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Understanding business travel deductions

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IRS Tax Tip 2023-15, February 7, 2023

Whether someone travels for work once a year or once a month, figuring out travel expense tax write-offs might seem confusing. The IRS has information to help all business travelers properly claim these valuable deductions.

Here are some tax details all business travelers should know

Business travel deductions are available when employees must travel away from their  tax home  or  main place of work  for business reasons. A taxpayer is traveling away from home if they are away for longer than an ordinary day's work and they need to sleep to meet the demands of their work while away.

Travel expenses  must be ordinary and necessary. They can't be lavish, extravagant or for personal purposes.

Employers can deduct travel expenses paid or incurred during a  temporary work assignment  if the assignment length does not exceed one year.

Travel expenses for  conventions  are deductible if attendance benefits the business. There are special rules for conventions held  outside North America .

Deductible travel expenses include:

  • Travel by airplane, train, bus or car between your home and your business destination.
  • Fares for taxis or other types of transportation between an airport or train station and a hotel, or from a hotel to a work location.
  • Shipping of baggage and sample or display material between regular and temporary work locations.
  • Using a personally owned car for business.
  • Lodging and  meals .
  • Dry cleaning and laundry.
  • Business calls and communication.
  • Tips paid for services related to any of these expenses.
  • Other similar ordinary and necessary expenses related to the business travel.

Self-employed individuals or farmers with travel deductions

  • Those who are self-employed can deduct travel expenses on  Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship) .
  • Farmers can use  Schedule F (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Farming .

Travel deductions for the National Guard or military reserves

National Guard or military reserve servicemembers can claim a deduction for unreimbursed travel expenses paid during the  performance of their duty .

Recordkeeping

Well-organized records  make it easier to prepare a tax return. Keep records such as receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support a deduction.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Business Travel Tax Deduction

Justin W. Jones, EA, JD

Justin is an IRS Enrolled Agent, allowing him to represent taxpayers before the IRS. He loves helping freelancers and small business owners save on taxes. He is also an attorney and works part-time with the Keeper Tax team.

You don’t have to fly first class and stay at a fancy hotel to claim travel expense tax deductions. Conferences, worksite visits, and even a change of scenery can (sometimes) qualify as business travel.

What counts as business travel?

The IRS does have a few simple guidelines for determining what counts as business travel. Your trip has to be:

  • Mostly business
  • An “ordinary and necessary” expense
  • Someplace far away from your “tax home”

What counts as "mostly business"?

The IRS will measure your time away in days. If you spend more days doing business activities than not, your trip is considered "mostly business". Your travel days are counted as work days.

Special rules for traveling abroad

If you are traveling abroad for business purposes, you trip counts as " entirely for business " as long as you spend less than 25% of your time on personal activities (like vacationing). Your travel days count as work days.

So say you you head off to Zurich for nine days. You've got a seven-day run of conference talks, client meetings, and the travel it takes to get you there. You then tack on two days skiing on the nearby slopes.

Good news: Your trip still counts as "entirely for business." That's because two out of nine days is less than 25%.

What is an “ordinary and necessary” expense?

“Ordinary and necessary” means that the trip:

  • Makes sense given your industry, and
  • Was taken for the purpose of carrying out business activities

If you have a choice between two conferences — one in your hometown, and one in London — the British one wouldn’t be an ordinary and necessary expense.

What is your tax home?

A taxpayer can deduct travel expenses anytime you are traveling away from home but depending on where you work the IRS definition of “home” can get complicated.

Your tax home is often — but not always — where you live with your family (what the IRS calls your "family home"). When it comes to defining it, there are two factors to consider:

  • What's your main place of business, and
  • How large is your tax home

What's your main place of business?

If your main place of business is somewhere other than your family home, your tax home will be the former — where you work, not where your family lives.

For example, say you:

  • Live with your family in Chicago, but
  • Work in Milwaukee during the week (where you stay in hotels and eat in restaurants)

Then your tax home is Milwaukee. That's your main place of business, even if you travel back to your family home every weekend.

How large is your tax home?

In most cases, your tax home is the entire city or general area where your main place of business is located.

The “entire city” is easy to define but “general area” gets a bit tricker. For example, if you live in a rural area, then your general area may span several counties during a regular work week.

Rules for business travel

Want to check if your trip is tax-deductible? Make sure it follows these rules set by the IRS.

1. Your trip should take you away from your home base

A good rule of thumb is 100 miles. That’s about a two hour drive, or any kind of plane ride. To be able to claim all the possible travel deductions, your trip should require you to sleep somewhere that isn’t your home.

2. You should be working regular hours

In general, that means eight hours a day of work-related activity.

It’s fine to take personal time in the evenings, and you can still take weekends off. But you can’t take a half-hour call from Disneyland and call it a business trip.

Here's an example. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent living in Chicago. You travel to an industry conference in Las Vegas. You go to the conference during the day, go out in the evenings, and then stay the weekend. That’s a business trip!

3. The trip should last less than a year

Once you’ve been somewhere for over a year, you’re essentially living there. However, traveling for six months at a time is fine!

For example, say you’re a freelancer on Upwork, living in Seattle. You go down to stay with your sister in San Diego for the winter to expand your client network, and you work regular hours while you’re there. That counts as business travel.

What about digital nomads?

With the rise of remote-first workplaces, many freelancers choose to take their work with them as they travel the globe. There are a couple of requirements these expats have to meet if they want to write off travel costs.

Requirement #1: A tax home

Digital nomads have to be able to claim a particular foreign city as a tax home if they want to write off any travel expenses. You don't have to be there all the time — but it should be your professional home base when you're abroad.

For example, say you've rent a room or a studio apartment in Prague for the year. You regularly call clients and finish projects from there. You still travel a lot, for both work and play. But Prague is your tax home, so you can write off travel expenses.

Requirement #2: Some work-related reason for traveling

As long as you've got a tax home and some work-related reason for traveling, these excursion count as business trips. Plausible reasons include meeting with local clients, or attending a local conference and then extending your stay.

However, if you’re a freelance software developer working from Thailand because you like the weather, that unfortunately doesn't count as business travel.

The travel expenses you can write off

As a rule of thumb, all travel-related expenses on a business trip are tax-deductible. You can also claim meals while traveling, but be careful with entertainment expenses (like going out for drinks!).

Here are some common travel-related write-offs you can take.

🛫 All transportation

Any transportation costs are a travel tax deduction. This includes traveling by airplane, train, bus, or car. Baggage fees are deductible, and so are Uber rides to and from the airport.

Just remember: if a client is comping your airfare, or if you booked your ticket with frequent flier miles, then it isn't deductible since your cost was $0.

If you rent a car to go on a business trip, that rental is tax-deductible. If you drive your own vehicle, you can either take actual costs or use the standard mileage deduction. There's more info on that in our guide to deducting car expenses .

Hotels, motels, Airbnb stays, sublets on Craigslist, even reimbursing a friend for crashing on their couch: all of these are tax-deductible lodging expenses.

🥡 Meals while traveling

If your trip has you staying overnight — or even crashing somewhere for a few hours before you can head back — you can write off food expenses. Grabbing a burger alone or a coffee at your airport terminal counts! Even groceries and takeout are tax-deductible.

One important thing to keep in mind: You can usually deduct 50% of your meal costs. For 2021 and 2022, meals you get at restaurants are 100% tax-deductible. Go to the grocery store, though, and you’re limited to the usual 50%.

{upsell_block}

🌐 Wi-Fi and communications

Wi-Fi — on a plane or at your hotel — is completely deductible when you’re traveling for work. This also goes for other communication expenses, like hotspots and international calls.

If you need to ship things as part of your trip — think conference booth materials or extra clothes — those expenses are also tax-deductible.

👔 Dry cleaning

Need to look your best on the trip? You can write off related expenses, like laundry charges.

{write_off_block}

Travel expenses you can't deduct

Some travel costs may seem like no-brainers, but they're not actually tax-deductible. Here are a couple of common ones to watch our for.

The cost of bringing your child or spouse

If you bring your child or spouse on a business trip, your travel expense deductions get a little trickier. In general, the cost of bring other people on a business trip is considered personal expense — which means it's not deductible.

You can only deduct travel expenses if your child or spouse:

  • Is an employee,
  • Has a bona fide business purpose for traveling with you, and
  • Would otherwise be allowed to deduct the travel expense on their own

Some hotel bill charges

Staying in a hotel may be required for travel purposes. That's why the room charge and taxes are deductible.

Some additional charges, though, won't qualify. Here are some examples of fees that aren't tax-deductible:

  • Gym or fitness center fees
  • Movie rental fees
  • Game rental fees

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Where to claim travel expenses when filing your taxes

If you are self-employed, you will claim all your income tax deduction on the Schedule C. This is part of the Form 1040 that self-employed people complete ever year.

What happens if your business deductions are disallowed?

If the IRS challenges your business deduction and they are disallowed, there are potential penalties. This can happen if:

  • The deduction was not legitimate and shouldn't have been claimed in the first place, or
  • The deduction was legitimate, but you don't have the documentation to support it

When does the penalty come into play?

The 20% penalty is not automatic. It only applies if it allowed you to pay substantially less taxes than you normally would. In most cases, the IRS considers “substantially less” to mean you paid at least 10% less.

In practice, you would only reach this 10% threshold if the IRS disqualified a significant number of your travel deductions.

How much is the penalty?

The penalty is normally 20% of the difference between what you should have paid and what you actually paid. You also have to make up the original difference.

In total, this means you will be paying 120% of your original tax obligation: your original obligation, plus 20% penalty.

Justin W. Jones, EA, JD

Justin W. Jones, EA, JD

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7 Rules You Should Know About Deducting Business Travel Expenses

travel deductions for business

  • What Is Your "Tax Home"?

Charges on Your Hotel Bill

The 50% rule for meals, the cost of bringing a spouse, friend or employee.

  • Using Per Diems To Calculate Employee Travel Costs

Combined Business/Personal Trips

International business travel.

  • The Cost of a Cruise (Within Limits)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Helde Benser / Getty Images

The IRS has a specific definition for business travel when it comes to determining whether these expenses are tax deductible. The agency says business travel is travel that takes you away from your tax home and is "substantially longer than an ordinary day's work." It requires that you sleep or rest while you're away from home, and that you do so. The travel must be "temporary." This means it can't last a year or more.

Key Takeaways

  • You can deduct expenses that take you away from your tax home for a period of time that would require you to spend the night.
  • Your tax home is the city or area where your regular place of business is located.
  • You’re limited to 50% of the cost of your meals.
  • Your trip must be entirely business-related for costs to be deductible, but special rules apply if you travel outside the U.S.

What Is Your "Tax Home"?

Your tax home is a concept set by the IRS to help determine whether a trip is tax deductible. It's defined by the IRS as the entire city or general area where your regular place of business is located. It's not necessarily the area where you live. 

Your tax home can be used to determine whether your business travel expenses are deductible after you've determined where it's located. You can probably count your expenses during travel as business deductions if you have to leave your tax home overnight or if you otherwise need time to rest and sleep while you're away.

Check with a tax professional to make sure you're accurately identifying the location of your tax home.

Charges for your room and associated tax are deductible, as are laundry expenses and charges for phone calls or for use of a fax machine. Tips are deductible as well. But additional personal charges, such as gym fees or fees for movies or games aren't deductible.

You can deduct the cost of meals while you're traveling, but entertainment expenses are no longer deductible and you can't deduct "lavish or extravagant" meals. 

Meal costs are deductible at 50%. The 50% limit also applies to taxes and tips. You can use either your actual costs or a standard meal allowance to take a meal cost deduction, as long as it doesn't exceed the 50% limit.

The cost of bringing a spouse, child, or anyone else along on a business trip is considered a personal expense and isn't deductible. But you may be able to deduct travel expenses for the individual if:

  • The person is an employee
  • They have a bona fide business purpose for traveling with you
  • They would otherwise be allowed to deduct travel expenses

You may be able to deduct the cost of a companion's travel if you can prove that the other person is employed by the business and is performing substantial business-related tasks while on the trip. This may include taking minutes at meetings or meeting with business clients.

Using Per Diems To Calculate Employee Travel Costs 

The term "per diem" means "per day." Per diems are amounts that are considered reasonable for daily meals and miscellaneous expenses while traveling. 

Per diem rates are set for U.S. and overseas travel, and the rates differ depending on the area. They're higher in larger U.S. cities than for sections of the country outside larger metropolitan areas. Companies can set their own per diem rates, but most businesses use the rates set by the U.S. government.

Per diem reimbursements aren't taxable unless they're greater than the maximum rate set by the General Service Administration. The excess is taxable to the employee.

If you don't spend all your time on business activities during an international trip, you can only deduct the business portion of getting to and from the destination. You must allocate costs between business and personal activities.

Your trip must be entirely business-related for you to take deductions for travel costs if you remain in the U.S., but some "incidental" personal time is okay. It would be incidental to the main purpose of your trip if you travel to Dallas for business and you spend an evening with family in the area while you're there. 

But attempting to turn a personal trip into a business trip won't work unless the trip is substantially for business purposes. The IRS indicates that “the scheduling of incidental business activities during a trip, such as viewing videotapes or attending lectures dealing with general subjects, will not change what is really a vacation into a business trip."

The rules are different if part or all of your trip takes you outside the U.S. Your international travel may be considered business-related if you were outside the U.S. for more than a week and less than 25% of the time was spent on personal activities. 

You can deduct the costs of your entire trip if it takes you outside the U.S. and you spend the entire time on business activities, but you must have "substantial control" over the itinerary. An employee traveling with you wouldn't have control over the trip, but you would as the business owner would.

 The trip may be considered entirely for business if you spend less than 25% of the time on personal activities if your trip takes you outside the U.S. for more than a week.

You can only deduct the business portion of getting to and from the destination if you don't spend all your time on business activities during an international trip. You must allocate costs between your business and personal activities.

The Cost of a Cruise (Within Limits) 

The cost of a cruise may be deductible up to the specified limit determined by the IRS, which is $2,000 per year as of 2022.  You must be able to show that the cruise was directly related to a business event, such as a business meeting or board of directors meeting.

The IRS imposes specific additional strict requirements for deducting cruise travel as a business expense.

How do you write off business travel expenses?

Business travel expenses are entered on Schedule C if you're self-employed . The schedule is filed along with your Form 1040 tax return. It lists all your business income, then you can subtract the cost of your business travel and other business deductions you qualify for to arrive at your taxable income.

What are standard business travel expenses?

Standard business travel expenses include lodging, food, transportation costs , shipping of baggage and/or work items, laundry and dry cleaning, communication costs, and tips. But numerous rules apply so check with a tax professional before you claim them.

The Bottom Line

These tax deduction regulations are complicated, and there are many qualifications and exceptions. Consult with your tax and legal professionals before taking actions that could affect your business. 

IRS. " Topic No. 511: Business Travel Expenses ."

IRS. " Publication 463 (2021), Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses ."

IRS. " Here’s What Taxpayers Need To Know About Business-Related Travel Deductions ."

Accounting | How To

Determining Tax Deductions for Travel Expenses + List of Deductions

Published August 15, 2023

Published Aug 15, 2023

Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA

WRITTEN BY: Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA

This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software .

  • 1. Determine Your Trip Meets the Requirements of a Business Trip
  • 2. Check the List of Business Expenses That Qualify for Deductions
  • 3. (For Those Mixing Business & Personal Travel): Allocate Expenses

Bottom Line

The IRS considers deductible travel expenses to be any ordinary and necessary expenses you incur while traveling away from home on business. To get tax deductions for travel expenses, the trip must have a business purpose and be temporary (less than one year) and you must be away from your tax home for a length of time that exceeds your usual work day or be away overnight to get sleep to fulfill the demands of your job while away.

Key Takeaways

  • A qualifying business trip must take you away from home overnight long enough to require rest.
  • Most expenses incurred during a qualifying business trip are deductible, including meals on days off.
  • Partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations can directly pay or reimburse employees for business travel expenses and deduct them from their business returns.
  • Self-employed business owners will deduct their travel expenses on Schedule C, while farmers will use Schedule F.
  • Purely personal expenses on business trips, such as sightseeing, are nondeductible.

Step 1: Determine Your Trip Meets the Requirements of a Business Trip

A business trip for tax purposes is one that meets the following criteria:

  • There must be a business purposes for the travel
  • You are required to be away from your tax home
  • The trip lasts overnight or a period long enough to require rest
  • The trip is temporary

Business Purpose

Your trip must be an ordinary and necessary part of conducting your business for your expenses to be deductible. Below are some reasons you may decide to travel for business:

  • Meeting with clients or customers: If you travel overnight to meet with clients or customers for business purposes, such as negotiating contracts, discussing projects, or providing consultations.
  • Attending business conferences or seminars: If you travel to attend conferences, seminars, or trade shows that are relevant to your business activities, including acquiring new industry knowledge or networking with other professionals.
  • Training or professional developmen t : If you travel to attend training programs, workshops, or courses directly related to your business or profession.
  • Conducting in-person meetings or negotiations: If you need to travel to have face-to-face meetings or negotiations with business partners, suppliers, or other stakeholders.

Your tax home is not your residence but rather your principal place of business activity including the entire city or general location of your business. So, your business trip cannot be in the general vicinity of your principal place of business for you to be away from home.

  • Amount of time you spend at each location
  • Degree of business activity in each area
  • Relative significance of the financial return from each area
  • No regular place of business: If, by the nature of the work, there is no regular or principal place of business, then your tax home will be the place where you regularly live and where you travel to different job sites to perform your service.

For example, a self-employed repair person may not have a regular place of business because they spend each workday at a different customer’s location.

Overnight Stay

Overnight stays for travel purposes do not specifically mean staying from evening to the next morning. Instead, overnight means that the trip is longer than a typical day’s work and long enough for you to require rest. Resting in your car is generally not enough, but if you have to get a hotel room, then the trip will qualify as overnight regardless of when you sleep.

