Invest Wisely

Select the Right Credit Card for Travel

by Mark Sander5 min read

Many people have credit cards. They may choose them based on a variety of reasons. For some, they want a card that rewards them with travel opportunities. They hope to earn points for hotels, airline miles or other discounts.


Credit card companies know the appeal of these perks, so they either partner with an airline or other businesses in the travel industry. Some even offer their own credit card to interest customers. With all of these cards available, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you.


What to Look For in a Reward Card for Travel

One feature to look for is a sign-up bonus that offers you a lot of mileage points to help you get started earning. A lot of times you get a special deal for your first purchase with extra points. For instance, you may normally receive one point for each dollar spent, but during the sign-up bonus, those are double points.

For a good travel card, your sign-up bonus should be at least 25,000 points, but it can be as high as 100,000. The spending requirements are low compared to what you receive.

Another feature is the special category. Many credit cards give you one point for each dollar you spend on any purchase, but they may offer a special category that is worth more points. It may be a specific retailer or a certain brand, but you can earn extra rewards based on how and where you shop.

Look for cards with low minimum spending requirements to receive your rewards. You don’t want to make extra purchases to just to get the extra points. Also, avoid cards with high annual fees and high foreign transaction fees.


Your Card and Your Credit

Getting a new credit card for travel rewards will impact your credit because a new account will show on your credit report. However, as long as you maintain a good status with the account, it will improve your credit or at least allow you to maintain a good credit status over time.

If you have a low credit score, you won’t be able to qualify for many of these cards. Most travel rewards cards require at least fair to good credit, and the top cards will only accept those with excellent scores. Work to build your credit by requesting your free credit reports from, so you can see what areas need work.

Apply for a secured credit card if you have a really low credit score. You can also try for an unsecured card that is made for lower scores, but expect to pay an annual fee and higher interest rate. Once you’ve built or rebuilt your credit, you can look for travel credit cards.


Which Card is Right for Me?

First, decide what your goal is. Maybe you want airline miles or perhaps you are interested in earning hotel stays or other travel perks. Look for cards which meet your goals with rewards programs that interest you.