With so many options on the market, choosing a specific travel credit card can seem like a challenge. Personal finance websites, such as NerdWallet, can help narrow down popular options through comparative analysis and research. Instead of reiterating similar data, I’d like to share why I find our favorite travel credit card to be the best.
PSA: If you are new to credit cards, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Credit Cards.
Choosing a Travel Credit Card
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a credit card:
- Brand Loyalty – Are you loyal to a specific brand?
- Rewards System – How do you earn rewards and redeem points or cash back?
- Benefits – What extra benefits come with the credit card?
- Cost – Is there an annual fee? If so, how much?
- APR – What is the APR when carrying a balance?
- Usage – How do you plan to use the credit card?
Though there are several elements to consider when deciding which travel credit card to apply for, your main focus should be on the benefits and rewards system. A travel credit card should support your travel needs as well as provide ways for you to travel more frequently.
That is why our favorite travel credit card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This credit card is a powerhouse when it comes to travel. Not only does it come with premium travel benefits, but you also receive a top-notch rewards program with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
My favorite thing about Chase Sapphire Reserve’s benefits is that they are mostly travel-centric. Some travel credit cards attempt to add value by providing access to random services. From my perspective, these types of benefits cheapen the credit card’s overall worth since they deviate from the credit card’s purpose. Unfortunately, when the Covid-19 pandemic happened and travel was significantly restricted, Chase added partnerships with DoorDash and GoPuff in an attempt to enhance value. Do we use those benefits? Not really…
Here is a list of our favorite Travel Benefits through the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- $300 Annual Travel Credit
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Statement Reimbursement
- Complimentary Airport Lounge Access with Priority Pass
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
- Trip Delay/Lost Luggage Reimbursement
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
- No foreign transaction fees
For an exhaustive list of travel benefits, check out chase.com.
When using the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you earn Ultimate Rewards points. These points can be redeemed in a number of ways. However, since this is a travel credit card, it’s best to redeem your points for travel to achieve maximum value. Also, why wouldn’t you when you score 50% redemption value on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards? That means 100,000 points are worth $1,500 instead of $1,000 when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also makes it easy to earn reward points. You earn more reward points (up to 10x) when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is standard with other travel credit cards. What makes the Chase Sapphire Reserve shine above the rest is that it offers 3x the points on all dining and travel expenses incurred outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards. That means you earn 3x the points when booking hotel rooms, flights, rental cars, public transportation, and dining. In turn, you can then redeem these points towards travel-related services through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Most other travel credit cards would limit the points earned or redeemed to specific forms of travel, such as flights or hotels.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s benefits and rewards system empower the cardholder to travel how they choose.
The current annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a hefty $550. However, the fee is offset by the benefits of the card. By simply accounting for the $300 annual travel credit alone, you are effectively only paying $250 for the annual fee. Add in any number of the other included benefits and you will find that the credit card is paying for itself.
Truthfully, we originally applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. We loved it so much that after 8 months, we decided to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the extra benefits. We never looked back.
If you are deciding on a travel credit card, we believe the Chase Sapphire Reserve is well worth the money.
What We Have Accomplished…
We opened our Chase Sapphire Reserve account in January 2018. Since then, it continues to be the top travel credit card we recommend to family and friends. This credit card allowed us to travel the way we wanted to travel. In previous years, this type of travel seemed much too costly. Now, we earn points for traveling and can easily recycle those points into MORE travel. It’s a beautiful thing.
Here’s our list of travel perks that the Chase Sapphire Reserve has paid for over the years:
- 1 Global Entry Account (Complimentary)
- Countless Car Rental Collision Waivers (Benefit)
- 2 Round-Trip Flights and Rental Car to Philadelphia in 2018 (Travel Credit)
- 2 Round-Trip Flights to Nashville in 2019 (Travel Credit)
- 2 Round-Trip Flights to Italy in 2019 (Points)
- 2 Round-Trip Flights to the UK – Band of Brothers Tour in 2020 (Points)
- Unfortunately this tour was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic but we were refunded all points and still have them. What will we do with them next…?
- 2 Round-Trip Flights to Las Vegas in 2021 and 2022 (Travel Credit)
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve may not be our only travel credit card, it is our favorite because of the way it enables us to continue traveling. What’s your favorite credit card and what have you accomplished with it? Comment below!