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Reward credit cards can help make travel a breeze

Posted March 14, 2013 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2013 5:45 p.m. EDT

Credit Cards

Dreaming of a vacation on a sunny beach or maybe a ski trip to the Rocky Mountains? 

Travel reward credit cards can help make the trip a little easier, but there are several factors to consider when picking one. First and foremost, paying off the balance every month helps builds rewards faster. 

Consumer Reports crunched the numbers and found six great choices. 

"You can choose either an airline card or a bank card," Consumer Reports' Amanda Walker said. "Which type is best for you depends on what kind of traveler you are."

Airline cards are best for those who spend most of their time traveling on a specific airline. 

"Airline cards are good if you want a free trip fast," Walker said. "While they're not usually as generous with rewards as bank cards, you can sometimes score a bonus as high as 50,000 points when you sign up."

Good choices include the Delta SkyMiles American Express Gold, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa and US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard. For every dollar spent with the airline card, travelers get two miles or points. 

"If you don't fly a particular airline, a bank card is the way to go," Walker said. "They let you earn rewards on the purchases you make and then use them to buy tickets on any airline."

Bank cards are also not subject to blackout dates.

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold, Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or MasterCard and the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express are good options, Consumer Reports said.