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Best Credit Cards for Rewards

Which are the Best Rewards Credit Cards?

We’re glad you asked. However, the question of which credit cards are best is not one we can answer easily…

That’s because the value of each credit card’s perks and points varies from person to person.  To start, you can use our free credit card rewards optimization engine. That will calculate which single card would earn you the most rewards on your annual spend.

Points Credit Cards vs. Miles Credit Cards vs. Cash Back Credit Cards

The first question you have to answer is if you are happy to do a bit of work to maximize your rewards. We personally average any where from 3-5% (sometimes more!) in rewards back from credit card spend. But that involves a fair bit of effort to apply for a range of cards with various bonus categories, know which cards to use where, and learn the best ways to redeem points towards travel.

If you want to maximize your rewards and are happy to put in some effort, keep reading. But if you honestly find that to be too much effort, select a Cash Back Credit Card that earns at least 2% on every purchase. The Citi Double Cash Card and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature both earn 2% for consumer credit cards while the American Express Blue Business Cash Card earns 2% back on every purchase for businesses.

Next, let’s dispel a myth about airline credit cards and hotel credit cards. Many of them have great perks like free checked bags and can be worth carrying. But because they earn miles tied to one airline and aren’t transferable (aside from Marriott points!), they aren’t the most flexible.

So that leaves….

Transferable Points Credit Cards

There are four major banks issuing credit cards that earn “transferable points.” These are the best way to get the most rewards for your buck if you plan to redeem your points for travel rewards.

You can explore all four major bank cards here:

Credit Cards That Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Credit Cards That Earn American Express Membership Rewards Points

Credit Cards That Earn Capital One Miles

Credit Cards That Earn Citi ThankYou Points

But which should you focus on?

That’s going to be up to you (and we advise that if you want to really learn about each type of points that you join our MilesTalk group on Facebook where we can talk in very granular detail!). That said, here are some pros and cons to each:

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase points are, in many ways, a good place for beginners to start for travel rewards. In fact, if you asked us for ONE best starting card for someone wanting to get started in miles and points, it would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Chase points can be transfered to a variety of airlines, including United, as well as the Hyatt hotel chain where they can get you excellent value.  They can also be cashed out for 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point in value via their travel portal.

The only catch is that to transfer points to airlines or hotels, you’ll need a card with a $95 or higher annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred CardChase Sapphire Reserve, and Chase Ink Preferred all allow points transfers. What’s better, though, is that once you have any of those 3 Chase cards, you can combine points from other Chase cards (that have no annual fees and higher points earnings in select categories) to maximize your rewards.

You can also read our comprehensive guide here: Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to Earn and Redeem with Transfer Partners.

Another thing we like about Chase is how easy it is to use their benefits. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual $300 travel credit. Any travel charges count and the credits are automatic – no registration required!

If you are just getting started in miles and points, please read about the 5/24 rule. Because of this rule, we generally advise starting with business credit cards, as business credit cards (with the exception of Capital One and Discover) do not count against this.

American Express Membership Rewards Points

There are many credit cards that can earn American Express Membership Rewards points. While most of them have annual fees, the  Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express has no fee and will forever keep alive any Membership Rewards points you earn – as long as you keep that card open!

Membership Rewards has a lot of great airline partners. While they have three hotel partners, the transfer rates are not very good, so we advise sticking to airline transfers. With a bit of effort, you could use 125,000 points to go around the world in Business Class! (Hint: You’d need to transfer your Amex points to ANA and find award availability for each flight first!)

You can see all American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners and Transfer Times.

We like that points transfers from American Express tend to be instant. We also like the Amex Offers, by far the industry leading dscount program tied to a credit card. Just login to your account and check out the offers which are often in the range of 20% off purchases at various merchants.

Capital One Miles

The latest entrant to transferable points, Capital One has a range of transfer partners and a very simple program for some of its credit cards.

With cards like the Venture from Capital One and the Spark Miles Business Credit Card from Capital One, you’ll earn an easy to track 2 Capital One Miles per 1 dollar spent. You can then transfer them to one of 15 airline partners (no hotels). You will receive, in most cases, 1.5 airline miles for every 2 that you transfer (with some exceptions, which transfer at 1 mile for every 2 Capital One Miles).  That is like earning 1.5 transferable airline miles per dollar spent.

Citi ThankYou Points

And last, but certainly not least, are Citi’s ThankYou points. These are a somewhat more advanced level points currency, for a variety of reasons. From the Transfer Partners and Transfer Time page, we see they are the only bank points that transfer to Turkish Airlines, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, and Malaysia’s Enrich programs. Avianca (to book Star Alliance awards with no fuel surcharges) and Cathay Pacific (for Oneworld flights) can also provide excellent transfer opportunities.

