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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.

Card Category

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19 Cards Available:

Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$2,040

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Annual Fee: $595

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$2,040

Offer: 120,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $15,000 within 3 months. (Annual fee increases to $695 for applications received after Jan 12, 2022.) Terms apply. (Rates and Fees).

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

  • 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked via AmexTravel
  • 1.5X Membership Rewards points on any single purchase that is over $5,000
  • 1.5X Membership Rewards at Construction material and hardware suppliers, Electronic goods retailers and software & at cloud system providers, and with Shipping providers
  • 1X Membership Rewards points on everything else

(1.5X purchases are capped at $2,000,000 in spend per calendar year.)

Card Benefits

  • Hilton Gold status (enrollment required)
  • Marriott Gold status (enrollment required)
  • Receive up to $100 as a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry or every 4.5 years for TSA Pre✔®
  • Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection which includes Centurion, Delta, and Priority Pass Lounge access (enrollment required)
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits
  • $200 airfare credit for incidentals like luggage fees on your chosen airline. (enrollment required). Terms apply.
  • $200 in Dell statement credits twice annually, up to $400 total (Jan-June and July-Dec; Enrollment required / terms apply).
  • Up to $120 a year in wireless credits; up to $10 per month, Enrollment required / terms apply.
  • Up to $360 in Indeed credits ($90 per quarter; enrollment required, Terms Apply)
  • Up to $150 in credits with Adobe on annual prepaid plans for eligible Creative Cloud for teams and Acrobat Pro DC with e-sign, enrollment required, Terms Apply.
  • Up to $179 in fee credits for a CLEAR® airport security service plan. (Enrollment required; credit is a statement credit.)

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: 120,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $15,000 within 3 months. (Annual fee increases to $695 for applications received after Jan 12, 2022.) Terms apply. (Rates and Fees).
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,700

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Annual Fee: $695

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,700

Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards Points when you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months plus earn 10x points restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in your first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)

The Platinum Card® from American Express 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 statement credits and other perks and benefits.

Statement Credit Offers

  • $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month with a $20 bonus in December)
  • $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue shopping credits per year ($50 January-June and $50 July-December) as statement credits (Enrollment required)
  • $200 in annual airline fee credits (as statement credits) for your chosen airline (Enrollment required)
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit which is good for up to $20 back each month on select digital subscriptions with Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times.(Enrollment Required)
  • $200 Hotel Credit as statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel. (Enrollment Required) 
  • $179 CLEAR Credit as statement credits when you pay for your CLEAR membership with your Card. (Enrollment Required) 
  • $300 Equinox Credit as a $25 statement credit valid each month at Equinox, valid for Equinox All Access, Destination, or E by Equinox membership fees, or for Equinox+.(Enrollment required)

(All above offers require enrollment after you receive the card.)

You also get access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes the Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, and Delta SkyClubs when you are flying Delta. (Enrollment required)

In addition, you get elite status in two hotel programs (enrollment required):

  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite
  • Hilton Gold

While the Bonvoy Gold status is mostly good for small room upgrades and bonus points on stays, Hilton Gold confers free breakfast - a benefit that can really add up!

More Platinum Card benefits:

  • Reimbursement (as a statement credit) for your Global Entry or PreCheck membership fees every 4 years.
  • Secondary Car rental CDW/LDW collision/damage coverage
  • Lost, damaged or stolen baggage insurance
  • Extended warranty, purchase protection and return protection on covered purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Access to the Platinum Concierge line

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: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards Points when you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months plus earn 10x points restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in your first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,190

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Annual Fee: $295

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,190

Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $10,000 within first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)

The American Express® Business Gold card is a powerful earner for business owners with high spend on the included bonus categories.

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. Terms apply.

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.

Our page on the Amex Business Gold Card has the American Express definition of hardware, software, and cloud computing merchants.

Also, get a 25% rebate on airfare booked American Express Travel using Membership Rewards. Applies to all First/Business Class tickets and economy tickets with your one selected airline.

Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $10,000 within first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,020

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Annual Fee: $250

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,020

Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)

Is the American Express® Gold Card the best credit card for dining and groceries?

The Gold Card offers 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year; 1X thereafter), as well as 3x on flights.

And at long last, American Express is once again offering both new and existing cardholders the opportunity to get the Rose Gold version of the Gold Card. (Simply select it when applying.)

It also offers $20 in monthly dining statement credits - $10 monthly at GrubHub/Seamless (and select other restaurants; enrollment required) and $10 in Uber Cash each month. Enrollment required / terms apply.

(Note that the airline incidental credits will no longer be offered after 2021 and are no longer available to new applicants.)

While many Amex bonus categories are US-only, this card earns 4x on all restaurants, including internationally.

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.)

It's also important to note that as a card product that American Express used to classify as "charge" - meaning that it has No Preset Spending Limit - so it is not counted against your 5 Amex credit card limit. The Gold Card will still be in the category of cards (former charge products) in which you can have up to 10. Those include the Green, Gold, Platinum, and Centurion.

Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

Calculator

Annual Fee: $450

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

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

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 2021 - Additional Hilton Aspire Benefits 

  • Bonus points earned through eligible purchases, if they post to the card member’s Hilton Honors account by Dec. 31, 2021, will be classified as base points and will count toward elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status.
  • Unexpired and newly issued free weekend night certificates can temporarily be used on any night of the week.
  • All newly issued Free Weekend Night Reward certificates issued after Jan 1, 2021 will be valid through December 31, 2022.

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: Earn 150,000 bonus Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months. Terms apply.
Credit card

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite MasterCard

Annual Fee: $0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99

Estimated Bonus Value :

$750

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Annual Fee: $99

Calculator
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

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Annual Fee: $150

Estimated Bonus Value :

$500

Calculator

Annual Fee: $150

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$500

Offer: Earn up to up to $1,000: $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and an additional $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first six months

The new Capital One Spark Cash Plus replaces the older Spark Cash card and earns 2% cash back on everything. The primary difference is that the new Spark Cash Plus is a charge card with no preset spending limit, making it ideal for companies that spend a lot on their cards and tend to run into issues with credit limits. 

Offer: Earn up to up to $1,000: $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and an additional $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first six months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$255

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$255

Offer: Earn 15,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)

Highly Recommended: Earn 2x Membership Rewards points on everything with the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card - 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, then 13.24% (Prime Rate + 9.99%) to 19.24% (Prime Rate + 15.99%.  (Rates and Fees)

Offer: Earn 15,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates and Fees)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$250

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$250

Offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 within your first 3 months. Terms Apply. (Rates and Fees)

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: Earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 within your first 3 months. Terms Apply. (Rates and Fees)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
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

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
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.

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