Best starter travel card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x 3x on dining.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Intro offer
60,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
18.99% - 25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for flat-rate cash rewards

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Apply now
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Intro offer
$200 cash rewards 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for food and entertainment

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 10% Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • 8% Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
  • 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.
Intro offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for for flat-rate travel rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Intro offer
75,000 miles 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
18.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for deal hunters

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FOR EVERYDAY TRAVEL

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Apply now
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Plus earn 1X points on other purchases
  • 1X Earn 1X points on other purchases
Intro offer
30,000 Points 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Intro offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FOR PAYING RENT

Bilt Mastercard®

Apply now
On Bilt's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 3X Points 3x points on dining
  • 2X Points 2x points on travel
  • 1X Points 1x points on other purchases
  • 1X Points Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 50,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.
Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
None
Regular APR
19.99%, 22.99% or 27.99% Variable.
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for occasional travel

Citi Premier® Card

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
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
Intro offer
80,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
19.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best no annual fee travel card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Intro offer
20,000 miles 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FOR GM PAYMENTS & LEASES

My GM Rewards Card™

Apply now
On Goldman Sachs Bank USA's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 7X Earn unlimited 7x total points with GM.*
  • 4X 4x points on purchases everywhere else.*
Intro offer
15,000 points 
Annual fee
$0*
Regular APR
17.99%-27.99% variable purchase APR based on creditworthiness. Rates as of 10/1/2022
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™
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
Intro offer
$250 
Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Regular APR
17.74%-28.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On Citi's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Intro offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™
Rewards rate
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Intro offer
60,000 points 
Annual fee
$250
Regular APR
19.74%-26.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for affordable travel perks

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 10X Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5X 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
Intro offer
75,000 miles 
Annual fee
$395
Regular APR
19.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Excellent (740 - 850)
Apply now
On Bank of America's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5X Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro offer
50,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
18.99% - 25.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Intro offer
Earn 80,000 points 
Annual fee
$695
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best rewards value

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro offer
80,000 points 
Annual fee
$550
Regular APR
19.99% - 26.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Excellent (740 - 850)

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

The information about the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.


Compare Bankrate’s top rewards credit cards

Card name Our pick for Rewards highlights Annual fee Bankrate review score
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Starter travel card 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs)

2X points on all other travel purchases

25% increased redemption value toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2 cents per point*

$95 5.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card Flat-rate cash rewards 2% cash rewards on purchases $0 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Food and entertainment 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases

5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)

3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®)

$0 4.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate travel rewards 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

2X miles on every purchase

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2 cents per mile*

$95 4.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Cash Back Deal hunters 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%. Activation required)

Discover Cashback Match™: Matches all cash back earned in the first 12 months, essentially doubling first-year rewards

$0 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Autograph Card Everyday travel 3X points at restaurants and gas stations and on transit, popular streaming services and phone plans

1X points on all other purchases

Bankrate’s rewards value: 1 cent per point*

$0 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Starter rewards 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

1.5% cash back on all purchases

$0 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bilt Mastercard Paying rent 3X points on dining

2X points on travel

1X points on rent payments (up to a maximum 50,000 points per year) and other purchases

$0 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Premier Card Occasional travel 3X points on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases

Bankrate’s rewards value: 1.9 cents per point*

$95 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card No annual fee travel card 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

1.25X miles on all other purchases

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2 cents per mile*

$0 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
My GM Rewards Card GM payments and leases 7X points on eligible GM purchases

4X points on all other purchases

Baseline rewards value: 1 cent per point (toward eligible GM purchases)

$0 3.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Groceries 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)

6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions

3% cash back on transit
3% cash back at U.S. gas stations

$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year) 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Custom Cash Card Gas 5% cash back on purchases on the top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent each cycle, 1% cash back thereafter)

1% cash back on all other purchases

$0 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
American Express Gold Card Foodies 4X points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (supermarket rate on up to $25,000 of purchases per year, then 1X points)

3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2.1 cents per point*

$250 5.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Affordable travel perks 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel

2X miles on all other purchases

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2 cents per mile*

$395 5.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card Savers 2X points on travel and dining

1.5X points on all other purchases

Bankrate’s rewards value: 1 cent per point*

(Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can receive boosted rates of up to 3.5X points on travel and dining, and 2.62X points on all other purchases)

