The Best Rewards Credit Cards: Let’s Dive Deeper
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® is our pick for the best travel card. Not only do they have tons of bonuses but, the card offers customers a chance to earn a ton of points without having to worry about losing them all to fees.
The reason it stole our hearts for travel is because of the 5X rewards members earn when they travel.
On top of that, dining out adds 3X the points per dollar and so do grocery store purchases.
From the sign-up bonus to the extra promotions happening monthly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is as close to perfect as they come for those who have itchy feet.
Citi® Double Cash Card
One of the best things about the Citi® Double Cash Card card is the flat rate that doesn’t go up with purchases. Plus, members earn when they purchase items and when they pay them off, doubling the reward.
Even though this card does not come with an introductory period, we still love it, and we’ll tell you why. Compared to the competition, there are tons of chances to score rewards and APR is not as high.
No matter what kind of purchase they make, members score points, which is not the same as other rewards cards out there.
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover it® Cash Back card always has something going on that members can take part in.
Whether it’s earning extra points on purchases or earning double for specific categories of purchases, there are always opportunities to grow and earn.
While most rewards programs have to be activated by members, they are worth the hassle as they cover everyday purchases and increase the rewards you qualify for.
Everything from gas to groceries and even trending wardrobes are eligible, so why not earn points while purchasing the things you love?
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
For all those jet setters out there, this is the best card hands down.
Those who are always taking off and seeing what the world has to offer can earn a ton when using Chase Sapphire Reserve®, earning on qualifying purchases for airline tickets, hotel stays, and dining.
Each year, members score a $300 travel credit and can use that to travel to any destination they desire.
They can use their rewards with participating partners while traveling which include restaurants, airlines, hotels, and more.
With up to a 5% return on travel purchases, it could be the most profitable travel companion around.
Platinum Card® from American Express
Another good option for travel is the American Express Platinum card. While other cards allow members to cash in on all kinds of purchases, this one focuses on travel rewards.
So, for those out there that have caught the travel bug, this option is solid for you. Besides the ability to earn rewards to use for travel, members score a ton of benefits, including exclusive stays and deals on transit options while on the road including rideshares and taxis.
If you don’t meet your annual credits, there is an annual fee that is up there but, that just gives more incentive to keep spending and keep earning.
Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
Not only does the Wells Fargo Active Cash card offer members a flat rate but it also comes with a ton of incentives. As a new member, those that sign up can enjoy 0% APR for all transactions, including balance transfers.
All purchases no matter what they are score members 2% cash back and there is never an annual fee.
Because Wells Fargo partners with banks around the globe, members can use their cards anywhere without getting bogged down by foreign transaction fees.
Discover it® Student Cash Back
This is the perfect card for students that are looking for a way to build up their credit. There are a ton of options to do so, using the help of low credit limits and incentives to spend without going overboard.
There is also an incentive to keep grades up, rewarding students for up to 5 years when they keep their GPA above a 3.0.
At the end of the first year as a member, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card will reward students with a match on the cashback they earned, scoring them double of what they collected over the year.
Though some of the reward points are limited, students can earn on the things they really need like gas, groceries, and other necessities.
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
For those with low to mid-range credit scores, reaping the benefits of rewards with credit cards can be a challenge.
That’s not the case with Discover it® Secured Credit Card, which offers a way to aid those with lower credit scores build up again.
There are rewards, though they are limited as this card is meant to help members build up and strengthen their credit.
Still, that doesn’t mean that benefits are off the table and, after just eight months, members will receive a review from Discover and possibly move up so that they can get more out of their purchases with an unsecured credit card.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
While some cards only offer 5% for specific categories, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card switches it up. Every three months categories change, allowing you to rack up more points for the things you want and need.
Everything from supermarkets to drugstores and beyond is eligible for cashback, coming with at least 1% cashback.
If the high level of rewards were not enough, Chase also welcomes new members with 0% APR for their first year and offers a killer incentive to start using the card toward purchases for the first three months.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
For the Costco enthusiasts out there, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi could be just the thing to help you rack up extra rewards.
No matter what you purchase, score a minimum of 1% cash back that you can redeem for cash, store credit, or many other perks.
For the first four years, this card comes with 4% cash back on gas up to $7,000, after which it changes to 1%.
Still, for those that make most of their purchases at Costco anyway, this card could be just the thing to increase earnings and start collecting points for rewards and returns.
Some purchases outside of Costco still offer solid returns, with restaurants and travel earning 3%. Points never expire and there is no minimum to the number of reward points members can collect.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
One of the best things about the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is that members can earn points everywhere.
It’s a great option for large families and those that have large grocery bills, as qualifying supermarkets and superstores offer an amazing return.
