This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

Advertiser Disclosure: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. All information about the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card and the Wells Fargo Autograph Card has been collected independently by Lonely Planet. These cards are not available through Lonely Planet.

Setting your sights on your next great adventure? Whether it's rafting the Grand Canyon, trekking to Mount Everest or cycling Slovenia, you'll get there faster and with plenty of perks to boot by choosing the right credit card to start racking up points on every purchase today.

If you have a knack for adventure travel, the right credit card can not only help you save for the cost of a trip but also protect you in case things don’t go as planned. 

Adventure travelers need a credit card that earns lots of points on travel and offers flexible redemption options and travel protections at a reasonable annual fee. This way, you’ll earn lots of points and get the best value for your redemptions regardless of booking a last-minute trip or planning well in advance. The best adventure travel cards also provide a variety of travel insurance inclusions, offering exceptional savings for adventure travelers. 

Most importantly, the right credit card can provide valuable travel protections if things don’t go as planned. If your trip is delayed, canceled or your luggage lost, your credit card’s travel insurance can bail you out of these tough situations. From there, you can continue your journey or make plans for a re-do without breaking the bank. 

In determining the best credit cards for adventure travel, we’ve also considered welcome bonuses, recurring benefits and a lack of foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. Without further ado, here are the best credit cards for adventure travel.

How to get started with travel points and airline miles

Hiking Stromboli volcano, Aeolian Islands; Sicily, Italy
Hiking Stromboli volcano, Aeolian Islands; Sicily, Italy © Marco Crupi / Shutterstock

Best credit cards for adventure travel in 2024

How to use points and miles to save money on travel

Capital One Venture Card
The best card for adventure travel overall: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card © The Points Guy

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best overall

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the best overall card for adventure travelers, thanks to solid insurance coverage, high earnings on travel purchases and generous travel perks at a reasonable annual fee. The card offers up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years so you can speed through security lines and immigration queues faster. Not many credit cards at this price point offer this benefit, nor do they offer two free lounge visits per year.

Adventure travelers will appreciate the ability to get discounts on exclusive experiences through Gravity Haus, a social club designed specifically for adventure travelers. The card offers $300 off Gravity Haus membership. Cardholders also get free museum passes through a six-month membership with The Cultivist. 

When you’re ready to redeem rewards for your next travel adventure, the card lets you do so at a rate of 1 cent per mile. Alternately, you can transfer miles at a 1:1 ratio to over a dozen airlines and hotel loyalty programs for even more value.

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Complimentary six-month The Cultivist Membership, $300 off Gravity Haus membership, Hertz Five Star status, two annual visits to Capital One and Plaza Premium lounges, up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years, rental car insurance and travel accident insurance.

Credit score: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $95. 

Pros

  • Complimentary The Cultivist membership, plus $300 off a Gravity Haus membership.
  • Travel accident insurance and rental car coverage.
  • Generous welcome bonus and ongoing rewards on purchases.

Cons

  • Limited earnings on travel booked outside of Capital One. 
  • Capital One pulls your credit from all three bureaus when you apply for a card.

The best travel credit cards for 2024

Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card
Excellent for surfers and skiers: Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card © Josh Gribben / The Points Guy

Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card: Best for skiers and surfers

The Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card might be a great fit if you frequently travel to catch a wave or hit the slopes. Wyndham has over 9,000 hotels and timeshares worldwide, with many options for surfers and skiers. You can book these properties starting at just 7,500 points per room. You can even opt for a cash and points award starting at 1500 points. Cardholders even receive a 10% discount on full award nights, making them even more accessible.

This versatility makes the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card an excellent choice for adventure travelers. The card offers a substantial welcome bonus that you can stretch into 10 or more free nights, and the annual fee is lower than most hotel credit cards.

Welcome bonus: 45,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. 

Rewards: Earn 5X points on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham, qualifying gas purchases; 2X points on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Walmart and Target); 1X point on all other purchases (excluding Wyndham Vacation Club down payments).

Travel benefits: Automatic Wyndham Rewards Platinum status, cardmember booking discount, annual 7,500-point bonus, no foreign transaction fees.

Credit score required: Good to excellent.

Annual fee: $75. See rates and fees.

Pros

  • Earn 7,500 bonus points each anniversary year if you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases.
  • Automatic Platinum status includes practical perks like late checkout, early check-in and rental car status upgrades. 

Cons

  • $75 annual fee.

