The best rewards credit cards for October 2021

This page is a marketplace where our partners can highlight their current card offers. The reviews and insights represented are editorial, but the order in which cards appear on the page may be influenced by compensation we may receive from our partners.

The rewards available from credit cards go well beyond just points and miles. With the right credit card, you can save on shopping, get a jump-start on your vacation fund, and more. With TPG’s best rewards credit cards from our partners, you can add value, along with points and miles, to your wallet. Be sure to check out our best travel credit cards and our best credit cards for all of the current offers.

Best for beginner travelers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4.5/5
2 - 5X points
more info
  • 5X Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on dining.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 5X Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on dining.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 points
details Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
60,000 points
$95

Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 13 valuable airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2x on all other travel and 1x on everything else.
  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,200
  • New annual $50 hotel statement credit when booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2x on all other travel and 1x on everything else.
  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,200
  • New annual $50 hotel statement credit when booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
NEW PLATINUM EXCLUSIVE OFFER
New Platinum exclusive offer
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4.5/5
5 - 10X points
more info
  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
100,000 points
details Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
100,000 points
$695

Why we chose it

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and more than $1,400 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more.
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The $695 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit and other statement credits can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and more than $1,400 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more.
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The $695 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit and other statement credits can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4.5/5
2X points
more info
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
60,000 miles
details Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
Intro Bonus tooltip Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
60,000 miles
$95

Why we chose it

When it comes to simplicity and strong rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice for most travelers. You’ll earn earns 2x miles on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives.

Pros

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles, valued by TPG at $1,020
  • You'll earn 2x on every purchase, which means you won't have to worry about memorizing bonus categories
  • Rewards earned are versatile as they can be redeemed for any hotel or airline purchase for a statement credit or transferred to 15+ travel partners

Cons

  • Transfer ratios to most partners are mediocre at less than 1:1 ratio
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees

Pros

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles, valued by TPG at $1,020
  • You'll earn 2x on every purchase, which means you won't have to worry about memorizing bonus categories
  • Rewards earned are versatile as they can be redeemed for any hotel or airline purchase for a statement credit or transferred to 15+ travel partners

Cons

  • Transfer ratios to most partners are mediocre at less than 1:1 ratio
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Best for monthly rotating categories
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
1 - 5% cash-back
more info
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
$200
details Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
$200
$0

Why we chose it

The Citi Custom Cash is the most flexible cash-back card on the market, allowing you to earn 5% back on your top eligible spend category on up to $500 spent each billing cycle.

Pros

  • 5% cash-back rewards on your top eligible spend category on up to $500 spent each billing cycle.
  • No annual fee.
  • $200 cash-back bonus after spending $750 or more in the first three months of account opening.

Cons

  • Maximum $500 on top eligible spend category each billing cycle, then 1%.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person.

Pros

  • 5% cash-back rewards on your top eligible spend category on up to $500 spent each billing cycle.
  • No annual fee.
  • $200 cash-back bonus after spending $750 or more in the first three months of account opening.

Cons

  • Maximum $500 on top eligible spend category each billing cycle, then 1%.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person.
Apply now for American Express® Gold Card at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for dining rewards at restaurants
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4/5
3 - 4X points
more info
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
60,000 points
details Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
60,000 points
$250

Why we chose it

This isn’t just a card that’s nice to look at. It packs a real punch, offering 4x points on global dining and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x). There’s also an up to $120 annual dining credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations, plus it added an up to $120 annually ($10 per month) in Uber Cash, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. All this make it a very strong contender for all food purchases, which has become a popular spending category. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year then 1x
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as effective for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year then 1x
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as effective for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
1.5X points
more info
  • 1.5X 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.
  • 1.5X 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.
25,000 points
details 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
Intro Bonus tooltip 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
25,000 points
$0

Why we chose it

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is a breath of fresh air. With no annual fee, 1.5x on all purchases and the ability to redeem your points for travel purchases on your statement credit, this card is a terrific first travel credit card.

