Credit Cards

Best Travel Credit Cards for June 2022

Find the best travel cards for big bonuses and perks when taking a trip or making travel plans.

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. For partner offers, we get a commission. Advertiser Disclosure

The best travel credit cards not only provide strong rewards for spending at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or other common categories -- they'll also give you travel perks that can transform your trips from dull to deluxe.

While most travel cards will charge an annual fee, that cost is usually offset by the welcome bonusescash back or travel discounts that those cards provide. Along with the return on your spending, you can get free benefits like priority boarding, access to airport lounges and premium hotel services.

If you're booking a big trip for a large group, the right travel credit card may make a world of difference. Review our top partner offers for the best travel credit cards for June 2022 below to find the best one for you. 

Note: Travel credit cards are meant for frequent travelers, not frequent flyers. If you're a consistent patron of one specific airline, check out our best airline credit cards to find a card best suited for you.

Read more: Airline Cards vs. Travel Credit Cards

Best overall travel card for most travelers

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
APR16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Our Take

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers perhaps the best value of any travel card out there. The welcome bonus is one of those most competitive around -- you earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. This is worth $800 in statement credits, or "cash back," and $1,000 when used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase Ultimate Rewards is a third-party travel-booking service that functions similarly to Expedia. You'll also earn high reward rates on travel, and the points you earn can be worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards rather than a statement credit. 

You'll also enjoy other travel perks, like no foreign transaction fees, a $50 Annual Hotel Credit for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards each account anniversary and 1-to-1 points transfers with airline and hotel partners. For a $95 annual fee, this combination of benefits is a great deal for those who travel even just once or twice a year.

See more details in our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Premium travel card

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
APR17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Annual Fee$550
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Balance Transfer APR17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Our Take

Chase Sapphire Reserve offers great value for those who spend a lot on travel. This card gives you unlimited 10x points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5x points on air travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3x points on other travel purchases (earn elevated rewards on travel purchases after earning the $300 annual travel credit). Plus, you can earn 3x points on dining, 1x points on all other purchases and 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2025. 

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card's $550 annual fee is steep, the yearly travel credit of $300 essentially brings the overall cost down to $250, making the annual fee more manageable. Plus, the 50,000-point bonus -- earned after spending $4,000 in the first three months -- is worth $750 toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Finally, card holders get a statement credit reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (worth $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA precheck, both of which are valid for five years) plus a number of VIP-style travel perks.

And it's even better for those who value its additional travel perks like travel insurance, hotel discounts through The Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection and lounge access through Priority Pass Select.

Check out our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve for more details.

A well-rounded rewards program

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
APR16.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 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 Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Balance Transfer APR16.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees 0%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 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

Our Take

The Citi Premier® Card is Citi's competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It offers 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels, and 1x points on all other purchases. Though the Sapphire Preferred may offer higher rates on certain travel, the Citi Premier Card is less restrictive in the purchases that earn you points -- and 3x points is a respectable rate to offer for so many categories. The welcome bonus is fairly competitive too: You earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, redeemable for $600 in gift cards or travel rewards at Thankyou.com.

You'll also enjoy no foreign transaction fees and a $100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit toward a single hotel stay of $500 or more when booked through Thankyou.com, excluding taxes and fees. For more information, check out our full review of the Citi Premier Card.

Best travel card for premium perks

See Rates and Fees Terms Apply
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 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.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Annual Fee$695
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 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.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Our Take

The Platinum Card is Amex's top-tier travel card and is ideal for those who value premium travel perks such as lounge access and hotel upgrades. The narrow ongoing rewards structure -- which doesn't include groceries or dining -- and high annual fee of $695 make this a valuable card for a particular spending profile, so do the math before applying. 

The Platinum Card earns 5x Membership Reward points on flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express Travel portal (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5x points on hotels -- which require prepayment -- booked through the American Express Travel portal. Flights or hotels booked through a third-party service or company, like Orbitz, don't qualify. 

The card has a high annual fee of $695 but offers many benefits. Cardholders can receive up to a $200 airline fee statement credit per calendar year for travel incidentals at one select qualifying airline, such as a checked bag, and in-flight food or beverage; a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (worth $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA precheck, both of which are valid for five years); and up to $200 in Uber Cash per year for U.S. rides and eats. The intro offer is on the high end at 100,000 points when you spend $6,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. This is worth $1,000 when redeemed for flights booked through American Express Travel, or $600 toward covering other card charges. The Platinum Card also offers a number of premium travel perks through the Fine Hotels & Resorts® Program when booked with American Express Travel, including room upgrades (based on availability), complimentary breakfast, early check-in and late checkout on eligible hotel stays and access to the Global Lounge Collection.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Best flat rate on all purchases

Card Highlights
Intro OfferNew Venture cardholders can earn 75,000 miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
APR16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Balance Transfer APR16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

Our Take

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward, easy-to-use option for those who would like to book travel with travel reward miles generated from general spending and would rather not worry about eligible purchase spending categories. 

With unlimited 2x miles on every purchase, the Venture card is the broadest-earning travel card available. You can earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That's significant -- especially given the relatively low $95 annual fee. The Capital One Venture also gives cardholders up to a $100 statement credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, as well as travel accident insurance and auto rental collision insurance (terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details).

Check out our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

FAQs

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards turn purchases into points or miles that can be redeemed for travel purchases, like flights and hotel stays. Sometimes you can redeem those points for cash or a gift card, but you typically get the best rate when using them to book travel. The top cards have their own travel booking portals through which you can find flights, hotels and rental cars; sometimes, points are worth more when used in those credit card company portals.

Airline and hotel credit cards -- which we didn't include in this list -- operate like loyalty programs in that you stay in a closed-loop rewards system. You earn rewards when you purchase flights or hotels through your chosen airline or hotel company, and you can use those points for perks or future bookings through the same airline or hotel group.

How do you choose the best travel credit card?

The points and travel benefits that you accrue through a travel rewards program are often redeemed through your credit card issuer's website (or app) or appear as a statement credit that reimburses you for past travel-related and everyday purchases you made with your travel credit card. Points or miles can also be transferred to travel partners -- mostly hotels and airlines -- at a fluctuating conversion rate, where they can then be used to book a flight or hotel room.

To choose the best travel credit card, there are a few key factors to consider: 

  • Annual fees: Every single travel rewards program reviewed here has annual fees, with some climbing as high as $695, but those fees are usually mitigated by monthly or annual credits. 
  • Exclusive perks: Some of these travel rewards card options also grant access to exclusive travel perks, like airline lounges, priority boarding or VIP welcomes at hotels. The value of those perks is subjective and something you'll have to evaluate based on your needs and wants.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None of the best travel cards makes users pay a foreign transaction fee, so a foreign transaction fee is not something you have to worry about with any of the credit cards recommended here.

How did we pick the best travel credit cards?

To determine our recommendations for the best travel credit cards, we researched 20 of the most popular travel rewards credit cards (listed below) and selected based on the best monetary value for certain customer profiles, such as frequent travelers, those who spend a lot on dining and groceries or those who are looking for an easy way to travel at a discount with miles earned on everyday spending. We always hold overall net value paramount, since choosing the right rewards credit card is about saving money and being financially responsible, not being lured by perks or offers that are flashy or irrelevant.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the "welcome bonus" and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card's respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

Cards researched

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, click here.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.