$95 4.1 / 5
(Read full card review)
The Platinum Card from American Express Luxury travel 5X points on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year)

2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel

1X points on all other purchases

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2.1 cents per point*

$695 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Rewards value 10X points on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases via Chase Ultimate Rewards

5X points on air travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards

3X points on dining and other travel

50% increased redemption value toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Bankrate’s rewards value: 2 cents per point*

(Points on travel purchases only earned after the first $300, which is covered by the annual travel credit)

$550 5.0 / 5
(Read full card review)

*Bankrate’s points and miles valuations are based on an average of the issuer’s five highest-value transfer partners (if available).

A closer look at our top-rated rewards credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best starter travel card

  • What we love about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Its incredible travel protections and generous rewards rates for both travel and everyday purchases clock in above what you’d expect given its low annual fee. Plus, its generous sign-up bonus, high point value and stellar transfer partners make this card a stand-out option if you’re looking for a starter travel card with great short- and long-term value.
  • Who this card is good for: Occasional-to-frequent travelers who want great value without the annual fee of a luxury travel card — especially if they plan on getting more Chase rewards cards in the future.
  • Alternatives: The Citi Premier® Card could be a worthwhile second choice if you want to earn rewards in a wider range of categories (like gas). A flat-rate travel card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could also make it easier to earn miles on purchases that fall outside of typical travel card bonus categories.

Learn more: Why expert Jordan Bishop loves the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review or jump back to offer details.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best for flat-rate cash rewards

  • What we love about the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: It’s perhaps the first time we’ve seen unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases without additional hoops to jump through to earn the full rewards rate. And unlike a number of other flat-rate cards, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card comes with features like a solid intro APR and a welcome offer.
  • Who this card is good for: Cash rewards seekers who prefer a simple, valuable earning structure — especially big spenders and those with purchases that fall outside typical bonus categories.
  • Alternatives: The Citi® Double Cash Card may be a better option if you’re looking for a flat-rate card with an intro APR balance transfer offer. Meanwhile, the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card (if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member) or Chase Freedom Unlimited® (due to its additional 3 percent cash back categories) have the potential to be more valuable for some cardholders.

Learn more: Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash worth it?
Read our Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for food and entertainment

  • What we love about the Capital One SavorOne card: Entertainment rewards are hard to come by, but the most impressive benefit is the SavorOne’s incredible bonus category coverage — especially for frequent diners. Its list of rewards-eligible locations is already broad, but its supporting categories mean you’ll earn 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment purchases that generally don’t earn rewards, like select streaming services and meals at grocery store food courts, tourist attractions, movie theaters, amusement parks, sporting events and more.
  • Who this card is good for: On-the-go foodies and thrill-seekers that want an all-in-one everyday rewards option to feed their next experience.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t spend much at the grocery store or on entertainment but want a no-annual-fee card to use for most purchases, then the Chase Freedom Unlimited may a better option. Its unique rewards structure offers plenty of chances to earn cash back, thanks to multiple bonus categories (including unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining) and a 1.5 percent flat rate for all other eligible purchases.

Learn more: Why expert Ana Cvetkovic loves the Capital One SavorOne
Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate travel rewards

  • What we love about the Capital One Venture card: The flat-rate 2X miles on purchases allows you to earn travel miles without traveling, a great perk for anyone who travels infrequently or spends more on non-travel related expenses. Plus, its flexible redemption portal and ability to redeem rewards for statement credits toward travel purchases already made in the past 90 days go the extra mile toward a streamlined rewards experience many travel cards can’t boast.
  • Who this card is good for: Simplicity-seekers and domestic spenders who want to earn a respectable travel mile rewards rate on purchases that aren’t travel-related. The Venture card is one of the best options if you don’t want to deal with bonus categories and the redemption complexities many travel cards pose.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t want to pay an annual fee and don’t mind the limited features, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card may be a better deal. But if you’re looking for luxury perks like lounge access and annual credits, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and its bonus features can help offset its annual fee easier than you can with the Venture (despite being $395). However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may offer better rewards value and travel perks than the Venture if you want to stick with a $95 annual fee.

Learn more: Why expert Jacqueline DeMarco loves the Capital One Venture
Read our Capital One Venture Rewards card review or jump back to offer details.

