But it's downright confusing trying to figure out which credit cards offer the best deal. Consumer Reports Money Adviser's Amanda Walker did some digging.
"You can choose either an airline card or a bank card. Which type is best for you depends on what kind of traveler you are," said Walker.
Choose an airline card if you travel a lot on one particular airline.
"Airline cards are also good if you want a free trip fast," said Walker. "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."
Some good airline cards are Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express; Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa card; and US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard. For every dollar spent with the airline, you get two miles or two points.
"If you don't fly a particular airline, a bank card is the way to go," said Walker. "They let you earn rewards on the purchases you make, then use them to buy tickets on any airline."
Consumer Reports says another plus is that bank cards are not subject to blackout dates and points don't generally expire. Some good bank cards: the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card; the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or MasterCard; and the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express card. A real benefit with all three is that there's no annual fee the first year.
Choose a travel card wisely, and a great vacation could well be within reach.
If you're a member of several frequent-flyer programs, Consumer Reports says you're probably better off with one of the high-end American Express bank cards like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card. That's because those cards let you transfer earned points to a number of different airlines.