Best Travel Credit Cards if You Want Cash Back

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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.

Credit cards can make transactions easier both across the U.S. and abroad, and now many cards also provide specific benefits for travelers in the form of rewards, miles and other perks like cash back.

Review this list of the best cash back travel credit cards to help you save for your next big trip.

Synchrony Premier World Mastercard

The Synchrony Premier World Mastercard is one of the best cash back travel credit cards. It provides a straightforward 2% cash back on all purchases, meaning that consumers don’t have to shop at specific stores to earn rewards. The card also has a competitive APR ranging from .

Cardholders don’t have to worry about any restrictions, like total cash back limits, and don’t have to opt-in for specific rewards. There’s also no annual fee. The card offers a number of additional perks from partnerships with DoorDash, Hello Fresh, Lyft and more — some of which are also useful for travelers.

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Along with cash back, this card is good for travelers because of features like ID theft protection, identity monitoring, and savings on flights and hotels.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all purchases, with no restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Travel-related benefits, like ID theft protection and savings on flights and hotels

Cons

  • Above-average credit score requirements
  • Foreign transaction fee of 3% for each transaction

Chase Freedom Unlimited is an excellent cash back card that also provides some travel benefits. Cardholders receive 1.5% cash back on all purchases, regardless of the category or store. They also enjoy no annual fee and an APR range of .

Additionally, there are significant bonuses for shopping in certain categories. Travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards receive a fantastic 5% cash back, and cardholders also get 3% cash back on any dining, even takeout and select delivery.

The card also features some impressive introductory offers. New cardholders can get an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) which is worth up to $300 in cash back! This is an excellent perk for new cardholders.

The cash back rewards can be transferred to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This lets cardholders access a wide range of rewards in categories including travel. They can also transfer points to Chase travel partners, including several airlines and hotels.

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Pros

  • Very flexible rewards system
  • Up to 5% cash back in certain categories, including travel

Cons

  • Steep credit requirements
  • Many of the best offers are only introductory

The Citi® Double Cash Card is among the best cash back travel credit cards. It features 2% cash back on all purchases, no matter what category or brand. Cardholders will have an APR in the range of .

There’s a unique twist on how the Citi Double Cash Card does 2% cash back. It gives 1% when the cardholder makes the purchase and 1% when they pay off the purchase on their card. There aren’t any upper caps for the cash back that cardholders can earn.

The card also features several key protections that travelers will find useful, including 24-hour fraud protection, identity theft protection and zero liability on unauthorized charges.

When cardholders earn cash back, they earn it in the form of ThankYou points. These points can provide cash back through credit, direct deposit or check by mail. The points can also be used to book travel directly and redeem other rewards.

Pros

  • Lots of variety with rewards
  • Many additional travel protections, including identity theft protection
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Cons

  • Foreign transaction fees
  • No bonus categories

The is a premium cash back credit card that offers numerous benefits.

There’s also an attractive offer of . The card also features protections like loss and damage insurance for car rentals and the Global Assist Hotline for emergency assistance.

The cash back for all purchases is only 1%, but the card has many bonus categories. Cardholders will receive 3% cash back on transit and gas from U.S. gas stations. They also get an impressive 6% on select U.S. streaming services and groceries at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year (then 1%). Terms apply.

Pros

  • Fantastic cash back in certain categories, including groceries from U.S. supermarkets
  • Great introductory offers, like 0% APR for the first 12 months, then APR

Cons

  • annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fees

All information about The Blue Cash Preferred Card has been collected independently by GOBankingRates.com. The Blue Cash Preferred Card is not available through GOBankingRates.com.

Capital One Savor Rewards

Capital One Savor Rewards is one of the best cash back travel credit cards thanks to its excellent rewards. Cardholders earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

A new cardholder offer provides a $300 cash back bonus for $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the card. The APR range is from and there is a $95 annual fee.

However, there are no foreign transaction fees, which is great for travel. Travelers will also enjoy access to Capital One’s concierge service, which allows them to call in for tips and recommendations on dining, entertainment, travel and accommodation. Combined with protections like 24-hour travel assistance for lost or stolen cards, Capital One Savor Rewards has plenty to offer globetrotting cardholders.

