Best Credit Card Perks for Travelers Slideshow
November 7, 2011
Visa Signature Card
Visa Signature is great for vitals, like lost luggage reimbursement, emergency services abroad, 24-hour global customer service, and no foreign transaction fees. Perhaps the best perk is that the Signature rewards can be added to Visa cards with other benefits, like hotel and airline programs. It also comes with exclusive access to food and wine events, like free wine tastings in Sonoma, discounts on gourmet food brands, and, currently, the chance to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade from Aureole in New York City. No annual fee.
American Express Platinum
The most expensive card on this list, the American Express Platinum also comes with the best extras. The card's annual fee is $450, which goes toward $200 in airline fee credits, airport lounge access, benefits at a collection of hotels and resorts, and great restaurant recommendation and reservation services, as well as perks at food and wine festivals around the world. They charge no foreign transaction fees, offer free companion tickets, and often have exclusive pre-sale access to goings-on, like major sporting and entertainment events.
Capital One Venture Card
If your primary goal is getting free flights, jump on the Capital One Venture bandwagon. As Alec Baldwin reiterates in their commercials, you get double miles on every dollar spent (not just certain expenses), can redeem them anywhere with no restrictions, and the annual fee ($59) is waived for the first year. Get restaurant recommendations and hard-to-secure bookings, as well as access to food and wine events. The card comes with Visa Signature travel benefits, too, like lost luggage compensation and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Sapphire & Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire cards are meant for traveling food lovers. They cover all the basics: no foreign transaction fees, great reward redeeming rates, and a well-liked 24-hour customer service. On top of these, both cards offer two points per dollar spent on food, whether that's fine dining, takeout, or fast food. The Preferred card also offers double points on travel expenses like airlines and rental cars. The Preferred card has a $95 annual fee, while the Sapphire has none, and both place no restrictions on how you can redeem points.
Citi Forward Card
Citi's credit cards tend to not compete well against Visa Signature and American Express when it comes to travel, but few cards can beat the Citi Forward card's restaurant rewards. They offer five points for every dollar spent at restaurants, as well as on books and movies. There is no annual fee and they give extra points for staying within your credit line and paying your bill on time. The card is also connected to Citi's Thank You Rewards, which can translate into great travel benefits, though this is probably best suited to frequent domestic travelers, as those rewards are tougher to earn.
Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express
Travelers willing to stay loyal to the Starwood collection (which include W hotels, Le Meridien hotels, Westins, St. Regis hotels, and Sheratons), can do no better than American Express' Starwood Preferred Guest card. The annual fee ($65) is waived for the first year and while they charge a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee, it is one of the easiest cards for earning rewards. You can redeem at the hotels (of course) and with 350 airline partners. That it's an AmEx means you also get the travel expert services (like restaurant bookings) of their other cards and perks at Starwood locations, including top tables in their impressive restaurant collection.
British Airways Visa Signature Card
The British Airways Visa Signature may sound limiting if you don't plan on flying out of Heathrow on a regular basis. But cardholders can redeem rewards on a number of partner airlines to more than 600 destinations worldwide. With a $95 annual fee, it's not a cheap card, but they offer a free companion ticket (when you pay full fare for the first one), the services of Visa Signature cards (like restaurant bookings and exclusive, complimentary food and wine events), no foreign transaction fees, Executive Club membership, and 1.25 miles for every dollar spent.