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Best Credit Cards for Cruises of 2017

Jennifer Blocker
Updated on: 11/08/2017

Cruises can be great. They’re a relatively affordable way to see the world in a completely stress-free environment. These floating, all-inclusive resorts give you room, board and entertainment for a fixed price, with the opportunity to upgrade your experience with premium beverages, onshore activities and more.

If you’re ready to start cruising, you should consider getting a rewards credit card that can help pay for the ride. You might think that you should just pick up a credit card that’s co-branded with the cruise line you plan to use. While those cruise line cards have some benefits, you might do better with a general travel rewards credit card. Those cards often earn more and offer more flexibility when it comes time to use the rewards you’ve earned.

8 Top Rated Credit Cards for Cruises

Cruising has never been more popular, and it’s easy to see why. Nearly all of your onboard expenses are covered in one flat rate, leaving you to worry about more important things, like getting a tan by the pool, catching a standup act in the lounge or grabbing a midnight snack in the dining room.

As you plan your cruise, you should get a credit card to help offset the cost. Nearly every cruise line offers its own credit card that will earn rewards that can be used to help pay for your cruise. You could use the award to upgrade your room, pay for premium drinks onboard or book an onshore excursion. If you save up enough, you could even get your entire cruise for free. However, general rewards cards can help you pay for your cruise, too. In fact, they’re often more flexible and more rewarding. They may, in fact, be a better option.

Discover it® Miles Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Discover Bank

Intro APR on Purchases
0% intro APR for 14 months from date of account opening
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
10.99% intro APR for 14 months from date of first transfer, for transfers under this offer that post to your account by February 10, 2018
Regular APR
11.99% to 23.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Program
Discover it® Miles Rewards
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 1.5Miles on Airfare Purchases
  • 1.5Miles on Hotels
  • 1.5Miles on Gas
  • 1.5Miles on All Other Purchases
  • Unlimited 1.5X rewards on every purchase offer

    • Miles earned are matched at the end of the first year of cardmembership
    • We will reimburse up to $30 of your in-flight Wi-Fi purchases each year with automatic credits to your statement
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

Travel Benefits

$30 In-Flight Wi-Fi Access

You will be reimbursed for up to $30 in purchases of wireless internet access on an aircraft per anniversary year. The statement credit will be issued for the purchase amount in U.S. dollars within seven business days.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Discover miles card does not charge foreign transaction fees so you can rest easy when you are abroad.

Why should you get this card?

  • Great Earning Potential: You always earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent, which equates to 1.5 percent cash back. Don’t settle for 1 percent! The Discover it Miles card is better.
  • Miles Can be Redeemed for Anything: You don’t have to wait until you have travel coming up to use your miles. Even though the Discover it Miles card earns Miles, it is a cash back card.
  • Miles Doubled for the First Year: At the end of your first year as a card member, Discover will match all of the miles you’ve earned!
  • $30 in Annual Wi-Fi Credits: Next time you have a long flight you can purchase Wi-Fi and have Discover cover the cost up to $30 per year.

Our Expert's Conclusion

The Discover it Miles card is wonderful for two types of people. The first, and most obvious, is for someone looking for a single credit card that’s easy to use and that can do it all. The Discover it Miles card is a great option because it earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and redemptions areone cent per mile toward any purchase. Plus thereare a couple of other nice benefits, like $30 in annual Wi-Fi credits and no foreign transaction fees. As a no-fee card, all of that is essentially free.

The second type of person that the Discover it Miles card is a great option for is someone who is looking to truly maximize rewards. The Discover it is basically a no-brainer for the first year because all miles are doubled , meaning that it effectively earns 3 miles per dollar spent (1.5 when you purchase and 1.5 at the end of the year). After the first year it deserves a spot in the wallet of someone who wants to maximize rewards for purchases not included in the bonus earning categories of their other rewards credit cards.

