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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

Airline Miles and a Large Bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

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
  • Our best offer ever! 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®.

  • 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, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 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

  • Our best offer ever! 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®.

  • 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, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 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

Excellent for

Flat-rate travel rewards + no annual fee

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

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

Flat-Rate Travel Rewards with Miles Match

Discover it® Miles
Apply now

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

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 will automatically match 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

Flat-rate travel rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Apply now

on Capital One's website

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 $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 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

Cash-Back Pairing with Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

  • No annual fee.

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.

  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • High rewards rate

  • No minimum redemption amount

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Hilton perks

American Express Hilton HonorsTM Card from American Express Credit Card
Apply now

on American Express's website

Hilton Honors American Express Card

3.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

  • Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.

  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.

  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.

  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.

  • No Annual Fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on American Express's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • High rewards rate

  • Automatic elite status

Cons

  • No free anniversary night

Read full review

Excellent for

Bonus travel rewards + high-end perks

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

4.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$550

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% 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 $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit

  • Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel

  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories

  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

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

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • Luxury perks

  • Premium travel protections

  • Transfer partners

  • Primary rental car coverage

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Requires excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Airline credit card

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

United℠ Explorer Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.49% - 23.49% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months.

  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases

  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit

  • 25% back on United inflight purchases

  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket

  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining and eligible delivery services

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • Bonus categories

  • Luxury perks

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Free checked bag

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

Read full review