bonus categories

  • Primary rental car coverage

  • Flexible rewards redemption

  • Transfer partners

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Complicated rewards

Read full review

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$395

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening, equal to $1,000 in travel

  • Limited-time Offer: Receive up to $200 back in statement credits for vacation rentals charged to your account within your first year

  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of options

  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary

  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, plus unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases

  • Escape the airport crowd and recharge before your flight with unlimited access to all-inclusive amenities at the Capital One Lounge and at 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Lounge membership

  • Anniversary perk

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Requires excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Flat-rate travel rewards + no annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

4.3

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases

Regular APR

13.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire

  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions

  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout

  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply.

  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.

  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap

  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Apply Now

on Bank of America's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Intro APR period

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • No bonus categories

  • Best rewards limited to certain customers

Read full review

Excellent for

Rich ongoing rewards

Citi Premier® Card

4.6

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets

  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels

  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit

  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com

  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Apply Now

on Citibank's application

Pros

  • Bonus categories

  • Rewards don't expire

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Luxury travel perks

The Platinum Card® from American Express

4.8

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$695

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.

  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.

  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.

  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.

  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.

  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.

  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.

  • $695 annual fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on American Express's website

Pros

  • Bonus categories

  • Transfer partners

  • Luxury perks

  • Lounge membership

  • Automatic elite status

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Complicated rewards

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Flat-Rate Travel Rewards with Miles Match

Discover it® Miles

4.1

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Regular APR

11.99%-22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.

  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.

  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.

  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.

  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • No luxury perks

  • Lower acceptance abroad

Read full review

Excellent for

Cash back — high flat rate + incentives

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Wells Fargo's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

Regular APR

14.99%-24.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 14.99% to 24.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5

  • $0 annual fee

  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open

  • Enjoy a premium collection of benefits at a selection of the world's most intriguing and prestigious hotel properties with Visa Signature Concierge

  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

  • Select “Apply Now” to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Wells Fargo's website

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

Cons

  • No bonus categories

Read full review