7 Best Personal Credit Cards for Travel Agency Rewards

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This is the 2nd of 4 articles in our Best Travel Agency Credit Card Series. Read the rest here: 

The vast majority of us use credit cards both personally and for business. And within the personal/business credit card realm, there are all sorts of credit card reward options. The question is, are you using the credit card(s) that best fit your spending and reward goals? We go over specifics on different types of reward structures in our Find the Best Credit Card Rewards for Your Travel Agency article but for this article, we want to share our list of the top 7 personal credit cards for your travel agency.

Yes, that’s right. A personal credit card may make more monetary sense for your agency than a business credit card. Who knew?!

Business or Personal Credit Card for your Travel Agency?

Step 1: Don’t discount personal credit cards just because you’re looking for a card for your travel agency business.  The rewards and perks of personal cards are often comparable to business credit cards but have less business-y bonus categories. 

For example, shipping is a common bonus category on business credit cards that most travel agents, especially newer ones, won’t utilize to the full potential. If you’re not sure which would be best for you, check out our list of the differences between business and personal credit cards to find the best fit for you.

Best Personal Credit Cards for Travel Agency Rewards!**

Before we start, please know that perks, bonus, etc. may have changed since we published the article or last updated it.

To get the latest details on the cards and to apply, we’ve linked some landing pages on CreditCards.com that lists the best Personal Credit Cards. They have the cards I’ve chosen below as well as others if you want to broaden your search 🙂


Chase Sapphire Preferred

Why we like it:  The 25% bonus when redeeming travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards is a nice perk to make the most of your points. The points are also transferable if you want to play the credit card game.

Who it’d be good for: Agents who want basic travel perks (over the swanky) and still want to earn good rewards.

Credit Required: Good, Excellent

Annual fee: $95 – waived first year

Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in first 3 months
(that’s $625 if redeemed for travel or $500 redeemed for cash)

Transferable/Fixed: Transferable

Categories and Earning Rates:

2x points

  • Travel
  • Dining

1 point everything else

Perks:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Earn 25% More When You Redeem for Travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Return Protection

 


Chase Sapphire Reserve

Why we like it: The $300 annual travel credit is way more flexible than AX. It can be applied to anything purchased on your card in the travel category, including a flight. For us, that knocks the annual fee down to $150. Plus, a lot of the swanky perks you see on the AX business cards. When compared to the Sapphire Preferred, it has a higher redemption for travel (50% More vs 25%) and a higher earning rate (3x vs 2x)

Who it’d be good for: To make this card worthwhile, you need to be purchasing travel! So if you have a lot of fam trips or personal travel, definitely get this card! Even if you’re not, the bonus (if you use it) pays for your first year’s fee so test it out! You can always downgrade to a different chase card (So you don’t lose your points).

Credit Required: Excellent

Annual fee: $450

Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in first 3 months
(that’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards or $500 in cash)

Transferable/Fixed: Transferable

Categories and Earning Rates:

3x points

  • Travel
  • Dining

1 point everything else

Perks:

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit
  • $100 Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
  • Access to 1,000+ Airport Lounges
  • Special Car Rental Privileges
  • Special Benefits with The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collections Stays
  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Earn 50% More When You Redeem for Travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Auto Rental Collision
  • Damage Waiver
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement
  • Return Protection

 


American Express Platinum

Why we like it: The annual fee is actually $100 more than the AX Platinum Business but you get 10,000 more points and have to spend half as much for the bonus offer. The Personal AX also allow you to book directly with the airlines for the bonus category. It has all the same benefits and also adds a $15/month Uber Credit.

Who it’d be good for: Much like the AX Platinum Business card, this is definitely for agencies with higher annual expenses who not only travel a lot but value their status and lounge access. The question is, does the $100 increase of the annual fee worth it for you over the AX Business card? If you’re active military or active military spouse, the annual fee is waived for you and this card should definitely be in your wallet!

Credit Required: Excellent

Annual fee: $450*
*If you or your spouse is active duty military, AX waives their annual fee on all of their cards!

Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in first 3 months

Transferable/Fixed: Transferable

Bonus Categories and Earning Rates:

5x points

  • Flights Booked Direct with Airlines or AX Travel
  • Hotels Booked on AmexTravel.com

1x points everything else

Perks:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • $15/month Uber Credit ($20 in Dec.)
  • AX Global Lounge Collection (access to 1,000+ airport lounges
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit/Year (checked luggage, in-flight meals, etc.)
  • $100 Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
  • Complimentary Benefits When Booked Through Fine Hotels and Resorts
  • Gold Status: Starwood Preferred Guest Program
  • Gold Status: Hilton Honors
  • Boingo AX Preferred Plan
  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
  • Premium Roadside Assistance
  • Baggage Insurance Plan
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Expense Management Tool
  • Premium Car Rental Privileges
  • Premium Global Assist Hotline

 


Capital One Venture

Why we like it: You can redeem your rewards for travel purchases on your statement. This means you don’t have to buy anywhere special or purchase specific brands. You can take off that $10 taxi ride. It also has the lowest spending goal to get the sign up bonus (which is comparable to the spendier cards). This is a nice basic travel card with no fancy perks.