Discover it Cash Back: Best for deal hunters

  • What we love about the Discover it Cash Back card: It offers market-low rates and fees, award-winning customer service and a valuable first-year cash back match welcome offer to supplement its rotating rewards. Plus, the card makes it a lot easier than other rotating category cards for deal hunters to map out the best time to make purchases since Discover’s cash back calendar is announced the year before rather than a quarter ahead.
  • Who this card is good for: People who like the excitement of changing bonus categories and can take advantage of its cycling categories for seasonal expenses.
  • Alternatives: Cardholders looking to maximize their seasonal spending rewards may get more value from the Chase Freedom Flex℠ if they don’t mind slightly higher rates and fees or shorter notice on upcoming categories. Although its quarterly categories are harder to anticipate, its year-round 3 percent dining and drugstore categories can help you earn more cash back to lean on if a quarterly category doesn’t align with your usual spending.

Learn more: Why expert Nicole Dieker loves the Discover it Cash Back
Read our Discover it Cash Back review or jump back to offer details.

Wells Fargo Autograph Credit Card: Best for everyday travel

  • What we love about the Wells Fargo Autograph card: It offers a terrific mix of practical everyday rewards categories — especially for occasional travelers and commuters. While you can earn rewards in individual categories like gas stations, dining and travel on other cards, it’s rare to find this many high-value categories on a single no-annual-fee card. The card’s sign-up bonus is also one of the most valuable out there for a card available with no annual fee.
  • Who this card is good for: Commuters, families and occasional travelers can squeeze a lot of value out of this card thanks to its broad category coverage – including general travel, gas station purchases and transit – and $0 annual fee.
  • Alternatives: Despite its modest annual fee ($0 intro fee for the first year), the Blue Cash Preferred could be an even more rewarding option thanks to its best-in-class cash back rate on U.S. supermarket purchases. You’ll earn 6 percent back on your first $6,000 in spending in this category per year (1 percent after that), as well as bonus rewards in many of the same categories as the Autograph card, including U.S. gas station purchases, U.S. streaming subscriptions and transit.

Learn more: Is the Wells Fargo Autograph worth it?
Read our Wells Fargo Autograph card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best starter rewards card

  • What we love about the Capital One Quicksilver card: This card is a solid choice if you’re looking for a no-hassle rewards card with solid protections and decent intro APR offers on purchases and balance transfers. New cardholders that prioritize a simple, easygoing rewards experience can also choose to have their cash back redeem automatically at a set yearly date or rewards balance threshold.
  • Who this card is good for: Cardholders learning the rewards ropes and anyone else who wants solid flat-rate rewards while avoiding the effort of chasing specific bonus categories and enrollment dates — or even using the redemption portal regularly.
  • Alternatives: A few flat-rate cards easily outperform the Quicksilver’s 1.5 percent rewards rate, such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash (with its unlimited 2 percent flat-rate cash rewards) and the Chase Freedom Unlimited (offering 3 percent dining and drugstore cash back on top of a flat-rate 1.5 percent).

Learn more: Why expert Nicole Dieker loves the Capital One Quicksilver
Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card review or jump back to offer details.

Bilt Mastercard: Best for paying rent

  • What we love about the Bilt Mastercard: There’s simply no card like it — it’s the only card that lets you earn rewards and avoid fees when you pay rent. Even if your landlord only accepts checks, you can still pay through the Bilt app, earn rewards and avoid fees. Plus, the card offers a long list of high-value travel partners, giving your rewards tremendous redemption potential.
  • Who this card is good for: Anyone looking for a way to earn rewards and avoid fees when paying rent with a credit card. Since it lacks a cash back redemption option, the card is an especially good fit if you plan to redeem points to cover rent, for a future home down payment or for travel.
  • Alternatives: Since this card only earns 1X points on rent and only offers a high redemption value on travel, it may not be the most lucrative option overall. If you care more about everyday savings than travel rewards, a no-annual-fee cash back card like the Capital One SavorOne card may be a better fit thanks to its wider variety of bonus categories, including grocery stores, dining, entertainment and more.

Read our full Bilt Mastercard review or jump back to offer details.

