How 5 of the most powerful travel rewards credit cards stack up

Private jet setterTyler Olson/ShutterstockThese cards are designed for travel lovers.

The premium travel rewards credit card market has become a battleground, as America’s most powerful credit issuers compete for the business — and loyalty — of young and wealthy clients.

The five largest credit issuers in the US by market share — American Express, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, and Capital One — are continually one-upping each other with increasingly lucrative offers on their most powerful travel rewards cards.

Benefits often include hundreds of dollars in travel credit annually, massive sign-up bonuses, and hefty discounts on travel booking, occasionally at the company’s own expense.

Though three of the most elite travel cards come with a steep annual membership fee, the cost could pay for itself, provided you take full advantage of the rewards offered. For some, the new member deals are attractive enough to warrant the high fee: Put your everyday purchases on your new card and if you meet the spending threshold within the first 90 days, receive hundreds of dollars to book airfare and hotels.

And if you’re not ready to fork over upwards of $US450 annually for a bevy of benefits, there’s low cost, or no cost, cards that still offer pretty sweet rewards.

But be warned: While travel hackers have made redeeming rewards from multiple cards a modern-day art form, signing up for any credit card makes you responsible for paying off the balance, ideally in full every month. Not doing so will subject you to incredibly high interest rates and could likely damage your credit.

Below, see how the most premium current travel offerings from the credit behemoths stack up:

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