This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.
Traveling with kids is an exciting and rewarding experience but can also be expensive. To help make the trip more affordable, many families opt for credit cards that offer rewards and benefits specifically tailored to travel.
A good family travel credit card should provide a generous welcome bonus redeemable for flights, hotels and other travel-related purchases. It should also offer recurring benefits such as free checked bags, flight and hotel discounts and no foreign transaction fees. These features can help make your family’s vacation more affordable by reducing the cost of airfare and accommodations while abroad.
In addition to these perks, some cards offer additional benefits such as priority boarding or airport lounge access. This can be especially helpful for families traveling with young children who may need extra care when boarding a flight or waiting at the airport.
When selecting a credit card for family travel, it’s important to compare your options carefully to find one that best meets your needs. Be sure to look for cards that offer generous welcome bonuses and recurring benefits like free checked bags or no foreign transaction fees so you can maximize your savings on each trip you take with your family.
Here are our top picks for the best credit cards for traveling with kids:
Best credit cards for traveling with kids
- Best for discounted flights: Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
- Best for family lounge access: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best value for the annual fee: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Best for earning points: Citi Premier® Card
- Best for travel protections: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for hotel stays: Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card
Best for discounted flights: Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
If you’re traveling with kids, you probably want a card that saves you money on flights. The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is an excellent way to save money on both paid and award tickets.
While the Companion Fare is restricted to economy class tickets on Alaska Airlines, there are plenty of routes where this can result in massive savings. For example, flights to Hawaii can get pricey during the high season. Booking up to two companion tickets for just $99 plus taxes can translate to significant savings.
The card can also help you book discounted flights using airline miles. The card earns up to 3 miles per dollar on various spending categories, plus a 10% annual rewards bonus. Alaska Airlines is part of the Oneworld airline alliance, meaning you can use your miles for flights on carriers like American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and more.
Best of all, Alaska Airlines offers some of the cheapest award tickets within the Oneworld alliance. For example, you can book a domestic economy class ticket starting from 5000 miles each way, costing you 7500 miles with American Airlines. International flights also tend to be cheaper with Alaska Mileage Plan. A one-way business class ticket to Asia starts at just 50,000 Alaska miles instead of 60,000 American miles. Your miles can go far with the Alaska Airlines Visa card.
Welcome bonus: Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees and receive 40,000 bonus miles. To qualify, make $3,000 in purchases or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Rewards: Earn 3X miles spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases; 2X miles on eligible gas, cable, streaming services and local transit purchases; 1X mile on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: Get a $99 Companion Fare (plus taxes and fees from $23) each account anniversary after you spend $6000 in purchases; free checked bag and priority boarding for the cardholder and up to six guests; 20% back on Alaska Airlines inflight purchases when you pay with your new card; $100 off an annual Alaska Lounge+ Membership purchased with your Alaska card; 10% rewards bonus on all miles earned from card purchases if you have an eligible Bank of America account; no foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to excellent credit.
Annual fee: $95. See rates and fees.
- Earns valuable miles you can redeem with over a dozen airlines for travel worldwide.
- The $99 Companion Fare is valid for up to two companions.
- 10% bonus on all miles earned.
- Relatively low welcome bonus.
- Companion Fare is only valid on Alaska flights and requires $6000 in credit card spending.
Best for family lounge access: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Airports are packed to the brim these days, and airline lounges provide a welcome respite for families. Plenty of credit cards offer airport lounge access, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s policy is more family-friendly. Cardholders receive complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which includes access for up to two guests and dining credits at participating restaurants in the airport. The latter is beneficial if you’re at an airport where the lounges get packed and prefer a quick meal over a long wait to enter the club lounge.
Priority Pass has around 30 restaurants at airports, and each eligible guest receives up to a $30 credit toward food and drinks. For a family of three, that amounts to $84 in dining credits, which you can apply to shareable meals if you have more than three guests in your party.
The Sapphire Reserve also offers up to $100 for application fee credit every four years towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. The nice thing about PreCheck is that children aged 17 and under can usually go through the PreCheck line with their parents. So even though the Sapphire Reserve’s fee credit only covers one PreCheck application, the benefit extends to children and can make family travel much more pleasant.
Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4000 in the first three months from account opening.
