Best Credit Cards for Booking Cruises in 2024
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Booking cruises with the best credit card can help you earn the most bonus points and enjoy complimentary travel benefits. You may also have a travel redemption bonus requiring you to use fewer points to go on a cruise. Here are several credit cards to consider first as you compare cruise packages.
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of your best options for flexibility and complimentary travel purchase protection benefits.
Travel purchases, including cruises, made through Chase Ultimate Rewards earn 5 points per $1 (excluding the first $50 in hotel statement credits per year). All remaining travel purchases net 2 points per $1 when booked directly through the carrier or another third-party booking site.
You will also receive up to 3x points per dollar spent for the following categories.
- Online grocery orders
- Select streaming services.
In addition to earning points, booking award travel through the Chase travel portal lets you enjoy a 25% redemption bonus. As a result, each point is worth 1.25 cents versus the standard valuation of 1 cent.
The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer onboard cruise perks, but other notable benefits surrounding your travel purchases include:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
- Anniversary bonus equivalent to 10% of points earned during the card membership year
- An annual $50 hotel statement credit for rooms booked on Chase Ultimate Rewards (you might use this credit for a hotel room before or after cruising)
- Travel and emergency assistance services (third-party fees apply)
The annual fee is $95 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
Learn More: Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review to learn about its other benefits and perks.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a superior option for a flat-rate rewards credit card which can help you earn more overall than a tiered rewards program. If you’re consistently seeking one of the highest rewards rates on any type of travel purchase, this is probably your best option, although the extra features cater towards air travel as opposed to cruises.
This card’s straightforward rewards program lets you earn 2 Capital One Miles per $1 spent on all purchases, including cruises. Additionally, car rentals and hotels booked through Capital One Travel earn 5x miles per $1 spent.
Redeeming rewards is also easy as you can exchange your miles balance as a travel statement credit for recent bookings, upcoming travel through Capital One Travel, or convert them into airline and hotel point transfers. The redemption value is 1 cent for travel statement credits and upcoming trips.
The best way to maximize the Venture Rewards Card for cruises is to book your itinerary with money and earn double miles. Next, redeem them as a travel statement credit after the miles are deposited into your account, as there isn’t a minimum redemption.
You can also enjoy free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck with up to $100 in application fee statement credits to get shorter airport security lines and a more efficient screening process.
There are also a few travel protection benefits but buying travel insurance is usually a better course of action for additional financial security.
The annual fee is $95 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
Learn More: Read our Capital One Venture review to learn more about this card’s flexible rewards program.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a compelling option when you want flexible rewards and premium benefits. It’s also an excellent option if you like to book travel through your credit card travel portal as you can earn up to 10 miles per $1 spent.
The rewards categories include:
- 10x on hotels and car rentals booked on Capital One Travel
- 5x on flights booked on Capital One Travel
- 2x for all remaining travel purchases (including cruises)
Your redemption options include travel statement credits, booking upcoming trips through Capital One Travel, and airline or hotel point transfers. The redemption value is 1 cent per point for statement credits and future travel bookings.
This card offers several valuable features that can benefit frequent travelers:
- Annual $300 Capital One Travel credit (bookings through Capital One)
- 10,000 bonus miles on each account anniversary ($100 value)
- Unlimited visits to Capital One Lounge, Priority Pass Select, and Plaza Premium
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit (up to $100)
- $100 experience credit at eligible Premium Collection hotels and resorts
While you may not be able to use the annual Capital One Travel credit to offset your cruise purchase, this travel portal offers price prediction and fare difference refunds on qualifying flights when another online travel agency offers a better rate. These benefits can make it easier and more affordable to position before sailing.
Cardholders can also gain peace of mind with up to $2,000 per person in trip cancellation and interruption coverage and up to $500 in trip delay benefits.
You can see more of the best Capital One Venture X perks here, including complimentary cell phone protection and other Visa Infinite benefits.
Consider the Venture X if you’re seeking a budget-friendly premium credit card. The annual fee is $395 for the primary card. Further, there is no foreign transaction fee.
Related: Can’t decide which Capital One travel credit card to get? Our Capital One Venture X vs. Venture comparison highlights the similarities and differences to help you choose.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best option for luxury travelers as it has many flight, hotel, and car rental perks.
Amex Platinum cardholders also have exclusive access to the American Express Cruise Privileges Program (CPP). The CPP benefits can include:
- $100 to $300 per stateroom in shipboard credits
- Additional onboard amenities (vary by the cruise line)
- Earn an extra Membership Rewards point per $1 spent when booking through American Express Travel
Contacting Platinum Travel Service can help you find the most rewarding cruise fares. You can also browse cruise promotions online at your leisure.
As cruise travel can be costly, qualifying travel purchases are eligible for up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per 12-month period in trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
Many of Amex Platinum’s additional travel benefits revolve around air travel. The card reimburses up to $200 per calendar year in incidental airline fees (at one selected airline) and complimentary airport lounge access to several independent and airline-operated networks, including Centurion Lounges.
