Best Rewards Credit Cards

Some of the best rewards credit cards really aren’t right for everyone. Depending on how much you spend, what you spend it on, and what kind of rewards you value, the perfect card for you may not even be included on this list. That said, Bankrate has carefully reviewed all of the fan-favorites, newest offers, and revamped cards to compile what we deem the best credit cards from our partners. There is a rewards card out there for everyone — chances are, yours is right here; apply for one and take advantage of your rewards in 2019 by earning points, miles, or cash back today.

The 10 best rewards credit cards to apply for in 2019


Best for travel

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for first year cash back bonus

Discover it® Cash Back Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
14.24% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts—Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.

Best for your first rewards credit card

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after initial $20,000 spend in your first year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
17.24% - 25.99% Variable

Card Details

  • New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for the rewards redemption value

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Barclays's secure website

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
Welcome Offer:
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
Annual Fee:
$89 (waived first year)
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
Regular APR:
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness

Card Details

  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • New - Control Your Card - Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment Earn 2% at grocery stores Earn 1% on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$500 after you spend $3000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for points flexibility

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Rewards Rate:
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
18.24% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for low APR

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
Welcome Offer:
20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24%-24.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for personalized cash back rewards

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On U.S. Bank's secure website

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards Rate:
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0%* intro on BTs for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR:
16.24% - 25.74%* (Variable)

Card Details

  • New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 16.24% - 25.74%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019

Best for flat-rate cash back

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for rotating cash back categories

Chase Freedom® Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom®

Rewards Rate:
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. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
Welcome Offer:
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
17.24% - 25.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 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
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.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.


Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: April 9, 2019

Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


Table of contents:

Bankrate’s picks for the best rewards credit cards of 2019

Card Name Best for Bankrate Review Score Rewards Rate
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel 94/100 2X miles on every purchase, every day
Discover it® Cash Back First-year bonus 93/100 5% back on up to $1,500 each quarter, in rotating categories, enrollment required; 1% on everything else
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Your first rewards credit card 92/100 3% cash back on your first $20,000 spent in the first year of your account, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Rewards redemption value 94/100 2X points on every purchase
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment 97/100 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Points flexibility 95/100 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants; 1X points per dollar on other purchases
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Low APR 80/100 1.25x miles on every purchase, every day
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card Personalized cash back rewards 92/100  5% cash back on 2 categories of your choice from a list of 11 (on up to $2,000 each quarter); 2% cash back on your choice of restaurants, gas or grocery stores
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate cash back 93/100 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Chase Freedom® Rotating cash back categories 90/100 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic.

Why you should trust Bankrate

Our team at Bankrate provides expert personal finance advice for every stage of life. And when it comes to credit cards, we know you want to make the best decisions for your financial future. Finding a card that best fits your lifestyle can be difficult. That’s why our experts have researched the best cards of 2019 for earning maximum rewards. No matter what your financial goals are for 2019 – from collecting points for a tropical vacation to scoring cash back to fund your coveted dream purchase – we’re here to help.

Review Criteria

A great rewards card offers flexible redemption, high-value rewards, and useful perks and benefits. The team at Bankrate scores each card out of 100 against Bankrate’s proprietary scoring matrix, and for rewards cards, we have weighted the following factors more heavily. You should treat the scoring system as a guide, there are some cards that look great on paper but if they don’t suit your lifestyle, your budget, or you can’t redeem your rewards when and how you want, they’re not the best cards for you.

  • Rewards value: Rewards can seem complicated, they can come in the form of cash, miles, or points. We cut through the jargon and lay out the rewards rates, how rewards are earned, how they are redeemed, and how to maximize your returns.
  • Annual fee: Some rewards cards charge a fee every year but many offer promotional discounts on the annual fee for the first year. We determine when the annual fee is worth the expense, how much you would need to use your card to make up for it, and what type of cardholder would best benefit.
  • Sign-up bonus: There are some generous sign-up bonuses available in the rewards credit card space. Sometimes these introductory offers can be incredibly lucrative. We make sure to include the value the of the bonus in our scoring methodology, and also detail the bonus and what you have to do to get it
  • Extras and discounts: Many extra perks offered by credit card companies often slip under the radar. Extras such as social security number monitoring, access to airport lounges, and travel insurance can really increase the value of the card.