Transportation vs travel expenses: Local transportation at your tax home can be deductible without an overnight stay—if there is a business reason for the transportation, such as driving from your office to visit a client. On a tangent, when you travel overnight, your transportation is deductible, and so are things like lodging, meals, and incidental expenses.

Temporary Travel

For purposes of business travel, a temporary stay is one that is expected to last for less than one year. Open-ended trips are not temporary.

However, say you initially anticipate that your trip will last less than one year, but it later becomes apparent that it will last more than one year. The trip is a deductible business trip up until the point in time it becomes apparent it will last more than one year.

The IRS will also consider a series of assignments to the same location, all for short periods, that together cover a long period to be an indefinite assignment. Any expenses you incur from this type of trip will not be deductible.

Step 2: Check the List of Business Expenses That Qualify for Deductions

Your travel expenses must be business-related—unless an exception applies—to qualify for a deduction. However, if you incur expenses that are purely for personal pleasure, they are nondeductible.

Here is a list of business travel expenses that can be deducted.

Round-trip Transportation To-and-From the Destination

Transportation for a round trip to and from your temporary work location is deductible—and it could be anything that gets you to the location, including via your personal car. If you use your personal car, your costs are calculated using either the actual expenses or the standard mileage rate .

In addition, you can deduct additional round trips to return to home when you are not working.

However, the deduction for the additional round trips is limited to the cost you would have incurred if you stayed at the temporary location. Those costs could include meals and lodging.

  • The business purpose of the meals is your business trip and are thus deductible—even if you eat alone.
  • Meals on days off qualify.
  • Travel to and from meals is deductible—even on your days off.
  • The meals do not have to have a specific business purpose, such as meeting with a client.
  • For longer trips, lodging can include monthly rentals.
  • If you return home on your days off but keep the lodging at your travel location, then the lodging is still deductible if it is ordinary and necessary. For instance, the monthly rent of an apartment at your travel location would be deductible even if you return home on the weekends.

Transportation at the Destination

Once you arrive at your destination, you may need additional transportation to get around town—and these costs are deductible. The only exception would be if you travel to the destination for a purely personal reason like sightseeing on your day off.

Incidentals

Incidental expenses are minor expenditures associated with business travel. You can deduct the actual cost of any one of the following expenses:

  • Shipping of baggage and sample or display material between your regular and temporary work locations
  • Business seminar and registration fees
  • Dry cleaning and laundry
  • Business calls include business communications by fax machine and other communication devices
  • Tips you pay for services related to any of these expenses
  • Parking, tolls, and fees
  • Any other similar ordinary and necessary expenses related to your business travel

Step 3 (For Those Mixing Business & Personal Travel): Allocate Expenses

When trips are both business and personal, the allocation of expenses varies based on the primary purpose of the trip. Determining the primary purpose of your journey requires you to evaluate the time spent on business vs personal activities.

Primarily Business Domestic Trips

If your trip is primarily for business purposes, then the round-trip transportation is 100% deductible and does not need to be allocated to the personal portion of your trip. However, all other expenses, like lodging and meals, must be allocated to personal expenses for days where there was no business reason for staying.

For example, if your seminar ends on Friday and you stay until Sunday, then the lodging and meals for Saturday and Sunday are nondeductible.

Primarily Personal Domestic Trips

If the primary purpose of your trip is personal, then none of the round-trip expenses are deductible. However, you can deduct the business portion of meals, lodging, and local transportation that was incurred for a business purpose.

Let’s say you stay a couple of days after your family vacation to meet with a client. The lodging and meals for those extra days are deductible.

Business Foreign Trips

The allocation of travel expenses on foreign trips is slightly different from the rules above. Round-trip transportation for foreign trips must be allocated to business and personal based on the number of business vs personal days on the trip. This is different from the “all or nothing” rule for the cost of domestic round-trip travel.

If your spouse joins you on a business trip, you usually cannot deduct any of their expenses. However, if your spouse’s trip satisfies a business purpose, then expenses must be otherwise deductible by the spouse.

Generally, for the travel costs of a spouse, dependent, or any other person to be tax-deductible, they must work for the business or be a co-owner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are travel expenses tax deductible for business.

Yes, roundtrip travel is 100% tax deductible as long as the primary purpose of the trip is business. Once at your destination, expenses must be allocated between business and personal. However, all meals are deductible as long as the reason for your continued stay is business.

Can I deduct travel expenses for my employees?

Yes, you can generally deduct travel expenses for your employees as long as the expenses are ordinary and necessary, directly related to your business, and properly substantiated.

Is there a limit to the amount of travel expenses I can deduct?

Yes, there are some such as business travel on a cruise ship, where the expense is limited to $2,000 per year. Also, your expenses are limited to the non-lavish or extravagant cost of the trip, so you may want to be careful before booking a 5-star hotel.

Travel expenses are ordinary and necessary expenses you incur while you are temporarily away from home, so these expenses cannot be lavish in nature. To determine if a travel expense is deductible, it must be directly related to your trade or business.

When it comes to travel expenses, having well-organized records makes it much simpler to complete your tax return. Keep track of any records that may be used to substantiate a deduction, such as receipts, canceled checks, and other documentation.

About the Author

Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA

Find Timothy On LinkedIn

Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA

Tim worked as a tax professional for BKD, LLP before returning to school and receiving his Ph.D. from Penn State. He then taught tax and accounting to undergraduate and graduate students as an assistant professor at both the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Mississippi State University. Tim is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor as well as a CPA with 28 years of experience. He spent two years as the accountant at a commercial roofing company utilizing QuickBooks Desktop to compile financials, job cost, and run payroll. Tim has spent the past 4 years writing and reviewing content for Fit Small Business on accounting software, taxation, and bookkeeping.

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April 12, 2021

Block Advisors

Maximizing your business travel tax deductions

April 12, 2021 • Block Advisors

Each year as tax day approaches, the hunt to find additional tax deductions to lower your taxable rate as a small business owner is on. Believe it or not, business travel deductions offer a way to reduce your net earnings, but they come with a lot of rules. Read on and you’ll find tax rules on deducting business travel expenses.

Defining business travel expenses

Business travel expenses are travel costs associated with running a business, or costs incurred when you are away from your principle place of business (called your tax home). Your home office, downtown office space, or where you live if you have multiple stores could be considered a tax home. There are special tax rules for having more than one place of business, no regular place or business, or a temporary assignment.

Many small business travel expenses are tax-deductible. They don’t include personal expenses or ones used to determine your business’ cost of goods sold. Trips for pleasure can never be deducted.

Pro tip: If a family member travels with you, you can’t claim any deduction for their expenses. For the travel expenses of the family member to be deductible, they should be an employee of the business.

What are the tax rules for deducting small business travel expenses?

business travel deductions

The general rule for deducting business travel expenses is that it must be ordinary and necessary.

  • An ordinary business travel expense means the expense is typical in your line of business or industry.
  • A necessary expense is one that is appropriate and helpful for your business.

Whether an expense is ordinary and necessary depends on facts and circumstances, which vary based on your job role and industry. So, if you are looking to deduct a shopping excursion for new attire to wear on an important business trip… You probably want to think twice as neither the shopping trip nor the purchase of everyday clothing count for deductions.

The ordinary and necessary principle can help make a better decision on whether your small business travel expenses are deductible.

Items that qualify as business travel deductions include:

  • Air travel and pre-check
  • Conferences
  • Shipping of baggage or trade show material
  • Dry cleaning and laundry while on a business trip
  • The airport or train station and your hotel
  • The hotel and the work location
  • Tips paid during your business excursion
  • Business calls – fax, cell, or landline
  • Using your personal car while on a business trip 2
  • Technology – computer rental or wireless fees

Learn about temporary rules that allow you to deduct 100% of your food and beverage expenses for 2021 to 2022.

What about deducting international business travel?

If part or your full trip is outside the country, the IRS rules differ and some of your deductions for the cost of getting to and from the destination may be limited if you spend time on personal activities during the trip. For a longer trip, your international travel is considered business-related and deductible if you were outside the U.S. for more than a week and 25% or less of the time abroad was spent on personal activities. In other words for a trip longer than a week to be expensed, you must spend 75% of the trip time on business related matters.

Best practices for taking small business travel deductions

There are best practices for taking small business travel deductions. While traveling away from your place of business, keep records of all expenses incurred and any advances received, and keep all receipts. Records should be kept in case a deduction is questioned by the IRS and to substantiate the numbers on your tax return.

It can get confusing whether certain travel expenses are deductible or not. As a taxpayer, your role is to properly report and track potentially deductible expenses.

If you need help determining what travel deductions you can make, look to a Block Advisors certified small business tax pro . Not only can we help manage your taxes year-round, but we also have the bookkeeping tools and services to keep you on track, ensure your books are accurate and you can focus on what you love (which is probably not taxes).

Where to show business travel expenses on your tax return

Where you show qualified business travel expenses depends on your business entity .

  • Corporations report the small business expenses in the “Deductions” section of  IRS Form 1120 .
  • Multiple-member LLCs and partnerships should report expenses in the “Deductions” section on  Form 1065 .
  • Single-member LLCs and sole proprietors should report the business travel expenses in the “Expenses” section of  Schedule C .

Help with deducting business travel expenses

If you’re still not sure about what you can and can’t deduct, don’t sweat it. Get help.

When you use a small business certified tax pro at Block Advisors, you can rest assured we’ll help you claim all of the self-employed tax deductions you are entitled to – from travel to everyday business expenses.

Let our tax pros help with services like tax preparation, payroll, and bookkeeping. Our team is your team. 

Make a tax appointment .

1 Instead of keeping records of your meal expenses and deducting the actual cost, you can generally use a standard meal allowance, which varies depending on where you travel. The deduction for business meals is generally limited to 50% of the non-reimbursed cost. Certain business meals will be 100% deductible in 2021 and 2022.

2 You can deduct actual expenses or the standard mileage rate, as well as business-related tolls and parking fees. If you rent a car, you can deduct only the business-use portion for the expenses.

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Small business tax preparation 101: what to bring to tax appointments, questions to ask a tax accountant or preparer for your business before hiring them, self-employed retirement plans: weighing the tax advantages, find tax help in your area..

travel deductions for business

A Taxpayer’s Guide to Business Travel Deductions

Navigating the tax landscape of business travel: deductions, spouses, and recordkeeping.

Business travel can be both a necessary expense and an opportunity to explore new destinations. But when it comes to tax time, the lines between business and pleasure can blur. This article provides a roadmap for maximizing your tax deductions while adhering to IRS regulations for domestic and foreign business travel.

Navigating the Tax Landscape of Business Travel: Deductions, Spouses, and Recordkeeping

Domestic Travel: Sticking to the Business Itinerary

Qualifying domestic business travel expenses are tax-deductible as “ordinary and necessary” business costs. These expenses must be common for your industry in terms of frequency and purpose, and ideally contribute to generating business revenue. The key takeaway? The primary purpose of your trip must be business-related to qualify for deductions.

Deductible expenses include transportation costs (airfare, car rentals, etc.) to and from your destination, as well as reasonable lodging and 50% of meals attributable to business activities. Conversely, attempting to disguise a vacation as a business trip disqualifies any travel expense deductions.

The golden rule? Prove that business is the main event. Demonstrate that you spent more time on business activities than leisure. The exact number of business and leisure days is crucial for the IRS.

For instance, if you spend Monday through Thursday in client meetings, followed by a weekend of sightseeing, but sign a key contract on Monday of the next week, your business days outweigh your personal days, making the trip qualify for deductions (excluding sightseeing and leisure costs).

Spouses on Business Trips: Deduction Considerations

Spouses accompanying you on a business trip generally have their expenses treated separately and are not deductible. However, if your spouse is a company employee performing business duties on the trip, their expenses are deductible.

For spouses tagging along for personal reasons, there’s a special tax break: You can deduct what you would have spent traveling alone, even if it’s more than half the joint cost. This can add up quickly, especially for lodging. Additionally, the entire car rental cost is deductible even if your spouse is a passenger.

The rules for deducting business travel are complicated, but the tax savings can be significant.

Deduction nuances of  foreign travel .

The core rules for deducting foreign travel expenses largely mirror domestic rules. However, there are specific guidelines for trips with personal components.

The full round-trip airfare is deductible only if business is the primary purpose and you meet at least one of these four criteria:

  • Limited Control Over Trip Arrangements: As an employee, you lack “substantial control” if you have no authority over travel arrangements or don’t own 10% or more of the company.
  • Vacation Not a Major Reason: Demonstrate that leisure wasn’t a primary motivator, even with some control over the trip.
  • Short Trips: Trips lasting a week or less are generally considered business-oriented.
  • Minimal Personal Time: For trips exceeding a week, spending less than 25% on personal activities allows for full airfare deduction.

Travelers who don’t meet these criteria must allocate transportation costs based on the business-to-personal day ratio. Only the business portion is deductible.

Recordkeeping: The Cornerstone of Deductions

The IRS requires detailed records to substantiate business travel deductions. These include:

  • Departure and return dates
  • Number of business days
  • Business travel destination
  • Trip purpose and relevant relationships
  • Cost of each travel expense

Receipts are mandatory for all lodging expenses and other business-related costs exceeding $75. Proper documentation is crucial to avoid challenges from the IRS.

Understanding the intricacies of business travel deductions can be challenging, but the potential tax savings are significant. If you have questions about specific costs or proper documentation, consult your tax advisor.

Tax, Accounting, and Advisory Services

Matt’s background in tax enables him to provide extensive services to the firm’s clients in the areas of tax compliance and consulting across a spectrum of industries.

Matt Dickert, CPA

[email protected]

937.913.2527

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  • International Business Travel Tax Deductions

Tax laws provide numerous deductions for business travel, including travel outside the U.S. To qualify for a deduction, expenses must be ordinary and necessary. This means that they are commonly accepted in your type of business, and they are helpful and appropriate for your job. They do not need to be absolutely essential. The expenses also must have been incurred for travel away from home, which is obvious for international trips. (Generally, this requirement means that you must stay outside the area of your normal tax home for much longer than an ordinary day’s work, such that you need to rest to handle your job duties while you are away from home.)

You can claim a deduction for expenses related to business travel only if it is temporary. The tax laws classify a period of working away from home in a single location as a non-deductible indefinite assignment if it lasts for over a year. An indefinite assignment also may arise if you spend many short periods that combine to comprise a long period in the same location.

Common Types of Deductible Business Travel Costs

Some examples of costs that you normally can deduct for business travel, whether domestic or international, include shipping and luggage costs, communications costs, laundry bills, and lodging. You can deduct the full cost of your lodging, regardless of how expensive it is. You also can deduct up to half the cost of any meals while you are traveling for business if they are not lavish or extravagant. You do not need to show that the meal was related to business.

  • Half the cost of meals
  • Transportation
  • Shipping and luggage
  • Communications

Transportation costs are also deductible in most cases. These include the costs of getting to the destination for your business trip, as well as costs for transportation while you are there. For example, you can deduct the cost of a plane ticket to another city and the cost of taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel or business site once you arrive. You also can deduct the cost of a car rental or any costs related to using your own car on the trip. In the unlikely event that you take a cruise ship or another form of luxury water travel to your destination, you will want to explore the special rules in these situations.

Transportation for International Business Travel

If you are traveling to a foreign country for business, you can deduct the full cost of your transportation to and from the country if your trip was entirely for business purposes. This means that you spent all of your waking hours during the trip handling matters related to your job. You also can deduct the full cost of your transportation to and from a foreign country if your trip is considered entirely for business purposes. This can be more complex.

An international trip will be considered entirely for business purposes if you do not spend more than one week outside the U.S., you spend at least 76 percent of your time on work-related activities, you did not have substantial control in planning the trip, or you can show that a personal vacation was not a major consideration in taking the trip. To qualify under the one-week rule, you must count the day on which you returned to the U.S. as part of the week, but you will not count the day on which you left the U.S. To qualify under the 76 percent rule, you must count both the day on which you left the U.S. and the day on which you returned to the U.S. To qualify under the substantial control rule, you cannot be related to your employer.

Some business expenses may still be deductible even if a trip is not taken entirely for business purposes.

Even if your trip does not fit into one of these categories, you may be able to take a limited deduction if you took the trip primarily for business purposes. (If your trip was primarily for personal purposes, you cannot take any deduction.) You will need to determine which days of the trip counted as business days and divide that number by the total number of days that the trip lasted. This will give you the percentage of the trip costs that you can deduct. A business day is defined as a day on which you needed to be present in the foreign country for business reasons, or a day on which you were principally engaged in business activity during working hours. If business days fall on either side of a weekend or holiday, those days can count as business days. Days in transit also count as business days.

Last reviewed October 2023

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Can I deduct travel expenses?

If you’re self-employed or own a business , you can deduct work-related travel expenses, including vehicles, airfare, lodging, and meals. The expenses must be ordinary and necessary.

For vehicle expenses, you can choose between the standard mileage rate or the actual cost method where you track what you paid for gas and maintenance.

You can generally only claim 50% of the cost of your meals while on business-related travel away from your tax home, provided your trip requires an overnight stay. You can also deduct 50% of the cost of meals for entertaining clients (regardless of location), but due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), you can no longer deduct entertainment expenses in tax years 2018 through 2025. In 2021 and 2022, the law allows a deduction for 100% of your cost of food and beverages that are provided by a restaurant, instead of the usual 50% deduction.

On the other hand, employees can no longer deduct out-of-pocket travel costs in tax years 2018 through 2025 per the TCJA (this does not apply to Armed Forces reservists, qualified performing artists, fee-basis state or local government officials, and employees with impairment-related work expenses). Prior to the tax rule change, employees could claim 50% of the cost of unreimbursed meals while on business-related travel away from their tax home if the trip required an overnight stay, as well as other unreimbursed job-related travel costs. These expenses were handled as a 2% miscellaneous itemized deduction.

Related Information:

  • Can I deduct medical mileage and travel?
  • Can I deduct my moving expenses?
  • Can I deduct rent?
  • Can I deduct mileage?
  • Can employees deduct commuting expenses like gas, mileage, fares, and tolls?

