Top credit cards for travel and cash back (2023)

Gabriela Peratello

If you like to use a credit card for spending at home and abroad, you could be better off if you select one which offers rewards, discounts or cash back as you spend.

While different cards have their own features, fees and perks, there are quite a few great options if you’re looking to maximize your rewards when you travel and shop internationally.

Read on if you’re looking for the best credit card for cash back and overseas travel, as we round up some top picks for 2023.

Because credit cards aren’t always the best choice, we’ll also introduce the Wise debit card as a low cost alternative, which can still help you get discounts, offers and rewards as you spend.

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What's cashback?

Let’s start with the basics. If you get a cash back or rewards credit card, you’ll earn points, cash, discounts or miles when you use your card to spend.

Exactly how this works does vary by card — in some cases you’ll have a basic reward rate which you can get across all spending. In others, there will be higher returns on certain categories, which may change from time to time.

Once you have rewards banked you can use them by converting them to a dollar value to take as cash, statement credit, or for spending — your options, as well as the redeem rate, will vary depending on the card you select.

For example, with the Discover Travel Credit Card, which we’ll look at in a little more detail later, each mile is the equivalent of one penny.

What are some of the best credit cards for travel and cash back?

Your best credit card for travel and cash back will depend on the type of transactions you make, and what’s important to you.

But the good news is that there are quite a few strong contenders out there to pick from, so you’ll be able to find a perfect match with a bit of research. Here are our favorite travel and cash back cards, to start you off.

Discover Travel Credit Card

Discover can be a great option for credit cards for US spending, and if you travel frequently to places where the Discover network is often accepted.

There’s no annual fee for the Discover Travel Credit Card¹, and you won’t pay any foreign transaction fee for your international spending. Earn miles which don’t expire, with an attractive bonus after 1 year.

Discover Travel Credit Card pros

  • Earn bonus miles which double your rewards after year one
  • Claim miles as cash, statement credit, or for purchases at specific merchants
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee

Discover Travel Credit Card cons

  • Discover is not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard in some countries and regions
  • Matching bonus is only available one time, after 12 months of having the card
CardDiscover Travel Credit Card
APR14.99% to 25.99%² based on your credit score

No annual fee

10 USD or 5% cash advance fee

41 USD late payment fee

Exchange rateDiscover rate, no foreign transaction fee
Travel rewards1.5 miles per dollar spent, plus all miles accumulated are doubled as a bonus after 1 year
Cash back1 mile = 1 cent when claimed as cash back or statement credit³
Required credit scoreNot specified

Capital One Venture Rewards

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card⁴ offers up to 5 miles per dollar if you book travel through Capital One, with 2 miles per dollar on most other spending. That can mean your rewards mount up quickly — and there’s a healthy new joiner bonus on offer too.

You’ll need to pay a 95 USD annual fee for this card, so it’s worth weighing up the benefits — like no foreign transaction fee, travel perks and good rewards — against that charge.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card pros

  • High earning opportunity, especially when you book travel through Capital One
  • Miles don’t expire and there’s a range of ways to claim them
  • No foreign transaction fee

Capital One Venture Rewards Card cons

  • Depending on your credit score, the APR can be high
  • Excellent credit rating required
  • Annual fee of 95 USD
CardCapital One Venture Rewards
APR18.99%, 23.99%, or 26.99%, depending on credit score

95 USD annual fee

10 USD or 3% cash advance fee

Up to 40 USD penalty fee

Exchange rateNetwork rate with no foreign transaction fee
Travel rewards2 - 5 miles per dollar spent, plus new joiner bonus
Cash backClaim miles as cash, for spending with specific merchants, or for statement credit to cover travel purchases
Required credit scoreExcellent credit required

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Check out the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card⁵ if you’ll be booking travel and are happy to go through Chase to make your arrangements.

You could stand to receive a high 5% cash back on your travel spend, plus up to 3% on other spending, and a decent new joiner bonus to get you started.

The downside to this card is probably the 3% foreign transaction fee — it may not be the right pick for your spending while you actually travel, as this will push up costs.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Card pros

  • No annual fee
  • Up to 5% cash back on travel
  • Rewards don’t expire

Chase Freedom Unlimited Card cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee when you spend internationally
  • APR can be high, depending on your credit score
CardChase Freedom Unlimited
APR17.99% to 26.74% depending on credit score⁶

No annual fee

10 USD or 5% cash advance fee

Up to 40 USD late payment fee

Exchange rateNetwork exchange rate + 3% foreign transaction fee
Travel rewards5% cash back for travel booked through Chase
Cash back1.5% - 3% on all other spend, plus new joiner bonus opportunities
Required credit scoreNot specified

American Express Gold Card

While Amex has a good range of cards for all purposes, we’ve picked out the American Express Gold Card⁷ as a good all round option if you don’t mind paying a higher annual fee in return for extra rewards opportunities.

