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What Are the Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2019?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Our team of analysts combed through the earning potential and fees for dozens of candidates to find the best rewards credit cards available. We’ve identified the 9 credit cards that offer maximal rewards based on different types of spending and needs.

Recommended Cards

Best ForCredit NeededAnnual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardTravelExcellent$95 ($0 first year)
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® CardNo Annual FeeGood/Excellent$0
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover it® Cash BackCash BackGood/Excellent$0

If you’d like to understand more about how each rewards card works best for you see below to read our evaluation, rationale and methodology. Our team also created the only tool available that calculates which card earns you the most rewards based on your credit card expenses.

Best Rewards Credit Card for Travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual Fee
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $95
APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is our best overall rewards credit card because cardholders will earn two points on dining and travel and one point on all other purchases. New cardholders will also be eligible to earn 50,000 bonus points if you spend at least $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. These points are worth as much as $625 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Cardholders will also benefit from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which allows you to combine the points you earn with 13 travel rewards programs including United, Southwest and Marriott Hotels. Points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can also be redeemed for flights, hotels and car rentals through the Chase Travel Portal at a 25% increase in value.

Travel Rewards Runner-Up

On Barclays' Secure Website

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

On Barclays' Secure Website
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • New - Control Your Card - Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • New - Control Your Card - Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$89 (waived first year)
APR
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness
Credit Needed
Good/Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a good alternative to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for people that want an easy-to-use travel rewards card. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® you'll get a solid 2.1% rewards rate on anything you buy (the card actually offers 2 miles for every $1 you spend, but we value each mile at $0.0105).

Worthwhile Sign-Up Bonus

Readers who are after a big sign-up bonus also won't be disappointed. New cardholders can earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. The estimated value of this bonus is around $700, which is much higher than other cards. The downside is the steep spending requirement, since most cards require at most $3,000 to award a bonus.

Travel Rewards Runner-Up #2

On Capital One's Secure Website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website
  • 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

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • 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
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
APR
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another extremely popular travel card. It offers an above-average 2% rewards rate on all your purchases. This is one of the only cards to provide users with Global Entry or TSA Pre® Credit at this price point. Most cards will have annual fees of $450 or more.

10x miles at hotels.com/Venture

Currently, you can use the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card to earn a 10% rewards rate whenever you use it to book hotel stays through hotels.com/Venture. That's the highest rewards rate we've seen on any credit card to-date. Just note that this is a temporary promotion, and will be running through January 31, 2020.

Best Rewards Credit Card With No Annual Fee

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
*Rates and Fees
APR
14.74% - 27.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card offers the richest ongoing rewards of any no annual fee card that we've seen. Users get a 3% rate when eating out, buying gas, rideshares, transit tickets, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and certain streaming services (like Netflix and Spotify). That's a long list of categories for a card that doesn't charge an annual fee.

A Huge Welcome Bonus

Another highlight is the card's 30,000-point bonus. To earn it, you must spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. When redeemed for cash, the bonus is worth $300. That's an outstanding value for a card that doesn't come with an annual fee.

The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Top Cash Back Rewards Card

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Cash Back

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 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.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • 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.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Discover it® Cash Back offers cardholders 5% cash back in seasonal rewards that apply on up to $1,500 OR up to the quarterly maximum in spending each quarter (activation is required). Compared to the 2% rewards rate benchmark, this figure is outstanding for a card with no annual fee attached. On all other spending cardholders will earn 1% cash back as well. Below, are the 5% rotating bonus calendar for 2019.

January-MarchApril-JuneJuly-SeptemberOctober-December
Grocery storesGas stations, Uber & LyftRestaurantsAmazon.com

Double Up on the First Year

For new card holders, Discover will match the sum of all cash back you earn in the first 12 months. This means that you'll earn a minimum of 2% cash back, and up to 10% cash back in the seasonal categories. Additionally, the 5% cash back calendar includes many everyday spending categories including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or purchases on Amazon.com allowing cardholders to actually leverage these rewards.

Cash Back Runner-Up

On Citi's Secure Website

Citi® Double Cash Card

On Citi's Secure Website
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Annual Fee
$0*
APR
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

For ease of use, our favorite cash back rewards card is the Citi® Double Cash Card with no annual fee and a flat rewards rate applicable to all spending. With this card you get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, followed by another 1% back as you pay—for an effective total of 2% cash back. This combination of features makes it the card most suitable for consumers seeking easy-to-earn spending rewards.