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How to find deductions for travel expenses

With more consultants and business travelers hitting the road for business travel, it's time for a brush-up on what expenses are eligible for tax deduction while they're away. If you're unsure about what qualifies, read on.

Find out more about Business Taxes

travel deductions for business

by   Grace L. Williams

​Grace L. Williams is a journalist. Her areas of expertise include small business, career, personal finance, and inve...

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Updated on: October 27, 2023 · 15 min read

Key takeaways

What is business travel or a business trip, what is a business-related travel expense, what business travel expenses are tax deductible, are there other tax deductions for travel expenses, tracking expenses on your business trip, importance of documentation, combining business and personal travel, special considerations for self-employed individuals, getting help with tax deductions for travel expenses, frequently asked questions.

Business travel is back after the pandemic, and with that increase comes the age-old question every business traveler must ask at least once: "What can I deduct as a business expense while I'm on the road?"

You've likely heard the term "write-off" somewhere and may have used it somewhere within your business circles. But what exactly is it? You might wonder if you can book first-class travel or five-star lodging and eat in fancy dining establishments and then submit them as business write-offs. The short, overarching rule for those specifics is no, you probably cannot, but there is more to eligible business travel expenses than that.

A man looks at his cell phone while boarding a flight for business travel. Business travel deductions fall into three categories: costs related to how you will get to your destination (travel), where you will stay (lodging), and what you will eat and drink when you are there and in transit..

So before you book travel arrangements on your credit card (hopefully a designated business credit card), read on for more information about making expensing your business travel less stressful.

  • Understand IRS guidelines for deductible travel expenses to maximize tax savings.
  • Proper documentation is essential for claiming deductions, including meals and entertainment, with a clear business justification.
  • Utilize tax professionals and leverage technology to ensure accurate deductions, compliance with laws, and maximum savings on travel expense deductions.

A woman in a window seat on an airplane checks her phone during a business trip. business travel or a business trip is defined as any travel conducted that is business-related.

Simply put, business travel or a business trip is defined as any travel conducted that is business-related. To be considered eligible as a business trip, the travel itself must meet the following criteria:

  • The trip must be conducted for legitimate business purposes, not as leisure time, vacation, or personal purposes.
  • The trip must occur outside the bounds of a regular commute to and from work (or the main place of business) and home.

If the trip meets these criteria, it falls under the category of a business trip. It also means that you can deduct travel expenses whether you are a business owner sending an employee on your behalf or a self-employed individual.

To better understand business-related travel expenses, it's a good idea to look at overall business expenses. A business expense is incurred as part of the regular day-to-day operations of your employer (or for you if you are a self-employed individual) to conduct the business. Under current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) laws, special rules allow portions of business expenses to be deducted from the overall business income. These expenses are considered tax deductible, which means they are applied before any taxes are. The umbrella term "write-off" comes from this business tax deduction category.

In business, eligible tax deductions can have a significant impact. Being able to deduct expenses can often  reduce the total overall taxable income . Cumulatively, tax-deductible expenses will likely reduce the total bill when it is time to file your tax return.

A deductible business travel expense is one that you or an employee incur during travel directly related to conducting business. In both instances (a business expense or a business travel expense), it is essential to ensure the expense falls under the category of being for bona fide business purposes. This means that deducting the travel expenses must be something genuinely related to conducting or doing a bona fide business purpose. If it is, its cost can be written off as part of business or business travel-related expenses. It applies to self-employed individuals or employees traveling for an employer or business owner.

So what exactly can you expense?

A man works on his laptop in an airport while waiting for his flight to board. In order to legally deduct business travel, specific criteria must be met.

First and foremost, consider the basics, or the "Big 3" in business travel. Essentials here include these three actual expenses: costs related to how you will get to your destination (travel), where you will stay (lodging), and what you will eat and drink when you are there and in transit. Each category within the Big Three can be an eligible travel expense and, therefore, a tax write-off, but they come with some criteria worth exploring.

Transportation expenses:  If you plan to travel by car, and you will either use a vehicle you lease long-term or your car, there are two choices related to how this mode of transportation might be expensed. One choice is known as the “ standard mileage rate ." Under current IRS allowances, the standard mileage rate deduction for self-employed individuals and employees is 65.5 cents per mile for business-related travel. The rate per mile would apply to any driving conducted to or from the business destination. It would also apply to any driving conducted while you are at the destination if it is business-related. For instance, once at the destination, if driving must be done to run errands, those miles can be added to the total mileage count.

The other vehicle expense option for a business trip is to itemize the individual expenses. Eligible business costs, in this instance, include the lease, insurance, fuel, costs related to the upkeep and maintenance of the vehicle, such as oil changes or tune-ups, and any major repairs on the vehicle, such as fixing a flat tire.

If you are renting a car as part of your transportation expenses and it falls under the ordinary and necessary business travel expense category, the cost to rent a car would qualify as an eligible business expense. Other vehicle-related expenses that qualify for travel deductions include tolls and parking fees.

Actual expenses method

The actual expenses method involves calculating the total cost of vehicle use and multiplying it by the percentage used for business purposes. This includes:

  • Depreciation
  • Garage rent
  • Vehicle registration fees
  • Lease payments

To calculate the percentage of business use, divide the total business miles driven by the total miles driven in the year. While this method can lead to larger deductions, it requires detailed record-keeping and more complex calculations than the standard mileage method.

Standard mileage rate

The standard mileage rate allows you to claim a fixed rate per mile driven for business purposes, plus parking fees and tolls. The standard mileage rate for business in the United States is 65.5 cents per mile. The IRS determines This rate annually based on a study of the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle for business reasons, such as gas, maintenance, and depreciation.

This method can be used for self-employment, business-related travel, or when using a vehicle for work as an independent contractor. However, personal use of the vehicle is not eligible for this deduction.

Ticketed travel:  For ticketed travel, like flights or trips by train, the cost of your ticket can be expensed as a travel deduction if your class fare qualifies as an eligible and reasonable expense. This means that while you likely won't be able to deduct first-class fare, you can deduct what is known as the ordinary and necessary expense related to the fare, which covers classes such as economy. You can also expense costs incurred while en route, such as baggage fees. And, if you are waiting at an airport or train station, any meal costs, snacks, or drinks would also qualify as business-related expenses.

Meal expenses and entertainment:  Business meals cut eligible business expenses but with some stipulations, including the standard meal allowance. While current IRS laws permit for up to 50% of a business meal to be deducted, like ticketed travel, rental cars, and other business-travel-related costs, the meal must fall under an ordinary and necessary expense to be eligible as a tax-deductible business expense. If you are tempted to go all out and splurge on your dining, you might find that it is not an eligible business travel expense.

But changes have been made to the entertainment category. While entertainment used to be an allowed business expense, it is sometimes no longer eligible to claim tax deductions. This means that if you expect to take clients out as part of client meetings or conduct business, be sure to read the fine print since you might discover you cannot claim entertainment as a legitimate business expense.

Lodging expenses:  Business travelers must consider where they will sleep while away. To be considered eligible as a business expense, the location of your stay must be outside of the main place of business and require overnight accommodation. Notably, in this expense category, IRS rules stipulate that for it to be an eligible business expense, the lodging cannot fall into the extravagant or considered recreational category.

Remember:  With each of the "Big 3" and all other related business expenses to be deducted, the expenses must be ordinary and fall under the category of reasonable business expenses. If you opt for pricey vehicles, tickets, meals, and rooms instead of the available moderately-priced alternatives, you risk losing eligibility as legitimate business expenses.

There are some other expenses anyone traveling for business should consider submitting as tax-deductible expenses.

Event fees:  These could come into play if you travel to an event such as a conference, convention, or trade show. In addition to the Big 3, certain expenses related to attending these events would qualify as eligible business travel expenses. The expenses are deductible if the event has an entry or booth fee. While you are there, if you attend workshops, lectures, or courses that require materials such as a workbook or registration, these would also be eligible as tax-deductible travel expenses. And, if you are running a booth or table at an event and need materials or supplies, the cost to purchase them would also qualify as legitimate business expenses.

Incidental expenses:  Any reasonable additional expenses you incur while traveling for a business activity can be considered incidental expenses. For instance, if you incur expenses on ground transportation, a rideshare fee, taxi fare, or a subway ticket qualify as business expenses. Laundry and dry cleaning services are also eligible business activities. In addition, indirect expenses like office supplies can be eligible business expenses.

Organization before, during, and after the business trip will help you avoid potential pitfalls or headaches when filing expenses or taxes. From the outset, one great way to  separate your business trips and expenses from personal expenses  is to have a single credit or debit card that you designate for business use only. This de facto "corporate" card will come in handy and be a best friend on the road since it automatically creates a tally of itemized expenses courtesy of the real-time accounting and monthly statements that come with it.

Beyond the lone card designated for business expenses, your meticulous record-keeping will greatly help you when it's time to account for everything. If you don't want to use a third-party software program or expense-tracking app to track your expenses, a simple solution is to use a basic spreadsheet that tracks the date, the reason for the expense, and the cost. To set this up, once you have incurred an expense, note it down using the aforementioned basic information.

While on the trip, another simple organizational tool is keeping all receipts and other applicable hard-copy records and materials in one designated place. A pouch or envelope will work fine as the place to keep these items. Make sure you read the receipt or record, and if it does not have information such as the name and address of the business, write it on the back before you stash it away. Finally, if a receipt is for something like a business lunch, ensure the date and information about the place of business are on the receipt. Then, write the name of the person you shared your time with and the reason for meeting up somewhere on the receipt.

Claiming travel expense deductions requires proper documentation. This includes retaining receipts and records for all expenses incurred during your business trip. For meals and entertainment expenses, you'll need to note the nature of the meeting, including who you met with, when, and the topics discussed.

It's worth noting that lodging expenses on non-business days may still be eligible for deductions if specific strategies are employed, such as incorporating “vacation days" between workdays. In such cases, the total cost of lodging for the trip can still be tax deductible even when no work is taking place on the weekend. However, meals and entertainment expenses without a clear business justification won't be deductible and must be paid personally.

A man and woman enjoy fall foliage after a business trip to the Northeast U.S. The non-business portion of business travel expenses may be viewed as taxable income if paid by the individual or company.

Allocating expenses between business and personal activities is essential to ensure accurate deduction claims. Expenses must be allocated based on actual usage, so the non-business portion of the expenses may be viewed as taxable income if paid by the individual or company.

To accurately allocate expenses between business and personal activities for tax deductions, follow these steps:

  • Track usage for a period of time.
  • Determine the allocation by proportionally dividing the expenses based on the amount of business and personal use.
  • Maintain proper records to support the allocation.

When combining business and personal travel, careful allocation of expenses and adherence to specific rules is important. Expenses related to the personal nature of the trip cannot be deducted; only those incurred for business purposes can be.

If traveling abroad, you must spend a minimum of 25% of your time conducting business to qualify as a business trip and claim travel expense deductions. If you conduct business for less than 25% of the time while on a trip, you can still deduct travel costs. This deduction must be proportional to the amount of time spent on business.

Rules for international travel

International travel has additional rules to consider when claiming travel expense deductions. As mentioned, you must spend at least 25% of your time abroad conducting business to claim travel-expense deductions.

If you use 25% or less of your trip for business purposes, you can deduct related travel costs in proportion to the time spent on work. This can help to make international business trips more affordable. For example, if 40% of your time is spent on business activities, you can claim the entire cost of airfare as a business expense.

Self-employed individuals should be aware of special considerations when deducting travel expenses, such as  home office deductions  and computer rental fees. Understanding these unique aspects can help self-employed individuals maximize their tax savings and ensure compliance with tax laws, especially regarding their tax home.

Home office considerations

Home office deductions can be claimed if the office is the primary place of business and is regularly used for business purposes. The IRS has specific guidelines for the regular use of a home office for business purposes, such as the office being used exclusively and regularly for business purposes.

To claim a home office deduction, you can use the simplified method the IRS provides. Here's how it works:

  • Multiply the allowable square footage of your home office by the prescribed rate of $5 per square foot.
  • The maximum allowable square footage is 300 square feet, so the maximum deduction you can claim using this method is $1,500 annually.
  • The simplified option allows for a standard deduction without the need for detailed record-keeping.

Deducting computer rental fees

Computer rental fees can be deducted if the equipment is used for business during the trip. The full cost of the computer rental may be deducted as a business expense.

To claim a deduction for computer rental fees from business travel expenses, you must provide relevant documentation demonstrating the rental fees paid, such as receipts or invoices. Proper record-keeping is essential to support your deduction and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

Leveraging technology

Technology, such as expense tracking apps and online bookkeeping services, can simplify record-keeping and documentation for travel expense deductions. These tools can help you track and categorize expenses, making it easier to identify and compute deductible expenses for tax purposes.

Expense tracking applications can:

  • Generate reports and summaries of travel expenses
  • Be beneficial for tax filing and auditing purposes
  • Save time and effort in tracking and documenting your travel expenses
  • Ensure accurate deductions and compliance with tax laws

Leveraging technology in expense tracking can be a valuable tool for managing your finances.

Sometimes, you might need more help. This guide provides basic questions about business travel deductions and expenses. Still, you are not alone if you have other questions about what might qualify as a tax-deductible business expense. There are experts at LegalZoom who can answer specific questions and better advise you about both business expenses and business travel-related expenses.

You might have questions about whether specific costs related to your business qualify as ordinary and necessary expenses or wonder if percentages of a certain expense or the entire cost can be completely deductible. Additionally, professionals in the know about things like a specific tax home can help you sort out concerns related to your business so that you can always claim the proper travel expenses. For any consultant looking to get back into the swing of travel, help and practical tips are just a click away.

Understanding and maximizing travel expense deductions can save you significant money on your tax return. By familiarizing yourself with the requirements, maintaining proper documentation, and leveraging the expertise of tax professionals and technology, you can ensure accurate deductions, compliance with tax laws, and, ultimately, keep more money in your pocket.

What kind of travel expenses are tax deductible?

Tax deductible travel expenses include airfare, train/bus fares, taxi rides between an airport or station and a hotel, or from the hotel to a work location.

What are the three requirements for a traveling expense deduction?

To qualify for a traveling expense deduction, you must have a “business trip," leave your tax home, have most of the trip business-related, and plan the trip in advance.

How do I prove travel expenses for taxes?

To prove business travel expenses for taxes, use credit card slips with notes on the business purpose made at the time of incurring the expense.

Are daily travel expenses tax deductible?

Daily travel expenses from your home to a regular place of business are not tax deductible. However, you can deduct transport expenses when traveling between your home and a temporary work location outside the metropolitan area where you live and normally work. Additionally, ordinary and necessary travel expenses incurred while away from your home and your main place of business can be deducted.

How do I allocate expenses between business and personal activities during a combined trip?

Allocate expenses proportionally based on the amount of business and personal use for a period of time, and maintain proper records to support deductions. 

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What Are Travel Expenses?

Understanding travel expenses, the bottom line.

  • Deductions & Credits
  • Tax Deductions

Travel Expenses Definition and Tax Deductible Categories

Michelle P. Scott is a New York attorney with extensive experience in tax, corporate, financial, and nonprofit law, and public policy. As General Counsel, private practitioner, and Congressional counsel, she has advised financial institutions, businesses, charities, individuals, and public officials, and written and lectured extensively.

travel deductions for business

For tax purposes, travel expenses are costs associated with traveling to conduct business-related activities. Reasonable travel expenses can generally be deducted from taxable income by a company when its employees incur costs while traveling away from home specifically for business. That business can include conferences or meetings.

Key Takeaways

  • Travel expenses are tax-deductible only if they were incurred to conduct business-related activities.
  • Only ordinary and necessary travel expenses are deductible; expenses that are deemed unreasonable, lavish, or extravagant are not deductible.
  • The IRS considers employees to be traveling if their business obligations require them to be away from their "tax home” substantially longer than an ordinary day's work.
  • Examples of deductible travel expenses include airfare, lodging, transportation services, meals and tips, and the use of communications devices.

Travel expenses incurred while on an indefinite work assignment that lasts more than one year are not deductible for tax purposes.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers employees to be traveling if their business obligations require them to be away from their "tax home" (the area where their main place of business is located) for substantially longer than an ordinary workday, and they need to get sleep or rest to meet the demands of their work while away.

Well-organized records—such as receipts, canceled checks, and other documents that support a deduction—can help you get reimbursed by your employer and can help your employer prepare tax returns. Examples of travel expenses can include:

  • Airfare and lodging for the express purpose of conducting business away from home
  • Transportation services such as taxis, buses, or trains to the airport or to and around the travel destination
  • The cost of meals and tips, dry cleaning service for clothes, and the cost of business calls during business travel
  • The cost of computer rental and other communications devices while on the business trip

Travel expenses do not include regular commuting costs.

Individual wage earners can no longer deduct unreimbursed business expenses. That deduction was one of many eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

While many travel expenses can be deducted by businesses, those that are deemed unreasonable, lavish, or extravagant, or expenditures for personal purposes, may be excluded.

Types of Travel Expenses

Types of travel expenses can include:

  • Personal vehicle expenses
  • Taxi or rideshare expenses
  • Airfare, train fare, or ferry fees
  • Laundry and dry cleaning
  • Business meals
  • Business calls
  • Shipment costs for work-related materials
  • Some equipment rentals, such as computers or trailers

The use of a personal vehicle in conjunction with a business trip, including actual mileage, tolls, and parking fees, can be included as a travel expense. The cost of using rental vehicles can also be counted as a travel expense, though only for the business-use portion of the trip. For instance, if in the course of a business trip, you visited a family member or acquaintance, the cost of driving from the hotel to visit them would not qualify for travel expense deductions .

The IRS allows other types of ordinary and necessary expenses to be treated as related to business travel for deduction purposes. Such expenses can include transport to and from a business meal, the hiring of a public stenographer, payment for computer rental fees related to the trip, and the shipment of luggage and display materials used for business presentations.

Travel expenses can also include operating and maintaining a house trailer as part of the business trip.

Can I Deduct My Business Travel Expenses?

Business travel expenses can no longer be deducted by individuals.

If you are self-employed or operate your own business, you can deduct those "ordinary and necessary" business expenses from your return.

