The top travel rewards cards
You can get a jump on paying for next summer's vacation by using the right card this year. A consumer website ranks cards by the payback per $100 spent.
If you're looking to give your travel plans a boost by earning rewards from a credit card, sorting out which one is the best for you can be complicated.
The folks at NextAdvisor.com took away some of the guesswork by evaluating how quickly your credit card spending can be converted into rewards -- by calculating what it would take to earn a free flight or hotel room. They ranked the cards based on the reward value they deliver per $100 of credit card use.
- The winner: the Barclay Arrival World Mastercard.
- Second place: the Capital One Venture Rewards Card.
- Third: the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express.
"We were able to put a real-world value on the points and miles users earn with travel credit cards" NextAdvisor.com's Tasha Lockyer said. "Clarifying the actual monetary value of these rewards makes it easier for users to compare the cards and choose the best one for their needs."
Each card was ranked based on how much it delivers in hotel and flight rewards. The Barclay Arrival card delivered rewards at a rate of 2%, or $2 per $100 spent, for both flight and hotel rewards. The Capital One Venture Rewards card had the same return.
The Barclay card was given the edge because while it offers other reward options -- including redeeming for gift cards -- users are given a 10% bonus if they use their rewards for travel. That something NextAdvisor described as "a huge benefit we have not seen with any other rewards card." The Starwood card delivered a whopping $2.61 per $100 for hotel rewards, by far the biggest return in either category, and $1.35 per $100 for airline rewards.
Certainly, loyalty is an issue for many consumers, too. If you're invested in a particular airline or hotel chain it can be difficult to change -- or not worth considering at all. And it's a pretty safe bet that when you sign up for a card sponsored by an airline it will be better at producing air travel rewards, with same holding true for hotel-sponsored cards and their rewards.
Here's the rest of the top 10 and their return per $100 spending for air travel and hotel rewards, respectively:
- BankAmericard Travel Rewards ($1.50/$1.50)
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card from Chase ($1.72/$1.00)
- United MileagePlus® Explorer Card($1.75/$0.92)
- Blue Sky from American Express ($1.33/$1.33)
- Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature Card ($1.80/$0.84)
- Hyatt Credit Card from Chase ($0.82/$1.68)
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card ($1.25/$1.25)
Most of the cards charge annual fees -- typically after a complimentary first year.
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