Cardholders can also enjoy up to $200 Uber Cash for rides and eats (in the U.S.) orders with monthly credits (renews annually), and a variety of lifestyle statement credits for entertainment, fitness, and shopping.
The annual fee is $695 for the basic card. Each additional card is $195. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Related: Read our American Express Platinum Card review to find out more about this card’s many benefits.
The maximum benefit amount for Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance is $10,000 per Covered Trip and $20,000 per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® cruise benefits provide the flexibility of earning bonus points, flexible travel redemptions, and the chance to use your annual up to $300 travel statement credit, which can be redeemed for cruises.
After redeeming the annual $300 statement credit on the first travel purchases of the year, future travel purchases can earn up to 10x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent:
- 10x on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 5x on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3x on all other travel purchases, including cruises.
Dining purchases earn 3x points per $1 spent and 10x points per $1 spent through Chase Dining. All non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.
Regarding redemptions, your points are worth 50% more at 1.5 cents on travel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Paying for cruise bookings with Chase points is eligible for this redemption bonus.
The Sapphire Reserve offers some of the most valuable credit card insurance benefits. One unique benefit is emergency evacuation and transportation benefits of up to $100,000. This is a valuable perk for international cruises to avoid out-of-pocket costs for health emergencies.
Other trip insurance benefits include:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip.
- Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket after qualifying delays.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: Primary coverage of up to $75,000 for theft and collision on qualifying rentals
- Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per passenger on covered trips
The annual fee is $550 for the primary card and $75 per authorized user. There is no foreign transaction fee.
Related: Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve review for more.
American Express® Green Card
The American Express® Green Card is your best option for earning American Express Membership Rewards points on cruises. That’s because travel, transit, and dining purchases collect 3x points per $1 spent.
If you’re flying to your port of departure, up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits per year and up to $189 in CLEAR® Plus membership statement credits (subject to auto-renewal) can streamline your airport experience.
It’s best to use this card to earn rewards on cruise-related spending but to redeem your purchase rewards for flights as they have a one-cent redemption value. In comparison, other travel or cash bookings are typically worth 0.8 cents per point or a tad lower.
You may also consider pairing the Amex Green with the American Express® Gold Card for restaurant and grocery rewards or Amex Platinum for luxury travel and frequent flyer perks.
There are also a few complimentary travel protection benefits worth noting.
- Baggage insurance plan
- Trip delay insurance
- Secondary rental car coverage.
The annual fee is $150 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
Learn More: Read our Amex Green Card benefits guide here.
Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Baggage Insurance Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Trip Delay Insurance Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. Secondary Rental Car Coverage Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
The information for the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by The Vacationer. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Co-Branded Cruise Credit Cards
If you’re loyal to a particular cruise line, it can be worth charging your itinerary with a co-branded credit card. These cards are more likely to offer onboard privileges and earn cruise points that can help you book free cruises and upgrades sooner.
Some of the most popular cruise credit cards include:
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: An excellent option when booking cruises and car rentals through Costco Travel, earn up to 4% back on purchases. Earn 2% back on Costco-related purchases and enjoy exclusive cruise vacation benefits. Redeem your rewards as a Costco shopping credit. $0 annual fee as well as a 0% foreign transaction fee.
- Carnival® World Mastercard®: Earn up to 2x FunPoints on purchases, get 10% back on shore excursions, and enjoy no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Points can be redeemed as statement credits for Carnival purchases, onboard experiences, and more.
- Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Credit Card: Earn up to 2x MyCruise® points with Celebrity Cruises® and Royal Caribbean®. Redeem your points for cruises, onboard credits, stateroom upgrades and discounts with either provider. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
- Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card: Holland America purchases earn 2x points and 1x for all non-bonus spending. Redeem points for Holland America cruises, onboard amenities, and qualifying flights. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
The information for the Carnival® World Mastercard®, Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Credit Card, and the Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card have been collected independently by The Vacationer. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Co-branded cards typically offer bonus cruise points that you can use for onboard credits to save once you hit the seas. The minimum spending requirements and 0% introductory APR can also be desirable for your personal situation.
However, a flexible credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve or another of the cards listed above. These cards provide the latitude of earning bonus points on all travel purchases, regardless of how you travel or which carrier you use.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
The above rewards credit cards are an excellent way to pay for a cruise and other vacations. A flexible credit card helps you easily earn the most rewards when utilizing the best places for booking cheap cruises.
In addition to earning bonus points, many credit card programs offer a travel booking site that may provide complimentary onboard amenities and credits. Discounted cruise packages can also be available.
Along with the ongoing benefits, your best option for your next sailing can also depend on which signup bonus offer is the most valuable yet easiest to earn for your lifestyle.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply
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