Best Rewards Credit Cards

We've vetted hundreds of card offers and analyzed thousands of data points to bring you a shortlist of our top rewards cards, some of which are from our partners.

Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Discover's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

A clear cash-back leader with a laundry list of perks that reads like a novel. You’ll be hard pressed to find a competing card with a matching feature set and no annual fee.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Bonus cash back
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • FICO® Score for free
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
5.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 5.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 14 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 14 months
Highlights
  • 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Rates & Fees
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Chase's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

One of the most popular travel cards for many reasons. This offer is practically a must-have for travelers seeking a big sign-up bonus and one of the best points programs available on the market

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus
  • 2 points per $1 for travel & dining
  • Flexible points transfer program
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
1.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 1.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24%, Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • 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®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 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.
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Capital One's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Strikes a nice balance of high rewards and a big sign-up bonus with low fees. With a base travel rewards rate of 2 miles per $1 and other perks on Hotels.com purchase and TSA Pre✓® credits, this is a no-fuss travel rewards card that's hard to ignore

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus
  • 10 miles per $1 at Hotels.com
  • 2 miles per $1
  • No foreign transaction fees
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
2.5 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 2.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 17.99% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • 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
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Bank of America's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

The bonus leads the pack in the no-annual fee category, plus you earn premium cash back in a category of your choice and now have access to a long 0% intro APR offer.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Big bonus offer
  • 3% back on gas or a category of your choice
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.5 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 billing cycles Balance Transfers: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other popular categories, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Citi's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Cardholders can secure premium rewards with the innovative program that rounds up every point earned. Plus, there's a well-rounded suite of perks, including no annual fee and a long 0% intro APR offer.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Innovative rewards program
  • Long 0% intro APR offer
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
3.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 3.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months
Highlights
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On American Express' Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

This is the highest spending gas and supermarkets card we've come across. If you have a sizable budget on both, the small annual fee is justifiable, especially given the other perks that include a big welcome bonus and a competitive 0% intro APR offer.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • $250 welcome bonus
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • Earn up to 6% cash back
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
1.5 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 1.5/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 14.99%-25.99% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0.00%, 12 months Balance Transfers: 0.00%, 12 months
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Highlights
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • NEW 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Rates & Fees
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Chase's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Packed with a deep bench of perks that is rare in the cash-back category, including an easy-to-pocket bonus, long 0% intro APR offers, and bonus cash back. It's a leading pick no doubt.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Cash sign-up bonus
  • Earn up to 5% cash back
  • 0% intro APR offer for 15 months
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 17.24%-25.99%, variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months
Highlights
  • 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
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • 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 JourneySM
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Bank of America's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

No-annual-fee travel cards typically skimp on the sign-up bonus, but this card delivers with its market-leading intro bonus offer, unlimited rewards on spending, and other wallet-friendly perks.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Unlimited 1.5 points per $1
  • Big intro bonus offer
  • No foreign transaction fees
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 17.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 billing cycles Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR will apply
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Capital One's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

This may be the most versatile and flexible cash-back card on the market. The long 0% intro APR makes the offer hard to pass up, especially if you're wanting to keep a one-card wallet that packs in a rich rewards program.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • $150 sign-up bonus
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% intro APR
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, for 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, for 15 months
Highlights
  • 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
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
American Express Cash Magnet® Card
Our Bottom Line

Brings one-card wallet versatility with a big welcome bonus, long 0% intro APR offer, and unlimited cash back

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • Welcome bonus
Key Scores:
3.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 3.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.24%-26.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0.00%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0.00%, 15 months
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • $0 plan fees for plans set up during your first 15 months of Card Membership with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Rates & Fees
Background image of The Ascent logo

Get our latest tips and uncover more of our top picks to help you conquer your money goals

With each passing year, it seems as though credit card rewards only get better. Competition has never been higher in the credit card industry, and this has led to increasingly generous rewards programs and introductory offers. The best credit card rewards programs now offer extremely lucrative sign-up bonuses for new cardholders, plus high rewards yields on every dollar charged to the card. The most rewarding card on our list offers as much as $750 in travel value in the form of a new cardholder bonus, and a rewards yield as high as 4.5% in travel value for spending on restaurants and travel purchases, which showcases the value offered by the top rewards cards.

