Updated on Apr 12, 2018

Best Rewards Credit Cards for 2018

Maximize your rewards with the right rewards card.
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Like rewards? We do too. And 2018’s top rewards credit card offers are rife with them — travel perks, cash back, and more. Check out our list of the best rewards credit cards and apply online in minutes.

The Simple Dollar's top picks for the best rewards credit cards

Learn More on Capital One's secure website

Best no intro fee rewards card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Rewards Summary Unlimited 2X miles per dollar
Redeem for... Travel statement credit; travel booked through CapitalOne.com; gift cards; and more

Current Offer 50,000 miles
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Perks include
  • Complimentary concierge service
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Extended warranty protection for purchases
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 50000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.49% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a great choice if your goal is to earn credit card rewards you can redeem for a free or low-cost trip for yourself or your family. Every eligible purchase you make earns 2X miles per dollar that you can use to book all sorts of travel and vacation packages through CapitalOne.com.

How to use it
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months to get 50,000 bonus miles.
  • Redeem your miles via the Capital One Rewards Center for travel, account credits, gift cards, and more.
Consider this

This card has a relatively low annual fee, but if you don’t want a fee at all, consider the Discover it® Miles. It has a lower earning rate (1.5X miles per dollar), but otherwise it’s a comparable travel card: unlimited rewards on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, and flexible redemption options. You also get a mile-for-mile match of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Why you'll love it

No matter how you use your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn unlimited miles that you can redeem for a variety of travel rewards. And no matter where you go, you won’t be hit with a foreign transaction fee. Plus, it has a reasonable annual fee ($95) that’s waived for your first year.

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Most versatile

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Rewards Summary 2X points on travel and restaurants worldwide; 1X points on other purchases. Terms Apply.
Redeem for... Travel, gift cards, statement credits, eDeposit

Current Offer 50,000 points
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)
Special offer:

Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.

Perks include
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • 25% more value when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • Current Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.49% - 24.49% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Jetsetters will love the flexibility of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It earns unlimited points on travel and dining worldwide, and there’s no foreign transaction fee. Points are redeemable for options including discounted travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and they’re transferrable to 11 top travel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.

How to use it
  • Focus your spending on dining and travel purchases across the globe to earn 2X points per dollar — the earnings are unlimited, and there’s no foreign transaction fee. Use it for everything else to earn 1X point per dollar.
  • Get 50,000 bonus points (worth $625 toward travel when you redeem via Chase Ultimate Rewards®) once you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening your account.
  • Transfer your points to 11 different top travel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.
Consider this

If you don’t travel often but want to earn rewards toward travel, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (currently unavailable) might be a better pick. It earns 2X miles on all purchases, not just travel and dining. Its 40,000-mile bonus (if you spend $3,000 in the first three months) isn’t anything to sneeze at either — especially since this card also has flexible redemption options.

Why you'll love it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is our pick for the most versatile credit card rewards because it earns points on a wide range of travel options that aren’t usually included with travel cards and it has some of the most flexible redemption options available. You’ll also love the signup bonus: 50,000 bonus points (worth $625 toward travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®) if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.

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Partner Offer Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Best perks

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Rewards Summary 3X points for flights; 2X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations & U.S. supermarkets; 1X points on other purchases (Terms apply)
Redeem for... Travel, gift cards, merchandise, or entertainment through the Membership Rewards® program

Current Offer 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points
Annual Fee $195 (Waived first year)
Perks include
  • $100 airline fee credit
  • $75 credit on qualifying hotel charges
  • Point transfer to select frequent traveler programs
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 per calendar year for baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, when available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases.
  • Current Offer: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A*
  • Cash Advance APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR: See Details
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A*
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A*
  • Ongoing APR: N/A
  • Penalty APR: N/A

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you hit 30,000 feet several times a month, you should consider the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. It’s an upper-end travel rewards credit card that earns points for direct-booked flights and purchases at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets — all with a relatively low annual fee. And it comes with a few nice travel perks too, including a $100 airline fee credit.

