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Ratings Are In For The Best Credit Card Loyalty Programs For Travel

Dorathy Gass

Choosing a travel rewards credit card can be a daunting task. Mix the idea of fees, benefits, and then deciding if you value rewards around general travel versus airline, hotel or gas rewards specifically – and it can leave the average consumer quite confused.

Recently, Yahoo Travel helped clear up the debate on credit card loyalty programs, and released a survey regarding the ‘best of the best’ when it came to travel rewards programs. Interestingly enough, while both sited used different approaches, some of their results were quite similar. Both reports arrived with the same top three ‘all-around’ credit card travel reward program; however when they dived into specific categories, their results varied.

CardHub reviewed over 1,000 credit cards, breaking them up into various travel rewards categories based on road trips, hotels, and flying. The all-around top three amongst the bunch, rated in no particular order, were: Barclaycard Arrival Plus Capital One Venture Rewards, and Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Alternatively, NextAdvisor looked at an actual dollar amount when it came to the best rewards for flights, hotels, and all-around travel. They based their results on how many rewards a customer would earn, for every $100 spent throughout various times of the year. The top three travel rewards cards mirrored CardHub’s results, with Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard snatching the number one spot. Among other reward perks for all three credit cards, there were no international transaction fees; which is a huge perk for those who travel abroad significantly.

While the results within the reports for CardHub and NextAdvisor were almost identical when it came to all-around travel rewards, they differed when it came to the specific categories of airline, hotel, and road trip. For example, CardHub listed Frontier Airlines World MasterCard and the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express card as their top picks when it came to airline rewards; while NextAdvisor’s pick was the Virgin America Visa Signature card. Alternatively, when both sites evaluated hotel rewards, NextAdvisor ranked the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express as number one; this ranked fourth in CardHub’s report, where Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature, IHG Rewards Club Select credit cards, and Hilton HHonors Surpass were given the top three spots. Lastly, in the area of road trips, CardHub’s report listed The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card and Blue Cash Preferred from American Express; both offer incredible rewards for gas, and groceries at gas stations.

As they say, knowledge is power. Without getting too overwhelmed with numbers and dollars spent, travelers should take a closer look at how they travel, and what priorities they have, before deciding on a travel-focused rewards credit card to apply for.