Read on for information about the best travel cards of 2017, and to discover which cards will give you the richest perks and benefits to offset that annual fee.
“Which credit card can I use for reducing my travel expenses during the next trip?” It’s a question you don’t want to put off until too close to your travel date. But if you’re planning your trip now, finding the credit card solution that offers you hotel discounts or cheaper airline tickets is a must. It’s very doable, so instead of you spending hours of research on the best credit solution with the tastiest perks and rewards, we’re going to hold your hand through the process of finding the best one.
How do the best travel credit cards work?
Travelers can be divided into two distinct groups. First are those who like to fly business class and stay in luxury hotels (and who doesn’t enjoy this?). The second group are the budget-conscious travelers seeking ways to cut costs at every turn. What’s great about travel credit cards, though, is their ability to satisfy both types of consumers: they help you earn free hotel nights across different hotel networks (Marriott, Accor, etc.), while also rewarding you with points you can use for flights all around the world. Have you ever wanted to fly from Asia to North America for $75? Or how about from the US or Canada to Europe for $50? With the right travel credit card, these flights, plus many more, become simple.
No matter which traveler type you are, with the proper choice of a travel credit product, you can dramatically reduce your travel expenses. But even if your credit score is enough for obtaining one of the best travel credit cards of 2017, you might not become eligible for all types of perks. Most cards come with a minimum annual income attached to them, so you need to meet those requirements in order to be approved. To help you make the best choice, we’ve reviewed some of the best cards for 2017 below.
The 10 Best Credit Cards Of 2017
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card (For Canadians)
As the name suggests, this is an excellent option for business owners, though individuals are eligible for the card as well. You receive 30,000 points within American Express’ reward program, Membership Rewards, when you spend $5,000 CAD on the card in the first three months after signing up. If you’re referred to the card (as opposed to finding it on your own through Google or otherwise), this bonus increases to 40,000 points.
One of the greatest things about the Membership Rewards program is its flexibility. You can use your points in dozens of different ways, from applying your points to past purchases, buying items from their online catalogue or, my favorite, converting them to airline miles like Air Canada Aeroplan or British Airways Avios. These conversions are by far what gives you the best bang for your buck, since you can easily get two to three cents of value per point, compared to the flat rate of one cent per point that American Express gives when you apply your points to past purchases. Here’s a detailed post that explains exactly how to apply your Membership Rewards points most effectively by using Aeroplan and Avios.
American Express Platinum (For Canadians)
I’ve held both the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card and the American Express Platinum Card for several years now, and for good reason: they offer exceptional value. Over that time, I’ve been able to discover the nuances between the two cards and come to a final conclusion: I believe the American Express Platinum Card is hands-down the best for Canadian travelers. Here’s why.
First, the minimum spend on this card is just $3,000 CAD over the first three months in order to receive the 50,000 points bonus, and just like with the Business Gold Rewards Card, this bonus increases to 60,000 points if you sign up through a referral link. That means you get 20,000 points more, which I value at a minimum of $400 CAD, with a lower minimum spend.
Of course, the annual fees are worlds apart: the Business Gold Rewards card is $250 CAD/year with the first year free, while the Platinum card costs a whopping $699/year. The first year aside, though, when you consider the value of the extra points—I suggest valuing these 20,000 points at $400 CAD, and even more if you’re savvy at using them—then the comparison becomes much closer. Add in the other benefits that only come with the Platinum card, like the $200 annual travel credit, worldwide airport lounge access, premium hotel and rental car memberships, on-demand concierge service and the list goes on. The $699 CAD annual fee seems daunting at first, yet it makes a lot of sense when you add it all up, for the first year at least.
This is why I’m so bullish on the American Express Platinum Card for Canadians. If you know how to use your Membership Rewards points smartly, which is what I discuss in even greater detail in this full review of the American Express Platinum for Canadians, you can get a huge amount of value back for your investment. It’s not uncommon for me to book flights at a value of three cents per point, which means that the 60,000 bonus points you get with the Platinum card are worth $1,800 CAD, far more than the $699 CAD you have to pay to get them.
N26 Black (Ideal For Digital Nomads & Long-Term Travelers)
N26 is Europe’s first mobile bank, and their revolutionary N26 Black card is turning heads all over the world. Take a look at some of the benefits you get with the €9.90/month card: free ATM withdrawals all around the world, unlimited insurance coverage for foreign medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, flight delay and baggage delay insurance, mobile phone theft coverage and cash theft coverage, extended warranty on purchases and much more. I’ve saved well over $1,000 in less than a year using my N26 card, and I truly can’t imagine traveling internationally without it anymore. For more details, read our full N26 review here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
This card is an excellent option in terms of rewards and large sign-up bonuses. If users spend $4,000 in their first 3 months of card ownership, , they get 50,000 bonus points. Plus, with every dollar spent, you add 2 and 1 bonus points, respectively, on travel and other expenses. Though this card doesn’t offer free bags check or priority boarding benefits (unlike airline-specific ones), it allows higher flexibility in applying your rewards. Its metallic design is another bonus, giving it an original look compared to most of the other plastic cards out there.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can immediately reduce the amount of your travel by $400. How? Just spend at least $3,000 during the first 3 months of card ownership and you earn 40,000 miles. Plus, users earn an additional two miles for every dollar they spend with its credit products. Capital One Venture Rewards has multiple transfer partners, just like American Express, so you can transfer your points to multiple airline and hotel networks. Of course, you probably won’t get special perks like priority boarding or the presidential suite, but you are more flexible with your decisions.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Another option which helps users save on their travel expenses without dependence on an airline or a hotel network is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. With every dollar you spend, you get two extra airline miles. Although it allows saving of 5% on your next flight, this perk is much more difficult to obtain; it requires you to spend at least $30,000 a year with the card, plus your credit score should be at least 720 points. Either way, 3% transfer fees, a $500 sign-up bonus and flexibility to easily use the card overseas makes an excellent option for most travelers.
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Unlike the above-mentioned cards, this card is specific to Starwood Preferred Guests members. Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and you’ll get 25,000 Starpoints. You also get 5 Starpoints for every dollar spent at SPG properties, 2 Starpoints per dollar at Marriott properties and 1 Starpoint for everything else. This card is perfect for the loyal SPG member, but not ideal if you’re loyal to a different hotel network.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
This Bank of America card is much more affordable than the other options mentioned above, with the exception of the first-year free American Express Business Gold Rewards Card. It has no annual fee, and when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, you get 20,000 bonus points. If you’re a big spender, this won’t be the best card for you, but it is great for building up your credit score before taking the plunge with a harder-hitting card.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Like the previous Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, this card’s use is not restricted to a particular airline or hotel network. However, it does differ in that it offers 1.25 miles per dollar spent with no annual fees. The signup bonus is the same as the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card above: 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
British Airways Visa Signature Card
Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months with this British Airways Visa Signature Card and you’ll get a whopping 50,000 Avios, enough for a flight from New York to Hong Kong, or London to Buenos Aires. Every dollar spent with British Airwaves gives you an additional 3 Avios, while dollars spent elsewhere give you 1 Avios. There are plenty of ways to get exceptional value for your Avios points, as long as you know what you’re doing. This post will show you the best flight paths for using your Avios points anywhere in the world.
Also, since so many of you have been asking us for them, here's our full list of country-specific posts outlining how to ship anything from Amazon to any country in the world. Our 2-step method makes it as simple as humanly possible, and takes about 3 minutes total: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Asia as a whole, Europe as a whole and the United Arab Emirates.
While you're at it, international travelers should read our N26 review for the best way to get free ATM withdrawals the best rates on currency conversion - anywhere in the world.