Comparing rewards credit cards like cash-back cards can be challenging simply because of the growing number of them. Comparing travel rewards cards can be even tougher, as points often can be redeemed in multiple ways.
CNBC has done the hard work for you, though, in its recent analysis of travel credit cards. The publication scrutinized 35 cards based on seemingly every relevant factor.
It concluded that the Capital One Venture card is the best of the bunch, and deemed the Chase Sapphire Reserve card the runner-up.
To learn more about these credit cards or see how they compare to others, check out Money Talks News’ credit card search tool.
The best travel credit card
Among other factors, the publication estimated how much money each card would save both an average traveler and a frequent traveler over time.
Over a five-year period, the Venture card offered the greatest returns of the 35 cards analyzed:
- $920 to $2,220 for the average traveler
- $1,420 to $3,230 for a frequent traveler
These returns are in ranges because the value of credit card rewards often varies depending on how they are redeemed. With the Venture card, for example, one point is equal to $1 for travel, but only 50 cents in cash.
According to CNBC:
Capital One’s Venture card offers the best return after five years for both average and frequent travelers, according to our analysis, when cardholders opt to redeem their miles to pay for travel expenses. That’s largely because it has the best flat-rate offer of two miles for every dollar you spend.
CNBC evaluated the 35 travel cards based on factors such as:
- Reward offers
- Annual percentage rates (APRs)
- Annual fee
- Recommended credit score
- Late fee
- Balance-transfer fee
- Foreign-transaction fee
- Redemption rates
- Transfer options
- Customer reviews
- Extra perks
Is a travel rewards credit card right for you?
The first step in choosing or using any kind of rewards credit card is to make sure you have the means and motivation to pay off the balance in full each month.
Otherwise, you will likely rack up interest — which stands to cost you more money than you earn in rewards, negating the advantage of using a rewards card.
In fact, CNBC’s estimated returns are based on the assumption that you don’t carry a balance. So, the Venture card, for example, would save you less money than the ranges listed above if you incurred any interest charges.
Do you have a favorite travel credit card? Tell us what you like about it by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.