Best rewards credit cards for May 2021

Written by: Tracy Stewart | Edited by: Jeanine Skowronski | Reviewed by: Brady Porche

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May 6, 2021

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Rewards credit cards are one of the few payment methods that let you earn some bang for your buck, generally in the form of points, miles or cash back. Many rewards credit cards also tout lucrative benefits, like travel statement credits, airport lounge access, purchase protection, welcome bonuses and more. Our in-house experts analyzed over 1,000 rewards credit cards to identify the top rewards credit cards on the market. Check out the best rewards credit cards from our partners.

Rewards credit cards are one of the few payment methods that let you earn some bang for your buck, generally in the form of points, miles or cash back. Many rewards credit cards also tout lucrative benefits, like travel statement credits, airport lounge access, purchase protection, welcome bonuses and more. Our in-house experts analyzed over 1,000 rewards credit cards to identify the top rewards credit cards on the market. Check out the best rewards credit cards from our partners.

Best Rewards Credit Cards

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Our rating:4.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Up to $350

Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Annual Fee
$95, waived first year
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% variable
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

5%
Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase.
3%
Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores
1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% variable
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Our rating:3.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Up to $250

Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% variable
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Our rating:4.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
2%
Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
1%
Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:3.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Our rating:4.4 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

10X
Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
5X
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5X
5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
75,000 points

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee
$550
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Discover it® Cash Back
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Cashback Match™

Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% variable
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:3.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
2%
Earn 2% at grocery stores
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable
Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

Up to 6%
Up to 6% cash back by referring friends! Limited time only: Start with 1%, get to 3% cash back by successfully referring just two friends! Promotional cash back rate lasts for a full year.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$100

$100 signup bonus! Apply by May 31, 2021 using promo code RVPROMO to receive a $100 statement credit upon first eligible purchase, if approved. Terms apply.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 24.99% variable
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:4.4 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2X
Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
100,000 miles

Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.49% variable
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Our rating:4.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

5%
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!
5%
Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase.
3%
Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores.
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% variable
Citi Premier® Card
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3X
Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3X
Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1X
Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
60,000 points

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99% - 23.99% variable
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
Our rating:4.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2X
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases.
2X
Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases - now through 12/31/21.
1.5X
Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
50,000 points

Receive 50,000 online bonus points - a $500 value - after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

All information about Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Citi Prestige Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Amazon Prime Visa Signature card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


A guide to rewards credit cards

Rewards credit cards rank highly among the best credit cards on the market as they let you earn points, miles or cash back on your purchases. The best rewards credit cards offer a competitive return rate on your spending, generous welcome bonuses, extra perks and favorable fee structures, at least relative to their benefits. The best rewards credit card for you, however, varies, based on your spending habits and financial goals. To help you better understand and maximize rewards cards, here, we look at:

best rewards credit cards of 2021

Editor’s picks: Rewards credit card details

American Express® Gold Card: Best for restaurants

Why we picked it: The American Express Gold Card offers an industry-leading 4X points at restaurants worldwide, along with a competitive 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X points). Plus, the card touts up to $120 per year in dining credits at select eateries, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Cheesecake Factory and participating Shake Shack locations (up to $10 statement credits per month, enrollment required).

Pros: In addition to the food perks, cardholders earn 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com and 1X on other purchases. There’s also a stellar welcome offer: New cardholders earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points if they spend $4,000 in the first six months, which we estimate to be worth around $600 when you book through AmexTravel.com.(See how we value Amex points.)

Cons: You’ll pay a price for all those benefits — namely, a $250 annual fee, not waived the first year. Getting the most bang for your buck requires a little legwork. For instance, to maximize travel points, your best bet is to transfer them to one of Amex’s partners. So, if you’re looking for simplicity, a flat-rate rewards card is likely a better fit.

Who should apply? Gastronomes will be hard-pressed to find a card that offers a better return on their food purchases, so if your restaurant and U.S. supermarket spending will recoup the annual fee beyond the first year (where you’ll benefit from the welcome offer), put this card on your consideration list.

Read our full American Express Gold Card review.

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

Why we picked it: A top American Express card, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%). It also offers a best-in-class 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services.

Pros: The card also offers 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, and 1% cash back on general purchases. Cardholders earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership and can earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first 6 months, up to $200 back. There’s also a 12-month 0% introductory APR on new purchases (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable).

Cons: There’s a $95 annual fee, waived the first year, though big gas and supermarket shoppers should find that relatively easy to recoup. (We estimate you need to spend around $3,200 a year at U.S. supermarkets to come out ahead, as illustrated by our comparison between the Blue Cash Preferred and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.)

