Credit Cards with the Best Rewards
Which Rewards Credit Cards Are Best?
We’re glad you asked. However, the question of which rewards credit card is 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%. The Citi Double Cash Card and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature both earn 2% for consumer credit cards while the Spark Business Cash from Capital One and American Express Blue Business Cash Card earn 2% back for businesses.
The Savor Rewards from Capital One is also a good choice for those that like cash but spend a lot dining out.
Next, let’s dispel a myth about airline 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.
You can explore all four major bank cards here:
But which should you focus on?
That’s going to be up to you (and I 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 points are, in many ways, a good place for beginners to start. 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 Ultimate Rewards 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 Card, Chase 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 to Chase Ultimate Rewards 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.
There are many 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.
The latest entrant to transferable points, Capital One has a range of transfer partners and a very simple program.
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. Also note that through January 2020, the Venture from Capital One credit card earns 10x points on hotels.com purchases via their special link, meaning you can earn 7.5 airline miles per dollar spent on hotels at hotels.com with that card.
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.
So Which Rewards Card is Best?
That remains your call! The credit card rewards optimization engine is still the best place to see what 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.
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.
5 Cards Available:
Annual Fee: $595
Annual Fee: $595
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.
Annual Fee: $95
Annual Fee: $95
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.
Annual Fee: $550
Annual Fee: $550
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.
Annual Fee: $550
Annual Fee: $550
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.
Limited Time Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus Categories - July 1st - September 30, 2020 Only
- Earn 10X Ultimate Rewards points for Streaming Services
- Earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points at Gas Stations
- Earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points for Instacart
- Get up to $50 in Instacart Express credits
- Qualifying Streaming Services are listed as: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube TV.
Annual Fee: $250
Annual Fee: $250
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.
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.)
Chase Ink Preferred
Here’s how we calculated your Rewards Value:
Point Value X Multiplier = Rewards Value
Here’s how we calculated your Bonus Value:
Point Value X Bonus = Bonus Value