Top 20 Most Valuable Travel and Rewards Credit Cards 2020

Getting Started with Rewards Credit Cards

Many credit cards today offer some type of reward for using them in the form of points. Points can be redeemed for cash back, free gifts, and travel rewards (hotels, airfare). After having analyzed this space extensively, BestCashCow believes that travel reward programs offer the best sign­‐up rewards, with some worth well over $1,000 if you meet promotional spend requirements; and the best return, with some programs easily offering up to 3% of the regular spend. For certain categories that offer 2, 3 or even 5x, for every dollar spent on a credit card, as much as fifteen cents of a certain part of your spend can come back in the form of a reward, that's up to 15% of your spend.

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Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
Bonus:

Get 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first three months. BestCashCow values these points as high as 2.05 cents each, making the value of this bonus $2,050.   $95 annual fee.   


Points:
Receive 3x points on travel, shipping, online advertising (Google, Facebook) and internet/cable/phone expenditures to a total of $150,000 per year.  No foreign transaction fees. Also, if you use the card to purchase your cell phone, it provides $600 in damage protection.  (This is a business card, but you do not need to have a business to apply for the card.  It is a sister product to the Sapphire Cards and can be used interchangably with them although it will not provide the same car rental protection and purchase protection).

The complete list of Chase transfer partners is here.    Some of the more attractive transfer opportunities are:

  • Hyatt - 8,000 points gets a night at the Hyatt Regency Greenville, SC.
  • British Airways - 15,000 points gets a round trip ticket between Chicago and the East Coast (on AA)
  • United - 140,000 points gets a RT business class ticket from JFK to Narita
  • Singapore - 60,000 points gets a RT business class ticket from the mainland US to Hawaii (on United)
Those seeking to separate business spend from personal spend and those seeking flexibility in the way they can redeem travel rewards points. You may apply even if you don't have a business by entering your social security number when prompted to enter an EIN.

Review: | Jul 03, 2020

I've had the card for a few years. The 100,000 sign up points is just great, and it is easy to rack points quickly for online ad spend (which my business does a lot of ). I transfer the points to my Sapphire card and then onto United or Hyatt usually where I get great value. No complaints so long as I am able to travel again after this Trumpvirus.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Bonus:

Receive 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months.  $550 annual fee.   The card includes Priority Pass membership, a $300 travel statement credit that renews on each card membership anniversary date, certain Lyft benefits, and a $60 Grubhub credit annually (through 2021).


Points:
Earn 3x at restaurants and on travel.  Use in conjunction with the Chase Freedom to earn 5x at quarterly rotating categories, including gas, groceries, restaurants, Costco and Amazon, up to a $1,500 quarterly limit.  Also use in conjunction with the Chase Ink Cash card to earn 5x at office supply stores and on telecommunications spend up to a $25,000 annual limit (detailed here).  

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

This card is offering 5x points per dollar spend on grocery spend until June 30, 2020 up to a maximum of $1500 a month.   This excludes shopping at Costco or other big box retailers.

The complete list of Chase transfer partners is here.    Some of the more attractive transfer opportunities are:
  • Hyatt - 12,000 points gets a night at the Hyatt Regency Greenville, SC.
  • British Airways - 15,000 points gets a round trip ticket between Chicago and the East Coast (on AA)
  • United - 140,000 points gets a RT business class ticket from JFK to Narita
  • Singapore - 60,000 points gets a RT business class ticket from the mainland US to Hawaii (on United)
Those seeking flexibility in the way they can redeem travel rewards points.

Review: | Sep 29, 2020

Yada, yada, yada with Chase and CSR already. The card was the must-have card for millennials when it launched 4 years ago, but now the sign-up bonus is lower, the card's annual fee is higher and the benefits don't stack up the Amex Platinum. Plus, Platinum really seems to be going out of their way to add new incentives during the Trumpvirus, including all sorts of incentives to renew. I haven't seen any of that coming from Chase.

The Blue Business Plus® Credit Card from American Express®

The Blue Business Plus® Credit Card from American Express®
Bonus:

Link your Business Blue account to your Membership Rewards account with a Gold or Platinum card and all sign-on and earned points will be directly transferred into one common account.


Points:
2x points for every dollar you spend up to $50,000 each year.  The complete list of Amex's transfer partners is here.   
While it is very difficult to find valuable redemptions with many of partners, we value Amex points as being worth as much as 1.80 cents per point when redeemed on ANA or Singapore airlines (both part of the Star Alliance and partners with United).   The complete list of Amex's transfer partners is here.   
Those who want to segregate business expenses and earn double points on their first $50,000 in spend annually.  You may apply even if you don't have a business by entering your social security number when prompted to enter an EIN.