Citi Premier Card: Best for occasional travel

  • What we love about the Citi Premier Card: It’s a handy catch-all travel card for travelers that spend a bit more time at home and on the road than abroad. Not only does its valuable spread of bonus categories and hotel benefits more than make up for the $95 annual fee, but it also pairs incredibly well with other Citi rewards cards, which will appeal to rewards strategists who want to maximize their earning potential.
  • Who this card is good for: Occasional travelers who can rake in more rewards from everyday expenses like food and gas may be the prime Citi Premier cardholders.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s stronger travel features or the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express cash back card’s higher rewards rates may make them better choices for a rewards card with an annual fee.

Learn more: Why expert Erin Gobler loves the Citi Premier
Read our Citi Premier Card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best no annual fee travel card

  • What we love about the Capital One VentureOne Rewards card: Earning quality travel rewards like Capital One Miles for no annual fee isn’t a common opportunity. Although you only earn 1.25X miles on purchases other than Capital One Travel hotel and rental car bookings, its intro APR periods and relatively low fees give occasional travelers enough advantages to enjoy a simplified rewards experience. Enterprising travelers can wring even more value out by dipping into Capital One’s great transfer partner program and reduced airport lounge rates.
  • Who this card is good for: Beginning travelers and cardholders that want a simple, brass-tacks travel rewards experience at minimal cost.
  • Alternatives: Cardholders that are happy sacrificing basic travel perks and transfer partners for a better rewards rate will find the Discover it® Miles card and Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card promising alternatives. Both have lower rates and fees, plus 1.5X reward rates on all purchases that can be redeemed for travel purchase statement credits with a greater degree of flexibility.

Learn more: 7 reasons to get the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card
Read our Capital One VentureOne Rewards card review or jump back to offer details.

My GM Rewards Card: Best for GM payments and leases

  • What we love about the My GM Rewards Card: It offers a staggeringly-high rewards rate on both GM purchases and general purchases, which should make it very easy to rack up points toward a new or used GM car. In fact, the card’s base rewards rate is perhaps the highest available on a no-annual-fee card. Plus, the card comes with up to $100 in annual fuel statement credits on $1,500 of fuel purchases at eligible gas stations  — a better return on spend than most gas rewards cards offer.
  • Who this card is good for: Current and aspiring GM car owners and lessees will benefit most from this card’s elevated rewards rates and redemption options. You’ll also squeeze more value out of the card if you visit a GM dealership for car parts, service and maintenance.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking to earn rewards on auto-related expenses, but don’t want to commit to redeeming rewards with GM, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® card is a good alternative. It also carries no annual fee and offers unlimited 3 percent cash back on home, auto and health expenses, including everything from car washes to auto parts, repairs and towing services.

Read our full My GM Rewards Card review or jump back to offer details.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for groceries

  • What we love about the Blue Cash Preferred Card: This is perhaps the most rewarding card for groceries — especially if you want consistent, year-round cash back. Sure, you can find other cards that reward you for grocery purchases, but the elevated rates for other everyday expenses like transit, select U.S. streaming services and U.S. gas station purchases make it a more well-rounded card for a variety of cardholders’ household budgets.
  • Who this card is good for: Families and households with large grocery and gas station bills. Commuters may also maximize the Blue Cash Preferred thanks to its comprehensive transit category that includes parking, rideshares, tolls, and train tickets.
  • Alternatives: This card doesn’t earn boosted rewards at superstores (like Target and Walmart) or wholesale clubs (like Costco or Sam’s Club). Depending on where you like to shop, a flat-rate card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card could provide better value. And if the annual fee is a deal-breaker, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express or the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card may be a better fit for smaller budgets.

Learn more: Why expert Ted Rossman loves the Blue Cash Preferred
Read our Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express review or jump back to offer details.

