Best Rewards Credit Cards of August 2021

We'll Help You Choose the Best Credit Card for Earning Points or Miles

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

The best rewards credit cards give you the most value and perks for your spending style. We've evaluated dozens of cards to help you choose the right fit for you. For this list, we’ve stayed away from narrowly focused co-branded airline, hotel, and retail credit cards, and instead concentrated on general travel and cash-back cards.

Best Rewards Credit Cards of August 2021

Best Overall, Best Travel Card With an Annual Fee Under $100 : Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.9
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Offer

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card feels like a premium product, just without the sky-high annual fee, which is why it’s our pick for the best rewards card. The new-cardholder bonus is worth an impressive $1,250 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and possibly a lot more if you transfer to one of the program's airline or hotel partners. Plus, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on a slew of travel expenses as well as your restaurant spending. And the card comes with primary rental car insurance, a valuable perk that many competitors lack.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Good bonus compared to other travel cards with similar annual fees

  • Option to transfer points to eligible airline and hotel programs, often at a 1-to-1 ratio

  • Points are pretty valuable when redeemed for travel

  • Some premium travel insurance benefits

Cons
  • No credits to cover incidental airline fees or other travel-related costs

  • Few everyday purchase categories earn extra points

Highlights:
  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R).
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R). For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

Read the full Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review

Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards : HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.9
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases. 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn an introductory 3% cash back on $10,000 in purchases made during the first 12 months of account opening. 1.5% cash back thereafter.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card has a little bit of everything in abundance, and that’s why it’s our pick for those who enjoy cash-back rewards. To kick things off, you’ll earn a flat 3% cash back on up to $10,000 worth of all purchases in the first year, which is a superior earning rate (albeit temporary) for a no-annual-fee cash-back card. After that, you’ll earn a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which is respectable and makes tracking reward earnings easy. You’ll also get a decent 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, and some stand-out extras like cellphone protection and secondary rental car insurance.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Superb bonus that doubles the already-solid rewards earning rate on eligible purchases during the first year

  • 0% APR deals give you a full year to pay off purchases and balance transfers

  • Includes cellphone insurance coverage, which is uncommon

Cons
  • No short-term new cardholder bonus for those seeking a quick stash of cash back

  • Above-average balance transfer fee can chip away at the cost savings of moving large balances to this card

Highlights:
  • 1.5% Unlimited Cash Back – on all purchases after the intro period
  • No Annual Fee
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Read the full HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® review

Best for Earning Different Levels of Cash Back : Chase Freedom Unlimited®


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.8
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Current Offer

$200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% - 23.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target(R) or Walmart(R) purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards(R), 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

There’s a good reason we picked this as the best rewards card for earning cash back in different purchase categories. You’ll get 5% back on travel booked through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and then an extremely competitive 1.5% back on everything else. Plus, rewards earned with this no-annual-fee card are surprisingly versatile. You can redeem them for cash, or you can use them to book travel or buy merchandise through Chase Ultimate Rewards. On top of all that, you can make interest-free purchases for the first 15 months you have this card, and you'll earn a bonus worth $200 if you spend $500 on the card in the first three months.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Easy-to-earn and competitive welcome bonus

  • Good 0% APR intro offer for purchases

  • No annual fee

  • Several ways to redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, including for travel

Cons
  • Unlike comparable cards, this card still charges a foreign transaction fee

  • APR may be above average, depending on your credit

Highlights:
  • $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
  • Earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.

Read the full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review

Best for Luxury Travelers : Chase Sapphire Reserve


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.5
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 total travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card comes with one of the highest annual fees around, but if you travel a lot and like luxury touches, it’s truly a case of “you get what you pay for.” The list of benefits that come with this card is a mile long: airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees, and a sizable 60,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 within the first three months (worth $900 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards). What’s more, if you transfer those points to a partner like United Airlines, those points could be worth up to $1,095, based on our valuation.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Earn extra points for travel and dining purchases

  • Many different purchases count as travel spending, which makes earning rewards easier

  • Several valuable ways to use points, including transfers to partner loyalty programs

  • Jam-packed with valuable travel credit and travel insurance benefits

Cons
  • Massive annual fee

  • High ongoing APR

Highlights:
  • Receive 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Get an annual $300 travel credit for eligible purchases charged to your card each anniversary year.
  • Earn 3 points on travel (excluding purchases eligible for the travel credit), restaurants, and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.

