If you’re planning your next adventure and want to make your money go a long way, navigating the world of credit cards can be a game-changer. And leaving credit card points or airline points on the table is just… blatantly wasteful. You have to collect these points and make sure you’re maximizing them.
Whether you’re the right fit for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card for its exceptional hotel stays or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for its versatile travel rewards, there are smart moves to be made at the dawn of 2024 for anyone who loves travel. We reached out to credit card and flight point professionals to get the lowdown on the must-have travel credit cards this year, so you can decide pick one with features that matter most to you — from foreign transaction fees to airport lounge access to free checked bags and beyond.
With a little hustle, you’ll feel like you’re traveling for free before 2025 hits!
Kyle + Kenz Parks (@adventure_parks): Capital One Venture X
You really can’t beat the Capital One Venture X. While some might be initially hesitant with the $395 annual fee, the $300 annual travel credit essentially makes it a $95 annual fee card. Combine that with airport lounge access for the primary cardholder and authorized users, 10k bonus miles each year upon renewal, 2x points on everything, and Hertz President’s Circle status – it’s absolutely the best value card for premium benefits and earning a bunch of points!
Capital One Venture X
- Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary.
- Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®.
- Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel.
- Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
- 10X miles on hotels & rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
- 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
- 2X miles on all other purchases, every day.
- Unlimited complimentary access for you and 2 guests per visit at Capitol One airport lounges.
- Unlimited access for you and 2 guests to 1,300+ lounges worldwide from Priority Pass™ and Plaza Premium Group.
- Enjoy a $100 experience credit, daily breakfast for 2 and other premium benefits.
- Skip the rental counter and enjoy the widest selection of cars with a complimentary upgrade.
- Get reimbursed for damage or theft when you pay for a rental car with the Venture X card.
Annual Fee: $395
Adam Hill (@adamhillyeah): BILT Rewards
Credit cards can frequently change their benefits or the sign up bonuses being offered. It can be tough to keep up with the ever changing realm of the “Best Travel Cards.” I always get this question from people as well. “What is the best Travel Card?”
Well, the answer is, it’s really a combination of cards. But if we are to pick just one, here are a few:
BILT Rewards card is at the top with their NO ANNUAL FEE travel card that earns 1 point per dollar on rent, add the great bonus spend categories like 3x on dining, 2x on travel, 1x on everything else. This is the perfect card for anyone to start with. It’s a spectacular card for experts to have as well, whether you rent or own a home.
Here’s why: The rent day benefits on the first of the month allow you to earn double the points, 6x back on dining, 4x on travel and 2x on everything else up to 10k points. They have continued to have incredible rent day promotions as well like their lucrative transfer bonus promotions to airlines programs like Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic recently whereby you were eligible for a 75-150% point bonus on transfers. MIND BLOWN! They will continue to have amazing rent day promotions like this that NOBODY else is doing. The bonus is based on your status tier of how many points you are earning in a year with your card. They also make it easy to book travel using your points and put out tutorials for people starting out with this travel hacking hobby.
- Earn points on every rent payment in The Bilt Rewards Alliance, a network of 3.5M+ premium rental homes across the country.
- Earn points on rent at any home with the Bilt Mastercard® without the transaction fee.
- Redeem points on the Bilt Travel Portal for even more value on travel with hundreds of airlines, hotels, car rentals and activities.
- Transfer points 1:1 to some of the world’s top airline and hotel loyalty programs.
- Use your points at Amazon.com to cover all or part of your purchases.
- Exclusive access to our hand-curated catalogue of art, decor, and apparel.
- Save your Bilt Points and use towards a down payment on a home.
Annual Fee: $0
Allison Tackette (@luckytictac): American Express Hilton Aspire & American Express Bonvoy Brilliant
Two cards stick out. The American Express Hilton Aspire and American Express Bonvoy Brilliant. Both of these cards come with a ton of benefits from resort credits to dining credits to annual free night awards. But the biggest game changer is hotel status. Aspire comes with top tier Hilton Diamond status while the Brilliant comes with Marriott Platinum status. Both of these come with free breakfast and free room upgrades to suites. No need to stay 50+ nights to get amazing benefits like road warriors.
AMEX Hilton Aspire
- Earn 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the card within your first 6 months.
- 14X points on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
- 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies.
- 7X points on U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
- 3X points spent on other eligible purchases.
- Get up to $400 back annually for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts.
- Get up to $200 back each year on flight purchases made directly with an airline or though amextravel.com.
- Get $189 in statement credits per calendar year after you enroll and pay for CLEAR Plus.
Annual Fee: $550
Angel Trinh (@pennywisetraveler): Choose Based On Needs
- If you want unlimited buy one, get one free flights for almost two years: (1) Southwest personal card and (1) Southwest business card.
- If you want airport lounge access: American Express Platinum.