Review: | Aug 17, 2020

Earning 2x points on everything is the best way to run your business. Amex still has Delta, JetBlue and Singapore as partners and while the partner roster isn't as good as Chase, Chase doesn't have a card that gives you 2x points on everything. The point earning is so good and I also know people who run this one as a personal card which Amex will basically let you do, but I don't recommend that because you lose purchase protection, charge contesting abilities, etc. (things built into personal cards and not business cards).

World of Hyatt Card by Chase

World of Hyatt Card by Chase
Bonus:

50,000 Hyatt points.  25,000 after a $3,000 spend within 3 months, and an additional 25,000 after total spend of $6,000 within the first 6 months.  $95 annual fee.


Points:
4x at Hyatt, 2x at restaurants, gym membership, ride sharing services, and air travel purchased directly from an airline, 1x everywhere else. No foreign transaction fees. After payment of your annual fee upon renewal, you will receive 1 night in a Hyatt category 1-4 hotel.   Also, receive automatic Hyatt Discoverist status and 5 qualifying needs towards the next status just for being a card member.   Each $5,000 spend in a calendar year earns 2 qualifying nights towards the next status and each $15,000 spend in an anniversary year earns and addition 1 night in a Hyatt category 1-4 hotel.
 
Redeem 8,000 points for a night at Park Hyatt Mendoza or Hyatt Regency Montreal, or 30,000 points for a night at the Park Hyatt New York or Park Hyatt Paris.
Customers of Hyatt and those seeking to redeem value for their credit card spend at Hyatt, which is one of the most valuable hotel programs even after recent program devaluations.

Review: | Feb 26, 2017

This is the best card here. Became my go-to card recently. I'll pay $75 all day for a free cat 4 night every day of the year.

United Club Infinite

United Club Infinite
Bonus:

As of October 1, 2020, this card is no longer offering a bonus, but is also is not offering an annual fee in the first year ($525 thereafter).


Points:

Earn 4 miles per dollar spent on United, earn 2 miles per dollar spent on dining and other travel, and earn 1 mile on all other spend.

Prior to the pandemic, as few as 70,000 United miles could be s redeemed on any of its Star Alliance® partners for a one-way business class ticket from anywhere in the US to anywhere in Europe.   Star Alliance® partners include Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Austrian Air and SAS Airlines.   You could have also redeemed 140,000 points for a business class ticket from JFK to Narita, or redeem 30,000 points for an intra-Europe round-trup coach class ticket on a Star Alliance® partner.

Receive United Club membership, 2 free checked bags on United, up to $100 global entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement, no foreign transaction fees. 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Bonus:

60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within 3 months (Targeted offers may offer more Membership Rewards points).   The Welcome Offer is not available if you have ever had the exact same product before (if you have had the card before, consider the Business version, the Morgan Stanley version or the Mercedes Benz version.)


Points:
Ordinarily 1 point per $1 spent on the card, this card now offers 5 points per $1 spend directly on airlines and on hotels booked through American Express. $200 annual airline incidental credit (can be used in twice in the first payment year for airline incidental fees - once in each of two successive calendar years).  $200 in Uber statement credits annually ($15 per month and $35 in December).   $50 semi-annual Saks statement credit.  Limited Priority Pass membership.   Global Entry reimbursement.   Access to Amex's own airport lounges worldwide.  $550 annual fee.

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

Through the end of 2020, the Platinum card is providing $20/month streaming service credit and $20/month wireless phone service credit.  This benefit is not extended to co-branded cards such as the Morgan Stanley Platinum card, the Mercedes Benz Platinum card, the Ameriprise Platinum card or the Charles Schwab Platinum card.

The complete list of travel partners to which Amex points may be transferred is here
Those who spend a lot on airline travel booked directly with the airline and who can find valuable redemptions with Amex's transfer partners.

Review: | Jul 03, 2020

Don't even dream of opening this for 60,000 points in this environment. Wait until you get matched for a 100,000 sign up bonus with the cardmatch tool. Everyone is matching due to the Corona! Don't leave 40,000 points on the table.

United Mileage Plus Explorer Card

United Mileage Plus Explorer Card
Bonus:

Earn 40,000 United Mileage Plus points after spending $3,000 within your first three months of card membership.   Since the pandemic began, United has been davaluing its progam and we cannot value United miles any greater than 1.20 cents now.   Therefore, we value this Welcome Bonus around $500.   No annual fee for the first year, $95 thereafter.


