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Compare rewards credit cards

To maximize rewards, get a card that offers points in the category where you spend the most.

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Finder's pick for rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® logo

Up to 5%

Cash back

  • Up to 5% cashback and an impressive 1.5% base cashback rate
  • 15 months of intro APR on purchases
  • No annual fee
Apply now

Compare rewards credit cards

Use our table to compare rewards credit cards and find the right option for your needs.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$300 after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$200 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
This everyday cashback card offers a higher than average welcome offer for no annual fee, letting you earn $200 after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries.
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on up to $1,000 on groceries until April 30, 2021, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries with this popular travel card.
Citi® Double Cash Card
N/A
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
$0
Earn up to 2% on every purchase with no annual fee. This is the highest flat-rate cashback card on the market.
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Compare Rewards cards by spending type

To maximize your rewards, get a rewards card that offers more points in the category you spend most.

How have credit card rewards changed because of Covid-19?

During the coronavirus pandemic, cardholders are traveling less, spending less on gas, hotels and flights. Credit card issuers have noticed and made some changes to their rewards programs. Here’s what’s changed so far:

  • Welcome offer extension. Because many cardholders are staying home and feel more uncertain about the future, they’re limiting their spending and focusing on savings. As a result, credit card providers like American Express, Bank of America and Chase have extended the period needed to clear the signup bonus by an additional three months.
  • Rewards program changes. During the lockdown, people are spending less on gas and travel, and instead are buying more streaming services and ordering takeout. Some card providers, including Citi, Chase and Bank of America, have adapted their rewards programs to let you earn more points on the new categories.
  • Extended travel perks. With travel bans and lockdown in place, cardholders couldn’t use travel perks like elite status, companion pass or free hotel nights. The expiry date for these perks has been extended by most airlines and hotels.

Types of rewards credit cards

Here are a few types of rewards credit cards that you might encounter.

Type of rewards credit card

Benefits and features

Guide

CashbackRewards earned with these cards are given as cash back.
You can redeem this cash back as a statement credit or deposit into your bank account.
See guide
PointsThese cards earn points on certain purchases, such as restaurants, gas or streaming services.
You can then redeem these points in a variety of ways, such as travel, gift cards or cash back.
See cards
TravelThese cards earn points or miles on travel purchases, such as flights, cruises or hotel nights.
These cards aren’t typically tied to a specific travel brand, letting you earn rewards
regardless of how you travel.
See guide
AirlineEarn bonus miles when you spend on flights and other eligible categories.
You can redeem these miles on additional flights and other rewards.
These cards often come with additional airline benefits.
See guide
HotelEarn points when you spend on hotel stays and other eligible categories.
Redeem these points on rewards nights and other rewards.
Like airline cards, hotel cards often come with additional hotel perks.
See guide
RetailOffer benefits and rewards tied to a particular retailer.
Often, you can only use these cards with the affiliated company.
See guide

How do rewards credit cards work?

With a rewards credit card, you get a percentage back of what you spend, typically in the form of cash back, points or miles. You can redeem this earned currency through your card provider’s rewards portal. These points and miles represent a certain value in cash which can range depending on the rewards program.

For cashback cards, rewards are usually expressed as a percentage. If a card offers 2% cash back on all purchases, for example, you’ll receive $2 back for every $100 you spend.

For other cards, rewards are usually expressed as a point or mile multiple. A card might offer 2x points on all purchases, for example, which means you’ll receive 2 points for every dollar you spend.

1. Compare and apply for a card

Find a card that best suits your credit score, finances, spending and rewards preferences.

2. Earn rewards

Purchases you make with your rewards card are automatically posted as points or cashback to your account. Depending on the type of rewards card, you might earn more rewards for spending in a certain category.

3. Redeem rewards

Earn enough points and you can redeem them on products, gift cards and more. Depending on your card, you might be able to simply redeem your points as a statement credit.