Rates for everyday purchases on necessities go up to 6%, one of the highest rates around. There is an annual fee but, more spending will mean more savings, which makes it all worth it in the end.
Plus, for the first year, members can enjoy $0 in annual fees, paying only $95 thereafter. Points never expire and can be used toward a long list of items.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
For those out there that enjoy hitting the town and having some fun, this card is where it’s at.
Everything entertainment including streaming, theatre tickets, and cinema events all come with 4% cashback.
If that were not enough signup incentive, then how about 3% cash back on groceries to even it out. Spending $3000 in the first three months earns members $300 in rewards and there are no annual fees for the first year.
Life is about a balance of responsibility and fun, both of which you can find as a member of Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Like the Discover it card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® rewards card is the perfect thing for those that are just starting out.
It’s simple to use and offers those with lower range credit scores the chance to get in on the benefits of collecting rewards with purchases.
Options to redeem rewards points for cash or incentives on travel come with this card, and reward points never expire.
Though it’s not the preferred or recommended card for those traveling abroad, it’s a good option for those that travel within the US and stay in participating hotels.
If that is not reason enough to see that this card is a good one, it also offers a welcome offer that can score new members $200.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
We know we’ve mentioned a few already that are great for travel, but we had to add Capital One Venture Rewards to the list.
The Venture Rewards Card is one of the most well-known cards from the company, known for its perks and travel opportunities. For every dollar spent, members earn two points, which can be redeemed at any time and do not expire.
Members don’t have to worry about dreaded blackout dates or branded hotel restrictions, enjoying the world at their fingertips once they earn redeemable rewards.
All newcomers score a welcome bonus and perks that they surely won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
One of the only bad things about American Express is that it’s not accepted globally. Still, earning points within the US is simple and comes with a solid return.
Earn more when booking flights with Delta and take advantage of member’s ability to enjoy priority boarding and get their first checked bag free.
Every year, the Delta SkyMiles Gold AMEX offers members the opportunity to earn flight credit that can be redeemed for flights all around the world.
Plus, qualifying purchases do not have to involve travel and can be for anything including groceries and necessities.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
While this World of Hyatt might not offer a variety of perks, we like it because it’s simple and hassle-free.
For those that are always on the go, this card can earn some serious returns, especially if you are constantly choosing Hyatt as your preferred place to stay.
Though most promotions and freebies involve Hyatt properties, members can still earn points even if they don’t stay with Hyatt.
The returns are still solid and so are the signup offers and freebies earning every member anniversary.
Capital One® Walmart Rewards®
If you’re a fan of Walmart and always make your purchases with the megastore, why not get rewarded for it?
That’s exactly what this card is there for, giving Walmart shoppers an option that will help them earn points on their purchases.
With the Capital One® Walmart Rewards® card, purchases online come with a higher payback than those in-store and rewards are not subject to only Walmart purchases.
Travel and restaurant spending comes with a total of 2% cashback and all other purchases with the card come with at least 1% no matter what.
For the first year, all Walmart purchases earn 5% and there is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee to worry about.
Capital One Spark Cash for Business
All purchases made with this card come with 2% cash back no matter what. On top of that, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business rewards card has high rewards rates and no foreign transaction fees, eligible for use around the world.
There are no over-limit fees, which is a good perk to have as a business when emergencies happen. Balances are due by the end of the month, which means there is never a need to pay an APR.
The first year is free of fees and comes with the opportunity to earn $1000 when spending up to $50,000 in the first six months.
What Is a Rewards Credit Card?
Rewards cards come in all shapes and sizes, but all are there to give members one thing, rewards! There can come in the form of cash, points, or miles, creating an incentive to make more purchases with a credit card.
There are both flat-rate cards that provide the same cashback for all purchases and cards that offer different percentage rewards depending on the purchase.
Every single rewards card has its own way of doing things and structures its method of redeeming points a little differently.
Additionally, some come with zero fees and no APR while others come with high APRs and annual fees that can make you look the other way.
When searching for a rewards card, it’s all about finding key things you’re looking for and making sure you get the most opportunity to collect points on all the key things you purchase.
Types of Rewards Credit Cards
The cool thing about rewards cards is that there is something for everyone. Whether you’re an avid traveler or love to spend your free time out on the town, there is a rewards card that will give you cash back on the things you love.
Below, we’ll look at a few key characteristics of each type of rewards card, helping you narrow your choices down to the perfect one.
- Travel Rewards: Among the most common types of rewards are travel rewards cards. These will either give members rewards like airline miles, hotel stays, or even points that add up to cash for redemption on travel expenses. There are two types of travel reward cards, including co-branded and general-purpose.
- Co-Branded: Co-branded rewards cards are usually tied to a particular airline. For example, there are Delta rewards cards that offer the highest rewards when book with the airline. This can include particular hotels too.