Pros

  • Excellent cash back on certain categories
  • Great additional travel perks, like 24-hour travel assistance

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Only 1% cash back on non-bonus categories

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards is a cash back credit card with no annual fee that may be ideal for certain travelers. There are also several introductory offers, including . It provides some versatility by letting cardholders choose their main spending category.

With some restrictions, cardholders can receive 3% cash back in any one of the following categories: travel, gas, dining, online shopping, drug stores or home improvement.

The travel category covers many purchases in both domestic and international travel. Cardholders can enjoy their 3% on purchases with airlines, car rental agencies, parking, railways, tourist attractions, cruise lines, entertainment and more.

Additionally cardholders will earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%.

There are also several introductory offers. Cardholders can take advantage of an offer of $200 on $1,000 in purchases during their first 90 days.

Pros

  • Cardholders can choose their 3% cash back bonus category
  • Good introductory offers, including

Cons

  • Above-average credit score requirements
  • Cash back limits on bonus categories

Deserve PRO Mastercard

Like the Synchrony Premier World Mastercard, the Deserve PRO Mastercard also offers Mastercard World benefits. These include features like ID theft protection, phone protection, travel and lifestyle services, the Mastercard Airport Concierge and more.

The card has cash back categories specifically geared toward travelers. Cardholders receive 3% cash back on travel purchases, 2% on dining and 1% on all other purchases. The card doesn’t have an annual fee or international transaction fees. It has an APR of .

The card also provides a one-year enrollment in Priority Pass. To receive this bonus, new cardholders must make at least $1,000 in purchases in their first 90 days. Priority Pass is an international travel club that provides access to exclusive lounges and other perks at over 1,300 airport lounges around the world.

Pros

  • Mastercard World protections and benefits
  • One-year Priority Pass membership

Cons

  • Only 1% cash back on non-bonus categories
  • Billing cycle limits on bonus category cash back

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card provides many of the same benefits as the Capital One Savor Rewards but without the annual fee. Cardholders get 1.5% on all purchases with no limits. They can also enjoy a great introductory offer of 0% APR for the first 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. The standard APR for the card is from APR.

Travelers will enjoy no foreign transaction fees, along with access to Capital One Dining, which provides cardholders with exclusive reservations at top restaurants. The card also offers travel accident insurance and 24-hour travel assistance. Any hotels or rental cars that are booked through Capital One Travel will qualify for 5% cash back.

New cardholders get a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within three months from account opening.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Access to Capital One Dining and other travel benefits

Cons

  • Only 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • No bonus categories

Final Take

All eight cash back travel credit cards listed above are fine choices for jet-setting cardholders. However, some travelers could also benefit from choosing a strictly travel rewards credit card instead of a cash back card. Whether a travel points or cash back card is better for you will typically come down to your personal spending habits.

FAQ

Choosing a credit card can be overwhelming, but it helps to be informed. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about cash back cards.
  • Is 2% cash back good?
    • A card that provides 2% cash back for all purchases is good, but many cards offer higher rates for specific categories.
  • Is travel points or cash back better?
    • That depends entirely on how cardholders earn and redeem points. A  travel rewards credit card can let some cardholders get rewards faster but may restrict them to specific types of rewards.
  • Which credit card is best for big-ticket items?
    • Consumers who spend a lot and are looking to maximize cash back may want to try the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express with its excellent bonus categories, but it's important to research the available options with priorities in mind before making a decision.
  • Which card is best for international travel?
    • Every card comes with pros and cons, so researching several options is an important first step to choosing a travel card. The above eight options are a good place to start. One standout is the Deserve PRO Mastercard for its Priority Pass membership and great travel protections.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of July 19, 2022.

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GOBankingRates bases its assessment of “best” and “top” products on the above-stated parameters to create a baseline for comparison. This assessment is an approximation of “best” and “top” designed to help consumers find products that might be appropriate for them. There could be other options available as well. Consumers should consider various options appropriate for their circumstances.

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.

The information related to Chase Freedom Unlimited was collected by GOBankingRates and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this product/card. Product details may vary. Please see issuer website for current information. GOBankingRates does not receive commission for this product.

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About the Author

Teddy Garcia is an experienced freelance writer who develops a wide range of content across many industries. He has a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and has created blog posts, website copy, use cases, and more for a variety of chemical industry and manufacturing organizations. 
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