This summer, the cost of plane tickets increased by 25% over the same period last year. However, that doesn’t stop travelers from making summer plans to get away. Many people simply adjust their travel plans to better suit their budget. In a recent Bankrate poll, 25% of people said they would just drive shorter distances to cut costs, and 16% said they would drive instead of fly.
This idea makes a lot of sense, considering how much cheaper a road trip costs than a flight. But going on a budget road trip isn’t just about jumping in the car and seeing where the road takes you. You’ll want to plan, budget, and carry a credit card that makes road travel more cost-effective and safer.
Benefits of a credit card for road trips
From roadside assistance to cash back on gas purchases, traveling with the right credit card can make your trip more affordable and safer. The best credit cards for road trips reward cardholders for everyday expenses like food stops, gas, and lodging. The right credit card can also help you secure your funds because, unlike debit cards, your funds are not tied directly to your checking or savings accounts.
Most credit card companies have zero-liability fraud protections in place that exempt cardholders from liability for unauthorized charges, making credit cards the safest travel companion. You can also have peace of mind knowing that help is available if you have an accident or have problems with your car, thanks to Roadside Assistance benefits on select maps.
How to choose the best map for your road trip
The best credit card for your road trip will depend on your unique financial situation and what you need with your card. Although the cards aren’t designed explicitly to reward car travel, many cards can help you defray the costs of your travel purchases and maximize benefits on the road.
Here’s what you should consider when choosing a credit card for your road trip:
- Gasoline, hotel and restaurant rewards. Hotel stays (or other accommodations), gas purchases and restaurant meals will be your main expenses during your road trip. It’s important to make sure that any card you choose generously rewards at least some of these categories.
- Welcome bonus. Cards that earn bonus points for dining and gas are a boon for car travelers and will help you earn your card’s welcome offer in no time. Choosing a card that offers a welcome bonus with a low spend threshold could provide an easy windfall of rewards to help cover travel expenses.
- Credit score requirements. Some of the best travel cards require high credit scores, but that shouldn’t stop you from being rewarded for your road trip purchases (even if your credit is less than stellar). Check your credit score and use Bankrate’s CardMatch™ to determine if the card you want is in your range.
The best maps for your road trip
Credit One Bank Wander Card: Ideal for booking road trip activities
Travelers with fair credit rejoice: The Credit One® Bank Wander™ card is recommended for people with FICO credit scores of 580-740, and you can apply for Credit One Bank Wander without a thorough investigation of your credit history. credit. It also brings in some nice rewards for anyone looking to earn some cash for their road trip pursuits.
Cardholders will earn 5X Substantial Points on all qualifying purchases at Recreation and Amusement Parks (including National Parks and Professional Sporting Events), 3X Points on qualifying lodging purchases (including camping) and restaurants and 1X points on everything else. The card has an annual fee of $95, but if you pay for a national park pass within one year of opening the account, you’ll get an automatic statement credit of $80, greatly reducing your costs wearing this card for the first year.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Ideal for renting a car
Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders will earn 10x the points when booking car rentals and hotel stays through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The Sapphire Reserve also covers any rental car reserved with the card for up to $75,000 for collision damage, theft or physical damage. You can also use your Chase Sapphire Benefits for Roadside Assistance (emergency fuel, towing or key lock) up to four times a year for only $50 (as long as the vehicle is not at your primary residence). All in all, the Sapphire Reserve is a solid choice for anyone looking to venture out on the road.
Discover it chrome: the best for gas stations
All your travel essentials are coated in Discover it® chrome. Earn 2% cash back at restaurants, 2% cash back on gas, and 1% cash back on all your snacks at the gas station (and everything in between), on up to 1,000 $ in combined purchases each quarter with Discover it chrome. Cardholders will also receive dollar-for-dollar consideration for all cash back they earn in the first 12 months of account opening, so you’ll get double the cash back for everything you spend during of the first road trip you take with this map. .
Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express: ideal for snacks
If your fellow travelers prefer to stock up on snacks instead of stopping at a restaurant, this is the right card for you. The Blue Cash Everyday® card from American Express offers solid rewards for travel-related purchases. Cardholders will get 3% cash back at gas stations and supermarkets (and online retailers) up to $6,000 per year, 1% cash back on everything else. There are no annual fees to worry about, and cardholders will receive a $200 welcome bonus (after spending $2,000 within the first six months of account opening).
The bottom line
While there are plenty of travel credit cards to choose from, some cards go a step further for travelers by car. These cards provide premium rewards for common road trip expenses like gas, meals, accommodations and activities. To keep your road trip affordable, fun, and safe, be sure to consider the maps above for your next road trip.