Who should apply? The well-rounded Blue Cash Preferred is a great option for families or heads of household, given its high cash back at U.S. gas stations and supermarkets, particularly if you can earn the welcome bonus or leverage the promotional APR on purchases.

Read our full Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for cash back at drug stores

Why we picked it: Originally a solid flat-rate cash back credit card, the Freedom Unlimited recently revamped its rewards program to include bonus categories, adding an industry-leading 3% cash back on drugstore purchases. The revamp also introduced 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022); 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% on drugstore and dining purchases.

Pros: You still get unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Plus, the Freedom Unlimited’s stellar sign-up bonus has one of the lowest spend requirements on the market: New cardholders receive $200 cash back after they spend $500 in their first three months. (See more of the best credit card sign up bonus offers.)

Cons: Though the bonus categories certainly add appeal, the Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have the highest flat rate for cash back on the market right now. That honor goes to the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy; 1% as pay off your purchases).

Who should apply? Big drugstore spenders, frequent Lyft riders or cash back sign-up bonus seekers will find a lot to like about the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for families on a budget

Why we picked it: The card offers competitive cash back on everyday expenses, including 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases – for no annual fee.

Pros: In addition to good base rewards, the card features a solid welcome offer: Cardholders receive a $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership and earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card in the first 6 months, up to $150 back. They’ll also enjoy one of the longer promotional APRs on purchases on the market: 0% intro APR for the first 15 months, then 13.99% to 23.99% variable.

Cons: As we mentioned earlier, you’ll only need to spend around $3,200 a year at U.S. supermarkets to recoup the Blue Cash Preferred’s annual fee – and its base rewards and welcome bonus are much higher, so carefully consider which version of the Blue Cash is right for you. (We do some further comparison down the page that could prove helpful.)

Who should apply? If you like the bonus categories associated with Amex’s Blue Cash Preferred card, but find yourself balking at its annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday Card is a great alternative. (See more of the best no annual fee credit cards.)

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for choosing your own bonus category

Why we picked: Unlike most credit cards, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards lets you choose your bonus category. Cardholders earn a generous 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings), along with a competitive 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale purchases. That bonus cash back is limited, however, to $2,500 in combined 2% and 3% category purchases each quarter. You’ll earn 1% cash back on other purchases.

Pros: The base rewards are good for a no annual fee credit card and the sign-up bonus is quite generous ($200 online cash rewards for spending $1,000 in your first 90 days). There’s also a top-notch promotional APR on purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening: 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99% to 23.99% variable. (See more top balance transfer credit cards.)

Cons: The cap on bonus categories puts a definite damper on this otherwise solid no-annual-fee cash back credit card – with one important caveat, outlined below.

Who should apply? This card is a great option for Bank of America and Merrill checking and savings account holders, because they’ll receive a rewards boost between 25% and 75% through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program.

Read our full Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card review.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for simplicity seekers

Why we picked it: This flat-rate cash back card is decidedly low maintenance, offering 1.5% cash back on all purchases for no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and a (relatively) easy-to-earn sign-up bonus ($200 for spending $500 in your first three months, one of the lowest spending requirements on the market, matching the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Freedom Flex cards.)

Pros: Capital One makes it uber-easy to redeem cash back: There’s no minimums and you have plenty of redemption options, including gift cards, checks and more.

Cons: You can earn more with other cash back cards, depending on your spending habits, and, even among flat-rate 1.5% cash back cards, the Quicksilver lags a bit. You can conceivably earn more with the Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card. For more specifics, check out our guide on how to determine which 1.5% cash back card is right for you.

Who should apply? If you’re looking for a decent return rate and don’t want to think too long or hard about earning and redeeming cash back, the Quicksilver fits the bill.

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for luxury travel benefits

Why we picked it: This premium American Express card comes fully-loaded with luxury travel benefits, including, but by no means limited to, airport lounge access, a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck statement credit, up to a $100 on site credit to use toward qualifying purchases when you stay with a brand in The Hotel Collection for 2 nights or more, automatic gold elite status with Hilton Honors, and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

Pros: Cardholders earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5X points on hotels booked with American Express Travel. You get 1X points on all other purchases. There’s also a very generous welcome offer: 75,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first six months, which we estimate to be worth around $750 when you book through American Express Travel, given those points are worth 1-cent each. New cardholders also receive 10X points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases) in their first six months of card membership.

