Home>Travel inspiration>Tips + News>Loyalty + Rewards

7 Best Travel Credit Cards to Apply for in January 2022

By Paul Rubio

Jan 4, 2022

share this article
flipboard
United Club℠ Infinite Card's current 100,000-miles welcome offer is good until January 26, 2022—and is 25,000 more than we’ve seen in recent months.

Photo by Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock

United Club℠ Infinite Card's current 100,000-miles welcome offer is good until January 26, 2022—and is 25,000 more than we’ve seen in recent months.

Start the year by earning valuable points and miles for future travel through best-ever sign-up offers, limited-time earning opportunities, and more.

share this article
flipboard

AFAR partners with CreditCards.com and may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Compensation may impact how an offer is presented. Our coverage is independent and objective, and has not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of the AFAR editorial team.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

With 2022 officially here, it’s time to start mapping out another year of travel. It’s also time to start figuring out how to score enough points and miles to offset the rising costs of travel. Going into 2022, credit card companies continue to entice customers with eye-opening introductory offers, solid points earning structures, and travel perks aplenty. Whether you’re looking for a general travel card to start the new year right or want to capitalize on generous 100,000-point introductory offers, here are the seven best travel credit cards to consider right now and why.

1. The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best for: Those who value luxury benefits on land and in the air—including the best in airport lounge access—and understand such benefits (plus a program that includes copious statement credits) far outweigh a hefty annual fee. The card is also best for those who plan to add cardholders to their accounts. Select benefits, specifically a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit and that unbeatable lounge access, extend to every cardholder (which is not the case with most other cards). 

Why now? An all-time best introductory welcome offer is paired with limited-time bonuses in select spending categories.

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership. (Terms apply.)

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Earn points: Earn five points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines and on flights and prepaid hotel bookings made through American Express Travel. Earn one point per dollar on everything else. 

Credits: Statement credits include up to $200 per calendar year on airline incidentals, $200 per calendar year on Fine Hotels + Resorts or the Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel, up to $200 annually for Uber/UberEats, up to $100 annually at Saks Fifth Avenue, up to $240 annually on digital entertainment (applicable toward charges on Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and the New York Times), up to $300 annually toward select Equinox gym memberships, a $155 Walmart+ Credit (to cover the monthly membership cost of Walmart+), and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (worth up to $100) once every four years. Enrollment required for select benefits; terms apply.

Key perks: The best in airport lounge access plus Gold elite status in Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, simply by being a cardholder; in terms of points spending, Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to 19 airlines and three hotel partners, including Delta, Hilton, and Air Canada Aeroplan.

2. Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Best for: Those who plan to use Southwest Airlines as their primary carrier for future travel plans and want to bank plenty of points for free flights. (It may come as a surprise to some, but you don’t need a big firm to qualify for a business card—a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC, or the like will do.)

Why now? The large welcome offer counts toward the total required to earn Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass (125,000 qualifying points).

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $199

Earn points: Earn four points per dollar spent on purchases with Southwest, its hotel and car rental partners, local transit and commuting (including rideshares), internet, cable, and phone services. Get one point per dollar on everything else.

Key perks: Obtain up to 365 in-flight Wi-Fi credits per year (so basically free Wi-Fi anytime you fly Southwest), a $500 fee credit per year for Rapid Rewards points transfers, and four upgraded boardings per year. Receive an account anniversary bonus of 9,000 points annually and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every four years. 

3. Citi Premier® Card

Best for: Those wanting a versatile credit card for everyday purchases and travel spending without paying a high annual fee. There’s also the best extended warranty program in the credit card industry, which appeals strongly to tech-loving travelers, plus lots of flexibility for points redemptions. 

Why now? A best-ever, limited-time welcome offer for the card makes it a smart time to consider this card. 

Welcome offer: Get 80,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Earn points: Earn three points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, on air travel and hotels, and then one point per dollar on everything else. 

Key perks: The card extends the manufacturer’s warranty on eligible purchases for an additional 24 months, up to a maximum of seven years from the purchase date and is additional to customer-purchase extended warranties like AppleCare+. Citi ThankYou points transfer to 15 airline partners, including Flying Blue (AirFrance/KLM) and JetBlue TrueBlue. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards with major brands like Best Buy and Starbucks at a ratio of 1,000 points to $10 (e.g., 80,000 welcome bonus offer = $800 in gift cards).

4. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Those who want a solid travel credit card that pays for itself through credits, benefits, lounge access, and a rewarding earnings structure while also offering flexibility in redeeming points. The card is also smart for those who plan to add cardholders to their accounts. Up to four can be added at no cost, and Priority Pass lounge membership and access to Capital One airport lounges extends to each of these additional cardholders at no extra cost. 