  • Get unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year (new cardmembers only). For example, 30,000 Miles turns to 60,000 Miles.
  • No blackout dates. Fly any airline, any time.
  • We will reimburse up to $30 of your in-flight Wi-Fi purchases each year with automatic credits to your statement.
  • Freeze ItSM on/off switch for your account.
  • Keep tabs on your FICO® Score.
  • You can always count on 100% US-based customer service, anytime. We will not waste your time selling you other products when you call us.
  • Your Miles never expire.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
0% introductory APR for the first twelve billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening
Regular APR
16.99% to 23.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0 first year, then $89
Rewards Program
Barclaycard Arrival Rewards
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xMiles on Travel, Dining and Car Rental
  • 2xMiles on Gas
  • 2xMiles on Hotels
  • 2xMiles on All Other Purchases
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days
    • 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, everytime you redeem
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

Travel Benefits

24/7 Concierge:

You have access to a complimentary concierge any time of day. This service works like a personal assistant to help with reservations, hard-to-find items, and more.

No foreign transaction fee:

You can earn miles outside the U.S. without worrying about extra fees.

Why should you get this card?

  • Valuable Sign-Up Bonus: This card comes with a sign-up bonus worth $400 toward any travel purchase.
  • Excellent Everyday Earning: You’ll get 2 miles for each dollar you spend. That will add up fast.
  • Easy to Redeem: Your miles aren’t tied to a loyalty program. Just buy the flight you want and redeem miles toward that purchase. There are no blackout dates or limited award space.

Our Expert's Conclusion

The short answer is absolutely. Depending on your travel and spending habits, this card may or not make sense for you after the first year when you start paying the annual fee, but earning 40,000 miles after meeting the minimum spend and earning 2X miles on all purchases are tremendous benefits. Not only that, but if this becomes your go-to card, miles will rack up fast, and with the 5 percent redemption bonus, that’s like earning 2.1 percent back on every purchase, every day. This card is just as good as any other cashback card currently on the market.

  • 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchase in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases.
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem.
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing.
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country.
  • Redeem your miles for travel statement credits starting at 10,000 miles for $100 toward all or a portion of your travel purchase of $100 or more made within the past 120 days.
  • 0% introductory APR for the first twelve billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening.
  • $89 annual fee waived for the first year.
Venture® Rewards Credit Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Capital One®

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
N/A
Regular APR
13.99% to 23.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0 first year, then $95
Rewards Program
Venture® Rewards
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xMiles on Travel, Dining and Car Rental
  • 2xMiles on Gas
  • 2xMiles on Hotels
  • 2xMiles on All Other Purchases
  • 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • +No cap to the amount of rewards you can earn

Travel Benefits

Premium Hotel Benefits:

Enjoy perks, such as room upgrades and free breakfast, at over 900 Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection properties.

No Foreign Transaction Fee:

You’ll never have to pay additional fees to use your card while traveling abroad.

Complimentary Concierge Services:

24/7 assistance for dinner reservations, booking travel and special access to sporting and entertainment events.

Why should you get this card?

  • A Generous Sign-up Bonus: The 50,000-mile sign up bonus can be redeemed for $500 worth of travel.
  • Earnings Add up Quickly: Every dollar you spend earns 2 miles, not 1.5 or 1 like other cards. There are no categories or promotions to keep track of.
  • It’s Easy to Redeem Miles: Find the best travel deal, pay with your Venture Rewards card and redeem your miles for a statement credit to erase your purchase. Or just redeem your miles online from the Capital One Rewards Center.

Our Expert's Conclusion

With a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles and the ongoing earning power of two miles for every dollar spent, there’s a good case for owning the Venture card. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year and you’ll have $460 to spend on travel once you’ve made the required $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. That makes this card a solid contender for your everyday spending. However, if you’re not going to be able to spend a minimum of $3,000 a year on the card, you would be better off selecting a card that has no annual fee.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles—that's 2 miles for every dollar you spend on purchases. 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards.
  • Use your Venture® card to make travel purchases on any website or app—any airline, any hotel, rental cars and more.
  • Once you make a travel purchase with Venture, redeem your miles as a statement credit toward the cost. Your rewards don't expire.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • You're covered by $0 Fraud Liability if your card is ever lost or stolen.
VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Capital One®

Intro APR on Purchases
0% introductory APR for the first 12 months that your account is open
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
N/A
Regular APR
12.99% to 22.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Program
Venture® Rewards
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 1.25Miles on Travel, Dining and Car Rental
  • 1.25Miles on Gas
  • 1.25Miles on Hotels
  • 1.25Miles on All Other Purchases
  • 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • +No cap to the amount of rewards you can earn

Travel Benefits

Travel Upgrades and Savings:

Free upgrades and discounts at select hotels and resorts are part of the Visa Signature card benefits.

