Top Credit Cards for Summer Fun — Travel, Entertainment, and More
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It’s official: summer is here! And, with it, all of the summer fun is here as well. From travel to concerts to amusement parks and beyond, there’s plenty of entertainment to be enjoyed while the weather is warm. So what if you could earn rewards while engaging in these summer pastimes? Well, thanks to some popular and lesser-known credit cards, you can!
Whether you already have your summer plans or are still shopping for options, here are a few rewards credit cards that could come in handy.
Casual and Family Travel Cards
Rather than rehash some of the luxury travel cards that are often a key focus of these round-ups, let’s look at some travel cards more suited to casual and family travelers heading on summer getaways.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Summer fun perk: 2x points on travel purchases, 5x total points on travel purchases made via Chase Ultimate Rewards + earn 25% more when redeeming points for Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases
- Annual fee: $95
- Current intro offer: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases during your first 3 months
Since we’re not talking luxury travel cards, we’re going to overlook the Chase Sapphire Reserve and instead highlight the Sapphire Preferred card. This option has been a low-key favorite for years, but got a boost thanks to a relatively-recent refresh.
Currently, in addition to earning 5x total points on travel purchases made via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 2x points on all other travel purchases (the perks that landed it on this list), it also earns 3x on dining, 3x points on online grocery purchase, 3x on select streaming service purchases, and 1x on all other purchases.
Another key benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is that the points you earn are worth 25% more (for a total of 1.25¢ each) when redeemed for travel bookings via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Speaking of that portal, each anniversary year, customers now also earn up to $50 in statement credits on hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That new benefit can help offset the card’s $95 annual fee.
Lastly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also has a solid welcome bonus. At this time, new cardholders can earn 60,000 points after spending on the card in their first three months. Not only is this bonus worth $600 in statement credits but could also be redeemed for up to $750 in travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Thus, it’s easy to see why this card could be an easy-to-use option for those travelers not quite ready to upgrade to the big annual fee cards.
Capital One Venture
- Summer fun perk: 2 miles per dollar on all purchases
- Annual fee: $95
- Current intro offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within your first 3 months
For those who want to earn travel rewards without having to worry about bonus categories, point transfers, etc., the Capital One Venture may be a straightforward solution. With this card, you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. These miles can then be redeemed for travel purchases — it’s that simple.
As far as welcome bonuses go, the Venture card’s current promotion could be quite lucrative. Now, new cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus miles when they spent $4,000 on purchases within their first three months. This bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases.
Meanwhile, if you want to move up or down the annual fee scale, there are a few other Venture flavors you might consider. On the low end, there’s the VentureOne, which has no annual fee but earns 1.25x miles on all purchases instead of the full-fledged Venture’s 2x.
Alternatively, the new Venture X card recently made a splash with its travel perks and benefits. That card does carry a $395 annual fee, but that cost is heavily offset by the up to $300 in travel credit cardholders can use on bookings made via Capital One Travel. Whichever Venture option you choose, hopefully it will help you and your family save money on future vacations.
American Express Green Card
- Summer fun perk: 3x points on travel and transit purchases (and CLEAR membership)
- Annual fee: $150
- Current intro offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $3,000 on the card within your first six months. Plus, earn 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases made during your first six month, up to a total of $200 back.
There’s a lot to like about the American Express Green Card when it comes to summer travel. But, let’s start with the biggest reason why it’s on the list this year: it’s currently boasting it’s best-ever welcome bonus.
As of this writing, new cardholders can not only earn 60,000 points after making $3,000 in purchases on the card during their first six months but will also earn 20% back on travel and transit purchases during that six months, up to a total of $200 in statement credits. Depending on how you redeem your points, this offer could be worth anywhere from $560 to $1,400 or more.
As for the card itself, while it does have a $150 annual fee, that’s offset by some key perks. For one, the card includes up to $189 in annual statement credits for CLEAR — a service that helps you get through airport security faster. And while that amount likely won’t cover your family, you can add additional members (up to 3) to your account for $70 per person per year. Elsewhere, the card also includes $100 in annual statement credits for LoungeBuddy.
The rewards structure of the Amex Green Card is also appealing to casual travelers thanks to the broad 3x on travel and transit purchases category. On top of that, cardholders also earn 3x points at restaurants. As a result, this card could be a solid hit for summer travelers — especially with the current deal.
Allegiant World Mastercard
- Summer fun perk: 3x points on Allegiant purchases + flight benefits
- Annual fee: $59
- Current intro offer: 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in your first 90 days
With so many airline credit cards available, it may seem pretty random to highlight the Allegiant World Mastercard. However, what sets this option apart from many other airline co-branded cards is that, instead of earning miles that correspond to specific redemptions, the Allegiant World Mastercard’s Allways points are worth 1¢ each toward Allegiant flights with no minimum redemption required. Coupled with the fact that Allegiant is a budget-friendly airline and services a mix of destination cities and smaller markets, it seems like a good fit for family and leisure travelers.