“A good rewards credit card is not the one featuring just an excellent welcome bonus, or just excellent earning rates, or just excellent perks. A really good credit card is a card that gives the members good enough reasons to use it for years to come (and pay the annual fee if any).”
— Andy Shuman, Credit and Travel Writer at The Lazy Traveler’s Handbook

What is a rewards credit card?

A rewards card can unlock a ton of value from the spending you do every day, take the new year as an opportunity to have a fresh look at what’s in your wallet to find out if your cards need a 2019 facelift to make sure you’re getting maximum returns.

Simply put, a rewards card is a credit card that gives you something in exchange for making a purchase. The amount you’ll be rewarded varies greatly from card to card but it’s nearly always based on a percentage of what you just spent. For example, if you charge $100 on a rewards card that has a flat 2% rewards rate, you’ll get 2 points, 2 miles or 2 units of whatever the reward is that’s offered by your card.

For the most part, rewards cards fall into two categories: flat-rate rewards and category bonus rewards. Flat-rate rewards cards have a set rate at which you will earn rewards points on all of your spending. Category bonus rewards cards offer higher rewards rates, but only on certain purchases. For example, many category bonus cards give between 2-3X points on categories like dining or travel. Additionally, there are some credit cards that give bonuses when you make purchases from particular brands. The most common example of these, outside of store credit cards, are airline credit cards that offer bonus miles on airline-specific spending.

Another feature commonly found on rewards credit cards is a sign-up bonus or welcome offer, which can net you rewards points that are worth up to thousands of dollars. Typically, you have to spend a set amount of money within the first few months of opening your account to earn the bonus. If there is a rewards card with a sign-up bonus that stands out to you, make sure to read the terms and be ready to hit a spend goal. We recommend that you don’t spend more than you have in order to hit a sign-up bonus, so make sure you save up if it is going to be a close call!

The biggest thing to be aware of when using a rewards credit card is that the interest rates on these cards are typically higher than average. Make sure that the attractive rewards points don’t lead you to spending more than you normally would. The cost of interest from carrying a balance will oftentimes negate the value of your rewards, so it is in your best interest to pay your balance in full each month.

Deeper analysis on the best rewards credit cards of 2019

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Using the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card will allow you to earn miles without paying an annual fee. If you’re a casual traveler and you’re trying to budget for a vacation in 2019, this card can help you get there faster with a generous sign-up bonus, good rewards rate and straight-forward redemption.

The Venture card earns 2 miles for every $1 spent. It’s a great starter travel card for simple earning and predictable rewards. If you are a frequent flyer, you’ll benefit from Capital One’s partnerships with airlines around the globe which enables you to transfer your miles to airline loyalty programs and get even bigger bang for your buck.

New cardholders can benefit from the Venture Cards welcome offer of 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. This generous offer means around $500 worth of rewards miles just for making everyday purchases. For more details on this offer, visit the Capital One website or apply through The Points Guy website.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Travel
  • Bankrate score:94/100
  • Rewards rate: 2 miles per dollar spent
  • Welcome offer: 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership

This card isn’t for you if: You’re looking for higher-end travel perks such as lounge access. Otherwise, the Venture is a traveler’s best friend.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back credit card is a rotating category cash back card that allows you to enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year, enrollment required. The 2019 categories include grocery stores, gas stations, spending at Amazon.com, and restaurants.

Additionally, Discover will match your first year cash back rewards at the end of the year. This means that if you earned $300 in cash back throughout the year, by the end of 2019 Discover will give you another $300 after your one year anniversary of card ownership.