If you work for a company and are reimbursed for the costs of your business travel , your employer will deduct those costs at tax time.

Do I Need Receipts for Travel Expenses?

Yes. Whether you're an employee claiming reimbursement from an employer or a business owner claiming a tax deduction, you need to prepare to prove your expenditures. Keep a running log of your expenses and file away the receipts as backup.

What Are Reasonable Travel Expenses?

Reasonable travel expenses, from the viewpoint of an employer or the IRS, would include transportation to and from the business destination, accommodation costs, and meal costs. Certainly, business supplies and equipment necessary to do the job away from home are reasonable. Taxis or Ubers taken during the business trip are reasonable.

Unreasonable is a judgment call. The boss or the IRS might well frown upon a bill for a hotel suite instead of a room, or a sports car rental instead of a sedan.

Individual taxpayers need no longer fret over recordkeeping for unreimbursed travel expenses. They're no longer tax deductible by individuals, at least until 2025 when the provisions in the latest tax reform package are due to expire or be extended.

If you are self-employed or own your own business, you should keep records of your business travel expenses so that you can deduct them properly.

Internal Revenue Service. " Topic No. 511, Business Travel Expenses ."

Internal Revenue Service. " Publication 463, Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses ," Page 13.

Internal Revenue Service. " Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families ," Page 7.

Internal Revenue Service. " Publication 463, Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses ," Pages 6-7, 13-14.

Internal Revenue Service. " Publication 463, Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses ," Page 4.

Internal Revenue Service. " Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families ," Pages 5, 7.

travel deductions for business

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travel deductions for business

17 Big Tax Deductions (Write Offs) for Businesses

Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA

Reviewed by

Pat Taylor, EA, MBA

January 5, 2023

This article is Tax Professional approved

One of the simplest ways to reduce your income tax bill is to ensure you’re claiming all of the tax deductions available to your small business.

I am the text that will be copied.

What exactly is a tax deduction?

A tax deduction (or “tax write-off”) is an expense that you can deduct from your taxable income . You take the amount of the expense and subtract that from your taxable income. Essentially, tax write-offs allow you to pay a smaller tax bill. But the expense has to fit the IRS criteria of a tax deduction.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of write-offs commonly available to self employed businesses that are organized as sole proprietorships or partnerships . Some of these are directly related to running a business, and some are more personal deductions that a small business owner should be aware of.

Further reading: Tax Credit vs Tax Deduction: What’s the Difference?

Tax deduction savings

Making the most of all your available tax deductions can save you hundreds—even thousands—of dollars at tax time.

Let’s look at an example.

Joe is a self-employed writer and had $60,000 in self employment income in 2023. He has to pay 15.3% self employment (SE) tax plus income tax based on his individual tax rate. The SE tax on $60,000 is $8,478 (generally only 92.35% of SE income is subject to SE tax) and the income tax is $4,865, for a total of $13,343.

(For simplicity, we assumed Joe is single with no children and no other types of taxable income to consider.)

In early 2023, Joe joined Bench and his bookkeeper located $6,000 worth of contractor expenses that he was not aware of. These expenses count as tax deductions and reduce his net self employment income to $54,000.

Now, with $54,000 in taxable self employment income, he pays $7,630 in SE tax and $4,200 in income tax, for a total of $11,830.

Adding the additional business expenses saved Joe over $1,500 in taxes!

By locating the $6,000 in contractor expenses, Bench was able to reduce Joe’s tax liability by over $1,500 dollars. A nice saving he can use to upgrade his laptop this year.

Repeat this for all the available deductions Joe had expenses for, and he can significantly reduce the income he has to pay taxes on—saving him thousands of dollars.

Staying on top of your deductions

As a small business owner, it can be difficult to know what deductions are relevant to you.

Many people struggle to stay on top of their deductions year round and instead try to piece things together at year end and run into difficulties. Remember that restaurant expense you incurred in January last year? Most people don’t, and therefore they miss this tax write off. Add them all up and you’re missing out on a lot of tax savings.

That’s where bookkeeping comes in.

To claim these deductions, you’ll need to keep accurate records and stay on top of your monthly bookkeeping.

Ongoing bookkeeping is critical to help you tally up your deductions. If you don’t have a good DIY setup you’re happy with, check out Bench . We’ll do your bookkeeping for you.

When Bench does your bookkeeping, we catch these deductions every month so you have confidence you’ve caught everything and minimized your tax liability. Then at year end, send Bench’s books to your accountant. Or, let us take tax filing off your plate for good with Bench’s small business tax support —we’ll do your bookkeeping and tax filing for you. Consider your tax season headache free!

The top 17 small business tax deductions

Each of these expenses are tax deductible. Consider this a checklist of small business tax write-offs.

2022 Small Business Tax Deductions

And remember, some of the deductions in this list may not be available to your small business. Consult with your tax advisor or CPA before claiming a deduction on your tax return.

Click the links below to skip ahead to a specific deduction, or keep scrolling to learn about them all.

Advertising and promotion

Business meals, business insurance.

  • Business interest and bank fees

Business use of your car

Contract labour, depreciation.

  • Home office

Legal and professional fees

Moving expenses, rent expense, salaries and benefits, telephone and internet expenses, travel expenses.

  • Bonus: Personal expenses

The cost of advertising and promotion is 100 percent deductible. This can include things like:

  • Hiring someone to design a business logo
  • The cost of printing business cards or brochures
  • Purchasing ad space in print or online media
  • Sending cards to clients
  • Launching a new website
  • Running a social media marketing campaign
  • Sponsoring an event

However, you cannot deduct amounts paid to influence legislation (i.e., lobbying) or sponsor political campaigns or events.

Having separate bank accounts and credit cards for your business is always a good idea. If your bank or credit card company charges annual or monthly service charges, transfer fees, or overdraft fees, these are deductible. You can also deduct merchant or transaction fees paid to a third-party payment processor, such as PayPal or Stripe.

You cannot deduct fees related to your personal bank accounts or credit cards.

You can generally deduct 50% of qualifying food and beverage costs. To be eligible for the deduction:

  • The expense must be an ordinary and necessary part of carrying on your business
  • The meal cannot be lavish or extravagant under the circumstances
  • The business owner or an employee must be present at the meal

You can deduct 100% of the cost of providing meals to employees, such as buying pizza for dinner when your team is working late. Meals provided at office parties and picnics are also 100% deductible.

Be sure to keep documentation for the outing that includes the amount of each expense, the date and place of the meal, and the business relationship of the person you dined with. A good way to do this is to record the purpose of the meal and what you discussed on the back of the receipt.

Further reading: How to Deduct Meals and Entertainment

You can deduct the premiums you pay for business insurance .

This may include:

  • Property coverage for your furniture, equipment, and buildings
  • Liability coverage
  • Group health, dental and vision insurance for employees
  • Professional liability or malpractice insurance
  • Workers compensation coverage
  • Auto insurance for business vehicles
  • Life insurance that covers employees, as long as the business or business owner is not a beneficiary on the policy
  • Business interruption insurance that covers lost profits if your business is shut down due to fire or another cause

Do you use your vehicle for business ? If you use your vehicle solely for business purposes, then you can deduct the entire cost of operating the vehicle. If you use it for both business and personal trips, you can only deduct the costs associated with business-related usage.

There are two methods for deducting vehicle expenses, and you can choose whichever one gives you a greater tax benefit.

  • Standard mileage rate. Multiply the miles driven for business during the year by a standard mileage rate . For miles driven in 2023, it is $0.655 per mile.
  • Actual expense method. Track all of the costs of operating the vehicle for the year, including gas, oil, repairs, tires, insurance, registration fees, and lease payments. Multiply those expenses by the percentage of miles driven for business. Note that you cannot switch from the actual expense method to the standard mileage method on the same vehicle.

Both methods require that you track your business miles for the year. You can keep a detailed log of your business miles, use an app to track your trips , or reconstruct a mileage log using other documents, such as calendars or appointment books. If you keep a mileage log, clearly document the miles driven, time and place, and business purpose of your trip.

Note that you cannot count the miles driven while commuting between your home and your regular place of business. These costs are considered personal commuting expenses.

If you hire freelancers or independent contractors to help in your business, you can deduct their fees as a business expense.

Just remember, if you pay a contractor $600 or more during the tax year, you’re required to send them a Form 1099-NEC by January 31st of the following year.

When you purchase furniture, equipment, and other business assets, depreciation rules require you to spread the costs of those assets over the years you’ll use them rather than deducting the full cost in a single hit.

Expensing these items upfront is more attractive because of the quicker tax benefit. Fortunately, the IRS gives business owners several ways to write off the full cost in one year.

  • De minimis safe harbor election. Small businesses can elect to expense assets that cost less than $2,500 per item in the year they are purchased. You can read more about the de minimis safe harbor election in this IRS FAQ .
  • Section 179 deduction. The Section 179 deduction allows business owners to deduct up to $1,080,000 of property placed in service during the tax year. This includes new and used business property and “off-the-shelf” software. The Section 179 deduction is limited to the business’s taxable income, so claiming it cannot create a net loss on your return. However, any unused Section 179 deduction can be carried forward and deducted on next year’s return.
  • Bonus depreciation. Businesses can take advantage of bonus depreciation to deduct 100% of the cost of machinery, equipment, computers, appliances, and furniture.

If you purchased a new vehicle during the tax year, the IRS limits write-offs for passenger vehicles. In the first year, if you don’t claim bonus depreciation, the maximum depreciation deduction is $10,100. If you do claim bonus depreciation, the maximum write off is $18,100.

Depreciation is more complicated than your average deduction, so we recommend reading our article What is Depreciation? And How Do You Calculate It? , and asking your accountant which assets you can deduct in your business.

Education costs are fully deductible when they add value to your business and increase your expertise. In order to decide if your class or workshop qualifies, the IRS will look at whether the expense maintains or improves skills that are required in your current business.

The following list contains examples of valid business education expenses:

  • Classes to improve skills in your field
  • Seminars and webinars
  • Subscriptions to trade or professional publications
  • Books tailored to your industry
  • Workshops to increase your expertise and skills
  • Transportation expenses to and from classes

Keep in mind that any education costs that would qualify you for a new career, or costs related to education outside of the realm of your business, don’t qualify as business tax deductions.

Home office expenses

If you use a home office for your business, you may be able to deduct a portion of your housing expenses against business income. There are two ways to deduct home office expenses.

  • Simplified method. You can deduct $5 per square foot of your home that is used for business, up to a maximum of 300 square feet.
  • Standard method. Track all actual expenses of maintaining your home, such as mortgage interest or rent, utilities, real estate taxes , housekeeping and landscaping service, homeowners association fees, and repairs. Multiply these expenses by the percentage of your home devoted to business use.

To qualify for the home office deduction, you need to measure up in two areas:

  • Regular and exclusive use. To pass the regular and exclusive use requirement, you must regularly use your home office exclusively for conducting business activities. A desk that doubles as your kitchen table won’t work. You don’t need to dedicate an entire room to your business, but your work area should have clearly identifiable boundaries. You may want to keep photos of your home office workspace with your tax documentation as evidence in case the IRS selects your return for audit.
  • Principal place of business. Your home office must be your principal place of business. This means you spend the most time and conduct important business activities here.

If you use the standard method for calculating your home office deduction, you’ll need to file Form 8829 along with your Schedule C. Learn more about the home office deduction .

If you take out a loan or use a credit card to cover business expenses, you can deduct the interest paid to your lender or credit card company as long as you meet the following requirements:

  • You are legally liable for the debt. For example, if your parents take out a second mortgage on their home to help you start a business, you are not legally liable for the debt. In that case, interest on the loan is not deductible, even if you make all of the payments on the mortgage.
  • Both you and the lender intend for the debt to be repaid. A loan that doesn’t have to be repaid is a gift.
  • You and the lender have a true debtor/creditor relationship. The IRS tends to scrutinize loans between related parties, such as family members. If you use the accrual method of accounting , you cannot deduct interest owed to a related person until the payment is made.

Keep in mind that if a loan is part business and part personal, you need to divide the interest between the business and personal parts of the loan.

Legal and professional fees that are necessary and directly related to running your business are deductible. These include fees charged by lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers, tax preparers, and online bookkeeping services such as Bench .

If the fees include payments for work of a personal nature (for example, making a will), you can only deduct the part of the fee that’s related to the business.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the deduction for moving expenses for all nonmilitary individuals, but businesses can still deduct the cost of moving business equipment, supplies and inventory from one business location to another.

Be sure to keep good records to substantiate all costs associated with your business move.

If you rent a business location or equipment for your business, you can deduct the rental payments as a business expense.

Keep in mind, rent paid on your home should not be deducted as a business expense, even if you have a home office. That rent can be deducted as a part of home office expenses.

Salaries, benefits and even vacation time paid to employees are generally tax-deductible, as long as they meet a few criteria:

  • The “employee” is not the sole proprietor, a partner, or an LLC member
  • The salary is reasonable, ordinary, and necessary
  • The services were actually provided

Taxes and licenses

You can deduct various taxes and licenses related to your business. This may include:

  • State income taxes
  • Payroll taxes
  • Personal property taxes
  • Real estate taxes paid on business property
  • Excise taxes
  • Business licenses

If telephone and internet services are integral to your business, they can be deductible business expenses.

Keep in mind, if you use a landline at home, you cannot deduct the cost of your first line, even if you use it solely for work. However, if you have a second landline devoted to the business, the cost of that line is deductible.

If you use your cell phone and internet connection for both personal and business reasons, you can only deduct the percentage allocable to business use. Keep an itemized bill or other detailed records to prove the amount of business use in case your return is audited.

For a trip to qualify as business travel, it has to be ordinary, necessary, and away from your tax home. Your tax home is the entire city or area in which you conduct business, regardless of where you live. You need to travel away from your tax home for longer than a normal day’s work, requiring you to sleep or rest en route.

Deductible, IRS approved business travel expenses include:

  • Travel to and from your destination by plane, train, bus, or car
  • Using your car while at a business location
  • Parking and toll fees
  • The cost of taxis and other methods of transportation used on a business trip
  • Meals and lodging
  • Laundry and dry cleaning while on a business trip
  • Business calls
  • Shipping of baggage and sample or display materials to your destination
  • Other similar ordinary and necessary expenses related to your business travel

Remember to keep records that include the amount of each expense, as well as dates of return/departure, details of the trip (whom you met with), a mileage log if you drove your own vehicle, and the business reason for the trip.

Further reading: Are Travel Expenses Tax Deductible?

Personal tax deductions for business owners

The above-mentioned deductions can be claimed on Schedule C or Form 1065’s Schedule K-1 , but there are a few other tax breaks small business owners commonly claim on their individual returns.

Charitable contributions

Sole proprietorships, LLCs, and partnerships cannot deduct charitable contributions as a business expense, but the business owner may be able to claim the deduction on their personal tax return.

To qualify, the donation must be made to a qualified organization .

Starting with 2020 returns, taxpayers can claim up to $300 of cash contributions as an “above-the-line” deduction on Form 1040. To deduct more than that, the business owner has to itemize deductions on Schedule A attached to Form 1040.

Child and dependent care expenses

If you pay someone to care for a child or another dependent while you work, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit. To qualify, the person receiving the card must be a child (under age 13) or a spouse or other dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

The credit is worth between 20% and 35% of your allowable expenses, depending on your income. Allowable expenses are limited to $4,000 for the care of one dependent and $8,000 if you paid for the care of two or more dependents. IRS Publication 503 provides more information on the Child and Dependent Care Credit. You’ll need to attach Form 2441 to your Form 1040 to claim the credit.

Retirement contributions

You can deduct contributions to employee retirement accounts as a business expense. The amount you can deduct depends on the type of plan you have. Check out the IRS’s tips for calculating your own retirement plan contribution and deduction for more information.

Health care expenses

In addition to insurance premiums, you can deduct other out-of-pocket medical costs, such as office co-pays and the cost of prescriptions. These costs are normally included on itemized deductions on Schedule A.

Self-employed business owners can also deduct health insurance premiums for themselves, their spouse, and dependents on Schedule 1 attached to their Form 1040. However, if you are eligible to participate in a plan through your spouse’s employer, then the business can’t deduct those premiums.

The bottom line

Tax deductions are an essential way to minimize the amount of tax you have to pay, and good record keeping will ensure you get to keep those deductions if the IRS ever comes knocking.

Have your team of dedicated bookkeepers at Bench track all of the expenses related to running your business to ensure you’re taking advantage of every legitimate deduction. Send Bench’s books to your accountant at year end, or let us take the tax filing off your plate for good! Learn more .

More resources for small businesses

  • How Much Does It Cost To File Taxes?
  • How To Prevent An IRS Audit
  • Smart Year-End Tax Planning Moves
  • Ecommerce Tax Deductions: A Complete Guide for Online Sellers
  • IRS Receipt Requirements: What You Need To Know

Own a retail store or a startup?

Our friends at Gusto put together a handy list of store deductions and startup tax deductions .

Join over 140,000 fellow entrepreneurs who receive expert advice for their small business finances

Get a regular dose of educational guides and resources curated from the experts at Bench to help you confidently make the right decisions to grow your business. No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

travel deductions for business

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Claiming a tax deduction for business travel expenses

You can claim a tax deduction for expenses you incur travelling for your business.

Last updated 18 August 2019

As a business owner, the general rule is that you can claim deductions for expenses if you or your employee are travelling for business purposes. A travel diary is:

  • compulsory for sole traders and partners in a partnership to record overnight business travel expenses
  • highly recommended for everyone else.

For a summary of this content in poster format, see Travel expenses (PDF 526KB) This link will download a file .

Expenses you can claim

Your business can claim a deduction for travel expenses related to your business, whether the travel is taken within a day, overnight, or for many nights.

Expenses you can claim include:

  • train, tram, bus, taxi, or ride-sourcing fares
  • car hire fees and the costs you incur (such as fuel, tolls and car parking) when using a hire car for business purposes
  • accommodation
  • meals, if you are away overnight.