Alternative for High Spenders

If you spend over $25,000 each year on your credit cards, you'll come out ahead with the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®. That's another excellent 2% rewards rate credit card. The only difference is that if you spend over $25,000 annually, you'll receive a loyalty bonus each year that puts that card over the edge.

Cash Back Runner-Up #2

On Chase's Secure Website

Chase Freedom®

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn a $150 Bonus 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 and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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
  • 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℠
  • No annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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
  • 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℠
  • No annual fee
Annual Fee
$0
APR
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Chase Freedom® is very similar to the Discover it® Cash Back. It also provides an extremely good 5% cash back rate on the first $1,500 in purchases in categories that change every quarter. If you don't know which of the cards to pick, we recommend looking at each card's bonus calendar and going with whatever fits your lifestyle better.

Cash Back Calendar

Here are this years' bonus categories for the Chase Freedom®:

  • January - March: Gas Stations, Tolls, Drugstores
  • April - June: Coming Soon (Activation starting March 15, 2019)
  • July - September: Coming Soon (Activation starting June 15, 2019)
  • October - December: Coming Soon (Activation starting September 15, 2019)

Best Airline Rewards Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

  • First Checked Bag Free for you and up to 6 companions booked on your reservation
  • Coach Companion Fare from $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22)
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security when used at chip-enabled terminals.
  • No mileage cap.
  • Miles won't expire on your active account.
  • Low Annual fee of $75
  • First Checked Bag Free for you and up to 6 companions booked on your reservation
  • Coach Companion Fare from $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22)
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security when used at chip-enabled terminals.
  • No mileage cap.
  • Miles won't expire on your active account.
  • Low Annual fee of $75
Annual Fee
$75
APR
17.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

We're naming the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card as the most valuable credit card for airline rewards. No other airline card provides as high of a rewards rate on general everyday purchases (1.8%) and up to 5.4% when used for Alaska Airlines purchases.

Companion Fare Benefit

Outside of the spending rewards, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card's best benefit is the companion fare discount. Each year you'll be eligible for booking an additional companion ticket for the flat rate of $121. Using the companion fare on a round trip ticket from New York to Los Angeles that costs on average $452 per person would save you $330.

Airline Rewards Runner-Up

On Chase's Secure Website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more.
Annual Fee
$99
APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

If you mostly want rewards for traveling around the United States, we recommend getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. The card has a rich ongoing bonus and a great rewards program. The major limiting factor is the card's airline. Southwest only operates in the U.S. and a few select routes in Central America.

Potential for a Lucrative Companion Ticket

Many people sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card as a means of earning the airline's Companion Pass. Currently, cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. You'll need to earn 110,000 points in a calendar year to get the pass, but this welcome offer can help you get there.

Best Dining Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website
Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • 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
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • 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
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Annual Fee
$0
APR
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card provides cardholders 3% back on dining and entertainment purchases. By contrast, most normal cards will struggle to give you more than 2% in these sorts of categories -- that includes cards with an annual fee. The only way you can get better rates is with this card's older brother, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, although that card charges an annual fee.

Beauty in the Details

Capital One clearly considered every small detail when designing this card, which is something we appreciate. The card's bright color will make it easier to see in the places you're likely using it the most -- dimly lit restaurants, bars and clubs. Like all Capital One cards, the Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card also has no foreign transaction fees meaning you don't have to think twice about using it when you travel abroad.

Best Rewards Credit Card for Families

On American Express' Secure Website

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website
Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months
  • Earn a $200 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%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% Cash Back at US gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Earn a $200 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%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% Cash Back at US gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$95
*Rates and Fees
APR
15.24%-26.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

We found the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express provided the best rewards at gas stations and supermarkets. Cardholders will earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). The average family spends around $4,000 per year at supermarkets so the $6,000 annual cap shouldn't be a problem. Besides that, you also get an above-average 3% cash back at US gas stations and select US department stores.

A Worthwhile Annual Fee

The card charges a $95 annual fee, but this shouldn't be considered a con. The average person will come out well ahead thanks to the card's generous rewards. Based on our estimates, a person can expect to earn a net $845 in rewards with this card over two years. That's accounting for the annual fee.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Best Hotel Rewards

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Annual Fee
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $95
*Rates and Fees
APR
Credit Needed
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is the best credit card for earning hotel points and free nights. Cardholders earn one free night award every year after their account anniversary that can be redeemed across 29 different hotel brands, including the Westin, the W and the Marriott. Given how much a night costs at participating hotels, we estimate the value of a free night to be worth hundreds of dollars.

