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Which Credit Card is Best for Travel?

rboesl

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This question comes up off and on. I recently started to receive a daily email called "The Daily Drop" from the people at fairdrop.com. Today's edition included an article titled "Our new favorite credit cards for travel". They follow credit card travel perks and revisit them regularly to see if they change. So, if you're thinking about changing credit cards or are wondering if there's one out there that fits you better then check out their list here. They update the list regularly.

FYI...There's also a link there to sign up for their newsletter at no cost. Not every article has been of interest to me, but many have making it worthwhile to receive it.
 

Talent312

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I don't have a dog in this hunt, being more a cash-back guy, but I wanted to say that:
(1) The card which has a bonus for paying rent is weird.
(2) One factor worthy of consideration is a 0% intro-rate.

... I'm about to drop at least $10K for flights to and a cruise in Europe this Summer, so my new Cap-One card with 0% for 15 mos. will help lessen the pain.
.
 

Carolinian

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I used to chase ff miles on credit cards, but am now on the cash back side of things since the airlines trashed their ff programs during the merger mania. In the old days ff miles were considered to be worth about 2 cents each but in today's world, it is less. If you can get 2% or even 3% cash back, you can use it on any purchase, not just airline tix.

The one thing I always look for is cards with no foreign usage surcharge. My three main cards now are two with Cap One and one with one of my credit unions, all with cash back and all with no foreign usage surcharge. Some credit unions and Cap One are the main financial institutions where one can avoid the foreign usage surcharge. I do have one other major credit card that does have the foreign usage surcharge but is cash back. I keep that one because I have had it for decades and holding a card a long time helps on credit scores.
 

Talent312

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I concur.
I leave cards with a 3% FTX fee at home.
 

rboesl

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For ourselves DW & I prefer the Delta Amex card. We like flying Delta and have for several years. We travel with friends so the companion airfares work great. The travel insurance is a nice perk and so is no foreign exchange fee.

For a backup, when Amex is not accepted, we each have an American Airlines Mastercard. Has a similar travel insurance perk but does charge a foreign exchange fee.
 

Carolinian

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For ourselves DW & I prefer the Delta Amex card. We like flying Delta and have for several years. We travel with friends so the companion airfares work great. The travel insurance is a nice perk and so is no foreign exchange fee.

For a backup, when Amex is not accepted, we each have an American Airlines Mastercard. Has a similar travel insurance perk but does charge a foreign exchange fee.

If you travel outside the US much, I would add a CapOne card as a backup, or if you are a member of a credit union, see if their cards have foreign usage surcharges or not. I belong to two credit unions and the cards of one do have that charge and the other does not.

Working full time in eastern Europe for a number of years, and on shorter temporary stints since then, I became very aware of the lack of acceptance of AmEx. In one country where I worked, there was only one place in the entire country that took AmEx, an upscale hotel in the capital, while Visa and MC were widely accepted all over the country. After a year or so after I started, that hotel stopped taking AmEx, so nobody in the entire country took it anymore. Two other countries I worked in were almost as bad and it was rare to find someone who took AmEx while Visa and MC were widely accepted. What was bad was that the corporate card we were issued was AmEx and where I worked it was almost unusable. Fortunately, that was changed to a Diners Club branded Mastercard, and that was widely accepted and had some great perks like free airport lounge use.

Delta was also the first airline on which I made elite level ff status, and I once loved flying that airline. However, Delta has for many years led the race to the bottom for airline perks, especially ff perks for passengers. They were also the first US airline to take away free alcoholic beverages on trans-oceanic flights. Most of the downgrading of ff programs happened during merger mania, but Delta tried a massive downgrade years before the mergers. A group of Delta passengers on the FlyerTalk site fought back and raised money to challenge them with the Save Sky Miles organization, passing out literature on how Delta was screwing passengers at airports, putting up billboards near Delta hub airports, and even flying a plane with a banner over their stockholders meeting. After about a year, Delta caved and restored all the SkyMiles Medallion benefits. I did not wait, and had already comped my elite status over to Northwest, which I found to be a much better airline, anyway. One obvious difference was that I was getting a heck of a lot more first class upgrades on NW than I ever did on DL, incluing on international flights (except there the upgrades were to business class).
 
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isisdave

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In the US, I just use my regular Fidelity (2% back) Visa, except for gas and dining (Sam's Club 5% back).
Overseas, Chase Sapphire Preferred. I also have a debit card from Stanford FCU for getting cash. It has no FTF, I don't use it for anything else, and I don't keep a lot of money in it but transfer from other accounts as needed. This is to mitigate the effect of loss or theft.
 

jen.in.hi

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I love maximizing my credit cards for earning points and miles for our family of five! Of course, to make the system work for you, you must be able to pay off your credit cards in full every month. I find using the Chase Ultimate Rewards to be the best value for transfer options. Take a look at this blog for tips on earning miles and cash back http://www.freefrequentflyermiles.com specifically at the What's New page where he maintains an updated list of new promotions.

This is my go to card for 5% cash back (or miles) on bonus categories that change each quarter and 1.5% on every purchase with the Freedom Unlimited card.

Earn $200 cash back with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit card.
 
