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Best travel credit cards

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Best travel credit cards

Million Mile SecretsBest travel credit cardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The best travel credit cards can earn thousands of dollars worth of luxury flights and hotels or put cash in your pocket. Here at Million Mile Secrets, we constantly track down the best credit card rewards, reveal the real deals and toss away the junk. We even tell you which credit cards we use. Here are our top picks:

Best travel credit cards of October 2019:

Here’s a quick breakdown of each card’s bonus offer, best perks and annual fee.

CardIntro bonus offerBest perkAnnual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining$95
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account openingUnlimited 2X miles on all purchases$95, waived the first year
The Platinum Card® from American Express60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on purchases with your new Card in the first three months. Terms Apply.Up to $200 in Uber credit annually and up to $200 in airline fee credits for your selected airline every year. Terms Apply.$550 (see rates & fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardEarn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Terms Apply.Up to $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, including room rates! Terms Apply.$450 (see rates & fees)
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply.Up to $250 Hilton resort credit each card-member year and up to $250 airline fee credit with your selected airline each calendar year. Terms Apply.$450 (see rates & fees)
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card40,000 Alaska Airlines miles, plus Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22) after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening accountAnnual companion fare for $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22)$50 for the company and $25 per card
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases in first four months of account openingFree first checked bag for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation (domestic flights only)$99, waived the first 12 months
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account openingIntro bonus gets you over halfway to earning a Southwest Companion Pass!$99
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express60,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Also receive a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within the same time frame. (ends October 30, 2019)First checked bag free for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation.$95 (waived the first year) (see rates & fees)
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Also receive a $100 statement after you make a Delta purchase within the same time frame. (ends October 30, 2019)Domestic companion certificate valid for Delta-operated flights every year you renew your card.$195 annual fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (see rates & fees)
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express75,000 Delta miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (ends October 30, 2019)Complimentary access to Delta SkyClub lounges worldwide$450 Annual Fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (Not waived the first year) (see rates & fees)
It’s easy to get free flights to Europe with points from travel credit cards to experience a glimpse of history. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets.)

Million Mile Secrets readers and team members have unlocked the secret to inexpensive travel by using their travel credit cards to earn miles and points for trips to Disney World, Europe, Japan and New Zealand. Here is a video to show you what it’s like when you master miles and points:

If you’re new to rewards credit cards, read our post on myths about applying for new cards. Many folks are surprised to discover it’s possible to keep 20 or more credit cards open and still maintain an excellent credit score. My score is excellent because I always pay my bills on time.

Don’t shy away from credit cards with annual fees. Many of the best travel credit card offers have annual fees, but terrific ongoing perks (like annual travel credits) that can easily offset the annual fee. I started out with no-annual-fee cards like Ink Business Cash, but now I do the math to decide when a premium card with an annual fee is worth it.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the #1 card we recommend for beginners in the miles and points hobby. I’ve had this credit card for many years and I take it on all my trips.

Bonus: When you apply, you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

For the beginner, that means you can book big-time travel on what’s known as an award flight. You can transfer your Chase points to various airline partner loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. One Chase point will convert to one partner airline mile. Here is an example of what you can do with your rewards:

You’ll have at least 64,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (because you earn points on the $4,000 minimum spending too).

  • 60,000 United Airlines miles to fly round-trip to Europe
  • 60,000 United Airlines miles to fly business class one-way to Europe or 70,000 miles to fly with one of United’s partner airlines (~$4,000 if you paid cash): I had a stash of 140,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which had accumulated from introductory bonuses and regular spending. I moved them to United Airlines, which gave me access to United Airlines’ cousin airlines to fly business class round-trip to Europe.
  • 35,000 United Airlines miles to fly round-trip to the Caribbean or Central America: Meghan, a MMS team member, transferred points to save more than $700 on a last-minute trip to Belize.
The best travel credit card for beginners is Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here I am in the mountains of Poland holding the credit card
I used points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to fly business class to Europe and explore Morskie Oko in the Tatra Mountains. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets.)

You can also redeem the welcome bonus for $600 in cash back or $750 in travel when you book through the Chase Travel Portal. You’ll potentially get much more value if you transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt.

