Use your holiday purchases to pay for a vacation!The holiday season is here, which means holiday shopping is likely on your mind. While holiday shopping can be fun, what may be even more fun is going on a low-cost vacation to a destination of your choosing in the coming year. How can you make that dream a reality? By using a travel rewards credit card to make all of your holiday purchases. We’ve got all the details you need to know to pick the right holiday shopping companion from some of the top travel credit cards — plus, we’ll show you how using it can help you take that 2019 vacation.

Why use a travel card this shopping season?

The holiday season is a great time to use a travel card because you can earn miles or points on holiday purchases that you were already planning to make. For example, the consulting company PwC estimates that average holiday spending will reach an average of $1,250 this year. That level of spending would put any travel cardholder well on their way toward earning a card’s intro bonus (our top-rated cards offer bonuses worth $500 or more in travel!), along with any other ongoing rewards they may earn. Additionally, if you continue to use the travel card for all of your regular monthly purchases, like your bills, you can accumulate even more rewards and take a vacation in the spring or summer that’s already paid for — partially or even fully.

Don’t believe us? If you apply for a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (detailed below) now, spend $1,500 on holiday purchases and use the card to pay at least $500/month in bills for the first 3 months you have the card, you’ll spend enough to earn the 50,000-mile intro bonus (worth $500 in travel) — you need to spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months to open the bonus. Then, if you continue to use the card after the first 3 months, you’ll rack up even more rewards, as you’ll earn 2X on every purchase. As you can see, now is the best time of the year to apply for a travel credit card because your holiday purchases can easily help you achieve an intro bonus (and more rewards).

Which travel credit cards are best for holiday purchases?

Travel is a pretty big and diverse category, and the same goes for travel rewards credit cards. As such, knowing which card is “best” for you can be a bit difficult to figure out. That’s why we’ve organized our favorite cards into 2 categories: cards with hefty intro bonuses and cards with no annual fees. Keep reading to see which type of travel credit card will work for you. We should note that while there are some co-branded cards with stellar rewards, we opted for the cards that’ll earn the highest rewards on all purchases, as you’ll be able to really maximize your rewards on every purchase you make during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Cards with hefty intro bonuses

If you’re planning a big vacation and want to truly make it special, these cards can help you achieve that with generous intro bonus offers and earnings.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

holiday purchasesThe Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the frontrunners for our Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis with an average flight and hotel value of $2.40 for each $100 spent. In terms of rewards, you’ll earn a massive 50,000-mile bonus (equal to $500 in travel!) when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. Next, you’ll earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on all purchase as well as 10 miles on hotels booked and paid for via Hotels.com/Venture (valid through Jan. 31, 2020). With Hotels.com being one of the premier sites for booking travel lodging, this is an awesome deal that’ll help your next trip pay for itself. Rewards earned with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can be redeemed for travel via a travel statement credit (meaning you book however you’d like, then you redeem rewards to cover all or part of the purchase) or by booking travel through Capital One Rewards Center without blackout dates or restrictions. Additionally, cardholders will get a free monthly TransUnion credit score and get access to Visa Signature benefits, including complimentary concierge service, road assist service, travel and emergency service and more. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card members don’t pay any foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the U.S. and get a credit of up to $100 every 4 years to cover the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck program application fee. The card, which is available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher), does have a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

holiday purchasesThe Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is one more great option when it comes to impressive intro bonuses. Though its average flight and hotel value of $2.10 for every $100 spent is just shy of Capital One Venture Rewards’ average combined value, its 60,000 intro bonus miles (a $600 value!), which is available to cardholders who spend $5,000 on purchases their first 90 days, puts its bonus value head and shoulders above a lot of its competitors. Next, cardholders earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases and every time they redeem their rewards, they’ll get 5% miles back to use toward their next redemption (e.g., if you redeem 50,000 miles, you’ll get 2,500 to use toward the next redemption — this means that your intro bonus value will get bumped up to $630). The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard also offers a 12-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers posted in the first 45 days of account opening (with a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater). Additionally, cardholders will receive free FICO scores every month, and they can redeem their rewards with no restrictions or blackout dates — travel on any airline, anywhere. Finally, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard has no foreign transaction fees and a $0 intro annual fee for the first year (after that, it’s $89). It’s also available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher).

Cards without annual fees

Like the credit cards above, these cards offer some top-notch reward, but unlike the cards noted above, the following cards also charge no annual fees.

Discover it Miles

holiday purchasesWhile Discover it Miles didn’t place as high as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card in our Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis (it has an average flight and hotel value of $1.50 per $100 spent), the Discover it Miles card is nothing to scoff at. That’s because it’s packed with useful features that make it stand out, like unlimited 1.5X miles for every $1 spent with the card and a 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases (after the 0% APR expires, a go-to variable rate applies). The card’s standout feature, though, is its Discover Match intro offer. Discover will match all of the miles you’ve earned in your first year as a cardholder. For example, if you earn 50,000 miles in your first year, Discover will match that 50,000 and turn it into a total of 100,000 miles! As for redeeming rewards, every 100 miles you earn can be redeemed for $1 as a direct deposit into your bank account or for travel statement credit. Additionally, Discover it Miles, which is available to those with average to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 670 or higher), has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Cardholders can also look forward to a number of added perks, like free identity theft protection, free FICO scores and more.

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card

holiday purchasesAnother top option for holiday shopping is the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card. The card placed as well as Discover it Miles in our Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis, with an average flight and hotel value of $1.50 per $100 spent. The card has a myriad of features, both travel and non-travel related, that make it one of our top-rated options. First, cardholders will get a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and earn an unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on every purchase. Next, when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, you’ll get 25,000 bonus points! If you’re a Bank of America bank account holder, these earnings get amplified. That’s because you will automatically receive a 10% customer bonus on every purchase — and Preferred Rewards clients will earn an even higher bonus of 25% to 75%! As far as travel goes, the card has no foreign transaction fees, nor does it have blackout dates for redeeming points, which can be redeemed via statement credits, allowing you the flexibility to book travel wherever and however you want. The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card also has no annual fee and is available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher).

Planning travel can be taxing and expensive, but if you use the right card to make your holiday purchases, you can make saving for your 2019 a breeze. To learn more about the cards detailed in this post and see how they compete to others on the market, visit our reviews of the best credit cards.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.