Read the full Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Best Travel Card With No Annual Fee : Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.9
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Statement Closing Dates
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

You won’t have to navigate bonus categories if you lean on this straightforward travel rewards card. The 1.5 miles for every $1 you spend is about as good a flat rate as you’ll find on a travel card with no annual fee. Plus, Bank of America bank account holders can earn even more (up to 75% more), depending on their bank account balances. The generous new-cardholder bonus is relatively easy to get, too. Just spend $1,000 within three months of opening your account to earn 25,000 points that are worth $250 in travel purchase statement credits. 

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Good rewards for a flat-rate travel card that doesn’t charge an annual fee

  • New cardholder bonus beats many competitor offers

  • Points can be redeemed for travel you buy anywhere

Cons
  • Points can only be used in certain increments, and must be used on the most recent qualifying purchase first

  • Bank customers can earn more rewards, but you’ll need a lot in an investment or deposit account to qualify

  • Short 0% purchase APR offer compared to other similar cards

Highlights:
  • Earn 25,000 points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time, and no expiration on points.
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase That means you could earn up to 2.63 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.

Read the full Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card review

Best Business Cash-Back Card : American Express® Blue Business Cash Card


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.9
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
Current Offer

Earn a $250 statement credit afte you spend $3,000 in purchases on your card in the first 3 months.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.24% - 19.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Cash Advance Fee This product does not offer cash advances.

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

You won’t have to fuss with fitting purchases into bonus categories with this business rewards card, since it offers 2% back on all purchases (up to $50,000 spent per year, anyway). That’s a competitive rate for a no-annual-fee, cash-back card like this one. You won’t have to set a calendar reminder to redeem your rewards either since they are automatically redeemed as statement credits. New cardholders earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership, and you will get a competitive 0% purchase APR deal for 12 months, which can help you finance a large purchase without losing any earned rewards value because of interest payments. 

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Single cash-back rate is competitive and keeps rewards simple

  • Cash back is automatically credited to your card account

  • New accounts get a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months—as long or longer than competing business cards

Cons
  • Cap on 2% cash-back earnings limits rewards potential for big spenders

  • Foreign transaction fee

Highlights:
  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Powers.
  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express and other factors.
  • No Annual Fee

Read the full American Express Blue Business Cash Card review

Best Business Travel Card : Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards Credit Card


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.9
Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card
Current Offer

30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 12.24% - 22.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel booked through the Bank of America Travel center - powered by Expedia.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 9 Billing Cycles
Cash Advance APR (%) 24.24%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

If your small business often has you on the road, you’ll appreciate the simple, unlimited rewards and no-annual-fee aspects of this card. It offers 3 points per $1 spent on travel booked through the Bank of America Travel Center—there are no blackout dates—and 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. The welcome bonus is fairly good, too, and worth $300 (after you spend $3,000 within 90 days). When it comes time to redeem your rewards, just request a statement credit to recoup dining or travel-related expenses.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Decent earning rate for a no-annual-fee, flat-rate rewards card

  • Redeeming rewards for travel is easy—just request a statement credit for the expense

Cons
  • Bank of America customers can earn even more rewards, but you’ll need a lot of money in a deposit account to qualify

  • Rewards can’t be transferred to other hotel or airline loyalty programs

Highlights:
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases, everywhere, every time – no matter how much you spend.
  • Earn 3 points per every dollar spent when you book your travel (car, hotel, airline) through the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get 75% more points on the base earn of every purchase you make when you’re a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you'll earn 2.62 points on all purchases and 4.12 points for every $1 you spend at the Bank of America Travel Center.

Read the full Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards Credit Card review

Best for Less-Than-Perfect Credit : Discover it Secured


Our Rating Among Rewards Cards
4.8
Discover it® Secured
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Pay deposit in installments No
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This is a stand-out secured card, particularly because of how it rewards cardholders who are building credit. Each purchase made earns cash back, and Discover will generously match your earnings at the end of the first year, too. The cash-back earning rates are good, even compared with some unsecured, entry-level rewards cards. Better yet, there’s no annual fee, which is uncommon for a card like this. This secured card can grow with you, too. Once you’ve had it for eight months, Discover will start reviewing your account to see if you qualify for an upgrade to an unsecured version.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Ability to earn cash-back rewards while building credit

  • Responsible use can lead to automatic unsecured card upgrade

  • No foreign transaction fee

    Cash-back match as a first year bonus

Cons
  • Low cap on highest rewards earning rate

  • Mediocre maximum credit limit compared to other secured cards

Highlights:
  • No annual fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO Credit Score.

