What's The Best Travel Credit Card For Rewards And Benefits?

More Points, More Perks

By Hayley Simpson | Published on July 26, 2023

Wouldn't it be wonderful if your credit card company was an all-inclusive one-stop shop? Where you could search for deals, book your cruise, and simultaneously reap the benefits through points and rewards? Well, after crunching the numbers, the best travel credit card with rewards aplenty has been discovered. There are so many benefits that come with using a credit card while cruising, so you can travel freely without worrying about how much cash you have on hand.

The Benefits Of Cruising With A Credit Card

There are several benefits to using a credit card on your cruise vacation. For starters, there's the convenience factor. It's easy to travel with one credit card, rather than having to make sure you always have cash or access to an ATM at all times. It's safer, too. I recommend keeping one main credit card on hand and planning to use that throughout your trip, then pack one backup credit card in another purse or bag in case of emergencies. In the chance that you misplace your wallet or bag, you won't go without.

You're probably wondering whether it's better to use a credit card or cash on your cruise. Well, the short answer is that you may want to bring both with you. When you first check in for your cruise, you'll set up an Onboard Expense Account or SeaPass account that you can link to a credit card, debit card or cash account. This is the cashless system Royal Caribbean uses for all onboard purchases and services to make things super convenient for you. Cruising offers an all-inclusive vacation experience, as most meals, non-alcoholic beverages, kid clubs, amenities, entertainment and onboard activities are included in the price of your cruise. However, things like specialty restaurants, alcoholic drinks at the bar, onshore excursions, spa days and shops will cost you extra, and they typically do not accept cash. Your expense account will include an automatic daily gratuity of $16, which applies to each individual guest. It's distributed evenly between attendants, hospitality staff, and behind-the-scenes team members. Still, it's at your discretion if you'd like to pass a cash tip onto a staff member that goes above and beyond.

I recommend keeping a small amount of cash with you in whatever currency is used at your cruise destination for things like gratuity or local shopping in the port. Though it's best to use a credit card because most cards have better exchange rates compared to ATMs and local currency exchange stands. They provide fraud protection and even travel insurance — this policy often stretches to cover things like lost luggage and travel delays as well.

Traveling with a credit card can help you save money, too. Most travel credit cards allow you to earn rewards and points, which you can conveniently put toward your next cruise. There's only one true downside to using a credit card while traveling and that's the fact that you can be charged an exchange fee for every transaction. However, through my research of the best credit cards for travel, the pros still far outweigh the cons.

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The Best Travel Credit Card For Cruises

Now that you know that credit cards are king on cruises, it's time to spill the tea on the best credit card for cruises. First, there are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserved cards, which both offer high Chase Ultimate Rewards points in areas like travel, dining and shopping. The 60,000 bonus points when you sign up don't hurt, either. You can then use your points to book airfares, hotels and cruises.

The next option is American Express. Their Platinum Card does have a hefty annual fee, but some might say the travel perks and no international transaction fees are worth it. You can earn lots of membership rewards points when you book through the American Express Travel Portal. You can then use those points toward your family cruise thanks to their Pay With Points program. But wait, there's more. Their Cruise Privilege Program is valid on Royal Caribbean cruises of five nights or more. This allows you to enjoy both a shipboard credit and a complimentary bottle of champagne.

However, the best cruise credit card award has to go to the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature Card®. There's no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and 25,000 bonus MyCruise Rewards points up for grabs.

Have you been trying to find out what is the best credit card for travel rewards? With the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature Card®, you earn double the points on qualifying Royal Caribbean purchases and one point on everyday purchases, so you continue earning points on day-to-day errands. The more points you accumulate, the more perks come your way, making it the best rewards credit card for travel.

These perks include room and cruise upgrades, free Royal Caribbean merchandise, onboard credit, discounts on cruises, free cruises and companion fares. If you're a frequent flyer, you may have previously heard of companion fares. It means a companion can accompany you on a cruise for free (some small charges may apply), like a two-for-one deal.

So, how do you make the most of your points? By booking a cruise for the whole family, of course. You can earn double the points on all onboard purchases, whether that's a visit to the spa, a shore excursion, a luxe purchase from the gift shop or a celebratory drink at the bar. Sounds like a good deal to me!

The perks don't stop at your cruise booking, either. Cardholders also receive special rates at select Visa® Signature Luxury Hotels worldwide, exclusive access to VIP events, Hertz rental car discounts and emergency roadside assistance. Moreover, there's access to 24-hour travel and emergency assistance and a $0 liability guarantee. Therefore, when it comes to the best credit card for cruise points, it's hard to compete with the no-fee Royal Caribbean Visa Signature Card®.

No matter which credit card you choose, remember, it's always beneficial to alert your credit card company about your upcoming cruise plans. Fortunately, you can set up a travel alert with your bank in just a few minutes. Let them know of your travel plans (whether it includes one or multiple stops) via secure message, chat or phone. Don't start your exciting vacation off on the wrong foot by triggering a fraud alert on your account. However, if you do get flagged for fraud, you want to immediately contact your bank to rectify the situation, and then it'll be smooth sailing.

The best cruise credit card award has to go to the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature Card®.

Written By

A Bachelor of Journalism graduate hailing from Australia, Hayley is an experienced travel writer and the award-winning travel blogger behind Hayley on Holiday. Her travel writing has featured on Lonely Planet, Matador Network, and The Culture Trip. As for her travel experience, Hayley is a big advocate for solo travel and working holidays and has visited over 40 countries.

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