Benefits:

  • 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining
  • 1x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all other purchases

Examples of what counts as travel and earns 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Toll bridges and highways
  • Parking lots and garages
  • Airlines (including tickets, baggage fees and change fees)
  • Hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds
  • Vacation rentals like Airbnb (I’ve earned double points everywhere from Cancun to Krakow.)
  • Car rental agencies
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies
  • Discount travel sites like Travelocity and Expedia
  • Amtrak, subway and metro tickets
  • City bus tickets, Greyhound and Megabus
  • Taxis, Limos, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft (double points to the airport)
  • Ferries (Travel tip: Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn in Estonia to experience its Old Town.)

You’ve got three incredible options for using points:

1. Transfer to Chase’s terrific travel partners like British Airways, United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Singapore Airlines and others.

2. Use Ultimate Rewards points at the Chase Travel Portal.

3. Get cash back.

Options 2 and 3 are simple and satisfying. Option 1 takes a bit of learning but results in amazing experiences. Here is what you can get because Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio directly to the following airlines:

  • Singapore Airlines (This is how you fly to Australia in first class in an actual bed.)
  • Aer Lingus (Ireland)
  • British Airways (This is the secret to cheap flights to Hawaii from the West Coast and cheap flights within Europe and Asia.)
  • United Airlines (This is how I fly to Europe. I don’t fly on United Airlines, I use its partners instead.)
  • Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)
  • Iberia
  • Southwest (No blackout dates; two free checked bags)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • JetBlue (No blackout dates; the most legroom in coach)

And Ultimate Rewards points transfer to these hotel programs:

  • Hyatt — This is the best use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. It is how I stayed at the Hyatt Zilara all-inclusive hotel on the beach for $0 per night instead of $500 per night. I was happy sipping margaritas while in the pool overlooking the ocean.
  • Marriott
  • IHG — They have brands you know like InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn.
Hyatt Confidante in Miami Beach
You can easily transfer points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to Hyatt for a stay in desirable hotels like The Confidante Miami Beach. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets.)

You’ll also get:

  • Primary car rental insurance: Covers damage from theft or collision to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Get up to $500 back per ticket on meals and lodging when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.
  • Extended warranty protection: Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by a year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Reimburses you for purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays longer than six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.
  • No foreign transaction fees: That’s why I take my Chase Sapphire Preferred everywhere I travel. It’s a Visa credit card so it’s accepted almost everywhere and there are no nonsense international fees.

When you’re approved, read all the details in the Guide to Benefits.

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth the annual fee?

The $95 annual fee is 100% worth it. I pay this fee year after year. Remember, when you earn the welcome bonus that’s $600 cash, or $750 in travel with no blackout dates, or over $1,000 in award travel. So subtract $95 from that and it’s pretty clear. (If you decide to cancel after a year or so, it’s seriously hassle-free.)

Insider Secrets: If you’re in one of these categories, you likely will not be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

1. You have opened five or more new credit cards from any bank within the past 24 months. This does not count small-business cards from American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo.

2. You already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

3. You earned the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve in the past 48 months.

This is our #1 pick for people who are beginners to travel credit cards and airline miles and points. This was my first premium travel credit card and I still have it and use it to this day.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Read our review of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Bonus: You can earn 60,000 Delta miles (worth at least $600 in Delta flights) when you open the Amex Delta Gold card and spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. You’ll also get up to $50 in statement credits for Delta purchases made directly with Delta within the same timeframe. This is an increased offer, and ends Oct. 30, 2019.

When you use the Delta Pay With Miles feature, you can use points for 1 cent each on Delta. But they’ll be worth much more if you use them for an award flight instead.

Benefits:

In addition to the card’s valuable sign-up bonus, you’ll get:

  • One free checked bag for yourself and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation
  • 2 miles per $1 spent with Delta
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else
  • 20% discount on certain Delta inflight purchases in the form of a statement credit
  • Priority boarding
  • Discount on Delta Sky Club lounge passes
  • Pay With Miles (each point worth 1 cent)
  • No foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees)
  • Terms and limitations apply

Annual Fee: The card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year (See Rates & Fees).

Insider Secrets: This is a middle-of-the-road Delta credit card. If you fly Delta often, it is worth many times more than the annual fee. Delta charges $30 one-way for a checked bag. If you and a partner fly round-trip on Delta once each year, you’re saving money.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Amex Delta Gold.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Read our review of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Bonus: You’ll earn 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) when you open an Amex Delta Platinum personal card and spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. You also earn a $100 statement credit for making Delta purchases in the same timeframe.

