Looking for the best Chase credit card for travel? As a travel and finance expert, I’ll cut through the clutter to pinpoint the top options. Discover the ideal Chase card for your travel needs – ensuring your next journey is both enjoyable and rewarding.
Our Top Chase Credit Card for Travel
When choosing the best Chase credit card for travel, consider each card’s benefits and drawbacks in relation to your travel style and financial objectives. Chase’s range includes cards with luxury perks, high rewards, no annual fees, and simple cash back, catering to various traveler needs.
Best Overall Chase Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, with a $95 annual fee, offers a compelling mix of high rewards on travel and dining, a substantial introductory offer, and flexible point redemption options. It’s particularly appealing for its $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, travel protections, and the ability to earn 5x points on travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 3x on dining.
The card’s flexibility in point redemption (1.25 cents each for travel or transfer to partners) and a range of travel protection benefits make it a top choice for both frequent and occasional travelers. It’s also a great card choice for families.
Compared to the higher-end Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Preferred Card’s lower annual fee and similar benefits make it more accessible and valuable, especially for those who don’t need luxury perks like lounge access. It also surpasses the no-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠ in points earning and travel protections, appealing more to frequent travelers, which makes it one of the ideal credit cards for airline miles.
Annual Fee: $95
Intro Offer: 60,000 bonus points
APR: 21.49% – 28.49% Variable
Recommended Credit: 670-850 (Excellent/Good)
- High Reward Rates: Earn five points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Travel and three points per dollar on dining.
- Annual Hotel Credit: Benefit from an annual $50 hotel statement credit when booked through Ultimate Rewards.
- Travel Protection: Enjoy premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance, and lost luggage insurance.
- Flexible Redemption Options: Points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or transferred to various travel partners.
- Additional Perks: Complimentary access to DashPass, offering $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees.
- Annual Fee: The card carries a $95 annual fee, which might be a consideration for budget-conscious travelers.
- No Airline-Specific Perks: Lacks airline-specific benefits like free checked bags or lounge access.
- No Introductory APR: Absence of an introductory APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Best Rewards Chase Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium travel rewards card with a $550 annual fee, offering high rewards on travel and dining, a $300 annual travel credit, and luxury travel perks like Priority Pass™ Select lounge access.
It stands out with its 10x points on hotels and car rentals, 5x on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions for travel. The card’s extensive travel protections and luxury benefits make it ideal for frequent travelers who value both practical and high-end travel features.
The Sapphire Reserve® outperforms the Preferred® with higher rewards and luxury perks like lounge access, targeting frequent, high-spending travelers at a higher fee. In contrast to the no-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠, it focuses on premium travel experiences over everyday savings.
Annual Fee: $550
Intro Offer: 60,000 bonus points
APR: 22.49% – 29.49% Variable
Recommended Credit: 740-850 (Excellent)
- Generous Travel Credit: $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases, effectively reducing the annual fee.
- High Reward Rates: Earn up to 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals, and five points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Luxury Travel Perks: Access to Priority Pass™ Select lounges and up to $100 credit for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®.
- Enhanced Redemption Value: 50% more value when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Broad Travel Protection: Includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, and lost luggage insurance.
- High Annual Fee: A steep $550 annual fee, which may not be justifiable for infrequent travelers.
- Travel-Centric Benefits: The card’s value is maximized only with frequent travel.
- High Credit Requirement: Requires excellent credit, potentially limiting accessibility.
Best No-Fee Chase Credit Card for Travel: Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex℠, a no-annual-fee card, is an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers and those who travel less frequently. It offers 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and in rotating categories, plus 3% on dining and drugstores.
The card’s $200 sign-up bonus, cell phone protection, and 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers make it a versatile option for both travel and everyday spending.
The Freedom Flex℠ differs from the Sapphire cards with no annual fee and rewards suited for budget-conscious or less frequent travelers. It offers valuable cash back, especially in rotating categories, but lacks the higher rewards and travel protections of the Sapphire series. It’s more tailored for personal use compared to the business-centric Ink cards.
Annual Fee: $0
Intro Offer: $200 bonus
APR: 20.49% – 29.24% Variable
Recommended Credit: 670-850 (Excellent, Good)
- No Annual Fee: Offers significant rewards and benefits without an annual fee.