Why now? As part of its launch, this new credit card is offering an enticing 100,000-miles welcome offer. In addition, the card promises a minimum of two miles per dollar spent, so you are earning bonus miles on every single purchase made. This is especially enticing to those who don’t want to bother figuring out which credit card to use for which purchase. 

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 on purchases within the first six months from account opening and receive up to $200 in statement credits on qualifying vacation rental purchases within your first year (with the likes of Vrbo, Turnkey, and Airbnb).

Annual fee: $395

Earn points: Earn 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5 miles per dollar spent on flights booked through Capital One Travel. All other purchases earn 2 miles per dollar spent.

Credits: When booking through Capital One Travel, receive up to $300 in statement credits. Get a Global Entry or TSA Precheck Credit once every four years (up to $100).

Key perks: Miles transfer to 16 airline and hotel partners, including Flying Blue (AirFrance/KLM) and Air Canada Aeroplan. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards with major brands like Amazon and Apple at a ratio of 1,000 points to $10 (e.g., 100,000 welcome bonus offer = $1,000 in gift cards) or redeemed for statement credits on travel at the same ratio. Access Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges at airports. Receive an annual 10,000 bonus miles on your account anniversary.

5. Aeroplan® Credit Card

Best for: Those who travel on Air Canada as well as those looking to bank valuable Air Canada Aeroplan miles quickly. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Why now? The Aeroplan frequent-flier program has more award partners than any other loyalty program in the world—currently 45 and counting—serving more than 1,300 global destinations. The card’s launch offer makes it easy to accumulate points quickly and get on board one of these many airlines on an award ticket.

Welcome offer: For a limited time, new cardholders can earn two Welcome Flight Reward certificates, valued up to 50,000 points each, after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. Together, that’s up to 100,000 total bonus points. Receive Aeroplan 25K Elite Status for the first two calendar years of card membership and opportunities to elevate this status through card spending. 

Annual fee: $95

Earn points: Get three points per dollar spent on Air Canada, at grocery stores, and on dining. Earn one point per dollar spent on everything else. 

Credits: Receive a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every four years. 

Key perk: On Air Canada flights, expect one free checked bag for the cardholder plus up to eight travel companions on the same itinerary.  

6. United Club℠ Infinite Card

Best for: Those who plan to use United Airlines as their primary carrier in 2022, want to enjoy the benefits of United lounge access and free checked bags, plus want to bank miles aplenty for future free flights with United and its Star Alliance partners.

Why now? A current 100,000-miles welcome offer (good until January 26, 2022) is 25,000 more than we’ve seen in recent months. Also, with the price increase of United Club membership to $650 per year, complimentary membership through this credit card more than offsets the annual fee.

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening. 

Annual fee: $525

Earn points: Earn four miles per dollar spent on purchases with United (tickets and on-board). Get two miles per dollar on dining and all other travel and one mile per dollar spent on everything else. 

Credits: Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (worth up to $100) once every four years; 25 percent back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages, and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights.

Key perks: Get complimentary United Club membership, which grants the primary cardmember plus two adult companions (or one adult companion and dependent children under 21) access to United Club locations and participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges worldwide. Cardholders also receive up to two checked bags per flight for themselves and the same for one travel companion on the same reservation. Get access to expanded award availability when redeeming miles for flights on United’s website. 

7. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best for: Those want a solid travel credit card without paying a high annual fee and want flexibility in redeeming points, including transfers to a number of airline and hotel partners.

Why now? Though the card’s best-ever welcome offer is gone, it’s still offering a substantial introductory bonus. Until March 31, 2022, cardmembers can redeem their points for select purchase categories/merchants with a 25 percent bonus through Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program. Categories include dining and select charities; merchants include Airbnb and Away Travel. 

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. You can cash those bonus points out for 1.25 cents apiece—a value equal to $750 in statement credits—through the Ultimate Rewards portal or with Chase’s Pay Yourself Back tool (through March 31, 2022).

Annual fee: $95

Earn points: Earn five points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (and two on travel not booked through Chase), three points per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery shopping (except for Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn one point per dollar on other spending. 

Key perk: Chase points can be transferred to 11 airlines and three hotel partners, including Hyatt, Southwest, United, and Air Canada Aeroplan.

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

>> Next: 12 Credit Cards That Can Get You TSA PreCheck and Global Entry for Free

Sign up for the Daily Wander newsletter for expert travel inspiration and tips

Please enter a valid email address.

Read our privacy policy