Card Features to Consider When Choosing a Rewards Credit Card

Rewards credit cards are about much more than just the points that they earn. They are also loaded with perks. But a perk that matters to one person may not matter to another.

For that reason, we’ve picked a number of premium card features that we are most often asked about and compiled lists of credit cards that have certain features.

For instance, you may be looking for a rewards credit card with No Foreign Transaction Fees. This is important if you travel internationally as without this card feature, you could be looking at a 3% surcharge on every purchase you make while traveling abroad!

You may be looking for a rewards credit card with a 0% Intro APR offer. Those are important if you need to prioritize a period without interest charges over your rewards (and some card have both!).

Maybe you spend a lot of time in the airport and need a rewards credit card with Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access. It’s certainly given us a calm oasis in a crowded airport many times over. These cards generally offer free and unlimited airport lounge access (allthough this benefit is only on credit cards with annual fees).

And if you rent a car often, we highly recommend that you find a rewards credit card with Primary Car Rental Insurance, meaning that if you have a covered claim, the card will cover you entirely without requiring that you make a claim with your personal insurance carrier.

What about Bonus Categories?

If you spend a lot in very specific spend categories, the best rewards credit card may be the one with the highest bonus multiplier in that category.  For example, the best credit cards for dining out or ordering food in or the best credit cards for grocery stores. Even if your biggest monthly expense is your gym membership, we’ve got you covered with the best credit cards for gym memberships.

 

So Which Credit Card is Best for Rewards?

That remains your call! The credit card rewards optimization engine is still the best place to see what rewards credit cards would earn your own spend the most in rewards. But if you said that you were still lost, want points to spend for travel, and just wanted one card to get started with, you won’t go wrong starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

But which credit cards are best? It’s really up to you…

Below are more of our favorite cards, ranked by the value of their new card bonuses.

Advertiser Disclosure: Your Best Credit Cards has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Your Best Credit Cards and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Commissions do not affect or prioritize placement within our results and not all cards displayed earn us a commission. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

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16 Cards Available:

Credit card

Chase Ink Preferred

Annual Fee: $95

Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,750

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Annual Fee: $95

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,750

Offer: Get 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points as a bonus when you spend $15,000 in your first 3 months.

The Chase Ink Preferred credit card earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel, advertising, and shipping, as well on Internet, cable and phone services, up to $150,000 a year.

If your business spends a lot in any of these categories, you can earn a ton of points.

It also earns 5X Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides.

You'll get complimentary cell phone insurance when you pay your cell phone bill with this card. (See Chase website for details). No foreign transaction fees.

Offer: Get 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points as a bonus when you spend $15,000 in your first 3 months.
Credit card

Chase Ink Business Cash

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,313

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,313

Offer: Get $750 in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $7,500 in your first 3 months

This card generously offers an excellent 5x on up to $25,000 annually at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services as well as 5X on Lyft rides. It also offers 2x on up to $25,000 annually at gas stations and restaurants.

Businesses with a lot of spend at office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot can really clean up.

Please note: The Estimated Rewards Value of an Ultimate Rewards point earned from this card assumes that you have a Chase Ink Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve as well, which allows portal redemptions worth 1.25 - 1.5 cents per point and the opportunity for even greater value with airline and hotel transfer partners. If you do not have one of these other Chase cards, points would be worth a flat 1 cent per point and this bonus would be worth exactly $500.

Offer: Get $750 in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $7,500 in your first 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,275

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Annual Fee: $595

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,275

Offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $15,000 within 3 months

A great card for flights and prepaid hotels earning 5x points, and for large expenses over $5,000 for 1.5x points.

Get a suite of benefits that include Gold Hilton status, Gold Marriott status, the American Express Global Lounge Collection which includes Centurion, Delta, and Priority Pass Lounge access, Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits, and a $200 annual incidental airfare credit. You'll also get $100 in free Dell credits twice annually (Jan-June and July-Dec).

In 2020, the Dell credit is doubled to $200 Jan-June and $200 July-Dec!)

Note: When displaying Estimated Rewards Values and calculations, this card is factoring in airline and hotels at 5x. This requires booking at AmexTravel.com and, if you do not, your earned rewards will change. Hotel bookings made via AmexTravel will generally not earn points or elite benefits.

Offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $15,000 within 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,275

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Annual Fee: $550

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,275

Offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in your first 6 months + 10x points at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months.

The Platinum Card is full of caché and its heavy metal design will catch more than a few looks. While the fee isn't small, you get a lot back in the form of monthly credits.

The benefits include a $200 in yearly Uber credits and Uber VIP status as well as $200 in annual incidental airline credits for your chosen airline, $100 in annual Saks Fifth Ave credits, access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes the Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, and Delta SkyClubs when you are flying Delta.