Complimentary Concierge Service:

Enjoy free assistance 24-hours a day, even while you’re traveling.

No Foreign Transaction Fee:

Use your card anywhere in the world and never pay additional fees.

Why should you get this card?

  • Great Earning Potential: You’ll get bonus points for every purchase you make. No matter what you buy, you’ll earn 1.25 miles for every dollar spent. Those miles will add up fast.
  • Hassle-Free Redemptions: Miles can be applied to any travel purchases, not just airfare. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates or limited award space because you buy the travel you want and then apply miles to the purchase.
  • No Annual Fee: It’s hard to be a rewards card that does not charge an annual fee. Every reward you earn is essentially free!
  • Sign-Up Bonus: For a no-fee card, 20,000 miles is an excellent sign-up bonus. It’s worth $200 in travel. All you have to do is spend $1,000 during the first three months you have the card.

Our Expert's Conclusion

If you’re looking for a no-fee rewards card that offers a solid sign-up bonus and hassle-free redemptions, than the the VentureOne card from Capital One is a great option. You’ll get 20,000 miles worth $200 for spending just $1,000 in 90 days, plus you’ll earn a generous 1.25 miles per dollar for every purchase.

Getting the card is a risk-free proposition because it won’t cost you a penny. Whatever miles you earn with the card are pure profit because there aren’t any fees. You can even use the card while traveling internationally, since there are no foreign transaction fees either.

  • One-time bonus of 20,000 miles—equal to $200 in travel—once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles—that's 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend on purchases. 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards.
  • Use your VentureOne® card to make travel purchases on any website or app—any airline, any hotel, rental cars and more.
  • Annual Fee $0.
  • Once you make a travel purchase with VentureOne, redeem your miles as a statement credit toward the cost. Your rewards don't expire.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • You're covered by $0 Fraud Liability if your card is ever lost or stolen.
  • Get 10% off thousands of hotels on HotelTonight through January 2017.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
N/A
Regular APR
16.99% to 23.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0 first year, then $95
Rewards Program
Ultimate Rewards®
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xPoints on Airfare, Hotels and Dining
  • 1xPoints on Gas
  • 1xPoints on Groceries
  • 1xPoints on All Other Purchases
  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    • 5,000 Bonus Points after your first purchase and the adding of an authorized user to your account in the first 3 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • %25% more in travel redemption

Travel Benefits

Concierge Service:

No matter the time of day, Chase promises that a representative will answer your call to answer questions about your card or to assist with travel arrangements, dining reservations, show tickets and more.

No Foreign Transaction Fee

No fees for using the Sapphire Preferred for non-U.S. dollar purchases abroad or online.

Why should you get this card?

  • Great Earning Potential: You’ll earn two points for every dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases, and one point per dollar for everything else.
  • Big Sign-Up Bonus: This card offers a lucrative 50,000 points sign-up bonus, as well as an extra 5,000 points for adding an authorized user.
  • No Annual Fee the First Year: Chase waives the $95 annual fee the first year, but the card’s great benefits make it worth keeping well beyond that.
  • Transfer Partners: The Ultimate Rewards program offers several great airline and hotel transfer partners. Popular airline options include United Airlines and Air France, and great hotel chains include Hyatt and Marriott.

Our Expert's Conclusion

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for just about everybody. Whether you’re just getting started with travel rewards cards or you’re a frequent business traveler, this card offers many great benefits including a big sign-up bonus, a great earning rate on spending and a host of other travel benefits.

On top of that, since Chase picks up the annual fee the first year, you don’t pay anything out of pocket to get the card, and 2 bonus points are a great way to pad your Ultimate Rewards balance or to get you started. And because you always earn double points on travel and dining purchases, the mid- range $95 annual fee makes this a great card to keep beyond the first year and to also keep at the top of your wallet.

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95.
  • Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants- from airfare and hotels to fine dining and cafés.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • With Chase Sapphire Preferred®, you can transfer your points to leading frequent travel programs at 1 to 1 value.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
N/A
Regular APR
15.49% to 24.49% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0 first year, then $95
Rewards Program
ThankYou®
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 3xPoints on Travel, Gas, Airfare, Hotels, Cruises, Car rental and Railways
  • 2xPoints on Dining and Entertainment
  • 1xPoints on Groceries
  • 1xPoints on All Other Purchases
  • 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
    • 25% more points when redeemed through the ThankYou® Travel Center
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

Travel Benefits

No Foreign Transaction Fees:

Never pay an extra fee to use this card outside the U.S.