Pros

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases with no limits.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • Lacks travel protections that other cards come with.
  • No transfer partners to maximize value.
  • 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
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 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 travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply.
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Pros

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases with no limits.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • Lacks travel protections that other cards come with.
  • No transfer partners to maximize value.
  • 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
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 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 travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply.
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3.5/5
1.5% cash-back
more info
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
$200
details One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Intro Bonus tooltip One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
$200
$0

Why we chose it

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a decent option for those in need of a straightforward cash back card. However, there are other options that offer more flexibility to redeem your rewards.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Cash back doesn't expire

Cons

  • Limited card perks and benefits
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Cash back doesn't expire

Cons

  • Limited card perks and benefits
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
Best for flexible rewards
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4/5
1.5 - 5% cash-back
more info
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3% Earn 3% on dining and drugstores.
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3% Earn 3% on dining and drugstores.
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
$200
details Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
$200
$0

Why we chose it

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a surprisingly powerful card that earns at least 1.5% back on everything. However, it becomes a standout card if you pair it with a card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, doubling their potential value.

Pros

  • At least 1.5% back on every purchase, with up to 3% back on select categories
  • There is no annual fee
  • Perfect for everyday, non-bonused spending
  • Incredible value when paired with a premium Chase card

Cons

  • There is a 3% foreign transaction fee so the card shouldn't be used abroad
  • Limited card perks and benefits
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

Pros

  • At least 1.5% back on every purchase, with up to 3% back on select categories
  • There is no annual fee
  • Perfect for everyday, non-bonused spending
  • Incredible value when paired with a premium Chase card

Cons

  • There is a 3% foreign transaction fee so the card shouldn't be used abroad
  • Limited card perks and benefits
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4/5
1.5% cash-back
more info
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
$750
details Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
$750
$0

Why we chose it

The Ink Business Unlimited’ sign-up gives you a generous $750 cash back spending $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening plus unlimited 1.5% cash back on every business purchase. It fills in rewards gaps not covered by the Ink Business Cash Credit Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. You can maximize this card by pairing it with cards including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Business Preferred.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • A generous $750 cash-back sign-up bonus
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Cons

  • Higher spend to receive sign-up bonus
  • No conversion to Chase points without holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn rewards faster with employee cards at no additional cost. Set individual spending limits for greater control
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • A generous $750 cash-back sign-up bonus
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Cons

  • Higher spend to receive sign-up bonus
  • No conversion to Chase points without holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn rewards faster with employee cards at no additional cost. Set individual spending limits for greater control
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3.5/5
1 - 8% cash-back
more info
  • 8% Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
  • 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
  • 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.
  • 8% Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
  • 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
  • 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.
$200
details Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
$200
$0

Why we chose it

The Capital One SavorOne is a great cash back credit card for beginners looking for a solid rewards structure and no annual fee. Dining, entertainment and groceries are high-value bonus categories, and it’s rare for a card to hit all three.

Pros

  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases
  • The intro APR offer that comes with this card makes it a solid choice for those looking to finance a large purchase. You’ll get 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months (14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after).

Cons

  • The sign-up bonus isn’t anything to write home about (though it is easy to earn)
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Pros

  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases
  • The intro APR offer that comes with this card makes it a solid choice for those looking to finance a large purchase. You’ll get 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months (14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after).

Cons

  • The sign-up bonus isn’t anything to write home about (though it is easy to earn)
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for select U.S. streaming rewards
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4/5
1 - 6% cash-back
more info
  • 6% 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases
  • 6% 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases
$300
details Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
$300
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Why we chose it

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. You’ll get a great return across a wide range of bonus categories, a solid welcome bonus and a low annual fee.

Pros

  • This card has one of the best earning structures out for among cash-back credit cards
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • The card comes with access to Amex Offers (activation required), which can save you even more money on specific purchases.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the U.S. supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with large grocery budgets
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on international purchases, so it’s not a great choice when you’re traveling abroad
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • This card has one of the best earning structures out for among cash-back credit cards
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • The card comes with access to Amex Offers (activation required), which can save you even more money on specific purchases.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the U.S. supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with large grocery budgets
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on international purchases, so it’s not a great choice when you’re traveling abroad
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
BEST FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4.5/5
1 - 3X points
more info
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
100,000 points
details Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
100,000 points
$95

Why we chose it

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees.