Citi Custom Cash Card: Best for gas

  • What we love about the Citi Custom Cash Card: Few rewards cards offer a bonus category that automatically adapts to your spending, and just as few provide the opportunity to earn top-shelf 5 percent cash back on one of 10 categories — including popular picks like gas and grocery stores and less common reward opportunities like fitness clubs and live entertainment. Since it earns 5 percent back on the first $500 of your top eligible spending category (then 1 percent back), the Citi Custom Cash is a remarkable partner card to fill up your gas tank and reward gaps.
  • Who this card is good for: Frequent drivers and rewards strategists who don’t mind juggling multiple credit cards to maximize their earning potential. Since it only earns bonus cash back in one eligible category (up to the first $500 spent per billing cycle) and one percent on all other purchases, it’s a great fit for someone who will only use it on purchases that fall into one eligible category.
  • Alternatives: For many cardholders with varied expenses, this card’s structure may mean missing a lot of rewards. Although neither card offers automatic bonus categories, both the Bank of America Customized Cash card and the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® card could be a good fit for rewards seekers looking for a standalone rewards card. These cards not only let you choose your own bonus categories from a wide selection, but also earn bonus rewards in more than one category.

Learn more: Is the Citi Custom Cash worth it?
Read our Citi Custom Cash Card review or jump back to offer details.

American Express Gold Card: Best for foodies

  • What we love about the American Express Gold Card: When deciding on a dining rewards card, you sometimes have to pick a favorite: eating at restaurants or cooking at home. Fortunately, the Amex Gold offers stellar travel rewards on both dining and U.S. supermarket purchases. The card also features a stellar list of Amex travel partners and enough food-related annual credits to nearly offset the $250 annual fee.
  • Who this card is good for: Foodies who want to stockpile travel rewards.
  • Alternatives: The Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are smart picks if you’re itching for more than dining rewards since both offer better travel rewards, perks and protections. On the other hand, the Capital One SavorOne or Chase Sapphire Preferred could be a better fit if you want excellent dining and grocery rewards without a $250+ annual fee.

Learn more: Why the Amex Gold is worth the annual fee
Read our American Express Gold Card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for affordable travel perks

  • What we love about the Capital One Venture X card: Despite a 2X-mile flat rewards rate that matches the standard Venture card’s — and a much higher $395 fee — its Priority Pass Select membership, annual bonus miles and yearly travel credits alone could offset the annual fee and make the Venture X easier to justify. All these perks and boosted rewards rates for Capital One Travel combine to make it the flagship flat-rate rewards card for moderate and frequent travelers alike.
  • Who this card is good for: Travelers who want complimentary lounge access and other benefits that typically come with luxury travel rewards cards without having to spend upwards of $500. Considering how bloated elite travel cards have become, the Venture X trims the fat for cardholders just interested in practical travel perks above the $95 annual fee-tier.
  • Alternatives: Cardholders that aren’t convinced they’ll be able to take full advantage of the Venture X’s features may have more luck downsizing to a $95 annual fee-tier travel rewards card. The standard Venture card has an equal 2X flat rate that is a good fit for travelers looking for an easy way to earn travel miles, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you rack up points in bonus categories that go beyond travel, which can then be redeemed for a higher value than typically found with travel cards.

Learn more: Is the Capital One Venture X worth it?
Read our Capital One Venture X Rewards card review or jump back to offer details.

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card: Best for savers

  • What we love about the Bank of America Premium Rewards card: Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program can boost dedicated savings account builders’ rewards rates by 25 percent to 75 percent, bestowing possibly the best rewards rate for general purchases available. What’s more, infrequent flyers can use their points for cash back without losing value, and the up to $100 in annual airline incidentals credits can make up for the annual fee.
  • Who this card is good for: Bank of America account holders with above-average savings account balances — or at least travelers that enjoy in-flight commodities.
  • Alternatives: Without at least Platinum Preferred Rewards status, other cards can earn more all-around value for the same annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier card may be excellent resources instead in this case.

Learn more: Why expert Sara Coleman loves the Bank of America Premium Rewards
Read our Bank of America Premium Rewards card review or jump back to offer details.

The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for luxury travel

  • What we love about The Platinum Card: While being one of the most expensive rewards cards on the market (posing a $695 annual fee), its wealth of travel and shopping protections, assorted credits and airport and hotel perks can offer thousands of dollars in value. If you spend a lot of time jet-setting and can take advantage of many of the card’s features, the Amex Platinum is worth it as one of the best travel cards available.
  • Who this card is good for: Luxury-minded travelers who can leverage the card’s deep roster of yearly credits, airport lounge access, shopping perks and airline and hotel privileges.
  • Alternatives: Several of the Platinum Card’s perks may be difficult for cardholders to take advantage of, which may make it harder to offset the annual fee. Travelers may have an easier time justifying the annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card thanks to its high-value rewards and more practical perks and credits. But casual travelers who care more about the sights may prefer the Capital One Venture X card.

Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Amex Platinum Card
Read our Platinum Card from American Express review or jump back to offer details.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best rewards value

  • What we love about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card: Its travel and dining rewards are some of the most valuable we’ve found (along with the rewards rates, if you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards) thanks to its stellar transfer partners and 1.5 percent point value boost when redeemed for travel through the Chase portal. Fortunately, these rewards can go straight into your next trip rather than toward the annual fee, courtesy of the card’s first-class benefits like the $300 annual travel credit (which is more versatile than competitors’), comprehensive travel insurance and airport perks.
  • Who this card is good for: Frequent travelers aiming to maximize their rewards’ value from travel and dining purchases, Chase card combinations or Ultimate Rewards redemption options.
  • Alternatives: The Platinum Card from American Express provides even more annual credits and privileges if you want additional luxury-oriented features like improved airport lounge access. On the other side of the coin, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture X cards are more cost-effective options that can help you earn more rewards from everyday expenses compared to the Sapphire Reserve’s travel-focused bonus categories.

Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve card review or jump back to offer details.


What is a rewards credit card?

Rewards credit cards accumulate points, miles or cash back for purchases. As the name implies, for every dollar spent, issuers credit your account with rewards. These rewards can be earned at a flat rate — like unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases — or offer a higher rate for certain categories, like earning 5 points for every dollar spent on travel-related purchases.

Depending on the issuer, some of the best credit cards for rewards offer distinct rewards programs and redemption rules. However, understanding the issuer’s credit card rewards program can help you take advantage of all the perks and benefits it offers.

Types of rewards credit cards

Navigating all the rewards card options available to you can be difficult. That’s why we broke out some of the most common types of rewards credit cards, along with more detailed recommendations from our team on the best cards in each category.

Pros and cons of rewards credit cards

A rewards card can be a great way to earn lucrative points, miles or cash back for the purchases you’re already making. However, there are some downsides to be aware of before applying. If you’re wondering whether rewards credit cards are worth it, here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind when shopping for your next rewards card:

Pros

  • Rewards: We know it’s a given, but the main pro of these cards is the value of getting rewards on your everyday purchases.
  • Sign-up bonuses: Rewards cards often come with generous sign-on bonuses (extra points or miles for spending a certain amount of money in a set time period, usually your first three months), especially when compared to other types of credit cards.
  • Additional benefits: Depending on the card and issuer, you could unlock access to additional bonuses and benefits, like airport lounge access, hotel upgrades, and certain travel or shopping protections.

Cons

  • Rewards caps: Some cards carry earning caps, which limit the amount of points or miles you can earn. This factor can reduce the value of the card, especially if there’s an annual fee.
  • Higher APRs: Rewards credit cards tend to carry higher interest rates. As such, they’re not a great fit for people who tend to carry a balance from time to time.
  • Higher annual fees: The more generous the rewards system, the higher the annual fee. Unless you maximize your rewards earnings, it can be hard to outweigh the cost of the annual fee.

Who should get a rewards credit card?

The world of rewards credit cards can be confusing to newcomers. If you’re deciding when to take the plunge and acquire a rewards card, aligning your new card with some of your goals is a great way to determine if the card is right for you. Here are a few people who can benefit the most from rewards credit cards:

Still unsure if a rewards credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool for personalized recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

How to choose the best credit card for rewards

When choosing the rewards credit card for you, it pays to do some research and reflection. In general, you should ask yourself:

What types of purchases do you spend the most on?

Whether it’s groceries, travel, dining out or something else, it’s important to select a card that fits with your highest spending categories. If your budget isn’t focused on one specific category, consider applying for a flat-rate card that rewards all eligible purchases. If your budget leans toward certain expenses, a card with higher rewards rates in those categories can help maximize your rewards potential.

You may also want to consider a card with perks that complement those major expenses. Even if the rewards rate is slightly lower than competitors’ rates, extra features sometimes provide more value than the potential rewards you’d earn. For example, several travel cards more than justify their annual fee with features worth hundreds of dollars, such as yearly airfare credits, complimentary airport lounge access and expedited airport security reimbursements.

