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ByTaylor Moore Finance & Insurance Writer

Taylor Moore is a finance writer for Reviews.com. Her work has been published in Chicago magazine, the Chicago Reader, and elsewhere.

Choosing the best rewards credit card comes down to your spending habits and reward preferences. After all, not all cards offer the same type of rewards. However, we narrowed it down to five types that will offer the best potential value for most people. We’re confident we’ve found the best credit card offers, but only you can decide what your needs and spending habits are.

Our Top 11 Picks for the Best Rewards Credit Card

Reviews.com Rating
Annual fee
Rewards Earning
American Express® Gold Card - Best Rewards Overall
4.04/5
$250
4x points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, than 1x points)


3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Best Hotel Rewards
4.00/5
$95
6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels


2x points on all other purchases
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
3.91/5
$0 the first year, then $95
2x miles on every purchase
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Best Luxury Reward
3.90/5
$450
$300 credit on travel purchases, than 3x points on travel


3x points at restaurants


1x points on all other purchases
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - Best Sign-Up Bonus
3.84/5
$95
2x points on travel and dining worldwide

1x points on all other purchases

Ink Business Cash Credit Card
3.76/5
$0
5% cash-back on first $25,000 spent at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year


2% cash-back on first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year


1% cash-back on all other purchases
Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card
3.65/5
$95
2x points on travel and dining

1.5x points on all other purchases

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
3.44/5
$0
3x points on restaurants (dine in and delivery), travel, and streaming services

1x points on all other purchases

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
3.23/5

$95
6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1% cash-back


6% cash-back on select streaming subscriptions


3% cash-back on gas stations and transit


1% cash-back on all other purchases
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
3.03/5
$0
1.25x points on all other purchases
Savor Rewards from Capital One
2.97/5
$0 for the first year, then $95
4% cash-back on dining and entertainment


2% cash-back on groceries


1% cash-back on all other purchases

Methodology

To find the best 11 rewards credit cards, we researched some of the most popular, and commonly reviewed or written about credit cards, coming up with a list of every rewards credit card we came across. Then we narrowed the list of 57 credit cards to ones that were rated highly on at least two review sites, leaving us with a mix of 25 consumer and business credit cards that offer points, miles, and cash-back across multiple price points.

We evaluated all the credit card features that our readers care about, including sign-up bonus dollar value, rewards earnings (e.g., 2x points on travel and dining), annual fee, APR, the number of benefits, and fees (e.g., balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees). We assigned numerical scores to each credit feature relative to the others and weighed them to get to a score out of 5. Of all the features, rewards earnings, sign-up bonus, and annual fee were prioritized, accounting for 75% of the score.

After configuring our proprietary scoring system, we arrived at 11 rewards credit cards that we are proud to feature for their generous benefits. Of the 11, we highlighted five cards for more personalized recommendations, ranging from Best Cash-Back Rewards to Best Luxury Rewards, for being unparalleled in their respective categories.

Knowing the credit card industry is always changing, we update this review (and all other reviews) regularly to keep up with what’s new on the market.

The 11 Best Rewards Credit Cards Explained:

American Express Gold Card

Best For: Rewards Overall
Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points ($700 value) after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 4x points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, than 1x points); 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
Annual Fee: $250
APR: 17.49-24.49%
Who is it good for?: People who love to spend on experiences. The American Express Gold Card offers an impressive variety of benefits for customers on the go, including no foreign transaction fees, access to Preferred Seating at select cultural and sporting events, and a $120 dining credit when you eat at certain restaurants (including The Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steak House) or order food from Grubhub or Seamless. This card received the highest score in our internal rating system.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Best For: Hotel Rewards
Sign-up Bonus: 75,000 points ($600 value) after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 2x points on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $95
APR: 17.49-24.49%
Who is it good for?: Frequent travelers. If you’re able to stick to a hotel loyalty program, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is one of the best cards you can get. You receive 6x points on every $1 spent at one of Marriott Bonvoy’s 7,000 hotels, which range in price and include Westin, Sheraton, Courtyard, Springhill Suites, Renaissance Hotels, Residence Inn, Towneplace Suites, and more. And once a year, you can get one night free at a hotel of your choice (using up to 35,000 points).

Venture Rewards from Capital One

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles ($500 value) after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 2x miles on every purchase
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
APR: 17.24-24.49%
Who is it good for?: People who want a solid benefits from their credit card without the hefty price tag. Venture Rewards from Capital One offers a generous sign-up bonus and rewards rate, but with a $95 annual fee ($0 the first year) that’s reasonable for most credit card users. You can also enjoy extras, like a $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check and $0 in foreign transaction fees.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best For: Luxury Rewards
Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points ($750 value) after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: $300 credit on travel purchases, than 3x points on travel; 3x points at restaurants; 1x points on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $450
APR: 18.49-25.49%
Who is it good for?: High spenders. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has the highest annual fee of our 11 picks, but it comes with luxury benefits to match. Every year, you receive up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement on your travel purchases, and after the $300 is spent, you receive 3x points on travel and on restaurants as well. The card also affords you a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA-Pre-Check, complimentary airport lounge access, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and reimbursement on lost luggage and expenses incurred by a delayed flight.

Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card

Best For: Sign-Up Bonus
Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 points ($750 value) after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 2x points on travel and dining worldwide; 1x points on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $95
APR: 17.49-24.49%
Who is it good for?: Customers who want rewards quickly. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the more wallet-friendly version of the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve, offering rewards on both travel and dining purchases. We awarded “Best Sign-Up Bonus” to the Sapphire Preferred because of its generous introductory reward (60,000 points, or a $750 value, after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months) — the highest value of any of our picks relative to the annual fee incurred.

Blue Cash Preferred Card

Best For: Cash-Back Rewards
Sign-up Bonus: $300 cash-back after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1% cash-back; 6% cash-back on select streaming subscriptions; 3% cash-back on gas stations and transit; 1% cash-back on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $95
APR: 14.49-25.49%
Who is it good for?: Credit card users who want high cash-back rates on ordinary purchases. The American Express rewards program from the Blue Cash Preferred Card isn’t the simplest, but it offers great rates for your daily, non-flashy purchases. Many rewards credit cards will focus on the “extras,” like dining, entertainment, and travel, but this card rewards you for spending on necessities — groceries, streaming services, gas, parking, trains, buses, tolls, etc. The sign-up bonus is also ample; it doesn’t have the biggest cash value at $300, but it does have the lowest minimum spend ($1,000 in the first three months) of any of our picks. Keep in mind, though, that it carries a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

Ink Business Cash credit card

Sign-up Bonus: $500 cash-back after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 5% cash-back on first $25,000 spent at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year; 2% cash-back on first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; 1% cash-back on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 14.74-20.74%
Who is it good for?: Businesses and freelancers. The Ink Business Cash credit card lets you turn rote purchases into rewards. With no annual fee and no additional cost for employee cards, this card offers you flexibility for whatever happens at work. You can earn cash-back on run-of-the mill expenses, such as office supplies and utilities like internet, cable, and phone, and on times when you’re out and about at gas stations and restaurants. However, if you do business internationally, it’s worth noting the 3% foreign transaction fee.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points ($500 value) after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 2x points on travel and dining; 1.5x points on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $95
APR: 17.49-24.49%
Who is it good for?: People who want an uncomplicated cash-back rewards program. The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card offers 2x points on travel and dining purchases and 1.5x points on all other purchases — and all the rewards are unlimited with no expiration date. You can also earn other perks, such as the 50,000 point ($500 value) introductory offer, $200 credit in airline incidentals, and a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 points ($300 value) after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 3x points on restaurants (dine in and delivery), travel, and streaming services; 1x points on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for the first year, then 15.49-27.49%
Who is it good for?: Credit card users who hate fees. Most rewards credit cards come with an annual fee in exchange for big rewards (many of our top picks charge $95 or more), but the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card charges no annual fee. Wells Fargo doesn’t cheap out on the rewards either — you can earn an introductory bonus of 30,000 points once you reach a minimum spend and get 3x points on restaurants (both eating out and ordering in), gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, popular streaming services, and more.

VentureOne Rewards from Capital One

Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 points ($200 value) after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 1.25x points on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 13.49-23.49%
Who is it good for?: Travelers who want rewards on the cheap. VentureOne Rewards from Capital One is the more affordable version of our “Best Overall” pick, Venture Rewards from Capital One. It offers similar travel rewards (unlimited miles for every $1 in purchases), but with a $0 annual fee. Additionally, the VentureOne Rewards card has no foreign transaction fees and a relatively low minimum spend ($1,000 in the first three months) to achieve the sign-up bonus.

Savor Rewards from Capital One

Sign-up Bonus: $300 cash bonus if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months
Rewards rate: 4% cash-back on dining and entertainment; 2% cash-back on groceries; 1% cash-back on all other purchases
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
APR: 15.49-24.99%
Who is it good for?: Cash-back aficionados. With Savor Rewards from Capital One, you can earn cash-back on dining, entertainment (e.g, movie theaters, zoos, bowling alleys), and grocery stores, as well as a $300 introductory bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months. In the first year, the annual fee is waived; after that, you pay $95 per year (standard among rewards credit card providers).

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a rewards credit card?

A rewards credit card lets you earn benefits in exchange for making purchases with the card. These benefits typically come in the form of cash-back (getting money back on every dollar spent), points (which can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, and travel), and airline miles (which can be redeemed for flights through specific airlines). Some rewards credit cards come with additional benefits, such as credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, access to airline lounges, and sign-up bonuses if you spend more than a certain amount of money in the first few months.

Are rewards credit cards worth it?

The advantage of a rewards credit card is that you receive “extras” on purchases you would already make. For example, some cards will let you get 5% cash back on groceries – and given that food is the third-largest household expense after housing and transportation, that could amount to significant savings.