Pros

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for points redemption

Cons

  • No travel perks
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • $95 Annual Fee

Pros

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for points redemption

Cons

  • No travel perks
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • $95 Annual Fee
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
1 - 3% cash-back
more info
  • 3% 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases
  • 3% 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases
$200
details Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
$200
$0

Why we chose it

The Blue Cash Everyday card is a good option for people who want a simple cash back structure with no annual fee. You’ll earn bonus cash back rewards on popular bonus categories, including U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

Pros

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets.
  • No annual fee.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with larger annual grocery spend.
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 15 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets.
  • No annual fee.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with larger annual grocery spend.
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 15 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

The best credit cards for rewards and points in 2021

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express New Platinum exclusive offer 100,000 points
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$695
American Express® Gold Card Best for dining rewards at restaurants 60,000 points
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
$250
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Best for airline rewards 60,000 miles
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
$95
Citi® Double Cash Card Best for cash back rewards N/A
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
$0
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Best for frequent travelers 50,000 points
  • Earn 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5X total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3X points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$550
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Best for select U.S. streaming rewards $300
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Best for rotating rewards $200
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 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!
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3% on dining and drugstores.
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases.
$0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Best for entertainment rewards $200
  • Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases.
$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Best for flexible rewards $200
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3% on dining and drugstores.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
$0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Best for U.S. department store rewards $200
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases
$0

 

TPG’s picks for the best rewards credit cards

American Express Platinum Card: New Platinum exclusive offer

Welcome offer: You’ll earn a whopping 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months. Even better, you’ll also earn 10x on combined eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first six months of card membership! Not to mention that some cardholders are targeted for a 125k- or 150k-point welcome bonus through CardMatch (offers subject to change at any time).

Rewards rate: Earn 5x on flights booked directly with airlines and prepaid hotel bookings and through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Earn 1x on other purchases.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Who should apply: Although Amex has raised the annual fee, you’re getting more than $1,400 in value from the annual statement credits alone, built with both a lifestyle and travel focus. You can access the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Escape and Airspace lounges, plus Delta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights. Also, get up to a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. The new and old statement credits include up to $200 in annual prepaid hotel statement credits for Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel, up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits, up to $179 in Clear membership statement credits each year, up to $300 in annual Equinox credits and up to $240 in annual digital entertainment statement credits. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Check out the full card review for the Amex Platinum.

American Express Gold Card: Best for dining rewards at restaurants

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months, although you may be targeted for up to 75,000 bonus points through the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time).

Rewards rate: Earn 4x dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x); 3x on flights booked directly through airlines or on Amex Travel; 1x on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Who should apply: With the Amex Gold, you’re getting a great 8% return on restaurant and U.S. supermarket spending and a solid 6% return on airfare. The Amex Gold is a nice middle ground between the top-tier The Platinum Card® from American Express and a lower-value beginner card, such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressThe information for the Amex EveryDay card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

You’re getting perks, such as a dining credit and up to $120 in Uber Cash annually ($10 monthly credits) in the U.S. each calendar year (must add card to Uber app to receive this benefit), plus a rewards structure that focuses on common spending categories besides just travel — all without the massive $695 annual fee that comes with the Amex Platinum card. If you want an Amex card that makes it easy to earn Membership Rewards on everyday expenses such as dining at restaurants and groceries at U.S. supermarkets, this is definitely a card to consider. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Check out the full card review for the Amex Gold.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for airline rewards

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rate: 2 miles per dollar on every purchase.

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: The Venture has long been a crowd favorite for travel rewards because of its simplicity. You know you’re getting 2x on every purchase, which takes a lot of the guessing game out of earning rewards. The miles earned can then be used as a statement credit to “pay” for eligible travel (and temporarily some non-travel) purchases or they can be transferred to one of Capital One’s 16 airline and three hotel transfer partners (Choice Hotels to be added as a transfer partner at a later date). As an added perk, you’ll also get a statement credit of up to $100 every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, which isn’t a benefit commonly found on low-fee cards.

This card is often marketed as a beginner card, but anyone can take advantage of the card’s rewards structure and benefits. Beginners will enjoy the simplicity of using the Venture, while experts can use it for non-bonus spending. All of this landed the Venture a spot on our TPG list of best credit cards — and a special place in The Points Guy Brian Kelly’s wallet.

Check out the full card review for the Capital One Venture.

Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for cash back rewards

Sign-up bonus: N/A

Rewards rate: 2% on every purchase — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: 2% cash back on every purchase is a great offer for non-bonus spending. Although Citi did strip important purchase protections from this card in 2019, the issuer also added the ability to convert your Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points via a linked ThankYou account. ThankYou points are valued at 1.7 cents each at TPG, in part because of Citi’s solid list of transfer partners. The ability to convert points means you’re getting a 3.4% return on every purchase for no annual fee. If you’re in the market for a simple card that earns flexible rewards, then the Citi Double Cash is the best cash back credit card with no annual fee, therefore also making it one of the best no annual fee credit cards.

Check out the full card review for the Citi Double Cash.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for beginner travelers

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Rewards rate:

  • 5x points on Lyft (until March 2022)
  • 5x total points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2x points on all other travel
  • 1x point on all other purchases

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best beginner travel cards available. You’re getting an excellent sign-up bonus worth $1,200, according to TPG valuations. Its rewards structure is broad enough to earn points on a large number of purchases.

The points currency you’re earning is among the highest-value transferable currencies out there. You can redeem points for 1.25 cents each through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or you can transfer points to one of Chase’s airline and hotel partners. Plus, you’re only paying a $95 annual fee.

Check out the full card review for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for frequent travelers

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards rate: 

  • 10x points total on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards*
  • 10x points total on Chase Dining purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards*
  • 5x points total on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • 3x points on all other travel
  • 1x point on all other purchases

*After the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually

Annual fee: $550

Who should apply: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the top premium travel cards available. You’re earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points on a wide range of travel and dining purchases, while also getting access to luxury perks such as an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit and a $60 annual DoorDash credit for 2021.

You’ll get at least one year of DashPass membership through DoorDash, a Lyft Pink membership and an impressive array of travel protections. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also dropped a few new perks to help maximize benefits during the pandemic.

When it comes time to redeem your rewards, you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to any of Chase’s 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners, or you can redeem them for certain travel (and now also non-travel) purchases at 1.5 cents each. If you’re a regular traveler who can take advantage of all of the card’s perks, this is an excellent rewards card to have in your wallet.

Check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve Review.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for U.S. streaming rewards

Welcome offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first six months of card membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1%) and select U.S. streaming services; 3% on transit and at U.S. gas stations; 1% on other eligible purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees)

Who should apply: The Blue Cash Preferred offers valuable bonus categories that keep up with changing consumer habits. With a new streaming service being launched every other day, earning 6% on streaming is a great bonus category that only a few cards recognize.

This card is also a commuter’s dream, with unlimited 3% cash back on gas and transit (including taxis, ride-shares, tolls, trains, buses and more). Although the card does not earn Membership Rewards points, it remains a simple way to earn rewards on common everyday spending categories.

Check out the full card review for the Blue Cash Preferred.

Chase Freedom Flex: Best for rotating rewards

Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in purchases spent on quarterly rotating categories (activation required); 5% on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% on dining and drugstores; 1% on everything else.

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: If you’re willing to keep up with spending categories that change every three months, you can get a lot out of a rewards card such as the Chase Freedom Flex. The categories are often easy to maximize. For example, the fourth quarter 2021 categories are Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com purchases. If you maximize the bonus categories each quarter, you’ll earn $300 in bonus category rewards each year. This new card also comes with cell phone protection.

You can also pair this card with any of the best Chase credit cards that can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards and earn valuable Chase points rather than just cash back. With TPG’s valuation of Chase points at 2 cents each, you’ll be earning up to 10% back on bonus category spending.

Check out more details on the Chase Freedom Flex.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for entertainment rewards

Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Rewards rate: Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment purchases, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and 1% on other purchases.

Annual fee: $0.

Who should apply: Anyone who spends a lot on dining and entertainment should consider this card. Capital One defines both of those categories broadly, meaning you’ll earn 3% back for sit-down restaurants, take-out, coffee shops and bakeries, concert tickets, movies, sporting events and even tourist attractions.

This is a great tiered earning structure for rewards-card beginners because you don’t have to pay attention to changing categories. Plus, it offers excellent value for veterans of the rewards game. With no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee, this is the perfect card to use on entertainment purchases, both at home and when traveling.

Check out the full card review for the Capital One SavorOne.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for flexible rewards

Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Rewards rate: Earn 5% on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% on dining and drugstores; unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: Everyone needs a card that earns rewards on those purchases that don’t fall under any other bonus categories. That’s where a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited shines — especially for existing Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders.