How to use it
  • Use this card to buy airfare directly from airlines (3X points per dollar) and at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets (2X points per dollar). All other purchases earn 1 Membership Rewards® point per dollar.
  • Spend $2,000 within the first three months to earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points. (That’s a relatively low spending requirement for a luxury travel card.)
  • Book nights through The Hotel Collection with this card and, when available, you’ll get a complimentary room upgrade when you arrive.
  • Enjoy double Membership Rewards® points on eligible properties in The Hotel Collection. Book two consecutive nights and you’ll get a $75 credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities.
Consider this

If you frequently travel internationally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is probably a better option. It earns unlimited 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, with no foreign transaction fee.

Why you'll love it

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a high-rate travel card that also earns points for purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets. But it’s really the outstanding travel perks, including a $100 airline fee credit, that sets this rewards credit card apart.

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Learn More on Capital One's secure website

Great all-around card

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Rewards Summary Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase
Redeem for... Travel, gift cards, and more

Current Offer 20,000 miles
Annual Fee $0
Perks include
  • Complimentary concierge service
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Extended warranty protection for purchases
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your VentureOne card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.49%-23.49% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 20000 Miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.49% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% intro on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: For 12 Months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is among the best credit cards for earning unlimited miles (1.25X miles per dollar) on all purchases without an annual fee. It’s also great for casual rewards credit card users who want a variety of travel redemption options, including travel statement credits (which allow you to cover certain travel expenditures that other cards won’t, like ferries and auto rentals).

How to use it
  • Use this card for all types of purchases to earn unlimited 1.25X miles per dollar.
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
  • Take advantage of the 12-month 0% intro APR and pay off larger purchases without racking up any interest.
Consider this

If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you could earn higher-rate rewards with another card. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is very similar to this card, with the exception of a higher earning rate (unlimited 2X miles per dollar) and a signup bonus that’s worth much more. Its annual fee is just $95 after your first year.

Why you'll love it

For no-fuss rewards on everything you buy, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is a sensible, affordable choice. Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar offer decent earning potential, with plenty of flexibility at redemption. Since you can redeem miles for a travel statement credit, you can fly any airline and stay at any hotel, anytime, without taking blackout dates into account.

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Best cash back bonus

Discover it® - Cashback Match™
Rewards Summary 5% cash back at different places each quarter; 1% on all other purchases.
Redeem for... Statement credits, eDeposits, gift cards, charitable donations

Current Offer First year Cashback Match™
Annual Fee $0
Perks include
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR
  • Dollar-for-dollar Cashback Match™ at the end of your first year
  • Free FICO® Credit Score
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

Looking for a card with no annual fee and an impressive first-year bonus? With the Discover it® Cashback Match™, you’ll get automatic match of all the cash back you earn in your first year, effectively doubling your rewards potential.

How to use it
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all your first-year cash back earnings thanks to Discover’s Cashback Match™ program. (If you earn $150 cash back, you’ll get $300.)
  • Utilize the 14-month 0% intro APR to pay off purchases and balances transfers without accruing interest (then ongoing 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR).
Consider this

The Chase Freedom® is a great alternative because you won’t have to wait all year to earn the bonus. As long as you spend $500 in purchases within the first three months, you’ll get a $150 statement credit. It earns the same high-rate rewards (5% in bonus categories on up to $1,500 per quarter) and points can be redeemed for discounted travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Why you'll love it

True to its name, the Discover it® Cashback Match™ card will match your cash back earned at the end of your first year dollar for dollar, automatically. Another cool perk: You can use your cash back for part or all of Amazon.com purchases (redeem instantly at checkout).

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Partner Offer Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Best for gas & groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Rewards Summary 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000, then 1%)
Redeem for... Reward Dollars (redeemed as a statement credit)

Current Offer $200
Annual Fee $95
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.74% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.49% - 25.49% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re constantly making a trip to the grocery store, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express would fit well in your wallet. It earns incredibly high rewards at U.S. supermarkets: 6% for the first $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%. Heavy commuters earn too: It also earns unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations.