NOTE: This card earns 5x on airfare and hotels, however, the airfare must be booked direct with the airline or at Amex Travel and the hotels must be prepaid at Amex Travel to earn 5x. This site's Estimated Rewards Values will calculate all airfare and hotels at 5x points, so if your hotels are booked directly (which you generally need to do to earn hotel points and status/benefits) please note that they will not earn 5x and your actual rewards value will vary accordingly.

Offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in your first 6 months + 10x points at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,050

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Annual Fee: $95

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,050

Offer: 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months

Perhaps the best "starting out card" in miles and points.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a low annual fee, unlocks transfers from this and any linked Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card to airline and hotel partners, comes with excellent built-in trip delay insurance, primary car rental CDW coverage and earns 2x points on travel and dining.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Earn Rate:

  • 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides though March 2022
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards on all other purchases

Also:

  • You'll get 2x total points on grocery store purchases - up to $1,000 per month - from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. (Includes most pick-up and delivery services.)

Chase Will Let you “Pay Yourself Back”

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers can always use their points to book travel via the travel portal where they get 1.25 cents per point.

Now, you can redeem in the same manner for grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining, including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services. Instead of using a “portal” to make the purchases, you just pay as you normally would and then go into the Chase website to “pay” for that purchase with points. You will get the same 1.25 cents per point in value as you get booking travel. The feature is branded “Pay Yourself BackSM“. 

The only requirement is that the merchant category be in one of the specified categories and you must “Pay yourself back” within 90 days of purchase. This feature will be on the card until at least April 2021.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers get the same opportunity, but at a higher 1.5 cents per point cash-out rate.

Offer: 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months
Credit card

American Express Gold Card

Annual Fee: $250

Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,020

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Annual Fee: $250

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,020

Offer: 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 6 months

This game-changing card offers 4x Membership Rewards points on restaurants and supermarkets, as well as 3x on flights. It also offers $10 in monthly dining credits (see card details for more information) and $100 in annual airline incidental credits (airline credits will no longer be offered after 2021).

American Express defines a supermarket as offering a wide variety of food and household products such as meat, fresh produce, dairy, canned and packaged goods, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies. (Superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are NOT considered supermarkets.)

Offer: 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 6 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$875

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Annual Fee: $550

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$875

Offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months

The card that re-revolutionized points-earning credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a high-end travel rewards card that unlocks transfers from this and any linked Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card to airline and hotel partners and offers rich benefits for a frequent traveler.

It offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining. It provides a 50% boost in point value within the Chase portal and you get an annual $300 travel credit each card year which greatly offsets the card's annual fee.

New Lyft and DoorDash Benefits:

  • Earn 10X Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides
  • Get a one-time complimentary Lyft Pink (15% Lyft discounts, free bike/scooter rentals each month, and better cancellation rules). ($19.99 / month value)
  • Get $60 in DoorDash credits each year (2020 and 2021).
  • Get free DashPass to get free DoorDash deliveries at select restaurants with $12 or more in your order and decreased service charges.

Chase Will Let you “Pay Yourself Back”

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can always use their points to book travel via the travel portal where they get 1.5 cents per point.

Now, you can redeem in the same manner for grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining, including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services. Instead of using a “portal” to make the purchases, you just pay as you normally would and then go into the Chase website to “pay” for that purchase with points. You will get the same 1.5 cents per point in value as you get booking travel. The feature is branded “Pay Yourself BackSM“. 

Offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$800

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Annual Fee: $95

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$800

Offer: Up to 50,000 bonus World of Hyatt Points: 25,000 Bonus Points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months and 25,000 more when you spend $6,000 total within the first 6 months.

Earn 4x World of Hyatt points at Hyatt, 2x at restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly, local transit and commuting, and fitness club and gym memberships.

The Hyatt card gives you a Category 1 - 4 night every card year at renewal and you can earn a second one with $15,000 spend. Additional benefits include automatic Discoverist status and 5 elite nights credited each calendar year as well as the ability to earn 2 elite nights for every $5,000 in purchases.

Keep in mind that all points earned on a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred can also be transferred to World of Hyatt at a 1 to 1 ratio.

NOTE: In calculating your rewards for this card, we are making the assumption that all Hotel spend entered is spent on Hyatt. If part of that spend is on other hotel chains, that spend will earn only 1x on this card, reducing the value of your rewards.

Offer: Up to 50,000 bonus World of Hyatt Points: 25,000 Bonus Points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months and 25,000 more when you spend $6,000 total within the first 6 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

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Annual Fee: $450

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

Offer: Get 150,000 bonus Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months.

Get complimentary top-tier Hilton Diamond status, an annual $250 Hilton Resort credit, an annual $250 airline incidental fee credit, and a Free Weekend Night Award.

Also includes Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge Access for you and up to 2 guests per visit at no additional charge. (Enrollment required).

Earn Rate:

14x Hilton Honors points at Hiltons; 7x points on flights booked directly with airlines, car rentals booked direct, and US restaurants; and 3x points everywhere else.