Benefits:

In addition to the card’s valuable welcome bonus, you’ll get:

  • 2x Delta miles per dollar spent on Delta, including flights booked on Delta.com, Delta Sky Club membership or passes, Delta Vacations packages, upgrades or inflight purchases
  • 1 Delta mile per dollar spent on everything else
  • Domestic round-trip companion certificate each year on your card anniversary
  • 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles and 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000+ in a calendar year; an additional 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles and 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the same timeframe
  • Terms and limitations apply

Annual Fee: $195 annual fee, not waived the first year (See Rates & Fees)

Insider Secrets: This card’s superpower is restored annually. After you renew your card each year, you’ll receive a digital companion certificate that allows you to add a second passenger to your domestic round-trip flight reservation (within the contiguous 48 United States) and pay only taxes and fees for that passenger. You can potentially receive some incredible value from that certificate, and more than justify what you’ll pay for the card’s annual fee.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Amex Delta Platinum.

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Read our review of the Delta Reserve Credit Card

Bonus: You can earn 75,000 Delta miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) when you open an Amex Delta Reserve card and spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Benefits:

In addition to the card’s valuable welcome bonus, you’ll get:

  • 2x Delta miles on qualifying Delta purchases
  • 1 Delta mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access (normally costs $545)
  • Delta companion certificate (valid for domestic Delta flights in first class, Delta Comfort+, or main cabin) after renewing the card
  • First checked bag free for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation
  • Priority boarding for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation
  • Terms and limitations apply

Annual Fee: The Delta Reserve card is Delta’s premium personal card and comes with a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Insider Secrets: If you don’t care about complimentary Delta Sky Club access, this card isn’t for you. That’s the main draw of this card. As long as you’re flying on Delta, you’ll be able to visit any of Delta’s 50+ Sky Clubs around the world. All you need to do is present your boarding pass and credit card at the front door.

Delta Sky Clubs offer a quiet place to relax at the airport with free food and drinks. Some include shower suites and spas.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Amex Delta Reserve.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Card

Bonus: You can earn 50,000 Venture miles (worth $500 in travel) by applying for the Capital One Venture card and spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.

The card has a straightforward rewards program, which means the miles are easy to redeem. All you have to do is pay for travel expenses (such as airfare, hotel stays and parking) with your credit card. Then, log in to your account and erase the charge by redeeming your miles.

The Capital One Venture is perhaps the best credit card for points that you can use for nearly anything related to travel. Check out this post with outside-the-box ways to redeem Venture miles, like Costco travel packages.

Benefits:

In addition to the card’s valuable welcome bonus, you’ll get:

  • 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
  • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100)
  • 10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on hotel stays booked and paid for with your card at Hotels.com/venture (through Jan. 31, 2020)
  • No foreign transaction fees

The card also comes with Visa Signature Benefits, including:

  • Rental car insurance: Secondary protection for damage from collision or theft
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $250,000 insurance for accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech or hearing
  • Lost luggage insurance: Up to $3,000 per trip, provided the luggage was lost from theft or misdirection by the airline, cruise line, etc.

Annual Fee: Cards that offer to reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees usually have higher annual fees (often between $450 and $550). But this card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year.

Insider Secrets: This is a great travel credit card. The miles are easy to use and I love that it reimburses you with a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. I’ve saved so much time at airports with this perk.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Read our review of the American Express Platinum

Bonus: With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Benefits: With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn:

  • 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or through Amex Travel)
  • 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel
  • 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar on everything else
  • Up to $200 annual airline incidental fee credit on your selected airline
  • Up to $200 in Uber credit per year
  • Up to $100 in credits for Saks Fifth Avenue per year
  • Statement credit every four years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) for you or your travel partner
  • Terms apply

Another benefit that makes the American Express Platinum card worth it is the exceptional airport lounge access you get with the card (or the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express), including the Amex Centurion Lounges, which are some of the best airport lounges because of their meals, buffets, premium alcoholic beverages, showers, conference spaces and fast Wi-Fi.

Use your Amex Platinum card for complimentary access to comfortable exclusive spaces with food and drinks:

  • Airspace Lounges for you and up to two guests or immediate family
  • American Express Centurion Lounges for you and up to two guests
  • International American Express Lounges
  • Escape Lounges for you and up to two guests
  • Delta Sky Club lounges (when traveling with Delta)
  • Priority Pass lounges for you and up to two guests

For information on lounges at your home airport or favorite airport, check out this post on how to find Amex Platinum airport lounges.

