Best Credit Cards For Cruises

While the cruise industry came to a screeching halt in 2020 due to the pandemic, some cruise lines resumed international operations in late 2020 or early 2021. Cruises departing from US ports took a little longer time consuming, primarily due to the health and safety protocols adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the American cruise is finally progressing. For example, Carnival Cruise Line has resumed some routes departing from Galveston, Texas and Miami in July this year with other cruises coming in August, September and October.

Meanwhile, MSC Cruises just launched its first US ship from Miami (MSC Meraviglia) on August 2, 2021, with several other ships (including MSC Divina and MSC Seashore) slated to resume sailing from Florida to the end of the year.

Cruise lines update their cancellation policies

With the cruise once again becoming a possibility, you may be wondering how to book your cruise safely and how to make sure you’re protected if your cruise is canceled or if you need to cancel due to COVID-19. For the most part, you’ll be happy to hear that most cruise lines have flexible cancellation policies in place to provide peace of mind.

For example, MSC Cruises offers a CruiseFlex total program which allows you to cancel and modify your reservation up to 48 hours before departure (valid on reservations until September 30, 2021). Royal Caribbean has a similar policy in place for cruises booked through April 30, 2022, allowing you to cancel your cruise up to 48 hours before departure and book with cruise credit at a later date.

What about travel insurance?

Considering all the costs associated with the cruise (cruise fare, plane tickets, hotels, etc.) and the general chaos that COVID-19 has caused to most of our travel plans, you are probably also wondering. questions about travel insurance. How do I get travel insurance for cruises that covers pandemic costs, including quarantine?

Once again, cruise lines have stepped up, most of them offering specific travel insurance plans that you can add to your cruise booking. With Carnival Vacation Protection, for example, you get trip cancellation coverage that lets you cancel for any reason. You also get baggage insurance, medical coverage worth up to $ 10,000, emergency evacuation coverage and more starting at $ 49 per person.

You can also purchase travel insurance with COVID-19 protection, but you need to make sure that any plan you buy in fact covers travel costs related to the pandemic. As more companies add COVID-19 travel coverage to their insurance offerings, you can still find many companies that rule out pandemics or “availability to travel due to a pandemic”. Either way, your best bet is to purchase a plan with “cancel for any reason” coverage.

Note also that some credit cards provide travel insurance coverage, although many plans specifically exclude claims or quarantine related to the pandemic. That being said, you can still rely on a credit card with travel insurance for baggage delays, travel delays, and other issues you face.

Best credit cards for cruises in 2021

Many travel rewards and credit cards can also help cover the cost of your cruise with rewards, and some can help with flights and hotels as well. Note that all of the cards that made our ranking can be used to book cruises with any cruise line, and not just with a specific carrier.

Here are the best Bankrate credit cards for cruises in 2021:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best Bonus Offer

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card kicks off new cardholders with 60,000 bonus points worth $ 750 on travel after spending $ 4,000 within three months of opening the account. This means that, with relatively low expenses, anyone can earn $ 750 for their next cruise in a short period of time.

This card also makes it easy to earn points at a fast pace, with 5X points on trips booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on Lyft trips (through March 31, 2022); 3X points on meals (including qualifying delivery services), certain streaming services and online grocery purchases (except Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); 2X points on other trips and 1X points on all other expenses. Annual fees of $ 95 apply.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best Premium Travel Card

If you’re a cruise regular looking for a premium travel credit card, check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This card will set you back $ 550 per year, but you get perks like a $ 300 annual travel credit (valid for cruises and other travel), airport lounge access, expense credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership and 50% more value when you redeem points for travel through Chase.

On the earnings side of the equation, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you 50,000 points when you sign up and spend $ 4,000 within three months of opening the account. You also earn 10X points on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 10X total points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards; 10X points on Lyft trips (until March 31, 2022); 5X points on flights booked through Chase (after obtaining your $ 300 travel credit); 3X points on travel and meals and 1X points on other purchases.

Capital One Venture Rewards credit card: the best for flexibility

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card it keeps it simple by offering 2 miles for every dollar you spend. You can also earn 60,000 bonus miles worth $ 600 when you sign up and spend $ 3,000 within three months of opening the account.

When you go to redeem, you can use your Capital One miles to cover the cost of the cruise at a rate of one cent per mile. You can also redeem your rewards for purchases through Amazon.com or Paypal, or for transfers to Capital One’s airline and hotel partners. An annual fee of $ 95 applies, but you can receive up to $ 100 in credit for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership.

Discover it® Miles: the best with no annual fees

The Discover it® Miles is a solid rewards credit card for cruises if you’re reluctant to pay an annual fee. This card gives you 1.5 miles for every dollar spent, and Discover will double any miles you earn after the first year has passed. You can redeem your miles for cruises at the rate of one cent per mile.

With this earning rate, spending $ 10,000 on your card in a year would earn you 15,000 miles. Discover would double your miles to 30,000 after the first year, which you could redeem for $ 300 in cruise fare.

Best of all, Discover it Miles offers 0% APR on purchases for 14 months, followed by a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99%. This means that you can charge your cruise to your card and pay it off without interest for over a year.

Is a card that rewards cruises right for you?

The best cruise credit cards aren’t for everyone, but they can help you save money or access special perks if you know how to use them.

A cruise credit card may be right for you if:

  • You have no debt and plan to stay that way
  • You are disciplined enough to use a 0% APR offer for purchases without accumulating long-term debt
  • You are interested in travel benefits like airport lounge access or TSA Precheck credits
  • You’re in no rush to win a free cruise with rewards
  • Your credit rating is very good or excellent

If you are struggling with debt, you may want to avoid credit and save money for the cruise of your choice. While everyone needs a vacation, and cruising is one of the best options, coming home with a mountain of bills (including interest payments) can ruin the fun in a hurry.

How to choose a credit card for cruises

The right credit card for your next cruise depends on what type of expense you are, your credit score, and what you hope to accomplish. These tips can help you choose the best cruise credit card for your goals:

  • Decide if you want 0% APR. Some credit cards offer rewards 0% APR on purchases for a limited time, which can help you make payments on your cruise without any interest. These offers should be used sparingly and only if you have a plan, but they can still be a bargain.
  • Compare bonus offers. If you are able to spend a few thousand dollars in the months following signing up for your new card, you could earn a welcome bonus worth $ 500 or more for your next cruise,
  • Check the earning rates that match your expenses. Make sure any credit card you choose offers rewards that match your spending habits.
  • Think about the annual fee. There is nothing wrong with paying an annual fee for a credit card, but you need to make sure that any perks or perks you receive are worth it.
  • Don’t look for foreign transaction fees. If you plan to visit cruise ports outside of the United States, make sure your cruise credit card does not charge overseas transaction fees.
  • Understand which travel benefits you want the most. Finally, note that many bonuses travel credit cards enjoy perks such as airport lounge access and annual travel credits. You’ll pay more for a card with a wider selection of benefits, but the investment may be worth it if you travel often.

The bottom line

If you are considering getting a cruise credit card, you need to pick one that gives you the most bang for your buck. This means choosing a card with a generous bonus offer and plenty of rewards on your spending. If you get some extra travel benefits along the way, even better. With the right credit card, you’ll be on a cruise before you know it and with less personal expense than ever.


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Kayleen C. Rice

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