Concierge Service:

Citi Concierge provides help with travel, shopping and dining.

Why should you get this card?

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 30,000 Citi ThankYou points worth at least $459 in travel, all without paying an annual fee for the first year.
  • Great Earning Potental: Generous double and triple point-earning categories, including all travel and gas purchases.
  • Discount on ThankYou Travel Purchases: Get a 25 percent rebate when redeeming for travel through the ThankYou Rewards travel portal.
  • Flexible Redemption Options:You’ll always find a use for your points with 12 airline transfer partners.

Our Expert's Conclusion

You can get excellent value out of ThankYou points, particularly if you transfer them to airlines and redeem for expensive premium cabin tickets. If you are a traveler that often books the cheapest economy class ticket, then there can also be strong value in redeeming points through the ThankYou program’s travel portal thanks to the 25 percent discount offered by this card.

If you are interested in domestic award travel or simple award redemptions, this card may prove to be too complex. Instead, consider cards with more domestic transfer partners. You may not get quite the same value for your points, but there will be more availability and easier redemptions.

  • Earn 30,000 bonus points after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on travel including gas, airfare, hotels, cruises, car rental agencies, travel agencies, railways, public transportation, tolls, taxis, parking and much more.
  • 2 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment.
  • 1 ThankYou Points on other purchases.
  • ThankYou® Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for airfare through the ThankYou® Travel Center, as compared to gift cards redeemed from the ThankYou® Rewards collection.
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases.
  • Annual Fee $95(Fee waived for the first 12 months).
  • No expiration and no limit on the number of points you can earn.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
Carnival™ World MasterCard®
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening
Regular APR
14.99% to 24.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Program
Carnival™ Rewards
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xPoints on Carnival Cruise Lines Purchases
  • 1xPoints on Dining
  • 1xPoints on Gas
  • 1xPoints on All Other Purchases
  • 10,000 bonus points after first purchase
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

Travel Benefits

No Foreign Transaction Fee:

You’ll never have to pay an extra fee to use your card, even while traveling abroad.

Concierge Services:

Enjoy personal assistance via telephone, including recommendations and reservations for dining, hotels, travel, entertainment and more.

Why should you get this card?

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 10,000 points after making a single purchase. It’s quick and easy to earn this bonus because you don’t have to worry about a minimum spending requirement.
  • No Annual Fee: You’ll never need to pay anything for this card, which means that all of your rewards are free.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: You can use your Carnival MasterCard on your cruises and other trips abroad without having to worry about paying foreign transaction fees.
  • Bonus Points on Carnival Purchases: You can earn two points per dollar with Carnival. That can add up quickly if you cruise often.

Our Expert's Conclusion

The Carnival MasterCard is a no annual fee card that comes with a 10,000 points bonus after your first purchase. If you don’t mind an additional credit inquiry and you have a Carnival cruise coming up, it could make sense to get the card, make one purchase, and redeem your points for onboard credit for your upcoming cruise.

Going forward, it might make sense to use the card for Carnival purchases, but keep in mind that FunPoints expire after five years no matter what. If you’re not planning to go on additional cruises, your points will go to waste.

While the Carnival World MasterCard may seem appealing to someone who spends regularly on Carnival cruises, remember that there are many other cards out there that have the potential to earn more and won’t require high redemption amounts in order to get the best value.

  • Earn 10,000 bonus “Funpoints” after you use your card for the first time — that's enough to redeem for a credit of up to $100 toward your next cruise purchase on Carnival and the World's Leading Cruise Lines.
  • Earn 2 “FunPoints” per $1 spent on all Carnival Cruise Lines purchases including onboard purchases charged to Sail & Sign®.
  • Earn 1 “FunPoint” per $1 spent on purchases everywhere else.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • Concierge service.
  • $0 fraud liability.
Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card
Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfers
0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening
Regular APR
14.99% to 24.99% Variable±
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Program
Princess Rewards™
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xPoints on Princess Cruises Purchases
  • 1xPoints on Dining
  • 1xPoints on Gas
  • 1xPoints on All Other Purchases
  • 5,000 bonus miles with your first purchase
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

Travel Benefits

No Foreign Transaction Fees

You’ll never be charged additional fees for using the card while traveling abroad.