To claim expenses for overnight travel, you must have a permanent home elsewhere and your business must require you to stay away from home overnight.

If you are entitled to goods and services tax (GST) input tax credits, you must claim your deduction in your income tax return at the GST exclusive amount.

Expenses you can't claim

You can only claim the business portion of business travel expenses. You must exclude any private expenses, such as:

  • a holiday or visit to family or friends that is combined with the business travel
  • the expenses associated with you or your employee taking a family member on the trip
  • souvenirs and gifts
  • sightseeing and entertainment
  • visas, passports or travel insurance
  • travel expenses that arise because you are relocating or living away from home
  • travel undertaken before you started running your business.
  • Claiming a tax deduction for motor vehicle expenses – information about business motor vehicle expenses and travelling to and from your places of business.

Media: Business deductions - Travel expenses: Tax basics for small business https://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=bd1bdiubfw7bqp External Link ( Duration: 01:23)

How to claim employee travel expenses

If your employees travel for your business, the business must actually pay for the travel expense to be able to claim it as a deduction. The business can pay for the expense by:

  • paying directly for the expense from the business account
  • paying a travel allowance to the employee
  • reimbursing the employee for their expenses.

Fringe benefits tax (FBT) may apply if your business pays for or reimburses your employees for their travel expenses. Certain exemptions and concessions may apply to reduce your FBT liability. For example, your business may not have an FBT liability if it reimburses an employee for their travel expenses to attend a work conference, which the employee would have been able to claim as an income tax deduction if you hadn't reimbursed them.

You will be liable for FBT if your employee extended their travel for private purposes and you reimburse the employee for these private costs. If your business provides benefits to your employees, you may need to obtain some records from the employee.

If you are the director of a company and the business pays for private portions of your travel expenses, there may also be Division 7A implications.

If you pay your employees a travel allowance or a living-away-from-home allowance, there are different considerations.

  • Fringe benefits tax
  • Private company benefits – Division 7A dividends
  • Travel allowances

Travel diaries

Sole traders and partners in a partnership.

If you are a sole trader or a partner in a partnership and you travel for six or more consecutive nights, you must keep a travel diary or similar document before your travel ends, or as soon as possible afterwards. In your travel diary, record the detail of each business activity including:

  • what the activity was
  • the date and approximate time the business activity began
  • how long the business activity lasted
  • the name of the place where the business activity occurred.

Your travel diary can be in any format as long as it contains sufficient detail to justify what you are claiming.

Example 1: Rebecca

Rebecca owns a business as a sole trader landscape gardener. She is invited to exhibit at the Chelsea flower show in England. This involves six days of work representing her business at the show. After the show is finished, Rebecca spends some time sightseeing.

Rebecca’s son James joins her on her trip. James is not involved in the business and spends the days exploring London while Rebecca is at the Chelsea flower show.

As Rebecca is travelling for more than six nights, she keeps the below travel diary.

Travel diary for May:

  • Saturday 9 May – 10.00am flight Q13 to London (via Dubai)
  • Sunday 10 May – Arrive London 1.00pm local time. Bus to hotel in Chelsea 3.00pm
  • Monday 11 May – Rest day
  • Tuesday 12 May – Chelsea flower show set-up day from 9.00am
  • Wednesday 13 May – Chelsea flower show day 1
  • Thursday 14 May – Chelsea flower show day 2
  • Friday 15 May – Chelsea flower show day 3
  • Saturday 16 May – Chelsea flower show day 4
  • Sunday 17 May – Chelsea flower show day 5, ends 5.00pm
  • Monday 18 May – Sightseeing in London
  • Tuesday 19 May – Sightseeing day trip to Oxford
  • Wednesday 20 May – Bus to airport. Flight home Q23 6.00pm from London, arrive 10.00pm local time.

This shows that Rebecca travelled for 12 days. She spent the majority of the time on business related activities and took the opportunity to do some sightseeing while in London for two extra days. Rebecca can only claim deductions for the business-related portion of her travel.

Rebecca can claim:

  • the return airfare to London (which does not have to be separated out as the primary purpose of her travel is for business, the sightseeing was incidental)
  • her bus fares to and from the airport
  • the costs associated with working at the Chelsea flower show including the exhibitors fee and transport to and from the location from her hotel
  • Rebecca’s accommodation in Chelsea up to and including 17 May
  • meals and incidental costs on the days she attended the Chelsea flower show.

Rebecca cannot claim:

  • accommodation, meals or transport expenses on the days noted for sightseeing
  • additional private costs from the whole of her time away (such as souvenirs)
  • costs of visas, passports or travel insurance
  • any of James’ expenses (such as his airfares, the cost of his meals or the cost of an extra hotel room for James).

Example 2: Noah

Noah owns a business as a sole trader interior designer and decorator. He lives and works in Perth. A new customer has asked him to design and decorate her home in Broome. This will take two weeks to complete.

Noah flies to Broome on Sunday evening and returns to Perth two weeks later. On the weekend he does some sightseeing and catches up with friends. He keeps the following diary:

  • Sunday: Fly to Broome (depart 4.00pm, arrive 6.30pm)
  • Monday 2 September: Purchase decorating supplies 9.00am–10.30am. Working at client’s house 10.45am – 4.00pm
  • Tuesday 3 – Friday 6 September: Working at client’s house 7.30am to 4.00pm
  • Saturday: Day trip to Horizontal Falls. Dinner with Pam and Geoff
  • Sunday: Sightseeing around Broome
  • Monday 9 – Friday 13 September: Working 7.30am to 4.00pm at client’s house
  • Saturday: return flight to Perth (depart 10.00am, arrive 12.30pm).

Noah can claim:

  • his return airfare to Broome and taxi to his hotel and from hotel to airport
  • accommodation in Broome for all nights (as the weekend in between was incidental and the primary purpose of travel was for business)
  • costs of undertaking his work in Broome (such as hire of tools)
  • meals and incidental costs of his work.

Noah cannot claim his private expenses, including:

  • the cost of the sightseeing he does on the weekend
  • the dinner he has with friends.

Companies and trusts

If your business is a company or a trust, we highly recommend you use a travel diary as it will help you work out the proportion of the travel that was for private purposes.

  • PAYG withholding implications of Travel allowances
  • Fringe benefits tax (FBT)

Records for business travel expenses

Keep records for five years to substantiate your business travel expenses, including:

  • tax invoices
  • boarding passes
  • travel diaries
  • details of how you worked out the private portion of expenses.

If you’re a sole trader with simple tax affairs, you can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record your business-related expenses.

  • Record keeping for business
  • myDeductions

Should My Employer Cover The Cost Of My Travel Expenses?

  • Last updated May 15, 2024
  • Difficulty Advanced

Julia May

  • Category Travel

should my employer pay for my travel

In today's globalized world, travel has become an integral part of many jobs. Whether it's attending conferences, meeting clients, or exploring new market opportunities, professionals are increasingly finding themselves on the move. However, one question that often arises is who should bear the cost of these travel expenses? Should it be the employer or the employee? This debate has sparked discussions about fairness, employee satisfaction, and the overall costs of doing business. In this article, we will explore both sides of the argument and delve into the reasons why employers should or should not cover the cost of their employees' travel expenses.

What You'll Learn

Factors to consider before asking employer to pay for travel, pros and cons of having employer cover travel expenses, alternatives to getting travel expenses covered by employer, tips for negotiating travel compensation with employer.

quartzmountain

If you frequently travel for work, you might be wondering whether your employer should be responsible for covering your travel expenses. While it may seem like a straightforward question, there are several factors that need to be considered before approaching your employer about this matter. Asking your employer to pay for your travel requires careful thought and planning. In this article, we will explore some important factors that can help you make an informed decision.

  • Nature of Work: The nature of your job and the purpose of your travel should be the first factor to consider. If traveling is an essential part of your job, such as sales or client management, then it is reasonable to expect your employer to cover your travel expenses. On the other hand, if travel is not a core component of your role, requesting your employer to pay for your travel might not be seen as justifiable.
  • Company Policy: Review your company's travel policy to understand their existing guidelines and reimbursement practices. Some companies have detailed policies in place that clearly outline what is covered and what is not. If your employer already has a policy in place, it is important to familiarize yourself with it before requesting any changes.
  • Budget Constraints: Consider the financial health of your organization. If your company is experiencing financial difficulties or has limited resources, asking for travel expenses might not be feasible. It is important to have a realistic understanding of your company's financial situation before making any requests.
  • Benefits and Compensation: Consider whether your employer already provides other benefits and compensation that may offset travel expenses. Some companies offer perks such as mileage reimbursement, travel allowances, or even company cars that can help offset your travel costs. If your employer already provides such benefits, it might be more challenging to convince them to cover additional travel expenses.
  • Company Culture: Assess your organization's culture and how they value employee well-being. Some companies prioritize employee satisfaction and understand that covering travel expenses can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce. If your company values work-life balance and supports employee needs, they may be more open to considering your request.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Consider the financial and operational benefits that your travel brings to the company. If your travel generates significant revenue, secures important client contracts, or brings in new business opportunities, your employer may be more inclined to cover your travel expenses. It is important to present a strong case by demonstrating the value that your travel brings to the organization.
  • Alternative Options: Before asking your employer to pay for all your travel expenses, explore alternative options. For instance, you could propose cost-sharing arrangements, where you cover some expenses while your employer covers others. Additionally, you could suggest using more cost-effective travel methods, such as video conferences or online meetings, as alternatives to physical travel.

Ultimately, the decision to ask your employer to cover your travel expenses depends on a variety of factors. It is important to consider these factors carefully before approaching your employer to ensure that your request is reasonable and aligned with your company's expectations and policies. By doing so, you can increase the likelihood of a positive and productive conversation with your employer about your travel expenses.

Preserve the Freshness of Your Strawberries While Traveling with These Tips

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Traveling for work can be both exciting and tiring. Whether it's a business trip to meet with clients or attend a conference, the costs associated with travel can quickly add up. One solution is to have your employer cover your travel expenses. This can have several benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of having your employer pay for your travel.

## Pros of Having Employer Cover Travel Expenses:

### Financial Relief:

One of the biggest advantages of having your employer cover your travel expenses is the financial relief it provides. Traveling for work can be expensive, with costs such as airfare, accommodation, meals, and transportation. By having your employer foot the bill, you can save a significant amount of money. This can be particularly beneficial for employees who travel frequently or for extended periods.

### Improved Morale:

Knowing that your employer values your work and is willing to invest in your travel can boost your morale and motivation. It shows that your employer recognizes your efforts and is willing to support you in your professional development. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and loyalty.

### Convenience:

When your employer covers your travel expenses, it eliminates the hassle of dealing with reimbursements and expense reports. Instead of having to pay for everything upfront and wait for reimbursement, you can focus on your work and not worry about the financial aspect of your trip. This can save you time and energy and make your travel experience more convenient.

### Opportunity for Networking and Learning:

Business travel often involves attending conferences, trade shows, or meetings with clients. By having your employer cover your travel expenses, you have the opportunity to network with industry professionals, learn from top experts, and expand your professional network. This can be invaluable for career growth and can open up new opportunities in the future.

## Cons of Having Employer Cover Travel Expenses:

### Loss of Control:

When your employer covers your travel expenses, they may have control over certain aspects of your trip. This can include choosing your accommodation, booking your flights, or setting a budget for meals and transportation. While this may not be an issue for everyone, some individuals may prefer to have more control over these decisions.

### Restrictions and Limitations:

When relying on your employer to cover your travel expenses, there may be restrictions and limitations on what you can spend. This can include staying within a certain budget for accommodation or being required to choose the most cost-effective transportation option. These limitations can impact your travel experience and may not align with your personal preferences or needs.

### Tax Implications:

Depending on the tax laws in your country, having your employer cover your travel expenses may have implications for your taxes. Some countries require you to report these expenses as taxable income, which means you may end up owing more in taxes. It's important to consult with a tax professional to understand the potential tax implications before relying on your employer to cover your travel expenses.

### Potential for Overworking:

While having your employer cover your travel expenses can be a perk, it can also lead to potential overworking. In some cases, employers may expect you to work extra hours or be available around the clock, especially if they are investing a significant amount in your travel. This can result in an imbalance between work and personal life, leading to burnout and reduced well-being.

### Perception by Colleagues:

Having your employer cover your travel expenses can sometimes be perceived negatively by colleagues who do not have the same privilege. It may create a sense of inequity in the workplace, which can lead to resentment or decreased morale among colleagues. It's essential to be mindful of how your travel expenses are perceived by others and to be sensitive to any potential impact it may have on workplace dynamics.

In conclusion, having your employer cover your travel expenses can provide financial relief, boost morale, and offer networking opportunities. However, it may also reduce your control over travel decisions, come with restrictions and limitations, and have potential tax implications. Additionally, it's important to consider the potential for overworking and the perception by colleagues. Before deciding whether your employer should pay for your travel, weigh the pros and cons and consider your own preferences and needs.

Covering the Costs: Traveling with WoOFF and Payment Requirements

If you're an employee who frequently travels for work, you may be wondering if your employer should cover your travel expenses. While it is a common practice for employers to reimburse employees for travel expenses, it is not always the case. However, there are alternatives to getting your travel expenses covered by your employer that you may consider. In this article, we will explore some options that may help you in covering the costs of your work-related travel.

  • Negotiate a travel allowance: If your employer is not willing to cover your travel expenses, you can try negotiating a travel allowance as part of your compensation package. This allowance can be a set amount that your employer provides you every month or quarter to help cover your travel expenses. By negotiating a travel allowance, you can ensure that you have some financial support to offset the costs of your work-related travel.
  • Open a corporate travel credit card: Another alternative is to open a corporate travel credit card. These cards often come with perks and rewards that can help minimize your out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, by using a corporate travel credit card, you can easily track and separate your personal and business expenses, making it easier to report and analyze your travel spending.
  • Utilize technology for cost savings: Nowadays, there are numerous apps and websites that can help you find cheaper accommodations, flights, and transportation options. By doing some research and using these tools, you can often find cost-saving alternatives that can help reduce your overall travel expenses. Additionally, consider utilizing virtual meeting tools, such as video conferencing, to minimize the need for travel altogether.
  • Keep track of your expenses: Even if your employer does not cover your travel expenses, it is important to keep track of them for tax purposes. By documenting and saving your receipts, you may be able to deduct some of these expenses on your tax return, potentially reducing your overall tax liability. Consult with a tax professional to ensure you are accurately tracking and deducting your travel expenses.
  • Consider sharing accommodations: Accommodation costs can often be the most significant expense when traveling for work. Consider connecting with colleagues who are also traveling to the same location and share accommodation expenses. By sharing a hotel room or rental apartment, you can split the costs and save money.
  • Request telecommuting options: If travel is not essential for your job and can be done remotely, consider requesting telecommuting options from your employer. This can eliminate the need for travel entirely and save you travel expenses. Present your employer with a comprehensive plan outlining how you can effectively work remotely and continue to meet your job responsibilities.

While getting your travel expenses covered by your employer is ideal, it is not always feasible. However, by considering these alternatives, you can ensure that you are not burdened with all the costs of work-related travel. Remember to communicate openly with your employer about your needs and explore creative solutions that meet both your needs and the company's requirements.

Tips for Keeping Medication Refrigerated While Traveling

As an employee, there may be times when your job requires you to travel for business purposes. Whether it's attending conferences, meeting clients, or visiting different branch offices, traveling can be an essential part of your job. However, traveling can also be costly, and it's only fair that you're compensated for your time spent away from home. If you're wondering how to negotiate travel compensation with your employer, here are some tips to help you out.

Research the Policy:

Before initiating a conversation with your employer about travel compensation, take the time to research your company's policy on the matter. Find out if there are any existing guidelines or procedures in place for reimbursing employees for travel expenses. This will give you a better understanding of what you can expect and help you frame your arguments more effectively.

Document Your Expenses:

Keep detailed records of all your travel expenses, such as airfare, accommodation, meals, and transportation. This will provide concrete evidence of the financial burden you're taking on when traveling for work. Make sure to keep all receipts and invoices organized, as you may need them to support your request for compensation.

Quantify Your Time:

In addition to the financial costs, traveling for work often requires you to spend additional time away from home. Quantify the hours you spend traveling, attending meetings, and working outside of regular office hours. Highlighting the amount of time you're investing in your job can support your argument for compensation beyond just financial reimbursement.

Prepare a Proposal:

Create a clear and concise proposal that outlines your request for travel compensation. Start by stating the purpose of your request and why you believe it is fair and reasonable. Include supporting evidence from your research and documentation of expenses. Specify the type of compensation you're seeking, whether it's reimbursement for specific expenses or additional compensation for time spent away from home.

Schedule a Meeting:

Set up a meeting with your employer to discuss your travel compensation proposal. Choose a time when both you and your employer can focus and dedicate sufficient attention to the conversation. Approach the meeting with confidence and professionalism, and be prepared to address any questions or concerns your employer may have.

Be Open to Negotiation:

Negotiating travel compensation is a two-way process. Your employer may have their own concerns or limitations when it comes to reimbursing travel expenses. Be open to discussing alternative options or compromises that can still meet your needs while also accommodating your employer's budget or policies.

Consider the Benefits:

When negotiating travel compensation, it's important to consider the long-term benefits that come from investing in employee travel. Traveling can enhance your professional development, provide networking opportunities, and strengthen relationships with clients or colleagues. Highlight these benefits to your employer to showcase the value of investing in your travel experiences.

After your meeting, follow up with a summary of the discussion and any agreed-upon next steps. If your employer needs time to review your proposal or consult with other stakeholders, give them a reasonable timeframe. Be proactive in following up to ensure that your request doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Remember, negotiating travel compensation is a professional conversation. Approach it with confidence, preparedness, and a willingness to find a mutually beneficial solution. By presenting a well-researched proposal and showcasing the value of your travel experiences, you increase your chances of reaching an agreement that compensates you fairly for your travel.

Ensuring Smooth Travels: How to Set a Travel Notice with Your Visa

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Business traveler dos and don'ts

Traveling for work can be many things: exhilarating and productive, or exhausting and stressful. Sometimes it’s all of those rolled into one. If you’re looking for more of the former and less of the latter, some universal tips will help you when you’re on the road for business.