If you also have the Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can transfer your cash back rewards from the Chase Freedom Unlimited to your Ultimate Rewards account. You can then redeem those points at an elevated rate through the Chase portal or transfer them to travel partners. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, which doubles the value of your rewards.

Chase also recently announced changes to this card, making it one of the most valuable no-annual-fee credit cards out there.

Check out the full card review for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for U.S. department store rewards

Welcome offer: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 3% back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets per calendar year (then 1%), 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% on other eligible purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Who should apply: If you’re looking for a no-annual-fee credit card to start your cash back earning with, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday is a potential option for you. You’ll be earning a solid 3% back on U.S. supermarkets, as well as 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department store purchases. While supermarkets and gas stations aren’t uncommon categories, department stores is a rare bonus category to find on rewards credit cards. Having a card that earns 2% at select U.S. department stores such as Macy’s could be a game changer for shoppers.

Cardholders also get 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from the account opening date (see rates and fees) (variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% based on your creditworthiness and other factors after — see rates and fees). If you’re looking for a way to finance an upcoming large purchase, 15 months without interest is one way to spread out your payments. Just make sure you’re able to pay off the balance by the time the intro APR period ends.

Check out the full card review for the Blue Cash Everyday Card.

What types of credit card rewards can you get?

All of these cards earn some type of rewards, but the kind of rewards differs from card to card:

Transferable points — These are the issuers’ currencies that can be transferred to certain partners to maximize value. For example, several Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for several different things through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal but can also be transferred to one of Chase’s partners, including United or Marriott. Generally speaking, this type of rewards card is the most valuable because of its redemption flexibility.

Cash back rewards — This is the most straightforward type of reward. You’re earning a percentage of each purchase that you can redeem for cash at a later date. Although cash back is always redeemed at a fixed value, it can be highly useful for both beginners and seasoned travelers. Points and miles are best redeemed for airfare or hotel bookings, but cash back has more flexibility without compromising its value. You can use cash back to save up for the day-to-day expenses of your travel or you can simply use it to save money on your statements each month.

Hybrid rewards — Hybrid cards have popped up in recent years. These cards earn cash back on their own but can be paired with other cards to convert that cash to more valuable points currencies. A prime example of this type of card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. You’re earning cash back on purchases, but those rewards can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points when you pair the Unlimited with another eligible Chase card. The Citi Double Cash also recently joined the ranks of hybrid cash-back cards with no annual fee.

Rewards with loyalty programs — These are cards that earn points or miles for a specific loyalty program, typically for an airline or hotel. Most of the time, these cards also come with brand-specific benefits like complimentary elite status (for hotel cards) or priority boarding (for airline cards). These currencies aren’t as flexible as transferable currencies but they can still be highly valuable.

How do travel rewards credit cards work?

Travel rewards cards don’t just mean airmiles. They bring a whole host of travel perks into your life that you’ll wonder how you previously lived without like lounge access, seat upgrades, comprehensive travel insurance, statement credits and more.

Similar to cash back cards, there are also different types of travel rewards cards which offer slightly different benefits.

Cobranded rewards cards

The purpose of these cards is increased rewards on purchases with specific airlines or hotel brands. The cards are less flexible than general purpose travel cards as the points earned are specific to the airline or hotel and are only redeemable with the same hotel chain or airline and sometimes within airline alliances. One example of this is Southwest, who offer a number of credit cards which would suit different travelers depending on their needs.

General purpose travel cards

These cards earn points linked to a specific bank or issuer like Chase or American Express. The points earned are then transferable to a selection of airlines, hotel, car hire and other brands depending on the partnerships of each bank or issuer. If you’re loyal to one specific airline or hotel, it’s worth researching the transfer partners of cards before applying. This gives the ultimate freedom when deciding how you’d like to redeem your points, as your points don’t already belong to an airline or hotel brand.

What are the best ways to use reward cards in 2021?

Now that 2020 is behind us, we can look forward to getting back to travel. Until then, there are many ways you can still make the most of your rewards credit cards and add to your pot of points and miles at the same time.

You’ll likely be spending more on groceries as we eat out less due to restaurant closures. This is great news if you have the American Express Gold Card which earns 4x on groceries at U.S. supermarkets (up to a maximum spend of $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x) or the Chase Freedom Flex and Unlimited cards which earn 5% cash back on your supermarket grocery purchases.