Read the full Discover it Secured review

Compare The Best Rewards Credit Cards

Best Rewards Credit Cards
Credit Card Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Best Overall, Best Travel Card With an Annual Fee Under $100
$95
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards
$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
Best for Earning Different Levels of Cash Back
$0
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Best for Luxury Travelers
$550
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Best Travel Card With No Annual Fee
$0
American Express Blue Business Cash Card
Best Business Cash-Back Card
$0
Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards Credit Card
Best Business Travel Card
$0
Discover it Secured
Best for Less-Than-Perfect Credit
$0

FAQs

What Are Rewards Credit Cards & How Do They Work? 

Rewards credit cards are designed to give you a gift in return for your loyalty to the card. The idea is simple: Use your rewards credit card to pay for purchases, accumulate points based on how much you spend, and then cash them in for travel, cash, merchandise, or other types of rewards.

What Are the Different Types of Rewards Credit Cards?

  • Cash-back cards
  • General travel rewards cards 
  • Airline cards
  • Hotel cards
  • Retail cards

How Do Cash-Back Rewards Cards Work?

Cash-back rewards cards are exactly what their name implies—credit cards that let you earn a mini rebate (“cash back”) on every dollar you spend. Generally, cards that earn more per dollar spent come with stricter qualification requirements, and some charge an annual fee. Every time you swipe to pay for an eligible purchase, you will earn back a small percentage of that amount.

What Are the Different Types of Cash-Back Cards?

There are three different types of cash-back cards broken down by the way they let you earn cash back.

Flat Rate

This means you earn the same percentage on all purchases—such as 2% cash back, which equals $2 for every $100 that you spend. 

Tiered Bonus-Earning Categories

With this kind of structure, you can earn extra on certain kinds of purchases, and less on others. For example, you might get 3% back on groceries, 2% back at department stores, and 1% back on all other purchases. 

Some cards put limits on how much you can earn in these categories. For instance, you may only earn 3% back on groceries on the first $6,000 you spend every year. After that, you only earn 1% back.

Rotating Bonus-Earning Categories

Some cash-back cards have bonus categories that change each quarter. You might earn 5% cash back on travel purchases one quarter, then 5% at gas stations the next quarter, and 5% at grocery stores the next. You usually have to sign up to activate the 5% bonus earnings each quarter and you earn 1% cash back on all non-bonus spending.

How Do Travel Rewards Cards Work?

Travel rewards cards let you earn points on travel and other purchases that you can redeem for flights, hotel stays, and other travel-related rewards. Often, you’ll earn bonus points when booking travel with your card, in addition to earning at a lower rate for other purchases.

What Are the Different Types of Travel Rewards Cards?

As with cash-back cards, there are a couple of sub-categories within the travel rewards cards: 

General Travel

With these cards, you earn points (sometimes called miles) redeemable for free flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, and other types of travel expenses with different travel providers. 

Airline Cards

You earn extra points when you buy flights through the card’s co-branded airline, and you can then redeem those points for more free flights or upgrades on that airline or its partners. You also often get perks such as free checked bags, discounted access to the airline’s airport lounge, priority boarding, and more, which can make up for annual fees if you use them.

Although airline card rewards are more limited than general travel card rewards, you can often get the best value from frequent flyer miles if the program has flights that cost a lot in dollars but relatively less so in points. 

Hotel Cards

These cards are focused on earning extra points when you spend with a specific hotel chain that you can then redeem for free hotel rooms. You may also get elite status and perks such as travel insurance.

Cash-back card points are generally worth 1 cent each. When you’re looking at travel rewards programs, you want your points to be worth at least that much, or you’d be better off with a cash-back card. 

What Are the Pros & Cons of Rewards Cards?

Rewards cards are great, but only if you pay your balance in full each month. Otherwise, any rewards you earn will be eaten up by interest charges. If you know you’ll run a balance, you’re better off forgetting about rewards and using a low-interest credit card. 