However, rewards credit cards do tend to come with a cost. The annual fee is typically higher than a regular credit card, and the APR (interest rate) for carrying balances month-to-month will be heftier too. If you would have a hard time reaching the minimum spend for a rewards credit card sign-up bonus, we don’t think that applying for the card would be worth the risk of potential debt. Additionally, if you have poor or no credit, it may be difficult to get approved on these cards, which often require high credit scores.

What are the types of rewards?

Cash-back rewards
Cash-back rewards cards give you money back for your purchases. The rewards usually come in the form of statement credits, direct deposits, or even checks — no need to convert miles or points. These are usually split into two sub-categories: rotating and flat-rate cards. Rotating cards usually offer boosted reward rates of around 5% on predetermined spending categories (e.g. restaurants or gas) that change each quarter of the year — but only 1% on all other purchases. Flat rate cards offer around 1.5% - 2% cash back on all spending categories for the entire year.

Points and miles
Points and miles are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to currency earned for travel rewards. The main difference is that “miles” are typically earned with specific airline frequent flyer programs, while “points” are earned with a credit card issuer to be redeemed with several different airlines. Depending on the credit card, points and miles can be used to redeem flights, hotel stays, and rental cars, as well as cash-back, gift cards, and charitable donations. They typically go the furthest when used to book travel because the exchange rate between points/ miles and dollars will often be more favorable than paying for travel outright.

Loyalty programs
If you’re brand-loyal, you may want to look into co-branded credit cards associated with particular airlines, hotels, and retailers. Typically, you earn extra miles, points, or cash-back on purchases made with the brand, and then a low, flat reward rate on all other purchases. Examples of these include the Amazon.com Store Card, Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card, Hilton Honors Card from American Express, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa Credit Card, and Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card.

Which is better, cash back or reward points?

Both cash-back and reward points have distinct advantages – and it really comes down to your lifestyle.

Cash-back rewards allow you to receive credit on your statement for every dollar you spend (typically 1-6%). They’re straightforward and good for the consumer who doesn’t want to think too much about it. Cash-back is also more accessible, as these cards typically have low or no annual fees. The downside is that they don’t come with sign-up bonuses or offer fewer extra perks.

Reward points or miles are valuable for frequent travelers – or people who want to travel more. These rewards credit cards let you redeem points or miles for airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars, travel agents, and other travel expenses. Sometimes they come with extra perks too, like credit for TSA Pre-Check, airline lounge access, and sign-up bonuses. However, it’s more difficult to get accepted for these cards as they often require high credit scores. They also come with higher annual fees and APR (interest rates).

How can I maximize my rewards credit card?

  • Review the purchase categories that take up the most space in your budget. Many rewards credit cards come with high-percentage (think 3-6%) cash-back on certain purchases or rotate what categories earn those rewards. It’s important to evaluate what rewards make the most sense for you. For example, 5% cash-back on gas may sound nice on its face, but if you barely drive, this won’t amount to much money saved at the end of the day. On the other hand, if you are loyal to a particular airline, it may be worth signing up for the co-branded credit card or a card that lets you redeem points with that airline.
  • Take advantage of the sign-up bonus. One of the biggest incentives of rewards credit cards is the points you get upon signing up. The Chase Sapphire Reserve will give you 50,000 points – which is equivalent to a whopping $750 in travel rewards. However, to redeem this offer, you would need to spend $4,000 in the first three months. If that’s the amount you’d normally spend in that time period, the card may be worth it, but going into debt to reach it would be a mistake.
  • Pay off your rewards credit card every month. With the ultra-premium benefits often come high APRs. Rewards credit cards can come with interest rates as high as 25%, depending on your credit score. We don’t recommend exorbitant spending (which these cards can sometimes require) if it means carrying a balance month to month.

How to redeem rewards?

Each credit provider has a different process for redeeming rewards – and some are more complicated than others. Below is a quick breakdown of the main providers, with links to specific redemption guides on Reviews.com.

  • American Express: AmEx Membership Rewards offers lots of avenues for point redemption, but the most valuable is transferring points to an airline or hotel loyalty program. Other options include paying for Amazon purchases, donating to charity, and receiving gift cards.
  • Capital One: Its most unique reward is “Purchase Eraser,” which lets you use your points to reimburse yourself on travel purchases made to your Venture or Spark credit card in the last 90 days at a fixed rate of 1 cent each. You can also use Capital One points to book new travel, transfer to your preferred airline, and redeem cash-back or gift cards
  • Chase: To redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can either book travel (i.e., plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, transfer the points to an airline or hotel program partnered with Chase (points are transferable 1:1), or receive cash-back or gift cards.
  • Discover: There are two main rewards programs: Discover it Miles and Discover Cash-Back Rewards. With Discover it Miles, you redeem your miles for travel, cash-back, or Amazon purchases. With Discover Cash-Back Rewards, you redeem for cash-back, Amazon purchases, gift cards, or charitable donations.

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