A lot of the points and miles community relies on expensive credit cards. However, if you’re interested in getting started but don’t want to invest any money into at all, you have options. But not all cards are created equal. So let’s discuss what I think is the best free travel rewards credit card.
I know many people consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred to be the best starter card in the points and miles community. And it certainly is a great card! For $95 per year, you get 3x points for dining, an annual $50 hotel credit, 5x points on travel booked through Chase Travel, 2x on all other travel, 1x points on everything else, an annual 10% points boost, fantastic travel insurances, and the ability to transfer points 1:1 to hotel and airline loyalty programs.
But I realize not everyone wants to commit to a $99/year card if they’re first trying out the points and miles game. That’s why I want to discuss what I think is the best free travel rewards credit card.
The Best Free Travel Rewards Credit Card
While I prefer Chase and their Ultimate Rewards ecosystem above all others, the best free travel rewards credit card, at least in my opinion, comes from American Express. Specifically, you’ll want to get the American Express EveryDay card.
Sure, many in the points and miles community will ridicule my choice as being weak. But, again, this card has no annual fee. So let’s run down what this card has to offer.
- 2x points on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. grocery stores, then 1x thereafter
- 1x points on all other spend
- Earn 20% more points in each billing cycle that you make at least 20 transactions in
- Earn valuable Membership Rewards points and transfer them 1:1 to participating loyalty programs
Participating Membership Rewards loyalty programs include:
- Aer Lingus
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- ANA Mileage Club
- Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Choice Privileges
- Delta Air Lines
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Hilton Honors (1:2)
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue (1.25:1)
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
While the above list is missing valuable transfer partners Chase has, like World of Hyatt and Southwest Rapid Rewards, it’s still a diverse list that includes something for everyone.
Hawaii residents will want to take note of British Airways and Hawaiian Airlines’ participation. BA has distance-based awards that often give us great value when flying with American Airlines between the contiguous U.S. and the islands. Likewise, having Hawaiian as a transfer partner gives us the flexibility to use points for inter-island travel. And if you ever wanted to fly ANA’s Flying Honu A380s, having them as a transfer partner will help you get to that goal.
And this is the real power behind this card and why I consider it to be the best free travel rewards credit card. No other free card, at least that I know of, gives you the ability to transfer points to such a diverse list of participating programs. Plus, if you decide you like Membership Rewards and want to increase your earning power, you can always product change to an EveryDay Preferred for $99 a year. Plus, you can add one of Amex’s popular charge cards, such as the Green, Gold, or Platinum, to further bolster your points-earning power.
Again, this recommendation is only for the best free travel rewards credit card. If you don’t mind investing about $100 per year, there are other, better options out there. But, even then, this card is worth having regardless of which way you go. Say you decide to open a Chase Sapphire Preferred? What’s the harm in getting the Amex EveryDay card too? After all, it costs you nothing AND gives you more earning and transfer options. Personally, this is a card that continues to hold its place in my wallet just as a way to preserve my Membership Rewards points. I downgraded to this card from the Preferred version, and it is my last Membership Rewards earning card.