Cons: It’s $550 annual fee makes it one of the most expensive credit cards on the market, and, while the perks are plentiful, they’re not exactly straightforward. Bonus categories are subject to a cap, for instance, redemption options are a bit rigid and some of the credits come with caveats you’ll have to familiarize yourself with. Case in point: The card comes with up to $200 in Uber Cash, which you receive in $15 monthly increments (U.S. rides only) in your Uber app, along with a $20 bonus in December. If you’re looking for a premium travel card that’s a little more flexible, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Who should apply? Very frequent flyers who love to travel in comfort and style will enjoy the Platinum’s bevy of benefits.

Read our full Platinum Card from American Express review.

Discover it® Cash Back: Best for rotating cash back categories

Why we picked it: Savvy spenders can really rack up rewards with this classic cash back credit card that offers a whopping 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating bonus categories per quarter (then 1%, enrollment required) and matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

Pros: This card fires on a lot of cylinders, offering competitive cash back for no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, an ultra-generous sign-up bonus and a lengthy promotional APR on balance transfers and purchases (0% intro APR for 14 months, then 11.99% to 22.99% variable). See more of the best zero interest credit cards.

Cons: You have a little bit of legwork to do to earn your bonus cashback – namely, enrolling for the rotating categories each quarter and shifting your spending habits to maximize your earnings. Plus, the bonus categories aren’t always the same year-to-year, so you may find it harder to maximize cash back in some years versus others. See the 2021 Discover it Cash Back calendar.

Who should apply? If you’re looking for a card with a little bit of everything and don’t mind some friction when it comes to earning rewards (i.e. enrolling in bonus categories), this consumer-friendly card is a top choice.

Read our full Discover it Cash Back review.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for fun lovers

Why we picked it: The SavorOne offers a competitive 3% cash back on dining and entertainment (think concerts or movie tickets) for no annual fee, a good value for frequent foodies.

Pros: Cardholders also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on other purchases. There’s also a solid sign-up bonus: $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening, which represents one of the lowest spending requirements on the market.

Cons: If your spending isn’t concentrated on dining and entertainment (or at all), you can probably earn more with a no annual fee, flat-rate cash back card, like the Citi Double Cash. On the flip side, if you spend a lot on dining, you might be better served by the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment for a relatively affordable $95 annual fee, or the Citi Prestige® Card, which offers an industry-leading 5X points on restaurants and air travel, albeit for a $495 annual price tag. Our guide to popular dining rewards cards can help you determine which one is right for you.

Who should apply? Foodies looking for a no annual fee card that touts a sweet sign-up bonus they can earn after a few nights out should consider the SavorOne.

Read our full Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard: Best for referral bonus

Why we picked it: The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard has a unique rewards program. Cardholders start off by earning 1% cash back on almost all purchases, but can qualify for up to 6% cash back by successfully referring friends. With a limited time offer, you can earn extra cash back more quickly; you can get 3% cash back through two successful referrals at 1% each. Normally, you earn an extra 0.5% cash back for each friend you refer. (Your promotional cash back rate lasts for a full year, see terms.)

Pros: In addition to the limited time offer, if you apply by May 31, 2021 using the promo code RVPROMO, you can receive a $100 statement credit upon first eligible purchase, if approved. Terms apply. The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard carries no annual fee.

Cons: The card’s rewards program is certainly unique, but it’s also a bit confusing. Your cash back rate is primarily based on your friend referrals each year, so if you suspect you can’t deliver, you’ll be better served by a more straightforward rewards credit card.

Who should apply? Social butterflies who think they can qualify for that maximum cash back will find themselves with a super-charged rewards credit card.

Learn more about the Jasper Cash Back Mastercard.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for travel rewards

Why we picked it: This popular Capital One credit card checks all the boxes in terms of what people should look for in a travel rewards card: a competitive 2X miles back on all purchases, a generous sign-up bonus, no foreign transaction fees and up to a $100 credit to put toward the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Pros: The current two-tiered sign-up bonus is potentially quite lucrative: Cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus miles when they spend $20,000 in their first 12 months or 50,000 bonus miles when they spend $3,000 in their first 3 months.

Cons: Rewards maximizers might find their redemption options a little too straightforward, given the miles you earn on your Venture card are largely worth 1 cent per mile and the exchange rate is low for most transfer partners. (Learn more about the Capital One rewards program.) There’s a $95 annual fee, though it is relatively easy to recoup.