How we picked the winners

Selecting from hundreds of rewards cards on the market wasn’t easy, but having so many cards to choose from allowed us to be picky about which cards should make our list of the very best. We looked for a handful of attributes that we think are important for any rewards card, including:

  • Simple rewards programs -- In our experience, complexity often works in the favor of the card issuer rather than the cardholder. We like programs with clear rules for earning and redeeming rewards that don’t make you jump through hoops to get the most value.
  • High reward yields -- It should go without saying that a high rewards yield per $1 of spending is one of the most important criteria for making our list of the best cards. We like cards that offer a high rewards rate on categories that make up a majority of a cardholder’s monthly budget.
  • Low minimum redemptions -- Rewards aren’t worth anything until they can be redeemed. We prefer cards that have a no- or low-minimum redemption threshold. We think cards that have redemption minimums of $25 or less are best since cardholders will be able to redeem their rewards frequently.
  • Annual fees that make sense -- Not all of the cards on this list carry annual fees, but we wanted to make sure that when they do, it’s because they offer something more (higher rewards yields or other perks) that can help make up for the cost.
  • Sign-up bonus potential -- Many of our favorite cards offer a sign-up bonus valued from $150 up to $750. While they aren’t necessary to make the cut, we like offers that give cardholders an opportunity to get a jumpstart to earning rewards with new cardholder bonuses.

Why you can trust us

We’re always looking for the best deals because we use them personally. The Ascent team has decades of experience using credit cards to take advantage of big sign-up bonuses and high rewards rates on our spending. Starting with a list of hundreds of cards, we boiled down the list to only the very best rewards cards. But the proof is really in the numbers -- the cards on this list offer thousands of dollars in sign-up bonus value on top of high on-going rewards rates per $1 spent.

What are credit card rewards?

Credit card rewards are benefits you receive for the purchases you charge to a credit card. These programs date back all the way to the 1980s, when card companies started offering cash back and airline miles for making purchases on credit. Later, other companies rolled out credit cards that earned free long-distance minutes, or cash towards the purchase of an automobile.

Cardholders can expect to earn at least 1% in cash back or travel value on every purchase, and the best cards can offer rewards that rise as high as 5% on certain types of spending. Travel cards also boast features like free checked bags on flights, extended checkouts at hotels, and other perks that would have been unthinkable when the programs first began. It's also important to note that credit card rewards are typically only paid on purchases. Cash advances and balance transfers are generally not rewards-eligible purchases.

What are the different types of credit card rewards?

Credit card rewards generally come in two types: Some cards offer cash back, while others offer travel rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, rental cars, and other travel-related purchases.

Cash-back credit cards

These rewards programs are simple to use, which is why they remain the most popular type of rewards cards today. Cash-back credit cards offer a certain percentage of cash back, typically paying an amount ranging from 1% to 2% of your spending. Some cards also offer bonuses for spending in certain categories, like gas or grocery purchases, where each $1 of spend can earn up to 5% back.

Travel credit cards

These cards are becoming more popular for cardholders who have good or excellent credit scores. Travel credit cards typically earn one to two “miles” or “points” for every $1 of spending, with each point or mile commonly redeemable for $0.01 of travel value. Some travel cards also offer category bonuses for spending on travel or swiping your card to pay a bar tab or restaurant bill. Some allow cardholders to redeem their miles or points for other types of rewards, but give preferential redeption rates for travel. The best credit cards rewards are often found on travel cards, but because many carry annual fees, and rewards are meant for travel redemptions only, they aren’t necessarily the best cards for everyone.

How credit cards with travel rewards work

Travel rewards come in two flavors. Some cards offer a travel portal through which points or miles you earn can be redeemed for travel. Others offer statement credit redemptions, which allow you to redeem rewards against travel purchases you make. Both types of travel rewards have their unique pros and cons.

  • Travel portal rewards cards -- Some travel cards earn premium rates when redeemed through a card issuers travel portal. These same cards also tend to offer an extra perk in that the points you earn can be transferred to travel partners, making them more valuable for people who want to redeem points through hotel and airline loyalty programs.
  • Statement credit rewards cards -- These rewards cards are excellent for people who like to shop around for travel deals and want flexibility in how they book travel purchases. Many people prefer statement credit rewards cards because the rewards can be redeemed any time you can make a travel purchase, and aren’t subject to limitations like blackout dates.

People who are good at bargain shopping for travel deals may come out ahead with statement credit rewards cards. That’s because the rewards you earn can be redeemed for statement credits against a travel purchase made through an online travel agency (Priceline or Expedia, for example), as well as purchases made directly with a hotel or airline. If you’re the type of person who uses discounts and coupon codes and search high and low for a bargain, statement credit travel cards may offer more value to you.

