There are lots of great travel rewards credit cards out there, but the reality is that the best one for you is the one that suits your specific travel needs. I’ll review all the details, including bonus offers and perks such as Global Entry fee credits and Priority Pass lounge access, to bring you a list of the very best.

Travel rewards can add up quickly, especially when a welcome bonus is involved, so it’s important to apply and start earning as soon as you can and start maximizing your points and miles.

Without further ado, here are my top picks:

The Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for Beginners
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for Hotels.com
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best Total Value
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for Travel Perks and Points
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for Small Businesses
  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Best for Hotel Elite Status
  • American Express® Gold Card: Best for Dining
  • United Explorer Card: Best for United Flyers

Research Criteria

I’ve done lots of research for you, so let’s take a look at the details of each of these cards and offers, including their bonus values and some of the ways I’ve been able to put the cards’ benefits to use.

I reviewed numerous travel credit card offers and spent countless hours studying the pros and cons of each offer. My method to assigning value to these cards relied upon assessing the real value of the sign-up bonus, travel perks, APR, annual fees, redemption difficulty and more. Each points program has its own point valuation, which you can study here. The value of the individual point will always be a very important factor when rating travel credit cards and their promotional offers.

Things to consider before applying:

As always, head to the all cards hub to see our best credit cards currently available. With that out of the way, here are more details about the best travel credit card offers available right now.

Detailed Assessments

I’ve done lots of research for you, so let’s take a look at the details of each of these cards and offers, including their bonus values and some of the ways I’ve been able to put the cards’ benefits to use.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Best For: Those who are new to award travel, an introduction to transferable points.

Current Bonus: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Current Bonus Value: $1,200

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 2 points per dollar on travel
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on dining
  • Transfer points to 12 travel partners
  • Redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: $95

Why it’s worth it: We’ve long suggested the CSP as a great option for those who are new to earning travel rewards, because it lets you earn valuable, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with strong bonus categories and a reasonable annual fee. The card just increased its sign-up bonus from 50,000 points to 60,000 points, so if you’ve been holding out, you’ve been rewarded for waiting. The $95 annual fee is no longer waived the first year, but based on TPG’s valuations the additional 10,000 points are worth $2,000, so it’s still an improvement.

Further Reading:

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Hotels.com purchases, diversifying your transferable point currencies

Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Current Bonus Value: $700

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 10x miles on Hotels.com purchases at Hotels.com/Venture
  • Earn 2x miles on all other purchases
  • Get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every 4 years
  • Transfer your miles to a selection of airline partners at a 2:1 or 2:1.5 ratio

Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Why it’s worth it: The Venture Card was already a very strong value proposition with 10x miles at Hotels.com and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee, but now you can also transfer the miles you earn with this card (as well as the VentureOne card and Capital One’s two Spark Miles cards) to 15 airline transfer partners including Avianca, Etihad and Singapore Airlines. The transfer ratio is 2:1.5 for 12 partners and 2:1 for two, meaning for every dollar you spend on this card you’re getting 1-1.5 points or miles with a partner airline. This greatly enhances the potential value you can get with this card, as miles are no longer worth a fixed 1 cent apiece.

Further Reading:

The Platinum Card from American Express

Best For: Purchasing airfare, total value

Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Current Bonus Value: $1,200

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel and prepaid hotels purchased through Amex Travel. You can transfer the Membership Rewards points you earn with this card to a total of 20 airline and hotel partners.
  • $200 annual airline rebate for incidental fees
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber credits
  • Up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Rebate for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every 4 years
  • Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass lounge access, plus Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $550

Why it’s worth it: As you can see in the chart above, a ton of factors contribute to this card’s overall value; it’s not just the 60k bonus that lands it near the top of this list. But even apart from the $200 annual airline fee credit, the $200 in Uber credits awarded each year, the recently added $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit and the various lounge access options, the Amex Platinum is a stellar premium card that can pave the way to some amazing award flights and other redemptions. Among the Membership Rewards program’s 20 travel partners is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, which is your only option if you want to book the ultra-premium Singapore Suites using miles. Other highlights include an amazing 5 points per dollar on airfare (equal to a 10% return on these purchases), complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and the ability to add three authorized users for a total of $175 (See Rates & Fees).

Further Reading:

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best For: Travel perks and points earning on travel and dining

Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Current Bonus Value: $1,000

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Redeem points directly through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.5 cents apiece
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip cancellation coverage
  • Primary car rental insurance

Annual Fee: $450

Why it’s worth it: The Sapphire Reserve won our battle of the premium credit cards for a reason: It offers a stellar selection of perks, from a $300 annual travel credit that can be used toward a wide variety of purchases, to the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal. Best of all, if you have this card, the Ultimate Rewards points you earn on other Chase cards can also be redeemed at the 1.5-cent rate. You also get an impressive 3x points on travel (after $300 travel credit exhausted) and dining purchases, which equates to a 6% return based on my valuations. This card is a prime example of benefits more than making up for a steep annual fee.

Further Reading:

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Best for: Small business owners

Current bonus: Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months.