- If you want an easy everyday card at 2x points on each purchase: Capital One Venture X.
- If you want a business credit card that does not count towards Chase and still allows you to transfer out points: Chase Ink Preferred. This has a 100,000 sign up offer if you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Chase has a 5/24 rule where you can only hold a max of five credit cards in the past 24 months. TD, Discover, and Capital One business cards count towards this 5/24 rule.
- If you want to spend only $1 and get up to 75,000 American Airlines Miles: Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard. Earn 60,000 miles after making your first purchase and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. Add an authorized user, make a purchase on the authorized user card within the first 90 days and earn an additional 15,000 miles.
Jess Bohorquez (@pointsbyj): Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred = my #1 most-recommended card. The sign-up bonus is 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. It has all the essentials of a great travel card: reasonable annual fee, strong transferable points earning potential, and awesome travel insurance.
If you’re interested in accessing airport lounges, Capital One Venture X is the move. It does have a substantial annual fee of $395, but offers a $300 annual travel credit and 10k bonus mile anniversary gift – which completely offsets the cost. So, airport lounge access, up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, and no foreign transaction fees are all cherries on top. Plus, the card earns 2 miles for every dollar you spend.
If you’re not a Capital One person, the other airport lounge access card I love includes several of the American Express cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- 60,000 bonus point after $4,000 in purchases the first 3 months.
- Earn 5x total points on travel purchased
- 3X points on dining.
- 2X points on travel.
- $200 in additional partnership benefit value.
- Get complimentary access to DashPass.
- Earn 5x points on Lyft rides.
- 6 months of complimentary Instacart+.
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance.
- Baggage Delay Insurance.
- Trip Delay Reimbursement.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95
Spencer Howard (@straighttothepoints): Capitol One Venture X, BILT Mastercard & Chase Freedom Unlimited
Capitol One Venture X provides a simple way to earn 2x on all purchases and is the best bang for your buck if you want airport lounge access. The BILT Card is a favorite due to its no-annual-fee that allows you to earn points on rent without any pesky fees.
As a bonus, the recent Chase Freedom Unlimited offer for double cashback for 12 months is a wild offer. It has become a go-to for many travelers since you can turn the cashback into points when you pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back or more on all purchases.
- Earn 3% cash back on dining and drugstores.
- Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase.
- Earn 5% cash back on gas station and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- $200 bonus after $500 in purchases for the first 3 months.
- Complimentary 3 months of DashPass.
- Earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025.
- Complimentary 3 months of Instacart+ membership.
Annual Fee: $0
Thomas Lonergan (@travelliketommy): Capital One Venture X, Amex Marriott Brilliant, Amex Hilton Aspire & BILT
- Capital One Venture X: The best for a one-card-fits-all strategy. Earns 2x on all purchases and up to 10x on travel purchases. Includes Priority Pass lounge membership. Free authorized users also get their own lounge access. Plus a $300 annual travel credit.
- Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and Amex Hilton Aspire: Automatic top tier elite status just for holding the card, no need to stay! Free nights, upgrades (suites included), free breakfast, early check in/late check out. Includes incredible airline and dining credits, and lounge access.
- BILT Card: Because why wouldn’t you want to earn points on paying rent?!
AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant
- Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy® Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.
- 6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.
- 3X points at restaurants worldwide.
- 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines.
- 2X points on each dollar spent on other eligible purchases.
- Get up to $300 annually in statement credits for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award at participating hotels in Marriott Bonvoy every year after your card renewal month.
- Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership through TSA PreCheck® (up to $85) when you pay the application fee with an eligible Card.
- Receive 25 Elite Night Credits towards the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status every year.
Annual Fee: $650
Vivian Tu (@your.richbff): Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum & Capital One Venture X
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These three are probably the top three travel credit cards right now and hot for 2024. They all include travel protections for flight passengers if a flight is delayed or canceled.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – I really love this card. It serves every purpose. This one kinda battles it out with Chase Sapphire Preferred but both are very similar and come with a lot of perks including airport lounge access.
- Amex Platinum – This is great if you love luxury travel. It’s hard to beat some of those fine hotels and rewards credits. If you book travel through their portal and you book it through a finer hotels and resorts property, you get a free upgrade to a nicer room (based on availability), early check-in, free breakfast, and a food and drink credit to use. That is a huge savings, breakfast alone.
- Capital One Venture X – This is a newcomer and so many of my friends keep praising the benefits on this. It has a low annual fee and comes with some pretty insane perks.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- $1,200 in additional partnership benefit value.
- $300 Annual travel credit.
- Earn 5x total points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Earn 10x total points on hotels (excluding The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection) and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase.
- Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out.
- Earn 3x points on other travel worldwide.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase.
- Complimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide with up to two guests.
- Receive one statement credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for TSA PreCheck.
Annual Fee: $550