How credit cards with cash back rewards work

Cash back cards are really simple. When you swipe your card to make a purchase, you earn rewards based on how much you spend, and what you buy. Like travel cards, cash back cards also come in two different types:

  • Unlimited, flat cash back on all spending -- These cards usually offer rewards equal to 1% to 2% on every $1 you spend. Since all types of spending earn at the same rate, you won’t have to bother thinking about which card to use for certain purchases to get the most value. These cards are great for people who simply want to earn a reasonable rewards rate on all types of spending, and don’t want to bother carrying several cards in their wallets.
  • Category bonus cards -- These cards offer large bonuses for spending in certain categories -- say, 5% or even 6% cash back instead of the typical 1%-2% cash back rate. Most programs use a rotating bonus category program, wherein certain types of spending (department stores, home improvement stores, gas purchases, restaurants, etc.) earn at higher rates for three months out of the year. The downside with these cards is that the base rewards rate is usually pretty low (1% or less). If you spend heavily in a certain category, though, these cards can offer a lot of bonus value.

Credit cards with rewards and no annual fee

If you have lower spending needs or use multiple credit cards, you’re likely a good candidate for cards that do not have an annual fee. Though the credit cards with the best rewards typically have annual fees, it rarely makes sense to pay an annual fee unless you can put tens of thousands of dollars of spending on one card each year. Most cash back credit cards do not have an annual fee, whereas many travel cards do.

One of the best things about using no-annual-fee credit cards is that you don’t limit yourself to any one card, nor will you have to choose between keeping a card open or closing it in order to save on an annual fee.

We think it’s a benefit to have credit cards that you can keep open for life. That’s because as much as 15% of your credit score is determined by the length of your credit history. For this reason, we think it’s smart to have at least one no-annual-fee credit card that you keep open for the long haul, helping you build more credit history with each passing month.

Which credit card has the best rewards program?

Though it may sound like a cop out, there isn’t any one card that offers a rewards program that is obviously better for all people than any other credit card. We’d encourage you to compare credit card rewards based on the types of spending that make up the majority of your budget, since category bonus cards may be a better option for people who spend heavily in one particular corner of their monthly budget.

If you want… Then you might consider…
Unlimited rewards on all spending Capital One® Quicksilver® Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited®
High rewards on gas and groceries at U.S. supermarkets Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express
Quarterly bonus rewards Discover it® Cash Back
Premium travel benefits and rewards Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred®

The ground rules for rewards cards

Before applying for a rewards card, there are three ground rules you should know:

  • Don’t redeem travel rewards for cash -- one of the most important decisions to make is whether you want cash back or travel rewards. Travel rewards, though lucrative, usually convert into a lesser amount of cash than travel. Unless you know you will have travel expenses, a cash back card is usually a better choice.
  • It doesn’t make sense to carry balances -- while spending more means earning more rewards, it doesn’t make sense to spend more money, or carry balances, in order to earn more in rewards. Just one or two months of carrying a balance can result in interest charges that vastly exceed the rewards you earn on your card. If you have credit card debt, a balance transfer card would be a smarter choice than a rewards card.
  • Be smart about annual fees -- We think it only makes sense to pay an annual fee when it pays for itself. With so many no-annual-fee credit cards offering rewards yields of 1.5% in cash or travel, we think it’s smart to use this as the baseline to compare to an annual fee card.

If you follow the advice above, you’ll be well on your way to earning high rewards on all of your spending, whether it’s in the form of cash back or travel value.

11 ways to accumulate credit card rewards faster

There are plenty of ways to collect extra points, miles, and cash back without spending any extra money. Follow these simple credit card tricks, and you could be adding a zero or two to your points balance in no time.

1. Couple up your credit cards

Maybe your credit card offers extra points on travel spending, and the issuer has another card that offers extra points on groceries and gas. Consider getting a second card and switching them up depending on what you’re purchasing in order to maximize rewards.

2. Transfer unused points

If you’ve got a few thousand points sitting around in a rewards account you no longer use, you might be able to transfer those points to the rewards account you’re currently using. Check your rewards program’s point transfer policies and partnerships.

3. Put home improvements on the card

Planning on renovating the kitchen or adding a spare bedroom? Put those expenses on your rewards credit card, as long as you aren’t charged a fee to do so.