Card Details:

  • Best for: First year bonus
  • Bankrate score: 93/100
  • Rewards rate: Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories, 1% back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

This card isn’t for you if: You don’t like keeping up with rotating bonus categories each quarter.

Read Bankrate’s full Discover it Cash Back review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, an already strong cash back card, just got better with a new bonus offer of three percent cash back on your first $20,000 spent in the first year of your account. Earn an unlimited one-point-five percent cash back on all purchases after. This new offer replaces the card’s original $150 sign-up bonus, and significantly increases the overall value.

It maintains its strong rewards structure, with no rotating categories, no annual fee and a zero percent APR offer on purchases and balance transfers over the first 15 months (17.24% – 25.99% variable APR after). If you’re looking for a card to help finance larger purchases and boost points by pairing with other Chase cards, The Freedom Unlimited is a solid option.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Rewards card beginners
  • Bankrate score: 92/100
  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after earning 3% back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year
  • Welcome offer: 3% cash back on the first $20,000 spent during the first year of your account.

This card isn’t for you if: You’re looking to make a lot of purchases abroad. The 3% foreign transaction fee will cancel out the rewards that earn overseas.

Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Have miles, will travel. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of your miles. Just by redeeming, you’ll get 5% miles back towards your next redemption. You’ll receive 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, and after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days of account opening, you’ll earn 70,000 bonus miles (equivalent to $700 in travel statement credit).

Card Details:

  • Best for: Rewards redemption value
  • Bankrate score: 94/100
  • Rewards rate: 2X on every purchase
  • Welcome offer: 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first 90 days

This card isn’t for you if: You aren’t willing to use a rewards portal to cash in on redemptions.

Read Bankrate’s full Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard review.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is a foodie’s dream, 2018 saw a trend of high-rewards rates on restaurant spending, 2019 is the year to put those cards to work. This card offers an unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. This makes for a pretty compelling card choice for people who dine out frequently. The card has an introductory offer of $500 cash back when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the card, which is easily achievable for most cardholders and makes for a sizeable bonus rewards perk. Despite the $95 annual fee (waived for the first year), heavy spenders on dining and entertainment will most definitely feel the value of this card.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Dining and entertainment
  • Bankrate score: 97/100
  • Rewards rate: 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at the grocery store, 1% back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Capital One offers $500 sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening the card.

This card isn’t for you if: You want a dining and entertainment card that earns you points or miles instead of cash back.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Among the best starter cards for collecting points and miles, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has some great perks. You’ll earn 2X points on dining and travel and 1X points on all other purchases. This card really shines when it comes to redeeming points through Chase’s Web portal, where their value jumps 25%. Plus, earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Card Details:

  • Best for: Points flexibility
  • Bankrate score: 95/100
  • Rewards rate: 2X on dining and travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

This card isn’t for you if: You aren’t willing to use a rewards portal to cash in on redemptions.

Read Bankrate’s full Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. This is the equivalent of around $200 in travel.  If you’re planning a vacation for 2019, the sign-up bonus with this card can help lighten the load.

What’s best about the VentureOne card is the uncomplicated rewards structure and redemption, and all with no annual fee. Frequent flyers will benefit from Capital One’s partnerships with numerous airlines around the world, allowing you to maximize your miles by transferring them to your favorite airline loyalty program. You earn 1.25x miles on every purchase which can be redeemed for any airline or hotel at any time – which means no annoying blackout dates. If you’re regularly booking hotel rooms, this card is for you with 10x miles on thousands of hotels rooms when purchasing through hotels.com/venture.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Low APR
  • Bankrate score: 80/100
  • Rewards rate: 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus, 10x miles on thousands of hotels when booked and paid for through hotels.com/venture.
  • Welcome offer: When you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months you get 20,000 bonus points, equivalent to $200 in travel.

