The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2016

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Do you love to travel, but the costs are just too high? Consider a great credit card rewards program where the points send you on your next vacation for free! PT picks the 7 best travel rewards credit cards in 2015 and tells you exactly how to get one.If you love to travel like I do, one of the best things you can bring along on your adventures is a nice travel rewards credit card. It’s safer and often more convenient than carrying cash.

Plus, you get the added benefit of earning airline miles or other rewards just for spending on everyday items. Some of the best travel rewards credit cards offer more than one point per dollar spent, come with bonuses, and make redeeming your points easy.

Most of the cards below would make an excellent choice because they don’t place restrictions on which airlines you can use.  We’ve listed our favorites and should you have a card you think deserves to be on the list, let us know!

PT’s Pick for the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

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Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Earn 20,000 Bonus Points – The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, from our partner Citi, has a handful of variations, and the strongest of them is this card; which offers 20,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $1,500 during the first three months of card ownership.

Included is a 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (so long as the transfer is made withing four months of account opening) for 12 months and after the intro period expires, the standard purchase and BT APR becomes 13.24%, 16.24%, 19.24%, 21.24%, or 23.24% variable, depending on your credit worthiness. Double points are earned on dining and entertainment, single points earned on all other purchases and the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card has NO annual fee.

Barclay Arrival Plus MasterCard.jpeg

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® – Barclay Bank may not be a household US credit card name, but they’re entered the travel rewards space with a bang.

All new Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard members will receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of card ownership. Double miles are earned on ALL purchases (best of any travel card today) and a 5% bonus is earned when you redeem your miles for travel.

Also included on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is a 0% intro APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening and while everything about this card is top notch, there is an $89 annual fee to contend with (but it’s waived for the first year).

Chase Sapphire Preferred

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Tied for the longest bonus offered on this list, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card opens up with 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. An additional 5,000 bonus points are added when you include an authorized cardholder to your account and they make a purchase in the first three months.

Double points earned on travel and dining and single points earned on all other transactions and each year and no foreign transaction fees for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card holders. There is no annual fee for the first year ($95 afterwards).

Amex Starwood Preferred Guest

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Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, a true credit card, is considered a hotel card by some, but I think with the way the points transfer to the airline miles programs, it should be on par with the other travel rewards credit cards.

With this card you earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. An additional 5,000 bonus Starpoints can be earned when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 30 airlines. You also earn 1 Starpoint with regular spending, 2 Starpoints when you spend at the Starwood hotels and resorts and an extra point as a gold or platinum member, that’s up to 5 Starpoints per dollar.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card has no annual fee the first year, after that it’s $95. Additionally, the card comes with a variable rate, currently 15.24%, 17.24% or 19.24%. If you do a lot of spending at hotels, this is your card.

VentureOne Rewards

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Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card – 20,000 bonus miles are earned after making $1,000 in purchases during the first three months when owning the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. 1.25 miles are earned on every dollar spent, and there is a 0% intro APR on purchases until October of 2016.

This travel rewards credit card is for excellent credit applicants only and the standard APR 11.9% – 19.9% variable. All Capital One credit cards include an added benefit of no foreign transaction fees, so you can use the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card abroad; fee and exchange free.

Amex Premier Rewards Gold

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American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card – The only true charge card in the bunch, I had to throw in the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card. Being a charge card, you don’t pay any interest because you pay it off each month. And you don’t have a pre-set spending limit to hold you back. It has some sweet travel rewards for the frequent flier.

With the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, you earn triple points per dollar spent on airfare, double points on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations and at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets, and single point on other purchases. Redeeming the rewards is a bit tricky through the American Express Membership Rewards program but this card now includes a $100 airline fee credit per calendar year. The annual fee is NOT waived in the first year, and is $195.

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Last Edited: January 18, 2016 @ 9:32 pm The content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.