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Which rewards credit cards are best for vacation rentals?

You can cover travel expenses with the right combination of rewards cards -- or at least earn some points to pay for part of your trip.
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Written by Holly Johnson on
Reviewed by Evan Zimmer

When you love to travel but don't necessarily adore hotels, vacation rentals are easily the best alternative. With an Airbnb-style rental or vacation condo, you don't have to cram your entire family into a hotel room. Plus, you can also score more room to move around, along with a shared living space and kitchen for meal preparation — so you don't have to pay to eat out at every meal.

But, the biggest benefit of vacation rentals applies when it's time to go to sleep. If you're traveling with children or extended family and don't want to share sleeping space, you can book a vacation rental with more than one bedroom.

Many properties you can rent through Vrbo or HomeAway offer much lower rates than you'd find if you tried to book a similarly-sized hotel room. And you may even get the amenities of a big resort, such as a pool, hot tub, gym, or on-site restaurant.

While one of the biggest gripes people have about vacation rentals is that they're not as easy to book with rewards points, you can pay for rental condos with points if you have the right rewards credit card. Here are four rewards cards that work perfectly, allowing you to redeem points for vacation rental stays.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEnjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
APR16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Recommended CreditExcellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card may be the ideal rewards card to cover vacation rentals, and for more than one reason. First off, this card offers unlimited 2x miles for each dollar you spend, plus a huge welcome bonus. Second, you can redeem your miles for any travel experience you want at a rate of one cent per mile.

Redeeming your miles is also easy as pie since you can use the miles to erase all or part of travel purchases from your bill. The key to making this work is ensuring your vacation rental will code as travel on your credit card statement.

Pros

  • 2x miles per dollar for every purchase
  • Simple redemption
  • Lucrative welcome bonus

Cons

  • Some vacation rentals may not code as travel

Discover it® Miles

Card Highlights
Intro BonusUnlimited Bonus: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
APR12.24% - 23.24% Variable
Recommended CreditExcellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 15 months
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Discover it® Miles is another card option that makes booking vacation rentals with points easier than ever. This card doles out 1.5 miles for each dollar you spend. However, Discover will also match the miles you earn in the first year, bringing your year-one haul to 3x miles per dollar.

Redeeming your miles is also easy since you'll cash them in at a rate of one cent per mile to cover travel expenses on your bill. So, you can use your Discover it® Miles to pay for your vacation rental when you're ready, then cash in your miles to cover part or all of the expense.

Pros

  • 1.5x miles per dollar for every purchase
  • Double the rewards for the first year
  • Simple redemption

Cons

  • Few travel protections
  • Can only redeem statement credits for travel, gas, or dining purchases made in the last 180 days

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
APR16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Recommended CreditExcellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another travel card that works well for vacation rentals, and there's more than one way to use it. This card is also a good one to have in terms of long-term earnings since it offers plenty of rewards across multiple bonus categories.

On the redemption side, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for statement credits at a rate of one cent per point. For that reason, you can redeem your points for any purchase you want, including vacation rentals.

But, you may also be able to book vacation rentals through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, depending on where you stay. While options are limited in some cases, it's not uncommon to see two- or three-bedroom condos bookable directly with points. The advantage of booking through the portal is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 25% more value when you book with points. So, you may fork over fewer points for the same condo with this strategy.

Pros

  • Good rewards
  • Flexible redemption options
  • Solid travel protections

Cons

  • $95 annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards

Card Highlights
Intro Bonus25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
APR14.24% - 24.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended CreditExcellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 billing cycles
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card can be a smart option for travel expenses since you earn a flat 1.5 points for every $1 you spend. There's no annual fee -- and no foreign transaction fees -- and you can also score a welcome bonus early on. Your points also never expire as long as you have the card.

Like a few other cards on this list, this one lets you redeem your points for statement credits to cover travel expenses. Unlike many hotel rewards cards, this flexibility allows you to price shop and compare vacation rentals to find the best deal, instead of being locked into one hotel brand.

If you find a vacation rental you like for a price you can live with on Airbnb or Vrbo, for example, you can use your card to book it and then redeem your points once the charge posts. But, you have the option to shop around for a lower price, so you could book with other travel vendors like Expedia, TripAdvisor, or Priceline, too.

Remember that any travel expense will work, so you could also use your points to book a vacation rental, flights, or a traditional hotel. The choice is up to you.

Pros

  • 1.5 points for every purchase
  • Redeem for statement credits to cover travel expenses

Cons

  • Few travel benefits

[This article was first published on The Simple Dollar in 2020. It was updated in March 2022.]

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