This card isn’t for you if: You’re willing to pay an annual fee to get better rewards.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

It’s rare to find a credit card that allows you to truly customize your rewards structure. With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you can choose 2 categories from a list of 11 to assign your 5% cash back. On top of that, you can choose between gas, groceries or restaurants to assign your 2% cash back. You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter, but that’s still $400 in cash back at the end of the year just from maximizing the 5% cash back categories.

Card Details: 

  • Best for: Personalized cash back rewards
  • Bankrate score: 92/100
  • Rewards rate: 5% cash back on 2 categories of your choice from a list of 11 (on up to $2,000 each quarter); 2% cash back on your choice of restaurants, gas or grocery stores
  • Welcome offer: $150 when you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening

This card isn’t for you if: You are looking for a cash back card to earn rewards on your trips abroad (there is a 2% fee for foreign transactions made in U.S. dollars and a 3% fee for foreign transactions made in non-U.S. currency).

Read Bankrate’s full U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card review.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Quicksilver card is great for uncomplicated flat-rate cash back for no annual fee. Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit and no expiry on your rewards. The introductory offer of $150 cash bonus is easily attainable, you just have to spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the card. For average spenders, this will be an easy limit to hit.

Card details:

  • Best for: Flat-rate cash back
  • Bankrate score: 93/100
  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5% on every purchase.
  • Welcome offer: One-time $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months of opening the card.

This card isn’t for you if: You already have a flat-rate cash back card in your wallet. There are better options out there to diversify the rewards you earn.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One Quicksilver review.

Chase Freedom®

For those who don’t mind tracking rotating categories, the Chase Freedom® yields some great cash back returns. Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 a quarter on rotating categories when you enroll to earn the highest amount. All other spending earns 1% unlimited. Some may prefer a flat rate card for more straight forward rewards. But for a no annual fee card, this is a solid option.

Card details:

  • Best for: Rotating cash back
  • Bankrate score: 90/100
  • Rewards rate: 5% up to $1,500 in rotating categories, 1% on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months of account opening.

This card isn’t for you if: You’re already earning rewards with a flat-rate cash back card and aren’t a fan of rotating categories.

Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom review.

 


Why you should have a rewards credit card

If you have good credit and spend responsibly, a rewards credit card is an excellent choice. Rewards points are oftentimes extremely flexible, allowing you to redeem them for flights, hotels, gift cards, or statement credits. Different issuers have different rewards programs, so be sure to check on the specific redemption offers for the cards that you are considering before you apply.  Don’t leave money on the table in 2019! Using cash or a debit card means that you are missing out on rewards that you can earn on purchases that you already make.

Additionally, many rewards cards come with extras and perks, such as travel credits, cell phone protection, free checked bags, shopping discounts, and warranty extensions on items purchased with your credit card. The rewards that you will earn and the perks associated with card ownership make having a rewards credit card  make sense.

“The main thing we look for [in a rewards credit card] is the rate at which the miles are accumulated and which spending habits the card will work best for. Since we rarely eat out having a card pay 2x points on restaurants is not beneficial to us compared to a card with 1.5x points on everyday purchases.”
— Brittany and Kelan Kline, Co-Founders at The Savvy Couple

“I have [a lot of] credit cards and use each of them for specific reasons: free nights, free flights, upgraded hotel rooms, cash back, etc. Overall, though, the goal is to strategically earn rewards, perks, and cash back to allow my family of four to travel as much as we want for as little money as possible. ”
— Lee Huffman, Travel & Lifestyle Writer at Bald Thoughts

Types of rewards cards

Rewards cards come in many flavors. Here are some of the most common types, along with more detailed recommendations from our team on the best cards in each category.

