Best Rewards Credit Cards for June 2020

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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Competition in the credit card industry has never been hotter. And when banks compete, consumers win. The introductory bonuses, rewards programs, and cardholder benefits offered by cash-back and travel rewards credit cards are some of the best we've ever seen. Here's a list of the best rewards credit card offers right now, as well as what you need to know to make the most out of the rewards credit cards in your wallet.

COVID-19 considerations for credit cards:

With the current state of the world, there can be a lot of uncertainty surrounding your personal finances. In order to assist customers facing financial hardship, many credit card companies are offering relief and assistance. For more information on COVID-19 and resources available, please visit our coronavirus hub.

High cash back
Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 14 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 14 months

Ongoing APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back, FICO score for free

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 on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when 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.
Big bonus
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Chase's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Chase's Secure Website.

Rewards

3x points for groceries through June 30 2020, 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal.

Annual Fee

$95

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months -- worth $750 of travel redeemed through Chase

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
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Rewards

6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets ($6,000 spending cap per year), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$95

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months

Ongoing APR

12.99%-23.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$250 statement credit after spending $1,000 within three months, get free 2-day shipping on eligible items at a growing network of 100+ online stores with ShopRunner.

Highlights
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Rewards

2% cash back: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months

Ongoing APR

13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

FICO score for free

Highlights
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.
Discover it® Miles

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Unlimited 1.5 Miles per $1

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 14 months
Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 14 months

Ongoing APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double Miles in the first year, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel or to redeem as Cash! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem for Travel or Cash. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases or get cash.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Rewards

Unlimited 1.5% cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months

Ongoing APR

12.99%-23.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 statement credit after spending $1,000 within three months, get free 2-day shipping on eligible items at a growing network of 100+ online stores with ShopRunner

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 redeemed for statement credits.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%.
  • 0% introductory plan fee on each purchase moved into a plan during the first 15 months from the date of account opening with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee. After that, your plan fee will be up to 1.17% of each purchase moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your Card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Rewards

5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

14.40% - 24.40%, variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 credit after spending $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 14.40% – 24.40%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
  • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
  • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
  • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It's simple: $1 = 1 Point
  • No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Select Your Rewards Your Way

Great for: Versatile cash rewards program Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why Apply

Includes a market-leading bonus in the no-annual fee category and a flexible cash rewards program that enables you to earn premium cash back in a category of your choice. Plus, the long 0% intro APR offer makes this card a standout among its peers. Read Full Review

Rewards

3% cash back on gas or in your choice category, 2% at grocery stores & wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined bonus category quarterly purchases), 1% on all else.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 billing cycles
Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 billing cycles on transfers made within first 60 days

Ongoing APR

13.99%-23.99%

Bonuses & Perks

$200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, 25% to 75% more rewards for Preferred Rewards members

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 in the category of your choice, 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
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
Rewards

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, 1% on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months

Ongoing APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 after spending $500 within three months, free credit score monitoring

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 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 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 Journey℠
The information related to Chase Freedom® has been collected by The Ascent and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.
Rewards

Unlimited 1.5x points, 25%-75% more points for Bank of America Preferred Rewards members

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 billing cycles
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

14.99%-22.99%, variable

Bonuses & Perks

25,000 points after spending $1,000 within first 90 days, 25% to 75% more points for Preferred Rewards members

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
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
Rewards

Unlimited 2x miles on all purchases

Annual Fee

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

17.24% - 24.49% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months, equal to $500 in travel, up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓

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 unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • 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 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.

Great for: Dining Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

What We Like About The Card

Unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment makes this the ideal option for spending nights out on the town. Pair that with the big sign-up bonus and 2% back at grocery stores and you’ve got the ingredients for a top-rated rewards card. Read Full Review

Rewards

4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

Annual Fee

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months, free credit score monitoring

Highlights
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • 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
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.
Rewards

Unlimited 1.5% cash back, no minimum to redeem

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, for 15 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, for 15 months

Ongoing APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 after spending $500 within first three months of account opening, free credit monitoring

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; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.
Rewards

3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, and more, 1x points on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months on qualifying balance transfers

Ongoing APR

13.99%-25.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, mobile phone protection

Highlights
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $200 cash redemption value
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign currency conversion fee
  • Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points on popular streaming services
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.