These are all great ways of continuing to earn points and miles that will be ready to use on incredible redemptions when travel returns in all its glory.

What are the pros and cons of rewards credit cards?

While rewards credit cards are an excellent tool to help you save money and hit financial goals, they aren’t a great fit for everyone.

Pros

  • You’ll earn rewards on expenses you make every day. If you’re going to spend that money anyway, why not earn rewards while you’re at it?
  • They can help you hit financial goals. Whether you want to pad your savings or travel more luxuriously on a budget, rewards credit cards can help you do so when used responsibly.
  • Rewards credit cards can offer peace of mind. Many cards come with travel protections or purchase protections covering worst-case-scenarios while abroad or shopping for large-ticket items.

Cons

  • Rewards credit cards have higher APRs than other types of credit cards. If you aren’t paying off your bills in full each month, the interest you’ll rack up will actually end up costing you money — even if you’re earning rewards.
  • They aren’t accessible to everyone. Credit card issuers are choosy when it comes to approving rewards credit cards, which means you typically have to have good credit to get one. Those who are new to building credit or who have a less-than-stellar score may not be able to get the best rewards credit cards.

Related: What is a good credit score?

There are more than a dozen credit card rewards programs out there, from airline and hotel loyalty programs to issuer programs. Each month, TPG publishes our monthly rewards valuations that outline how much each point or mile currency is worth in our eyes, but each program has its advantages and disadvantages. The three largest (and most valuable) issuer rewards programs offer flexible points, a wide range of credit card options to earn points and a solid list of transfer partners.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the top rewards programs for a good reason. TPG values points at 2 cents each, and you can redeem points through Chase’s portal (with a redemption bonus depending on which Chase cards you hold) and transfer points to partners like United and Hyatt.

Top cards that earn Ultimate Rewards: 

Amex Membership Rewards

The other top rewards program is Amex Membership Rewards, where points are also valued at 2 cents each. Amex has the most extensive network of airline and hotel transfer partners — 22 — of the top issuer programs, and you can often find transfer bonuses. Of course, you can also redeem points through Amex’s travel portal.

Top cards that earn Membership Rewards: 

Citi ThankYou

Citi ThankYou Points aren’t quite as valuable in the eyes of TPG (we value the points at 1.7 cents each), but there is still a lot to like about this program. There are some great transfer partners available through Citi ThankYou Points, including Avianca LifeMiles, Etihad Guest and Virgin Atlantic. Just keep in mind that Citi stripped most of its travel and purchase protections across its cards in 2019, which devalues this program slightly.

Top cards that earn ThankYou Points:

How TPG values Amex, Chase and Citi rewards points

At TPG, we publish our own point valuations that evaluate the cash value of each reward currency. These valuations are updated regularly and based on a wide range of factors (such as the average value you can get from a point, how flexible the redemption options are and more) to give our readers a picture of how much dollar value you’ll get on average from a specific rewards currency. Here is a quick breakdown of the current TPG valuations of each of the points currencies (not including cash-back rewards cards) included on our list of top rewards credit cards.

Point currency: TPG valuation*:
Amex Membership Rewards 2 cents
Capital One Venture Miles 1.7 cents
Chase Ultimate Rewards 2 cents
Citi ThankYou Points 1.7 cents

*TPG valuations are calculated by TPG and are not reviewed by the card issuer.

What is a credit card point or mile worth?

Rewards credit cards have the potential to open up a lot of earning opportunities when you pick the right card for your specific spending habits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spent $4,643 on groceries, $3,526 on dining, $2,094 on gas and $3,050 on entertainment in 2019. Using those figures, let’s compare how much you could earn with three popular rewards credit cards:

Card Chase Sapphire Preferred Capital One Venture Blue Cash Preferred 
Groceries  13,929 Ultimate Rewards points 9,286 Capital One miles $278.58 cash back
Dining  7,052 Ultimate Rewards points 7,052 Capital One miles $70.52 cash back
Gas 2,094 Ultimate Rewards points 4,188 Capital One miles $62.82 cash back
Entertainment  3,050 Ultimate Rewards points 6,100 Capital One miles $30.50 cash back
Total earning  26,125 Ultimate Rewards points ($522.50 in value) 26,626 Capital One miles ($452.64 in value) $442.42 cash back

Regardless which card you choose from that list, the earning potential is solid — especially since all three cards charge only $95 in annual fees. And this doesn’t include any earnings you could get from travel expenses (which the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have as a definitive expense category. You could earn even more once you factor in those purchases, as well as any miscellaneous spending that fit into other bonus categories (such as transit, which earns 3% on the Blue Cash Preferred).

