The 9 best stand-alone credit cards of 2022

Apr 7, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new card offers and information. 


The worst-kept secret of travel rewards is that credit card welcome bonuses, not flown-in-seat flight miles or paid hotel stays, are typically the best way to earn points these days. That, as well as complimentary bonus categories, is the reason that a multi-card strategy such as the Chase Trifecta works well for so many people. At TPG, some staffers happily have about 20 credit cards in their wallets to maximize every dollar spent.

But the truth is a wallet full of multiple rewards cards isn’t a viable (let alone desirable) option for everyone.

Maybe you plan on applying for a mortgage soon and want to minimize the number of hard inquiries or new accounts on your credit report. Maybe you don’t have an efficient way to keep track of multiple cards with multiple payment dates and hefty annual fees. Or maybe you simply don’t want to spend the time to learn the nuances of these programs to squeeze as much value from them as possible.

Whatever your situation is, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy exceptional travel rewards with only one rewards card in your wallet.

That said, if you’re going to stick to a single card, it’s important that you pick it carefully.

Here are seven of the best stand-alone credit cards — though as always, be sure to check out our best credit card offers for all of TPG’s selections.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.

In This Post

Overview of the best stand-alone credit cards

The information for the Capital One Savor 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.

How we picked our favorite stand-alone cards

In compiling this list, I focused on two main factors:

  • Sign-up bonus/welcome offer: If you’re only applying for one credit card, you need a large bonus upfront to make sure you’ll have enough points to cover at least your first major redemption.
  • Bonus categories/earning rate: Whether you spend $10,000 or $100,000 a year, it’s important to have a credit card that rewards you where you use it most — or alternatively that has a simple, flat-rate of return.

I didn’t put much weight into perks like Global Entry application credits or lounge access — if you’re an infrequent traveler who’s sticking to a single credit card, those are luxuries and not necessities.

You’ll also notice that every card on this list is either a transferable points card or one that offers a fixed-value. Again, if you only have one rewards currency at your disposal, it’s important that you pick a flexible one that you’ll be able to redeem whether you’re traveling across the state or across an ocean.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. 

Annual fee: $95.

Why we chose it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has long been a favorite of TPG staffers (and readers), and in 2021, it became even more appealing.

This begins with a 60,000-point welcome bonus (worth $1,200 based on TPG’s latest valuations) and a manageable $95 annual fee. It’s also stacked with bonus categories and perks, as cardmembers will earn the following:

  • 5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services.
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.
  • 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar on all other travel purchases.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

In addition, cardmembers can enjoy a $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, essentially bringing the annual fee down to $45. And on every anniversary, cardholders will receive 10% of their points back based on their annual spending (at a rate of 1 point for each dollar spent).

Plus, the Sapphire Preferred offers valuable travel insurance benefits and access to a fantastic list of Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

For more details, check out our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.


Application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred.


Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Standout benefits: Round after round of award chart devaluations have made fixed-value cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card a more attractive option for many people. The card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases with no annual cap — though you’ll also earn 5 miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. There’s no minimum redemption amount, so you can redeem your miles as you please.

Capital One also made significant investments on the redemption side in 2021, adding new transfer partners and shifting most of them a 1:1 transfer ratio, leading to TPG updating it’s valuation of Venture miles to 1.85 cents. This combination of a strong earning rate, flexible fixed-value redemptions and a comprehensive list of transfer partners really puts the Venture card in a league of its own — and makes it a great solo card for your wallet.

For more details, check out our full review of


Application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.


Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $550.

Standout benefits: If you asked me to pick only one of my credit cards to keep forever, I would choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve without hesitation. This card packs just about everything you could want into one solid metal shell. The 60,000-point welcome bonus is worth $1,200 based on TPG’s latest valuations, and the 3 points in very broadly defined travel and dining categories continue to reward me whether I’m at home or on the road.

The Sapphire Reserve also offers some competitive category bonuses such as 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining booked through Ultimate Rewards, 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rental purchases through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal and 5 points per dollar on airline travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal.

Even though it comes with a $550 annual fee, your real out-of-pocket cost is only $250 thanks to the $300 annual travel credit, which Chase will automatically apply for you. Add in perks like generous travel and baggage insurance, a Priority Pass Select membership, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement and access to a premium concierge service, and it’s easy to see why the Sapphire Reserve is the complete package.

It also checks all the boxes on the redemption side, with near-instant 1:1 transfers to 14 hotel and airline partners, including Hyatt, United, Southwest and more. You’ll also get a 50% bonus when redeeming for travel directly through the Chase portal, making your points worth 1.5 cents each.

For more details, check out our full review of the Sapphire Reserve.


Application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve.


