The Top Credit Cards to Earn Rewards That Can Be Redeemed Directly For Travel

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Editor's note: Some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through our site.

These days, it can be very frustrating to try to redeem frequent flyer miles. The airlines keep raising the number of miles needed while curtailing the number of award seats available when people actually want to travel. One way around this problem is to use a travel rewards credit card that earns rewards that can be redeemed directly for travel reservations. Some cards offer rewards in the form of statement credits towards any travel charge, while others require you to make your reservations through their travel agency. And when you redeem these points for airline tickets, then you’ll earn reward miles and credit towards elite status while still being eligible for upgrades.

The Top Cards for Rewards That Can Be Redeemed Directly for Travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express

This premium rewards card offers you the ability to redeem your points for reservations booked through Amex travel. You can start out with 60,000 Membership Rewards points after using your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first three months after account opening. You then earn 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Points can be redeemed through Amex Travel or by transferring them to one of their 16 airline and three hotel partners. Other benefits include access Delta, Priority Pass Select and American Express Centurion lounges. You also get an annual $200 airline fee credit, Gold elite status with Marriott and Hilton and $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card.

American Express® Gold Card

This card also offers you the chance to redeem your points for reservations booked through Amex travel or transfer them to airline and hotel partners. New applicants earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $2,000 on eligible purchases within three months of account opening. Apply by January 9, 2019, and receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. You also earn 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). You can earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Finally, this card comes with a $100 annual airline fee credit and $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House (enrollment required). There’s a $250 annual fee for this card.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

When you earn rewards with this card, there’s no worries when you try to redeem them. This card features double miles on all purchases, which can be redeemed as statement credits towards any travel reservations. New applicants receive 70,000 bonus miles, worth over $700 in travel statement credits, after making $5,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening. You also earn 2x miles on all purchases and miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel reservations and fees. Furthermore, you can get an additional 5% of your redeemed miles back, every time. There’s an $89 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

This card can offer you the best of both worlds, as you earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed directly for travel reservations, or transferred to points and miles in airline or hotel programs. New applicants earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. You also earn 2x points on all travel and dining, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. These points are worth 1.25 cents each when easily redeemed for reservations from the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, which works like an online travel agency. But rewards can also be transferred to airline and hotel programs, if you choose. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

Intro image by woaiss via Shutterstock

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