Staying Stateside - How to Reward Your Domestic Travel
Often, when people think about the credit cards best for travel, they envision points-paid trips to Europe for enjoying tapas in Basque country, or devouring pizza by a fountain in Rome. But travel rewards credit cards have much to offer domestic travelers too.
The Upsides of Travel Rewards Cards
Travel rewards cards are far more than just points towards flights. Flight delays are almost a rite of passage for travelers, as it’s inevitable and they can be costly. Eating in airports can be insanely expensive – like the $25 I once spent on water and a sandwich for an unexpected late-night layover in Iceland. Helping with a day’s meal costs is just one way flight delay protection on cards can be worth their annual membership with just one vacation a year.
In 2013, I had four-day weekend getaway to Vegas for my brother’s wedding, but I had an 18-hour flight delay over two airports that set me back over $100 in dining and WiFi charges alone. That was the last time I ever travelled without a Gold card’s travel perks. Since then, I’ve used credit card travel coverage for delayed luggage in Portugal, rental car damage in Croatia, and even trip cancellation insurance, when a volcano rudely clouded my Bali trip in 2017. Absolutely well worth the $129 card fee I pay annually.
Travel rewards cards aren’t just about getting points or money towards get-aways – they’re about protecting you throughout the trip, too.
The Best Travel Rewards Cards
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card credit card is arguably the best travel credit card right now. 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Spend those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards and they’ll be worth $750. In fact, any time you spend points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more.
Whatever you spend on, you'll earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases. All the standard travel protections – like trip cancellation and collision damage waiver on car rentals – apply to this card. There are several other sign-up bonuses on offer, all of which add up well beyond the $95 annual fee.
Then there’s the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, among the most popular user-rated cards on our site. Its perfect 5-star rating is because it’s so simple to use. Paying out 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, this flexible card has no blackout dates or blink-and-miss ‘em availability windows. In fact, there are lots of points waiting for you if you're willing to spend. You can earn 60,000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card miles can be transferred to over 10 other loyalty programs or used as statement credits, but they’ll never expire while attached to your card. Plus, ring it up anywhere in the world because you won’t pay foreign transaction fees.
The Discover it® Miles card may not be as lucrative as the other two in rewards, but it’s among the most popular user-rated cards on our site. Like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, it’s easy-to-use and user-friendly with the ability to Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. Plus, a current promotion has Discover will match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. No minimum spending needed, no maximum rewards cap.
The Discover it® Miles card comes with a $0 annual fee, and there are None foreign transaction fees when you’re border-hopping or traveling abroad. Use your miles against travel-related purchases or even as a minimum payment on your account when funds are tight. It’s the flexibility paired with Discover’s industry-leading customer service that keeps this card so popular.
What Kind of Traveler Are You?
Travel options are vast, and so is the range of cards that can complement a travel-filled life. If you travel more than most, consider cards featuring Priority Pass access – they cost much more in annual fees, but the rewards are often worth it.
Then there’s the domestic-versus-international traveler debate. If you’re a master of road-tripping, an airline-focused credit card isn’t for you. But if you’re all about resort travel or you like the freedom of choosing a flight to enjoy bespoke travel plans, then an air travel-adjacent card may be the choice for you.
Airline credit cards, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card from Chase or the Alaska Airlines card from Bank of America, often have great rewards for dining, travel, flights, and more, but they’re best if you’re a devotee of the airline in question and likely to fly routes under their banner. But the cards are more flexible for air travel than you may think, because Southwest and Alaska both belong to airline networks, like the OneWorld alliance, which allows you to spend points on dozens of global carriers for flights around the world.
Domestically, a card like the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi may not seem like a “travel” card, but you’ll get 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com, 1% cash back on all other purchases. It’s a card designed for domestic road trips. With that and an airline partner card or the other travel cards featured here, you can easily capitalize on all kinds of travel perks at home and abroad.See all the best travel cards CompareCredit has to offer