4. Add an authorized user

This one requires a judgment call on your part. Adding someone as an authorized user makes you responsible for any debt they accumulate and fail to repay. It also means that any mistakes you make, such as a late payment, will show up on their credit report, affecting their credit score. However, if you’re sure you can trust each other, many credit card offers give you extra bonus points -- usually around 5,000 -- for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first few months. Plus, if that authorized user adds additional expenses to your card, the points they accumulate are added to your account.

5. Pay your mortgage or rent with a credit card

Services like RadPad and Plastiq let you pay your rent with a credit card. Your landlord doesn’t even have to sign up; these websites send a rent check to your landlord on your behalf. Unless you find a promotion, it will cost you a 2%-3% transaction fee. This means you’re paying $0.02 to $0.03 per $1, so you need to be getting back more than 2%-3% in rewards to profit. If you’re trying to hit a minimum spend requirement to get the sign-up bonus on a credit card offer, the 2%-3% fee is almost always worth it.

6. Pay tuition with a credit card

If you’re covering tuition for your kid or yourself, you might as well get a reward for all the money you’re spending. Most colleges now allow you to pay tuition with a credit card, although many charge a fee. If you’re lucky and the college you pay doesn’t charge a fee for credit card transactions, charge away. Just make sure you have the funds to pay off your credit card immediately.

7. Pay your taxes with a credit card

As of 2018, the fee for paying any taxes you owe the federal government is 1.87% to 2%. That means this option is only worth it if you’re getting more than 2% back, which can be in the form of high value points or a good cash-back credit card. If you’re trying to meet a minimum spend requirement for a sign-up bonus, this option has lower fees than paying your rent online.

8. File a complaint

Did you recently experience an inconvenience with the airline or hotel chain you’re trying to earn points for? Whether your flight was seriously delayed or your room was overbooked, complaining to the company will often result in them depositing a generous amount of miles or points into your account in exchange for your forgiveness.

9. Buy gift cards

Buying gift cards for places you know you’ll shop at is an effective way to hit a minimum spend requirement. This can also be a good way to get extra cash back. For example, if your credit card offers 5% cash back on groceries, buying restaurant or department stores gift cards at your local grocery store may let you get 5% cash back on purchases that aren’t part of your bonus category.

10. Close your credit card… and then re-apply

Some credit cards only allow you to get a sign-up bonus once in a lifetime. However, other offers simply state that you cannot earn the sign-up bonus if you’ve already earned it once within the past 24 months. So, if you’ve had your rewards credit card for more than 2 years, you might be eligible to get the sign-up bonus again by closing it and re-applying. Just read the terms of the sign-up bonus carefully to make sure that you qualify.

11. Redeem your rewards wisely

Accumulating points quickly is only half of the process. In order to get the most out of your rewards, you have to redeem them wisely as well.

To choose what you want to redeem your points for, calculate how much you’d typically spend on your award redemption and divide that by the amount of points it costs -- that’s the value of each point, and you should aim for at least $0.015. Redeeming points for products on a marketplace or cash typically offer the lowest value, while redeeming them for travel rewards like flights and hotels tend to offer higher value.

Remember to weigh the costs of these methods with your potential rewards. After all, it’s never worth it to spend more than you earn. It’s also not worth charging more than you can afford to multiply your rewards, as credit card interest rates will surely cancel out any benefit. Whatever you do to earn points faster, don’t let it get you into debt.

To recap, here are the best rewards credit cards

Card Best Reward Great For…
Discover it® Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Cash Back Best Reward:

Double cash back in the first year

Great For:

Bonus cash with no annual fee

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Graphic of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Best Reward:

$750 sign-up bonus for travel

Great For:

Sign-up bonus and airline miles

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Best Reward:

Two miles per $1

Great For:

Flat-rate travel rewards

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Best Reward:

$200 intro bonus

Great For:

Cash rewards program

Citi Rewards+℠ Card Graphic of Citi Rewards+℠ Card Best Reward:

Round up to the nearest 10 points

Great For:

One-card wallet

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Graphic of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Best Reward:

6% at U.S. supermarkets

Great For:

Gas and U.S. supermarkets

Chase Freedom® Graphic of Chase Freedom® Best Reward:

$150 bonus

Great For:

Bonus cash back

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Best Reward:

25,000 bonus points

Great For:

Travel card with no annual fee

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Best Reward:

$150 bonus

Great For:

Flexible cash-back rewards

American Express Cash Magnet® Card Graphic of American Express Cash Magnet® Card Best Reward:

$150 bonus

Great For:

Welcome bonus and flat-rate rewards