The best credit cards for rental cars

Capital One Venture X Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card has many added features for travel and adventure © The Points Guy

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for activities and experiences

No adventure is complete without a slew of high-octane activities. With the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, you’ll get access to exclusive experiences and discounts. The Venture X card offers a complimentary PRIOR subscription, which typically costs $149 and provides access to unique travel experiences and destination guides.

If you’re looking for more relaxed experiences, the card’s six-month The Cultivist membership provides complimentary access to hundreds of popular museums worldwide. You can even bring two additional guests. Eligible museums include the esteemed New York Met Museum, San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art and the Picasso Museum in Paris.

Lastly, Venture X cardholders receive $300 off an annual Gravity Haus membership, a social club for adventure travelers. Members receive discounts on hotel accommodations, premium travel gear and other perks. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: $300 annual credit for travel booked through Capital One Travel; 10,000 bonus miles every card anniversary; Capital One lounge and Priority Pass Select membership; complimentary PRIOR subscription, 6-month Cultivist membership; $300 off Gravity Haus social club membership; up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years; Hertz President’s Circle status; access to Premier Collection hotels for discounts and perks; rental coverage; trip cancellation and interruption; trip delay reimbursement; travel accident insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; travel and emergency assistance services; up to $800 in cell phone protection.

Credit score: Excellent.

Annual fee: $395. 

Pros

  • Discounts on activities and experiences through PRIOR, The Cultivist and Gravity Haus memberships.
  • High earnings on travel purchases.
  • Solid travel protections.

Cons

  • The Cultivist membership is just for six months.
  • High annual fee.

Capital One Venture X review: an excellent credit card for travel enthusiasts

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for comprehensive travel insurance

Travel insurance is essential for adventure travel, and many travelers will buy a policy. If you want a credit card that provides a comprehensive policy, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. The card offers up to $10,000 per person (up to $20,000) in trip cancellation and interruption coverage, so you can get reimbursed for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses if your trip is cut short. 

If your trip is delayed by more than six hours, Sapphire Reserve’s trip delay reimbursement coverage will reimburse you up to $500 per ticket so you can pay for unreimbursed expenses like meals and hotel accommodations. Even your luggage is protected up to $3,000 per passenger against loss and damage as long as you charge your travel expenses to the card.

The Sapphire Reserve’s rental car insurance covers up to $75,000 against theft and damage in the U.S. and abroad. Cardholders also receive emergency evacuation and transportation, which not many credit cards provide. This policy provides up to $100,000 towards medical services and transportation during emergencies, providing ultimate peace of mind for adventure travelers.

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Rewards: Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits (including airfare, hotels and rental cars); airport lounge access via Priority Pass Select membership; up to $100 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.

Pros

  • Extensive travel insurance covering luggage, rental cars, emergencies, trip delays and interruptions.
  • High rewards on travel purchases.

Cons

  • High annual fee, with an extra $75 charge for authorized users.
  • Approval is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.

Chase Sapphire review: an in-depth look at the card loved by travelers

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for rental car insurance

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is ideal for adventure travelers who like to take road trips in rental cars domestically or abroad. The card comes with primary auto collision insurance, which most rental car companies charge around $15 daily. Primary collision insurance covers your rental vehicle against damage and theft up to the full cash value.

Car rental insurance isn’t an unusual benefit for premium cards like the Sapphire Preferred. However, not all cards offer primary coverage. When your coverage is secondary, you must file a claim with your insurance company before your credit card coverage kicks in. Another unique aspect of the Sapphire Preferred’s rental car insurance is that it applies to domestic and international rentals, providing the ultimate peace of mind. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Rewards: Earn 5X points on travel booked through Chase Travel℠ (excludes hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Annual Chase Travel℠ hotel credit); 3X points on dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out; 3X points on online grocery purchases; 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on all other travel; 1X on other purchases.

Travel benefits: Annual $50 Chase Travel℠ hotel credit, no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary rental car insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel and emergency assistance services.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent. 

Annual fee: $95. See rates and fees.

Pros

  • Primary rental car insurance covers up to the vehicle’s cash value, including rentals booked abroad.
  • Up to 5 points per dollar spent on travel, including rental cars, through the Chase Travel℠ portal.
  • Includes other useful travel protections like trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and baggage delay insurance.

