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Best credit card rewards program – 2021
From travel rewards to cash back, you can find a program that works for you.
Whether you’re looking to earn travel rewards, points, cash back or something else, there’s likely something out there for you.
What’s the most valuable rewards program?
You might be surprised at the value a rewards program can deliver — especially if you transfer your points or miles and do your research to get the best redemptions. Here’s a general ranking of the major programs, from most valuable to least.
|Rewards program||Why it shines|
|1. Amex Membership Rewards||More transfer partners than Chase Ultimate Rewards. Lets you transfer points to airline and hotel programs. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers stellar rewards on eligible flights.|
|2. Chase Ultimate Rewards||Excellent redemption value on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards with a Chase Sapphire® card. Lets you transfer points to airline and hotel programs.|
|3. Citi ThankYou Rewards||Solid roster of transfer partners. Points from the Citi Premier® Card are worth 1.25x when redeemed for airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center.|
|4. Capital One Rewards||Solid roster of transfer partners. Offers an excellent flat-rate travel card.|
|5. Bank of America||Simple 1-cent-per-point redemption rate. Offers a $95-a-year travel card with a 1.5x-point base rewards rate on top of 2x points on travel and dining — unusual for a travel card.|
Best credit card program for travel partners: American Express Membership Rewards
|Average Amex Membership Rewards point value||How to earn Amex Membership Rewards points||Membership Rewards redemption options||Amex Membership Rewards perks||Finder’s credit card pick for Membership Rewards|
|2.0 cents||The Platinum Card® from American Express This card offers a huge variety of travel perks and features while earning 5x miles on directly booked flights|
Best credit card rewards program for booking travel: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Here are a few of the primary ways you can earn and redeem Membership Rewards points. Check out our full Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning guide and our full Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption guide for more information.
|Average Chase Ultimate Rewards point value||How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points||Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options||Chase Ultimate Rewards perks||Finder’s credit card pick for Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|2.0 cents||Chase Freedom Flex℠|
This is an incredibly versatile card for earning Chase Ultimate Reward points. You can earn 5% back in rotating categories each quarter, up to $1,500. After that, you’ll earn a fixed 1% back on all other purchases. You can also earn 5% on travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 5% on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3% at restaurants, which includes takeout and delivery, and 5% for drugstore purchases.
Best credit card program to supplement your rewards: Citi ThankYou rewards program
Here are a few of the primary ways you can earn and redeem Citi ThankYou rewards. Check out our full Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning guide and our full Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption guide for more information.
|Average Citi ThankYou rewards point value||How to earn Citi ThankYou rewards points||Citi ThankYou rewards redemption options||Citi ThankYou rewards perks||Finder’s credit card pick for Citi ThankYou rewards|
|2.0 cents||Citi Prestige® Credit Card|
As the name suggests, the Citi Prestige® Credit Card is one of Citi’s big luxury cards, costing a cool $495 in annual fees. However, the price of that annual fee nets you a sizable 5x points on air travel and restaurants, 3x points on hotels and cruises and 1x points on all other purchases.
Best credit card program for simplicity: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Here are a few of the primary ways you can earn and redeem Capital One rewards program. Check out our full Capital One rewards program-earning guide and our full Capital One rewards program redemption guide for more information.
|Average Capital One rewards program point value||How to earn Capital One rewards program points||Capital One rewards program redemption options||Capital One rewards program perks||Finder’s credit card pick for Capital One rewards program|
|2.0 cents||Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card This card has the biggest earning potential. It offers a competitive flat earning rate of 2%.|
How to choose the best credit cards rewards program for you
You can get value out of most any rewards program if you make use of it. Consider these factors to help you determine the program you’ll benefit from most.
- Do you have a preferred credit card issuer? If you’re already satisfied with one of your existing credit cards, check out that brand’s reward card options first.
- What are your preferred rewards? Your preferred reward of choice might be worth more or less per point depending on the program, so make sure to do your research. For example, certain cards under the Chase Ultimate Rewards program offer additional value on travel when you book through the Chase travel portal.
- Do you plan on transferring your points? Point transfers are one of the best ways to make the most of your points. Though not all point transfer opportunities are the same across credit card rewards programs. Review each program’s transfer partners to make sure you have a viable option or two when it comes to traveling.
- Do you value flexibility? Credit card loyalty programs typically offer varying levels of flexibility in how you redeem your points. Some may carry unusual or rare options, such as the ability to donate or receive miles with another account.
- Do you have a favored airline or hotel? If you travel often and prefer the services of a particular airline or hotel, you might get the most value out of the benefits and perks of their specific loyalty program.
- Do the credit cards fit your spending needs? Above all else, look for a credit card that fits your financial habits and needs. If the terms aren’t great or you can’t swallow the annual fee, it’s best to consider other options.
Compare rewards credit cards
Want a better look at all of your rewards card options? Select up to 4 credit cards and click “Compare” to see how they stack up side-by-side.
So long as you pick a credit card that fits your financial habits and redeem on purchases that you value, you’ll find that most credit card rewards programs have something valuable to offer. And if you’re looking for a program that is more specialized, you can check out the best hotel loyalty programs and best airline loyalty programs to see if one better suits your needs — or would make for a great addition to your existing loyalty membership.
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