The best credit cards for 5-star hotels and business class flights, according to the pros

Travel rewards cards can be lucrative for frequent travelers, but be sure to pay your balance in full and on time.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Question: Which card offers the best general travel rewards? I want to take advantage of airline and hotel rewards so I can take my family on vacation without paying a ton of money and use points instead. We can be flexible with travel dates, but we like 4-5 star properties and would ideally like to travel business class or premium economy class. (Looking for a travel rewards card too? These are Bankrate’s best travel rewards cards in 2022.)

Answer: There are tons of travel reward card options and the best one depends on your own preferences. If you’re staying at 4-star and 5-star establishments that are part of a chain, it may certainly be worth looking at that chain’s credit card offers. To that end, Matt Schulz, credit card expert at LendingTree, says cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card “can be a quick way to gain status with these chains and other perks to make those 5-star stays even better.”

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Marriott offers more than 7,000 properties in more than 110 countries, including Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Westin, Le Meridien and more.
    • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after using the card to make $5,000 in qualifying purchases in the first 3 months.

    • Earn 6 points per dollar on your purchases at Marriott hotels.

    • Earn 3 points per dollar at restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other qualifying purchases.

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card This Hilton Card serves more than 5,000 hotels in more than 100 countries, including the Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites and Hampton.
    • Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of card ownership. It’s a deal that ratings are “mind blowing”.

    • Earn 14 points per dollar on Hilton hotel stays.

    • Earn 7 points per dollar on American restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or through, and car rentals booked directly with select suppliers; and 3 points per dollar on other purchases.

Note that: Conditions apply to American Express benefits and offers. Registration may be required for certain American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more.

Also looking for a travel rewards card? These are Bankrate’s best travel rewards cards in 2022.

Airline companyelectronic boards to consider

If you’re loyal to specific airlines, it’s also worth considering their cards, say the pros. Sign-up bonuses for airline credit cards are often attractive and usually include a significant amount of bonus miles that are worth a significant sum when converted into airline tickets. Additionally, some cards allow customers to redeem rewards with partner airlines, which can be useful depending on where you are flying.

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
    • Earn 65,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in your first 6 months.

    • Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases, US restaurants and supermarkets, and 1x miles on all other qualifying purchases.

    • Get $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99 thereafter. (See rates and fees.)

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
    • Earn 50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ starting at $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees starting at $22) when you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days.

    • Get free checked bags for you and up to six guests.

    • Earn 3 miles per dollar spent on qualifying Alaska Airlines purchases.

While hotel and airline specific cards can be great, many people don’t want to be locked into a single airline or hotel. For these people, the pros highlighted the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. “These points aren’t tied to a specific hotel chain or airline, giving you a lot more freedom to find the best deal,” Schulz says.

That’s because a general travel card, as opposed to an airline or hotel card, is ideal for people who value flexibility and aren’t necessarily loyal to one brand, says credit card expert Greg Karp. at Nerdwallet.

Also looking for a travel rewards card? These are Bankrate’s best travel rewards cards in 2022.

Ted Rossman, Senior Industry Analyst at adds, “Just as you want your investments to be diversified, it pays to keep your options open when it comes to travel rewards. If an airline or hotel chain devalues ​​its points or miles, or if it doesn’t fly to your desired destination or doesn’t have a conveniently located hotel, you have many other options and all of these cards offer solid sign-up bonuses and rewards on trips, restaurants and more.

That said, if you’re loyal to a hotel chain or airline, this may be the best deal for you. And smart shopping expert Trae Bodge recommends choosing a card with a strong login bonus. “You’ll likely hit the minimum threshold by purchasing your next asset and earn a lot of miles at the same time. Those miles can be used for your next vacation,” says Bodge.

Do you have a question about which credit card is best for you? Email [email protected]

The content of this page is accurate as of the date of publication; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

Any advice, recommendations, or rankings expressed in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our business partners.