The 3 Types of Travel Reward Credit Cards

There are three types of travel reward credit cards. It is important to know what they are and what they do so you can make sure you are getting the right card for your travel needs. These cards include transferable point cards, co-branded cards, and fixed value cards.

Transferable Point Cards:

My very favorite travel reward cards are ones that award you with transferable points. Transferable point cards include cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and a recent addition to the group, Capital One Venture Miles.  These points are a crowd favorite because they offer so much flexibility. Each program has partners with various airlines and/or hotel groups that you can transfer your points to. Some also have their own travel portals, but most of the time you will get more value out of your points by transferring them. 

Another reason transferable point cards are so great is that they are easy to earn. Most of them have various category bonuses. For example, the Chase Ink Business Preferred earns 3 points for every dollar spent on cable, internet, and phones services and the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2 points for every dollar spent at restaurants.

Co-Branded Airline and Hotel Cards:

Co-branded cards include cards like the American Express Delta cards, Chase Hyatt cards, and Citibank American Airlines cards. These points can be used to book directly on the airline or hotel site. They don’t have the flexibility of a transferable point card but offer a lot of value, especially if you can be flexible with your dates. These cards also come with additional benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, free anniversary hotel nights, etc.

Co-branded cards and transferable point cards pair very well together. For example, I opened the United Explorer Card and then transferred Ultimate Rewards into my United Mileage Plus account. I then had all the points necessary to fly roundtrip business class to Greece.

Co-branded cards are great for the signup bonus, if you exclusively travel with that airline or stay at that particular hotel chain, and for the benefits that come with the card like free checked baggage. As far as everyday spending, you will usually earn more points per dollar with a transferable points card.

Fixed Value Cards:

Fixed value cards include cards like the Capital One Venture Credit Card used to be a fixed value only card but now it has the additional benefit of transferring to some airline partners. These cards offer “miles”. Your miles can then be used to “erase” a travel expense. In order to use your miles, you will need to pay for your travel expense on the card. Once the purchase posts to your account, log in and apply your miles for a statement credit. Each mile is worth 1 cent so a signup bonus of 60,000 miles would get you a statement credit of $600. Fixed value cards are nice for picking up costs that your other cards can’t (rental car, Airbnb, Disney park tickets sold from a travel agency like Get Away Today, etc).

I wouldn’t use a fixed value card as my everyday spend card, you can get a lot more value out of a transferable point card. For example, if you used your 60,000 Capital One miles towards a stay at Hyatt hotel that costs $500 a night, you would only get one free night. Whereas, if you used 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards you could transfer those points into your Hyatt account and book two nights at 25,000 points each. I really like fixed value cards for the signup bonus, but beyond that, you can do better with other cards.

Travel reward credit cards can make a trip to Disneyland happen.

Bottom Line

Although we think that transferable points credit cards are the most versatile, the other types of travel reward credit cards are also useful. Each has a place in our wallets.

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