Who should apply? We estimate you need to spend around $396 or more a month to justify the card’s annual fee (considering you earn 2x miles per dollar and each mile is valued at 1 cent), so moderate spenders looking for a simple travel rewards card will find this one fits the bill.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for combining rotating cash back and flat-rate spending

Why we picked it: This improvement on the original Chase Freedom card kept its predecessor’s rotating 5% cash back categories on up to $1,500 purchases per quarter (activation required) and added year-round bonus categories, including a very competitive 3% cash back on dining and drug store purchases.

Pros: Cardholders also get 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022) and travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, along with 1% cash back on all other purchases for no annual fee. Like its flatter-rate counterpart the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Freedom Flex offers a nice sign-up bonus for a low spend: $200 if you spend $500 in your first three months.

Cons: Chase announces its rotating bonus categories quarter-by-quarter, so it can be a bit tricky to assess how much you’ll be able to maximize your spending. See the 2021 Chase Freedom Flex 5% cash back calendar.

Who should apply? We suspect most people will earn more with the Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. the Chase Freedom Flex, however, rewards maximizers looking for a little variety in their life might find the Flex appealing.

Read our full Chase Freedom Flex review.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best for airline incidentals

Why we picked it: This is another travel rewards card that offers a lot of value for a relatively low $95 annual fee. In addition to a competitive 2X points on travel and dining purchases (plus 1.5X on all other purchases), cardholders get an up to $100 annual travel statement credit for airline incidentals, including baggage fees, seat upgrades, ticket changes or cancellation fees, in-flight entertainment, food and beverage purchases and airport lounge purchases.

Pros: You’ll also get up to $100 for your application to Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and there’s a decent sign-up bonus. Cardholders earn 50,000 bonus points if you charge $3,000 to your card during your first 90 days. We estimate that bonus is worth around $500, given points are worth around 1 cent each when you redeem for travel. Plus, you’ll earn 2X points on grocery store purchases through December 31, 2021.

Cons: Bank of America doesn’t let you transfer rewards, so if you frequent a particular airline or you like to game travel rewards, you’re likely to be better served by a different credit card. (See the best airline credit cards for some options.)

Who should apply? Given the solid rewards rate and reasonable annual fee, we consider this card a good fit for moderate travel spenders, especially if you’re known to check a bag or buy food on your plane rides. It’s also a good fit for Bank of America customers with $20,000 or more in your account, given the boost you’ll get through its Preferred Rewards program.

Read our full Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review.

Citi Premier® Card: Best for rewards for travel and everyday spending

Why we picked it: The Citi Premier card offers 3X points on popular travel expenses, including air travel, hotels, and restaurants, and common everyday spending categories, like supermarkets and gas stations, for a relatively low $95 annual fee.

Pros: You get 1X points on general purchases, along with a decent sign-up bonus: Cardholders earn 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in their first three months, which can be redeemed for $600 in gift cards at thankyou.com.

Cons: The card’s biggest drawback is that you’ll have limited transfer options for people traveling stateside. Most of Citi’s big transfer partners are international carriers, like Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways. (Learn more about the best Citi credit cards.)

Who should apply? People trying to decide between a travel credit card and a credit card that rewards everyday spending can meet both needs with the Citi Premier card.

Read our full Citi Premier Card review.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for travel rewards flexibility

Why we picked it: This solid Bank of America credit card lets you redeem your points for any travel or dining purchase made on your card in the last 12 months.

Pros: The card carries a decent sign-up bonus of 25,000 online points if you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days. Given most Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card points are valued at 1 cent a pop, we estimate that bonus is worth up to $250 toward travel. You’ll get a rewards boost if you have a checking account holding $20,000 or more with Bank of America.

Cons: You earn 1.5X points on all purchases, which is competitive for a no-annual-fee rewards credit card. However, you can easily earn more points with other travel credit cards.

Who should apply? People who tend to book travel deals through third-party sites, like Expedia or Travelocity, will find this card’s flexible redemption options to be a real boon.

Read our full Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review.