Bottom line? Rewards credit cards are well worth the annual fees that come with them when you utilize bonus categories and avoid interest payments by paying your bill in full each month.

Research Methodology

When choosing one of the best rewards credit cards, I looked at multiple factors — with sign-up bonuses/welcome offers, rewards rates, and annual fees topping the list. I also assessed each rewards card’s flexibility, the type of rewards each card earned, the simplicity of the redemption process, and any perks that come with each card.

These are my top picks, but that doesn’t mean every card on this list is the perfect choice for everyone. At the end of the day, the cards that fill your wallet should allow you to earn more than 1% or 1x points on every purchase you make. Hopefully, this guide will help take care of the bulk of researching and comparing your card options, but make sure you’re choosing a card that will work for you in both the short and long term.

Frequently asked questions

How do rewards credit cards work?

Rewards credit cards offer cardholders redeemable rewards on everyday purchases as an incentive for using the card. These rewards differ from issuer to issuer and even card to card. Some earn cash back while others offer points or miles that can be redeemed for travel. At TPG, we are partial to travel credit cards that offer additional perks and benefits to enhance our travel experiences. There are also incredible rewards structures available on top cash-back cards.

In fact, based on results from a TPG survey commissioned last year in 2020, the number one goal of most cardholders when they choose a credit card is earning cash back.

Typically, top rewards credit cards charge an annual fee as the tradeoff for the rewards, perks and other benefits cardholders receive. However, cardholders who take advantage of what their cards have to offer in rewards or other benefits will find it easy to offset the cost of any annual fee.

Related: The complete history of credit cards, from antiquity to today

How can I redeem credit card rewards?

Redeeming those hard-earned and well-deserved rewards is the fun part, and it’s simpler than you might have imagined.

As a reminder, we advise taking into consideration the way a card passes its rewards on to make sure you personally would get value from such a method.

Redeeming cash back
Statement credit for cash back credit cards is the most common way of getting your rewards. This takes zero effort from you, the consumer, as the value of the cash back you’ve earned will just appear on your statement, lowering your overall monthly balance. For example, if you’d earned a total of $50 cash back and had a $200 statement that month, this would automatically reduce to $150.

Not all cash back cards give back rewards in this way. Alternative methods include; a check, actual cash, bank account deposit, charitable donations, gift cards, travel and more.

Redeeming travel rewards
The type of rewards card you have will determine the way in which the rewards can be redeemed for travel.

While it’s not necessarily more complicated to redeem for travel rewards, it can require a bit of extra thought when planning your redemption, especially if your card has more than one way of redeeming.

Broadly speaking, there are four ways you can redeem rewards. These are; booking directly with the airline or hotel that your co-branded card belongs to, transferring your issuer’s reward points to a different hotel or airline loyalty program, converting rewards to a credit statement or booking through the card issuers travel portal.

How can I maximize credit card rewards?

Pay it all off
Rule number one, pay your card off in full and on time. Getting into bad habits with overspending and accruing interest will write off any cash back or points that you have earned. If you’re unable to do this, don’t take out the card.

Do the math
Look back through your finances over the last year or more to make sure you can afford the annual fee and see if your spending will earn it back in cash back or rewards.

Earn the sign-up bonus
Sign-up bonuses can be up to six figures and are key to maximizing your points and miles game. If you’re regular monthly spending won’t be enough to hit the threshold, then don’t get the card. Spending more than you can afford just to hit a sign up bonus should be avoided.

Use it however and wherever
Pay with it at the supermarket. Pay with it at dinner with family or friends. Better still, if your friends or family are paying cash or don’t use points and miles cards, why not suggest paying for the whole check and have them leave you cash or Venmo you their share. Some cards will even allow you to pay your rent and utility bills, and even some insurances with it so it’s always worth checking out, especially if no convenience fees would be charged.

Shopping portals
Make it a habit to check your credit card or airline shopping portals before each and every purchase that you make online. That way you’ll be sure to never miss out on those extra bonus points and miles.

