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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.

Nearly every credit card provider offers some form of rewards program. To help you decide which is right for you, we reviewed the top credit card rewards programs and ranked them into categories. When ranking these programs, we assessed several functions and features offered, including how simple it is to earn and redeem rewards, the number of travel partners available, additional perks and credit cards available.

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 programWhy it shines
1. Amex Membership RewardsMore 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 RewardsExcellent 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 RewardsSolid 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 RewardsSolid roster of transfer partners. Offers an excellent flat-rate travel card.
5. Bank of AmericaSimple 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

Here are a few of the primary ways you can earn and redeem Membership Rewards points. Check out our full Amex points-earning guide and our full Amex points redemption guide for more information.

Average Amex Membership Rewards point valueHow to earn Amex Membership Rewards pointsMembership Rewards redemption optionsAmex Membership Rewards perksFinder’s credit card pick for Membership Rewards
2.0 cents
  • Spend in eligible earning categories
  • Refer a friend
  • Book hotels through rocket miles
  • Full list of options
  • Cash back or gift cards
  • Booking travel
  • Merchandise
  • Transfer points to travel partners
  • Full list of options
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 valueHow to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards pointsChase Ultimate Rewards redemption optionsChase Ultimate Rewards perksFinder’s credit card pick for Chase Ultimate Rewards
2.0 cents
  • Spend in eligible earning categories
  • Refer a friend
  • Complete welcome offers
  • Shop through Chase’s online portal
  • Full list of options
  • Redeem for cash back or gift cards
  • Merchandise through the Chase portal
  • Book travel
  • Transfer points to travel partners
  • Full list of options
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 valueHow to earn Citi ThankYou rewards pointsCiti ThankYou rewards redemption optionsCiti ThankYou rewards perksFinder’s credit card pick for Citi ThankYou rewards
2.0 cents
  • Complete welcome offers
  • Spend in eligible categories
  • Book travel through the Citi travel center
  • Purchase Citi points
  • Full list of options
  • Transfer to travel partners
  • Book travel through the Citi travel portal
  • Purchase gift cards
  • Redeem statements toward school loans or mortgage
  • Full list of options
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 valueHow to earn Capital One rewards program pointsCapital One rewards program redemption optionsCapital One rewards program perksFinder’s credit card pick for Capital One rewards program
2.0 cents
    • Transfer miles to transfer partners
    • Book travel through Capital One’s travel portal
    • Purchase gift cards
    • Redeem for cash back
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card This card has the biggest earning potential. It offers a competitive flat earning rate of 2%.
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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.

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card
Up to $100 in Bitcoin rewards by earning 3.5% back in Bitcoin on all purchases in the first 90 days
3.5% back in Bitcoin in the first 90 days, up to a total of $100 in Bitcoin, then 1.5% on all purchases
$0
Earn 3.5% back in Bitcoin in the first 90 days, up to a total of $100 in Bitcoin. After that you'll earn a solid 1.5% back on all purchases.
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on other eligible purchases
$250

Rose Gold is Back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0
Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

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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