When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, hotel credit cards and airline cards – there is plenty to choose from. But, no too cards are alike, and various credit cards offers different benefits, perks, loyalty schemes and bonus points. And for those new to travel credit cards, picking the right card can seem an overwhelming process.
Here is a break down of our picks for the best travel rewards cards for beginners. These three cards will allow you to access hotel rewards and airline points. Whether you want a no-fee card with straightforward perks, a mid-range option, or a premium card with valuable benefits – we have the cards you need to know about.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Best for Beginners
Top No Annual Fee Travel Credit Card
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
- No Annual Fee
- 1.5% cashback on purchases with your card for up to $20,000 each year. (That’s potentially $300 cashback if you hit this spending limit. Terms apply.)
- 6.5% introductory bonus on your travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards hub. (Then 5% cashback ongoing.)
- 4.5% rewards on spending on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery.
- 4.5% cash back on drug store purchases with your card (3% once introductory period ends.)
- 3% on card spending on all other purchases (1.5% after intro offer ends.)
If you are new to travel rewards cards, you may be wary of committing to a high annual fee before you have got a hold of the basics and how much you will be utilizing the rewards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is a great option for those looking for low-commitment card, which is simple to use and allows you to earn cashback and rewards with your everyday spending.
If you are looking for a card which will help you to build up points quickly across a variety of spending categories, then this is a good low commitment option. However, you should be wary of using this card overseas, as purchases will be subject to foreign transaction fees.
To earn your cashback on travel, all you need to do is make your bookings with the card and then receive compensation credit to your account. You can redeem points against travel purchases using the dedicated Chase Travel rewards hub where you can buy flights, hotel bookings, cruise vacations, and train travel and earn more points as you do so.
Mid-Tier Travel Rewards Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- $95 Annual Fee
- 60,000 rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. (With a value of $750 off travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards.)
- 2x rewards on your travel and dining purchases made using the card.
- 25% bonus value on travel purchases you make using the Chase Travel hub.
- Transfer ratio of 1;1 when moving your points to partner airline or hotel loyalty programs.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
Another great beginners travel card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card. There is a low cost annual fee of $95, but this is more than made up for by the flexible earning opportunities and benefits included with card ownership.
The generous introductory bonus makes it a popular choice amongst travelers looking to score a hefty discount on their next airline or hotel booking.
The $750 value of your bonus points dwarfs the $95 annual fee, so this makes it an extremely popular choice for those looking to maximise the benefits of all of their everyday spending on dining and travel.
You can use the Chase Travel portal to book your travel for higher redemption value, or else transfer your reward points to a partner airline or hotel at a ratio of 1:1. This gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to earning discounts off of your future travel bookings.
Best Premium Travel Credit Cards for Beginners
The Platinum Card from American Express
- $695 Annual Fee
- 80,000 Amex Membership Rewards once you spend $6,000 on purchases with your card within the first 6 months of opening your account.
- 5x rewards points for purchases on flights and hotels.
- 1x points on all of your other eligible purchases using the card.
- $200 statement credit annually to pout towards selected hotel reservations.
- Membership fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
- $189 statement credits on your annual Clear Membership.
- Gold Elite Status for your stays at Hilton Hotels and Marriott Bonvoy accommodations.
- $15 credit for Uber Eats each month and $35 bonus is December.
If you are looking for a travel rewards card which allows you to reap premium rewards while earning discounts and perks for your travel, then the Platinum Card is an excellent choice.
This top-tier card does come with a larger annual fee, but if you make use of all of the valuable benefits then this card can still end up saving you money. There are plenty of great perks for those who travel regularly for business or pleasure which can help to make your flights smoother, seamless and quicker.
If you regularly stay at Hilton or Marriot Bonvoy, currently pay for a TSA precheck membership, or spend substantial amounts on travel each month, then the rewards you reap can be worth more than the annual fee you will pay.
When deciding whether to apply for this travel rewards credit card, you should weight up the value of the benefits you are going to use and how much you expect to earn in points for your spending. If this outweighs the annual fee and associated costs, then the Platinum Card could be a viable pick for your first travel card for beginners. You should also be aware that higher credit scores are needed when applying for top-tier cards.
Takeaway - Ready to Jetset? Discover the Best Starter Travel Credit Cards for Beginners
If you travel frequently, then travel rewards credit cards can bring you a whole host of rewards and discounts with truly little extra effort expended. All you need to do is apply for a card and use it to make purchases you would be making anyway to start earning points.
Depending upon your spending and travel habits, the best card for you may be a no-fee card, a mid-tier option, or a premium card with valuable benefits. Take another look at our picks above and assess which one will make you greater savings over the year.
How Much Money Can You Travel With Domestically?
Whether you are traveling domestically or flying internationally, there is a lot of admin and documentation you need to take care of before you leave.