Comparing the best rewards credit cards

Credit CardBest forRewards rateAnnual feeCreditcards.com review
American Express® Gold CardRestaurants4X Membership Rewards® at Restaurants, U.S. Supermarkets, and on Uber Eats purchases Up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases at U.S. Supermarkets, then 1X. Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines on amextravel.com $2504.5 / 5
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressU.S supermarkets6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, 1% cash back on general purchases $95 (waived for the first year)4.0 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Cash back at drugstores5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards 3% cash back on dining at restaurants and drugstores. 1.5% back on all other purchases $04.5 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressFamilies on a budget3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%), 2% cash back on U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases $03.9 / 5
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit cardChoosing your own bonus category3% cash back on a category of choice 2% cash back on grocery stores and wholesale club purchases ($2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter), 1% cash back on other purchases $04.2 / 5
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit CardSimplicity seekers1.5% cash back on every purchase$03.2 / 5
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressLuxury travel benefits5X on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel Starting 1/1/21, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year $5504.4 / 5
Discover it® Cash BackRotating cash back categories5% cash back in rotating categories Up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly, then 1%, and unlimited 1% cash back on everything else. Activation required. $04.5 / 5
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardFun lovers3% cash back on dining and entertainment 2% cash back at grocery stores, 1% cash back on other purchases $03.5 / 5
Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®Best for referral bonusUp to 6% cash back Up to 6% cash back by referring friends! Limited time only: Start with 1%, get to 3% cash back by successfully referring just two friends! Promotional cash back rate lasts for a full year. $0N / A
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardTravel rewards2X miles on every purchase$954.4 / 5
Chase Freedom Flex℠Rotating cash back & flat-rate spending5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards$04.2 / 5
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit cardBest for airline incidentals2X points on travel and dining purchases; 1.5X points on all other purchases. Plus, earn 2X points on grocery store purchases (through 12/31/21)$954.2 / 5
Citi Premier® CardRewards for travel & everyday spending3X points per $1 spent at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases $954.1 / 5
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit cardTravel rewards flexibility1.5X points per dollar on every purchase$03.7 / 5

How we picked the best rewards credit cards

We analyzed over 1,000 rewards credit cards and most heavily weighed 10 factors to identify the best cards for your lifestyle – these factors and more inform our decisions in which cards can work the hardest for you.

  • Rewards rate: We took into account rewards categories and rates, earning caps and other fine print that may affect total earnings potential.
  • Interest rate: Though you shouldn’t have to worry about interest rates if you’re paying your bill in full each month, we excluded rewards cards with exorbitant interest rates.
  • Fees: We compared each card’s fees to its rewards rate and sign-up bonus to determine whether the average consumer could earn enough rewards to justify the annual fee within the first year and years to come.
  • Travel benefits: For the travel cards, we’ve assessed point values and transfer partners to help you weigh your options based on your lifestyle and goals.

All criteria used: Credit needed, rates & fees, transfer partners, travel benefits, point values, redemption options and flexibility, customer service, sign-up bonus, rewards rate.

What is a rewards credit card?

A rewards credit card is a credit card that lets you earn points, miles or cash back on your spending. You might get rewards for specific types of purchases, like gas or groceries, or you might get a flat rate for all charges. Typically, you’ll need at least good credit to get a rewards credit card, though there are exceptions. (Our CardMatch tool can show you what rewards credit cards you may qualify for without hurting your credit score.)

How do rewards credit cards work?

As you make purchases with a rewards credit card, you’ll get a little something in return, usually cash back, points or airline miles. Depending on the type of rewards card you have, you can redeem your earnings for money deposited into your bank account, free or discounted flights, hotel stays, gift cards and more. What you can do with your rewards depends on what type of card you have.

Types of rewards cards

The two main types of rewards cards are cash back and travel cards. Both types of cards can help you earn rewards through the everyday purchases you make or the flights you’re already booking. Although this sounds simple enough, it can be confusing when trying to find the right card for you because there are so many to choose from within each category. So to make it a little easier for you, we’ve gone into detail about the different types of rewards credit cards and what they can offer you:

Cash back cards

With a cash back credit card, a percentage of each qualifying purchase will be paid back to you. For example, a card with a 2% cash back rate would reward you with $2 for every $100 spent. This can be a great way to earn money for the purchases you make every day. With the right card, the rewards won’t expire for the life of the account – so the cash back that you earn will always be yours. There are several types of cash back credit cards.