Points:

Earn 2x on United purchases, at restaurants and on purchases directly from hotels.   Earn 1 mile everywhere else.   

 

Prior to the pandemic, as few as 70,000 United miles could still redeemed on any of its Star Alliance® partners for a one-way business class ticket from anywhere in the US to anywhere in Europe.   Star Alliance® partners include Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Austrian Air and SAS Airlines.   You could have also redeemed 140,000 points for a business class ticket from JFK to Narita, or redeem 30,000 points for an intra-Europe round-trup coach class ticket on a Star Alliance® partner.
Those who fly United and those who can take advantage of the extensive 2x point categories.  The card includes 2 United Club passes, free first checked bag and a 25% discount on purchases onboard United or from United at the gate.   After spending $24,000 on the card, you will receive 1,000 elite qualfying dollars.  No foreign transaction fees.   

Review: | May 24, 2016

I dont really understand why someone would get any kind of card not tied directly to an airline? I tried to cash in points once on another card I had and I had to book my ticket on line through their system and the ticket was pretty expensive so I still wound up paying a fortune for it. I have Chase United card now and 25,000 miles I can get a ticket anywhere in the US. It seems you have to burn through so many more points on general cards than on airline specific cards so by the time you have 50K points, that might just get you one flight on the other system but 2 on United. My question I guess is if you have a United Chase card, it says on the paperwork you can not get another one while you have one. Has anyone tried to sign up for 2 United chase cards just to get the 30K, 50K whatever bonus points and just switch from one card to the next for a while? Thanks! Also Question number 2, what is the cheapest way to get a card that allows you access to lounges anywhere? I dont travel all that much to if you are paying 495 for every card that gives you that it is almost cheaper for me to pay as I go not that I could probably ever pay for a lounge. I know there are a lot of gurus in here so just curious if anyone knows a way to get in there cheaper. Thanks everyone!

The American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card
Bonus:

Earn 25,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months.  $250 annual fee.


Points:

Earn 4x points at restaurants (U.S. only).

Earn 4x points at supermarkets up to $25,000 annually (U.S. only).

Earn 3x points on airline travel when booked directly through the airline.

Earn 1x on everything else.

Transfer Amex Membership Rewards® points to:

  • British Airways at 1 Amex: 1 BA
  • BA Singapore Airlines at 1:1 where they have the value described above.
  • Delta Airlines at 1:1 where they are worth very little
  • Or, several other travel partners listed here.

Those who spend a lot of money at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and can take advantage of the generous 4x points per dollar spend that this card offers.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Bonus:

Earn a $150 bonus (15,000 points) after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.  $0 annual fee.


Points:
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase (or 1.5x points if you transfer the points to a Chase Ink or Chase Sapphire card instead of redeeming for cash back).
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Redeem for cash - any amount, anytime
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Points only have the value ascribed when they are transferred to a Chase Sapphire or a Chase Ink card as explained in this article.
Those who have a Chase Sapphire or a Chase Ink Preferred card.

Review: | Aug 17, 2020

This is a great card. It gives me 1.50 points per dollar. I can redeem that at 1 penny a point, but since Chase's transfer partners are so good, I am always better off transferring points to either my Sapphire Reserve card or my Chase ink business card. Some bloggers call these three cards the Chase trifecta. I am not so big of the trifecta because most of my business expenses go to the Amex Business Blue, but I am big on Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve.

American Express Green Card®

American Express Green Card®
Bonus:

45,000 points after spending $2,000 within 3 months of account opening.  $150 annual fee.


Points:

Earn 3x Membership Rewards for spend at restaurants and on travel.   1x everywhere else.   Receive $100 annual credits at Clear and Lounge Buddy.


Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

Through the end of 2020, the Amex Green card is providing a $10/month wireless phone service credit.

Amex Membership Rewards points may be transferred to any of the partners listed here.   Delta is the most commonly selected partner for Amex transfers.

Those who spend a lot on travel and restaurants.   Can be used as a complement to the Amex Platinum card and other Amex cards that do not deliver 3x in those categories.   May not make sense as an alternative to other cards from Chase and Citibank that deliver 3x in these categories as the travel protections are not as strong and card carries a currency conversion fee when used outside the U.S.

