How to find the right travel credit card for you

A couple on vacation smile and laugh as they wheel their suitcases through a sunny courtyard.Image: A couple on vacation smile and laugh as they wheel their suitcases through a sunny courtyard.
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No matter who you are — whether you’re looking to vacation in style or just want some peace of mind abroad — a travel rewards credit card could be your ticket to a better trip.

But with all the options out there, how can you know what kind of travel rewards card is best for you?

Types of travel credit cards

Let’s take a look at all the different types of cards out there so you can get a better sense of which card or cards could match your traveling lifestyle.

Cobranded airline credit cards

When you frequent a particular airline, you benefit the most when you focus on that brand. Brands reward their most loyal customers, and pairing that with the right cobranded travel rewards card can boost your benefits. Many airlines offer cobranded credit cards that can earn you additional miles on all of your purchases, which you can use toward your next flight.

Cobranded hotel credit cards

Faithful to a specific hotel chain? Holding a cobranded credit card can earn you some perks that make your stay a bit more comfortable and earn you rewards toward free nights while you’re at it.

All-purpose travel rewards cards

Maybe you don’t want to be limited to a particular loyalty program and do want to earn travel rewards you can use across multiple travel options. You have a few options, from credit cards that earn you transferable currencies, to travel rewards credit cards that offer up “travel credits” toward everyday spending.

Some other credit cards — typically those with high annual fees — offer travel credits, which you can apply toward many travel-related purchases you make (depending on what your card company considers a travel-related purchase).

Cards with elite perks

If you’re a frequent traveler, you can get a travel rewards card with all the bells and whistles. The catch? These usually come with a hefty annual fee.

Next steps

Now that you’re armed with some knowledge on what options might exist, it’s important to know how to maximize your hard-earned travel rewards — whichever card you choose.

Being smart about the type of card you choose can be key in helping you offset your travel costs. Know the type of traveler you are and pick a card that suits your style — we promise there’s something out there for you.

About the author: Brian Spychalski is a former Credit Karma freelance contributor now based in San Francisco. He has a background in corporate finance and a deep knowledge of the consumer credit market. When he’s not working, Brian can… Read more.