Thanks to airline miles & credit card points, you don’t need to be rich to travel often. Anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere if they focus spending on new credit cards to unlock sign up bonuses.

Every month, we assess all of the current available card offers and rank them based on a number of criteria, such as signup bonuses, ongoing value, annual fees charged, and perks included for the cardholder.

Use the list below as a guide to work your way through top to bottom in order to earn the highest return on your spend and maximize the benefits of these cards. Keep in mind that while we rank these offers in the order that we do, the best offers for you may vary based on upcoming travel plans, bank rules and restrictions, and other criteria.

Below are the top ten travel credit card offers available for September 2020.


1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

BONUS: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Iberia, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Hyatt, and more.

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred is arguably the best card for those just dipping their toe in the travel credit cards rewards pond: The points are versatile, category bonuses solid, and the annual fee isn’t significant.

Annual Fee: $95

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve

BONUS: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Points earned by the Sapphire Reserve transfer to all the same airline and hotel partners as the Sapphire Preferred. You can also redeem them for 1.5 cents each in the Chase Travel Portal towards normal cash flights and hotel stays and more, which can sometimes be a better deal than redeeming miles by transferring to partners.

This premium credit card comes with lots of lucrative benefits to offset the annual fee:

  • $300 travel credit each cardmember year (not calendar year)
  • $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSAPre √ every four years
  • Priority Pass Select membership, which grants access to over 1,200 lounges around the world and guest access for two fellow travelers
  • A year of free Lyft Pink membership (15% off rides, priority airport pickups, etc)

The Sapphire Reserve earns 3x Ultimate Rewards on travel purchases, which kicks in after you’ve earned the $300 travel credit. You’ll also earn 3x at restaurants. Travel and restaurants are broad categories and include flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, tolls, parking, rideshare services, taxis, restaurants, bars, fast food, and night clubs.

Annual Fee: $550

3. The Platinum Card from American Express

BONUS: 60,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months, or 100k if you’re targeted through the CardMatch Tool.

The regular offer for the Platinum Card from American Express comes with 60,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Sometimes Amex targets customers for 100k bonuses (see below), and sometimes referral bonus offers can be higher.

Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, All Nippon Airways, Aeroplan, and British Airways.

The card has a $550 annual fee. But it comes with huge benefits like $200 in airline fee reimbursement, the best airport lounge access out of any premium travel card, hotel status, $200 in Uber credit annually, and a 5x category bonus for purchases directly from airlines. For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

Before applying for this offer, read 100k Amex Platinum Targeted Offer to learn about the massive targeted bonus available to some through the CardMatch Tool. Check if you’re targeted for the 100,000 Membership Reward bonus offer on the Platinum Card (for spending the same amount of $5,000 in three months).

Annual Fee: $550

4. Citi Premier Card

BONUS: 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

The Citi Premier Card comes with 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That’s the highest bonus this card has ever offered. Points are the same as those earned by the Prestige, transferrable to a variety of airline loyalty programs that span all three alliances. Points are also redeemable for 1.25 cents each on any airline’s cash tickets (bonus is worth $750 redeeming this way).

Category bonuses include a stellar 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel and gas purchases, and 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on restaurant and entertainment purchases.

For a card with an annual fee of just $95 (that is waived the first year), that’s a valuable benefits package. You can also use this card abroad or on foreign purchases and no foreign transaction fees are collected. 

Annual fee: $95

5. American Express Gold Card

BONUS: 35,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months, or 50,000 if you’re targeted through the CardMatch Tool.

The public offer for the Amex Gold is 35,000 Membership Reward points for spending $2,000 on the card within three months of opening it. However, the CardMatch Tool has been offering targeted customers 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards for the same minimum spending requirement of $2,000 in three months. I value 15,000 Membership Rewards at around $300, so that’s a much better offer. Check to see if you’re targeted. Don’t worry, there will be no hard credit pull.

It’s the category bonuses that really make this card shine though.

  • 4 Membership Rewards per dollar spent at U.S. Restaurants and supermarkets
  • 3 Membership Rewards per dollar spent directly booking with an airline or on amextravel.com

Other benefits include $10 a month of credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House; $100 incidental fee credit every calendar year with one airline of your choice, and no foreign transaction fees. The card is also made of metal which is always fun. 