Make the most of every benefit
From comprehensive travel insurance to hotel room upgrades, most cards have a ton of benefits just waiting for you to use. Make sure you know everything that your card has to offer so you don’t miss out on a single benefit.

Consider several cards
Having more than one reward credit card will boost your earning potential across the board. For example, taking out an airline cobranded card like the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, as well as a cash back card like the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card will have you reaping both airline and travel benefits while getting cash back on your dining and take out.

What credit score do I need to get a rewards credit card?

There is no specific one-rule-fits all regarding credit score requirements. Each rewards card has its own specific requirement but issuers usually look to accept those who have good-high credit scores (670+).

For example, if you’re considering one of the most premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express you’ll need an excellent credit score of around 760 or more. That’s because these cards come with the most luxury perks and benefits.

If you have low credit, not all is lost. Even if your score is lower than 700, there are cards out there that will consider you like The Chase Freedom Unlimited or The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

How do I choose a rewards credit card?

There’s no right and wrong answer for what is the ‘best’ credit card. Options should be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on each individual’s unique circumstances.

You should be looking at the rewards rate, annual fee and benefits to decide which cards will give you the most long-term value. From there, you can choose which card within those parameters offers the best welcome bonus to strategize which card is best for you to apply for right now.

Here are some important factors we feel are most important to consider when you’re doing your research.

Rewards cards aren’t for everyone
Before taking out a credit card, the most important thing to consider is your credit. In most cases, only those with credit scores of 690 or above will have application accepted for credit cards.

This is not a hard and fast rule, however, as there are a few options for those considered to have bad credit.

Once you’ve figured that out, you should consider if you’ll be able to limit your spending on the card so that you are able to pay it off in full each month. If so, then a rewards credit card makes sense.

If not, the interest accrued is likely to write off any value you’ll have earned in points or rewards from the card. In this case you might be better off considering a low-interest, or a balance-transfer credit card instead that has a 0% interest period so you don’t get swamped with debt.

What do you spend your money on?
This is a really important factor to consider as cards will often have higher earning points earning or cash back potential with specific categories of spending. There are cards for those who spend lots on groceries, others that are geared towards those who travel often and also some for those who love to wine, dine and entertain themselves. If you fall into the latter category, then the Capital One SavorOne would cater to that.

Goals for your rewards?
What type of rewards would make the most sense to you? If you could do with some extra cash each month, then a cash-back credit card is likely to be your best bet.

Or, if you travel often with the same airline and want to raise your airmiles earning game, then a cobranded airline credit card that earns bonus rewards and offers perks for those flights would be best for you.

How do I compare rewards credit cards?

When comparing rewards credit cards, it’s important to to first of all decide which particular perk is the most important to you. For example, if a card with no fee is important to you, you might exclude cards with fees from your comparison, even if they fare better in the sign-up bonus category.

Here are some of the main points to consider when doing your comparison.

Sign up bonus

Some cards have a lot higher sign up bonuses than others. More often than not, the higher the sign up bonus, the higher the annual fee on the card or spending limit to unlock that sign bonus.

Try not to be swayed by the lure of an amazing sign up bonus if the annual fee or spending limit would be difficult to achieve with your budget.

Annual fee

Speaking of the annual fee, this can be from a comfortable $0 per year, to an eye-watering $550. While at first that might not seem a lot when spread over the course of 12-months, oftentimes annual fees are due in full on your first credit card statement.

Before applying, it’s worth making sure the annual fee of the reward card you’re considering wouldn’t leave your monthly budget short.

Bonus categories

Certain cards offer more rewards for spending in specific categories. Some reward spending on groceries, some on eating out. Whereas others are primarily focused on rewarding for spending on travel and leisure. If your spending is varied month to month, then watch out for cards which rotate the bonus earning categories so you can maximize your rewards.

When deciding which card to go for, it’s worth doing a calculation to see which category the bulk of your monthly spending is in, if you don’t know that already.

Point currency value

TPG gives point currencies like Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards values based on a host of different factors. Values range from 1.4 to 2 cents per point. This is also something to consider when deciding which card is best for you.

Additional reporting by Daniel Ross and Stella Shon

Featured image by Getty Images

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday, click here.

Updated 09/29/21.

Madison covers all things credit cards for TPG. A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, her travel bucket list includes swimming with sharks off the coast of South Africa, skydiving in Thailand and cliff jumping in Greece.
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