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The Best Credit Cards for Getting Travel Rewards

Aaron Pressman
The Exchange

The Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard is the top credit card for most people seeking to rack up travel rewards like frequent flier miles and free hotel rooms, according to a new ranking from website Credit Karma.

The Barclaycard offers users rewards worth $2.40 per $100 spent, among the highest offered by the 30 travel rewards cards included in the survey. It also ranked highest in customer satisfaction among Credit Karma’s 15 million members, who use the site to track their spending and credit ratings.

The second-ranked Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also offers rewards worth $2.40 per $100 spent, but a sign-up bonus of only $100. That’s not as good as the Barclaycard, which currently gives a credit equal to $400 off airfare to new customers who spend at least $1,000 in the first three months.

Still, the second place Capital One has other sweeteners, including a much higher average credit limit and lower annual fee.

Consumers who like the card should wait for one of Capital One’s frequent seasonal promotions offering bigger sign up bonuses, says Greg Lull, director of analytics for Credit Karma. “If that kind of deal comes around, it might actually be the highest ranked,” he says.

Travel rewards cards are typically best for people who spend a lot each month but do not plan to carry over large balances from month to month. And they don’t give cash back, instead offering rewards like free flights or car rentals.

The Citi Platinum Select – AAdvantage Visa Signature Card ranked third in the CreditKarma survey but it could be the best choice for consumers who prefer to fly on American Airlines. The card’s rewards are worth only $1.22 per $100 spent and its $95 annual fee topped both higher-ranked cards.

But the Citi card features special offers for American Airlines flyers, such as priority boarding and a free checked bag.

“The rewards just aren’t as good,” says Lull. “But if you fly American a lot, it’s probably best.”

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