Annual Fee: $250 

6. Citi® Double Cash Card

No Bonus, but King of returns on Everyday Spending

The Citi® Double Cash Card has offered a competitive cash back rate for a long while now: 1% upfront upon purchase and another 1% upon bill payment, for a total of 2%. But this card just joined the ranks of valuable point-earning travel cards due to a benefit added recently by Citi. The rewards earned by the Citi® Double Cash Card are called Citi Cash Rewards.

Now you can morph these Cash Rewards into ThankYou Points (at a 1:1 rate), the reward currency earned by the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige, as long as you have a Premier or Prestige account open to transfer them to. This means the two Cash Rewards earned for every dollar spent and paid off on the Double Cash card translates to two ThankYou points transferrable to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs! Earning two points per dollar on everyday spending is currently unparalleled in the travel rewards card market. If you are capable of maximizing the loyalty programs Citi partners with (think Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Avianca, Etihad, Flying Blue) you should be putting all your everyday (otherwise non-bonused) spending on this card. There is no cap to earning 2x.

Annual fee: $0

7. United℠ Explorer Card

BONUS: 60,000 United Miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months

United℠ Explorer CardChase’s co-branded United℠ Explorer Card has a sign-up bonus that’s 20k miles higher than normal: 60,000 United miles after spending $3,000 within three months.

This is a relatively typical co-branded airline card that gets you benefits that you might expect:

  • First Free checked bag on United-operated flights for you + one companion. With the first checked bag costing $30 each with, this benefit can pay for the card in just a few quick flights. (Note, you must pay for your flight with your United℠ Explorer Card and include your MileagePlus number on your reservation in order to receive this benefit.)
  • Group 2 Priority boarding for you and your companions traveling on the same reservation. (Note, you must include your MileagePlus number on your reservation in order to receive this benefit.)
  • You’ll see expanded award availability when running award searches.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on United purchases, as well as dining and hotel spending
  • Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • 25% off in-flight purchases on Wi-Fi, food and beverages

Annual Fee: $75

8. Chase Freedom Unlimited

BONUS: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in 3 months. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase has made significant improvements to it’s no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card over the last few months, causing it to be a more serious contender for space in your wallet.

This card earns a $200 bonus in the form of 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $500 in the first 3 months of card membership.

First, they introduced a new signup promotion for cardmembers – earns 5x Ultimate Rewards points on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Then, they added bonus categories to the previously universal 1.5% earning card:

  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
  • 3x at drugstores
  • 1.5x on everything else.

Annual Fee: $0

9. Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard

BONUS: 60,000 American Airlines miles after your first purchase

The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard offers 60,000 American Airlines for putting just one purchase on the card and paying the annual fee! That means you’d effectively be paying $95 (or .15 cents a mile) and a hard credit pull for 60,000 American Airlines miles.

Other benefits include two American Airlines miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, free checked bag, discount on inflight purchases, 10% rebate on all American Airlines miles redeemed per year (capped at 10k returned each year), access to American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards, and no foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee: $99

10. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

BONUS: 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with a sign up bonus of 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. A Capital One mile can be redeemed for one cent in the form of cash back towards travel, or transferred to 12 airline mileage programs at a rate of 1,000 Capital One miles to 750 airline miles.

You can also transfer to another three airline programs but at a rate of 1,000 to 500. To translate that bonus into a more digestible value, it’s worth up to 37,500 airline miles. Partners include airlines from all three alliances, including Flying Blue, Aeroplan, Etihad, and Avianca, and more.

As you’ll earn 2 of these Capital One miles per dollar spent on everything you charge to the card, that means your minimum return on spend is 2%, which is great for a card with options to transfer to airline miles. Another cool perk: Up to $100 credit FOR TSA PRE✔® or Global Entry.

Annual fee: $95


Before you rush to sign up for new cards, remember to take into account that some miles are better than others for getting to specific destinations–not to mention issuing bank rules concerning eligibility if you’ve opened rewards cards in the past. For these reasons I recommend filling out a form for a Personalized Credit Card Consultation to get started on the right foot. Read this blog continuously to learn how to book your own dream trip with miles, or just leave the hard part up to us. MileValue’s Award Booking Service will spend your miles more efficiently to book a better trip than you can, so you can have more miles to go even more places!