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If you know us, you know that our family has been traveling using points and miles for many years. Every single trip we have been on with our daughter, either the airfare or hotels are fully covered by points, making a good portion of the trip free. Free travel is the best kind of travel! If you’re looking for the best credit cards for family travel, this post is for you!
If you’ve read posts about the best travel reward credit cards, most are geared towards single people or couples but not families. We’ve had to get really creative in how we can earn enough points to cover multiple international trips per year and we certainly have our favorite cards that help us reach our goals.
One of our best tips is to have each adult open the same card with a referral from another person in the family. That way you get the sign up bonus and referral bonus for multiple cards. But something important to note: if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, the credit card game is not for you. The savings you will get from earning all the points and miles will be negated by the high interest rates.
Once you start opening cards, it’s going to be hard to keep track of which card you opened when and when your annual fee is coming up so you can decide whether to keep or downgrade a particular card. We use the Travel Freely app, which is free, and it not only tells us what cards we have and which we are eligible to open, but you can also mark if your bonus points were received. It’s a free and easy way to keep track of your cards.
There are many travel credit cards out there and the best travel credit card is going to be different for everyone. For example, we almost never fly Delta so a Delta credit cards would be a huge waste for us. I will mention our favorites, most which have points you can transfer to travel partners so you aren’t stuck with just one airline or hotel. Here are our favorite travel credit cards for families.
This is, in my opinion, the best travel reward card for families and the card I’ve had in my wallet the longest. Sure, the annual fee is high at $550 but this card comes with some great perks which makes it well worth it for us. Some of these perks include:
- $300 travel credit each year that can be used toward travel. This will show up as statement credit reimbursement when you make an eligible purchase.
- Priority Pass lounge access for yourself and up to 2 guests. We are a family of 3 and have always been able to use one card for all 3 of us to access a lounge. My husband does have his own just in case we aren’t traveling together. Airports are much better when you can wait in a lounge (many have play rooms) instead of at the gate.
- Global Entry, TSA Precheck or Nexus reimbursement every 4 years. We have never paid the GE application fee since we have multiple cards that cover the fee.
- This card also provides some of the best travel insurance, so you’ll want to put anything travel related, including car rentals, on this card.
And the best part about the Chase Sapphire Reserve? You earn Ultimate Rewards (UR) points, which you can then transfer to many partners, including Marriott, Virgin, Southwest, Hyatt and so much more. We recently transferred our UR points to Virgin when chase had a 30% bonus for transferring to Virgin and I was able to book spring break flight tickets at just 12.5k each way, which is insane! If we only had one travel reward card, this would be it since we use it often and take advantage of the perks.
Don’t travel as often or don’t want to get a card with such a high annual fee? Then the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great option for you. You won’t earn as many points on travel with this card as the Reserve however the sign up bonus is the same, or sometimes even better, than the Reserve. Keep in mind that you can only have one Sapphire card at a time. This is one of the best credit cards for family travel!
One of our absolute favorite airline specific cards is the Southwest card from Chase. We’ve had the Southwest companion pass for over 7 years now, which means my daughter (who is my companion) pays just the taxes on each flight we take. For US travel, that is just $5.60 each way. As a result, Southwest is our number one choice for family travel since we have not paid for a flight in over 7 years since I have tons of points for myself and my husband and my daughter flies as a companion.
Southwest flies within the US, Caribbean, Mexico and some Central American cities. If you have plans to travel to any of those, then I would highly recommend trying to earn a companion pass. And if you have a business, bundle the personal card with a Southwest business card to reach companion pass faster.
One of our most recent cards has been the IHG One Rewards Premier card. With a hefty 140k point sign up bonus and a low spend ($3k) it was a no brainer. We were able to use these points to book hotels in Europe as well as around Christmas time in NYC, where hotels were well over $400/night. If you use points to book your room, the 4th night is free on award bookings so we got 4 nights for the price of 3 in the center of Manhattan during the busiest travel time. Free rooms for the win! While we aren’t loyal to IHG, this was too good to pass up.
When it comes to hotels, one of our favorite hotel brands is Marriott. We’ve had the highest status for many years and have gotten some amazing upgrades all over the world, including an upgrade to a massive Presidential suite in Puerto Vallarta. Marriott might not be for everyone, but we’ve never had a single issue and spend over 40 nights in their hotels each years, all over the world.
Another great hotel card for families is the World of Hyatt Visa from Chase. Hyatt is known to be a great chain for families and you can transfer UR points to book their properties. We have gotten some amazing redemptions with our Hyatt points, including amazing properties in Hong Kong and Toyko and I just booked a room on points in Paris for our spring break trip.
While this card doesn’t offer great travel benefits, this is the card we use for every day spend on grocery stores and restaurant purchases. The American Express Gold Card will let you earn membership points which are flexible and can be transferred to travel partners, similar to UR points from Chase. Pro tip: You can now earn Membership Rewards instead of cash with Rakuten, which we are already doing.
Other noteworthy family travel cards
JetBlue Plus Card: Families who prefer JetBlue can benefit from this card’s TrueBlue points, free checked bags, and an annual anniversary bonus. I recently opened this card to get free airfare to Cancun and NYC for our family of 3, and we still have points left over from the sign up bonus!
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: This card provides 2x miles on all purchases and flexible redemption options for travel expenses. It’s great for families who want simplicity in earning and redeeming rewards.
Citi Premier® Card: This card offers 3x points on travel, including gas stations, and 2x points on dining and entertainment. Points can be transferred to airline partners for family travel.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: This card offers premium travel benefits like airport lounge access, airline fee credits, and 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel. It’s suitable for families who want luxury travel experiences.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: If your family prefers staying in Hilton hotels, this card offers a high earn rate on Hilton purchases, complimentary Gold status, and a free weekend night award with eligible spending.
As you can see, there are many options for families looking to break into the award travel world. When choosing a travel credit card for your family, consider your preferred airlines or hotel chains, your spending habits, annual fees, and the travel benefits that matter most to you. It’s also essential to manage your credit responsibly to maximize the benefits and avoid high-interest charges. And don’t forget to download the free Travel Freely app today to help you keep track of bonuses and cards!
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