Once you’ve paid the 250 USD annual fee you can request up to an additional 5 cards for free, so all the family can earn points for the same account.

There’s no foreign transaction fee when you spend internationally, plus extra rewards for flight bookings.

American Express Gold Card pros

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • High points earning with good range of ways to redeem
  • No fee for additional cards once you’ve paid the annual fee, making this a good choice for family use

American Express Gold Card cons

  • High annual fee at 250 USD for the first card
  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted in some countries as it is in the US
CardAmerican Express Gold Card
APR19.74% to 26.74% depending on credit score⁸

250 USD annual fee

10 USD or 5% cash advance fee

Up to 40 USD penalty fee

Exchange rateAmex rate with no foreign transaction fee
Travel rewards3x points on flights
Cash back

1x to 4x points on all spending

The value of your rewards depends on how you use them — you can spend with select merchants, claim gift cards, use as statement credit, spend on travel and more⁹

Required credit scoreNot specified

Bank of America Travel Rewards

Our final pick is the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card¹⁰. This is a good card for consistent earning, with a 1.5x flat rate of reward points per dollar spent, and the option to join the Preferred Rewards club to get even more.

There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, so you don’t have to worry about your earnings being eaten up in fees.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Card pros

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee
  • Flat rate earning across all spending — boost this by becoming a Preferred Rewards member
  • No blackout dates or restrictions, and points can’t expire

Bank of America Travel Rewards Card cons

  • APR can be on the high side
  • Not as many bonus earning opportunities as some other cards
CardBank of America Travel Rewards Card
APR16.99% to 26.99% depending on credit score¹¹

No annual fee

10 USD or 5% cash advance fee

Up to 40 USD late payment fee

Exchange rateNetwork rate with no foreign transaction fee
Travel rewardsFlat rate 1.5 points per dollar spent
Cash backFlat rate 1.5 points per dollar spent
Required credit scoreNot specified

Looking for something different? Get the Wise debit card

If a credit card isn’t your thing, you may be interested in the Wise debit card instead*. The Wise card is an international debit card, linked to the Wise Account, which allows you to hold and exchange 50+ currencies, and spend in 170+ countries with no foreign transaction fees.

You can add funds to your account in dollars — or a range of other currencies — and switch to the currencies you need with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees starting from 0.41%. Or, simply top up your account and let the card convert for you, with the lowest possible fee every time.

The Wise card is a debit card not a credit card — which means no APR, no interest, no annual fee, and in fact no ongoing charges at all. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on rewards and benefits though.

Spend with your Wise card to access an exclusive range of Wise rewards on hotel bookings, online shopping and more.

Get started with Wise 🚀

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information

How to compare travel and cash back credit cards

With so many great credit cards for travel and cash back, it can be hard to pick. When you’re comparing, it’s worth considering the following:

  • Is there a new joiner offer which can help you boost earnings?

  • Are you able to maximize reward earning in categories of spend you’ll use often?

  • Will points expire, or are there blackout dates if you want to reclaim them as travel benefits?

  • Do the benefits you’ll likely get outweigh the annual fee if there is one?

  • Will the card be widely accepted wherever you like to travel or shop online?

If you’re going to use a credit card, it makes sense to pick one which will reward you for every dollar that you spend.

Use this guide to find the best credit cards for travel and cash back, and to help you pick a perfect match for your needs.

And because using your credit card isn’t always the best option, check out the Wise debit card which you can use alongside your preferred credit card, to get low cost international spending with one of the fairest exchange rates out there.


  1. Discover Travel Credit Card
  2. Discover Travel Credit Card rates and fees
  3. Discover Travel Credit Card terms
  4. Capital One Venture Rewards
  5. Chase Freedom Unlimited
  6. Chase Freedom Unlimited rates and fees
  7. American Express Gold Card
  8. American Express Gold Card rates and fees
  9. American Express Gold Card rewards
  10. Bank of America Travel Rewards Card
  11. Bank of America Travel Rewards Card rates and fees

* Eligibility is subject to verification of customers identity

Sources checked on 12.07.2022

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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