Why should you get this card?

  • Hassle-Free Redemptions:: Points can be used for free cruises, airfare, onboard credit, onboard merchandise and more.
  • No Minimum Spend: You only need to make one purchase in order to earn the 5,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • No Annual Fee: You’ll never have to pay anything for this card. That means all the rewards you earn are essentially free. How can you beat that?
  • Earn Twice as Much on Princess: Earn 2 points per dollar spent on all of your purchases with Princess, including those made onboard.

Our Expert's Conclusion

Overall, the Princess Cruises credit card probably isn’t the best choice for many people. While it does offer a sign-up bonus, it isn’t that big. Plus, most purchases earn just one point per dollar spent, so it’ll be tough to rack up enough points for any meaningful redemptions. That said, it is a no annual fee card, so you won’t lose out on anything by getting it and only using it occasionally.

If you are a frequent Princess cruiser, the card becomes a better option. You’ll earn points a little faster since all Princess cruise purchases earn two points per dollar spent. Even though it is a better card for Princess cruisers, there are other cards out there that are at least as rewarding and offer more flexibility.

  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you make your first purchase.
  • Earn 2X points on every $1 you spend on Princess purchases, including onboard purchases.
  • Earn 1X points on every $1 you spend on all other purchases with your Princess Rewards Visa card.
  • Redeem points for cruise rewards, onboard credits, special on board amenities and discounted air fare.
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score.
  • Access to future credit line increase reviews.
  • $0 Fraud Liability protection.
  • Chip card technology.

Compare Credit Cards for Cruises

Compare all credit cards by RE® Value, which is an estimate of how much you will earn during first year of credit card use minus annual fees.

Credit Card
Bonuses & Rewards
First Year Rewards
FEES
RE® value
Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®

Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 10,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$453
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$453
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Bank of America

More Details
Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Credit Card

Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 10,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$340
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$340
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Bank of America

More Details
Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Credit Card

Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 10,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$340
FEES
-$69
RE® value
$271
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Bank of America

More Details
Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card

Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 5,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$290
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$290
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 25,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$987
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$987
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

More Details
Platinum Card® from American Express

Platinum Card® from American Express

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,720
FEES
-$550
RE® value
$1,170
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

More Details
Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card

Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 5,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$290
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$290
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

More Details
Carnival™ World MasterCard®

Carnival™ World MasterCard®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 10,000 FunPoints® sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 FunPoints® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$340
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$340
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

More Details
Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 48,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$980
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$980
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Capital One®

More Details
VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 20,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 30,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$500
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$500
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Capital One®

More Details
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,332
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$1,332
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,632
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$1,182
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 30,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$826
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$826
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

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Citi Prestige® Card

Citi Prestige® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 40,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,165
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$715
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 40,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 48,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$926
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$926
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

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Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 20,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 36,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$560
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$560
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Bank of America

Discover it® Miles Card

Discover it® Miles Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • match all the rewards at the end of first year
  • 36,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$720
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$720
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Discover Bank

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FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card

FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 20,000 FlexPoints® sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 FlexPoints® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$880
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$880
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
U.S. Bank

More Details
FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 30,000 FlexPoints® sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 FlexPoints® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,130
FEES
-$85
RE® value
$1,045
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
U.S. Bank

FlexPerks® Select+ American Express® Card

FlexPerks® Select+ American Express® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 10,000 FlexPoints® sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 FlexPoints® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$680
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$680
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
U.S. Bank

More Details
Disney® Premier Visa® Card

Disney® Premier Visa® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 0 Reward Dollars® sign-up bonus.
  • 240 Reward Dollars® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$2
FEES
-$49
RE® value
$-47
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

Disney® Visa® Card

Disney® Visa® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 0 Reward Dollars® sign-up bonus.
  • 240 Reward Dollars® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$2
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$2
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

What to Look for in a Cruise Credit Card

If you’re heading to the high seas, you should get a rewards credit card first. There are a lot of options for earning rewards while cruising and for redeeming rewards to help pay for the trip. Whether you get a card that’s co-branded with a specific cruise line or a general travel rewards card, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. There’s no reason you shouldn’t save some money on your next cruise!

