Update: Some offers mentioned below may have changed or are no longer available. View current credit card offerings from our partners at CardCritics here or on the issuer’s website.
With summer now entering its third act, both you and your vacation plans are moving quickly toward the fall shoulder season. With the right travel credit card, sky-high savings could follow you wherever you end up. The big lenders are well aware that America is still bursting with pent-up demand for travel — and they’re competing for your business. The best travel credit cards come with generous upfront bonuses that can pay for all or most of your airfare no matter where you want to go. Here’s a look at how far you could fly with a boost from a travel credit card worth keeping.
Delta SkyMiles Gold From American Express
The American Express Delta SkyMiles Gold card delivers 40,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. If you’re in the Midwest near O’Hare, that will give you just enough time to plan a trip someplace a little more exotic — and you could easily fly for free.
If your dates are flexible, you can score round-trip tickets from Chicago to Miami for as little as 11,000 miles for this September and October. With 40,000 miles, that’s enough for three tickets with plenty of miles to spare even if you wind up paying a good chunk more. If you were paying cash, those same tickets would cost just shy of $200 each — $197, to be exact.
Capital One Venture Miles Rewards
Always a top contender for the title of best travel card, Venture Miles Rewards gives you 60,000 points for $3,000 spent in the first three months. When you want to turn your miles into tickets, the formula for calculating the conversion is simple — just divide your miles by 100 to get the dollar amount. That’s $600 — more than enough to justify the card’s $95 annual fee. You can spend those miles on new travel purchases or use them to get account credits for past purchases through the card’s Purchase Eraser feature.
Right now on Travelocity, it’s easy to score round-trip tickets from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu for $278 early this fall. That means your 60,000 miles are more than enough to get both you and a traveling partner from SoCal to paradise and back without spending a dime on airfare.
American Express Platinum
You’ll get 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 in six months with the American Express Platinum card. That translates into $1,000 for flights as well as for fine hotels and resorts — it gives you $700 in several other categories like cruises and prepaid hotels. With round-trip tickets from JFK to Paris available for less than $600 on Expedia, you’ll get airfare both ways with enough left over for two nights in a snazzy Parisian hotel or one night in a really snazzy Parisian hotel.
It’s only fitting. It is, after all, a snazzy card.
The Platinum card’s $695 annual fee is about as high as it gets for a mainstream card, but the perks go far beyond a big sign-up bonus. A $200 hotel credit, a $200 Uber credit and a $200 airline fee credit are just a few of the juicy member benefits that help this high-end travel card pay for itself.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Card
Anyone who lives in the hot, crowded and congested Mid-Atlantic region can plan a cheap vacation to greener pastures all over the country. Right now, both Expedia and Orbitz are advertising dozens of sub-$200 special round-trip fares from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore to Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Phoenix and beyond. Many of the offers are low enough for two people to score round-trip airfare for less than $250 combined.
That’s exactly what the Bank of America Travel Rewards card delivers — a 25,000-point sign-up bonus that’s good for $250 if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. Just put the flights on the card and cash in your free $250 as a statement credit. You’ll be hard-pressed to do better with a travel card with no annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This card is only for avid travelers because of its $550 annual fee, but if utilized, its perks are well worth the cost. The $300 annual travel reimbursement credit alone gets you more than halfway there. Then there are the 60,000 bonus points you earn when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That comes out to a $900 sign-up bonus.
With round-trip tickets to Jamaica from JFK selling right now for less than $300 on Expedia, airfare for two or even three people who would rather be in the Caribbean is within reach.
More From GOBankingRates
- What Money Topics Do You Want Covered: Ask the Financially Savvy Female
- 5 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About Social Security
- 20 Home Renovations That Will Hurt Your Home’s Value
- What Income Level Is Considered Middle Class in Your State?
All information about American Express card offers have been collected independently by GOBankingRates and have not been reviewed or approved by American Express. These offers are not available through GOBankingRates.
Last updated: Aug. 3, 2021