  • Cash back rewards cards. This type of card earns you cash back on every purchase. You typically redeem your earnings as a statement credit towards your bill, or in some cases deposited into your checking or savings account.
  • Travel rewards cards. Whether it’s a co-branded card with an airline or a general-purpose travel rewards card that gives you multiple choices for redemption, travel cards are aimed at those who want to earn free or discounted trips, upgrade their airline experience or save up for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
  • Hotel rewards cards. Great for road warriors and other frequent travelers, hotel cards give users an opportunity to work towards elite status and enjoy the perks that go along with it, as well as earn free nights for future stays.
  • Store rewards cards. These cards are best for loyalists to a particular brand or store. You can earn perks like discounts, free shipping, and members-only access events. Retail store cards often have less-stringent approval requirements, but in turn, charge typically higher-than-average interest rates.

How to redeem credit card rewards

A stash of rewards is only meaningful if you redeem them. Redemption options run the gamut from a simple statement credit, to using rewards to book travel, to transferring rewards from your card to an airline or hotel’s loyalty program often for an increased value. Consider all the ways rewards can be used, but keep in mind that your particular card may only allow you to redeem your rewards in one type of way. Some of the most common methods or redemption are:

  • Take your rewards as a cash-back statement credit or have them deposited into your bank account.
  • Redeem your rewards for travel through your card’s travel portal.
  • Book travel and get a statement credit back for all or a partial credit for the cost of the trip.
  • Trade in your rewards for a gift card to select retailers.
  • Use your rewards to upgrade your flight or hotel room.
  • Transfer your rewards to an authorized user for them to redeem.
  • Use your rewards as a credit for purchase at your favorite store.
  • Donate your rewards to a partner charity.

    “I, like many credit card enthusiasts, am a big fan of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program for the ease with which you can accumulate points and the ability to transfer them to different hotel and airline partners at a 1:1 rate. ”
    — Elizabeth Aldrich, Finance Writer at ElizabethAldrich.com

    “Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of three transferable point currencies, [meaning how you redeem your rewards is extremely flexible.] You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels, airfare and cash back. This lets you use your points how you want, when you want, with few restrictions.”
    — Debra Schroeder, Founder at Traveling Well for Less

How to maximize your rewards

Make the most out of your rewards in 2019 by creating a complete credit card strategy.

First, determine what your goals are. Would you like to do more traveling? Do you want to save money on everyday expenses like groceries and gas? Are you ready to upgrade your airline or hotel status? Maybe you have a big expense on the horizon and you’d like to save on interest while scoring some rewards in the process. All of these goals and more can be accomplished with a well-coordinated credit card strategy.

Second, take a look at what’s already in your wallet. If you’re about to apply for your first rewards card, choose one with reward categories that most closely align with your spending habits. If you already have one or more rewards cards, look for another that accomplishes a new goal or covers a segment of your budget not already accounted for.

Third, “stack” cards to earn more. The goal is to get as close to earning more than one reward point, mile, or percent cash back on every purchase you make. Don’t immediately apply for several cards at once — instead, start with the one that has the widest rewards net and slowly move onto others with more limited rewards categories. Although the best way to maximize rewards is by using several credit cards, quickly filling your wallet with as many as possible will likely drop your credit score and stretch your budget thin.

Developing a thorough credit card strategy that covers the whole gamut of purchases doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself enough time between card applications to capture intro bonuses and consider long-term goals. Do that and 2019 will be the year of rewards.

”When looking for a rewards card, the thing most important to me is maximizing the most points per dollar spent. I carry the Premier Rewards Gold Card, Business Platinum Card, and Platinum Card [from American Express] because the points earning structures are different across the cards and all of the points go into the same pot to be redeemed for miles, statement credits and more.”
— Russ Nuata, Owner at CreditCardReviews.com


Finding the right rewards credit card for your credit score

Luxury cards with exclusive perks and bonuses may be restricted to consumers with excellent credit scores, but there are multiple credit cards on the market today that will reward you for spending on, and managing, your credit card responsibly regardless of your credit score. Our experts have identified our top and runner-up rewards cards for each credit band.

