Co-branded Cruise Cards
1. Royal Caribbean Visa Card
Issued by FIA (a Bank of America subsidiary), this no annual fee credit card offers cruise rewards, which are good towards onboard purchases or offsetting the cost of your trip.
- New account holders can get up to 10,000 bonus points when applying through RoyalCaribbean.com and a $50 statement credit.
- When redeeming a large quantity of points, it’s possible to get more than 1 cent value per point. For example, redeem 125,000 points for a 5 to 7 night Caribbean cruise for two.
- You only earn 1 point on regular spending and 2 points for on-board purchases.
- The reward options which require a lower number of points usually yield a value of only 1 cent/point. Example: 5,000 points = $50 on-board credit.
2. Carnival Cruise MasterCard
I’ve actually written an in-depth review for this credit card on more than one occasion over the past few years. It has undergone quite a few changes and the most recent rendition is issued by Barclays.
- You get a signup bonus of 10,000 points (worth $100) after your first purchase.
- In addition to Carnival, you can also use the rewards on Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, and Seabourn.
- The rewards are similar to the card above; you get 1 point normally, 2 points on Carnival.
- To get more than the typical $0.01/point, you will probably need to save up large amount.
3. Princess Cruises Rewards Visa
Also issued by Barclays, this credit card is almost exactly the same as the one for Carnival. The biggest difference is that it’s a Visa. There’s no annual fee.
- You get 5,000 bonus points after the first purchase.
- If you’re a very big spender, it’s possible to get up to 2 cents value per point. For example, you can get a free cruise worth up to $7,500 for 375,000 points. Or up to a $3,000 cruise for 20,000 points (that’s comparable to 1.5 cents/point).
- It only earns 1x point/dollar normally and 2x on the affiliated cruise line, Princess.
- Most reward options under 20,000 points will give you the equivalent of 1 cent per point.
4. Norwegian Cruise Line Visa
This Visa issued by Bank of America is similar to the other cruise line branded credit cards and there is no annual fee
- You get 10,000 bonus points after your first qualifying purchase.
- Rewards can also be used for car rentals, hotel stays, and gift certificates.
- Includes auto renters insurance.
- Earns only 1 point per dollar spent, but does give you triple points for all Norwegian Cruise purchases.
- To get a free balcony cabin on a 7 night cruise to the Caribbean, you will need 227,990 points. (requires charging $227,900 on your Visa)
General Travel Cards
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa
Chances are you already know about this card because it’s advertised so much. But what you might not know is that points can be spent on just about any type of travel, even cruises. My Chase Sapphire review talks about the nitty-gritty but here it is in a nutshell.
- 2x points on travel, 2x at restaurants, 1x on everything else.
- When points are redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards for airfare or hotel, the value is 25% greater (i.e. 10,000 points = $125).
- There’s no foreign transaction fee.
- The annual fee after the first year is $95, which won’t make sense for everyone.
- When cashing out your points for cruise rewards, you’re only going to get $0.01 value per point.
- There won’t be any special perks/promotions with specific cruise lines since it’s not affiliated with any.
2. American Express Blue Sky
The biggest advantage to this card is that it has no annual fee and the rewards are worth more than 1%.
- Every 7,500 points can be cashed out for a $100 statement credit to offset a travel purchase. That means you are getting a 1.33% rebate on spending.
- American Express is accepted at fewer places than Visa or MasterCard.
- While it’s nice to earn 1.33% on everyday spending, the drawback is that you won’t be earning bonus points on categories like travel.
3. Capital One Venture Rewards (Visa)
This is another travel card you probably are familiar with since Capital One runs so many commercials for it. It’s not specifically a credit card for cruise rewards, but you can redeem the Venture “miles” for any travel purchase (including cruises).
- It gives a flat 2x “miles” per dollar on every purchase. Each “mile” is worth $0.01 when redeemed towards a travel purchase.
- Capital One doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
- The annual fee is $59 after the first year. It’s cheaper than the Chase Sapphire, but still might not be logical for light spenders.
- The Capital One Venture is not affiliated with any cruise line.
The biggest advantage of getting a card that is co-branded with a specific cruise company is that you may get occasional promotions and special coupons for being a cardholder. However when it comes to what you’re earning, sometimes the best credit cards for cruise rewards are just the generic travel cards.
Mike of CreditCardForum.com wrote this article. Aside from reviewing credit cards, he’s also a huge cruise fanatic.