- Diverse Cash Back Rewards: Earns 5% back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and in rotating categories, plus 3% on dining and drugstores.
- Sign-Up Bonus: An attractive $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months.
- Additional Perks: Includes cell phone protection and an introductory 0% APR period.
- Quarterly Activation Required: Needs manual activation of bonus categories each quarter.
- Foreign Transaction Fees: Charges fees on international transactions, limiting its use abroad.
- Limited Travel Perks: Lacks the extensive travel benefits and higher reward rates of premium Chase cards like Sapphire Reserve and Preferred.
Best Business Chase Credit Card for Travel: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, with a $95 annual fee, is tailored for business owners who travel frequently. It offers three points per $1 on travel and select business categories, up to $150,000 annually, and a notable 100,000-point sign-up bonus.
The card’s focus on business expenses, travel protections, and primary car rental insurance make it a valuable tool for managing business travel expenses.
The Ink Business Preferred® stands out with its focus on business spending, offering higher points in specific business categories unlike the consumer-focused Sapphire cards. It’s more cost-effective for business travel than the luxury-oriented Sapphire Reserve® and offers more targeted rewards compared to the broader appeal of the Ink Business Unlimited®.
Annual Fee: $95
Intro Offer: 100,000 bonus points
APR: 21.24% – 26.24% Variable
Recommended Credit: 670-850 (Good, Excellent)
- High Sign-Up Bonus: 100,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first three months.
- Business-Focused Rewards: Three points per $1 on travel and select business categories.
- Travel and Purchase Protections: Includes primary car rental insurance, cell phone protection, and more.
- Bonus Redemption Value: Points worth 25% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- High Spending for Bonus: Requires $8,000 spent for the sign-up bonus.
- Focused on Business: Lacks some luxury travel perks of consumer cards.
- Chase’s 5/24 Rule: Limitations on applications if too many cards opened recently.
Best Freelancer Chase Credit Card For Travel: Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is ideal for freelancers, featuring no annual fee and a straightforward rewards system of unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Its key highlights include a $900 cash-back bonus after a $6,000 spend in the first three months and primary rental car insurance, making it a simple yet effective card for varied freelance expenses.
The Ink Business Unlimited® is ideal for freelancers due to its simple, flat-rate rewards and no annual fee, contrasting with the category-specific bonuses of the Ink Business Preferred® and the luxury perks of the Sapphire Reserve®.
It’s more business-oriented than consumer cards like the Sapphire Preferred® and Freedom Flex℠, offering practical benefits like primary rental insurance and an introductory APR period for small business and freelance needs.
Annual Fee: $0
Intro Offer: $900 bonus cash back
APR: 18.49% – 24.49% Variable
Recommended Credit: 670-850 (Good, Excellent)
- No Annual Fee: Offers a simple and cost-effective structure with no yearly charge.
- Generous Sign-Up Bonus: $900 cash back after spending $6,000 within the first three months.
- Versatile Cash Back: Earn a flat 1.5% back on all business purchases.
- Introductory APR: 0% rate for the first 12 months, aiding in cash flow management.
- Primary Rental Insurance: Provides coverage for business car rentals.
- Sign-Up Bonus Spending Threshold: A high initial spend of $6,000 required to earn the bonus.
- Rewards Flexibility: Cash back doesn’t convert to Chase points unless combined with certain Chase cards.
- Limited Travel Benefits: Absence of travel protections, less appealing for frequent traveler freelancers.
Key Features to Consider in Chase Credit Cards for Travel
|Foreign Transaction Fees
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|60,000 bonus points
|21.49% – 28.49% Variable
|5x on travel (through Chase), 3x on dining
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®
|60,000 bonus points
|22.49% – 29.49% Variable
|10x on hotels and car rentals, 5x on flights (through Chase)
|Chase Freedom Flex℠
|20.49% – 29.24% Variable
|5% on travel (through Chase), 3% on dining and drugstores
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
|100,000 bonus points
|21.24% – 26.24% Variable
|3 points per $1 on travel and select business categories
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
|$900 bonus cash back
|18.49% – 24.49% Variable
|1.5% cash back on all purchases
The rewards program is a pivotal aspect of any travel credit card, and Chase cards excel in this area. They typically offer accelerated points accumulation on travel and dining expenses. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides up to 10x points on hotels and car rentals, and 5x on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
These points can be redeemed in various ways, including for travel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, where they may have increased value, or transferred to a range of airline and hotel partners, providing flexibility and potentially higher reward value.