Pros and cons of using a rewards credit card

Pros

  • Rewards. Choose a card that fits your lifestyle and earn rewards on purchases you would have made anyway.
  • Redeeming rewards. Redemption options vary from card to card. You could earn cash back, travel benefits, merchandise, gift cards and more.
  • Global acceptance. Most rewards cards are affiliated with Visa or Mastercard, accepted in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. While American Express and Discover credit cards aren’t as widely accepted internationally, they’re accepted in many locations around the world.
  • Extra perks. Many rewards cards offer extra perks, such as complimentary travel and rental car insurance. Compare your options to see which features work best with your lifestyle and spending habits.

Cons

  • Cost. You may have to pay an ongoing annual fee, or your card may have a higher APR than your basic, no-frills product.
  • Limitations. Your card provider might not let you earn more than a certain number of points in a calendar year, and your points may expire after a set time.
  • Temptation to spend. Rewards are always enticing. But if you aren’t careful, you could find yourself in snowballing debt. If you consistently carry a balance on your card, the interest could offset any rewards you earn.

When is a rewards credit card worth it?

Even the simplest of rewards credit cards can offer value if you use it properly. To make a rewards card worthwhile, consider where you spend the most and get a card that offers more points in those areas.

A rewards card’s annual fee is the primary concern when you’re evaluating whether the card is worth it. Some of the more luxurious rewards cards come with steep annual fees, so you’ll need to use enough perks and earn enough rewards to overcome that.

Case study: Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® worth it?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® sports an annual fee of $550. To make this card worth it, you’d have to take advantage of enough of the card’s perks and features to outweigh this $550 fee in value. Here are a few ways to create that value.

PerksValue
Annual travel statement credit$300
Two Priority Pass stays$160
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credit (every 4 years)$100
One year of Lyft Pink membership (one time)$240
Total$800

Here you can see you can get $800 of value out of the card perks in one year before you even factor in the rewards you can earn with the card on your everyday spending. This outweighs the cost of the annual fee, so the rewards card is worth it if you take advantage of the perks.

You asked, we listened: Top five common questions

With so many airline credit cards to choose from, it’s only natural to have some questions. Here are the 5 most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. How much are credit card rewards points worth? The most common value of a rewards point is 1 cent per 1 point. However, this can vary greatly depending on the specific loyalty program and how you redeem your points.
  2. Can I redeem my rewards points for cash back? In many cases, yes. Many rewards cards offer cash back statements as a redemption option for points.
  3. What types of rewards cards are there? There are three kinds of rewards cards: cards that earn cashback, miles or points. Cashback cards are typically the easiest type of card to use, but cards that earn miles or points give you the opportunity to redeem for higher value.
  4. Which type of rewards card should I get? This depends on how you use your card, and we have a full guide on how to pick a rewards card type. In general, pick a card that rewards you for your regular everyday spending.
  5. How many rewards cards should I have? Many consumers find it useful to have a few rewards cards, usually one with strong earnings for each type of major purchase category.

Common credit card rewards programs

Most credit card providers offer a rewards program of some kind. To choose the best rewards program for your needs, consider whether you want a simple rewards structure like cash back or whether you want rewards redemption flexibility.

