The 9 Best Travel Credit Cards to Apply for Right Now

This November, take advantage of some of the best credit card offers in years.

Southwest airplanes

Southwest just upped the ante on its personal credit card bonuses.

Photo by Shutterstock

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It’s a November to remember in the credit card world. From Chase Sapphire Reserve® to Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, numerous cards are making it rain with their best welcome offers in years. The Citi Premier® Card continues to court new cardholders with its best-ever welcome: 80,000 points. Furthermore, Southwest is treating us with introductory offers of 75,000 points on its personal credit cards, enough to attain a valuable Companion Pass, when combined with the current business card offer. Here, the nine best cards to consider applying for this November and why.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best for: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is for those who want a top travel credit card that earns points quickly and comes with the industry’s leading travel protections.

Why now? An increased 80,000-point welcome offer on the popular travel credit card is the highest since it debuted six years ago.

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on new purchases within the first three months. You can cash those bonus points out for 1.50 cents apiece—a value equal to $1,200—on travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Annual fee: $550

Earn points: Earn 10 points per dollar spent on hotel and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5 points per dollar spent on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on dining, including takeout and international restaurants, and 3 points per dollar on travel not booked through Chase—including airfare, hotels, trains, rideshares, and more. Earn 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

Credits: Earn $300 back each year in statement credits for travel purchases, effectively reducing the annual fee to $250. Also, receive up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck or Nexus credit every four years.

Key perks: Get Priority Pass Select membership, allowing access to more than 1,400 airport lounges around the world in the Priority Pass network plus access to the upcoming Chase Sapphire Lounges by the Club. Moreover, Chase points are exceptionally versatile and can be transferred to 11 airlines and three hotel partners. Chase points can also be redeemed at 1.50 cents apiece for bookings through the Chase travel portal or with select categories, which change quarterly, under the “Pay Yourself Back” feature. Furthermore, Chase Sapphire Reserve carries the most thorough travel coverage of any credit card on the market, hands down.

2. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Best for: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is for those who plan to use Southwest Airlines for future travel plans and want to amass a lot of points now, for free flights later.

Why now? Despite being the Southwest card with the lowest annual fee, the Plus card still packs in the points. An increased welcome offer for the card and the chance to score a coveted Companion Pass for 2023 and 2024 make it especially tempting. To get the Companion Pass, apply for both this card plus the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card (#3 on this list).

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first three months your account is open.

Annual fee: $69

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

Credits: None

Key perks: Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year; an account anniversary bonus of 3,000 points annually

3. Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Best for: The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card is for those who plan to use Southwest Airlines as their primary carrier for future travel plans and want to land the coveted Companion Pass.

Why now? Combine this with the current, limited-time welcome offer for a Southwest personal card and fast-track to a coveted Companion Pass for 2023 and 2024. It may come as a surprise to some, but the truth is you don’t need a big firm to get a business card—a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC or the like will do. You can even apply with your Social Security number as a sole proprietor for a startup or small venture (versus an EIN—Employer Identification Number—often used for larger businesses).

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $99

Earn points: Earn three points per dollar spent on purchases with Southwest, two points on its hotel and car rental partners, and rideshares. Get one point per dollar on everything else.

Credits: $500 fee credit per year for Rapid Rewards points transfers.

Key perks: Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year; an account anniversary bonus of 6,000 points annually

4. Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Best for: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is for American Airlines loyalists who want Admirals Club access.

Why now? This must-have card for American Airlines frequent fliers is offering its biggest welcome bonus in years

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,500 on purchases in the first three months.

Annual fee: $450

Earn points: Through December 31, 2022, earn a total of four AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. (That’s double the regular two miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases.) On all other purchases, earn one mile per dollar spent.

Credits: Get a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (worth up to $100) once every four years.

Key perks: Get Admirals Club Membership, which grants access to nearly 50 AA-branded lounges for the cardholder plus two guests or immediate family members traveling with the cardholder. Add up to 10 cardholders at no cost, each receiving Admirals Club access (with two guests apiece, no less). On American Airlines flights, the primary cardholder can expect one free checked bag for his- or herself and up to eight travel companions on the same itinerary.

5. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Best for: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is 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.

Why now? Capital One is rolling out its own collection of airport lounges for cardholders and special perks at hundreds of hotels through its new Travel Collection.

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

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). Receive annual 10,000 bonus miles on your account anniversary.

Key perks: Access Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges at airports. 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. As far as redemptions go, miles transfer to 16 airline and hotel partners.

6. Citi Premier Card

Best for: The Citi Premier Card is best for those wanting a versatile credit card for everyday purchases and travel spending—without paying a high annual fee.

Why now? Get $800 in gift cards or 80,000 airline miles with the card’s best-ever welcome offer of 80,000 points. The card also carries the best extended warranty program in the credit card industry, which appeals strongly to tech-loving travelers.

Welcome offer: Earn 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.

Credits: Each calendar year, get a $100 credit on a single-stay hotel booking of $500 or more purchased through Citi ThankYou Travel.

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 from Apple to CVS Pharmacy at a ratio of 1,000 points to $10 (e.g., 80,000 welcome bonus = $800 in gift cards).

7. The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best for: The Platinum Card from American Express is 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? A good introductory welcome offer, travel benefits aplenty, and excellent benefits for additional cardholders.

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 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 or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 per calendar year, and on 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 (minimum two-night stay) with American Express Travel, up to $200 annually for Uber/UberEats (given in Uber Cash), up to $100 annually at Saks Fifth Avenue, up to $240 annually on digital entertainment (applicable toward charges on Hulu, Disney+, 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/TSA PreCheck credit (worth up to $100) once every four years (for every cardholder). Enrollment required for select benefits; terms apply.

Key perks: The best in airport lounge access (including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, and more) plus Gold elite status in Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, which extends to both primary and additional cardholders; in terms of points spending, Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to 19 airlines and three hotel partners, including Delta, Hilton, and Air Canada Aeroplan.

8. Aeroplan® Credit Card

Best for: The Aeroplan Credit Card is best for those looking to bank valuable Air Canada Aeroplan miles quickly.

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 current offer makes it easy to accumulate points quickly and get on board one of these many airlines on an award ticket.

Welcome offer: New cardholders can earn up to 70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. 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: Earn three points per dollar spent on Air Canada, at grocery stores and on dining. Earn one point per dollar spent on everything else.

Credits: Get a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (worth up to $100) once 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.

9. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Best for: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is best for Marriott loyalists who can take full advantage of Platinum Elite Status, which usually requires 50 nights per year, and comes with benefits like lounge access, enhanced room upgrade, and 4 p.m. late checkout, all subject to availability.

Why now? The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card relaunched in early fall 2022, with new perks like Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status (versus Gold Status) and an increased value of the annual anniversary Free Night Award, up to 85,000 points from a previous 50,000. The changes also come with a higher annual fee, up from $450 to $650. (See rates and fees.)

Welcome offer: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening.

Annual fee: $650

Earn points: Earn six points per dollar spent at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, three points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines, and double points on all other purchases.

Credits: Earn up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (rationed as $25 back per month) for dining purchases at restaurants worldwide. This credit replaces the previous annual $300 in statement credits for Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases. Get a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (worth up to $100) once every four years.

Key perks: Cardholders receive automatic Platinum Status and automatically bank 25 elite night credits per calendar year (which is the level for Gold but a boost to your balance for climbing the elite ladder). Get one Free Night Award each year after card renewal month that can be used for one night, up to 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Obtain complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership (enrollment required), granting access to the cardholder plus two guests to over 1,400 airline lounges worldwide.

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. This article was updated on November 10, 2022, to reflect current information.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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