Only in 2020 - Additional Hilton Aspire Benefits including Grocery Bonus Points

  • Bonus Points earned through eligible purchases on all Hilton American Express Cards, that post to the Card Member’s Hilton Honors account between May 1 through December 31, 2020 will be considered Base Points and will count towards Elite tier qualification and Lifetime Diamond Status.
  • Hilton Aspire Consumer Card Members’ eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, will now qualify toward the $250 Hilton resort credit benefit (June through August 2020).
  • Groceries: From May 1 – July 31, 2020, you’ll get 12X points per dollar at US Supermarkets.
  • Free Night Awards: Unexpired and new Free Weekend Night Rewards issued now through Dec 31, 2020 can be used any night of the week and any newly issued awards now through Dec 31, 2020 will be valid for 24 months.

NOTE: For the purposes of calculating your expected rewards for this card, we are assuming that the spend you put in "Hotels" is all spent at Hilton portfolio hotels and resorts. If some is spent at other hotels, your actual rewards will be slightly lower.

Offer: Get 150,000 bonus Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

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Annual Fee: $99

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

Offer: Get 50,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $2,500 in your first 3 months

Review: Get a free checked bag and preferred boarding on American Airlines. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles at gas stations and restaurants, as well as on American Airlines. Also earn a $100 flight discount after spending $20,000 and renewing your card.

NOTE: In calculating your potential rewards for this card, we are assuming that all spend entered as "Airline" is on American Airlines. If some of your airline spend is on other airlines, that spend will earn 1x rather than 2x miles and reduce your expected rewards.

Offer: Get 50,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $2,500 in your first 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$595

Calculator

Annual Fee: $295

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$595

Offer: Get 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 within 3 months

You will earn 4 points per dollar on any 2 out of 6 categories, automatically selected each calendar month based on which ones you spent the most on, up to $150,000 per year.

Categories include airfare purchased directly with airlines, US advertising and media, US gas stations, US hardware/software/cloud computing services, US restaurants, and US shipping.

Also, get a 25% rebate on airfare paid on points with your card.

Offer: Get 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 within 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$350

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$350

Offer: Get $200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months + 5X on Groceries for one year.

A no-fee Chase card offering 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points on everything, except as noted below. It's best combined with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred to unlock the power of transfer partners.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Rate:

  • 5X on travel when purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal*
  • 5X on rotating quarterly bonus categories (max of $1,500 per quarter in spend; activation required – same as existing Freedom card)
  • 5X on Lyft until March 2022
  • 3X on dining (including takeout and delivery)
  • 3X at drugstores
  • 1X on everything else

 

5X Points or Cash Back On Grocery Store Purchases With This Welcome Offer

This current new cardmember bonus offer will give new cardmembers 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) for one calendar year (offer is valid for purchases up to $12,000 in total for the year).

You must apply using this current offer to be eligible for the 5X points on supermarket spend. 

NOTE: This card can be used as cash back or as an Ultimate Rewards points card. In valuing your rewards, we assume you also have a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred. You can then transfer points from this card to one of those to unlock the power of transfer partners. If you have this card without one of the above cards, your rewards value will be lower with each point worth exactly 1 cent.

0% Interest APR Intro Offer:

Get a 0% Intro APR for 15 months (Terms Apply)

Note: Our rewards optimization calculator will count all travel on this card at 5X, but please note the limitations around that above. 

Offer: Get $200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months + 5X on Groceries for one year.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None at this time

Highly Recommended: Earn 2x Membership Rewards points on everything - up to $50,000 per year. This is a great card to use when your expense doesn't correspond to a bonus category on any of your other cards.

Intro 0% APR - 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months  (Terms apply)

Offer: None at this time
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: This card does not have a bonus offer at this time.

Review: For Costco members seeking pure cash back, this credit card is hard to beat!

Costco Business credit card earn rate and benefits:

  • This Costco Business credit card earns 4% cash back at gas stations, both Costco and otherwise, for the first $7,000 per year.
  • Earn 3% cash back at restaurants and on travel.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Costco.
  • Get 1% cash back on everything else.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The cashback will be awarded as an annual credit card reward certificate, redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, (including Puerto Rico). The certificate will be included in your February billing statement and expires on December 31st of the year issued.

** Requires a Costco membership **"

Offer: This card does not have a bonus offer at this time.
Credit card

Citi Double Cash Card

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None at this time.

The Citi Double Cash credit card is one of the "gold standards" in cash back cards.

This card earns a flat 2% cash back - or earn / transfer them to ThankYou Points for 2X points on all spend.

Balance Transfer Offer

Get a 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Offer: None at this time.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None at this time

The American Express Blue Business Cash credit card allows you to earn a simple 2% in cash back (on up to $50,000 a year of purchases) without paying an annual fee. 

Offer: None at this time

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