Annual Fee: The card has a $550 annual fee, which is not waived (See rates & fees). If you use the perks and credits, you’ll easily come out ahead.

Insider Secrets: The Amex Platinum is useful, and this metal card looks cool too.

Further reading:

Apply here for The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review

Bonus: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

The 75,000 Marriott bonus points are more than enough for a night at a luxury Category 7 Marriott hotel (60,000 points per night), including The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, where rooms can easily cost more than $650 per night. You can also stretch your points and use the bonus for three nights at a midlevel Category 4 hotel (25,000 points per night), like the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland in New Zealand.

Benefits:

In addition to the welcome bonus, you’ll get:

  • 6 Marriott points per $1 at Marriott hotels
  • 3 Marriott points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 on everything else
  • Annual statement credit (up to $300) to use each card membership year at participating Marriott hotels (including room charges)
  • Automatic Gold Elite status (25% bonus points on paid stays, guaranteed late checkout, room upgrades when available)
  • Platinum Elite status (Welcome gift of points, breakfast, or an amenity depending on the hotel; lounge access where available, room upgrade, including suites when available) after spending $75,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • 15 elite-night credits every year
  • Annual free night (at participating Marriott hotels worth up to 50,000 points) after you renew your card
  • Property credit (up to $100) for qualifying charges when you use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (you can bring up to two guests)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (a value of up to $100) every four years
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee:

The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees), but the additional money-saving perks make it worth the cost, depending on your situation. The annual free-night award is particularly valuable because it’s valid at hotels that cost up to 50,000 Marriott points per night. The free-night awards you can earn with other Marriott cards are typically only valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points a night. So the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card gives you more flexibility on where you can use the free night.

Insider Secrets: This American Express card gets you access to the Amex Offers discounts program. Log into your online account and click the savings you want. I’ve saved $100s at restaurants, retail stores, hotels and more.

Marriott has hotels all around the world, including familiar brands such as The Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels and St. Regis. I’ve enjoyed my Marriott stays at SpringHill Suites in the U.S. and summertime at the Sheraton Sopot Hotel on the beautiful Polish seaside just outside Gdasnk.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Read our review of the Hilton Aspire.

Bonus: The Amex Hilton Aspire comes with 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. Depending how you use the points, you can get $750 to $900 worth of hotel stays from the bonus.

Hilton doesn’t have an official award chart but you can book a free night for 5,000 to 95,000 Hilton points.

Benefits: Because you get automatic Hilton Diamond Elite status as long as you have the card, you’ll get the fifth-night free on all award bookings. This perk isn’t a rebate, so you don’t need enough points for five nights in order to book the five-night stays.

In addition to the bonus points you earn after meeting the minimum spending requirements, you’ll also get:

  • 14 Hilton points per $1 spent at participating Hilton hotels
  • 7 Hilton points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3 Hilton points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual weekend-night award (at participating Hilton hotels) every year
  • Automatic Diamond Elite status (100% bonus points on paid stays, upgrades to a suite when available, executive hotel lounge access, etc.)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access (bring two guests for free)
  • Up to $250 annual airline fee credit
  • Up to $250 annual Hilton resort credit at participating resorts
  • Up to $100 property credit at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotels per stay of two or more nights
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee: This card has a $450 annual fee (See rates & fees). But it’s a good deal if you use the great perks listed above. Plus, you’ll earn a second free weekend-night award at participating Hilton hotels each calendar year that you spend $60,000+ in eligible purchases on your card.

Insider Secrets: With a Priority Pass Select membership, you have access to 1,200+ airport lounges. Airport lounges will change your travel life. Complimentary Wi-Fi, snacks and beverages with comfortable seating are wonderful.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card

Bonus: You’ll earn 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles and a Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees starting at $22) after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card

Benefits: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 3 Alaska Airlines miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • 1 Alaska Airlines mile per dollar on everything else

It’s easy to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for award flights directly on its website. The lowest domestic tier starts at 5,000 miles each way in coach. But the best use of miles is to fly one of Alaska’s excellent international partners, like Aer Lingus, Finnair, Japan Airlines and many more.

Although award prices vary by airline, there are several sweet spots. And 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles is enough to get you started on a fantastic trip in coach or business class, depending where you want to go.

You and up to six travel companions get your first bags checked for free. And each year you’re a cardmember, you’ll get a Companion Fare that starts at $99 plus taxes and fees (starting at $22) and is valid on all Alaska Airlines flights with no blackout dates.