Pros
  • Let you earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars in free travel or cash

  • Often offer a sign-up bonus

  • May come with perks like rental car insurance

Cons
  • May have an annual fee that's more than the value of the rewards

  • Tend to have higher interest rates than non-rewards cards

  • Can require work to keep up with complicated earnings or redemption schemes

  • May tempt you to spend more to earn rewards

How Do You Choose a Rewards Card?

To determine which rewards credit card is best for you, focus on your spending habits and your redemption goals. See which of these descriptions match up best with you. 

  • Cash-back card: You don’t travel frequently and prefer cash rewards.
  • General travel rewards card: You want to earn rewards you can use for different airline, hotel, and car rental companies.
  • Airline card: You travel a few times a year, stick with one major airline or alliance, and want VIP treatment.
  • Hotel card: You travel frequently and like to stay with one specific hotel chain.  
  • Retail card: You regularly shop at the same retailer and want to receive rewards for your loyalty.

Here's another summary of our top picks for rewards credit cards:

How Can You Accumulate Rewards Faster?

Maximize your rewards by accumulating as many points as possible while staying within your budget. Don’t overspend just for points. In fact, carrying a balance month to month will quickly erase any benefit you earn.

Assuming that you’re paying your bill in full each month, here are a few strategies for earning the most rewards possible:

  • Earn the sign-up bonus: Many rewards cards offer a large bonus up-front if you spend a certain amount in the first three months of card opening. A cash-back card usually gives a statement credit; with travel rewards cards, you’ll get a lump sum of points. 
  • Consider pairing different kinds of rewards cards: If you have a cash-back card that earns 5% on groceries but only 1% on everything else, you may want to use a second 2% flat-rate card for all non-grocery purchases.
  • Pay recurring bills on your card: If you have to pay your cable and phone bill anyway, why not get points or cash back? The same goes for car insurance, subscriptions, and other regular expenses. Just be sure to check that you won’t be charged a fee for paying with a credit card.
  • Boost points with additional cardholders: Add partners or grown children as authorized users, so that multiple people will be earning points on the same account. But be mindful that the primary account holder is responsible for all charges, so only add authorized users that you completely trust.

Try timing the opening of a new rewards card with when you need to make a large purchase so that it’s easier to meet the minimum spend for your sign-up bonus.

How Do You Redeem Rewards?

Redeeming rewards is simplest with cash-back cards, but may get more complicated with airline programs.  

For cash-back cards, you might get automatic statement credits, or an ability to redeem for cash or gift cards whenever you want, or when you reach specific thresholds (such as every $25 earned). Other redemption options might include requesting a paper check, giving money to a charity, or paying with points at Amazon.com. 

With general travel cards, some allow you to redeem points by buying your travel through their booking portal. Others let you book travel however you want and then use points for a statement credit on those charges.

You might also have the option of transferring points to travel partner programs, which can be the most lucrative option. For instance, The Balance values American Airlines points at nearly 1.5 cents each. That’s somewhat more than you get from cash-back cards.

Points don’t always transfer 1:1 between programs. For example, you may have to transfer 20,000 credit card points to get only 10,000 airline miles. Look for a card’s transfer partners and transfer ratios to get the best value.

With hotel and airline cards, you usually can book your free hotel room or free flight just like you normally would, but look for a box to check that says “Pay with points” or something similar. Depending on the airline and your travel needs, you can score great deals on free flights. But you can also at times be frustrated by a lack of available award flights. 

Can I Get a Rewards Card With Bad Credit?

Yes, even if you don’t have stellar credit, there are some entry-level cards offering rewards. Naturally, the higher-earning cards with the best sign-up bonuses and benefits are for consumers who have a strong credit history. But that’s something you can work toward as you improve your credit.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We reviewed more than 60 rewards credit cards to find the very best products in the category, and eight cards made the cut for this list. We do not consider co-branded airline or hotel credit cards for this list, because where you live and where you travel significantly affect the usefulness of brand-specific travel cards. For the same reason, we exclude retail rewards cards, as well.

What We Score

Cards with valuable rewards, high rewards-earning rates, big sign-up bonuses, flexible rewards programs, and exceptional benefits receive better scores. For more information about how The Balance evaluates credit cards, see our full credit card review methodology

To see the rates and fees for the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card, please see the following links: rates and fees