Clark Howard: Four credit cards that pay in travel rewards

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardAlthough I prefer credit cards that pay cash, I want to share highlights of a list from Time magazine that names some of the best travel reward cards of the moment.

Capital One Venture Rewards
You earn two miles for every dollar spent on this card. The miles then convert to cash equivalent to use for travel, and they can be redeemed in conjunction with periodic special deals. There is a $59 annual fee for this card. At that price, it’s only worth it if you do a lot of high-dollar volume on the card. As with all Capital One cards, there are no foreign transaction fees.

Pen Fed Premium Travel Rewards American Express
Long ago, when I worked as a civilian for the Air Force, I was a member of Pentagon Federal Credit Union. You can become a member even if you’re not military by joining either the National Military Family Association or Voices for America’s Troops for a one-time fee of $20 or $15, respectively. This particular credit card has no annual fee.

British Airways Visa
When signing up for this card, a typical kind of promotion you may see is getting 50,000 miles. But beware, it has a roughly $100 annual fee. That makes it for big-volume chargers who like to go overseas. One benefit is that there are no foreign transaction fees to use the card abroad.

Marriott Rewards Visa
This one has a $30 annual fee. You can use the points at the various Marriott family of brands. If you like free hotel stays, this could be for you.
I prefer cards that give you cash that never expires. Try if you’d like to research the best cash-paying reward card for your charging habits.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs

Find more answers to your consumer questions, plus Clark’s new book “Living Large in Lean Times,” at Listen to his radio show live 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.

11 comments Add your comment


July 28th, 2011
7:01 am

Nice stuff Clark


July 28th, 2011
7:08 am

Marriott/Chase card is going up to $45 a year annual fee


July 28th, 2011
7:59 am

We have an AmEx card that has no annual fee. It pays 2% cash back with no limit so long as the money goes into one of our Fidelity accounts. the return is less if you take it as cash. This is simple and easy and a great way to save effortlessly. We use it for just about everything and put $50 to $60 in savings in a regular month and a lot more when we travel.

Ted Striker

July 28th, 2011
8:21 am

Speaking of cc rewards programs, it’s far more difficult to understand and use BOA’s differing programs now than in years past. I have multiple CCs with them; each account has an entirely different reward program.

Last year, over a period of approximately 2 months BOA sent me 3 new cards (in succession, each new card replacing the prior card on the exact same account. Their explanation when I called was that the rewards program had changed to different models and point redemption systems 3x in that last 60 days.


July 28th, 2011
8:25 am

I don’t get it. Anyone with an Google, an hour to spare, and a little common sense could write that same article. Never understood the hype behind Clark.


July 28th, 2011
9:32 am

@Wow-I guess you’ve never been to Clark’s website. You should check it out. It takes more than an hour and Google to do what he’s done there. This article is just a teaser compared to the vast stockpile of information he’s compiled and all for free to consumers like you and I.


July 28th, 2011
10:38 am

Wow has never helped anyone other than himself/herself before, so Clarke’s articles come off as offensive.


July 28th, 2011
2:44 pm

Yes Wow, you can find lots of sites and info in a relatively short period of time, but filtering the results to the point of finding the best of the best answers takes more time than you think. He is one person I trust so if I have a financial question or am looking for sites that are trustworthy, I also go to his site. I watch his programs because he gives me answers to questions I didn’t even know I should ask. He saves me a lot of time and gives me a feeling of security. He does a great service. hanxxxxxxxxxxxx Clark.

payment processing

July 31st, 2011
6:09 am

Really nice scheme!I didn’t know about that scheme,thanks for sharing this useful information with us,can you provide some more information about it,many thanks.

payment processing

July 31st, 2011
6:10 am

Really nice scheme!I didn’t know about that scheme,thanks for sharing this useful information with us,can you provide some more information about it,many thanks.

payment processing


July 31st, 2011
5:31 pm

I have the British Airways Visa- used it as required and received 100,000 miles, enough (as promised) for two RT tickets to Europe. Even found availability for my wife and I to Germany next spring and summer- but there is a BIG catch. Unlike US airlines, BA doesn’t include the fuel surcharges when you use miles to pay for tix. Our two tickets to Germany (that I could buy for cash for $1050 each) were going to cost us $650 each. Not a good deal. However, American Airlines is a BA partner and I discovered I could use the miles for domestic flights or all over Latin America (anywhere BA doesn’t fly) for $10-90 a ticket in taxes. 25K domestic flights, or 35K to Peru, for instance. Decent availability.

I do believe BA and Chase are a bit dishonest in not mentioning the surcharge policy- if they did, I can’t find it.