  • Flat-rate cash back cards. These are the simplest type of rewards cards, offering the same rate of cash back on all purchases, usually between 1% and 2%. Flat-rate cash back cards are a great choice for someone who has a wide variety of expenses or doesn’t want to have to remember bonus categories. A flat-rate card can also be a good choice if you only want one credit card to use for everything. A great option: the Citi® Double Cash Card, which essentially offers an industry-leading 2% cash back on all purchases excluding gift cards, (1% as you buy, 1% as you pay off your purchases).
  • Tiered cash back cards. Tiered bonus category cards reward specific spending categories, such as dining or gas, at a higher rate, while all other purchases will typically earn 1% cash back. They are a great choice for those who have recurring, significant expenses in certain categories. A great option: the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.
  • Rotating category cash back cards. Similar to tiered cards, rotating category cards offer boosted rewards rates in certain categories. However, the bonus categories change, usually each quarter, and are often seasonally relevant. Those who want to capitalize on seasonal expenses, such as online shopping during the holidays or travel during the summer, might consider a rotating category card. A great option: the Discover it® Cash Back card, which is offering 5% cash back at gas stations, wholesale clubs and select streaming services through June 2021 on up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly after activating (then 1%), right on time for holiday gift purchases. Quarterly sign-up required.

Cash back gives you the most flexibility with your rewards. Since you’ll typically get cash back as a statement credit or direct deposit, you can use your rewards like cash to buy anything you want. Learn how to redeem cash back.

Travel rewards credit cards

Travel credit cards reward cardholders with points or miles instead of cash. You can redeem points or miles to book travel, and with some travel rewards cards, you’ll gain access to luxurious perks like airport lounge access. Among the best travel credit cards, you’ll also find perks like free companion passes, free checked bags, TSA PreCheck credits and more. There are three main types of travel credit cards.

  • General-purpose travel cards. With a general-purpose travel card, you’ll earn points, sometimes on all purchases, which can be redeemed for flights or hotel stays. General-purpose cards are the most flexible type of travel credit card because they allow you to redeem with a variety of partner brands, so you’re not tied to one airline or hotel chain. Also, many general-purpose travel credit cards reward you with extra points if you redeem through the issuer-specific redemption portal, rather than transferring your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program. A great option: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which rewards cardholders with 2X points on travel and at restaurants.
  • Airline credit cards. Airline credit cards reward cardholders with miles for a specific airline. You earn those miles at a boosted rate through spending on flights or other categories, such as gas stations or dining. If you’re loyal to one brand, you’ll likely find your best redemption value with an airline card instead of a general-purpose card. A great option: the Delta Skymiles® Gold American Express Card, which offers 2X miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Hotel credit cards. Hotel credit cards, like airline cards, are co-branded and encourage loyalty to a single brand. As rewards stack up, you can earn free nights and become eligible for room upgrades, free breakfast and status boosts. A great option: the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

Other types of rewards cards

  • Gas: Gas cards reward you generously for each gallon you buy and sometimes only require fair credit. You can get a credit card that rewards purchases at any gas station, or one that rewards purchases at a specific gas station chain. A great option: the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
  • Retail: Sometimes called a co-branded card, retail credit cards are a type of loyalty card that is tied to department stores or other store brands. These cards can offer high percentages of cash back for first purchases and more, though the rewards are generally limited to the specific retailer and the APRs on these cards can be quite high. A great option: the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, which offers rewards on Amazon Prime and Whole Foods purchases.
  • Business: Business credit cards are designed for business owners and generally offer cash back or points on business-related spending, like office supplies or internet services, as well as money-saving perks and flexible financing benefits. A great option: the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, which rewards cardholders with 1.5% cash back on all purchases for your business.
  • Credit-builder: Sometimes cards for fair credit and even secured cards offer rewards, typically 1% back on purchases. A great option: the Credit One Bank® Visa® for Rebuilding Credit.

How to compare rewards cards

We’ve highlighted some of the best rewards credit cards on the market, but, as we mentioned earlier, the right rewards card for you will vary, depending on your financial goals and habits, so before you start comparing cards, carefully consider how you tend to spend your money.

“Credit card companies offer all types of reward options these days, from points to miles to cash back, and each card provides incentives based on certain purchases or stores/retailers, so it’s important to find the card that rewards you for the purchases you make the most,” says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, whose advice has been featured in such media as Time’s Next Advisor, Huffington Post and The New York Times.

For example, a rewards rate of 3X points on travel purchases is great – but only if you regularly spend a significant amount of money on travel. The best rewards card for you will match the way you already spend. Once you know what you want – say, a card that earns travel rewards on every purchase – you’ll be able to compare rewards cards in that category. Start by considering these card features.

