What are the best rewards credit cards for vacation rentals?

When you love to travel but don’t necessarily love hotels, vacation rentals are easily the best alternative. With an Airbnb-style vacation rental or condo, you don’t have to cram your whole family into a hotel room. Plus, you can also gain more space to move around in, plus a shared living space and kitchen for meal prep – so you don’t have to pay to eat at every meal.

But, the biggest advantage of vacation rentals applies when it’s time to go to sleep. If you’re traveling with children or an extended family and don’t want to share sleeping space, you can book a vacation rental with more than one bedroom.

Many properties you can rent through Vrbo or HomeAway offer far lower rates than you would get if you tried to book a similarly sized hotel room. And you can even get the amenities of a larger resort, like a pool, hot tub, gym, or on-site restaurant.

While one of the biggest complaints people have about vacation rentals is that they’re not as easy to book with loyalty points, you can pay for rental condos with points if you have the right rewards credit card. Here are four rewards cards that work perfectly, allowing you to redeem points for vacation rental stays.

Introductory bonusEnjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, which equals $600 on travel

APR16.24% – 24.24% (Variable)

Recommended credit Excellent, good

Reward rate
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of travel options
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

Annual fees$95

Intro Purchase APRN / A

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card may be the perfect rewards card to cover vacation rentals, and for more than one reason. First of all, this card offers unlimited 2x miles for every dollar spent, as well as a huge welcome bonus. Second, you can redeem your miles for any travel experience you want at a rate of one cent per mile.

Redeeming your miles is also easy as pie since you can use the miles to erase some or all of the travel purchases from your bill. The key to making this work is to make sure your vacation rental will be coded as a trip on your credit card statement.

Benefits

  • 2x miles per dollar for every purchase
  • Simple redemption
  • Lucrative welcome bonus

The inconvenients

  • Some vacation rentals may not be coded as trips

Introductory bonusUnlimited Bonus: Only Discover gives you unlimited matching of all Miles you have earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There is no registration, no minimum spend or maximum rewards. Just a Miles match for Miles.

APR12.24% – 23.24% variable

Recommended credit Excellent/Good

Reward rate
  • Earn 1.5x Miles unlimited for every dollar spent on all purchases – with no annual fee.

Annual fees$0

Intro Purchase APR0% introductory APR for 15 months

Discover it® miles are another card option that makes it easier than ever to book vacation rentals with points. This card distributes 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. However, Discover will also allow match the miles you earn the first year, bringing your first year transportation to 3x miles per dollar.

Redeeming your miles is also easy since you’ll redeem them at a rate of one cent per mile to cover travel costs on your bill. So you can use your Discover it® miles to pay for your vacation rental when you’re ready, then redeem your miles to cover some or all of the expenses.

Benefits

  • 1.5x miles per dollar for every purchase
  • Double the rewards for the first year
  • Simple redemption

The inconvenients

  • Few travel protections
  • Can only redeem statement credits for travel, gas, or dining purchases made within the last 180 days

Introductory bonusEarn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. It’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

APR15.99% – 22.99% variable

Recommended credit Excellent/Good

Reward rate
  • 5x on trips purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on meals.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, and more.

Annual fees$95

Intro Purchase APRN / A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another travel card that works well for vacation rentals, and there’s more than one way to use it. This card is also a good card in terms of long-term income, as it offers many rewards in several bonus categories.

On the redemption side, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for statement credits at a rate of one cent per point. For this reason, you can redeem your points for any purchases you wish, including vacation rentals.

But, you can also book vacation rentals through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, depending on where you’re staying. While options are limited in some cases, it’s not uncommon to see two- and three-bedroom condos bookable directly with points. The benefit of booking through the portal is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 25% more value when you book with points. So you can shell out fewer points for the same condo with this strategy.

Benefits

  • Good rewards
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Strong travel protections

The inconvenients

Introductory bonus25,000 bonus points online after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening – this can be a $250 statement credit for travel purchases.

APR13.99% – 23.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended credit Excellent/Good

Reward rate
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fees or foreign transaction fees and your points never expire

Annual fees$0

Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card can be a smart option for travel expenses since you earn 1.5 fixed points for every dollar spent. There are no annual fees – or foreign transaction fees – and you can also get a welcome bonus right from the start. Your points also never expire as long as you have the card.

Like a few other cards on this list, this one lets you redeem your points for statement credits to cover travel expenses. Unlike many hotel rewards cards, this flexibility lets you shop around and compare vacation rentals to find the best deal, instead of being locked into one hotel brand.

If you find a vacation rental you like at an acceptable price on Airbnb or Vrbo, for example, you can use your card to book it and then redeem your points after payment is made. But, you have the option to shop for a lower price, so you can also book through other travel providers like Expedia, TripAdvisor or Priceline.

Remember, all travel spend will work, so you can also use your points to book a vacation rental, flights, or traditional hotel. The choice is yours.

Benefits

  • 1.5 points for each purchase
  • Redeem for statement credits to cover travel expenses

The inconvenients

[This article was first published on The Simple Dollar in 2020. It was updated in March 2022.]