I love credit cards with solid benefits and valuable rewards that I can earn fast. My Bankrate Awards favorites offer just that.
As a credit card nerd traveling on points and shopping with cash back, I’m almost inappropriately excited about Bankrate Awards.
Our team of experts has worked their magic, reviewed more than 250 top credit cards and chosen the best of the best with the help of a rigorous scoring system.
When I looked at the final list of winners, I’m not going to lie – my smile was smug. The scoring system agreed with me on so many choices.
There are three winners, however, that I’m particularly excited about as I consider them credit card must-haves in 2022.
Here are three Bankrate Awards card winners I strongly recommend looking into.
American Express® Gold Card: Best credit card for foodies
I present to you one of the best credit cards in my own wallet.
As credit experts, we just love saying this is a credit card for foodies but I feel as though it implies a level of passion for food.
I can’t imagine not having passion for food but let me assure you: It’s not required to earn top notch rewards with the American Express® Gold Card.
You don’t have to be a gourmet to earn with this card. If you spend on food at all, you’ll earn a ton of travel rewards and you’ll earn them quickly. Whether you cook at home, live on takeout and delivery or prefer eating out, the Amex Gold will reward you beautifully.
The card earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, including restaurant delivery services like Uber Eats and grocery delivery like Amazon Fresh.
You’ll also get $10 in monthly Uber Cash to use on rides or food orders and $10 in monthly dining credits to spend at participating restaurants or with Grubhub and Seamless. These credits alone almost make up for the card’s $250 annual fee.
On top of that, you’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or through the American Express travel portal.
The American Express Membership Rewards points that you’ll earn with this card are one of the most valuable reward currencies in the credit card space.
Amex points flew me to Russia and back for free and helped me pay for a spontaneous trip to Washington state in my first year with the card. I’d eaten my way to those trips.
As you can see, I’m very passionate about the Amex Gold. It’s truly one of the best credit cards on the market.
Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best credit card for cash back and everyday rewards
Some credit card enthusiasts are fully into the travel rewards world. Others are committed to earning as much cash back as possible. Then others, like me, juggle cash back and travel cards.
Whichever group you belong to, I recommend looking into the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
In the Bankrate Awards, this card won in two categories: “Best credit card for everyday use” and “Best credit card for cash back.”
The value of this no-annual-fee card is quite evident. Not only will you earn 1.5% back on general purchases, but you’ll also get:
- 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% cash back on dining
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
At $1,325 monthly spend, we estimate this card to earn $353 on average annually.
Rewards redemption is extremely flexible, with most options yielding a value of 1 cent per point. Since the Freedom Unlimited earns Ultimate Rewards points, despite being advertised as a cash back card, you can also redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
This is where it gets interesting. If you’re a travel rewards aficionado, you can boost your card earnings and redemption value by pairing the Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
The Freedom Unlimited will allow you to earn more on everyday spending, while the Sapphire card will provide travel benefits and a point value increase when you book travel through Chase’s portal (25% with the Preferred and 50% with the Reserve).
The versatility of the Chase Freedom Unlimited is what makes the card stand out. Whatever your credit card strategy is, chances are, the Freedom Unlimited will fit right in.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best credit card for jet-setters
A lot happened in the credit card world in 2021, and to me, the launch of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was the most exciting news.
As with anyone with a bad case of chronic wanderlust, I want all the perks premium travel cards are known for. I want annual travel credits, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credits, airport lounge access and elite statuses.
But such cards are just too expensive for many, myself included.
Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express fully justify their costs with the value and benefits they offer, but I just can’t fit a single charge of $550 or $695 in my monthly budget.
Luckily, the Capital One Venture X has entered the stage and budget-minded travelers rejoiced.
At $395 per year – a whopping $155 and $300 cheaper than the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum, respectively – the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers:
- $300 in annual credits on travel booked with Capital One
- 10,000 bonus miles annually (worth $100 when redeemed for travel)
- Up to $200 in eligible vacation rental credits to use in your first year with the card (note that this is a limited time offer)
- Complimentary access to Capital One lounges
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
- Hertz President’s Circle status
On top of that, the card earns generous rewards. You’ll get 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals and 5 miles per dollar on airfare booked through the Capital One Travel portal, as well as 2 miles per dollar on everything else – an incredible rate for general purchases.
The way rewards redemption works is also pretty amazing. You can redeem miles to cover any eligible travel purchase, use them to book travel with Capital One or transfer them to the issuer’s travel partners, potentially stretching the mile value.
I think the Capital One Venture X is a credit card that will get more people into the premium travel cards space. Maybe its list of benefits doesn’t resemble a coupon book – sorry, Amex Platinum – but the Venture X provides all the must-haves at a more affordable price.
I can’t wait to apply for the Venture X this year.
As a credit card geek, I’m excited about the 2022 Bankrate Awards. While I’ve shared my favorite winners with you, make sure to check out the full list. You’ll find the best cards for every purpose and credit level, carefully picked by our trusted experts. I promise, there’s something great for each type of cardholder.