Now that we’ve justified the Allegiant World Mastercard’s inclusion on this list, let’s look at the benefits. First, cardholders earn 3 points per dollar spent on Allegiant purchases as well as 2x points on qualifying dining and 1x on all other purchases.
Plus, cardholders enjoy complimentary priority boarding and one free beverage every time they fly Allegiant. With priority boarding fetching between $4 and $12 per use and drinks ranging from $2 to $7, these benefits could add up. Finally, with a low annual fee of $59, the card is relatively affordable.
Currently, the Allegiant World Mastercard also offers a very attainable welcome bonus. New cardholders can earn 15,000 bonus points (equal to $150 in flight credits) when they spend $1,000 on the card within their first 90 days.
Entertainment and Amusement Cards
In addition to travel perks, a number of credit cards offer rewards on entertainment and other activities. Here are a few such options:
Capital One SavorOne
- Summer fun perk: 3% back on entertainment purchases
- Annual fee: $0
- Current intro offer: $200 cashback after spending $500 on purchases within your first three months
The Capital One SavorOne is a rewards card that comes up often — and for good reason. This time around, the key perk of this card is the 3% cashback it earns on entertainment purchases. Notably, this broad category includes such activities as theme parks, theatres, zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, and more.
Plus, the card also earns 3% back on dining, 3% back on select streaming service purchases, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% back everywhere else. It also earns 8% back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats.
Another nice thing about the SavorOne card is the strong spend-to-reward ratio of its welcome bonus. Right now, new customers can earn $200 cashback after spending just $500 on the card in their first three months.
Overall, the SavorOne is a solid all-around card that also happens to be perfect for summer fun. Meanwhile, those interested in upping their rewards can check out the regular Savor card, which earns 4% on dining and entertainment but carries a $95 annual fee.
Citi Custom Cash
- Summer fun perk: 5% back on live entertainment — if it’s your top eligible spend category during a statement month(up to $500 in purchases per statement)
- Annual fee: $0
- Current intro offer: $200 cashback after spending $750 in purchases during your first three months
The Citi Custom Cash card is an interesting and adaptable option that could come in handy this summer. First, let’s look at how this card works. Basically, when your statement closes, Citi will reward you by providing you 5% cashback on purchases in your top eligible spending category that month (up to $500 in purchases). These eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment.
In other words, if you use the card strategically, you could get up to 5% back on a category you choose to target. While this may sound a bit complicated, it basically just means that you could be earning 5% back on travel or live entertainment this summer, shift to 5% on gas stations after that, or perhaps just use it as a 5% back dining card year-round — it’s really up to you. By the way, all other purchases made with the card will earn 1% cashback.
Aside from this unique structure, the Citi Custom Cash card also boasts a decent (if not slightly underwhelming) welcome bonus. Currently, cardholders can earn $200 back after making $750 in purchases during their first three months.
Chase Freedom Flex
- Summer fun perk: 5% back on live entertainment from July through September 2023 (up to $1,500 in combined bonus category spending for the quarter)
- Annual fee: $0
- Current intro offer: $200 cashback after spending $500 in purchases on the card in your first three months
The Chase Freedom Flex is what’s known as a rotating bonus category card. However, unlike the Citi Custom Cash card where the category changes depending on your spending, Chase unveils a new round of 5% bonus categories each quarter.
As luck would have it, Q3 2023 — which runs from July 1st through September 30th — includes live entertainment. Some cited examples include sporting events, zoos/aquariums, concerts, theatrical productions, museums, tourist attractions/exhibits, amusement parks, and more. However, some non-included examples include movie theatres, bowling alleys, casinos, etc.
Plus, in addition to live entertainment, cardholders can also earn up to 5% back on gas station and EV charging purchases during the quarter. That said, the Freedom Flex does cap the 5% bonus at a total of $1,500 in combined bonus category spending. This means that cardholders can earn up to $75 back from this particular offer.
Meanwhile, year-round, the Freedom Flex earns 3% back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services as well as 3% back on drug store purchases. All other purchases earn 1% back,
What’s also great about the Freedom Flex is its easily-earnable welcome bonus. Currently, new cardholders can score $200 cashback after spending just $500 on the card during their first three months. For all of those reasons, the Chase Freedom Flex could be a great summer pick-up.
With summer upon us, now could be a good time to add a new rewards credit card to your wallet. Whether you want to be rewarded on your family travel or score cashback while exploring theme parks and attractions, these options might just be your perfect companion.
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