How to use it
  • Use this card at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and select U.S. department stores (including J.C Penney, Nordstrom, and Sears) to earn substantial cash back.
  • Earn a $200 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Redeem your cash back as a statement credit that you can use to pay down your card balance.
Consider this

A possible sticking point with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is its $95 annual fee. If you’d prefer an American Express rewards credit card with no annual fee, consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It has a $0 annual fee — though the earning rates for groceries and gas are more modest.

Why you'll love it

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the among the best rewards cards for those who prefer to earn points on everyday purchases. It boasts a high earning rate on categories that are popular with frugal spenders and families — plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

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Apply Now On Bank of America's secure website

Best Bank of America® card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Rewards Summary Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
Redeem for... Travel statement credit

Current Offer 20,000 online bonus points
Annual Fee $0.00
Perks include
  • 10% points bonus for Bank of America® customers
  • 25% – 75% points bonus for Preferred Rewards clients
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account. 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
  • Annual Fee: $0.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

Consider the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card if flexible travel redemption is a priority, and/or you’re a current Bank of America® customer. With this card, you’ll earn unlimited 1.5X points on every purchase. And since points are redeemable for a travel statement credit, you can book how and where you like — even on discount travel sites, which can make your points stretch even further.

How to use it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5X points per dollar on everything.
  • Spend $1,000 in your first 90 days to earn the 20,000-point signup bonus that’s worth a $200 statement credit toward travel.
  • Redeem points for statement credits to pay for flights, hotels, baggage fees, and a variety of travel expenses you don’t normally see on travel cards, including zoos and aquariums.
  • Traveling overseas? Bring this card — there’s no foreign transaction fee.
Consider this

If you’re already an avid traveler, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a higher rewards rate for travel and restaurants (unlimited 2X points on travel and dining purchases worldwide), not to mention more flexible redemption options, including airfare, cash back, and vacation packages. However, it comes with a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. (The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card has no annual fee.)

Why you'll love it

If you’re a Bank of America® customer or a Preferred Rewards client, you’ll receive a customer points bonus that will maximize your earning potential. And because points are redeemable as travel statement credits, you have great flexibility in how your book your travel. On top of that, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card has no annual fee.

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Best cash back program

Chase Freedom®
Rewards Summary 5% cash back in bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases); unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases (Terms apply)
Redeem for... Cash back

Current Offer $150
Annual Fee $0
Perks include
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 15 months
  • Extended warranty & purchase protection
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Current Offer: Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% - 25.24% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Chase Freedom® is an excellent rewards credit card for all types of shoppers because it earns high cash back on everyday spending. It also has one of the most easy-to-earn signup bonuses on the market: spend $500 within the first three months to get a $150 bonus. Holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can benefit by pairing their card with the Chase Freedom® too, because points are transferrable between cards.

How to use it
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500, plus unlimited 1% cash back on everything else. (Previous bonus categories have included gas stations, restaurants, local commuter transportation, and drugstores.)
  • Spend over $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account to snag a 15,000 bonus points that can be redeemed for $150 cash back.
  • Pay attention to the bonus categories — you’ll need to activate them each month in order to earn 5% cash back.
  • Get an extra $25 bonus after adding your first authorized user and making your first purchase within the first three months.
Consider this

If you want a more flexible approach to cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases instead of high-reward bonus categories. What doesn’t change? The signup bonus and annual fee: Spend $500 in the first three months to earn a $150 statement credit, and there’s no annual fee.

Why you'll love it

The Chase Freedom® earns some of the highest credit card rewards in the industry — as long as you keep up with the rotating categories. It doesn’t have an annual fee, and you’ll get a 15-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers. Plus, it’s one of the only cash back cards that lets you redeem for travel (via Chase Ultimate Rewards®).