- General-Purpose: General-purpose is not tied to an airline, though it’s tied to a financial provider. These cards allow you to book with any airline and stay with any hotel line and score rewards. If you’re not a frequent flier with one airline, this could be the way to go.
- Hotel Rewards: Apart from getting rewarded for flying, hotel rewards cards are there to reward members that stay in qualifying hotels. Take the Hyatt rewards card for example, which rewards members who stay in any Hyatt property and offers a free stay in a Hyatt hotel for each anniversary year.
- Airline Rewards: Like we mentioned above, some rewards cards offer airline rewards, including miles and priority boarding. These can be attached to a specific airline or just offer rewards for flights in general, both of which are great for those that are always on the go.
- Cash Back Rewards: Just like the name implies, a cash-back rewards card is there to put money back in your pocket. As you use your rewards card, each dollar will equal points that you can redeem for credit to your statement or cash in hand. There are three main types of cashback cards, which we’ll outline below.
- Flat-Rate: The flat-rate card only gives a certain percentage back no matter what the purchase is. While other programs will offer more for items like travel and groceries, flat rate offers the same for all.
- Tiered: Tiered cash back cards are the most common, increasing the rate of return on some purchases. For example, some cards offer 6% on travel but only 3% on fill-ups at the gas station.
- Dynamic: Similar to tiered, not all rewards for purchases are the same. The only difference is that dynamic rewards change every few months. One month’s travel could be 6% and the next month groceries can take over and score members 6%.
- Rotating and Bonus Category Cards: These kinds of bonus cards are constantly changing qualifying purchases. While it can be great if you’re looking for more general purchases, it takes some paying attention and signing up for the participating bonus. They change often and if you’re organized and, on the ball, it could be a good option to earn rewards on all kinds of purchases.
What Determines Your Bonus Rewards?
After each purchase, rewards are calculated and stored in your rewards account. This accumulates over time and qualifies you to use them in several ways. The ways you can use them depends on your finance provider.
How to Redeem Cash-Back Rewards
You’ll have a record of your cash-back rewards on your account statement each month. Once it reaches a number you want to cash in, simply request with your financial provider and then enjoy.
Some providers will cash it straight to your account while others will send you a check in the mail.
Redeeming Travel Rewards
For rewards on travel, head over to qualifying airlines or hotels and choose your trip. From there, you’ll have options to pay with points, which you should choose to use the points you’ve earned for your travels.
>> More: Is Cash Back or Travel Rewards Better?
How to Compare the Best Rewards Credit Cards Offers
When looking for the best card for you, there are a few things to consider. Make sure that you look at these 7 things before you sign up with any bonus card.
#1. Sign-Up Bonus
Every card has some kind of sign-up bonus but not all of them are created equal.
Always check the sing-up bonuses and compare, starting off on the right foot for your rewards points.
#2. Annual Fee
Fees are not always a bad thing, especially when the rewards are worth it. The higher the rewards the higher the annual fee, so it’s worth making sure it’s a good trade-off for you.
#3. Flexible Redemption Options
Redeeming points shouldn’t be a hassle. When you earn them, your rewards card should make it simple, not a tedious task.
#4. Value of the Cards Rewards
Offering rewards is one thing that every card can do. But not every card can offer killer rewards that really make it worth your while.
Check the value and compare it to others on the market to make sure it’s worth it.
#5. 0% Intro APR Period
Some cards offer 0% APR for the first year, which is something worth considering. That means in your first year you can make a purchase without having to pay the extra fees, so be sure to enjoy it before the percentages start.
#6. Foreign Transaction Fees
If you’re an avid traveler, watch out for foreign transaction fees. Some cards add them and others don’t, and when they do, the cost might surprise you.
#7. Extra Perks and Benefits
You’re already enjoying rewards, what else can you get? Well, with some cards, you can score extra perks and benefits.
Some of these key benefits include access to airport lounges and even priority boarding when you travel.
How to Choose the Best Rewards Credit Card
When you’re ready to choose a rewards card, it helps to do some research first. We’ll share 6 steps to choosing the perfect rewards card for you.
#1. Types of Rewards
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to check out the types of rewards. Is it points redeemable for cash or airline credit, or is it credit toward your credit card statement?
While all have their pros and cons, not all of them provide the best return for you and your spending.
#2. Annual Fees
While the reward can be great, it’s also good to check out the annual fee. If it’s too high and you’re not using your card too much, it could wind up costing you more than benefiting you.
#3. Earning Categories
It’s best to check the earning categories offered and the qualifying purchases that earn them. If you’re not a traveler, a card with high rewards for travel is not going to benefit you like one that earns you cash back for everyday purchases.
#4. Flexible Transfer Options
Does your rewards card offer options to transfer points to a new card? If so, it could be just the thing to earn you more points and increase your benefits and perks all at the same time.