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As mentioned above, steadily rising competition among credit card issuers has led to increasingly generous rewards programs and introductory offers. The best credit card rewards programs now offer lucrative sign-up bonuses for new cardholders -- some potentially worth over $500 -- plus high reward rates and valuable perks. Some of our top rewards credit cards are great for frequent travelers, some are great for budget-conscious consumers to use on everyday purchases, and some are somewhere in between.

What are credit card rewards?

Selecting from hundreds of rewards cards on the market wasn’t easy, but having so many to choose from allowed us to be picky about which cards should make the list.

Here are the attributes we think are important for any rewards card to have:

  • Simple rewards programs: Complexity often works in favor of the card issuer, rather than the cardholder. We value programs that have clear rules for earning and redeeming rewards that don’t make you jump through hoops.
  • 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 the best cards list. We like cards that offer a high reward 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, because 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 the top 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.

How do credit card rewards work?

Here's how the credit card rewards process works:

  1. Get a rewards credit card. Our best-of list is a great place to start, but the most important thing is finding a rewards credit card that makes sense for you.
  2. Use your card to make purchases. As you spend money using your card, you'll earn rewards based on your card's rewards program. For example, if your card earns 3% cash back at restaurants and you spend $100 on a meal, you'll earn $3 in cash back for the purchase.
  3. Redeem your rewards. Some cards give cash-back rewards, which can be redeemed as a statement credit or as a check to you. Others offer travel rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, and other travel purchases.

It's also important to note that cards with introductory bonus offers generally have minimum spend thresholds -- typically, the bonus will be awarded upon spending a certain amount of money on the card within the first three months.

With most of these cards, you can expect to earn at least 1% back in value on every purchase, although some of the best rewards credit cards earn significantly higher rewards rates. There are also cards that earn much higher rates in some categories. These spending categories can be fixed or can change over time. Either way, they give you the opportunity to earn more rewards.

This is why it's important to evaluate all of your options to find the card that makes the most sense for you. For example, a card that earns 3% cash back at restaurants and 1% on every other purchase might make sense for someone who dines out often, but a card with a 2% rewards rate on all purchases might be a better fit for someone who doesn't.

Types of credit card rewards

There are three types of rewards credit cards: cash-back cards, travel rewards cards, and store credit cards.

Cash-back credit cards

A cash-back credit card works exactly as its name suggests, and this is the most popular type of rewards credit card because of its simplicity. On each purchase, a percentage of the transaction amount gets added to your cash-back balance. The percentage depends on the cash-back card you have and, in some cases, what you buy. For example, if you have a card that earns 1.5% back on everything and you make a $100 purchase, then you'd earn $1.50 in cash back.

The three types of cash-back credit cards:

  1. Unlimited, flat-rate cards: These cards offer one cash-back rate that you earn on every $1 you spend. They're ideal for consumers who don't want to carry multiple cards or worry about bonus categories. With a flat-rate card, you can earn a reasonable amount of cash back on each purchase without making your payment choices more complicated.
  2. Bonus category cards: These cards offer higher cash-back rates on specific types of purchases, such as 3% back at grocery stores, and a lower flat rate for all other spending. Many of these cards put a limit on how much bonus cash back you can earn. For example, a card may earn 4% back on dining, but only up to $10,000 in annual spending. If there are specific areas where you have high monthly spending, then bonus category cards could earn you much more cash back.
  3. Rotating bonus category cards: These cards also offer bonus categories with higher cash-back rates, but the bonus categories change periodically -- typically every quarter. They usually limit the amount of bonus cash back you can earn and require that you activate your bonus categories to earn the higher bonus rate. The biggest advantage with these cards is that they can earn some of the highest cash-back rates on their bonus categories, with some offering 5% back.

Travel rewards credit cards

Travel rewards credit cards earn rewards that you can redeem toward travel purchases. These rewards are referred to as either points or miles, depending on the card. Most of these cards have bonus categories with higher rewards rates and a lower rate for all other spending, but there are also some unlimited, flat-rate travel cards. This type of card often includes perks to enhance the travel experience.

The way you can use travel rewards depends on the card you have. Here are the different redemption methods that cards can offer:

  1. Redeeming rewards as cash for travel purchases: You book travel at its cash price and pay for it using your rewards. The standard value of travel rewards is $0.01 per point/mile, but this can vary from card to card. To book travel with rewards this way, you typically need to go through the card issuer's travel portal. However, some cards let you apply rewards as a statement credit to previous travel purchases.
  2. Booking award airfare or hotel stays with rewards: You use your rewards to book travel through an airline or hotel's loyalty program. For example, an airline ticket may cost 20,000 miles, or a hotel stay could cost 10,000 points per night. This option is most common with cards that are tied to one airline or hotel's loyalty program.
  3. Transferring rewards to travel partners: You transfer your rewards to your loyalty program account with any airline or hotel that's partnered with your credit card company. If your credit card lets you transfer rewards to United Airlines, Southwest, and Hyatt Hotels, then you could send points/miles to any of them. You can then use your transferred rewards to book airfare or hotel stays.