Are the Alaska Airlines Cards worth the annual fee? The fee on both cards is $75 annually, and if you check bags or use the Companion Fare ticket, then it’s absolutely worth keeping. Also if you fly Alaska Airlines a lot, you’ll earn 3x miles when you pay with your card. 

Insider Secrets: Remember, Bank of America’s small-business cards won’t count toward your Chase 5/24 status (personal cards do count).

Further reading:

Apply here for the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Or read our full review of the CitiBusiness AAdvantage

Bonus: Earn 70,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first four months of opening your account.

And 70,000 American Airlines miles means what exactly?

Team member Jason is living the good life! The long flight to Asia is SO much better when you lay down to sleep in Cathay Pacific business class. Book with American Airlines Miles! (Photo by Jason Stauffer/Million Mile Secrets)

Many of you will combine the credit card bonus with your current stash of American Airlines. Or you’ll keep using the card to earn more miles. So here’s an idea of what you can do when you collect more American Airlines miles:

Sleep your way to Australia on Qantas by using American Airlines miles to fly in a business-class bed (Photo by Million Mile Secrets)
  • Fly one-way in business class to Australia or New Zealand for 80,000 American Airlines miles on partner airline Qantas
  • Fly one-way in first class to Japan for 80,000 American Airlines on partner Japan Airlines
  • Fly one-way in first class to Europe for 85,000 American Airlines miles

I’ve got to say, I usually fly coach to save miles and take more trips, but … wow, life sure is better when you’re able to lay down and sleep on a long flight. Plus you’re treated to much tastier food and liquor.

Benefits:

  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines flights
  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations
  • 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Free first checked bag: You get a bag! Your travel companion gets a bag! Everyone gets a bag! OK, up to four travel companions get a free checked bag on the same reservation on domestic American Airlines flights. That’s a huge money saver!

Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights: Nice.

Discounted in-flight Wi-Fi: Get 25% off when you purchase with your card. Not amazing, but I’ll take it. 🙂

No Foreign Transaction Fee: Excellent perk.

Extended Warranty: This benefit doubles the original manufacturer warranty up to a maximum of 12 months on warranties of five years or less for most items you purchase with your eligible CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Mastercard. So you can feel at ease when you turn down the store’s extra warranty coverage that they try to sell you.

Purchase Protection: You’re covered for most items you purchase with your eligible CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Mastercard if the item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of the date of purchase. This is a major reason I’ll NEVER make product purchases with a debit card. Your credit card gets you miles – and peace of mind.

Mastercard Easy Savings: CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select  card members (that’s a mouthful to say) are enrolled to receive automatic rebates on eligible purchases with Mastercard® Easy Savings. OK, so I looked over these and some of the savings are pretty cool. Currently (keep in mind these can change) you can save 4% at many hotels and restaurants. Being a food lover, I took a closer look at the dining perk. Here’s what it says:

Just dine at a restaurant within the Dinova network and use your eligible Mastercard business credit card to pay for your meal as you normally would. Nothing else is required. The rebate will apply to the entire charge, including taxes and tips. The rebate will appear on your statement in the form of a credit.

Woo-hoo! I know what you’re thinking… Dinova network? So I did a quick search of New York City as an example and a ton of restaurants popped up ranging from upscale steakhouses to chain restaurants. So it’s easy to automatically knock 4% off your bill!

Is the CitiBusiness American Airlines Credit Card Worth the Annual Fee? Yes. You pay $0 in year one with the card. Then you pay $99 if you keep it. If you’re flying on American Airlines it’d be hard to NOT make up the annual fee in checked bag savings! I really dislike baggage fees. But at least there’s a way to wiggle out of them.

Insider Secrets: You’re going to save a lot of money on baggage fees. You board early. For folks who fly on American Airlines or want to fly on great partner airlines to Hawaii, Europe, Asia and more, this is an excellent deal.

Further Reading:

Apply here for the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Read our full Southwest Business Card review

Bonus: Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. This is the highest welcome bonus we’ve seen on the card. And here’s what 60,000 Southwest points means for you: ~$900, because in our experience booking flights, 1 Southwest point generally converts to ~1.5 cents.

Two amazing things about Southwest points:

1. No blackout dates or funny business. If the flight still has seats for sale, you can book it with points.

2. We consider the Southwest Companion Pass to be the best deal in domestic travel. Your designated travel companion flies free with you on all your Southwest flights. These 60,000 points will get you more than halfway to the 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass qualifying points you need to earn in one calendar year to get the pass.