Flexible Spending Rewards

The card also offers a competitive ongoing rewards rate of 1.8% to 5.4% (based on our estimated point value of $0.009 multiplied by the points earned), depending on where you spend. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express comes with built in versatility since points earned can also be redeemed for flights on several airlines. Frequent travelers often use the points earned with this card to top off their accounts for awards travel.

The information related to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

Most Rewarding Credit Card for Students

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Student Cash Back

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Fair
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

We've recommended the Discover it® Student Cash Back as the top student rewards card every year since 2015, and it makes our list again this year. While its peers have gotten better over the years, very few have matched how rewarding this Discover card has been for students with its generous cash back rewards and bonuses.

Rotating Categories

Users get 5% rewards rates across different merchants each quarter, up to a maximum of $1,500 per quarter. This can include categories like Amazon.com, allowing you to earn rewards on school supplies as an example. Just keep in mind that the card requires you to stay on top of these categories and activate them online every 3 months. If you're too busy during your school semester to remember this, the card won't be very rewarding. For 2019, the categories include grocery stores (January-March), gas stations, Uber & Lyft (April-June), restaurants (July-September), Amazon.com (October-December).

GPA-Related Perks

There's also a unique deal that might help students stay a little more motivated during finals week. In every school year in which your GPA is 3.0 or higher, Discover will award you a $20 statement credit, up to five consecutive years from the date your account is opened. While this isn't a huge bonus, it's still a nice perk that’s absent from other student cards we've seen.

Best Business Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

On Capital One's Secure Website
Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
APR
19.24% (Variable)
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a must-have rewards credit card for businesses and startups. The card awards 2% cash back on all purchases, allowing you to get good rewards on all types of company expenses. Most of the business credit cards we review tend to shine in a few select categories. However, many small businesses today have spending so diverse that such specialized reward structures aren’t the best option.

Simplicity is Key

What makes this card stand out above the rest for many is the simplicity and time savings it can provide. Entrepreneurs are often busy juggling multiple responsibilities, and a credit card shouldn't have to be an extra hassle. Most business credit cards on the market have different categories and spending caps you need to keep track of. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business keeps things simple, while still providing your company great cash back rewards.

Compare The Best Rewards Credit Cards

If you'd like to see how the credit cards we've discussed perform for you, use our embedded tool to see what you can earn from rewards. The calculator allows you to compare multiple reward credit card offers at once. By changing your spending patterns you can see which cards earn you the most rewards.

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{"cardCategory":"rewards","cardIds":"196,195,163,1093,65,251,35,1012,203,1650,8,167,66","initialResultsLimit":14,"endpoint":"https:\/\/creditcards.valuepenguin.com\/api\/creditcards\/models\/rewards","onCurrent":"true"}

Our team analyzed 218 options to arrive at the top eight credit cards with the best rewards through a filter of typical consumers and various budgets. We prioritized cards that would yield some of the highest earnings, are great permanent additions to your wallet, extend the most flexibility and have outstanding perks. Each person has a unique set of circumstances and priorities, so we’ve also included a comparison tool above and a framework below to help you find the rewards card that suits you most.

To make sure we considered as many options as possible, we examined the recommendations of other online review sites, online message boards and comments our users left us over the years. We exhaustively collected the details for all the reward credit cards offered by America's largest credit card issuers, as well as some from large credit unions and regional banks.

We spoke with customer service representatives and online chat-support to figure out the different redemption options for each of the credit cards we examined. For airline and hotel credit cards, we collected 24 varied itineraries for each brand and their respective cost in dollars as well as reward points/miles. This allowed us to determine the best rewards programs, based on their point/mile value.

Finally, we also analyzed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's complaint database to identify whether any of the institutions on our list had abnormal amounts of customer issues.

Rewards rate greater than 2%

The top priority was finding cards that could earn an above average of 2% or more for our typical consumer. Most of the cards we considered offered a basic 1% cash back, so we eliminated those to arrive at the cream of the crop. We assumed a reasonable consumer seeking the most rewards would meet certain conditions or eligibility requirements, which expanded our list for some cards with great perks. That left us with cards with great rewards rates ranging from 2 - 5%, with the potential for more if cardholders are willing to put in the work.

Longer term utility

We favored overall longer term usefulness, so we factored in cards with and without bonuses. We allowed in some cards with otherwise high annual fees, because they were more accessible to the average consumer when offset by some of the best signup bonuses ($500 - $750). One pick for best cash back rewards was included despite appearing less attractive immediately; its steady and strong rewards overcome the lack of incentive in the long run.