Who it’d be good for: While it is much more flexible than most travel cards, you still get the best redemption rate when redeeming for specifically travel purchases. That means you need to be spending money on travel to make the best use of your rewards.

Credit Required: Good, Excellent

Annual fee: $95 – waived 1st year

Bonus:  50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
(that’s $500 redeemed for travel; less when redeemed for cash)

Transferable/Fixed: Fixed

Bonus Categories and Earning Rates:

No Categories – 2x miles for every $1

Perks:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Extended Warranty
  • 24-hour Travel Assistance Services
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Damage Waiver

 


Bank of America Premium Rewards

Why we like it: Great set of travel perks and redemption options. We especially like that the baseline point earning is 1.5x where everyone else is 1x.

If you have money with BOA and/or Merrill Lynch, this card can be really great! BOA Preferred Rewards is tiered but just for being a BOA/ML account holder, your earning rate will be 10% more (2.2x pt and 1.65x). If you have $20,000-$50,000 in your combined BOA/ML accounts, your earning rate will be 25% more (2.5x and 1.875x). $50k-$100k – 50% more, $100k+ – 75% (that’d be 3.5x pt and 2.625x pt). Plus, you’ll also be getting an interest rate boost on your BOA savings account and other perks with BOA and Merrill Lynch products.

Who it’d be good for: With this card’s perks and earning rates, it’d really be good for anyone. But if you’re a BOA and/or Merrill Lynch account holder, this card will be especially good for you!

Credit Required: Good, Excellent

Annual fee: $95 

Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
(that equates to $500 cash)

Transferable/Fixed: Fixed

Bonus Categories and Earning Rates:

2x points

  • Travel
  • Dining

1.5x points everything else

Perks:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • $100 Airline Incidental Statement Credit Every Year
  • $100 Credit towards TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry Application Every 4 years
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Reimbursement
  • Baggage Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Overdraft Protection (BOA Checking Accounts)
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation Coverage
  • Purchase Security
  • Extended Warranty
  • Return Protection

Best Cash Back Personal Credit Cards

In our search for personal cards that had great perks for travel agents, we decided we couldn’t leave out the best cash back cards. They don’t have many of the travel perks you see with the cards above but we had to list the cards below which have a higher percentage back. 

The highest percentage you get back on the travel credit cards listed above ranges from 1%-1.5% (Chase Sapphire Reserve) when redeemed for travel and .5% to 1% when redeemed for cash. With a cashback card, you could earn a straight 12% cashback Citi Double Cash.

These cards are great if you’re looking to make the most of your spending and don’t care about travel perks or having your rewards earmarked for travel.

Citi Double Cash

Why we like it: Hands down the easiest card to get a high rate of return. As long as you’re paying off your bill, you’re earning 2% cash back, no hassle. Plus, you have no annual fee to try to figure out if it is worth it.

Who it’d be good for: Someone looking for simple, good rewards program. There aren’t the fancy travel perks you see on the other cards but you’ll still be making a nice return on your spending

Credit Required: Good, Excellent

Annual fee: $0

Bonus: none

Transferable/Fixed: Fixed

Bonus Categories and Earning Rates:

No Categories – 1% on every purchase, 1% when you pay off purchase
As long as you’re not rolling over your monthly balance, this is 2% cash back

Perks:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Extended Warranty
  • Price Protection
  • Auto Rental Insurance

 


Capital One Quicksilver

Why we like it: While the rate isn’t as high as the citi double cash (2% if you’re staying current on your payments), you get a little bonus for signing up and there are more perks. Specifically, the no foreign transaction fees.

Who it’d be good for: If you are planning on traveling abroad but don’t want the hassle or annual fees of the travel cards, you’ll get some of the perks and still a decent rate on your spending.

Credit Required: Good, Excellent

Annual fee: $0

Bonus: $150 after spending $500 in first 3 months

Transferable/Fixed: Fixed

Bonus Categories and Earning Rates:

No Categories – 1.5% cash back on every purchase

Perks:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Extended Warranty

 

Resources for Choosing the Best Personal Credit Card for You

Choosing a card can be pretty daunting with all those options and variations. Hopefully we helped you narrow it down with our favorite lists (list and link the other credit card article after they’ve been published) but everyone has different needs and spending habits.

All that said, we created 4 resources to help you find your perfect credit card fit 🙂

1) Free Calculator: Finding the Best Personal Credit Card

We really nerded out and made some calculators to help you figure out if a fixed value is worth it for your business. Keep in mind this doesn’t calculate in any of the perks a card might have since those are often of varying personal values (is airport lounge access a bonus perk or a must have for you?).