Rewards: Earn 10X points on Chase Dining, hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on flights booked travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel; 3X points on other travel and dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out); 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Travel reward points begin after the $300 travel credit is used.
Travel benefits: Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits, including airfare, hotels and rental cars; get 50% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards; Priority Pass Select membership; application fee credit towards Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS every four years; travel protections including cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car insurance (up to $75,000 in the U.S. and abroad) and lost luggage reimbursement.
Credit score: Excellent.
Annual fee: $550 (plus $75 per authorized user). See rates and fees.
- Priority Pass Select membership includes lounge access for up to two guests.
- The $300 annual travel credit partially offsets the high annual fee.
- Points are worth 1.5 cents each in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
- High annual fee.
- $75 authorized user fee.
- Approval is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, so you won’t be approved if you’ve opened five cards at any bank within the previous 24 months.
Best value for the annual fee: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is excellent for traveling with kids, thanks to its reasonable annual fee and recurring benefits. Cardholders can save on travel and have a more comfortable airport experience with the card’s two annual free lounge visits and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Parents with TSA PreCheck can bring their children through the PreCheck line so that this benefit can work for almost the entire family.
The Venture Card also comes with a six-month membership to The Cultivist, which provides complimentary museum admission to members and up to one guest. Many museums offer discounted admission for children anyway, but this membership can still save money for the adults in the family.
Factor in the Venture Card’s travel protections and massive welcome bonus (worth $750 towards travel) and it’s an excellent choice for families looking to save on and elevate their travel experience. The card also earns at least 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, making it ideal for earning miles without tracking spending categories.
Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4000 in the first three months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: Two annual visits to Capital One and Plaza Premium lounges, six months complimentary The Cultivist membership, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Hertz Five Star status, travel accident insurance and rental car insurance.
Credit score: Excellent.
Annual fee: $95. See rates and fees.
- The welcome bonus is worth $750 towards travel.
- The Cultivist membership can help families save on museum admission.
- The card earns 2X miles on all purchases.
- The complimentary Cultivist membership is only valid for six months.
- Capital One pulls your credit from all three bureaus when you apply for this card.
Citi Premier® Card: Best for earning points
The Citi Premier® Card is an excellent choice for families looking to maximize their daily spending. The card offers up to 3 points per dollar spent on dining, groceries, gas stations, air travel and hotel – with a majority of the average household’s significant expenses earning 3 points per dollar spent, which is tremendous.
Citi ThankYou points are immensely valuable – you can redeem them towards travel purchases at one cent each or transfer them to 17 hotel and airline programs. They include family-friendly programs like Wyndham Rewards and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, which offer low rates on award travel. For example, Wyndham hotels start at just 7500 points per night, while Turkish Airlines sells round-trip domestic tickets on United Airlines for just 15,000 miles round-trip. Whether you want to take the kids to Disney or a Hawaiian vacation, these low rates can help you further stretch the card’s welcome bonus.
Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4000 within three months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 10X points on hotel and car rental bookings on the Citi Travel portal through 6/30/2024; 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels; 1X points on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: $100 annual hotel savings benefit valid on a stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) booked through Citi ThankYou Travel; no foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to excellent.
Annual fee: $95. See rates and fees.
- Solid welcome bonus and lucrative bonuses on travel and everyday spending categories.
- Excellent rewards program with a large selection of transfer partners.
- Citi no longer offers travel protections on any of their cards.
- The $100 annual hotel savings benefit applies after taxes.
Best for travel protections: The Platinum Card® from American Express
You want added peace of mind when traveling with kids, which is why there’s travel insurance*. The Platinum Card® from American Express delivers a comprehensive suite of travel protections, so you don’t have to buy a policy. Charge your travel expenses to the card, and you’ll receive up to $500 in trip delay insurance. If your trip is delayed by more than six hours, you can file a claim to have necessary expenses reimbursed (hotels, meals and ground transportation).
The card also provides up to $10,000 in trip cancellation and interruption coverage per trip*. This coverage reimburses non-refundable travel expenses incurred due to interruptions or cancelations. For example, if you get sick before your trip and your flight is nonrefundable, Amex will reimburse you the total cost (assuming you have proof of illness).
The Platinum Card’s rental car coverage* is only secondary, meaning it doesn’t kick in until your own insurance company rejects your claim. But you can upgrade to a premium car rental protection plan for around $12.25-$24.95 per rental. Cardholders can also access the Premium Global Assist Hotline* when traveling more than 100 miles from home. This benefit provides 24/7 access to medical, legal, financial and emergency assistance – useful when traveling anywhere with kids, especially abroad.
