If travel cards were like Tinder dates, you’d want to be a little selective before swiping right.

The sheer mass of travel reward credit cards on offer can seem overwhelming and no one wants to end up lumped with a travel credit card that doesn’t fully optimize their traveling habits. Then there’s health insurance, priority passes, ATM cards that don’t charge you abroad…the list of potential cards to squeeze into your wallet goes on.

 We take a look at the top five pieces of plastic that we use to lubricate our travel experiences – financially speaking that is – and make for the most lucrative travel benefits when jet-setting across the world.

Image credit: Capital One

Sky-High Swiping  – Capital One Venture X Card

It’s well known that air miles are a frequent flier’s best friend. There’s a veritable wealth of options on the market with a range of benefits to cater to queer travelers whatever their spending habits and the frequency in which they travel. The Capital One Venture X Card is one of the best out there – we’ve used it for years and have racked up quite the air miles in our journeys. It’s a premium rewards credit card designed for frequent travelers who want an elevated travel experience without having to pay a high annual fee.

‘Unlimited’ is a word we all like to hear when it comes to travel credit cards and with the Capital One Venture X Card you can earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked, plus unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases. You receive up to $300 back as statement credits for bookings made through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get great prices on thousands of travel options. This counts toward purchases including hotel bookings, car rentals, and airfare. The benefit is automatic as long as you spend the $300 via the travel portal each year.

The icing on the proverbial cake is that it comes with a generous welcome bonus of $750 in the form of 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Your miles won’t expire for the life of the account, so they’re always there when you need them. Plus, there are no blackout dates. You can use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—plus transfer miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs. Finally, all Venture X cardholders can register for Priority Pass – see below – and access over 1,400 airport lounges worldwide. You’re allowed to bring two guests with you for free on each lounge visit. This membership alone normally costs $429 per year if purchased from Priority Pass directly.

In short, if you have good credit, you’re a frequent traveler and you’re savvy with points and miles, this is a great card for you and one that is well worth the value by simply using just a few of the card’s most lucrative benefits. The only reason not to choose a Capital One Venture X card over its competitors is if you’re not that frequent flier.

How to Be A VIP – Priority Pass

You can’t put a price on comfort…ok, well you can but still it’s often worth the money. Being trapped hungover in a sweaty airport and crammed onto uncomfortable seating waiting for a delayed flight can really set your journey off to a bad start – or finish. VIP lounges are the welcome alternative but can be out of the price range for the majority.

Priority Pass isn't technically a credit card, but a program that gives you lounge access around the world in more than 1,400 airports in over 600 cities and 148 countries. We’ve been members for years and highly recommend it. They offer a variety of plans depending on how often you travel and whether or not you’d like to invite a guest during your visits. Plans start at just $99 annually. We never leave home without our membership card and we’re honest.

You’ll more than make up the fee in buffet dinners, wine, champagne, and cocktails alone. And fast Wi-Fi, chargers and comfortable seating make it the ideal choice for those who just can’t leave their work at home.

I Would Fly 5,000 Miles and I Would Fly 5,000 More  – Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card

Delta Air Lines is one of our all-time favorite airlines in the United States. They’re efficient, great value for money, comfortable and the service is always on point. The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is the airline's entry-level credit card allowing you to earn miles with purchases. They have no annual fee and allow you to pay for any Delta flight with the miles accrued, either partially or in full! It takes up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem with Pay with Miles when you book on delta.com. Plus, you get a 10,000-mile welcome bonus just for spending a measly $100 in purchases in your initial six months of signing up.

There are no foreign transaction fees and it offers a 2x miles per dollar offer when spending money on dining at selective restaurants worldwide, takeouts in the US and a few other Delta purchases in general, with 1x miles one all other eligible purchases. You receive 20% savings in statement credit after you use it on eligible Delta-in-flight purchases of food and beverages – yes, that includes booze. And, I mean, who doesn’t love boarding a plane knowing you’re about to save money and earn miles for simply ordering another round of G&Ts?

Sure, it might lack some of the other benefits more expensive cars offer, such as free checked bags and priority boarding. But if you want value in the form of Delta SkyMiles for doing pretty much sweet nothing, then the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card is a solid choice.  

No Fees, Yes Please – Fidelity ATM Card

In some countries you just can’t pay for everything by card – getting your boyfriend a present from an adorable artisan market for example – and having a little physical cash in your wallet on your travels is always a good plan.  

Charges from cash withdrawals abroad at ATMs though can get a little hefty. The Fidelity ATM Card is the understated hero of the travel card world with no foreign transaction fees and free access to all your cash through worldwide ATM access, wherever you are, with a simple swipe. It will reimburse you if an ATM charges you a fee. 

The card has enhanced security with real-time notification whenever debit card activity occurs on your account. You’ll receive fraud texts for any suspicious activity and a feature that allows you to lock and unlock your card to help prevent unauthorized use.The contactless and chip technology securely stores information and processes data safely and efficiently—making your card hard to counterfeit or copy. Their ‘manage debit cards page’ allows you to easily manage your debit card online and change the PIN and change your preferences whenever you want. 

Other benefits include extended warranty services for the first 90 days from date of purchase, travel and emergency assistance, worldwide travel accident insurance and an auto rental collision damage waiver. With mobile and online service you can also connect with both Apple and Google Pay. All this makes the Fidelity ATM card uncomplicated, reliable, and undemanding. Just like the perfect relationship really!

Safe Travels – European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Having your health covered when traveling is fundamental. It might not be glamorous but then neither is needing a doctor in Prague – unless he happens to be hot – for a twisted ankle and facing a hefty bill while abroad. You can’t put a price on peace of mind – and this time, with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you actually don’t have to because it's free. It’s a lifesaver – just hopefully not literally.

This one is for EU residence only, but the European Health Insurance Card is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the twenty-seven EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. The benefits covered include, for example, benefits provided in conjunction with chronic or existing illnesses as well as in conjunction with pregnancy and childbirth.

You don’t get this card automatically but instead you have to apply for it and it ensures you receive medical treatment in Europe at reduced costs, and often for free. With EHIC, you’re covered, which lets you focus on more important things—like exploring a new destination, having a good time and getting to know the locals.  Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider.

Having a wallet full of plastic sets the tone for a seamless and ultimately lucrative international adventure. Whether it’s earning luxe lounge access or ensuring you’re covered in a pinch, each card in your wallet holds the ticket to smarter, more stylish travel. May all your swipes be fruitful!

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