Sign-up bonuses are a major attraction for new users looking for starter credit cards, often influencing the choice. These bonuses, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s 60,000 points or the Ink Business Preferred’s 100,000 points, reward early spending and can be significant, equating to hundreds of dollars in travel or other rewards.
To earn these bonuses, cardholders must typically meet a spending threshold within the first few months. This requirement varies by card and is designed to encourage early and regular card use. It’s essential for applicants to consider their spending habits to determine if the bonus is realistically achievable.
Annual fees are an important consideration when selecting a travel credit card. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® have a higher annual fee ($550), the fee is often justified by the extensive benefits offered, including annual travel credits, access to airport lounges, and increased points redemption value.
For budget-conscious travelers, cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ come with no annual fee but offer lower rates, striking a balance between cost and benefits.
Travel Insurance and Protections
Travel insurance and protections add significant value to travel credit cards. Chase cards, particularly in the Sapphire and Ink Business series, offer a range of protections. These include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which can reimburse non-refundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or cut short due to covered situations.
Auto rental collision damage waivers provide coverage against theft and collision damage for rental cars, and lost luggage insurance offers compensation for baggage delays or loss. These benefits provide a safety net, reducing the financial risks associated with travel.
International Acceptance and Fees
International acceptance and fees are crucial for travelers venturing outside their home country. Most Chase travel credit cards, especially those in the Sapphire series, are accepted worldwide and do not charge foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad.
This feature can lead to significant savings and convenience for international travelers, eliminating the need to worry about additional costs when using their card overseas. However, it’s important to note that some cards, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, do charge foreign transaction fees, making them less ideal for international use.
Reward Flexibility and Redemption Options
Reward flexibility and the variety of redemption options are key features to consider in Chase travel credit cards. Chase cards stand out for their versatility in how points can be used. Beyond the traditional redemption for travel or cash back, points can often be used for experiences, merchandise, or even as statement credits.
For example, with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, points can be redeemed for a 50% bonus when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, significantly enhancing their value. Additionally, the ability to transfer points to numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs, often at a 1:1 ratio, allows cardholders to maximize the potential value of their rewards.
This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those who want to tailor their rewards usage to specific travel plans or goals, providing a level of customization that can greatly enhance the overall value of the card.
Credit Score Requirements and Accessibility
The credit score requirement is a critical feature to consider when applying for Chase travel credit cards. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Ink Business Preferred® typically require a high credit score, often in the excellent range (740-850). This requirement reflects the premium nature of these cards, targeting users who have established a strong credit history.
On the other hand, cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ are more accessible, with recommended credit scores starting from the good range (670-850). This makes them more attainable for a wider range of customers, including those who might be building their credit history or boosting their credit score.
Understanding the credit score requirements is essential for prospective cardholders to gauge their eligibility and to choose a card that aligns with their credit profile. It also helps in managing expectations regarding approval and in selecting a card that not only meets travel needs is also within reach based on one’s creditworthiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Chase Card Should I Use for Travel?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent choice for travel. Its strong return on travel and dining, along with benefits like travel insurance and an annual fee of just $95, provide great value, making it a popular option among travel rewards cards.
Is Chase a Good Card for Travel?
Yes, Chase cards are generally good for travel. They offer competitive exchange rates through Mastercard without adding transaction fees or mark-ups, making them cost-effective and convenient for both domestic and international use.
How Do I Avoid International Fees With Chase?
To avoid international fees with Chase, you can opt to pay for purchases in cash while traveling abroad. This method circumvents any transaction fees that might be associated with card usage.
When searching for the best Chase credit card for travel, Chase’s diverse offerings, from the value-laden Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to the economical Chase Freedom Flex℠, provide options for every type of traveler. Selecting the right card by evaluating its rewards, benefits, and costs is crucial to enhancing your travel experience and ensuring it meets your financial and travel plans.