The holidays are just around the corner — and it’s shaping up to be a record travel season with big crowds and delayed flights.
You’ve probably booked your flights and hotels by now (if not, you should do that right away). However, one part of your trip may be lacking: credit card perks that make your trip more comfortable.
This could include speeding through airport security, taking advantage of more comfortable seats on your flight and getting freebies or upgrades along the way.
Let’s look at the best credit cards for making your next trip more enjoyable.
Premium credit cards that improve your travel experience
Having a premium credit card can offer a lot of perks. You can breeze through airport security, skip the line at rental car facilities and wait comfortably at an airport lounge simply by having a premium credit card in your wallet.
Here’s how these cards can make your travel experience better:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express provides access to plenty of travel benefits to make your next trip more comfortable.
First, you can access a wide range of lounges while waiting for your flight at the airport, including American Express Centurion lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta that day), Priority Pass Select lounges and other Global Lounge Collection partner lounges. Enrollment is required in advance for some benefits.
To move quickly through security checkpoints, you can receive reimbursement from your Amex Platinum Card when paying your membership fees for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and Clear. These programs provide dedicated security lanes, which often mean shorter waiting times. Enrollment is required in advance for these benefits.
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You also can make your flights more comfortable thanks to up to $200 in statement credits per year for airline incidentals. You must select a preferred airline in advance, and then you can be reimbursed for expenses like checked bags, preferred seats or even inflight Wi-Fi purchases. Enrollment is required.
Amex Platinum cardmembers can also access Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection. They can enjoy up to a $200 annual hotel credit as a statement credit on prepaid Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel. Note that there is a two-night minimum stay for The Hotel Collection bookings. These programs provide access to high-quality hotels and benefits like room upgrades, complimentary breakfast or late checkout.
Other hotel benefits come in the form of room upgrades and earning points at higher rates, thanks to elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. Amex Platinum cardmembers can enroll for complimentary Gold status in both programs.
To elevate your rental car experience, enroll for elite status in rental car programs, including Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. This will provide benefits like car upgrades, a free second driver and the ability to skip the line when picking up your car — meaning you can head straight to your car and get on the road.
Plus, if you need a ride to an airport or hotel during your trip, you can take advantage of up to $200 in Uber Cash per year. You can use this for rides or Uber Eats orders in the U.S. by adding your Amex Platinum card as a payment method in your Uber account. Enrollment is required.
The Amex Platinum Card’s benefits come with an annual fee of $695 (see rates and fees).
Official application link: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a slightly lower annual fee ($550) than the Amex Platinum and also comes with several perks to make your next trip more comfortable.
Like Platinum cardmembers, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can access over 1,400 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. They also have access to Chase Sapphire Lounges, currently open at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (technically a “Terrace,” not a lounge), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
If you need help securing difficult reservations or booking activities during your trip, Sapphire Reserve cardholders have access to a concierge service to assist.
And those looking for boutique hotel experiences can access the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. These bookings provide benefits like daily breakfast for two people, a $100 on-property credit and room upgrades (when available).
The Sapphire Reserve card also comes with up to $300 in annual travel credits that apply automatically to the first $300 you spend in broad travel categories each year — such as rides to the airport, airport parking, seat upgrades or even the beachside cabana that requires a paid reservation at a resort.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
With an annual fee of just $395 (see rates and fees), the Venture X card is a bargain compared to the Amex Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve and still comes packed with benefits to make your next trip more comfortable.
Along with access to Priority Pass lounges, cardholders also have unlimited visits to Capital One lounges — currently open at Denver International Airport (DEN), Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) — as well as Plaza Premium lounges. Lounge benefits also extend to your authorized users, who can bring two guests of their own — meaning your whole family could access a lounge for free during your next trip.
Venture X cardholders can also enjoy reimbursement for their Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee to help move through security quickly.
For rental cars, Venture X cardholders (and Venture X authorized users) enjoy top-tier Hertz President’s Circle status.* After registering for this benefit, you can enjoy skip-the-line privileges, guaranteed upgrades, the widest range of selection and a free additional driver. Moreover, once you have rental car status with one company, you can use this to match your status to other rental car programs.
*Upon enrollment, accessible through the Capital One website or mobile app, eligible cardholders will remain at upgraded status level through December 31, 2024. Please note, enrolling through the normal Hertz Gold Plus Rewards enrollment process (e.g. at Hertz.com) will not automatically detect a cardholder as being eligible for the program, and cardholders will not be automatically upgraded to the applicable status tier. Additional terms apply.