Here are our top 8.

Do familiarize yourself with company travel policies

There’s nothing worse than finding out that a ride to your hotel or a restaurant meal is going to cost you your own hard-earned money because it was noncompliant. Luckily, if you educate yourself before booking travel and starting your journey, it can help you get what you need and stay within policy.

Did you know? With Uber for Business , traveling employees gain access to the business hub. This lets those who are linked to their company’s account see all their sponsored travel benefits in the Uber and Uber Eats apps. View workplace programs, like business travel or meals, manage business profiles, change payment methods, and contact Support all in one place.

Do pack lightly and efficiently

Picture this: you arrive at your destination after a long travel day. You head to baggage claim, wait patiently as the suitcases drop onto the carousel, and daydream about dinner. Soon it becomes clear that your bag is nowhere to be found, and now you’re stuck without your clothes the night before a big presentation. Avoid this scenario by packing strategically and using only a carry-on. If you must check a bag, make sure you bring essentials with you on the plane.

Do plan some bleisure activities

Business travel doesn’t have to be all work and no play. If your company and your personal schedule allow for it, build in an extra day or 2 to explore your destination. Take in some sights, try some local cuisine, and make some memories that’ll last well beyond your work trip.

Do take advantage of travel perks

The savviest road warriors know how to get the most out of a business trip. Many companies have partnerships with major hotel brands or airlines, meaning business travelers can earn perks that they can put toward future personal trips. Don’t let those points or miles go to waste.

Did you know? Traveling employees can use Uber for Business to make work trips work for them. By connecting Uber and Marriott Bonvoy TM accounts, they can earn points redeemable for personal travel when they request eligible rides and order eligible meals on the road.

Don't book at the last minute

When it comes to business travel, good things don’t come to those who wait. Securing airline tickets, hotel rooms, or conference passes at the last minute can mean fewer options, less flexibility, and higher costs. Booking your travel and accommodations as early as possible can save you a potential headache and your company valuable dollars.

Did you know? With Uber Reserve, travelers can request a ride up to 90 days in advance. They can also choose from a variety of ride options, get up to 15 minutes of wait time, and cancel up to one hour before the ride at no charge. 1 Don’t get stranded without transportation, and never be late to that important meeting again.

Don't neglect health and wellness

Being on a work trip means being out of your routine, which can negatively affect sleep, diet, and fitness. It’s easy to get caught up in the hecticness and excitement, but don’t sacrifice your physical and mental well-being. Prioritizing sleep, eating nourishing meals, and getting consistent exercise are great ways to feel good not only while you’re on the road but also when you return.

Don't forgo local customs

Part of a successful trip, whether it’s for fun or for work, means operating respectfully within local culture. This is especially important for international travel, in which customs may be quite different from those of your home. Avoid faux pas by brushing up on your destination—like knowing the standards for dress, greetings, tipping, taboo topics, and cuisine—before heading out.

Don't forget to reconcile post-trip expenses

Work trips aren’t just about what happens during the booking process or at the destination. An important final step is reporting on business expenses. Make sure you’re keeping track of ground transportation, meals on the road, or other eligible expenses, and submit them within your company’s allotted deadline.

Did you know? Uber for Business expense integrations streamline the expense process for employees. Travelers’ ride and meal receipts will automatically flow directly into the company’s expense provider dashboard, saving time and cutting down on human error.

1 Wait time varies based on the vehicle option you select. Go to Uber Reserve Terms for details.

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It all starts here - manage travel and meal programs with easy to set cost controls and more.

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14 best travel credit cards of May 2024

Nick Ewen

The best travel credit cards offer an array of premium perks and benefits . For both occasional travelers and frequent flyers, adding a travel credit card to your wallet is a great way to earn rewards and save money on every trip you take. At The Points Guy, our team has done the legwork and curated a selection of the best travel credit cards for any globe-trotter, whether you prefer to backpack through mountains or settle into a luxury villa for some relaxation. From generous travel credits to premium lounge access, we’ve chosen the cards packed with the best benefits to elevate your next travel experience.

Check out our list below and discover which travel credit card from our partners makes the best addition to your wallet for all of your adventures.

  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card : Best for earning miles
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card : Best for premium travel
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card : Best for beginner travelers
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card : Best for maximizing business purchases
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express : Best for lounge access
  • American Express® Gold Card : Best for dining at restaurants
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card : Best for no annual fee
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express : Best for business travel
  • Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card : Best for unlimited point earning
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Best for travel credits
  • Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card : Best for variety of bonus categories
  • American Express® Business Gold Card : Best for flexible rewards earning
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card : Best for travel rewards beginners
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card : Best for Alaska Airlines miles

Browse by card categories

Comparing the best credit cards, more details on the best credit cards, credit pointers with brian kelly, what is a travel credit card, helpful tools, how we rate cards, how to maximize travel credit cards, how to choose the best travel credit card, ask our experts, pros + cons of travel credit cards, frequently asked questions.

  • Airport Lounge Access

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

When it comes to simplicity and strong rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice for most travelers. You’ll earn earns 2 miles per dollar on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card .

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles, worth $1,388 based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.
  • You'll earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, which means you won't have to worry about memorizing bonus categories.
  • Rewards earned are versatile as they can be redeemed for any hotel or airline purchase for a statement credit or transferred to 15+ travel partners.
  • Highest bonus-earning categories only on travel booked via Capital One Travel
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

If you can maximize the  $300 credit toward Capital One Travel, the Venture X’s annual fee effectively comes down to $95, the same annual fee pegged to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees ). Add in a 10,000-mile bonus every account anniversary (worth $185, according to TPG valuations ) and lounge access, and the card may become the strongest option out there for a lot of travelers. Read our full  review of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card .

  • 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary
  • $395 annual fee
  • $300 credit annually, only applicable for bookings made through Capital One Travel portal
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Elevate every hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with a suite of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners. Read our full  review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card .

  • You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2 points per dollar on all other travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Annual $50 Chase Travel Hotel Credit
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance.
  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $937.50 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees. Read our full  review of the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card .

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $8,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening.
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for points redemption.
  • Reasonable $95 annual fee.
  • Bonus categories that are most relevant to business owners; primary car insurance.
  • Perks including cellphone and purchase protection; extended warranty; trip cancellation/interruption insurance; trip delay reimbursement.
  • Yearly cap on bonus categories.
  • No travel perks.
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications.
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel℠
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Round-the-clock monitoring for unusual credit card purchases
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full  review of the Platinum Card from American Express .

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and more than $1,400 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (enrollment required)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.
  • The $695 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit and other monthly statement credits can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

This isn’t just a card that’s nice to look at. It packs a real punch, offering 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar). There’s also an up to $120 annual dining credit at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com ,  Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations, plus it added an up to $120 annually ($10 per month) in Uber Cash, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. All this make it a very strong contender for all food purchases, which has become a popular spending category. Enrollment is required for select benefits. Read our full review of the Amex Gold .

  • 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of account opening.
  • Weak on travel and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as effective for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of travel rewards, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is a great way to get started. With no annual fee and a simple 1.25 miles per dollar on all your purchases, you won’t have to keep up with multiple bonus categories — just earn rewards on everything you purchase! Coupled with the 20,000-mile sign-up bonus, you can use your rewards to book travel, transfer to Capital One’s loyalty partners and more. Read our full review of the  Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card .

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.
  • Use your miles to book or pay for travel at a 1-cent value, or transfer your miles to loyalty programs to gain potentially even greater value for your rewards.
  • Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Other credit cards can offer you higher rewards for your common purchase categories.
  • Capital One airline transfer partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more. Read our full  review on The Business Platinum Card from American Express .

  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry every 4 years or $85 TSA PreCheck credit every 4.5 years (enrollment is required)
  • Up to $400 annual statement credit for U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels; access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection (enrollment required)
  • Steep $695 annual fee.
  • High spend needed for welcome offer.
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on each eligible purchase at US construction material, hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in statement credits on select purchases, including tech, recruiting and wireless in the first year of membership with the Business Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. See how you can unlock over $1,000 annually in credits on select purchases with the Business Platinum Card®, here.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to the Card.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Use your card and get up to $189 in statement credits per calendar year on your CLEAR® Plus Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use the Business Platinum Card®.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market as of 03/2023.
  • $695 Annual Fee.

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

The Wells Fargo Autograph Journey credit card offers healthy reward earning rates on top of uncapped point-earning meaning the sky's the limit — especially if you strategize and spend in popular categories.

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Uncapped earning potential
  • $50 annual statement credit
  • Solid point earning rates in popular categories
  • This card features an annual fee
  • Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s $600 toward your next trip.
  • Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels, 4X points on airlines, 3X points on other travel and restaurants, and 1X points on other purchases.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Book your travel with the Autograph Journey Card and enjoy Travel Accident Insurance, Lost Baggage Reimbursement, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
  • Earn a $50 annual statement credit with $50 minimum airline purchase.
  • Up to $1,000 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Find tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations and more with your complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, bonus points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card. Read our full  review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card .

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners.
  • 10 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through the Chase Travel portal, 3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel directly through Chase Travel
  • Steep initial $550 annual fee.
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $1125 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

The Wells Fargo Autograph card packs a punch for a no-annual-fee product, with an array of bonus categories plus solid perks and straightforward redemption options. Read our  full review of the Wells Fargo Autograph here .

  • This card offers 3 points per dollar on various everyday purchases with no annual fee. It also comes with a 20,000-point welcome bonus and an introductory APR offer on purchases. Plus, you'll enjoy up to $600 in cellphone protection when you pay your monthly bill with the card. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Despite the lucrative earning structure, Wells Fargo doesn't offer any ways to maximize your redemptions — you're limited to fixed-value rewards like gift cards and statement credits.
  • Select "Apply Now" to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.
  • Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter.
  • Up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Redeem your rewards points for travel, gift cards, or statement credits. Or shop at millions of online stores and redeem your rewards when you check out with PayPal.

American Express® Business Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card

The Amex Business Gold card is a solid choice for high-spending small businesses with the flexibility to earn 4 points per dollar in the two categories where you spend the most. The card is ideal for businesses who value simplicity above all. Read our full  review of the American Express Business Gold Card .

  • You'll earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar in the top 2 spending categories each month (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year).
  • Hefty $375 annual fee.
  • There may be better options for small businesses who don't spend a lot.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 categories where your business spends the most each billing cycle from 6 eligible categories. While your top 2 categories may change, you will earn 4X points on the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these categories each calendar year (then 1X thereafter). Only the top 2 categories each billing cycle will count towards the $150,000 cap.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com using your Business Gold Card.
  • Earn up to $20 in statement credits monthly after you use the Business Gold Card for eligible U.S. purchases at FedEx, Grubhub, and Office Supply Stores. This can be an annual savings of up to $240. Enrollment required.
  • Get up to a $12.95** statement credit back each month after you pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with your Business Gold Card. **Up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes on one membership fee.
  • Your Card – Your Choice. Choose from Gold or Rose Gold.
  • *Terms Apply

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is a great starter card thanks to its no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees when you travel internationally. Earning and redeeming is effortless, with no confusing bonus categories to keep track of and the ability to redeem your points for all of your travel needs. Read our  full review of the Bank of America Travel Rewards  card.

  • 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Bank of America does not offer airline or hotel transfer partners like other banks such as American Express, Chase or Capital One.
  • No travel and purchase protections.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

There’s a lot to love about the Alaska Airlines credit card, in part due to its highly valuable loyalty program: Alaska Airlines MileagePlan. Whether you’re a loyal Alaska flyer or a points maximizer looking to diversify your rewards portfolio, this card has a lot to offer. For starters, you’ll receive Alaska’s Famous Companion Pass each year from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) each account anniversary after you spend $6,000 or more on purchases within the prior anniversary year, free checked bags for you and up to six guests on your itinerary, 20% back on in-flight purchases and more. Plus, Alaska has joined the oneworld alliance, opening up endless redemption opportunities. Read our  full review of the Alaska Airline credit card.

  • Free checked bag for you and up to six guests on your reservation.
  • Alaska discounts, including 20% back on in-flight purchases.
  • Limited Time Online Offer—60,000 Bonus Miles!
  • Get 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Get Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) each account anniversary after you spend $6,000 or more on purchases within the prior anniversary year. Valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases. Earn unlimited 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible gas, EV charging station, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride share) purchases. And earn unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don’t expire on active accounts.
  • Earn a 10% rewards bonus on all miles earned from card purchases if you have an eligible Bank of America® account.
  • Free checked bag and enjoy priority boarding for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation, when you pay for your flight with your card — Also available for authorized users when they book a reservation too!
  • With oneworld® Alliance member airlines and Alaska’s Global Partners, Alaska has expanded their global reach to over 1,000 destinations worldwide bringing more airline partners and more ways to earn and redeem miles.
  • Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $95 annual fee.
  • This online only offer may not be available elsewhere if you leave this page. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

With the Capital One Venture, you’re earning 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, which makes it easy to rack up rewards without having to juggle different bonus categories or spending caps. And with flexible redemption options and a manageable annual fee, this card is an excellent choice if you’re looking to keep just one credit card in your wallet for all spending.

Those looking to earn flexible rewards should use the Capital One Venture card as it allows you to redeem miles for a fixed value or transfer the miles you earn to 15+ airline and hotel transfer partners , including Avianca, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

“The Capital One Venture is a great card that can add value to pretty much anyone’s wallet. I use it to earn 2 miles per dollar on the purchases that fall outside of my other cards’ bonus categories. The annual fee is low, Capital One miles are easy to redeem and the card does come with a few nice perks — including TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee reimbursement.” — Madison Blancaflor , senior content operations editor

Even if you’re a casual traveler, consider jumping to the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card  (see  rates and fees ). The card’s up to $300 annual credit for purchases made with Capital One Travel immediately covers the higher annual fee — and that’s not even considering the added perks you’ll enjoy.

At $395 per year (see rates and fees ), this premium card is cheaper than all of its competitors without sacrificing the breadth of valuable perks it includes. Cardholders will get unlimited visits to Capital One’s premium network of lounges and 1,300-plus Priority Pass lounges worldwide  and able to bring up to two guests for no additional charge.

For frequent travelers, the Capital One Venture X is a must-have and is well worth the $395 annual fee. If you travel frequently with your significant other, family or friends, you can even add some authorized users for no additional cost. This will grant them their own lounge access (and the ability to bring up to two guests for no fee), among many other benefits, making this a huge cost-saver for those who travel in groups.

“With an annual fee that is $300 less than The Platinum Card® from American Express (see Amex Platinum rates and fees ), the Capital One Venture X card is my favorite travel credit card. The card comes with an annual $300 Capital One Travel credit, which I use to book flights. That effectively brings the annual fee down to $95 per year (see rates and fees ). Cardholders enjoy a Priority Pass Select membership. Authorized users — you geta number of them at no cost — also enjoy their own Priority Pass Select membership. I use my Venture X card to earn 2 miles per dollar (a 3.7% return at TPG’s valuations ) in spending categories where most cards would only accrue 1 mile — like auto maintenance, pharmacies and medical bills.” — Kyle Olsen , former points and miles reporter

Those turned off by the Venture X’s annual fee could opt for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card , which has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees ), identical sign-up bonus and similar earning and redemption options.

You’ll earn a solid return on dining and travel (6% back and 4% back, respectively, based on TPG valuations ) on top of your generous sign-up bonus, and you also have access to some of the best travel protections offered by any travel rewards credit card.

We’ve long suggested the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card   as an excellent option for those who are new to earning travel rewards because it lets you earn valuable, transferable points  with strong bonus categories and a reasonable annual fee.

“The Chase Sapphire Preferred has remained a top card in my wallet for years. Between the consistently strong sign-up bonus, low annual fee and continual improvements that have been made over the years, it’s hard for any other mid-tier rewards card to compare. I love that I can earn bonus rewards on travel, dining, streaming and online grocery purchases — all with just one card. Plus, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valuable and easy to use whether you’re new to points and miles or an expert.” — Madison Blancaflor , senior content operations editor

To add more luxury to your travel experience, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® . Though it comes with a higher annual fee, you’ll enjoy Priority Pass lounge access plus a $300 annual travel credit.

The Ink Business Preferred earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 in combined travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. TPG’s most recent valuations  peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so you’ll get a fantastic return of 6% on purchases in these categories.

If you spend a lot on business travel or social media advertising, you’ll be able to earn significant points using the Ink Business Preferred card .

“I originally signed up for the Ink Business Preferred primarily for its sign-up bonus. But, over the last year, I’ve found myself making it my go-to card when booking travel. After all, the Ink Business Preferred earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel and provides excellent travel protections, including trip delay protection and rental car insurance.” — Katie Genter , senior writer

If you don’t want to worry about maximizing specific purchases and are looking for a lower spending requirement to earn a sign-up bonus, consider the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card , which offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases and carries no annual fee.

The Amex Platinum is a stellar premium travel card that can provide amazing redemptions . Besides the welcome offer, it comes with more than $1,400 in credits each year and various lounge access options. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Anyone looking for luxury travel benefits will find that the ton of annual statement credits make the annual fee worth it. Plus, you’ll get unparalleled lounge access , automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott, and extra perks with Avis Preferred , Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club . Enrollment is required for select benefits.

“While this card has a high annual fee, it more than justifies itself for frequent travelers like me. The lounge access options that come with the Platinum are unrivaled by competitors. I put all of my flights on this card to earn 5 points per dollar spent and trip protection insurance. I make sure to take full advantage of the Uber, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hulu/Disney+ and Clear credits (enrollment is required). And, honestly, pulling a Platinum card out of your wallet to pay for something does feel pretty fancy.” — Matt Moffitt , senior credit cards editor

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card  can be a great alternative to the Amex Platinum, with a notably lower annual fee, similar perks and a more rewarding earning rate on everyday purchases.

