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HomeCredit CardsEarn Free Holiday Travel With These Rewards Credit Cards

Earn Free Holiday Travel With These Rewards Credit Cards

Want a credit card that offers free travel perks? These options are worth considering.

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There are many reasons why paying for your day-to-day transactions with credit cards can be a good idea. Credit cards offer robust fraud protection and the ability to build credit without going into debt. Yet the potential to earn rewards in exchange for purchases that I need to make anyway is one of my favorite credit card perks.

As someone who loves to travel, my favorite rewards credit cards are the ones that help me and my family see the world for free. Here are four of my preferred credit card picks that could help you earn free travel too.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 60,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-5X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), 3x points on select streaming services, 3x points on online groceries (excluding Target and Walmart), 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too. Also, the card earns 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.

Sign-Up Bonus: New applicants can earn 60,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s $750 when redeeming points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who are beginning with travel rewards cards.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred actually works like having over a dozen different rewards credit cards. That’s because this credit card allows you to transfer your rewards points into miles with 11 airlines and points with three hotel programs.

Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers and highest spenders, it’s part of a family of Chase cards that has a built-in upgrade path. So when it comes time to take your travel rewards game to the next level, you won’t have to start from scratch with an entirely different credit card and rewards program.

The card has a $95 annual fee, but the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit effectively reduces that fee to $45. Plus, the credit card allows you to continue earning points through bonus categories and a 10% anniversary points boost. But when it comes time to redeem your rewards for travel, this card really shines. You can take advantage of some really strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can just book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel center.


The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card makes it easy to earn free travel, even as a beginner. When travel rewards newbies ask me to recommend the best starter rewards credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred always makes my short list.

The card comes with an affordable $95 annual fee that’s easily offset by perks such as the following.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.
  • 1x-5x Points: Earn 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 3x points for spending on dining, select streaming services and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2x points on other travel and 1x point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enhanced Rewards Redemption Rate: Redeem the points you earn for 25% more when booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal or through Chase Pay Yourself Back.
  • Travel Protections: Enjoy trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, baggage delay coverage and rental car insurance.

The sign-up bonus alone is worth up to $750 in free travel when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And you could potentially cash those points in for even more value if you transfer them to a Chase airline or hotel travel partner.


Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $550
Bonus: 50,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-10X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $550

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card offers you 10x points per dollar spent on hotels, rental cars and Chase Dining experiences booked directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Additionally, it awards 5x points on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3x points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and 1x everywhere else.

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Frequent travelers who are serious about earning travel awards.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Right off the bat, Chase Sapphire Reserve features a $300 annual credit for travel purchases. That means the annual fee is effectively just $250 per year for frequent travelers. You also get free access to more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world. Those lounges usually give you free food and drinks, cleaner bathrooms, fast internet and a comfortable place to sit outside of the ruckus of an airport terminal. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve will get you access to the upcoming Chase Sapphire Lounge network.

If you’re looking to elevate your travel experience, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you first get approved, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months — that’s worth $750 in travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and potentially more if you transfer your rewards to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve is what I would consider the big sister of the Sapphire Preferred Card. This premium travel rewards credit card delivers a lot of value, but comes with a pricey $550 annual fee.

If you can use enough of the following benefits to offset the annual fee, however, the card can be well worth the cost.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
  • 10x Points: Earn 10x points on hotel and rental car reservations made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Chase Dining purchases and Lyft rides also earn 10x points.
  • 5x Points: Earn 5x points on air travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • 3x Points: Earn 3x points on eligible travel and dining purchases. Get 1x point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enhanced Rewards Redemption Rate: Redeem points for 50% more when you use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal or Chase Pay Yourself Back.
  • Travel Credit: Get up to $300 in statement credits each year for travel purchases. Gas station and grocery purchases may also trigger the credit through December 31, 2021.

On top of these great perks, you can enjoy all of the travel protections available through the Sapphire Preferred card. Plus, receive complimentary airport lounge access with a free Priority Pass Select membership, a Complimentary Lyft Pink membership for one year, a $60 DoorDash statement credit and more. The 50,000-point sign up bonus is worth $750 in free travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards—possibly more with a travel partner transfer.


VentureOne® Rewards from Capital One®

Offer Details
capital one ventureone card art

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: 20,000 Miles
APR: Variable APR After Intro 0% APR Period
Rewards Rate: 1.25X Miles
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: The card offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases. The VentureOne Rewards Card charges a 3% balance transfer fee for transferred balances during the 15-month promotion.

APR: After the intro 0% APR offer concludes, a variable APR will apply.

Rewards Rate: The card offers unlimited 1.25x miles per dollar on every purchase you make, giving cardholders predictability and simplicity.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 with the card during the first three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Travel rewards enthusiasts who want simplicity in credit card rewards and benefits without paying an annual fee.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card features several standout benefits. The introductory, 15-month APR of 0% is notable, and so is the 20,000 bonus mile opportunity with a low $500 spending requirement.

But perhaps the most appealing feature of this travel credit card is the ability to transfer miles to Capital One travel partners—an uncommon feature on a card with no annual fee.Plus, the ability to transfer miles to travel partners—both airlines and hotels—is arguably the most attractive feature of this travel card.