Welcome bonus: 80,000 points after spending $6000 within six months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 5X points on flights booked with airlines or American Express Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year, then 1X); 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1X point on everything else.
Travel benefits: Trip delay insurance; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; secondary rental car insurance; premium global assist hotline; up to $1500 in annual travel, dining and entertainment credits; upgrade to Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status; elite status with Avis, Hertz and National rental car; access to Amex’s Lounge Network; no foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to Excellent.
Annual fee: $695. See rates and fees.
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- The high annual fee is offset by over $1500 in travel protections.
- The 24/7 Global Assist hotline is a unique perk that can be useful for traveling abroad.
- Rental car insurance is only secondary.
- High annual fee.
Best for hotel stays: Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card
Families traveling with kids often need multiple hotel rooms or entire homes to be fully comfortable. The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card is an excellent choice because the points can be used for hotel rooms, condos and vacation rentals. Free nights at Wyndham hotels start at just 7500 points per bedroom and you can stretch your points further with a cash and points award starting at 1500 per night. Cardholders also receive a 10% discount on award night bookings, helping your points go even further.
The low award redemption rates, point booking discounts and versatile stay options make Wyndham an excellent program for families. With the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card’s currency welcome bonus, you can book up to ten free nights, which is fantastic.
Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after spending $1000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 6X points on purchases made at Wyndham hotels and gas purchases; 4X points on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®); 1X points on all other purchases (excluding Wyndham Timeshare resort down payments).
Travel benefits: Upgrade to Wyndham Rewards Platinum status, cardmember booking discount, annual 7500-point bonus, no foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to excellent.
Annual fee: $75. See rates and fees.
- The welcome bonus is valid for up to 10 nights at Wyndham properties, which include vacation home rentals and hotels.
- Cardholders receive a 10% discount when redeeming points
- Automatic Platinum status includes practical benefits for families, like late checkout and early check-in.
Should families traveling with kids get a credit card?
Families traveling with kids should consider getting a credit card for several reasons. First, using a credit card can help families save money by taking advantage of discounts and welcome bonuses. You can use these discounts to lower the cost of a family vacation or upgrade to a more premium experience.
Credit cards also offer protection against fraud and theft, which provides added peace of mind. Many credit cards come with travel insurance, protecting families against trip interruptions, delays, lost luggage and more. While some travelers buy their policies, plenty of credit cards provide them free of charge when you charge your travel purchases to them.
A credit card can also provide access to funds in an emergency. It’s also safer than carrying cash around or using a debit card, which often incurs fees of up to 3% when used abroad.
Whether families traveling with kids should get a credit card depends on their situation and financial goals. Understanding how credit works and being aware of potential risks before applying or a card is important.
How to choose the best travel credit card for travel with kids
When choosing the best travel credit card for your family, there are a few key factors to consider. First, make sure the card offers rewards that fit your family’s needs. If you fly frequently, look for cards with airline miles or transferable points. If you’re more likely to stay at hotels, look for cards that offer hotel loyalty points or discounts. Also, consider extra benefits like free checked bags, airport lounge access or hotel credits.
Second, consider the fees associated with the card and how much they will offset any rewards you earn. Some cards require annual fees, which can significantly reduce the value of any rewards earned. Also, check if the card waives foreign transaction fees to maximize its value when traveling abroad.
Finally, consider how easy it is to redeem rewards and if they can be used to lower your family’s travel costs. By taking these factors into consideration, you’ll be able to find a travel credit card that fits your family’s needs and helps make traveling with kids easier and more affordable.
What is the best card for family travel?
The best card for family travel will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Some of the best cards for family travel include the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, and American Express Platinum Card. These cards offer a variety of rewards and benefits tailored to families, such as bonus miles, flexible redemption options, travel protections and more.
Can I get a credit card for a family member?
You can get a credit card for a family member by adding them as an authorized user on your credit card. Some cards charge authorized user fees, so be sure to check the terms and conditions first. However, this will depend on the specific credit card issuer and their requirements.
Is there a credit card for kids?
There are no credit cards for kids. However, American Express allows you to add children aged 13 and older as authorized users.
*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.