Southwest has other great perks:

  • Two free checked bags on every flight
  • No fees for changes or cancellations on paid or award flights
Bahamas cruise, looking to the beautiful ocean
Because Southwest has no blackout dates, it’s easy to redeem points for flights. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets.)

Benefits:

  • 2 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 Southwest point per dollar on everything else
  • 6,000 Southwest points after your cardmember anniversary (Enough to fly from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas, San Francisco or Portland, Oregon, whenever Southwest has one of its frequent fare sales)
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: If your (or your immediate family members’) checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger when you pay with the card.
  • Extended warranty protection: Extends the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less. I love earning points for a purchase and having the warranty extended.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays longer than six hours up to $100 a day for three days
  • Purchase protection: Covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • Free cards for employees (You earn points for purchases they make on the cards.)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Is the Southwest Premier Business Card worth the annual fee? Yes. The $99 annual fee is more than fair for $900 worth of flights. Plus you get all the perks listed above. And the bonus points on your card anniversary can help to offset the annual fee.

Insider Secrets: We recommend this credit card for anyone who flies on Southwest. It’s an especially awesome card for those who travel with a partner because of the opportunity to earn the lucrative Companion Pass.

For a long time I resisted flying on Southwest because I thought it would be a bad experience. I was wrong. I’ve flown Southwest to Cancun, the Dominican Republic, and a few times in the U.S. It’s all been pleasant.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

How we select the best travel credit card

You know how you get credit card offers in the mail and throw them away? Not us. We open all of them, then run to get the magnifying glass and read the fine print. We spend all day looking for new credit card offers online. Then, we dive in to calculate the true value of the offer.

We let you in on the secrets that the airlines, hotels and cruise ship companies do not want you to know.

Credit card introductory bonuses are the fastest way to earn big travel rewards without spending a ton of money. But here’s the thing — you have to know the smart ways to use these bonuses.

We examine the details.

Bonus offers: Credit card companies profit each time you use their card and when you pay them interest, so pay those bills on time. Like any business, they want more customers, so they create offers where you can earn a serious stash of miles or cash when you open a new card. Some bonuses are very appealing; others are not. We sort it all out for you.

Minimum spending requirements: Here’s the catch. To earn the introductory bonus, you must spend a certain amount using your new card within a certain timeframe. We like reasonable spending requirements that make it easy to get your bonus. We do list cards with bigger requirements but only if the reward is huge.

We love seeing how people like you get to travel first class, stay in amazing hotels or earn lots of cash using our insider tips. For example, MMS reader Lori is an English teacher who took trip to Asia worth more than $30,000 for only $500. Like me, she’s a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. And she took it on her epic adventure to Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Ongoing bonus opportunities: We prefer travel credit cards that keep rewarding you, even after you earn the initial big welcome bonus.

Benefits: Airport lounges with complimentary food and alcohol, no foreign transaction fees, and TSA PreCheck are some of my favorite perks that save money and time.

Recap of the Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019:

Your turn to comment … let us know which credit card is best.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For the rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 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®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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My husband recently applied for an got approved for an Ink preferred card. About two weeks later, he applied for the personal CSR. He was asked to call in and underwent a half hour interview about his expenses, balances and business, until he was ultimately denied for the CSR due to in essence that he was recently approved for another card. I thought business cards don’t impact personal cards? How long should we wait between applying for personal cards after receiving business cards ?

credit cards do help
thank you for the post

I have the Sapphire Preferred for a few years now and love it. I kinda want the Sapphire RESERVED. Do I need to cancel my Sapphire in order to get the Reserved? We do travel yearly!

Thanks for the question, ree! You can ask Chase to upgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

We have the Chase Sapphire Reserve for our household, which was an upgrade from the Preferred card. We do not regret getting the CSR. We have already scored four r/t tickets to Japan on the Chase Ultimate Rewards points alone, and with all other real (= fully usable) travel perks that come with it, including but not limited to airport lounge access, the CSR will likely remain our primary card for some time to come.

Thanks! Here’s a quick ? on United Club card: do you get preferred access to reward flights on their website, above what you’d get with the United Explorer card?

i didn’t where to post this but did you remove your RSS feed from your website? I noticed that it stopped after 4/12. is there another link to get your posts via RSS? Thanks

Jason Stauffer

We had a technical problem with the feed, but it has been fixed and is working again.

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