How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Cards (Hint: It’s About Value)

There’s a lot to be said about travel credit cards. Especially nowadays, with all the changes in mileage programs by major legacy carriers in the United States. Large mileage rewards are now much less valuable, and you shouldn’t be roped in by the 30,000 to 40,000 mile sign-up bonuses. When looking for the best travel credit cards, you should look for value.


Value is, of course, subjective, but I think everyone can agree that getting the best bang for your buck is important, and these cards that I’m recommending all offer value in some way. I’m not receiving any commission for recommending these cards, so this is my true, honest opinion, and that’s hard to find on many sites.


The Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
I’ve literally been using this card since 1999, and I find the Starwood “Starpoints” program to be the single best loyalty program in all of travel. Starpoints add up quickly through everyday spending and offer great sign-up bonuses of up to 30,000 points with the card. Additionally, you can get a match of 5,000 miles when you transfer 20,000 points to a major airline to get a free flight. There’s no fee the first year and it’s only $65 after that. This is a great card and a great program.


The Chase Sapphire Card
This card is great because it offers no overseas transaction fees, which I really hate. It also offers 40,000 ultimate rewards points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months after sign-up. There’s no annual fee the first year and after that it’s $95. This card has become increasingly popular, and if you travel abroad a lot, it’ll save you lots of money in foreign fees.


These are the only two cards that I both use and highly recommend. There are several other cards that I have for airline loyalty programs, but I no longer recommend them. However, I will say to be on the lookout for 100,000-mile bonuses for certain airline credit cards. These offers come and go quickly, but if you can get that type of bonus, it suddenly becomes worth it. That’s some free business class travel abroad or multiple free domestic flights.


So, be vigilant and don’t be fooled by large mileage bonuses, as they’re only getting less and less valuable because of airline consolidation and mileage redemption levels being raised. That’s not over either; so don’t be shocked if and when that happens again. Miles offer nothing but diminishing returns so stick to hotel points and rewards points for multiple uses.

Happy spending!