While redeeming your rewards as cash is the easiest method on this list, booking airfare or hotel stays with rewards sometimes gets you much more value. That's why cards with transferable points are highly valuable, if you don't mind a bit of a learning curve.

Travel cards may also offer other redemption options such as cash back. However, these cards will get you much less value for your rewards. If you're going to get a travel card, you should use your rewards only for travel.

Store credit cards

Store credit cards are tied to one specific retailer and earn rewards you can use with that retailer. They typically earn a large amount back at that retailer, with several store cards offering rates in the 2%-to-5% range. The most common way to redeem rewards from a store card is as a gift certificate or a spending credit that you use on purchases.

Some store cards can be used for payments only at the retailer that issues them, whereas others can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. There are also stores that offer both card options and decide which one to issue based on your credit. If your credit is good enough, the store will issue you a card that can be used anywhere. If not, it may issue you a card you can use only at that store instead.

For the typical consumer, a cash-back or travel card will provide more value, because those offer more useful rewards. But most of those cards also require good to excellent credit. On the other hand, store credit cards are often available to applicants with lower credit scores. This can make store cards a good option for earning rewards while building credit.

How to pick a rewards credit card

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.

Which credit card has the best rewards program?

Although 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, as 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 Chase Freedom Unlimited®
High rewards on gas and groceries at U.S. supermarkets Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Quarterly bonus rewards Discover it® Cash Back
Premium travel benefits and rewards Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Important 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, although 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 makes sense to pay an annual fee only 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 and maximizing rewards on all of your spending, whether it’s in the form of cash back or travel value.

FAQs

  • Whether a cash-back or a travel credit card is a better option depends entirely on the cardholder.

    If you prefer simple credit card rewards or you don't travel much, a cash-back card will be a better fit for your situation. Anyone can use cash back, and you can redeem it in a matter of minutes through your online account.

    If you like to travel, then travel cards have a variety of perks that can save you money and improve your experience any time you're away from home. With certain travel cards, it can take some time to learn how to best use the travel points you earn. But if you're willing to learn, you could redeem those points for high-value airfare or hotel stays.

  • Credit card rewards typically don't expire as long as the card remains active. If you or the card issuer close the account, then any remaining rewards will be automatically forfeited when the account is closed.

    To ensure your rewards don't expire, review the terms and conditions for your credit card and its rewards program. Expiration policies can vary, so it's best to double-check the policy on your specific card.

  • You should have a FICO Score of at least 670 to qualify for the best rewards cards. Good credit is a minimum for most rewards cards, and your chances of approval will go up the higher that your score is.

    There is a small selection of rewards cards intended for consumers with fair credit. Although you can qualify for these with a lower credit score, they don't have nearly as many benefits and their rewards rates are much lower. You may want to work on raising your credit score first, and then apply for a better rewards card afterwards.

The Ascent's picks for the best rewards credit cards for auto_date_month_year:
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® Card Graphic of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Best Reward:

$750 sign-up bonus for travel

Great For:

Travel sign up bonus

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

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Graphic of Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Best Reward:

Up to 2% cash back

Great For:

0% intro APR for balance transfers

Discover it® Miles Graphic of Discover it® Miles Best Reward:

Double miles in the first year

Great For:

Travel card with no annual fee

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

$150 welcome bonus

Great For:

Welcome bonus and flat-rate rewards

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card Graphic of ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card Best Reward:

Up to 5x points

Great For:

Fair/average credit

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

$200 intro bonus

Great For:

Versatile cash rewards program

Chase Freedom® Graphic of Chase Freedom® Best Reward:

Up to 5% cash back

Great For:

Cash back and 0% intro APR

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

25,000 points bonus

Great For:

Travel card with no annual fee

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

2 miles per $1

Great For:

Unlimited travel miles

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Best Reward:

4% cash back on dining

Great For:

Dining

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

$150 bonus

Great For:

Unlimited cash back

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card Graphic of Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card Best Reward:

20,000 bonus points

Great For:

Travel, dining, and gas

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