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I also have the AmEx Delta Airlines SkyMiles Platinum, the 50,000 miles after $3000 (within 6 months) is essentially one free round-trip flight anywhere in the USA! I highly doubt I will hit $25,000 this year, which a perk, not a goal for me. Until I hit $3000, I use the AmEx exclusively for bills and food and such, but use my Capital One Venture (not "X") for backup. As a trucker, there is at least one truck stop that does not take it, and a few restaurants that don't. If AmEx and Delta raise the miles needed, 50k should be a great discount. Now, I just need to figure out where to go, decisions decisions, decisions
:shrug:

TS
 

VegasBella

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For me, the best ones have been Southwest and Hyatt because I use those points. Other travel credit cards haven't worked out particularly well for me more than just a year or two past the 'new customer' specials. But I have been able to use these two.
 

dmharris

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For ourselves DW & I prefer the Delta Amex card. We like flying Delta and have for several years. We travel with friends so the companion airfares work great. The travel insurance is a nice perk and so is no foreign exchange fee.

For a backup, when Amex is not accepted, we each have an American Airlines Mastercard. Has a similar travel insurance perk but does charge a foreign exchange fee.
Does that Gold Delta Amex offer travel insurance free? I just bought tickets with it and bought the additional travel insurance since it's a European trip. Hope I'm not doing a head slap!
 

dmharris

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If you travel outside the US much, I would add a CapOne card as a backup, or if you are a member of a credit union, see if their cards have foreign usage surcharges or not. I belong to two credit unions and the cards of one do have that charge and the other does not.

Working full time in eastern Europe for a number of years, and on shorter temporary stints since then, I became very aware of the lack of acceptance of AmEx. In one country where I worked, there was only one place in the entire country that took AmEx, an upscale hotel in the capital, while Visa and MC were widely accepted all over the country. After a year or so after I started, that hotel stopped taking AmEx, so nobody in the entire country took it anymore. Two other countries I worked in were almost as bad and it was rare to find someone who took AmEx while Visa and MC were widely accepted. What was bad was that the corporate card we were issued was AmEx and where I worked it was almost unusable. Fortunately, that was changed to a Diners Club branded Mastercard, and that was widely accepted and had some great perks like free airport lounge use.

Delta was also the first airline on which I made elite level ff status, and I once loved flying that airline. However, Delta has for many years led the race to the bottom for airline perks, especially ff perks for passengers. They were also the first US airline to take away free alcoholic beverages on trans-oceanic flights. Most of the downgrading of ff programs happened during merger mania, but Delta tried a massive downgrade years before the mergers. A group of Delta passengers on the FlyerTalk site fought back and raised money to challenge them with the Save Sky Miles organization, passing out literature on how Delta was screwing passengers at airports, putting up billboards near Delta hub airports, and even flying a plane with a banner over their stockholders meeting. After about a year, Delta caved and restored all the SkyMiles Medallion benefits. I did not wait, and had already comped my elite status over to Northwest, which I found to be a much better airline, anyway. One obvious difference was that I was getting a heck of a lot more first class upgrades on NW than I ever did on DL, incluing on international flights (except there the upgrades were to business class).
Is Northwest still in business? I thought it was absorbed by Delta.
 

CalGalTraveler

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There are many blogs which provide these lists. PSA: they make $ from referring these cards.

Best card is one which fits your travel preferences. Everybody is different.

Sometimes in-branch openings get higher signup bonuses. We just signed up for Ink Business Unlimited at our local chase branch with the business relationship manager. The bonus was $1200 versus $900 via the link.

DoctorofCredit.com often writes about in-branch Chase offers.
 
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ScoopKona

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Cards which provide airline miles aren't worth it for me. I am not brand-specific when it comes to airlines. And since I'm just as likely to fly to Mongolia as Ireland, it doesn't make any sense to rack up miles.

I carry a card with no foreign transaction fees, is chip-and-pin, and offers cash back. Works for me. If someone routinely flies the Grace L Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company, then sure -- miles make sense. Unless Grace L Ferguson decides to radically change the miles program -- which happens with surprising regularity.

That's why I like cash. It ends up being a free month at the end of each year. I just apply the cash to my balance. No clipping coupons, signing up for programs, or booking my ticket on the fifth Thursday during a month which is also a prime number.
 

rboesl

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Does that Gold Delta Amex offer travel insurance free? I just bought tickets with it and bought the additional travel insurance since it's a European trip. Hope I'm not doing a head slap!
To be honest, I'm not sure. Delta has been revamping the miles program and the card perks. You will have to check the card benefits online. But, be careful. I recently discovered that on the Amex website the Amex Platinum card and Amex Platinum Delta card have slightly different benefits. The Delta version has more. It's better to signin to your Amex account and check the benefits that way.
 

jp10558

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Personally, ever since I knew about the Hilton cards back in 2008, even through the AmEx conversion, I find them the best rewards. The free nights from the 2 higher cards are often a huge savings, and the points add up to extra free stays. Adding in the status bonuses for like free water / free breakfasts add even more value. And it's not a huge problem being Hilton brand loyal because there almost always is options from them just about anywhere. And while the value varies depending on where you stay, it can be significant. At the low end of hotels, I tend to get around 1.7% back, but that's "worst case". If I use free night bonuses or points at more expensive times / locations the return goes up. The no blackout dates and no hotel category limits really can make a difference.
 
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