What’s the best travel rewards credit card out there? It all depends on where you like to go, which travel companies you’re loyal to, and how you manage your credit.

A free trip sounds too good to be true, right? In most cases, the promise of anything free requires a healthy dose of Grownup skepticism. But change “free” to “loyalty rewards”, specifically in terms of travel rewards credit cards, and we’ve got a different story.

Keep that skeptic hat on, though, because all cards are not created equal. And whether you can benefit from them depends entirely on you—specifically, your Grownup values, spending habits, and ability to pay off your balance each month.

If you’re interested in getting a travel rewards credit card, here’s how to get started.

Compare Travel Credit Card Rewards

Type “travel rewards credit card” into any search engine and you’ll get bombarded with possible options. Which ones should you consider? Here are the questions to ask:

  • How do I accumulate reward points or credits that can be applied to free travel?
  • How do I redeem the points?
  • Are there limits to redeeming my reward for travel (e.g., blackout dates, travel provider restrictions, etc.)?
  • What are my financial obligations to do so (e.g., do I need to pay the card’s balance in full every month)?
  • What fees are associated with both accumulating and redeeming points?

Be sure to compare general credit cards (e.g., National Bank Travel Rewards Card) with specific (e.g., Specific Airline/National Bank Partner Rewards Card or Specific Hotel/National Bank Rewards Card).  If you’re not loyal to a particular travel provider, a general rewards card may appeal more to you; if you tend to frequent a specific airline or hotel brand, you may find that the one company reward option will suit you best.

Don’t do a simple once-over: Put in the time to research and compare to make sure you’re well aware of the features, benefits, and drawbacks to each credit card. This includes combing over all the fine print for each card, too.

And at the end of the day, ask the key questions (which may get lost in all that paperwork): Will you actually use the card regularly? Can you commit to paying off the balance each month? If the answer to either is no, it might not be the best time for you to sign up. (And now it’s a new Grownup goal to add to your Timeline.)

Forget About the Best Travel Reward Card

Inevitably, any search for “travel rewards card” will also result in plenty of articles with “best” lists. And sure, on first glance, many of the recommended ones may seem very attractive — but much like the myth of travel bests, the best travel rewards card will be different for everyone. It all depends on your travel preferences, whether you’re redeeming just for yourself and/or also for your family, and your particular finances.

So as you’re comparing offers, keep your income, spending habits, and intended travel plans in mind—you’ll then be able to narrow which travel rewards card will be ideal for you.


A lifelong traveler and bookworm, Sarah spends her days thinking of new ways to explore and tell stories.

Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under Society of Grownups control. Society of Grownups cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.

While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.

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