#5. Sign-Up Bonuses
What do you get when you sign up? Maybe a cash bonus when you spend a certain amount or maybe 0% APR.
Either one can be beneficial, but you have to treat them differently.
#6. Additional Benefits
Do you get extra perks with your card? If so, what are they and will you put them to good use? If not, go with one that will give you more of what you want and need in a card.
Pros and Cons of the Best Rewards Credit Cards
Earning money and points that you can redeem for travel and more on purchases sounds like a good deal.
While it can be, any credit card has its drawbacks. Before signing up for your preferred rewards card, make sure to check out these pros and cons.
- Say goodbye to annual fees: While most credit cards come with annual fees, rewards cards tend not to. It’s a sweet deal and rewarding at the same time.
- Welcome bonuses: As inventive to get more people on board, rewards cards will offer welcome bonuses that can earn members cash in hand or a load of points just for signing up.
- Perks: Many rewards cards also come with perks, most of which are very worth it. Some examples include exclusive access to airport lounges, priority boarding, cash in hand, or promotional offers that double the points you can collect.
- Limits: Not all cards allow you to collect all the rewards you want, no matter how much you spend. Some come with limits, and if APR is high, you could be wasting your chances of collecting rewards.
- Fees: While generous rewards may sound great, some come with a cost. Typically, the higher the reward, the higher the fees you can be expected to pay.
- Not for all credit: While some cards out there will give those with low to moderate credit scores a chance, reward cards are not very generous. Most of them require good to excellent credit, making it difficult if you’re looking to build up.
How to Maximize a Rewards Credit Card
When you decide that a rewards card is right for you, there are a few things that you can do to get the most out of it. To increase your return and start enjoying, try out these few tips.
#1. Bulk up on what you need
Credit cards work well for bulk spending and, if you can earn rewards while doing it, why not get the best of both worlds?
To earn max rewards and make sure that you’re spending a qualifying amount, put all of your monthly costs on your credit card and pay them off at the end of the month.
#2. Pair them up
Not all cards offer the same return on all rewards, which is why some are better than others. Consider using one card for travel and another for dinner dates, maximizing your rewards based on what you spend.
#3. Read the fine print
While you might want cash in hand, read the fine print and see what the other offers are first.
Sometimes, offer for travel and more are much better than the cash you receive in hand. Get the most out of your rewards, and make sure not to just jump toward cash.
What Is the Best Credit Card for Rewards?
Well, that just depends. Not all rewards cards deliver what’s best for you, so it takes looking for one that does.
You can do that by finding the types of rewards and the qualifying purchases that reward you the most.
Are Credit Card Rewards Worth It?
If you choose the right one for you, yes! It’s like getting rewarded for things that you would purchase anyway, which is always a good thing.
Are Credit Card Rewards Taxable?
Because rewards are not considered income, they are not taxed by the IRS.
How Do Credit Card Rewards Work?
Depending on the type of rewards your card offers, you could earn cash, airline miles, and even credit for your credit card statement. As you make purchases, you earn points that can be cashed out for any of those mentioned above.
Do Credit Card Rewards Expire?
In most cases no. Though some financial providers do. Read the fine print before signing up so you know your rewards will be there as long as you want them to.
What Is a Credit Card Rewards Program?
Some credit cards will offer members cash, points, or miles for making purchases. It’s a way to add incentives to use the card while giving members something they can look forward to.
What Is the Best no-annual-fee Rewards Credit Card?
While we featured a few on our list, one of our favorites is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. There are never annual fees and purchases of all types earn points that can be redeemed for cash.
What Are Cash-Back Rewards?
Cashback rewards work as you make purchases on a qualifying credit card. Each purchase comes with points that add up.
Once you hit a certain amount, you can redeem points for cash and more.
Why Do Credit Cards Give Rewards?
One of the main reasons credit card companies give rewards is to provide users with more incentives to purchase with their cards.
It’s sort of a win-win, giving customers what they want and credit card companies the business they need.
Bottom Line: Best Rewards Credit Cards
When it comes to searching for your perfect rewards credit card, it’s best to ask yourself a few questions.
First of all, take a look at what you spend your money on and what you’d like to earn from a credit card. Then, check the fine print for annual fees, APR, and signup bonuses.
These days, you shouldn’t just make purchases. Instead, start collecting points, miles, and cash that can give you more of what you love for buying what you need.
To select and rate the best rewards credit cards we reviewed each cards on-going rewards, annual fees, welcome offers, credit score requirements, foreign transaction fees, and cardholder benefits. These factors are crucial for consumers to consider if they are the market for a credit card that offers steep rewards. Read our editorial guidelines and rating methodology for credit cards to learn more about our strict review process.