Craig Johnson, Clark.com
With the leaves beginning to fall in earnest, you may be wondering if you can squeeze in one last trip before the winter doldrums set in. If so, before you pack those bags, it’s a good time to think about maximizing the purchasing power of your credit cards.
To that end, WalletHub has just come out with the best travel credit cards with, a list that takes into account lucrative rewards, good-behavior incentives and bonuses that can net up to $1,000 in savings for a person in the first 24 months of usage.
Of course, the very best savings on credit card offers will go to those with top-notch credit, but even those with lower scores stand to benefit from these hidden gems.
Here are the top travel credit cards for 2017
For the best overall value, it’s hard to beat the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. Not only do your miles never expire (as long as your account is active and in good standing), but each time you redeem, 5% of it goes back toward your next redemption. You also earn two miles for every $1 you spend.
To raise the ante, the card offers 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on items in the first 90 days, “that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase,” WalletHub says.
The only drawback — and it’s a tiny one — the offer is available only to first-time cardmembers.
The card with the top airline rewards promotion right now is the Lufthansa Credit Card, which makes sense considering Lufthansa is an airline (the largest in Europe). The card has some exceptional benefits that can buoy the mood of a weary traveler.
One main rewards perk is that the card allows you to earn 20,000 bonus miles when you make an initial purchase and payment of the annual fee. After that, you can earn an additional 30,000 award miles after you make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months.
Another benefit is that you can convert award miles earned on purchases into status miles. Once a year, travelers can take advantage of a 5 to 1 ratio conversion, meaning 5,000 award miles will transform into 25,000. Also, for those of you who enjoy kicking back between flights, the card comes with two complimentary Lufthansa Business Lounge vouchers annually. Sweet deal!
Now it’s time to save on lodgings.
AMEX’s Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card can equal big savings at hotels around the world. The card is billed as “the perfect travel companion,” and with more than 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in more than 100 countries (including 150+ airlines), we can see why.
Travelers can earn 25,000 bonus points after you use the card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. That’s enough to earn two free nights at a Category 4 (such as the Westin and Sheraton, etc.) hotel.
The card also gives travelers two Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels. You can earn one Starpoint for all other purchases. For airline travel, there are no blackout dates.
Wallethub has deemed the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card No. 1 for road trips. That’s because travelers who jump behind the wheel for a getaway are bound to incur many incidental costs on the journey.
With this card, you get 5 points for every $1 spent on gas purchases, 3 points for each $1 spent at the grocery store — and 1 point for every $1 spent elsewhere.
The PenFed Visa rewards card also extends your buying power by letting you earn cash back on every purchase. Additionally, you can earn a $100 statement credit by spending $1,500 in the first three months of opening your account. There’s also no annual fee or caps on the amount of cash you can earn back.
Finally, you’ll need a rental car and possibly some supplemental insurance for your trip. The following card is perfect for that.
The Citi Double Cash Card gives travelers 1% cash back twice — initially on purchases and again at bill payment time.
The card also allow travelers who pay the monthly minimum due on their balance to earn an extra 1% cash back. As with the PenFed Visa, there’s no annual fee or caps on money back.
This card will save you about $16.17 per year, compared to the average credit card, WalletHub says.
Who said traveling had to burn a hole in your wallet? With these credit cards, the rewards can tally some pretty sweet savings. And the holiday travel season hasn’t even started yet.
RELATED: The best reward credit cards