Cons

  • Earns just 2 points per dollar on travel booked outside of the Chase Travel℠ portal.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Approval is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide: one of the best loyalty programs on the market

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, a great card for protecting your phone © The Points Guy

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card: Best for cell phone protection

If you’re an adventure traveler, you know the importance of having a cell phone to communicate with family and friends back home. It’s your connection to the rest of the world, yet we’re constantly endangering it during our travels: Dropping it and leaving it out for potential thieves to snatch up. If your phone is damaged, lost or stolen during your travels, the Wells Fargo Autograph Card provides up to $600 in travel insurance per year. Not only is this a rare benefit for a card with no annual fee, but the $25 deductible is reasonable compared to what more premium cards offer.

The Autograph card also offers primary rental car insurance, along with travel and emergency services assistance. The card’s high earn rate also makes it ideal for maximizing every dollar spent during your travels. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first three months.

Rewards: Earn 3X points on travel, gas, restaurant, transit and popular streaming purchases; 1X points on all other purchases. 

Travel benefits: Up to $600 per year in cell phone protection (subject to a $25 deductible), secondary rental car insurance in the U.S., primary rental car coverage abroad, travel and emergency services assistance.

Credit score: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $0. See rates and fees.

Pros

  • $600 annual cell phone protection. 
  • Primary rental car coverage applies to rentals outside of the U.S.
  • High earning potential in travel spending categories.

Cons

  • Rental car coverage is secondary in the U.S. Rental coverage is limited to 15 consecutive days – half of what most other credit cards offer.
  • Points are worth just one cent each towards travel and cannot be transferred to other loyalty programs.

How to travel to New Zealand with points and miles

Kitesurfing at Playa de Bolonia, Spain
Kitesurfing at Playa de Bolonia, Spain © Ralf Liebhold / Shutterstock

Who should get a credit card for adventure travel?

Anyone planning an adventure who wants the convenience, security and rewards that come with a credit card should consider getting one. This includes those who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or water sports and those planning to go on safari expeditions or explore remote destinations. A credit card can be useful for booking flights, accommodations and activities, as well as for emergencies or unexpected expenses that may arise during the trip.

Individuals who frequently travel internationally for adventure purposes should also consider getting a credit card. Many credit cards offer benefits such as no foreign transaction fees, travel insurance, and emergency assistance services that can be extremely valuable when traveling to remote or unfamiliar destinations. These features provide peace of mind and help ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure travel experience.

Traveling to Hawaii with points and miles

How to choose the best credit card for adventure travel

Several factors must be considered when choosing the best credit card for adventure travel. First, look for a card that offers travel rewards or benefits that align with your travel plans. For example, a card offering bonus points or miles on travel expenses may be ideal if you frequently book flights or accommodations. Additionally, consider whether the card offers practical perks, such as travel insurance, which can be valuable during adventure trips.

Next, pay attention to any fees associated with the credit card. Look for cards with no foreign transaction fees if you plan to use your card internationally during your adventures. Also, consider any annual fees and whether the card's benefits outweigh the cost.

Another important factor to consider is the acceptance and usability of the credit card at your destination. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted worldwide, so having a credit card from one of these networks can be beneficial for international adventure travel.

Lastly, consider the rewards and recurring perks offered by the card. If you’re going to use a credit card for all your travel and daily expenses, you want the rewards to be flexible and easy to redeem. A card that earns transferable rewards, such as the Capital One Venture or Chase Sapphire Preferred, fits the bill.

The best credit cards with no international fees 

Kayaking in Northern Canada
Kayaking in Northern Canada © GROGL / Getty

FAQ

What’s the best credit card for adventure travel?

The best credit card for adventure travel depends on your travel goals and spending habits. Our top pick is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card since it offers valuable travel protections, generous rewards and useful travel perks at a reasonable annual fee.

Traveling to Japan using points and miles

Which features should adventure travelers look for in a credit card?

Adventure travelers should look for features like comprehensive travel insurance, generous bonus points on travel spending and recurring benefits when choosing a credit card. Be sure to compare the various credit card benefits against the annual fee (if any) to ensure you’ll get value from them.

The best credit cards for Global Entry

Taking in the view from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada
Taking in the view from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada © LeoPatrizi / Getty

Are credit cards worth it for adventure travelers?

Credit cards are well worth it for adventure travelers who get good use from their benefits or earn substantial points every year.

Traveling to Iceland with points and miles

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.

This article was first published Aug 3, 2023 and updated Jan 5, 2024.

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