With all of the rewards cards available today, it’s hard to know which one is best for cruising. Should you get a card that’s co-branded with your favorite cruise line? Or maybe a travel card that allows you to redeem points or miles for statement credits toward any travel expenses? A third option would be a card that offers transferable points and redemptions through online travel portals.

To complicate matters, choosing the best card is a personal matter. What’s works for one person may not be great for someone else. If you travel or cruise a lot, it may be worth paying an annual fee for a better card. But if you don’t, you may not recoup that cost. And if you spend a lot of money on a few specific types of purchases, you’d probably be better off looking for a card that offers a bonus for that spending. Or you could get a card that offers a good fixed earning rate for all purchases.

Whatever the case, we’ve come up a few things you should think about when you’re looking for the best cruise credit card. Let’s take a look.

  • Annual Fees: Should You Pay for Your Credit Card?

    The general rule of thumb among frequent travelers is that it’s usually worth paying an annual fee for a card that offers benefits and perks that you’re going to use. The bigger sign-up bonuses, better earning potential and more valuable rewards offered by many cards with annual fees can more than make up for the added cost.

    For instance, Capital One offers two versions of their popular Venture Rewards card. The no-fee version of the card, the VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, is a solid offering, giving cardholders unlimited 1.25 miles for every dollar they spend.

    However, the standard Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, offers a fantastic earning rate of two miles for every dollar spent. That could easily be worth the added cost if you spend enough.

    If you only cruise or travel every few years and don’t use credit cards very often, we still have you covered. There are a number of solid, no-fee rewards credit cards available, including the previously mentioned VentureOne and the similar Discover it® Miles Card.

    In addition, most of the co-branded cruise cards are free to hold, including the Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®, the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Credit Card, the Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card, the Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card and the Carnival™ World MasterCard®.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: How Big Is Big Enough?

    Getting a big sign-up bonus is the quickest way to earn free travel. So if you’re looking for a credit card to help fund your next cruise, you should definitely look for a welcome bonus.

    It’s not always as simple as going for the biggest bonus. There are often requirements that new cardholders have to meet in order to get the sign-up bonus. Some cards require you to make just one purchase, but you’ll have to meet a minimum spending threshold within a specified time period for most cards.

    These minimum spends are typically easy to meet, requiring anywhere from $500 to $3,000 in purchases within three months of getting the card. If you put all of your expenses on the card for a few months, spending $1,000 per month is probably very doable.

    Don’t forget that many bills can be paid for by credit card, such as phone bills, car insurance and even the garbage bill. If you’re trying to meet the minimum spend, you should pay for everything with that card. There’s no need to use cash.

    Another tip for hitting your spending goal is to only get one credit card at a time. Trying to spread your spending out among several cards can make it impossible to earn the bonus. It’s better to focus on one card at a time. You can always get a second card after you get the sign-up bonus on your current card.

    Some of the premium rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ and the Citi Prestige® Card, will require more spending to get the welcome bonus. Both of those cards, for instance, have a $4,000 minimum spend. If you don’t think you’ll be able to reach that goal, you would probably be better off getting a card with a lower requirement.

    Most of the co-branded cruise line cards require you to make just one purchase to earn the sign-up bonus. That’s great, but the bonuses are universally small. You’ll get 10,000 points with just about any card tied to a cruise line, including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. While that might sound like a lot, it’s only worth about $100. You can do better with a lot of other cards.

    The standard bonus that comes with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, for instance, is 40,000 miles.

  • Return on Spending: Earn Points for Everyday Purchases

    The other way you earn free travel with rewards cards is by using them. Every dollar you spend will earn a certain number of miles or points. How much depends on which card you have and what you’re buying.

    The standard earn on rewards cards is one point or mile per dollar. If you’re getting more than that, it’s a bonus. Ideally, you want a card that will earn a bonus for most or all of your spending. Cards typically offer anywhere from 2 to 5 points per dollar for spending that falls into a bonus category.

    Almost every co-branded cruise card will give you just one point per dollar for almost all purchases, offering a bonus of two points per dollar just for purchases made with their respective cruise line. That’s not great. You could, for instance, earn two points per dollar for every dollar you spend, not just for cruise purchases, with the Venture card. You’re rewards balance will add up a lot quicker.