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Great first-year bonus

Discover it® Miles
Rewards Summary Unlimited 1.5x miles on every purchase
Redeem for... Statement credits towards travel purchases

Current Offer Mile-for-mile match
Annual Fee $0
Perks include
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR
  • Free FICO® Credit Scores on monthly statements and online
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Discover it® Miles offers some of the best credit card rewards if you want to redeem for statement credits toward travel purchases, all with no annual fee. This card also makes sense if you’re about to make a large purchase, thanks to its mile-for-mile match at the end of your first year.

How to use it
  • This is a great all-purpose card because it earns unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase.
  • Discover will match your first-year earnings mile-for-mile, so use this card as much as possible to maximize your reward — and there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
  • You can redeem your miles as a statement credit to cover travel purchases such as airline tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals.
  • Keep tabs on your FICO® credit score online for free with your Discover account.
Consider this

The flat rewards structure makes it simple to earn unlimited miles on every purchase you make. But if your spending follows certain patterns, you could earn more faster with a rewards credit card that offers more than 1.5X miles per dollar. We recommend the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express for 3X points on travel — or the Chase Freedom® for 5% cash back in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

Why you'll love it

The Discover it® Miles offers high earning potential for those who use it on all kinds of purchases: unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar spent, with no annual fee. On top of that, Discover will match your first-year earnings mile-for-mile. Reward bonuses don’t get any easier than that.

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Honorable mention

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Rewards Summary 3% cash back on gas; 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs; 1% on every purchase
Redeem for... Cash back

Current Offer $150
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. 1% cash back on every purchase. 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. 3% cash back on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • Current Offer: $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Annual Fee: $0.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Introductory APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Ongoing APR: 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

Anyone who does a fair amount of driving and grocery shopping will feel right at home with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card. (Unless you spend more than $625 on groceries and gas each month, you won’t have to worry about hitting the quarterly cap of $2,500 for the higher rewards categories.) There’s also an easily-attainable signup bonus of $150 when at least $500 in purchases is made in the first 90 days of account opening.

How to use it
  • Grocery shop with it to earn 2% cash back for every dollar spent and fill up at the gas station and use this card to cover the cost and earn 3% cash back for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • Use for everyday spending to reach that $500 milestone and earn the $150 signup bonus in the first 90 days of account opening.
Consider this

If you use your credit card for just about everything, then this card might not be the best fit. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card features a quarterly cap of $2,500 — after that you’ll only earn 1% on all purchases. Be sure and review your regular spending habits before you make a decision.

Why you'll love it

One thing most people will love about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the cash back rewards. With this card, you won’t need to deviate much from your everyday expenses in order to make the most of it. There’s also no annual fee to worry about and the signup bonus can be easily reached just by using this card for the day-to-day costs.

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Honorable mention

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Rewards Summary Unlimited 2X points on travel and dining purchases; unlimited 1.5X points on other purchases. Terms apply.
Redeem for... Travel, statement credit, deposit, gift cards

Current Offer 50,000 points
Annual Fee $95
Special offer:

Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections.

Perks include
  • Up to 75% rewards bonus on every purchase if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client
  • No points limit or expirations
  • No foreign transaction fees
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points- a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase.
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don’t expire
  • Flexibility to redeem for a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® or Merrill Lynch® accounts like checking, savings, and 529, for gift cards or use at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections. Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption provides reimbursement of up to $5,000 per person, per trip, for the unused prepaid non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours, and hotels if you have to cancel due to a covered reason. 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $95.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: none
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

Anyone who’s already a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards client will enjoy a 25% to 75% rewards bonus on every purchase. Not a client yet? Don’t worry! You’ll still earn unlimited 2X points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. You’ll also get unlimited 1.5X points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

How to use it
  • Make dining and travel purchases around the world with no foreign transaction fees while earning 2X points per dollar.
  • Spend at least $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account to earn 50,000 bonus points — a $500 value!
  • Take advantage of up to $200 in travel statement credit rewards when you make qualifying purchases, such as seat upgrades, or apply for TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry.
Consider this

The rewards bonus you’ll earn as a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards client means you could get up to 3.5X points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.625X points on all other purchases.

