You are currently viewing Which travel credits are the easiest to redeem?

Which travel credits are the easiest to redeem?

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Travel

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

It’s becoming increasingly common these days to see cards charging annual fees in the range of $450 (or more). In many ways, premium is the new normal. To convince customers to shell out hundreds of dollars a year, most of these cards offer some type of annual travel statement credit but they’re certainly not all created equal. Some will range from automatic and easy to use to much more restrictive with strict guidelines you need to follow to redeem those travel credits.

At TPG, we want to equip you with information that empowers your decision-making, which is why we created this chart to help you easily maneuver between some of the most popular travel credit cards that offer easy-to-use travel credits.

Card Sign-up bonus/welcome offer Travel credit Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. $300 annual travel credit $550
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® Earn 70,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $7,000 in the first  three months of account opening. Up to $120 in Lyft credits

Up to $120 in statement credits on Grubhub purchases

Up to $120 in statement credits on Avis or Budget car rentals

$595 (see rates and fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Up-to-$300 dining statement credits at restaurants worldwide

Up-to-$100 luxury property credit on select stays of two nights or longer at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels

Enrollment required for select benefits.

$650 (see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Earn 180,000 Hilton points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. Terms apply Up to $200 annual airline credit

Up to $400 annual Hilton resort statement credit valid at participating resorts

Up to $100 property credit on eligible stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels

Enrollment required for select benefits.

$550 (see rates and fees)
The Platinum Card® from American Express Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. Up-to-$200 annual credit for airline incidental fees

Up-to-$200 annual Uber Cash ($15 a month and a $20 bonus in December)

$189 Clear Plus credit

Enrollment required for select benefits.

$695 (see rates and fees)
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening $300 annual travel credit for bookings through Capital One travel $395 (see rates and fees)

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex 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.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual travel credit: $300 annual travel credit.

THE POINTS GUY

Standout perks: The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been one of the most popular all-around credit cards — in fact, it has won TPG’s best premium travel card for three years in a row. Despite its $550 annual fee, the $300 annual travel credit is incredibly convincing to get people to apply. This credit is also by far the easiest to use since Chase will automatically apply this credit to your first $300 in annual travel purchases, with eligible charges ranging from flights and hotels to less obvious things like parking fees, tolls, ride-sharing and even some food delivery services. Note that you must spend the $300 travel credit before you start earning 3 points per dollar on travel spending.

Finally, the Sapphire Reserve rounds out with 3 points per dollar on travel and dining, a Priority Pass Select membership, access to a premium concierge service and a host of other perks.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Annual travel credit: Up to $120 in Lyft credits, up to $120 in statement credits on Grubhub purchases and up to $120 in statement credits on Avis or Budget car rentals.

a credit card, sunglasses and magazine
ERIC HELGAS/THE POINTS GUY

Standout perks: In July 2023, the AAdvantage Executive credit underwent major changes, including the addition of several statement credits and increased earning potential. Still, there were negative changes as well, such as an increase in the card’s annual fee and a limit of 10 authorized users which cost $175 for up to three individuals and $175 for each authorized user thereafter. Despite these changes, the AAdvantage Executive still stands out thanks to its complimentary Admirals Club membership.

Related: The latest credit card benefit changes you need to know

The AAdvantage Executive does offer a fantastic rewards rate, with 4 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and 10 miles per dollar on hotels or cars booked through aa.com/hotels and aa.com/cars.

Related: AAdvantage Executive review

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Annual travel credit: Up to $300 dining statement credits at restaurants worldwide and up to $100 luxury property credit on two nights or more at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton hotels.

EDEN BATKI/THE POINTS GUY

Standout perks: While the $300 annual credit is useful, it’s worth mentioning that it gets broken up into $25 monthly credits instead of a single lump sum. However, apart from this, there aren’t many restrictions when using this card.

In addition to these credits, the card offers automatic Marriott Platinum Elite status and a valuable annual free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees).

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant review

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Annual travel credit: Up to $200 annual airline credit, up to $400 annual Hilton resort statement credit valid at participating resorts, and up to a $100 property credit on two nights or more at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels.

THE POINTS GUY

Standout perks: The premium Hilton Aspire recently underwent a refresh, which brought on some changes to its statement credit and is currently offering an all-time high welcome bonus of 180,000 Hilton points (worth $1,080 based on TPG’s valuations) after spending $6,000 in the first six months. The Aspire offers up to a $200 statement credit (up to $50 a quarter) on eligible flight purchases made directly with an airline or through amextravel.com. The card also provides up to $400 (up to $200 biannually) in statement credits for eligible purchases at Hilton resorts, which could potentially be combined with a $100 property credit on eligible stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels.

Aspire cardholders will also enjoy a free weekend night certificate upon account opening and each year on their account anniversary, automatic top-tier Hilton Diamond elite status and a whopping 14 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases.

Related: Hilton Honors Aspire review

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual travel credit: Up to $200 annual airline incidental fee statement credit, up to $200 annual Uber Cash ($15 a month which becomes a $20 bonus in December), and $189 Clear Plus credit.

A hand holds a credit card with a pool and palm trees in the background
ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

Standout perks: The Amex Platinum airline fee credit gets a lot of attention, but some mystery surrounds exactly how to activate it. This is the information Amex offers regarding the $200 airline fee credit: “Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees, such as checked bags and inflight refreshments, are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card.” Amex has closed the gift card purchase loophole, severely limiting the ways to use this perk. What has been reported to trigger the airline fee credit includes (but isn’t limited to) checked baggage fees, change fees, airline lounge daypasses, seat assignment fees and other inflight purchases.

If you’ve decided to apply for or keep your Platinum card open even after these changes — plus its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) — you can look forward to the following perks: up to $200 in annual Uber Cash ($15 a month with a $20 bonus in December), up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits ($50 every six months), Up to$189 statement credit toward a Clear Plus membership, Marriott and Hilton Gold elite status, access to Amex’s growing collection of Centurion lounges, access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on same-day Delta flights and a whole host of other perks. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Related: Amex Platinum review

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Annual travel credit: $300 annual travel credit for bookings through Capital One travel.

CAPITAL ONE

Standout perks: The Capital One Venture X is a phenomenal card that disrupted the travel credit card industry several years back. The Venture X earns 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked via Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked via Capital One Travel and an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on everything else. Cardholders are also awarded 10,000 bonus miles on the anniversary date of card opening, however, where the card shines in lounge access.

Related: Capital One Venture X review

Cardholders can add four authorized users at no charge and both the main cardholder and authorized users — in addition to up to two guests — get complimentary Capital One lounge access. Plus, all guests traveling with the main cardholder or an authorized user can also access more than 1,400 Priority Pass lounges worldwide.

Related: Best travel credit cards

Bottom line

For a long time, it’s been easy to brush over the annual fee attached to premium cards due, in part, to multiple annual statement credits that easily offset your upfront cost. However, recent changes and restrictions in how these credits can be used can affect the value you get from these high annual fee cards. It’s important to plan how you’ll use these credits before you open a card to make sure you can recoup your annual fee.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Venture X, click here.