Best Credit Cards for Road Trips


Planning a road trip and want to maximize your travel rewards? What are the best credit cards for road trips? That’s what the Nerdy Millennial wants to know.

She commented on my post on how to use points for car rentals asking,

This is great information because I am entering a time in my life where I will be making monthly road trips to see my kids while I go to graduate school. I need something that will earn me points on hotels and possibly gas. Do you have any suggestions for my specific needs?

Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of staycations and road trips to places like Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. I’m enjoying exploring California and visiting cities I would normally just drive through.

The freedom to decide when and where to go versus maintaining a strict time schedule is exhilarating.

It’s gotten me so excited that I’m planning road trips to other states for later in the year and visiting National Parks like White Sands, Zion, Moab. Plus going to Las Vegas every month.

If you’re a miles and points junkie like me you’ll want to make sure to bring the right credit cards to hit the road.

So you don’t leave any miles (pun intended), points, or cash back behind, here are the best credit cards to use for a road trip.

1. US Bank Altitude Connect


The US Bank Altitude Connect is one of the best credit cards for road trips. You earn 4X points at gas stations and on travel.

You also earn 2X points at grocery stores, dining, grocery delivery, and streaming. Perfect for stocking up on road trips snacks and treats, eating out while on the road, and having groceries delivered to your hotel, motel, or vacation rental.

If you’re traveling with the kids, they can stay occupied on those long drives by watching their favorite movies and shows or listening to music. While you enjoy a blissfully quiet car trip and earn bonus points!

You can use your points for flights, hotels, rental cars, cash back, and more!

The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. And there’s even a signup bonus!

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred


One of the best cards for a road trip is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on dining and travel: airline tickets, hotels, and rental cars. If you use this card you’ll earn lots of points on a road trip.

Points are transferrable to 13 airline and hotel partners like Southwest and Marriott. So you can use the points for free nights on the road.

This is a great card if you’re getting started earning travel rewards. The annual fee of $95 is reasonable. The only downside, you won’t earn points for gas purchases.

Pro-tip: Here’s how to earn points for gas purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Prepay your fuel on your rental car for your road trip and you’ll earn points for gas. You may end up paying more for gas but you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent instead of only one.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD.

3. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card


The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for road trips.

Because you earn unlimited 2 miles on all purchases.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD.

4. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express


You can earn cash back during your road trip with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. Some people prefer cash back to points. Because you can use cash for everything. 🙂

You get 3% cash back at US gas stations, 6% cash back at US supermarkets, and 1% cash back on everything else. You can stock up on snacks for the road and earn cash back.

With this card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the annual fee is a reasonable $95. (see rates and fees) You won’t earn cash back on hotels but there’s a workaround.

Pro-tip: You can buy Visa, Mastercard, and Hotels.com gift cards at many US grocery stores. If you pay with your Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express you’ll earn 6% cash back.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD.

5. Chase Freedom Flex


You earn 1% cash back on all purchases with the Chase Freedom Flex card. But what makes this card one of the best credit cards for road trips is the rotating bonus categories.

Every quarter you earn 5% on certain categories like gas. So you could earn 5% cash back when gas is a rotating category.

A 5% return is pretty impressive for a no annual fee card.

With the Chase Freedom Flex card, you can choose cash back or points. If you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve you can transfer points to participating hotels to pay for your hotel room.

Pro-tip: Stock up on gas station gift cards at grocery stores during the 5% bonus. Then use those cards to pay for fuel on your road trip.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD

6. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card (learn more)


The rarely talked about no annual fee Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card is among the top credit cards for a road trip.

You earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases making it a versatile card for all types of travel.

Mobile wallet purchases earn 1.8% cash back during your first 12 months of having the card. With so many gas stations accepting mobile wallet payments, you can earn 1.8% cash back on fuel and snacks bought at gas stations.

One of the best features of this card is up to $600 cell phone protection. So if you drop, run over, or someone steals your phone during your road trip, you’re covered.

Pro-tip: The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers made within the first 120 days.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD.

7. Chase Freedom Unlimited


Another top credit card for a road trip is the Chase Freedom Unlimited because it’s so handy.

You earn 1.5% cash back when you fuel up, when you sleep (at hotels), when you eat, and everywhere you use the card.

Because there’s no annual fee this Chase Freedom Unlimited should have a permanent spot in your wallet.

Pro-tip: You can transfer points to participating airlines and hotels if you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD

8. Chase Sapphire Reserve


One of the best credit cards for road trips is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You earn 3 points on travel which includes hotels, car rentals, and flights.

You also earn 3 points at restaurants including fast food. Which any road tripper knows is practically a road trip staple!

Not only do you earn lots of points but you get perks that come in handy on a road trip. You get elite status, upgrades, and discounts on car rentals. Plus you get free room upgrades, meals, and other discounts when you book hotels through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection and Relais & Chateaux.

You can offset the $550 annual fee because you get a yearly $300 travel credit. The credit is automatically applied to all travel purchases including Airbnb rentals.

Pro-tip: The Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t earn bonus points for gas but you can use the same trick as you would with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Prepay your fuel on rental cars.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS CARD

Conclusion

These best credit cards for road trips can help you cover your travel expenses.

Whether you’re on the road for work, planning the epic family vacation road trip a la National Lampoon, or relocating across the country with the right card you can earn lots of points and/or cash back.

You can earn free hotel nights with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Capital One Venture Rewards, and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Cards like the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, Chase Freedom, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa (learn more), and Chase Freedom Unlimited earn cash back on all purchases. You’ll earn 6% cash back on gas with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.

With a few of these cards in your wallet, your next road trip just got cheaper.

Which is your favorite credit card for road trips?

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Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 80,000 points & a $50 statement credit on groceries your first year after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

 

My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.

 



Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months.

 

My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back at grocery stores the first 12 months (up to $12k), unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use your points to travel for free.

 


American Express Gold

The American Express Gold is a great card for earning travel rewards from grocery and restaurant purchases It offers a welcome offer of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

 

My favorite perks about this card are earning 4X points at US grocery stores, 4x points at restaurants (including delivery and takeout) worldwide,, $120 statement credit at restaurants, 4x points on UberEats, $120 in UberCash (use for UberEats or rides),3x points on flights booked with the airlines or via amextravel, and 1x point on everything else.
 

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