Capital One Venture X Reward Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $395

Standout benefits: If you’re looking for a premium card with a lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card would be a great addition to your wallet. For a $395 annual fee, the Venture X features an array of benefits beyond the initial sign-up bonus, including:

  • Up to $300 back in statement credits annually for Capital One travel bookings.
  • Complimentary lounge access to Capital One lounges and Priority Pass lounges for you and up to four (complimentary) authorized users.
  • 10,000 miles every year on your anniversary (worth $100 toward travel purchases).
  • Up to $100 statement credits for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry every four years.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay reimbursement and cellphone protection.

The Venture X also features a better earning rate than the Venture — one that’s very aligned with the Sapphire Reserve. Cardmembers will earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked via Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked via Capital One Travel and 2 miles per dollar on other purchases.

For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Venture X.


Official application link: Capital One Venture X.


American Express Gold Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months of card membership — though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for an even higher offer (subject to change at any time).

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Standout benefits: While the American Express Gold Card flew under the radar for a long while in its previous incarnation as the Premier Rewards Gold Card, its refresh from a few years ago makes it an incredibly compelling choice for someone looking for a one-stop shop for travel rewards.

In terms of bonus categories, the Amex Gold is nearly unparalleled. It offers 4 points per dollar at worldwide restaurants and 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 a year, then 1 point per dollar after). You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or via American Express Travel.

In addition, the card features up to $240 in annual statement credits that can cover almost the entire annual fee.

You’ll receive up to a $10 monthly dining statement credit (up to $120 a year) valid at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, GoldbellyWine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. In addition, you’ll also receive up to $120 in Uber Cash (paid out in $10 increments per month) which can be used for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

And the Membership Rewards program offers an array of valuable redemption options — making the earning rates even more compelling for those looking to maximize their rewards.

For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Gold.


Application link: American Express Gold Card.


The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees).

Standout benefits: The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is one of the only no-annual-fee cards (see rates and fees) to earn valuable transferable points. It also happens to be one of the top cards for everyday spending that doesn’t fall into your typical bonus categories.

You’ll earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on your first $50,000 of annual spending (1 point per dollar after that), with no bonus categories to remember. Points transfer to valuable partners such as Delta, Air Canada and British Airways. Instead of worrying about maximizing your spending, you can instead invest that time in perfecting your redemption strategies.

If you max out the $50,000 of double points annually, those 100,000 points a year can take you to some pretty cool places.

For more details, check out our full review of the Blue Business Plus.


Application link: Blue Business Plus from American Express.


Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: $300 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Standout benefits: Good old-fashioned cash back is another option to consider, and the Capital One Savor Card has all your bases covered. You’ll earn an unlimited 4% back on dining, entertainment, and on popular streaming services, 3% at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and 1% everywhere else. You’ll also enjoy a valuable $300 welcome bonus, no foreign transaction fees and access to exclusive dining and entertainment events.

Unlike the Venture Rewards card, the Savor offers actual cash back that can be used for whatever you like, whether it’s travel, a new TV or a night out with friends.

For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Savor card.


Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Standout benefits: The Bank of America Premium Rewards card makes this list for a number of reasons, including the fact that you will actually get paid to keep it open. The $95 annual fee is more than offset by the up to $100 annual airline incidental statement credit, leaving you with five extra bucks for every year you have this card. Every four years, you’ll also receive up to $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

It also offers a unique bonus category structure that rewards Bank of America’s most valuable customers. All cardholders will earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1.5 points per dollar on everyday spending, but members of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program can earn much more, up to 3.5 points per dollar on travel and dining and 2.625 points per dollar on everyday spending.

For more details, check out our full review of the Premium Rewards card.


Application link: Bank of America Premium Rewards card.


Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

Standout benefits: The Capital One Quicksilver card may not offer the most compelling option, but if you want a card with a simple earning structure that you can comfortably swipe outside the country, it may be a great option for you.

Cardholders will earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no annual fee, but it also waives foreign transaction fees when traveling outside the U.S. (Most 2% cash-back cards impose these fees.)

Like most no-annual-fee cards, the Quicksilver does not come with lounge access, nor does it offer a host of travel benefits. However, it does include travel accident insurance, and the $200 sign-up bonus is solid for a card with no yearly cost.

For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Quicksilver card.


Official application link: Capital One Quicksilver card.


Bottom line

There’s a misconception among newcomers to the travel rewards world that you have to be TPG-level obsessed in order to make any meaningful headway with your points.

While it’s absolutely true that you get out of this hobby what you put into it, I always like to remind my friends that one free flight a year is better than zero free flights a year. There’s no question that you’ll earn more points in both the short term and long term with a comprehensive card strategy with popular issuers like Chase and American Express. However, you can also get a ton of value from just a single card, especially one of the candidates listed above.

Additional reporting by Christina Ly. 

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, click here.

Featured photo by Tanner Saunders/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.