With such a variance in music, food, and diversity, the open roads of the USA are any road-trippers’ dream. However, like any form of travel, a road trip does come with its fair share of costs. In this article, we discuss a number of rewards cards to help a road tripper save on the most common road trip expenses: Gas, Restaurants, Hotels, and Groceries.  These rewards cards have been specifically chosen with the money conscious millennial traveler in mind, all of which have no annual fees attached.

Check out our article on How To Travel Cheap in USA.

The point of this list is not to make a load of large unnecessary purchases that you can’t afford to pay back when your bill comes. The point of these card choices is to use them for the road trip expenses you would be incurring anyway, and then make cash back on those expenses. As the age-old adage goes:

Credit card rewards good. Credit card debt bad.

Don’t get into credit card debt. Treat these rewards cards akin to debit cards on your trip and only spend what you can afford. Make sure to pay your bills on time and in full. As all these suggested cards have no annual fees, responsible use (for example, not buying a pony on credit) will put money back in your pocket.

Without further hesitation, let’s look at our top road trip card picks for Gas, Restaurants, Hotels, and Groceries.

reward cards

Best Gas Card Pick: Ducks Unlimited Rewards Card

Ducks Unlimited Rewards Card: Details

  • 5% cash back on gas station purchases
  • 5% cash back on sporting goods stores purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Donates a portion of every purchase to support wetlands conservation
  • Visa Card: Additional Visa protections and benefits
  • Credit Score Requirement: Good Credit (approximately a 670+ FICO 8 Score) or better

Ducks Unlimited Rewards Card: Summary

There is no denying that gas is going to be a significant expense on your road trip, unless you drive an electric or your car has pedals. There are a number of gas rewards cards on the market that can help you recuperate some of your gas expenses through cash back. However, one gas rewards card currently flies above the competition.

When looking at the details of the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Card, it looks as if this card was created with the intrepid road tripper in mind. With a whopping 5% cash back at gas stations, the Ducks card is currently the best gas rewards card on the US market. The 5% cash back at sporting goods stores also provides a massive asset to road-trippers, as larger sporting goods stores often stock road trip essentials, such as camping gear, hiking equipment, and even grills. The 1% cash back on all other purchases is a small yet pleasant addition.

There is also a charitable component to this card. Every time you use the Ducks card a small portion of your purchase will be donated to fund wetland conservation.

With a huge cash back rate on gas and sporting goods, the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Card is a fantastic savings tool in any road-trippers’ repertoire.  

Best Restaurant Card Pick: Uber Visa Card

Uber Visa Card: Details

  • 4% cashback on restaurants, bars, and take out
  • 4% cashback on Uber Eats
  • 3% cashback on hotels and airlines
  • $600 cell phone protection (when you use this card to pay your phone bill)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Visa Card: Additional Visa protections and benefits
  • Credit Score Requirement: Good credit (approximately a 670+ FICO 8 Score) or better
  • No annual fee

With a wide range of cash back categories and no annual fee, the Uber Visa Card is a fantastic piece of plastic. If we are looking at this card solely from a road trippers point of view there are some exceptional rewards and benefits. The highlight of this card is the 4% cash back on restaurants. If you are planning on wining and dining in different locales on your travels, the Uber Visa Card can help you cut your costs through cash back every time you call for the check.

With the 3% cash back on airlines and hotels, the Uber Visa Card also moonlights as a mid-level travel rewards card. However if you are in the market for a travel rewards card there are potentially better travel rewards card options.

If your voyage brings you over country lines the Uber Visa Card also has no foreign transaction fees, keeping the banks from chipping into your road trip funds.

Finally, the Uber Visa Card offers $600 cell phone protection when you use it to pay your phone bill. This can be a great asset if you plan on activities that could shorten your phone’s lifespan, such as hiking, fishing, and boating.

Note: While the Uber Visa Card gives 3% on hotels, which may be beneficial if you are staying at a number of hotels/motels on your trip, there are better hotel-specific cards on the market. This now brings us to our pick for the best hotel rewards card…

Best Hotels Card Picks: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card: Details

  • 10x miles per dollar at Hotels.com/venture
  • 1.25x miles per dollar on every other purchase
  • Introductory bonus of 20,000 miles when you spend $1000 in 3 months on the card (this equates to $200 dollars in travel redemptions)
  • Visa Card: Additional Visa protections and benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Credit Score Requirement: Excellent credit (approximately a 740+ FICO 8 score)
  • No annual fees

Most hotel cards are generally branded, meaning they offer rewards at particular chains of hotels. However, the VentureOne offers 10x miles per dollar (effectively 10% cashback) on bookings made on Hotels.com. If you are not one who is fond of sleeping on the back seat, the VentureOne can help you get substantial savings on hotel bookings. Other purchases only have a 1.25% cash back equivalent, so it is advised to use another card for other expenses to maximize your cashback and savings. This card also comes with no foreign transaction fees, which is a massive boon if your trip brings you to other countries.

TIP: check out also post about cheap motels in USA!

Best Grocery Card Pick: American Express Blue Cash Everyday

American Express Blue Cash Everyday: Details

  • 3% cash back at US Supermarkets, with a $6000 per annum cap
  • 2% cash back at US gas stations and selected department stores
  • 1% cash back for all other purchases
  • $150 sign up bonus for spending $1000 in the first 3 months
  • Credit Score Requirement: Good Credit (approximately a 670+ FICO 8 Score) or better

If you are trying to be somewhat frugal food-wise or you fancy yourself as a nomadic Gordon Ramsay, a grocery rewards card may be a better choice than a restaurant card. If you are looking for a no-fee grocery rewards card it’s hard to beat Amex’s Blue Cash Everyday. The Blue Cash Everyday offers 3% cash back on US supermarket purchases, which can help even off your road trip costs. From a general point of view, the Blue Cash Everyday has a fantastic suite of rewards for a no annual fee card, giving cash back in numerous categories. In terms of a saving for a road trip, however, the main category is the grocery rewards. The 2% cash back on gas is lacklustre in comparison to the Duck Unlimited Rewards card discussed above.

Note: The Blue Cash Everyday has an upgraded version, the Blue Cash Preferred. The rewards are increased on the Preferred Card, including a huge 6% cash back on groceries. However, it does have an annual fee of $95, which in the context of making savings on a road trip, it’s most likely not worth it. If you are someone who spends a lot on groceries during the year, it may be worth comparing the two cards and seeing how you can offset the annual fee.   

Think about your trip expenses and what cards can bring you value

In order to maximize your cash back and cut down on your travel costs, make sure to budget and plan before your road trip. Ask yourself what are going to be your main costs and tailor you card choices around that. Also, to reiterate, the idea behind these reward card choices is to put cash back in your pocket for the expenses on your road trip, not the other way around. Act responsibly. If you pay off your bills each month and in full these cards will cost you nothing (due to all choices being annual fee free) and instead make you money. Safe Travels!