Guide: How to Use the HAR Credit Card Calculator

1. Use HAR’s exclusive Credit Card Point Calculator to find out the value of 1 point (or mile) is worth.

Hint: If you can’t find redemption values, give a call to the credit card company to see how much 1 point is worth when redeemed for however you are most likely to redeem points (cash, travel, gift cards, etc.). 

>> To find redemption values for AX cards, check out their Membership Rewards page.

2. Enter the card’s categories and point multipliers then personalize with your estimated monthly spending in each category.

3. Repeat for your top cards to see which will give you the most bang for your buck!

Video: How to Use the HAR Credit Card Calculator

More of a visual learner? We get it. Check out our short video that will walk you through how HAR’s Credit Card Calculator works and how to use HAR’s Credit Card Tracker Spreadsheet.

 

2) Use HAR’s Credit Card Tracker


Make the most out of your rewards! HAR created a nice spreadsheet template to keep track of your credit cards and the reward categories and rates they earn. This way you’ll know which cards are best for different categories of spending. (P.S. We just so happened to fill it with the data from our top 5 Business Credit Cards and top 7 Personal Credit Cards which makes it a pretty nice comparison tool too!)

 

3) Questions to Ask Yourself to Find the Best Personal Credit Cards:

    • Do the bonus spending categories make sense for how I spend?
  • How much do I normally/expect to put on this credit card?
  • Will I be doing a lot of international travel? If so, no foreign transaction fees and concierge services are great perks to look for.
  • Will I actually use the extra perks of the personal credit card? (free checked luggage, lounge access, insurance, etc.)
  • Is the sign up bonus lucrative enough?
  • Does the annual fee make sense with the rewards and perks of the card?
  • Do I want to have multiple cards for different uses?
  • What is my end goal? Perks when I travel, status with a brand, cash back, ease?

4) Tips & Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Your Credit Cards

We’ve put together a list of our favorite tips and tricks when it comes to choosing, using and redeeming points on your credit card. If you have any more to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Tips for Choosing Credit Cards:

  • Look for cards with waived annual fees: Having your annual fee waived is a great way to test the waters for a year. After you’ve had a chance to really use the card, you’ll know if that annual fee is worth it in terms of the rewards you earned and perks you used.

 

  • Don’t instantly shy away from annual fees: Paying annual fees may seem scary (I’m paying for a card to buy things?) but do the math to see if it is worth it for you!

 

  • Not all perks are created equal: As I’ve been reading a lot of credit card fine print and terms & conditions I’ve realized that just because two cards have the same perk, doesn’t mean they’re really the same. Extended warranty? How much is it extended? Trip insurance? What and how much are you covered for? Emergency Services? Do they cover anything or are they just there to offer some advice?Moral of the story: If a perk is especially important to you, make sure you get all the details before signing up for a card!

 

  • For real.  Use HAR’s Credit Card Point Calculator: I just wanted to reiterate this because you might be really focused on that 3x multiplier in a bonus category but if the card has a low redemption rate or you don’t spend enough in that category, it may not be best for you.  So plug in your same spending amounts with two different card details and let the calculator do the work to see how they compare!

Tips for Using Your Credit Cards:

  • Label Your Credit Cards: I learned this trick from my mom 🙂 She labels all the cards in her wallet with the best categories to use them (dining, groceries, travel, etc.). It really makes it easy to make sure you’re getting the most return with your rewards!

 

  • Pay off every month: Don’t be fooled into thinking these great rewards will make up for interest payments on amounts carried month-to-month. Those APRs are painful and will instantly negate any rewards you may have earned.

 

  • Don’t use rewards as an excuse to buy things you don’t need! Don’t be tempted to spend more just because you get a deal with your card or will earn more points.

Tips for When You Get Your New Credit Card

  • Keep old cards open: If you want to add one of the top 5 business credit cards and/or top personal credit cards to your repertoire, there is no need to close any of your existing cards. In fact, if you’ve had the card for a long time and it doesn’t have an annual fee, you should definitely keep it! Closing a long standing card will lower the average card open time which can hurt your credit score. If you aren’t going to use it, just keep it in a safe place so it doesn’t get lost or stolen.

 

  • Recurring charges: If you want to switch your spending to a new card, open your last completed statement for the card(s) you plan to use less of.  Go down your list of transactions and mark any that are recurring charges.  These are the places you’ll need to swap out to your new card!

 

  • Don’t forget to set up automatic payments: If you use auto-payment features to pay for your credit cards, set it up as soon as you get your new card so you don’t forget and miss your first payment!

 

HAR’s Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses List

If you want to check out all the credit cards in our 4 part series, make sure you check out our other articles:

What do you think?

After months (literally) of credit card research, I feel a little bit like this ^

I have loads of credit card factoids that makes me real popular at social gatherings 😉  But this was really my first foray into the rabbit hole of the credit card world so I want to hear about your experiences and thoughts!  

Which credit cards are your favorite? How do you use your card(s)? Do you have different cards for different purposes?  Do you favor personal or business cards?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

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