Why you'll love it

Whether you’re already a Bank of America® customer or not, you’ll love the unlimited earning potential of the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card. With a $500 value signup bonus after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, multiple travel perks, and no foreign transaction fees, you can easily explore the world!

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How Rewards Credit Cards Work

Rewards credit cards earn points or cash back every time you use the card. Some cards earn high-rate rewards on certain purchase categories, like travel or groceries. Others earn unlimited flat-rate rewards on every dollar you spend, regardless of the category.

Branded rewards cards are a great option for loyal customers because they usually offer higher rewards rates, or premium benefits. For example, the earns 2X miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases only. But cardholders also get perks like free bag checks, priority boarding, and seat upgrades.

Earning points Redeeming points

Whether it’s points, miles, or cash back, high-rate rewards cards usually earn anywhere from 3% to 5% on rewards categories, and 1% on everything else. Flat-rate rewards cards generally earn 2%.

Remember that cards with rotating bonus rewards categories usually change each quarter. You will need to activate the bonus every quarter to take advantage of the higher rewards rate.

Credit card rewards points can be redeemed for a variety of things, including travel, vacation packages, gift cards, cash back, and statement credits.

It’s important to remember that not all card issuers value their points equally — and sometimes the value changes. For example, The Points Guy’s valuation puts Capital One rewards at 1 cent per point, while Chase Ultimate Rewards® are valued at 2.1 cents per point.

What are credit card rewards points?

Most cards have unique names for their rewards currency. For example, Delta calls its rewards ‘Delta Skymiles’ and American Express calls them ‘Membership Rewards.’ But regardless of what they’re called, rewards are generally redeemed for two things: travel or cash back.

With travel, we’re talking about anything from points that can be redeemed for a wide range of options around the world, to miles that can only be redeemed for airfare at a handful of airlines. Cash back options are also pretty varied. Some cards earn cash back and gift cards that you can spend at certain online retailers. There are even cards for those who want the best of both worlds.

Can I get a rewards card with bad credit?

The best rewards credit cards have the nicest features — low interest rates, lucrative rewards, and great perks. They can also be tough to get.

It usually takes a credit score of around 700 or more to qualify for cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. (That’s considered “good” by FICO® and VantageScore, two of the major credit scoring models.)

If you’re in the process of building or repairing your credit, secured credit cards could be a better option. Unlike regular credit cards, secured cards require an upfront deposit. If you put down $500, then your credit limit will also be around $500, minus the fees.

Secured cards are easier to qualify for because secured cards are bankrolled by you, not the lender. But that doesn’t mean you’ll always be approved. If you have bankruptcy or multiple missed payments on your credit history, it might be harder to get approved — even for a secured credit card.

How many credit cards is too many?

It’s not really about how many cards you own, but how much you owe that matters most. Your credit utilization ratio is one of main factors that influences your credit score. As long as you keep it below 30% on individual cards and collectively across all cards, you avoid the risk of damaging your credit score.

Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of your total active credit. For example, if you have a card with a $10,000 limit and a $2,000 balance, your credit utilization ratio is 20%.

What are rotating cash back categories?

For rewards credit cards that offer cash back, you may be able to receive extra cash back in certain categories during a set period of time. For instance, both the Discover it® Cashback Match™ and the Chase Freedom® offer 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

In order to receive this cash back bonus, you must activate the categories through your account, then spend up to a certain limit at the selected stores.

How to save more money by maximizing points and miles

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all card that delivers superior points or miles on every conceivable spending category and has the most flexible point redemption options.

Owning two or three cards is the right number to get the most points or miles and still keep the cards active (assuming you’re paying off the balances). You’ll be able to take advantage of the bonuses and ongoing rewards without major limitations.

Here are the best rewards credit cards

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best no intro fee rewards card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Most versatile
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express: Best perks
  • Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Great all-around card
  • Discover it® – Cashback Match: Best cash back bonus
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for gas & groceries
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card: Best Bank of America® card
  • Chase Freedom®: Best cash back program
  • Discover it® Miles: Great first-year bonus
  • Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Honorable mention
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card: Honorable mention

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