    There are a number of no-fee cards that offer bonuses on all purchases too, including Discover it® Miles Card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. Both will give you 1.5 points for every purchase.

    Many cards offer bonuses for specific categories of purchases. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, for instance, offers three points per dollar for all travel purchases. So you could earn an impressive amount of points very quickly if you charge all of your cruise-related expenses to the card, including your cruise, airfare and hotel room.

  • Redemption Options: Get the Most Out of Your Points

    All rewards cards limit what you can do with your points. Co-branded cruise cards, for example, only let you redeem points for use with the specific cruise line they’re tied to. You’ll be able to use a smaller number of points to pay for onboard purchases, such as premium beverages or dining, or save up to pay for the entire cruise. But you won’t, for example, be able to use your points to pay for transportation to the ship.

    There are two other types of travel cards that will let you redeem for cruise expenses and any other travel you want. There are fixed-rate cards that allow you to redeem points at a fixed value for statement credits against travel expenses, such as the Discover it® Miles Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

    There are also cards that have flexible rewards currencies that give you the ability to redeem through an online travel portal or transfer directly to airline and hotel partners. Programs that offer that include Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and American Express Membership Rewards.

    While the fixed-rate cards offer the ultimate in flexibility because you can use points for whatever travel you want, the flexible currency cards can offer substantially more value if you’re shrewd when you redeem.

    For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a 25 percent bonus if you redeem points for travel via the Ultimate Rewards website. The Premium Sapphire Reserve card offers even more, giving cardholders a 50 percent bonus for UR redemptions.

    So every point is worth 1.25 cents with the Preferred and 1.50 cents with the Reserve. That means a 50,000-point sign-up bonus can get you up to $750 in travel via the UR website, versus just $500 if you had a fixed-rate card. And you can get just about any travel you want through the UR online travel portal, including cruises, airfare, hotels and more!

  • Special Perks: Enjoy the Finer Things in Life

    Most co-branded cruise cards don’t offer cardholders any special benefits or perks beyond the ability to earn bonus points for purchases made with the cruise line itself. There are exceptions to the rule, though. The premium Celebrity Visa Signature card, for example, comes with a variety of valuable discounts, including half off a second guest’s meals at onboard specialty restaurants, 10 percent off premium beverages and shore excursions, a $50 airfare discount and a $300 credit toward a cruise booked in a premium cabin.

    Some general travel rewards cards offer special perks, too. Depending on the card, you can get free airport lounge access, elite status with hotel and rental car agencies, statement credits for travel expenses, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry fee reimbursement, free Uber rides and concierge service. Keep in mind that the cards with the best perks tend to cost more. While $450 to $500 may seem like a lot to pay in fees every year, if you use those benefits, it can be worth it.

    Take, for instance, the Platinum Card® from American Express. At $550 a year, it’s one of the most expense cards available. But you get a lot for that fee, and if you’re a frequent traveler who uses those perks, it can be worth it. Let me break it down.

    First, you and two guests will get complimentary access to a variety of airport lounges, including the swanky Centurion lounges and the vast network of Priority Pass Select lounges. Lounge access is typically $50 a pop, or $399 for a yearly Priority Pass membership. If you visit a lounge just four times in a year, that’s $200 in value.

    Next, you’ll get $200 in Uber credits. If you Uber at home or while traveling, that’s another $200 toward the annual fee, for a total of $400. Then there’s another $200 credit for airline fees. While that can’t be used for ticket purchases, it can cover bag fees, Wi-Fi, in-flight meals and more. If you use that credit, then you’ve already paid for the annual fee and netted $50.

    So everything else—which includes an impressive five points per dollar for airfare, complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts properties, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Gold elite status with Starwood and Hilton hotels, special upgrades and discounts with select car rental agencies and free Boingo Wi-Fi access—is essentially free.

    You’ll get a similar set of perks and value from any of the premium rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, Citi Prestige® Card and U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card. So if you travel often and you think you’ll use the benefits, these cards can be a fantastic deal that can make traveling a lot more comfortable.

  • Conclusion: Flexibility and Value

    If you have good credit, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t have a credit card that can help offset the cost of traveling. And if you love cruising, it would be reasonable to think that getting a card branded by your favorite cruise line would be the obvious choice. But you should carefully consider how those cards rate on the two most important aspects of any rewards card: value and flexibility. How much will the card save you, and will you be able to use the rewards you earn?