Rewards programHighlightsProgram guide
Amex Membership Rewards
  • Points worth 1 cent on average
  • Pay eligible charges on your credit card statement with points
  • Pay with points on Amazon, PayPal, Grubhub and more
  • Redeem for gift cards
  • Book hotel stays, flights, car rentals and cruises
  • Shop with points
  • Transfer points to 22 partner airlines and hotels, including Delta, British Airways, Hawaiian
    Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Hilton and Marriott
Amex rewards program guide
Bank of America Rewards
  • You can earn cash with cashback cards and points with travel cards
  • Points are worth 1 cent apiece for travel statement credit redemption
  • Gift cards and cash back have a lower redemption value for points
  • Cashback rewards can only be redeemed for cash with equal value
  • Preferred Bank of America members can earn 25%, 50% or 75% more rewards on purchases
Bank of America rewards program guide
Capital One rewards
  • You can earn cash with cashback cards and miles with travel cards
  • Travel miles are typically worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel purchases
  • Redeem miles for gift cards and cash with a lower redemption value
  • Transfer miles to partner airlines, including JetBlue, Air Canada and
    Air Mexico
Capital One rewards program guide
Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • All Chase Freedom, Sapphire and Ink Business cards earn points
  • Combine points between multiple cards
  • Points worth 1 cent on average
  • Book hotel stays, airfare, car rentals and cruises via the program
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed at the portal with a Sapphire Preferred card
  • Points are worth 50% more when redeemed at the portal with a Sapphire Reserve card
  • Redeem for cash as a statement credit or gift cards
  • Buy merchandise
  • Shop with points on Amazon.com
  • Transfer points to 12 partner airlines and hotels, including JetBlue, Southwest Airlines,
    United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, IHG, World of Hyatt and Marriott
    Chase Ultimate Rewards guide
    Citi ThankYou Rewards
    • Points are worth 1 cent on average for travel purchases
    • Redeem for cash as a statement credit or gift cards
    • Shop with points on Amazon.com
    • Pay with points to cover statement credit purchases
    • Use points toward your student loan or mortgage
    • Transfer points to partner airlines including JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines and
      Aeromexico
    • Donate points
    Citi ThankYou rewards program guide
    Discover rewards
    • Travel card earns miles
    • Cashback card earns cash
    • Miles are worth 1 cent apiece
    • Redeem miles for a statement credit toward travel purchases or cash as a direct deposit
    • You can’t transfer miles to airlines or hotels
    Discover rewards guide

    How to make the most of your rewards

    With a good or excellent credit score getting a rewards credit card is easy. But to make the most of your rewards, and to stay out of debt, you’ll need to do some work.

    How to earn points

    Spending is the best way to earn points points. But some cards offer more points for certain categories, like gas, groceries, department stores, dining and travel. While other cards offer a flat reward for all purchases. Review your spending habits to find the right reards card for you.

    How to maximize points

    Maximizing your credit card rewards takes dedication.You need multiple credit cards that each earn accelerated rewards on a particular category. Then use each card where it earns the most. Some of the best credit card combinations are the Chase trifecta and the Amex trifecta.

    Another way of maximizing points is by earning the signup bonus and redeeming your points with the highest redemption value. In some cases — as with the Chase credit cards — you can transfer your points from one card to another and get up to 50% higher redemption value.

    How to redeem points for the best value

    To get the highest points redemption value you need to use your points for the right reward. For example, travel credit cards often have a 1 cent value per point, but only if you redeem it toward travel purchases. This means, avoid gift cards, cash and merchandise and focus only on travel redemption.

    Some credit cards let you transfer points to partner airlines and hotels. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get better points value. To be sure you get the most for your points, compare the redemption value in points on your credit card and travel partners by dividing the cash price with the points price.

    Example

    A hotel stay costs $200 when paid with cash, 30,000 with credit card points and 40,000 points with partner hotel rewards program.

    $200 divided by 30,000 points = 0.006
    $200 divided by 40,000 points = 0.005

    This means you get a 0.6 cents per point value with your credit card points and 0.5 cents per point value with the partner hotel. The higher the number, the higher the redemption value. In this case, it makes more sense to redeem your points with your credit card program than to transfer them to the partner hotel rewards program.

    Read more about rewards credit cards

    Steven Dashiell

    Steven Dashiell
    Credit Cards Writer

    Hi, Steve here! Before I decided on the Chase Freedom, I had a ton of questions about how Chase Ultimate Rewards worked, whether this card could transfer points and just how this card differed from other issuers’ rewards cards. Here are some of the articles that answered my questions and helped me make my decision.

    Ask the experts

    Mark D. Groza
    Lee Huffman
    Eliot Buchanan
    Audrey Guskey
    Yuliya Strizhakova
    Paolina Medina
    Vassilis Dalakas
    Matthew Fisher

    Bottom line

    There’s no shortage of rewards credit cards to choose from. Think about what rewards you want and how you typically spend, then compare a few cards before settling on the winner.

    If you’re not sure you want a rewards card yet, consider other options like 0% APR cards.

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