The Amex Gold earns 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, with no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees ), meaning you’ll get an 8% return on purchases (based on TPG’s valuations ). While a few other cards temporarily offer higher return rates on dining, this is the best option for long-term spending, making it one of the best dining cards and best rewards cards .

Those looking for a great return on dining and purchases at U.S. supermarkets will get a lot of value from this card.

“Groceries and dining at restaurants are two of my top spending categories, and I love that the Amex Gold rewards those purchases with 4 points per dollar. When you factor in the $10 dining credit and $10 in Uber Cash each month, the $250 annual fee is a net cost of $10.” — Senitra Horbrook , former credit cards editor

For those who dine out a lot and also want additional bonus categories and other valuable perks for a lower annual fee, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card .

The no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (see  rates and fees ) has the same redemption options as its sibling card (the Venture Rewards card) but with a lower rewards rate and fewer perks. The miles earned on the card can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners, a benefit not usually seen with a no-annual-fee card.

The VentureOne is a strong card to have in your arsenal and great if you are budgeting. After all, there aren’t many no-annual-fee cards with the ability to transfer points and miles directly to travel partners, so it’s a big bonus that this card offers that (see rates and fees ).

“I wanted a credit card that earns Capital One miles without an annual fee, and this is a winner (see rates and fees ). It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some other cards, but I’m happy earning 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases without paying a fee to keep this card year after year. I’ll never cancel this card.” — Ryan Smith , former credit cards writer

For a small annual fee, many travelers could benefit from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card . You’ll earn at least 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and receive a statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.

There are certain ways to earn bonus points for spending on the Amex Business Platinum Card, but it’s the array of perks on the card that make it a great option. Beyond airport lounge access and automatic hotel elite status, there are a number of statement credits that are specifically targeted to common business expenses.

If you travel for business frequently, this card could help you upgrade your experience in the air and on the ground while saving you money on select business-related services. And the current welcome bonus is just the icing on the cake.

“I find that the annual perks and credits vastly outweigh the large annual fee. And that’s even without using some of them. By using the benefits with Priority Pass and Amex lounges, the airline incidental credits, plus the statement credits for Clear, our cellphone plan and restocking my home printer with ink and paper from Dell (enrollment required), I get more value out of the card than it costs to keep it. Plus, it earns my favorite points — American Express Membership Rewards — earning 5 points per dollar on flights and hotels booked with Amex Travel.” — Ryan Smith , former credit cards writer

For less-frequent travelers, consider the American Express®  Business Gold Card , which offers 4 points per dollar spent on your top two spending categories each month on the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these categories each calendar year (then 1 point per dollar thereafter).

The Autograph Journey offers cardholders the chance to earn elevated rates across travel categories including 5 points per dollar spent on hotels, 4 points per dollar on airline purchases and 3 points per dollar on restaurants and 'other travel' which includes timeshares, car rentals, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites and campgrounds. On top of this, cardholders also get the added benefit of earning a flat rate of 1 point per dollar on other purchases for a $95 annual fee.

If you travel frequently and are looking for a card to help you rack up points you can redeem for future travel, this card is a decent option. Additionally, those looking for a way to fill gaps in their points earning strategy will benefit from the flat 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases outside of the main travel categories.

Another great perk the Autograph Journey features is an annual $50 statement credit triggered by an airline purchase of at least $50. This is on top of elevated earning rates in the certain travel categories and a solid welcome offer for new applicants. There's also no foreign transaction fees on the Autograph Journey card making it a good first travel card as well as a decent supplemental card to add to your travel credit card roster.

If you're looking for a more general use credit card with no annual fee, consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card (see  rates and fees ). It earns a flat rate of 2% cash rewards on purchases making an excellent choice to help fill gaps in your reward earning strategy. The best part? Like the Autograph Journey card, the Active Cash Card doesn't put a cap on the amount of cash back you can earn.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual $300 travel credit to offset a variety of expenses — such as airfare, hotels, rental cars, transit and more. You’re also getting an up-to-$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit  once every four years along with Priority Pass Select membership. And Chase’s slate of transfer partners allows plenty of opportunity to get the maximum value from your points.

Those looking for elevated earning rates and extensive travel protections should have this card in their wallet. The 50% redemption bonus when you use your points to pay for travel through the Chase portal  is also a nice perk.

“I’ve had the Sapphire Reserve for years, and it’s going to stay in my wallet for the near future. I get $300 off travel every year along with great earning rates on travel and dining (3 points per dollar) and various trip protections that can reimburse me when things go wrong. And by leveraging other cards in the Ultimate Rewards ecosystem, I’m able to maximize the earnings across all of my purchases.” — Nick Ewen , director of content

If you just can’t stomach the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee, go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card  instead. It has similar perks, redemption options and travel protections — for a much lower $95 per year.

The Wells Fargo Autograph is a great no-annual-fee card that offers quality earning categories and travel and shopping protection.

Travel card beginners who are looking to get into points earning should consider the Wells Fargo Autograph, which offers a welcome bonus, 3 points per dollar on a variety of everyday spending categories and cellphone protection.

If you’re just getting into the travel credit card world and are not sure travel cards are for you, consider the Wells Fargo Autograph, which will allow you to earn bonus points on travel spending without the commitment of an annual fee.

If you’re looking to earn transferable reward points but still maintain a similar earning structure, consider the Bilt Mastercard® (see rates and fees ). The card earns 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel purchases for no annual fee. Plus, Bilt points can be transferred to any of its multiple travel partners. 

The American Express Business Gold card comes packed with perks and benefits, but its most unique feature is the ability to shift your monthly bonus categories. Cardholders will automatically earn 4 points per dollar in their top two spending categories on the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these categories each calendar year (then 1 point per dollar thereafter), so if your business spending varies month to month, you won’t have to commit to a bonus category.

The American Express Business Gold card is an excellent choice for business owners who are looking for a premium business card with premium business perks like monthly office supply statement credits, travel and shopping protection and access to The Hotel Collection.

The American Express Business Gold is an excellent choice for small businesses that have changing bonus categories but still want more premium business perks and benefits.

If you still want to earn Membership Rewards points without paying an annual fee, consider The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (see rates and fees ), which earns 2 Membership Rewards points on all business purchases (up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).

The Bank of America Travel Rewards card operates similarly to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card . You’re earning flat-rate rewards across all spending, and then you can use those rewards as a statement credit to cover eligible travel purchases.

It’s perfect for low-budget beginner travelers  who want a card with no annual fee and a simple way to earn and redeem points.

“I’m happy earning 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases on a card without an annual fee. I can’t pay for everything in life with transferable points, and it’s nice to have a card with fixed-value points for those situations. I use this card for travel purchases where I need to pay in cash, then I can reimburse myself with the points.” — Ryan Smith , former credit cards writer

If you’re interested in a card with transferable miles that still has no annual fee (see  rates and fees ), consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card .

The Alaska Airlines Visa earns 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases; 2 miles per dollar on eligible gas, EV charging stations, cable, streaming services and transit (including local ride share purchases); and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. You get a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six guests on your reservation, an annual Companion Fare on your account anniversary and 20% back on all inflight purchases.

Whether you live on the West Coast or not, the Alaska Airlines Visa is a good cobranded airline card to consider adding to your wallet. The Seattle-based airline is mostly limited to North American routes, but international destinations through Oneworld partners make this card valuable for all travelers.

“With new benefits, this card is even more valuable to me — even with its higher annual fee. It provides a free first checked bag, discounts on inflight purchases and priority boarding. My favorite feature, however, is the annual Companion Fare. I get hundreds of dollars in annual value from this perk.” — Ryan Smith , former credit cards writer

If you’re not looking to collect airline-specific miles, a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might be a better option.

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Travel rewards credit cards earn points, miles or cash back that are redeemable for travel expenses or are geared toward travel spending. The cards on this list are some of the best credit cards to book flights , hotels and more with their many perks and rewards . 

Travel credit cards offer rewards on different purchases that can help you book flights, hotels and more for little to no out-of-pocket expenses. Some cards also provide valuable perks and benefits that upgrade the overall travel experience — from Global Entry application fee credits to lounge access to complimentary elite status . If you have the right card (or cards) in your wallet, the sky is the limit on where your travels can take you — literally.

Additionally, it’s often advantageous to travel with more than one credit card for a variety of reasons. Carrying a backup credit card when you travel can provide peace of mind in the case of bank or issuer problems or if you have a card flagged for fraud while you travel. (In this case, knowing if your card requires you to set up travel alerts for lengthy travel could be worthwhile).

Are you new to travel rewards? Check out our beginner’s guide to all things points and miles . You’ll learn about top loyalty programs, how to maximize your credit card strategy to reach your travel goals and so much more.

Related: The complete history of credit cards, from antiquity to today

We have researched various types of travel credit cards to help you figure out which one is best for you.

Travel vs cash back credit cards

A travel credit card is a card that is geared toward travel spending and a cash-back credit card is a card that earns cash back on purchases made with the card.

Generally, when we are talking about travel credit cards we refer to cards that earn points and miles like the Platinum Card from American Express or the Hilton Honors Aspire card. The Platinum Amex earns transferable points which can be used with any of Amex's travel partners while the Hilton Honors Aspire card only earns Hilton points which can be redeemed at Hilton properties. These cards do not earn cash back on any purchases.

Cash back cards generally offer cash back as a flat rate or feature bonus categories that earn an elevated cash back rate. Select cash-back cards can also be a great travel card such as the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express which offers 3% cash back on transit including rideshare, trains, buses, and more. Even though it is a cash-back card, the Blue Cash Preferred offers an elevated return on select transportation which potentially makes it a solid travel card option.

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards work like other reward credit cards: They help you earn rewards, primarily points and miles, on your purchases. This section will primarily focus on transferable rewards credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express, as they are what are typically considered travel credit cards.

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value

How to earn transferable points

Transferable points credit cards earn points or miles when you make a purchase on the cards. These points and miles can then be transferred to travel partners for rewards like flights, hotel stays and more. Different cards will have different currencies, but they are generally called either “points” or “miles” (depending on the issuer). All transferable reward credit cards, airline credit cards and hotel credit cards will have their own currency that is redeemable for travel rewards. 

Travel cards have varying rates for different purchase categories. For example, the American Express® Gold Card card earns 4 points per dollar spent on restaurants but only 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel. While the Amex Platinum may be a better card for travel as it earns 5 points per dollar spent on flights (booked directly with airline or Amex Travel and up to $500,000 per calendar year), the Amex Gold can be a good addition for Platinum holders who spend a lot of money on dining out.

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

How to redeem points and miles  

Once you’ve decided on a travel credit card and earned a welcome bonus, it’s time to put those points or miles toward free travel. There are many ways to redeem your rewards with travel credit cards. Many cards feature an online booking portal through which you can use your rewards to book things like flights, hotels and car rentals. Before booking your flight, you should consider doing a  flight portal comparison to ensure you're getting the best redemption. Others allow you to transfer your points or miles to individual loyalty programs. Depending on the redemption, this could unlock even more value.

There are plenty of ways to ensure you don’t make mistakes with your travel rewards . For instance, be sure you do your research with your rewards to get a high-value redemption and make sure your accounts are in good standing so you don’t risk losing them.  

Related: Tips and tricks to get maximum value from your Capital One miles

It’s up to you to decide whether a specific trip is worth spending your rewards. You can use TPG’s monthly valuations to help you determine if the price of your flight or hotel room is worth your points and miles. Some travels are more affordable in cash, but you can always save your points to splurge on a business-class flight to Europe or an overwater bungalow at a luxury resort. 

How to use travel credit card portals  

In the world of travel credit cards, the four major players are American Express, Capital One, Chase and Citi. These issuers also have their own travel portals which can be used to earn and redeem points for travel. 

Some issuers, like Capital One and Chase , offer an incentive to book travel through the bank’s portal but it is not always worth booking through a portal. 

We do not recommend booking hotel travel through card portals as it typically does not honor elite-status benefits or elite-qualifying stay credits. 

Luckily, flights typically allow you to earn bonus points through a card issuer’s portal and with the airline. Keep in mind that this does not apply to all cards. When purchasing in cash, there generally is little variance in booking through a portal or on the airline’s website so if your travel credit card offers incentives to book through the portal , it can be a great way to earn extra points. 

Related: Ultimate guide to the Citi travel portal

Points and miles redemptions will have a fair variance, especially if there are incentives to book through the travel portals. Overall, travel portals can be a great addition to your points redemption journey if properly used. Always remember to compare the price or redemption value of booking through a portal or directly with an airline. 

Booking through a portal may make matters complicated if you ever need to change or cancel your flight. 

Related: Battle of the credit card travel portals: Which is the best for booking flights?

Types of travel credit cards

Travel credit cards are cards that are geared towards travel spending. Luckily, there are many types of travel credit cards which means there is a good option for any traveler. Typically, when talking about travel credit cards, we are referring to transfer rewards credit cards, airline credit cards and hotel credit cards. There are additional types of travel credit cards that are less popular but can still be a good option for the right traveler.

Transferable rewards credit cards earn points and miles that can be redeemed through a card’s rewards program directly or by transferring them to a travel partner . Many of our best travel credit cards fall under this category because they are the most valuable type of points you can earn. Transferable rewards give you the flexibility to redeem your rewards in a way that will be most beneficial to you. Examples of top transferable rewards cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express .

Airline cobranded cards earn a specific type of airline miles. These cards also generally come with perks specific to that airline. For example, an airline card may offer free checked bags , a certain number of elite-qualifying miles to help you reach status, priority boarding privileges, inflight discounts and more.

Hotel cobranded cards work like airline cards. You’ll earn rewards that are redeemable for a particular hotel program, such as Hilton or Marriott. Hotel cards come with their own benefits, such as complimentary elite status or free award-night stays. In addition, hotel cards can help you stack your earnings on hotel stays with the hotel’s program.

For example, if you have a Marriott credit card , you’ll earn bonus points for every dollar spent at participating Marriott properties on top of the 10 base points you get as a member of the Bonvoy program. This can really amplify the rewards you can earn when you use your hotel card to pay for your booking.

The points and miles world can be confusing for new credit card users but it doesn’t have to be. While transferable rewards cards are arguably the best way to earn points and miles for travel, they can also be incredibly confusing. Fixed-value credit cards and cash-back credit cards are good alternatives for beginners who are looking to get into the travel credit card world.

Fixed-value cards earn points or miles that are always redeemed for the same value. For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card earns points worth 1 cent each. These cards are great for beginners who haven’t quite gotten the hang of maximizing transferable points or casual travelers who are looking for their first travel credit card . Fixed-value credit cards are often the best travel credit cards for beginners. 

As more hotels and airlines move to a dynamic pricing model where award pricing shifts dramatically, fixed-value rewards programs are becoming more popular.

Another great credit card option for casual travelers or credit card beginners is cash-back credit cards. You don’t have to worry about points, transfer partners or maximizing your rewards with these cards. Cash-back cards provide a percentage of cash back on your spending and provide a simple way to save on your upcoming travels. 

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees ) is a great option for beginners to travel rewards. It earns unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and has no annual fee.

Travel credit card benefits

Some travel cards offer automatic elite status with various programs when you sign up and can also accelerate the journey to elite airline status by converting points to air miles. If you are loyal to a particular hotel brand, status with that brand will be valuable. You’ll be entitled to room upgrades, resort credits, early check-in, late checkout and more. If you’re not loyal, it won’t. The same goes for elite status with an airline — you’ll get lounge access, upgrades, increased baggage allowance, etc. When comparing the perks of various cards like elite status, be realistic about which ones you will and won’t use.

One of the coveted perks of premium travel credit cards is complimentary airport lounge access. Many premium travel credit cards come with Priority Pass lounge access , a membership that allows access to airport lounges across the world. These lounges are a great place to relax before your flight or have a snack during a long layover. Amenities will vary between lounges but most lounges provide wifi, private seating and refreshments. Be sure to check the priority pass guest policy as many lounges allow you to bring a complimentary guest (or guests).

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both expedited screening programs for travelers. TSA PreCheck is reserved for expedited security screening for domestic flights and Global Entry provides expedited customs screening for international travelers when entering the United States. 

The application fee for TSA PreCheck is up to $85 and $100 for Global Entry. If you are approved for the program, the membership is valid for 5 years. Many travel credit cards will offer statement credit for the application . 

  • Awards vs cash calculator Compare the cost in points or miles to cash.
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Earn the welcome bonus

One of the best ways to maximize your travel credit cards is to earn the welcome bonus . Most travel credit cards will offer a welcome or sign-up bonus that allows cardmembers to earn points or miles that would otherwise require a very high spend. Welcome bonuses are a crucial part of a card’s value, so before you apply for your next travel card, be sure to plan for how you will meet the spending requirement. Ideally, you would align large purchases with your card opening so that you don’t need to spend frivolously to earn that lucrative welcome bonus .

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Use a travel card that matches your travel style

There is a travel credit card for everyone, but not every travel card is the best fit for your wallet . Consider what type of traveler you are, whether you have any brand loyalty and what perks you are looking for from your next credit card. If you travel often and in luxury, consider premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve® . These cards are loaded with tons of luxury perks like lounge access and automatic elite status . 

Alternatively, if you’re a more thrifty traveler who likes to maximize your travel earnings, consider a mid-tier travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card . These cards allow you to earn points on your travel, and while they don’t come with a long list of luxury perks, they’re much more cost-effective for a traveler on a budget .

And even beginners don’t have to veer away from travel cards, since many products out there offer an introduction to the travel rewards world without incurring an annual fee.

It’s important to consider where you’re looking to go when you book trips, as certain cards are especially useful for international travel . Plus, if you’re someone who frequents the skies (such as a digital nomad), there are certain credit cards best for long-term travelers .

Knowing what your travel style is like will help you determine what type of travel card you need.

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Use loyalty programs to stack your rewards

You don’t have to limit your earnings to just travel credit cards . Many airlines and hotel chains have loyalty programs that can be used in conjunction with your travel card to unlock added perks when doing business with a specific brand. In addition, many travel credit cards allow you to transfer points from your card to your eligible loyalty programs . This can open up nearly endless redemption options, including award chart sweet spots that can get you the most maximized redemptions for your points and miles.

