Top Cards for Autumn Vacation 2017

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Top 5 Cards for Travel from Our Partners Autumn 2017 - Expert Choice

Nights are drawing out, the wind is colder every day and you already feel the lightest breath of winter on your face - autumn is here. Holidays are over, kids are back to school and all you are left with are hefty holiday bills that you somehow managed to rack up. And still, there is no reason for despair - CreditLand experts to the rescue! With the cards we've selected, you can extend your holiday for another month of joy - or start collecting miles and be fully armed for the Christmas shopping or even the summer holiday ahead. We picked up the creme de la creme of travel rewards credit cards and made them compete against each other in the vicious fight of rewards and bonuses. Take a look at our candidates and see who won in the autumn rewards race.

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Autumn Travel Cards Winners

In order to make sure that you get the least biased comparison possible, we came up with criteria that will help you choose a card most suitable for everyday use and miles accrual. First of all, a real travel card should charge you low or no APR. You should be able to take off on holiday and pay any time later. Secondly, think about additional fees. Sometimes you may look at enticing bonuses and forget about an annual fee that can take from you right what you've gained. However, bonuses are crucial if you want to use miles or points to pay for your holiday - they often make up a good portion of your flight ticket or cover all of it. You also need to consider the rewards rate on non-travel purchases, because this is what basically gives you miles when you are not traveling. Below you can see the comparison of cards by these principal parameters.

0% on Purchases
Annual Fee
No Foreign Fee
Bonus Offer
Rewards Rate on All Purchases
Discover it® Miles
0% (14 months), 11.99% - 23.99% Variable after that
$0
Yes
We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
0% intro on purchases for 12 months, 12.99% - 22.99% (Variable) after that
$0
Yes
20000 Miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
-
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Yes
50000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
-
$89 - waived first year
Yes
Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
Earn 2X miles on all purchases
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
-
$95, waived for first 12 months*
Yes
No
Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases

Why You Should Choose a General Travel Rewards Card Over a Co-Branded Card

Above you can see our top five general travel cards. One might wonder where the typical airlines cards like the Southwest Credit Card or Delta Credit Card are. Point is, a co-branded card can give you some airline specific perks (which may still be of no use to you if you are not a frequent traveler), but other than that it's not very suitable for everyday use. Let's figure out why and see how co-branded cards compare to general cards. So, the travel cards' advantages are the following:
  • Easy Redemption You can redeem rewards for any travel purchases, including airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals and more.
  • Flexible Options You can book your reward flight any time with any airline.
  • No Limitations No limits to award seats availability, no blackout dates, and you don't have to have a flexible traveling schedule.
  • Lower Fees Low or no annual fee (annual fee can eat up to half of your earned rewards).
  • Earning Rewards You get more rewards on all purchases, while with co-branded cards you only get 1X on all purchases and higher rewards in limited categories.

Getting More Rewards vs Saving on Interest & Fees

When it comes to your actual earnings, every detail is important. In most credit cards' offers fees and rewards counterbalance each other, and for each prospective card you need to consider what dominates. Some premium credit cards have hefty annual fees and are worth it for only those who spend the equal or more for plane tickets. On the other hand, sometimes a card boasts low fees, but has no rewards either. Thus, it's a matter of calculation. In order to determine the card's worth to you we need to count its rewards value. We don't take into account any interest payments, because we take as a basis that you don't carry a balance and you are never late with your payments - this is the only way you can get any profit from a rewards credit card.

What is rewards value and why is it important?

The rewards value is how much you are going to get back with the card, how much money you are going to pocket. To calculate it, we need to put together all your expenses per year. Since individual spending can vary, we will take average annual spending per person. We don't take expenses that don't earn rewards like mortgage, cash advances or balance transfers. Generally during a year, you have a lot different expenses, which you can't put all in one category, so cards with a good rewards rate on all purchases and a good sign-up bonus will earn you more simply because all in all you spend much more in different categories altogether than in one selected category, even with increased bonuses. That's why in the game of rewards all expenses are important. Let's see how much an average person spends per year:

Utilities and other housing expenditures
$2,532
Food (at home)
Dining
$3,804
$1,100
Furniture
$1,105
Travel
$5,260
Clothing
$1,272
Health insurance
$2,808
Entertainment
$1,272
Miscellaneous personal expenses
$1,272
Total:** $20,425
How do we calculate the rewards value for the first year?

The calculation is pretty simple: we take annual expenses of an average American (the ones that earn rewards) and multiply them by the rewards rate. If the card has a bonus offer, we add it to the earned rewards. We assume that bonus offer is earned by default, as well as all expenses are put on a credit card. All calculations are hypothetical and vary depending on the credit card spendings. With these operations you get a number in miles or points, but we need to know how much real profit you are going to get, so we divide this number by the redemption rate. Redemption rate varies, but generally it is 1 mile/point - one penny, so we take it as a rule. Therefore, dividing the sum in miles by 100 you get your rewards value in dollars.