What kind of rewards are you interested in?

Deciding between a cash back, point or mile-earning card ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you’d rather earn straightforward rewards on everyday purchases, a cash back credit card would be a good fit. If you’re a frequent flyer and want to enhance your travel experience with rewards and perks toward airfare and hotel stays, a travel card that earns points or miles may be better.

While bonus points are often worth more toward travel — meaning you may need to redeem through the issuer’s portal or transfer travel partners to maximize your rewards’ value — some point programs also provide 1:1 value toward cash back in case you’re not a devout traveler.

How much effort are you willing to put into maximizing your earnings?

Many cash back rewards cards are relatively low-effort, as they generally earn rewards on everyday purchases without requiring extra effort to maximize your redemption value. In fact, some issuers even allow you to automatically redeem cash back for an easier experience.

But if you don’t mind putting in a bit of effort, a travel-centric rewards card lets you strategically redeem your points or miles for potentially more value. This may mean booking through an issuer’s travel portal or transferring rewards to a higher-value travel partner. While this effort can pay off, you may not find it worth the headache and sometimes higher annual fee.

What fees are associated with the card?

You’ll need to decide whether a card’s rewards and perks outweigh the cost of its fees. There’s no single right answer, though — it all depends on your personal circumstances and goals. For example, a card that charges a modest annual fee but no foreign transaction fees may be a better deal for international travelers than a no-annual-fee card that charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.

However, the most important factor is whether the card’s benefits and potential rewards will justify the annual fee. For instance, a cash back grocery card’s annual fee may not be worthwhile if you typically shop at wholesale clubs or superstores like Walmart. Similarly, luxury travel cards may be hard to justify if you won’t use hundreds of dollars’ worth of perks like elite hotel status upgrades or airport lounge access every year.

Which rewards program best fits your spending and offers maximum value?

Just as important as deciding how much effort you’ll put into redeeming your rewards, figuring out which rewards programs suits your spending habits can determine whether a cash back, points or miles program is best for you.

  • Cash back is better if you prefer earning consistent, easy-to-redeem rewards on everyday purchases like food, gas and online shopping.
  • Mile-based reward programs are best if you want to travel and spend a lot on related expenses like flights, hotels, transit and dining.
  • Point-based reward programs usually offer more flexible redemption choices if you may want to redeem for options other than travel (including for cash back, merchandise and more).

Which welcome offer is more helpful?

Although welcome offers aren’t a substitute for long-term value, they can swing your decision if you’re torn between similar cards or you’re trying to pay off your current card’s balance. The card with the highest-value intro bonus — be it bonus rewards, limited-time reward categories or other intro perks — for the easiest spending requirement can kickstart your savings or get you closer to your dream vacation.

If settling your snowballing interest payments would save you more money than a hefty rewards bonus, a generous 0 percent intro APR might be a more valuable welcome offer. The right rewards credit card’s 0 percent intro APR could provide up to an 18-month break from accumulating interest on your transferred balance. Rewards cards may offer intro APRs on both purchases and balance transfers, but 0 percent intro APRs on purchases typically max out at 15 months.

What are credit card points or miles worth?

To find out if a rewards card is worth it for you, you’ll need to do some quick math. The easiest way to calculate the value of your rewards points is to divide the cash value of what you’re redeeming your points for by the number of points required to redeem it. For example if you redeem your points for a plane ticket that would normally cost $700 and you need 70,000 points, your credit card rewards are worth 1 cent apiece.

$700 (cost of ticket) / 70,000 (points needed) = 1 cent (value of reward point)

With some rewards credit cards, the value of your points change based on what you redeem them for. For instance, some points redeemed for cash back are worth less than if you redeemed them for travel.

Using Bankrate’s latest point and mile valuations

To make it easier to gauge the right rewards card for the job, we’ve already crunched the numbers for you. Our up-to-date list of point and mile values gives you a sense of how much the most popular airline and hotel rewards are worth on average. For general travel rewards programs, such as those offered by Chase and Capital One, we’ve also estimated how much your rewards are worth when you redeem through the issuer or transfer to a high-value airline or hotel travel partner.

For example, if you have a Capital One Venture card and want to book a flight with Air Canada, you can use our valuations to determine whether you should redeem your Capital One miles through the issuer’s portal or transfer them to the Air Canada rewards program.