The best rewards credit card for excellent credit: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

If you have excellent credit, you will likely get approved for the best credit cards on the market, including credit cards with massive sign-up bonuses, impressive rewards rates, and exclusive member bonuses. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is perfect for consumers with excellent credit who dine out regularly and travel frequently. This card is also known for its massive sign-up bonus – 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of card ownership. Keep in mind there is a $95 annual fee for owning this card.

“The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with its 60,000 point offer is my favorite introductory offer on the market. It’s a great beginner card for someone to gain experience using credit card rewards.”
— R.J. Weiss, Certified Financial Planner at The Ways To Wealth

Runner-up: The Platinum Card from American Express

American Express is known for its extravagant perks for premium cardholders. If you know that you will be doing a lot of jet-setting in 2019 then you will want to consider the Platinum Card from American Express, which is the standard in luxury rewards credit cards, especially in the travel category. One of the most enticing perks that this card offers is its access to premium airport lounges across the country. While the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a great choice for both restaurants and travel, consumers who spend lots of money and travel very frequently may want to give the Platinum Card a second look.

“My favorite [introductory offer] is the 100,000 American Express Platinum offer — cash-wise, that’s $1,000, but obviously, when converted to airline partners, it provides significantly more value.”
— Jamie Larounis, Editor & Owner at TheForwardCabin.com

The best rewards credit card for good credit: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Consumers looking for a straightforward rewards card with a solid sign-up bonus and rewards rate should consider applying for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. While you will miss out on the premium perks that luxury and branded travel credit cards offer, you won’t have to worry about rotating categories, spending limits, or high annual fees.

Runner-up: The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Consumers with good credit that are looking for a cash back credit card that will reward them for basic everyday spending, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is hard to beat. You won’t earn bonus points for travel, but the impressive 6% cash back at U.S supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 3% back at U.S gas stations and select U.S department stores, makes this card the leader in cash back rewards. Spending $3,000 a year on groceries (about $250 a month) will net almost double the $95 annual fee in cash back. Add the 3% rewards rate at the pump and this card is well worth the cost of ownership.

The best rewards credit card for fair or average credit: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One QuicksilverOne credit card offers consumers the opportunity to earn cash-back rewards while building credit. You won’t get the same enticing sign-up bonuses, rewards rates, and perks that reward cards for good and excellent credit offer, but you will earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase that you make. Responsible credit card use is one of the best ways to build or rebuild credit, and this card will give you the opportunity to be rewarded along the way.

Runner-up: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Healthy credit-building behavior is a skill that you should start developing as early as possible. The Discover it® Student Cash Back card has no annual fee, offers up to 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. This card also offers bonus rewards for good grades, and matches all of the cash back that you have earned at the end of your first year. If you are a student in a position where you feel comfortable with your ability to spend responsibly and pay your bill off on time each month, you should consider this rewards credit card.

The best rewards credit card for bad credit: Discover it® Secured

There are still a handful of options that, with good payment behavior, can help you repair your credit and earn rewards. Bankrate’s favorite rewards credit card for bad credit is the Discover it® Secured, which offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. If you have a credit score lower than 600, you will be hard-pressed to find another card that offers cash back rewards with no annual fee.

Runner-up: Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit 

If you’re focused on rebuilding credit as one of your 2019 resolutions and your heart is set on a cash back credit card — only if your credit score is too low to get approved for the Discover it Secured — the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit is another option. With this card, you will earn 1% cash back on “eligible” gas and grocery purchases. However, this card comes with an annual fee anywhere between $0 and $99 depending on your credit score. In sum, the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit is a rewards card for bad credit, but not one that we would strongly recommend.

Need to do more rewards research?

Picking the right rewards card for your spending habits is a tough decision. If you want to do some further reading, check out our more extensive reviews section. Here, you can view every single credit card review we have ever written for a variety of rewards categories.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.