    While cruise line cards can be valuable—typically offering sign-up bonuses worth around $100 and the ability to earn points for every purchase—there may get more out of a general travel rewards card. Not only do most travel cards come with bigger sign-up bonuses, but you’ll also earn more on everyday purchases.

    Cruise cards almost universally limit bonus earning to purchases made with the specific cruise line they’re branded by. General rewards cards will offer bonus points for all sorts of purchases. Depending on the card, you could get 2 to 5 points per dollar spent in bonus categories which can range from gas and restaurants to airfare and groceries. There are also fixed-rate cards which will give you 1.5 to 2 points per dollar for all purchases! Consider how much you spend and what you spend it on to figure out which card will net you the most rewards.

    The flexibility of the rewards you earn is the other key aspect of any travel card. Again, cruise cards are fairly limited in this regard. Nearly all of them only offer redemptions with their respective cruise lines. If you have a Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Credit Card, for example, you’ll only be able to use your points with Royal Caribbean.

    General travel rewards cards offer a lot more flexibility. Depending on the card, you’ll be able to reimburse yourself with statement credits, purchase travel through the rewards program’s website or transfer points to an airline or hotel loyalty program. Why limit yourself to one cruise line when you could have a card that would allow you to redeem with a variety of cruise companies, as well as redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and more?

FAQs

Need more info? Check out our frequently asked questions. If you have other questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment below.

  • Cruise One is a travel agency that specializes in booking cruises, though they also offer resort stays, tours and other vacations. The agency works with all of the major cruise lines and can be contacted through their website. You may be able to get discounts, special rates and package deals through Cruise One.
    The Cruise One MasterCard isn’t really a travel rewards card. It’s issued by Comenity Bank and resembles a co-branded retail store card in terms of what it offers cardholders. You can earn some rewards and finance vacations with the card, but you’d be better offer with a travel rewards card or even a co-branded cruise card.
    Comenity does not appear to be taking applications for the Cruise One card at the moment, but existing cardholders can still use their card and access their online accounts.
  • While co-branded cruise line cards definitely offer some value—most come with sign-up bonuses worth about $100 and no annual fee—you would probably be better off with a general travel rewards credit card.
    To put it simply, most cruise line cards are much more limited compared to other travel rewards cards. You’ll only earn bonus points for cruise purchases, and you can only redeem with one cruise line. There are a lot of other cards on the market that will earn bonus points for cruise purchases and allow you to redeem for all sorts of travel.
    You can get bigger sign-up bonuses and better everyday earning with general travel cards. Those bonuses can be worth upwards of $750, though many fall in the $300 to $500 range.
    However, there are a few cruise line cards that offer card members exclusive discounts and perks. The Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Credit Card is one of the better cruise cards on the market. It offers discounts on dining, premium beverage packages, shore excursions and airfare. Do your research and if a cruise line card offers something you’ll find particularly valuable, it might be worth getting.
  • Since you don’t travel very often, I’d suggest getting a card that is flexible, free and simple to use. That way you can use your rewards for whatever you want without worrying about covering the cost of the annual fee.
    Fixed-rate cards that have no annual fee, such as Discover it® Miles Card and Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, are great because you’ll earn bonus points for every purchase. You won’t have to worry about special bonus categories or anything else. Just use the card, and you’ll have plenty of points in no time.
    The other great thing about these cards is that you can redeem the points you earn for statement credits toward any travel purchase. That means you can save up all your points for a few years and pay for all of your cruise, or you can use a few points to fill your gas tank or pay for a taxi. The choice is yours.
  • Any of the fixed-rate travel cards will allow you to redeem points for statement credits toward any travel purchase. There would be no issue using those points to pay for a cruise. Capital One and Discover are two of the most popular issuers offering that type of card. If you’re interested, check out any of the Venture® Rewards Credit Card or the Discover it® Miles Card.
    The major credit card rewards programs—Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Amex Membership Rewards—will also let you redeem for cruises. However, you’ll have to book the cruise through those programs’ respective online travel portals.
    This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. The travel portals typically offer competitive prices, and, depending on the card, you can get significant discounts. It’s investigating the options to see if it’s worth booking through a rewards program.
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