August 13th, 2013

Credit Karma’s Best Travel Rewards Cards of 2013

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Credit Karma's Best Travel Credit Cards of 2013

It seems like every day in the mail either myself or my husband receives another credit card offer. The problem is; how do you know which one is the best one? Between working here at Credit Karma and the fact that my husband enjoys finding deals including credit card deals, I don’t have to play the guessing game.

But for most people all the information can be overwhelming.

These days credit card companies are all vying to be your go-to credit card and using sign-up bonuses and other perks to win that coveted spot. It’s hard to see through all the shiny extras tot know the real value.

Credit Karma decided to do something to help. We used our exclusive data to compile an unbiased list of the best travel reward credit cards from our partners to help make it easier to choose.

How We Chose

Here are the different factors we compared to come up with our winners:

  • Rewards Value: This was one of our highest weighted categories. We calculated the estimated dollar amount of the rewards you get for every $100 spent using the card. The higher the amount, the better the value.
  • Average Credit Karma Review: What do cardholders really think of these cards? Credit Karma’s star rating gives you a good idea.
  • Signup Bonus Value: For this factor we looked at the actual dollar value of the sign-up bonus for each card offer.
  • Average Score Approved: We used our historical approval data for each card to find the average score approved. The lower the approval score the more accessible the card is for those without a perfect credit score.
  • Annual Fee: Most reward cards come with an annual fee. While we still factored it in, we didn’t weigh it as heavily as other factors.
  • Average Age of Accounts: We included this factor to show that a long history with a specific card shows customer loyalty.
  • Average Credit Limit Awarded: Credit cards with higher credit limits are usually more attractive. People can maximize their sign-up bonus and not max out their credit card in the process.

And The Winners Are…

After pulling the data from the factors above, we crunched the numbers and gave each card an overall rating. The ratings were then used to rank the cards against each other and come up with the winners. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® Card took the top three spots. Here’s a look at what the winning cards have to offer.

FIRST PLACE: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

SECOND PLACE: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees

THIRD PLACE: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® Card

  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

Check out our Best Travel Rewards Cards of 2013 page to see the how each card fared in the different categories.

Final Thought

It’s best to only seek out a travel reward card if you pay your bill in full each month. These types of cards tend to have higher interest rates. You could quickly be paying more in interest than what the rewards value is worth. If a rewards card isn’t right for you log on to Credit Karma. We can recommend other options better suited to your needs based on your credit and finances.

*See the online Provider’s credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this site is not provided by the bank or issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank or issuer. Credit Karma may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. It is this compensation that enables Credit Karma to provide its members with services like free access to your credit scores and free monitoring of credit and financial accounts at no charge.

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


Amy Leone is the Public Relations Coordinator at Credit Karma. Before joining the team in June 2012 she spent most of her career as a TV news producer. When she’s not helping promote Credit Karma on a variety of media outlets, she’s probably out running or exploring her new state of California.

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  1. Any travel rewards credit card ranking that leaves out the Starwood card should be taken with a grain of salt…

    Hariharan Vijay at 7:10 pm on August 13, 2013
  2. I have been a member for many years, really haven’t taken advantage of the information as I should, but now I am. Have a couple debts that I want to close out. Want to travel and use credit to my advantage instead of it being my enemy. Please help me turn my life around.

    Ingrid Shapiro at 1:43 pm on February 3, 2014

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