By Tasha Lockyer, NextAdvisor.com
Earning points and miles with a travel rewards credit card can be confusing. How can you know how much these rewards are actually worth? We've decided to take the guessing out of travel rewards by investigating the value of major travel rewards cards. Our 2015 Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis compared the cost of travel in rewards currency against the actual monetary value of hotel stays and flights in the summer and fall months. The end result was the dollar amount of rewards a user would earn after spending $100 on their travel card. The results were then categorized by Flight Rewards, Hotel Rewards and Average Flight & Hotel Rewards.
These three different analysis categories allow users to find the highest value card that meets their needs. For example, someone who needs a travel card for both flights and hotel stays might be better off with a card that offers reward redemption for both options. Someone who is more interested in a free flights should consider the top-rankers in the Flight Rewards category, and if you're more concerned with free hotel stays, the Hotel Rewards category is a good place to start. Note that some cards only offer flight or hotel redemption, not both, so that is something to take into consideration.
What makes our analysis so special?
Unlike other personal finance sites that say they display the best credit card offers for consumers, our Travel Rewards Analysis included all leading credit card offers -- not just those that advertise with us. This means that several cards no longer appearing on other sites are still reviewed on NextAdvisor.com, and were included in this study.
Which cards took the top spots?
To wit, Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard (a card that does not advertise with NextAdvisor.com) landed the top spot in the Average Flight and Hotel Rewards category, with a $2.20 average flight and hotel value for every $100 spent. Second place went to Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (a NextAdvisor advertiser) with an average value of $2.00. Both cards allow users to easily redeem their miles as a statement credit against travel expenses on the card. This flexibility means you can book your travel however you'd like (by phone, online or with a travel agent), and with whatever airline, hotel or cruise you prefer.
Virgin America Signature Visa Card (a NextAdvisor advertiser) took the No. 1 position for Flight Rewards with a very strong $2.51 in flight redemption value for every $100 spent. Although the flight value for this card was great, you can't redeem your rewards for hotel stays or other travel options. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser) was the front runner in the Hotel Rewards category with a high hotel redemption value of $2.30 and an average value of $1.31 for flights.
If you're in the market for a travel rewards card, or merely interested in seeing how your current card did, the 2015 Travel Rewards Credit Cards Analysis may provide some surprising information. It's a great starting point and an independent look at reward redemption values for most major travel cards on the market today.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. NextAdvisor.com may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.