Card's Rewards Value for 1st Year =
Your Annual Spending
x
Rewards Rate
+
Sign-up bonus
Redemption Rates
How does it work in real life?

Whenever possible, bank will charge you high fees on everything they can. Naturally, these fees lower the rewards value of your card since they eat off the big portion of your much-needed rewards. An annual fee of a travel card can go up to $500 or more. A foreign transaction fee can also be nasty. If you go abroad and pay with your card, you need to keep track of additional charges. Banks tend to charge a fee of around 3%, and that's a severe leakage of your funds. Try to avoid cards that have any fees at all. Just the rewards. So, in order to see how the card really benefits you, you need to count the rewards value and then deduct all the fees. The sum you get is the net profit of that card. That is what you want to focus on when choosing a card. In the calculation below, you can see how fees affect your rewards value with the Discover it® Miles credit card (spoiler - they don't).

Let's Calculate the Rewards Value for Discover it® Miles**

Rewards

Rewards Rate: 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases

Reward Bonus Offer: We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.

Fees

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transactions Fee: None

Calculate Rewards Value for the 1st year
{$20,425 x 1.5 Miles} x 2 = 61,275 Miles
61,275 Miles
= $612.75 Rewards
Value
Exclude Fees
$612.75 - $0 - $0
=$612.75

Most travel cards will have a high annual fee and a foreign transactions fee. In such cases your final value will be much lower due to the deductions.

Earn more rewards at NO additional cost with Discover it Miles!

Compare Travel Rewards Credit Cards by Rewards Value and Fees

Finally, let's get to the sweet part and compare the cards that you can use to finance your trips. Here we've assembled all the criteria that can anyway affect the profitability of the card. Pay attention to important parameters, such as bonuses and fees. The rewards value of each card is presented in the first row.

Choose a Compromise Between Big Rewards and High Fees

When you are looking for that one card, which works the best for you, you may want some ready-made advice to see and follow. We've spent time comparing all the general travel cards and came up with the best one that combines high rewards and low losses. That is the card to use and earn, a card to be never bothered with fees and charges. See why the Discover It Miles may be the card to use from now on and forever:
  • The rewards rate on all purchases is 1.5 miles. If used for all purchases that you make during the year, Discover can bring you back $1255.5** and more.
  • All the rewards that you earn are matched at the end of the first year (provided you are new cardmember). This makes you the master of your sign-up bonus. While on most cards the welcome bonus is fixed, here you can increase it infinitely. The more you spend with Discover, the more you earn.
  • Having said that, there is no limit to how many miles you can earn. A lot of cards give you increased rewards only until you reach a certain limit. With Discover, there are no boundaries.
  • The rewards never expire. On most airline cards miles expire after some period of account inactivity. With the Discover it Miles you'll never have to worry about losing your miles.
  • Miles are extremely easy to redeem. Most travel cards allow you to redeem miles only for what they consider travel purchases or devalue your miles when you redeem them for non-travel purchases. With Discover, earned miles can be redeemed for virtually anything or even be given to you as a cashback.
  • You are not tied to one particular airline. Airlines reluctantly allow you to transfer miles to their partners, but other than that you can't use accrued miles for flights with other airlines. That's extremely disappointing, unless you don't fly one airline exclusively.
  • There are no annual fee and no foreign transactions fee. The Discover It Miles is very cheap in maintenance, in fact, it's basically free. You get all your rewards and pay nothing for that pleasure.
All in all, the Discover It Miles is the perfect balance between fees and rewards. When used wisely, it can give you the profit you couldn't imagine.
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.

**All figures are hypothetical and may vary individually

User Questions About Travel Credit Cards

Which is the best credit card for travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95/year), the Discover it Miles ($0/year), or...
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is good for travelers and those who also spend a lot on dining as it gives 2 points for travel and dining purchases. All other purchases earn only 1 point per dollar. The sign-up bonus is quite standard for travel...
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I need a credit card to use on my next overseas business trip. What is the best travel card to get?
When you're looking for a travel credit card, there are a few key things you'll want. The first one is a card with no foreign transaction fee. This is a fee charged by the credit card issuer when they have to convert your money from one currency to...
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My family and I fly to Hawaii every 2-3 years for vacation. I want to get a travel credit card so I can start earning...
A travel rewards credit card that is not connected with any airline will be a good option for you. For example, it can be the Discover it® Miles credit card. The card has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and it has a 0% intro APR on...
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How to earn airline miles with a credit card?
If you are a frequent traveler, then you probably get miles already just by flying. However, you can earn frequent flyer miles without boarding a plane every month and even without leaving house at all. The bottom line to mile earning is to spend,...
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