Review: | Jul 13, 2020

This is just a terribly stupid and worthless card. Might be worthwhile if you are a flipper and want to get 30,000 Amex points for the first year annual fee, but otherwise it is a nothing of a card. The high annual fee brings no benefits. It doesn't compete with Chase Sapphire Reserve even remotely when you factor in their annual "travel" credits. It doesn't compete with Citi Preferred. It doesn't compete with Amex's own Platinum which has a larger sign up bonus and better benefits. Just a waste of space.

American Express® Business Gold Rewards Card

American Express® Business Gold Rewards Card
Bonus:

35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within 3 months of account opening. (Targeted offers may offer more Membership Rewards points).   $295 annual fee.


Points:
Designate 2 of the following categories for 4x Amex Membership Rewards® points on a combined total of $150,000 spend annually: 
  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
Transfer Amex Membership Rewards® points to:
  • British Airways at 1 Amex: 1 BA
  • BA Singapore Airlines at 1:1 where they have the value described above.
  • Delta Airlines at 1:1 where they are worth very little
  • Or, several other travel partners listed here.
Those seeking to segregate business expenses and earn flexible points that can be redeemed on several solid partner airlines, including British Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Bonus:

Earn 125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 within your first three months. $95 annual fee.  (The Hilton Honors American Express card, a separate card, offers 75,000 points after spending $1,000 within your first three months and has no annual fee). 


Points:
Earn 12 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent at Hilton, 6 points per dollar spent at restaurants, US supermarkets and gas stations, 3 points everywhere else. 

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

This card is now offering 12x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets until July 31, 2020.

Most Conrads are 95,000 points per night. 
Those who stay at Hilton family hotels.

Review: | Dec 22, 2016

Had no problem using the 2 free nights at the Conrad in NY and that made it worthwhile and then I cancelled.

British Airways Visa Signature Card

British Airways Visa Signature Card
Bonus:

Receive 50,000 British Airways Avios points after spending $3,000 within 3 months.  Receive an addtional 50,000 British Airways Avios if you spend a total of $20,000 within your first year of card membership.  If you spend a total of $30,000 in a calendar year, you will receive a "Travel Together voucher" valid for 2 years which can be redeemed for a companion ticket in the same class of service as a fully fare round-trip ticket on British Airways.   $95 annual fee.


Points:
3 Avios points per Dollar Spent on British Airways.   2 points per dollar spent in booking directly with hotels.   1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.
There are redemption opportunities as low as 15,000 British Airways Avios for a round trip coach ticket between Chicago and the East Coast (on American), between Hong Kong and most destinations in Southeast Asia (on Cathay Pacific), or between London and Madrid (on Iberia).  Note that redemptions directly on British Airways are often subject to excessive fees.   $95 annual fee.
Those seeking great value for their credit card spend by redeeming on short haul flights through British Airways' partners

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
Bonus:

Earn 60,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months.  Earn an additional 10,000 Delta miles on your first anniversary of cardmembership when you renew your card.   Get a $100 Delta credit when you spend $10,000 in a calendar year.  $0 annual fee for first year, $99 thereafter.


Points:
Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on the card and 1 extra mile for Delta purchases.

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

Through July 31, 2020, all Delta cards are offering 4x/points on all grocery store purchases.

Delta removed its award chart and valuable redemptions are just tougher and tougher to find.   The most valuable redemptions we find are in Business Class seats for long haul flights from New York to Latin America when they are on "sale".
People who live in Atlanta or Salt Lake City or who want to redeem for international travel from JFK.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Bonus:

100,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of receiving the card. We value each Marriott point as high as 0.90 cents ordinarily.  $95 annual fee.


Points:
Card earns 2 points per $1 of spend, but 6 points at Starwood or Marriott properties.
Even after past devaluations, some bloggers had succeeded in finding redemptions where Marriott points were worth over 3 cents a point at the Westin Snowmass Resort in Colorado and at the Wailea Beach Resort in Hawaii.   However, after category changes and program devaluations in March 2020, we think it will be hard to find redemptions better than 9/10 cent a point.   

 

Those who stay at Marriott hotels, and who want to take advantage of their higher end hotel properties (St. Regis, Ritz Carlton, Luxury Collection, Edition, Autograph).

Citi Prestige® Card

Citi Prestige® Card
Bonus:

50,000 points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.  The Prestige Card now carries a $495 annual fee, but gives a $250 annual statement travel credit. 


Points:

Earn 5x on air travel and at restaurants, 3x at hotels and 1x everywhere else.  The card also offers TSA Precheck / Global Entry, Priority Pass Select, and a complimentary 4th night free at hotels (which will only be available 2x per year after October 2019).   


Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

New cardholders who applied for a Citibank credit card between Dec. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, will get an additional three months to meet the sign-on bonus spending requirement. You'll get a total of six months to meet the bonus if you applied (or will apply) between those dates.

Points may be transferred to any of Citi's transfer partners listed here.   May alternatively be redeemed directly for travel at 1 cent per point.

Those who charge a lot on travel and restaurants, and who can take advantage of one of the Singapore Airlines redemptions outlined in this article.

Review: | Aug 13, 2019

"Revamped" is a way of saying destroyed. The benefits are gone. And, so am I as of October when the 4th night free goes away. Using my Amex Platinum again starting in October.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
Bonus:

Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within three months of opening the card. $95 fee.


Points:
3x on travel, including gas, 2x at restaurants and entertainment, 1x everywhere else. No foreign transaction fees. 

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

New cardholders who applied for a Citibank credit card between Dec. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, will get an additional three months to meet the sign-on bonus spending requirement. You'll get a total of six months to meet the bonus if you applied (or will apply) between those dates.

Points may be transferred to any of Citi's transfer partners listed here.   May alternatively be redeemed directly for travel at 1.25 cents per point.
Those who charge a lot on travel and restaurants, and who can take advantage of one of the Singapore Airlines redemptions outlined in this article (other rewards, including the direct credit on American Airlines, ordinarily provide less than the value ascribed here.).

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card
Bonus:

Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 within 3 months of account opening, or 100,000 bonus miles if you spend $20,000 within 12 months of account opening.  $95 annual fee.


Points:
Earn 2x miles for every dollar spent.   Earn 10x miles at hotels.com.   
Redeem miles against a statement credit at 1 mile per penny against travel charges to your card.
Those who like flexibility and want to redeem their rewards without worry about airline redemption blackout dates.

Review: | Aug 13, 2019

This is a shit card from a shit company. Stick with Chase, American Express, Citibank and Barclays. Those companies may annoy you by sending you transfer checks. They won't compromise your personal identity, harass you to get you to take out all sorts of loans or provide you with lousy service. All for what? 50,000 worthless points.

Citi American Airlines® Advantage Platinum Select World Mastercard®

Citi American Airlines® Advantage Platinum Select World Mastercard®
Bonus:

50,000 points after spending $2,500 within 3 months.  $99 annual fee, waived the first year.


Points:
2x points on American, 2x at gas stations, 2x at restaurants, 1x everywhere else. 

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Additional Benefits:

New cardholders who applied for a Citibank credit card between Dec. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, will get an additional three months to meet the sign-on bonus spending requirement. You'll get a total of six months to meet the bonus if you applied (or will apply) between those dates.

45,000 miles gets a round trip ticket between the US and Europe during low season.
Those who fly American Airlines or who seek to redeem points on American.

Barclays Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

Barclays Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
Bonus:

60,000 American AAdvantage Points after making your first purchase within 90 days of receiving the card.  $95 annual fee.


Points:

Earn 2x for every dollar spent on American, 1x everywhere else.  Also receive 3,000 American Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 in a calendar year.  

45,000 miles gets a round trip ticket between the US and Europe during low season.

Those who fly American Airlines or who seek to redeem points on American.  Also may have value for those seeking a faster path towards status on American through their spend.

Also see our list of the 10 best credit cards based on the value of the welcome offer!

This table lists the best travel and rewards credit cards based on value received through ordinary use of the card for purchases. The value that you receive from any card may differ, based on your particular usage patterns and whether you redeem points you earn for the most valuable rewards. Use BestCashCow's Credit Card Maximizer to see the cards that may be most valuable for you based on your spending patterns.

But to get this level of reward takes some knowledge of how these credit cards work and also the various deals offered by the cards. Earning valuable travel rewards points is easy with the right credit card and a little bit of research and planning. It can also be exciting, even exhilarating. Most importantly, it can enable you to travel the world in a class of service that you might not otherwise be able to afford, or to see places that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive to get to.

It is important to note that rewards cards do not make sense for those who plan to carry a balance. For those looking to finance purchases on their card, a low interest credit card is the better choice. But, if you pay off your balances monthly, flexible rewards points or travel rewards in the form of hotel points and air miles will provide you with the most value for your credit card spend.


The table above is generated by BestCashCow and includes BestCashCow’s commentary about the credit card product listed. It may include references to products from one or more of advertisers, but no content herein has not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser. BestCashCow has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products. Additional terms may apply.