  • Annual fee. There are plenty of solid rewards cards, often cash back cards, that charge no annual fee. On the other hand, travel rewards cards and cards with exceptionally high rewards rates or sign-up bonuses typically do charge an annual fee. If the card you’re eyeing comes with an annual fee, you should do some quick math to make sure that your yearly rewards earnings will be greater than the cost of the fee. (See below for a few examples of how to determine if an annual fee credit card is worth it.)
  • Foreign transaction fees. Many travel credit cards let you skip this charge, which is otherwise imposed when you use the card overseas. Standard foreign transaction fees run between 2% and 3% of each purchase. See the best credit cards for no foreign transaction fees.
  • Additional benefits. Rewards cards often offer perks just for having the card. For example, many travel cards offer benefits like credits for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, airport lounge access and free checked bags. If you’re torn between two cards or on the fence about whether an annual fee is worth it, perks like these can tip the scale in one direction.
  • Sign-up/welcome bonus. Most rewards cards offer some kind of incentive to new cardholders who spend a certain amount on their card within a specified time frame. You might get a few hundred dollars in cash back or a chunk of points you can redeem for a free flight. Though valuable, a sign-up bonus is a one-time perk. Make sure the long-term value checks out, too.
  • Ongoing APR. If you’ll be carrying a balance from month to month, you’re probably better off forgoing rewards and getting a low interest credit card. That said, accidents and emergencies happen, even to those who usually pay their balance in full. Choosing a rewards card with a lower interest rate can save you money if you need to carry a balance someday. If you’re curious about how your card’s APR might affect your bottom line, read our guide to credit card interest.
  • Introductory APR. Some rewards cards offer new cardholders an introductory 0% interest rate on purchases or balance transfers for a certain number of months. These offers can be a boon, particularly if you’re planning on making a one-time large purchase or have an existing high-interest balance you’re trying to pay down. Just be sure to pay off your purchase or your balances before you focus on racking up rewards.

Still stuck? Check out our step-by-step guide to choosing the right credit card.

How to maximize credit card rewards

Getting the right card is just the first step toward maximizing credit card rewards. There are ways to boost points, miles and cash back and to stretch their value. Here is how to best leverage your rewards credit card.

Snag a sign-up/welcome bonus

“When signing up for a new card, look for one that offers a cash bonus so you get something extra for the purchases you’re planning to make anyway,” Woroch says. “Just make sure that it’s feasible to reach the cash sign-up bonus and that you aren’t chasing the reward by making extra, unnecessary purchases. If a card requires you to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and you don’t have any big-ticket planned purchases, then you’re less likely to reach that amount and you may spend more unnecessarily for the rewards.”

Shop or redeem through shopping portals

Rewards tend to have more value when you book travel, purchase select gift cards or, even, make purchases through an issuer shopping portal, like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amextravel.com. Frequent flyer or hotel loyalty programs, including United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards and Delta SkyMiles, let members earn extra points or miles by shopping at their favorite retailers through similar platforms, too.

Pool points

Some issuers let you combine rewards across multiple credit cards, while others allow you to share points with family members or, even, friends. These options usually come with a few caveats, but they can help you reach redemption thresholds or earn big rewards, like first-class airfare, more quickly. In order to really get ahead here, however, you’ll need to …

Know your rewards program

Rewards programs vary by issuer to issuer or from card to card. To find the best ways to maximize points, miles or cash back, you’ll need to read the fine print, Fortunately, we have highlights, along with links to reviews, of popular credit card rewards programs to help you familiarize yourself with their current terms and conditions.

Pay your bills in full

Otherwise, you’ll just lose your points, miles or cash back to interest – and rather quickly, given rewards credit cards tend to carry slightly higher interest rates than some of their counterparts. In order to earn rewards while minimizing the odds of overspending, consider paying your bills every week, instead of the end of every month.

Learn more ways to maximize credit card rewards.

Are rewards credit cards worth it?

In a best-case scenario, using a rewards credit card can be a great way to earn cash back or discounted travel at no cost to you. In that case, a rewards credit card is worth having. However, several criteria must be true if you want your rewards credit card to be worth it:

  1. You spend responsibly and within your means. Adopting a “buy now, pay sometime in the future” mentality may make it easy to overspend. It’s important to think of credit card charges in the same way as debit charges – once you swipe, that money is gone.
  2. You pay your balance in full. If you aren’t able to do this, you probably shouldn’t use a rewards credit card. The interest charges you’ll accrue will likely be greater than any rewards earnings. If you’re going to carry a balance, it’s better to get a low interest credit card.
  3. You only get a card with an annual fee if the rewards and benefits make up for it. There are plenty of lucrative rewards cards that don’t charge an annual fee, with which you’ll never have to worry about recouping that yearly expense. If you’ve got your eye on a card with an annual fee, break down your monthly budget and estimate how much you’ll earn in rewards annually. We break down how to do so in the next section.