  • 1 Sign-up bonus Choosing a card with a healthy sign-up bonus will help jumpstart the possibility of unlocking elite status across different areas, including airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • 2 Annual fee Premium travel credit cards typically feature higher annual fees. Double-check that the card you choose suits your spending habits and travel needs before applying.
  • 3 Bonus categories It also helps to check which bonus categories a card offers to ensure that they align with your spending, whether it’s at restaurants, at grocery stores or on streaming subscriptions.

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What's your favorite travel credit card — and why?

Brian Kelly

  • Using credit cards responsibly can help build your credit score
  • Travel credit cards can earn cash back, points or miles on every dollar you spend.
  • Travel credit cards can provide purchase, theft and fraud protection.
  • Travel credit cards provide perks like travel insurance, complimentary hotel stays and more.
  • Credit cards can encourage overspending.
  • Carrying a balance and using your card irresponsibly can damage your credit score
  • The cost of borrowing on credit cards is higher than traditional loans
  • Having too many card applications can negatively affect your credit score
  • Travel credit cards may be too complicated (or expensive) for those who aren’t frequent travelers.

Generally speaking, you need at least a very good credit score in order to get many popular travel credit cards. According to FICO, the scoring model used by most lenders, this is a score of at least 740. However, there’s no hard-and-fast rule, as each individual credit card issuer looks at a variety of factors in addition to your credit score when deciding whether to approve or decline your application.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to check your credit score for free , so you can get an idea of where you stand before wasting an application (and a hard inquiry on your credit report) for a card for which you’re unlikely to qualify.

Points and miles are simply two different ways to describe the same thing: the rewards you earn on a credit card. As an example, many popular Capital One credit cards earn miles, whereas cards that participate in Chase Ultimate Rewards accrue points. There’s no appreciable difference between the two words.

This gets a little more complicated when you begin discussing cash-back credit cards. Some of these show earnings with a dollar amount, while others show cash-back rewards in points. However, here too there’s no significant difference. It’s simply how the card issuer chooses to describe the rewards you’re earning.

It depends entirely on your typical travel habits. Many popular travel credit cards feature rewards, benefits and redemption options that only come into play when you’re actually on the road. This includes perks like airport lounge access,  rental car insurance  or statement credits for certain travel purchases. Ultimately, you should look at how much value you expect to get out of a given travel card in one year. Then, compare that to the card’s annual fee to make sure you’re getting at least that much value.

It depends. Generally speaking, you should aim to use your rewards from travel credit cards for travel-related purchases – like flights or hotel rooms. However, everyone has a different version of what “value” looks like here. Some travelers are perfectly content redeeming 25,000 miles for a $250 economy flight. Others would rather save up and use 100,000 miles for a $5,000 business-class ticket. The important thing is to avoid redemptions like gift cards or merchandise, since those typically offer poor value for your points and miles.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine whether you want to keep cash in your pocket by using rewards for a particular purchase instead.

Many of the luxury travel cards on this list offer hundreds of dollars in annual travel statement credits. However, not all annual travel statements are created equal. While some cards feature easy redemptions, other cards feature redemptions that come with more restrictions. 

Out of the various cards that offer annual travel credits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has the easiest redemption process for travel credits . The Chase Sapphire Reserve's travel credit covers a broad selection of charges, including flights, hotels, campgrounds and more. Additionally, the travel does not have to be booked through Chase’s travel portal, and the statement credit will automatically post when you make an eligible purchase. 

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Hotel desk clerk

Why hotels and hospitality businesses should look out for lodging tax

Nikki Gerren

Whether it’s the cozy ambience of a quaint B&B, the bustling energy of a city motel, or the grand allure of a luxury resort, at the heart of any successful hospitality business lies the seamless handling of guest services — from room upgrades and early check-ins to booking guided tours and arranging spa sessions. Effortlessly managing a myriad of requests looks easy. Yet beneath the surface of these services and amenities lies an often unappreciated and invisible operation: the management of lodging tax. 

Many hoteliers and staff believe they have insufficient procedures in place for tax collection and reporting or that they are using outdated practices that don’t stand up against current tax laws. They may also confuse general sales tax types with lodging taxes, overlooking specific conditions and exemptions that might apply to lodging tax. Then there’s the smaller hotels and hospitality businesses that might rely on basic accounting software or manual systems to manage their finances, including tax calculations. However, these systems may not be equipped to handle the nuances of multiple tax rates and special lodging tax rules, which can vary dramatically across different jurisdictions.

Handling these complex tax reports manually is time-consuming and also an inefficient use of resources. Spending valuable time putting together lodging tax returns manually or calculating varying tax rates pulls staff away from their core duties, impacting service quality and operational efficiency.

As the travel industry grows, the importance of handling hotel tax compliance becomes more evident, especially with changing tax rates . If a hotel struggles to manage or apply the correct tax rates, or cannot quickly correct billing errors, it might deter potential guests, ultimately harming the hotel’s reputation and financial health — and that’s a scenario every hotelier wants to avoid. More than just maintaining a polished front desk service, hotels need to closely monitor their tax management processes behind the scenes. Ensuring accuracy not only avoids regulatory penalties but also guarantees that guests experience transparency and meticulousness in every detail, down to every transaction.

What’s in a name: Are lodging tax, occupancy tax, hotel tax, and tourist tax all the same thing?

Lodging tax introduces unique challenges that can catch even the most organized staff off guard, especially when managed manually. As guest numbers and service offerings fluctuate — each with its own tax implications — the tax landscape shifts accordingly (yes, even that complimentary bottle of water must be accounted for).

But let’s first unscramble some common lodging tax terms. 

Lodging tax (also called hotel tax) is charged to travelers when they rent accommodations in a hotel, tourist home or house, motel, or other lodging, generally unless the stay is for a period of 30 days or more (depending on the state) . You may also know lodging tax or hotel tax by other names depending on the jurisdiction: occupancy tax, tourist tax, transient occupancy tax, room tax, bed tax, or just good old-fashioned resort tax. The names are interchangeable but may slightly serve a different function.

Fundamentally, they are all lodging taxes no matter where you go in the U.S. While these taxes are ubiquitous and in just about every jurisdiction, the specific rules and rates may vary. Each jurisdiction or region may apply its version with a different set of rules (per stay, per night, or per person) and rates. Spot the added layer of complexity? 

For instance, what is known as ‘lodging tax’ in Colorado with a rate of around 2.9% might be referred to as ‘occupancy tax’ in New York City with rates as high as 14.75%, and ‘transient occupancy tax’ in Los Angeles , where the rate is approximately 12%. Even though these terms refer to a similar type of tax imposed on short-term accommodations, the specific name and rate can vary significantly depending on the location.

Is hospitality tax the same as lodging tax?

While both hospitality tax and lodging tax impact the hospitality industry, they serve different purposes and are applied differently. Hospitality tax usually targets services like prepared meals and beverages, whereas lodging tax specifically focuses on guest room accommodations. Confusing them can lead to misfiling and financial discrepancies. 

Getting hotel tax rates and lodging tax obligations right can be a hassle

Having a general understanding of rates and tax obligations is one thing if you only have one property. But what happens if you manage multiple properties, such as hotels in different cities? That’s when you might be served a buffet of different hotel tax rates and rules based on local jurisdiction, including variations in length of stay and exemptions. 

For hoteliers and hospitality business managers, it’s important to keep rates accurate across all properties. Ensuring guests are charged correctly at the point of sale not only makes your guests happy but streamlines financial reporting and avoids possible audits down the line. Getting this right from the start helps maintain the financial integrity of your operations and simplifies the process when you need to pull together reports later.

As a hotelier or hospitality business manager, you must get well acquainted with specific hotel tax rates and rules for each property you manage. What if a property manager manages a dozen short-term rentals across several towns? He could have different rates in each town. He could even have different rates within the same town. This can quickly make reporting and filing a complicated mess. It’s that kind of attention to detail you must adhere to for accurate tax calculations and to avoid costly penalties. 

Hotel tax compliance means staying right with cities, counties, and states

Managing tax compliance definitely gets more complicated as a hotel chain spreads across different cities, counties, and states. Each location might have to follow its own set of tax laws, making the reporting and filing for lodging taxes quite the puzzle. For hotel managers, this means juggling a bunch of challenging tasks: manually preparing detailed tax reports, keeping track of multiple filing deadlines, and figuring out different tax requirements and how each jurisdiction prefers taxes filed. Some may be digital while others are still doing things the old-fashioned paper way.

All this paperwork and keeping tabs on details can really eat into time that could be better spent on other important aspects of hotel management, like making sure your guests are happy. Managing tax compliance can be a tall order for even the most organized teams if they don’t have the right tools to help them out.  

Staying on good terms with each city and state is more than just a good idea — it’s integral to maintaining smooth operations and ensuring your hospitality business thrives in a competitive market. 

By bringing in automated systems, the heavy lifting of tax management gets a lot easier, freeing up hotel managers to focus on what really matters: running a great hotel and giving guests an unforgettable experience. 

Avalara helps hospitality businesses stay hotel tax compliant and keep customers happy

As responsibilities increase and often with fewer hands to manage them, hoteliers and hospitality business managers find themselves stretched thin, balancing both guest services and intricate administrative tasks like tax compliance. As the landscape unfolds and the demand for accurate tax management grows, the process can become overwhelming. This is where technology steps in to lighten the load.

Avalara for Hospitality is a turnkey solution designed to automate and simplify the hospitality tax management process, allowing hospitality businesses to focus more time on enhancing guest satisfaction and less time tangled in backend calculations.

Check out our 5-step guide to managing sales tax compliance for hospitality businesses along with a handy checklist making every step clear and manageable. With Avalara’s help, your hotel operations can remain as guest-focused as the service at your front desk, keeping your business not just up to date, but compliant and ahead in a competitive market.

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travel deductions for business

Avalara, Inc. 2024

All the GOP politicians who've flocked to Trump's Manhattan trial to support him

  • A long list of prominent GOP politicians have flocked to Trump's ongoing trial in Manhattan.
  • They include the speaker of the House, one governor, and several senators and House members.
  • It's an effort to show loyalty — and for some, boost their VP chances.

Insider Today

Former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial in New York is suddenly the biggest magnet for ambitious Republican politicians hoping to demonstrate their loyalty.

In recent weeks, the Manhattan criminal courthouse has played host to the speaker of the House, several GOP senators and vice-presidential contenders , over a dozen House members, and even two state attorneys general.

It's resulted in at least one senator missing a vote, the postponing of a congressional mark-up, and a bevy of Republican heavyweights turning themselves into attack dogs for the presumptive 2024 nominee — who remains barred from criticizing jurors and witnesses via a gag order.

And Trump has yet to receive a courtroom visit from his own wife , Melania.

Here are all of the Republicans who've flocked to the trial so far.

Sen. Rick Scott was the first elected Republican to show up. He ended up missing a vote.

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On Thursday, May 9, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida became the first elected Republican to show up to the trial.

"What he is going through is just despicable," Scott told reporters outside the courtroom, arguing the trial was "clearly criminal" and was being run by "political thugs."

Scott's visit came in the middle of the week, while the Senate was taking votes on a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration for the next five years.

The Florida senator, who's up for reelection in November, ended up missing a procedural vote on the bill later that day.

That prompted his Democratic opponent, former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell, to slam him as " sucking up to a defendant found liable for sexual abuse" and putting his "own extreme agenda before the people he was elected to represent."

Sen. JD Vance was the first VP contender to show up.

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On Monday, May 13, Sen. JD Vance of Ohio was among the next crop of senators to show up — and the first vice presidential contender to do so.

He later took to social media , calling the courtroom "dingy" while suggesting that the "main goal of the trial is psychological torture."

Sen. Tommy Tuberville

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Tuberville came to the trial alongside Vance, where he derided jurors as being "supposedly American."

He later told the conservative network Newsmax that he came to the trial to help Trump "overcome this gag order."

Sen. Eric Schmitt

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The Missouri senator, among the first to endorse Trump in 2024, visited the trial on Tuesday, May 21.

Like Sen. Scott, he ended up missing votes to do so.

"You want to talk about threats to democracy? That's what this is across the street," Schmitt said at a press conference with other Republicans outside the trial.

Gov. Doug Burgum was the 2nd VP contender to show up.

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Burgum — another VP contender whose political stock has been on the rise recently — attended the trial on Tuesday, May 14.

He and the other Republicans in attendance quickly made waves on social media for wearing apparently matching outfits.

Gov. Burgum calls hush money trial a "sham trial" and a "scam trial." pic.twitter.com/2e5Ik4oS8i — Emmanuel Touhey (@EmmanuelTouhey) May 14, 2024

Vivek Ramaswamy showed up, too.

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Vivek Ramaswamy, the tech entrepreneur and 2024 presidential candidate, showed up to the trial on the same day as Burgum.

He also happens to be a vice presidential contender — albeit, a lower-tier one .

House Speaker Mike Johnson

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The highest-ranking Republican to visit the trial has been House Speaker Mike Johnson, who traveled to Manhattan on the same day as Burgum and Ramaswamy.

The speaker delivered a series of remarks — including slamming the district attorney, the judge, and Michael Cohen — without taking questions afterwards.

"He is soon to be officially the nominee of one of the major parties in our country," Johnson said of Trump. "Running for president, and they have him tied up here in this ridiculous prosecution. That is not about justice, it's all about politics, and everybody can see that."

He concluded by insisting that he came to the trial "on my own" because he's "deeply concerned about this."

Two dozen other House Republicans have also shown up

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On Thursday, May 16, the biggest crop of House Republicans yet attended Trump's trial.

That included Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who was met with chants of "Beetlejuice" as she took to the microphones outside the courtroom.

I’ll never stop standing up for President Trump, even if I’m the last one standing. pic.twitter.com/ywPQpVWChR — Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) May 16, 2024

Here are the 20 rank-and-file House Republicans who've attended the trial so far:

  • Andy Biggs of Arizona
  • Lauren Boebert of Colorado
  • Eric Burlison of Missouri
  • Michael Cloud of Texas
  • Andrew Clyde of Georgia
  • Eli Crane of Arizona
  • Byron Donalds of Florida
  • Matt Gaetz of Florida
  • Bob Good of Virginia
  • Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee
  • Ronny Jackson of Texas
  • Anna Paulina Luna of Florida
  • Mary Miller of Illinois
  • Cory Mills of Florida
  • Nicole Malliotakis of New York
  • Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania
  • Troy Nehls of Texas
  • Ralph Norman of South Carolina
  • Andy Ogles of Tennessee
  • Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida
  • Keith Self of Texas
  • Dale Strong of Alabama
  • Mike Waltz of Florida
  • Daniel Webster of Florida

The top law enforcement officials in Iowa, Alabama, and South Carolina have also flocked to a criminal defendant's defense.

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One other intriguing cohort of trial attendees: three Republican state attorneys general.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall were among the cohort of Republicans who attended the trial on Monday, May 13. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson attended the trial on Monday, May 20.

Their attendance is particularly striking: they are the top law enforcement officials in their respective states, and they're publicly taking the side of a criminal defendant in another state.

travel deductions for business

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  1. Understanding business travel deductions

    Business travel deductions are available when employees must travel away from their tax home or main place of work for business reasons. A taxpayer is traveling away from home if they are away for longer than an ordinary day's work and they need to sleep to meet the demands of their work while away. Travel expenses must be ordinary and ...

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    Business travel expenses are entered on Schedule C if you're self-employed. The schedule is filed along with your Form 1040 tax return. It lists all your business income, then you can subtract the cost of your business travel and other business deductions you qualify for to arrive at your taxable income.

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    You can deduct business travel expenses when you are away from both your home and the location of your main place of business (tax home). Deductible expenses include transportation, baggage fees, car rentals, taxis and shuttles, lodging, tips, and fees. You can also deduct 50% of either the actual cost of meals or the standard meal allowance ...

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  8. Determining Tax Deductions for Travel Expenses

    Step 1: Determine Your Trip Meets the Requirements of a Business Trip. A business trip for tax purposes is one that meets the following criteria: There must be a business purposes for the travel. You are required to be away from your tax home. The trip lasts overnight or a period long enough to require rest. The trip is temporary.

  9. Small Business Travel Tax Deductions

    Make a tax appointment. 1 Instead of keeping records of your meal expenses and deducting the actual cost, you can generally use a standard meal allowance, which varies depending on where you travel. The deduction for business meals is generally limited to 50% of the non-reimbursed cost. Certain business meals will be 100% deductible in 2021 and ...

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  11. PDF THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO DEDUCTING BUSINESS TRAVEL EXPENSES

    However, if a trip is primarily for personal activities, such as a vacation, then the only deductible business expenses are those incurred at the destination that are directly related to the trade or business and none of the expenses for traveling to the destination are deductible. Example: Marie travels to Hawaii for a 10-day vacation.

  12. How to write off travel expenses

    Businesses must claim travel expenses on Form 2106 and report them on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR as an adjustment to their total income. While there's no annual travel deduction limit, the IRS scrutinizes higher write-offs. Be sure to calculate your business expenses with a tax attorney before submitting a large filing.

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  19. Claiming a tax deduction for business travel expenses

    Your business can claim a deduction for travel expenses related to your business, whether the travel is taken within a day, overnight, or for many nights. Expenses you can claim include: airfares. train, tram, bus, taxi, or ride-sourcing fares. car hire fees and the costs you incur (such as fuel, tolls and car parking) when using a hire car for ...

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    Lodging tax (also called hotel tax) is charged to travelers when they rent accommodations in a hotel, tourist home or house, motel, or other lodging, generally unless the stay is for a period of 30 days or more (depending on the state). You may also know lodging tax or hotel tax by other names depending on the jurisdiction: occupancy tax ...

  25. All the GOP Politicians Who've Flocked to Trump's Manhattan Trial

    Here are all of the Republicans who've flocked to the trial so far. Advertisement. Sen. Rick Scott was the first elected Republican to show up. He ended up missing a vote. Florida Sen. Rick Scott ...