Capital One miles can be transferred to Air Canada at a 1:1 ratio and we estimate you can get an average value of 1.2 cents per point with Air Canada Aeroplan points. That’s more than the 1-cent-per-point value you’d get by redeeming through Capital One, so a transfer would make sense in this scenario.

Reward option Estimate point/mile value Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles
Air Canada Aeroplan points 1.2 cents $600
Capital One Miles
(via Capital One Travel)
1 cent $500

Cases like this are common, so it always pays to research how much your hard-earned rewards will be worth before you redeem them.

How to maximize your rewards

Developing a thorough credit card strategy doesn’t happen overnight. Here are a few ways you can maximize your rewards:

  • Target your spending categories: If your card has special categories that earn higher rewards rates, concentrate your spending in those areas.
  • Earn your sign-up bonus: Understand how long you have to meet the spending requirement associated with the offer, but avoid overspending to meet the threshold in time. Then, redeem your bonus through the optimal redemption method (such as transfer partners, the issuer travel portal, etc.).
  • Leverage your extra benefits: Be sure you know how and when to cash in statement credits, protections and special access to squeeze the most value out of your card and offset any annual fees, without relying on your rewards earned via spending.
  • Double up on cards to earn more: To earn even more rewards, you can combine credit cards that earn rewards for different types of spending. Combining cards that earn bonus rewards in your highest spending categories with a supporting flat-rate rewards card is an excellent way to ensure you earn rewards on all of your key purchases, including those that fall outside of typical credit card bonus categories.
  • Redeem through the issuer’s portal: In some cases, redeeming through the issuer’s portal can boost the value of your rewards (such as with Chase Ultimate Rewards cards). This isn’t always the case, however, so be sure to pick the redemption option that offers the most value.]
  • Understand merchant category codes (MCCs): These four-digit codes classify where purchases fall into your card’s bonus categories. Knowing your card network’s MCCs allows you to see whether you need to change your shopping habits, which card is better for which expense and how you may be able to snag unexpected rewards.
  • Track your spending: If you have a card with rotating or tiered bonus categories, you may need to activate or enroll to earn those rewards each period. Similarly, you’ll want to track your spending and make sure you aren’t spending beyond your card’s rewards cap if another card could be earning more on the extra spending.
  • Make sure to offset the annual fee: Look at the value of the rewards you typically earn for your spending to be sure you’re earning enough rewards to more than cover the cost of the annual fee. If your rewards value falls short of the annual fee or barely covers it, you may want to consider downgrading to a no-annual-fee card that may offer more potential value. On the other hand, you may want to upgrade to a premium card if you’ll earn even more rewards and valuable perks after making up for the annual fee.
  • Don’t carry a balance: Carrying a balance leads to interest charges, which can quickly eat through any rewards you’ve earned.
  • Adapt your rewards strategy as your spending shifts: You may need to reconfigure your credit card strategy if your post-pandemic spending habits are different. For example, credit card rewards can help minimize inflation costs on groceries, gas, dining and other major expenses with fluctuating prices. If you’re commuting again, a card that rewards gas purchases, travel or transit may fit your budget better. Swapping your grocery card for a restaurant rewards card may also be smart if you’re not cooking at home as often.

How we chose the best rewards credit cards

Bankrate uses a 5-star system to assign scores to credit cards available from our partners. With rewards credit cards, we focus on factors including:

Rewards value

The cards on our list feature some of the industry’s finest rewards programs, with generous earning rates and consistently high value of points or miles.

Low cost of ownership

Is the card a good deal, money-wise? Do the benefits and rewards outweigh annual fees and other costs? With the best rewards credit cards, the answer to both questions needs to be yes.

Redemption options

The best rewards cards make it easy for you to redeem your cash back, travel miles or rewards points. Top cards that earn travel miles offer flexible options for using them, including transfers to travel partners.

Benefits and perks

Benefits such as discounts, purchase protection and travel insurance add value to your credit card even when you're not using it to earn rewards.

More information on rewards credit cards

For more information on all things rewards cards, continue reading content from our credit card experts:


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


Frequently asked questions about rewards credit cards

about the author
Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit ...
about the editor
Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate,  focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and p...

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