For other comforts during your trip, you can take advantage of 10,000 bonus miles on every account anniversary and a $300 annual credit for travel booked through the Capital One Travel portal. Great uses of these credits would be booking a boutique hotel or even stacking benefits with your Hertz car rentals.
Official application link: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Airline cards that make your flight more comfortable
Hotel cards that improve your stay
When you think about adding comfort to your hotel stays, your first thought probably includes upgraded rooms. However, free (or faster) Wi-Fi, breakfast and parking, and expedited check-in lines can also elevate your stay.
Having the right credit card in your wallet could offer you automatic entry-level status, netting you a few extra points and a free bottle of water. But it also might offer top-tier elite status that qualifies you for upgrades to suites and luxury treatment during your stay.
Hilton Honors credit cards
If you want top-tier Diamond status with Hilton — which includes perks like suite upgrades based on availability at check-in, lounge access at hotels that have these, bonus points, free breakfast and more — you can get this without the effort of counting your hotel nights every year.
Simply holding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card confers Diamond status automatically for as long as your account is open. The card’s annual fee is $450 (see rates and fees), but this may be less than what you would spend on the necessary hotel stays to qualify for Diamond status annually.
The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Another option for Hilton status is carrying the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, which confers automatic Hilton Honors Gold (mid-tier) status. There’s an annual fee of $150 (see rates and fees). For this fee, your Gold status will come with benefits like bonus points on paid stays, room upgrades (but not suites) based on availability at check-in and either food and beverage credits or complimentary breakfast, depending on the hotel.
IHG One Rewards credit cards
If you’re looking for elite status with IHG One Rewards, you can receive complimentary Platinum Elite status (the third-highest of the four tiers) pretty easily. Cardholders of the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card receive Platinum Elite status automatically; the card has a $99 annual fee. Platinum Elite status offers benefits like bonus points on paid stays, upgraded rooms (including suites at some properties), a welcome gift of points or snacks, and discounts on reward nights.
Marriott Bonvoy credit cards
Those aiming for elite status with Marriott Bonvoy can unlock Platinum Elite status simply by having the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. This status offers benefits like bonus points on paid stays, welcome gifts (which can range from points to a complimentary breakfast), lounge access at hotels that have these and upgrades to suites, based on availability at check-in. These benefits come with an annual fee of $650 (see rates and fees) on this card.
The next status tier below Platinum is Marriott Bonvoy’s Gold Elite status. You can get this status automatically with the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful credit card. Both cards carry an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees for the Bevy card). Gold status provides benefits like enhanced internet speeds in your hotel room, upgrades to preferred rooms when available at check-in, late checkout and a welcome gift of bonus points.
The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
World of Hyatt credit cards
It’s also possible to gain elite status with World of Hyatt by holding a credit card. However, you’ll only gain Discoverist status by holding the World of Hyatt Credit Card, which has an annual fee of $95. This status offers benefits like space-available upgrades to preferred rooms — such as a preferred location within the hotel or a nicer view — complimentary bottled water each day during your stay, premium internet access and late checkout.
Hyatt elite members also enjoy benefits from Hyatt’s partnership with American Airlines. This will include earning Hyatt points for spending money on AA flights.
Wyndham Rewards credit cards
You can also gain automatic status with Wyndham Rewards through credit cards. The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card offers automatic Platinum status (the third-highest of four tiers), providing benefits like rollover nights, free Wi-Fi, preferred rooms, late checkout, early check-in and a status match to Caesars Rewards. The card has a $75 annual fee.
The no-annual-fee Wyndham Rewards Earner® Card offers automatic Gold status, providing benefits like free Wi-Fi, preferred rooms and rollover nights.
The information for the Wyndham Earner and Wyndham Earner Plus cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Multiple credit cards can make your next trip more comfortable. From better seats on your flight to better rooms at your hotel and better experiences at airport security, what you hold in your wallet could elevate your next trip and remove stress points.
Premium credit cards can offer a range of perks and help you skip the lines at multiple points in your journey. Airline credit cards can offer perks like free checked bags, better seats and priority boarding. Hotel cards can get you free breakfast, room upgrades and late checkout.
Holiday travel can be hectic, but these cards can remove some hassle from your trip and give you more time to deal with the real holiday stressor — your travel companions.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Hilton Surpass card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Amex card, click here.