Current bonus value: $1,600

Standout benefits:

  • Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per year in combined purchases for travel (including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets and taxis), shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
  • Cell phone insurance
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee: $95

Why it’s worth it: Since TPG’s most recent valuations peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, you’ll get a fantastic return of 6% on purchases in these categories. If you spend the full $150,000, you’ll take home 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which TPG values at $9,000. You also get great value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to nine airline and three hotel loyalty programs. Plus the card gives you 25% more value for the points you earn when you redeem them for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal.

The Ultimate Rewards program may not have the most transfer partners (it has nine airline and three hotel compared to Amex Membership Rewards’ 19, including new partner Qantas), but they can get you outsized value when you redeem points for free flights with carriers such as British Airways and United, or for award stays at Hyatt properties. And if you spend a lot on travel or social media advertising, you’ll be able to keep earning significant UR points after the sign-up bonus, thanks to the 3x bonus category for the first $150,000 in combined purchases made each year.

For the reasons outlined above, I consider this one of the top business credit cards currently available. The Ink Business Preferred can be an even more powerful tool if you also hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, since you’ll then be able to redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece through the Ultimate Rewards portal for travel.

Further Reading:

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Best For: Hotel elite status

Current Bonus: 150,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Current Bonus Value: $900

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 14 points per dollar on Hilton purchases
  • Earn 7 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at US restaurants
  • Earn 3 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond status
  • Enjoy one weekend night each year, plus earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • Up to $250 Hilton resort statement credit each year of card membership
  • Up to $250 per calendar year in credits for airline incidental fees
  • $100 Hilton on-property credit when you book a two-night minimum stay with the card at HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
  • No foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees)
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $450

Why it’s worth it: As far as hotel cobranded cards go, this one’s pretty impressive. In exchange for the steep $450 fee, you get generous earning rates at Hilton hotels and a variety of annual travel credits (up to $500 between the airline incidental fee credit and the Hilton resort statement credit, and more if you can utilize the $100 on-property credit for Hilton stays). Beyond that you get a Priority Pass airport lounge membership, giving you and up to two guests free access.

Further Reading:

American Express Gold Card

Best For: Dining

Current Bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.

Current Bonus Value: $700

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide
  • Earn 4x points at US supermarkets, on the first $25,000 spent each year; then 1x
  • Earn 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • Up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold card at participating dining partners
  • Up to $100 annual airline fee credit
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $250

Why it’s worth it: Amex revamped its Premier Rewards Gold Card and reintroduced it as the Amex Gold Card last year, with new bonus categories and a strong focus on dining. With 4x points on dining — which was recently expanded worldwide — the card now offers the second-most competitive return on dining spending (8% based on our valuations, compared to 8.5% with the Citi Prestige), though you’ll want to use another card to earn bonus points when you eat abroad. The card also earns 4x points on the first $25,000 spent per year at US supermarkets, and 3x points on flights. With this card, Amex finally has a strong option for dining purchases. The annual fee is now $250 and not waived the first year, but thanks to the new earning rates and benefits it could be worth it for you.

Further Reading:

United Explorer Card

Current Bonus: Earn 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months

Current Bonus Value: $520

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
  • Access to enhanced award availability
  • Priority boarding and a free checked bag for you and one companion on the same reservation
  • 2 United Club passes each year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: $95 (currently waived the first year)

Why it’s worth it: This cobranded option can make your life easier if you often (or even somewhat regularly) fly with United. This United card is currently waiving the annual fee for the first year, so now could be an ideal time to add it to your wallet. Even though the sign-up bonus isn’t as high as it’s been in the past, it’s great to be able to try the card for a year without any up-front cost. One of the most appealing benefits is the extra United award seat availability you get as a cardholder, letting you book seats that non-card holders can’t. Another solid perk is the ability to waive the Premier-Qualifying Dollar (PQD) requirement for United elite status (excluding Premier 1K) when you spend $25,000 on the card (or across multiple United cards) in a calendar year.

Further Reading:

Final Notes on Ranking Criteria

As you can see, the bulk of the value comes from the bonus itself — I used my latest valuations to calculate a dollar amount for each offer. From there, I added in the value of perks such as annual travel credits and lounge access. For the Platinum Card from American Express, which offers Centurion Lounge access plus Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta, I assigned a value of $250 for these perks, not including the value of Priority Pass access.

While we haven’t added in the value of Priority Pass lounge access and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit in the past, we now factor these in to a card’s total value, as not everyone has multiple cards that confer these benefits. We peg the value of the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit at its face value of $100. That’s the application fee for Global Entry; PreCheck costs $85, but applying for Global Entry is the way to go since it includes PreCheck as well. And don’t forget: If you already have Global Entry and PreCheck, you can use your credit card’s application fee credit to gift it to someone else.

The value of Priority Pass lounge access is a bit more complicated, especially now that American Express-issued cards with this benefit will no longer get access to the lounge’s networks restaurants, where you can get $28-$30 of food and drink per visit. I’m pegging Priority Pass Select membership with restaurant access at the purchase price of $99, and Priority Pass Select membership without restaurant access at $75.

Finally, in the case of cards offering tiered bonuses, if the total spending requirement across multiple tiers is higher than $5,000, I’ll focus on the value you’d get by meeting the lowest spending requirement.

Related Guides:

This story was originally published on The Points Guy. Sign up for the TPG daily newsletter and wake up to unbeatable flight deals, travel industry news, and credit card bonuses that let you travel first-class to some of the world’s most incredible destinations at a fraction of the price.