Are rewards cards with annual fees worth it?

As you do your research, you may start to notice that the cards with the best rewards earnings and benefits usually charge an annual fee, especially travel rewards cards. Is paying the annual fee worth it? In short, a credit card with an annual fee is worth it if the value of your annual rewards earnings plus any additional perks is greater than the cost of the fee. But how do you estimate a card’s value before applying? For cash back cards, it can be as simple as doing a quick calculation using some estimates.

For this example, we’ll assess the value of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express for someone who spends $2,400 each year on gas and $4,800 each year on groceries.

Credit cardOngoing annual feeRewards rateAnnual earnings breakdownWorth it?
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$95*6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations($4,800 x .06) + ($2,400 x .03) = $360Yes. After subtracting the $95 annual fee, this person’s rewards earnings would be $265.

*Note: The annual fee is waived for the first year on the Blue Cash Preferred, $95 thereafter.

With travel cards, it may be a bit more difficult to calculate value, since rewards come in the form of points or miles, rather than cash back. We cover how much certain points are worth in many of our specific card reviews, but, as an example, let’s try calculating the value of a popular travel rewards card, the American Express® Gold Card. In this scenario, we’re calculating the earnings of someone who annually spends $4,800 at U.S. supermarkets, $1,500 at restaurants worldwide, and $1,000 on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com. American Express Membership Rewards points are valued at 2 cents apiece, according to The Points Guy.

Credit cardAnnual feeRewards rateAnnual earnings breakdownWorth it?
American Express® Gold Card$2504X points on dining and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X). 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.($4,800 x 4) + ($1,500 x 4) + ($1,000 x 3) = 28,200 points = $564Yes. After subtracting the $250 annual fee, this person’s rewards earnings would be $314.

You’ll also want to consider other factors aside from rewards earnings. Maybe you determine that you’ll just break even between rewards earnings and the annual fee. Consider the additional perks the card offers. Maybe the benefit of airport lounge access, free checked bags or a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit is where you find the most value.

Whether the annual fee will be worth it depends on your spending habits, so it’s important to be honest with yourself and choose a card that matches how you already spend or plan to spend. If you aren’t sure, many issuers allow the option to upgrade a card in the future, so you can always start with the no annual fee version and trade up later.

The best rewards credit card programs

You can compare individual credit cards, but knowing a little bit about each issuer’s rewards program can help you narrow your search. Credit card rewards programs come in any number of flavors, and one of them is bound to work well for you. Just remember that not every credit card from an issuer will qualify for their rewards program. Here is an overview of some popular rewards programs and how they work. You can learn more about each one by reading our full reviews.

Rewards programHighlightsOur review
American Express Membership Rewards
  • Transfer points to 22 airline and hotel partners
  • Accumulate rewards from multiple American Express cards in one account
American Express Membership Rewards program review
Bank of America Preferred Rewards
  • Must have a minimum of $20,000 across Bank or America and/or Merrill accounts to qualify
  • Can receive a 25%-75% boost on credit card rewards, depending on qualifying account balances
Bank of America Preferred Rewards program review
Capital One rewards program
  • Transfer points to more than 15 travel partners
  • Redeem any number of miles at any time
Capital One rewards program review
Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to one of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel partners
  • Several redemption options, including travel, statement credits, direct deposits and gift cards.
Chase Ultimate Rewards program review
Citi ThankYou rewards program
  • Redeem points for cash back, travel, statement credits, gift cards and more.
  • Transfer points to one of their 16 airline partners at a value of 1 cent apiece.
Citi ThankYou rewards program review
Hilton Honors rewards program
  • Redeem points for hotel nights, car rentals, cruise certificates and more.
  • Hotel coverage includes 6,100 properties in 119+ countries.
Hilton Honors rewards program review
Marriott Bonvoy rewards program
  • Redeem for hotel nights, room upgrades, travel packages, cruises, car rentals, charity and more
  • Hotel coverage includes 7,000+ properties in 130+ countries.
Marriott Bonvoy rewards program review
Wells Fargo Go Far® Rewards
  • Earn points by using your credit card or shopping on the Earn More Mall® site.
  • No option to transfer points to airlines or hotels, but you can redeem them in a variety of ways, including cash back, travel, gift cards, statement credits and merchandise.
Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards program review

Frequently Asked Questions