Travel cards are one way to stretch a dollar, if the balanced is paid off each month. So, which card has the best deal? Consumer Reports crunched the numbers and the rewards.
First, you need to decide between an airline card and a bank card, which depends on what kind of traveler you are. Choose an airline card if you travel a lot on one particular airline,
"Airline cards are also good if you want a free trip fast," said Consumer Reports money adviser Amanda Walker. "While they're usually as generous with rewards as bank cards, you can sometimes score a bonus as high as 50,000 points when you sign up."
Some good airline cards are Delta Skymiles American Express Gold, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa, and US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World Mastercard. For every dollar spent with the airline, you get two miles, or two points.
"If you don't fly a particular airline, a bank card is the way to go," Walker said. "They let you earn rewards on the purchases you make, then use them to buy tickets on any airline."
Consumer Reports said there another plus - bank cards are not subject to blackout dates and the points don't generally expire.
Some good bank cards include: American Express Premier Rewards Gold, Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or Mastercard, and Penfed Premium Travel Rewards American Express. A real benefit with all three cards is there's no annual fee the first year.
If you're a member of several frequent-flyer programs, Consumer Reports said you're probably better off with one of the high-end American Express bank cards like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold. Those cards let you transfer earned points to a number of airlines.