Once upon a time, I wasn’t a fan of annual-fee credit cards. If you prefer to avoid annual fees, the VentureOne Rewards from Capital One® offers you a chance to earn travel rewards without this cost. And while the rewards rate isn’t as high as you may find elsewhere, the card does feature several attractive features and benefits such as:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • 1.25x Miles: Earn 1.25x miles on all eligible purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR: Pay 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after you open your account. The VentureOne Rewards Card charges a 3% balance transfer fee for transferred balances during the 15-month promotion.

The sign-up bonus is worth $200 in travel statement credits. Capital One also allows you to transfer points to any of its numerous hotel and airline travel partners. So, if you’re strategic, you may be able to redeem those 20,000 bonus miles for more value.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $69
Bonus: 100,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-2X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who fly Southwest several times a year.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

This is the entry level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners, and new cardholders can earn a 100,000-point sign-up bonus, which can go a long way toward booking flights for your next travel destination. Above all, for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible.

Our favorite Rapid Rewards Plus perk is the 3,000 bonus points that are awarded to cardholders on the anniversary of your account opening. It’s an added incentive to retain the card after you’ve earned the introductory sign-up bonus.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is the entry level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners. This airline credit card earns 2X points per dollar spent with Southwest and on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners. It also earns 2X points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing services. Finally, the credit card earns 1X points on all other purchases.

Above all, for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible. Our favorite Rapid Rewards Plus perk is the 3,000 bonus points that are awarded to cardholders on every anniversary year of your account opening. It’s an added incentive to retain the card after you’ve earned the initial sign-up bonus.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $99
Bonus: 100,000 Points
APR:Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $99

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 3X points on Southwest purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who fly Southwest a couple times a year.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

In addition to perks like no foreign transaction fees and being able to earn A-list flight status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier also offers a generous 6,000 bonus points every cardholder anniversary. It’s these types of benefits that help round out the value of the $99 annual fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card also offers two EarlyBird Check-Ins each year, and all points earned with this card get you closer to a Southwest Companion Pass.

In addition to perks like no foreign transaction fees, two complimentary EarlyBird Check-In vouchers each year and being able to earn A-list flight status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card also offers a generous 6,000 bonus points every cardholder anniversary, which can often be enough to cover the cost of a one-way domestic flight. It’s these types of benefits that help round out the value of the $99 annual fee.

This airline credit card also earns 3X points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car-rental partners. It also earns 2X points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing services. Additionally, this Southwest card rewards 2X points per dollar spent on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. It earns 1X points on all other purchases.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $149
Bonus: 100,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $149

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 3X points on Southwest purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Southwest loyalists and frequent flyers.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

When you look at benefits like a $75 annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings each year, free checked bags and discounts on in-flight purchases, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority is probably the most affordable of all the Southwest credit cards. Similarly, the 7,500 bonus points each cardmember anniversary really pack on the value and offset this card’s $149 annual fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is as close to a premium credit card that Southwest Airlines offers non-business account holders. While its rewards-points earnings are the same as the Premier, the $149 annual fee does reward cardholders with a generous 7,500 bonus points on their account anniversary, as well as a $75 annual travel credit.

When you look at benefits like a $75 annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings each year, free checked bags and 25% back on in-flight purchases, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority is probably the most affordable of all the Southwest credit cards. Similarly, the 7,500 bonus points each cardmember anniversary really pack on the value and offset this card’s $149 annual fee.

This airline credit card also earns 3X points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car-rental partners. It also earns 2X points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing services. Additionally, this Southwest card rewards 2X points per dollar spent on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. It earns 1X points on all other purchases. Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card here.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

It’s hard to beat the amazing travel rewards and benefits that The Platinum Card from American Express offers. Yet these perks do come at a cost. On July 1, 2021, the annual fee for the Amex Platinum increased to a sizable $695.

Yet for many cardholders, the Amex Platinum Card more than makes up for its steep annual fee. Below are some of the highlights you may be able to enjoy when you open an account.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: 125,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 in the first six months from account opening.
  • 10x Points: During your first 6 months of Card Membership, earn 10x points on up to $25,000 in eligible purchases at restaurants and when you Shop Small® in the United States.
  • 5x Points: You can earn 5x points when you purchase flights directly from airlines or American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible prepaid travel at amextravel.com. Earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

The 125,000-point welcome bonus could be worth up to $2,000 in travel according to rewards enthusiasts—especially if you transfer points to an American Express travel partner. Plus, the Amex Platinum Card offers over $1,400 in annual statement credits for purchases from Uber, Saks Fifth Avenue, Clear memberships and more. I personally redeemed almost $750 in Amex statement credits in a single month.

How to Choose a Travel Rewards Card

Figuring out which travel rewards card is best can be tricky. But in reality, no credit card holds this title. There’s no “best” travel rewards credit card, but there may be a card that’s for you at this moment in time.

Next, you can research how to get approved for a new credit card. (Tip: A credit check is an important step you don’t want to skip.)

You can also consider factors like which cards will reward you the most for your spending habits, sign-up bonuses and benefits that you can use. Compare card benefits to any annual fees to make sure they’re worth the cost.

Once you find the perfect-for-you rewards card, be careful to manage it wisely. It’s important to pay your full statement balance every month. Otherwise, the interest you pay on your credit card could cancel out the rewards you earn.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Michelle Black
Michelle Black is founder of CreditWriter.com and HerCreditMatters.com. Michelle is a leading credit card journalist with over a decade and a half of experience in the financial industry. She’s an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, small business, and debt eradication. Michelle is also a certified credit expert witness and personal finance writer.

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