This Summer’s Best Road Trips and the Best Credit Cards to Help Pay for Them

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Nearly 80% of U.S. families plan to take a road trip this summer — and who can blame them? Gasoline prices are about four cents a gallon lower than they were last summer at a national average of about $2.30 a gallon for regular gas.

Researchers at WalletHub have looked at summer travel this year on the basis of three metrics — costs, safety, and activities — and ranked each of the 50 states based on the results. They assigned a score to each state based on a possible total score of 100.

Their considerations in each category included items like the cost of camping, car thefts and violent crimes, and the total area of national parkland in each state.

Here are the 10 top-ranked states for a summer road trip, along with their total WalletHub scores:

  1. Oregon: 59.68
  2. Utah: 58.35
  3. Washington: 57.89
  4. North Carolina: 57.69
  5. Louisiana: 57.65
  6. Texas: 56.00
  7. Nevada: 55.90
  8. Minnesota: 55.15
  9. California: 53.64
  10. Colorado: 52.50

Here are a few highlight points:

  • California has the highest number of scenic byways, 66, which is 22 times higher than in Connecticut and Delaware, the states with the lowest at three each.
  • Nevada has the lowest daily price for camping, $25.67, which is 2.6 times lower than in Rhode Island, the state with the highest at $67.00.
  • Florida has the lowest price for a three-star hotel room, $52.00, which is 3.2 times lower than in New Hampshire, the state with the highest at $165.67.
  • Vermont has the lowest number of car thefts per 1,000 residents, 0.28, which is 15.6 times lower than in California, the state with the highest at 4.37.

To get the most out of your road-trip dollars, WalletHub also came up with a list of the seven best credit cards to use to pay for gasoline and other trip costs. Here’s their list:

  • PenFed [Credit Union] Platinum Visa Signature: best for points at any gas station; no annual fee but a $17 fee to become a credit union member — and anyone can join.
  • Blue Cash American Express: best for cash back at any gas station; no annual fee; up to 5% cash back on gas, supermarket, and drugstore purchases.
  • Citi ThankYou Premier Card: best for signing bonus; no annual fee for the first year, then $95 per year.
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi: best for Costco members; no annual fee; 4% cash back on up to $7,000 in gasoline purchases made anywhere, 3% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% cash back at Costco, and 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card: best for members of the military; no annual fee; 5% cash back on the first $3,000 spent on gas and military-base purchases each year plus 2% cash back on the first $3,000 of supermarket purchases and 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Marathon Credit Card: best for Midwest & Southeast U.S. drivers: no annual fee; 25-cent per gallon (about 11% cash back) on gasoline purchases in months when you spend at least $1,000; with up to $500 in purchases rebate of 15 cents per gallon (about 6% cash back) or 5 cents per gallon (about 2% cash back) if you spend less than $500 a month.
  • Discover it Secured Credit Card: best for poor credit; no annual fee; 2% cash back on first $1,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants in each quarter; 1% cash back on all purchases.

See WalletHub for more details on summer road trips and best credit cards.