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We’re always searching for the best bank travel rewards credit cards to compliment the co-branded credit cards we have from our favorite airline and hotel brands. Banks are always coming up with great new offers, so we made this list to help you narrow down the choices. Each bank points’ program has unique features that set them apart from the other banks.
The Hottest Card Available – Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been blowing up the Internet with its amazing offer. When you apply, you will receive 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be worth $1,500 when you use them to purchase hotels through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. On top of that, you also receive $300 in travel credits per calendar year to purchase airfare or pay for baggage fees, upgrades, etc when you fly to your destination.
Unfortunately, many people are finding themselves declined for the CSR card due to Chase’s 5/24 Rule, which leads to a declined application if you’ve opened more than 5 new personal credit cards in the last 24 months. Because I get new cards all the time, I was declined for this offer… but maybe you can qualify!
Best Bank Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Below are the best bank travel rewards credit cards from the major banks.
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards are flexible points that can be used to pay for reservations directly with hotels or you can transfer them Amex’s hotel partners to redeem for hotel stays.
There are many personal and business Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points, which is a good thing because you can only receive the bonus from each one once thanks to Amex’s current “once per lifetime” bonus rules.
Two of my favorite versions of the American Express Membership Rewards cards are the Platinum and EveryDay cards. The Platinum card offers Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass airport lounge access, a $200 per year airline credit, and automatic Hilton Gold status, plus it now earns 5x on spend with airlines. The EveryDay Preferred card offers a 50% bonus on points earned when you have 30 or more transactions, which increases the value of the 3x at grocery and 2x on gas.
Membership Rewards can also be redeemed for cash, statement credits, or to make purchases at stores like Amazon or McDonalds. You have the option to transfer Membership Rewards to Hilton HHonors (1,000 MR = 1,000 Hilton) or Starwood Preferred Group (1,000 MR = 500 SPG).
Bank of America Travel Rewards
Bank of America Travel Rewards is one of the lesser used programs among the travel community, but there can be value found in their points. First off, the good thing is that this card has no annual fee, earns 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, and you receive a 10% bonus if you have a banking relationship with BofA.
For customers with larger combined balances with their bank and investment companies, you will receive up to an extra 75% bonus points on each purchase so you can really maximize your rewards for travel redemptions.
The Barclay Arrival card allows for redemptions of your points towards travel expenses. It used to have two flavors – one with an annual fee and the Plus version with an annual fee – but the no-fee version was eliminated in September 2016.
You earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on the Arrival Plus, which makes this card a 2% cash back card when redeeming for travel expenses. The travel expenses don’t have to be purchased through a specific portal or by calling a certain number. Instead, you charged as you normally would, then log in and manually select which travel expenses you wish to redeem for. If you redeem for gift cards or other expenses, the value is only 1%.
When you redeem points, you receive a 5% rebate that you can use towards future redemptions. That increases your cash back value of the Arrival to 2.1%, which is better than many other cash-back cards that usually top out at 1.5% or 2.0%.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be earned from multiple cards in the Chase portfolio. The personal versions are under the Freedom or Sapphire brand names, while the business versions are known as Ink.
Chase Freedom can earn 5x points with specific categories that rotate each quarter, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x points on everything. Both of these cards have no annual fee. They earn Ultimate Rewards points, but they can only be redeemed for cash (meaning no transfers to airline or hotel partners) unless you also have a Sapphire or Ink card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards are the most powerful personal Ultimate Rewards cards. With these cards, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points up to $0.015 per point value for travel or you can transfer the points to hotel partners Hyatt and Marriott for potentially even higher value.
The business cards are known as Ink, and they earn 5x points for office and telecom spend and 2x on dining and gas. The Ink Cash is the no fee version, but, like the Freedom card, you cannot transfer points. The Ink Plus has an annual fee which unlocks the full power of your Ultimate Rewards. Additionally, with the paid version, your points are worth $0.0125 per point when redeeming for travel.
Pro Tip: If you and your spouse have multiple Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, you can household and transfer points to your Sapphire Reserve account to get $0.015 per point on all of them, even if some of those points were earned with the lower value Freedom, Ink, or Sapphire Preferred cards.
Citibank ThankYou Points
Citibank’s ThankYou points can be earned from several personal and business cards. There are no-fee personal and business versions available, but the Prestige card gives 3x on travel (airlines, hotel, online travel agency) spend and 2x on dining & entertainment. You will receive a $250 annual travel credit for airfare, baggage fees, lounge access, and some in-flight purchases which help offset the annual fee. Additionally, this card gives the cardholder 3 free rounds of golf per calendar year.
You also receive $100 in Global Entry reimbursement, airport lounge club access through Priority Pass, and your 4th night free when booking with the Citi concierge service! This card gives HUGE value that totally offsets the annual fee.
ThankYou points can be redeemed for cash, statement credits, gift cards or shopping at $0.01 or less in value per point. When you redeem ThankYou points for travel, they are worth up to $0.0133 per point. You can transfer ThankYou points to Hilton HHonors at a rate of 1,000 ThankYou Points = 2,000 Hilton HHonors points.
US Bank FlexPerks
FlexPerks from US Bank are one of the lesser known points programs in the mileage community, but I’ve found great value with them. The points that you earn are worth up to $0.02 each and you can earn 2x on grocery spend, equating up to 4% in value when you redeem for travel! I applied for the Visa version of this card during the Summer Olympics and received additional sign-up bonus points based on how many medals the US Olympics team won.
US Bank offers both a Visa and American Express version of the card for personal use. There is a business version as well, which is called the FlexPerks Business Edge. For people who like to donate or use Kiva, you earn 3x points when using this card for charitable spending.
When you spend $24,000 on your card in a calendar year, you will also earn bonus points which help to offset the annual fee! And there is a little extra benefit when you fly on redemption flights… you get a credit of up to $25 for baggage fees, upgrades, or in-flight food or drink.
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