Excellent flexibility

The strongest options should offer consumers excellent flexibility in getting extra points, miles or cash back, and multiple ways to enjoy those earnings. This gives consumers willing to put in some extra work an opportunity to earn outsized rewards (above 5% in some cases), or give them multiple avenues of meeting a rewards goal. This led us to exclude certain cards with smaller transfer partner networks, or co-branded cards whose rewards were limited. Our top pick for travel rewards, for example, allows cardholders to combine points across airline and hotel partners with minimal to no points lost. One of the cash back contenders has rotating categories that earn additional cash back, boosting rewards rates five-fold.

Flexibility can also mean not being restricted, which we prioritized for our best-in-class cash back and business rewards cards. We highlighted options that allowed busy entrepreneurs and consumers to have their earnings applied automatically and without having to worry about losing value.

Outstanding perks

The evaluation process also accounted for cards with fantastic and useful perks. We selected cards with premium benefits that were rare, such as immediate status in hotel loyalty programs, a cash reward for students maintaining excellent grades, expedited passage through airport security, membership to exclusive lounges, as well as access to white glove concierge services. While these not be significant for everyone, these unique benefits helped to tip the scale between among cards that were otherwise extremely similar.

Availability

We excluded cards that were only available to residents of certain states. The cards we highlight above needed to be available to anyone in the United States, so we gave strong preference to cards you could apply for no matter where you live. While there were some credit cards available to residents of certain zip codes that could match the rewards cards we named "best", their limited access kept them off our list.

Fees

Any cards with excessive fees were immediately cut from our list. Interest fees, annual fees and foreign transaction fees are all acceptable among rewards cards. However, consumers shouldn't stand for other types of fees, especially among cards that we'd consider market leaders. For example, you should never have to pay application fees, monthly membership fees or statement fees.

There were several strong contenders that did not make it onto our editorial team's list. They're listed below along with our reasons why we excluded them from our best-in-class rewards cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: This is a strong runner-up when it comes to rewards for travel. In fact, for frequent travellers and road warriors, it will be the better rewards card. That's because this card can net you a high 4.5% rewards rate on travel and dining purchases (3 points on travel after you earn the $300 travel credit). However, we opted to recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because the card's lower annual fee is more accessible to a broader group of people. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is still an excellent overall rewards credit card, especially if you plan to make use of the card's $300 annual travel credit.

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card: The Fidelity credit card offers a similar 2% cash back to the Citi Double Cash, so why did this not make our rankings for the best rewards? We decided against the Fidelity because rewards have to be deposited into a Fidelity Investment account. It's fantastic if that's what you want your rewards for, but the Citi card gives you the option of effectively applying your cash back anywhere.

Uber Visa Card: The Uber credit card offers unbeatable cash back rates on dining at restaurants (4%), while still providing decent rewards in other categories (3% on airfare and hotel stays, 2% back on online purchases). The reason we kept it off our list is that unless your spending happens to align exactly with those categories, this card isn't very useful. Still, if you just need a great rewards card to pay the tab at restaurants or to save on online shopping, this is a good option to go with.

For starters, people who carry balances on their credit cards should not be considering rewards credit cards. You're far better off getting a great balance transfer card that minimizes your fees and interest. You'd otherwise be earning a 1-5% rewards rate while paying a 15% interest rate.

If you have a credit history that's less than 2 years old and a credit score below 680, rewards credit cards are also not for you. Most of the top rewards cards are unfortunately targeted at consumers who fit that profile. If you have bad credit or no credit at all check out our recommendations in this guide.

You shouldn't get a credit card with an annual fee if you charge less than $1,000 on your card every month. Otherwise, you will likely end up with a card that charges you more in fees than you get back in rewards.

The simplest and easiest option for most people interested in credit card rewards will be a cash back card with no annual fee. You shouldn't settle for anything that gives you less than 1.5%-2% cash back on the types of purchases you make most frequently. The simplest among these are cards that grant 2% cash back on everyday purchases, that automatically deposit rewards into your account. There are several cash back options that can give you up to 5% on shopping categories that rotate every three months -- these can range from something broad like 'groceries' or be as specific as 'Uber'. While these types of cards provide the highest cash back rates, you should only get them if you're comfortable staying on top of the ever-changing shopping categories and putting up with other restrictions (such as your rewards being capped on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter).

For consumers who do spend over $1,000 on their card each month, we recommend getting a travel rewards card. This is a popular option because it allows you to subsidize vacations and not have to be tied down to any one specific airline or hotel brand. The top travel rewards contenders have 2%+ rewards rates and big sign-up bonuses worth at least $500. The best travel rewards credit cards don't charge foreign transaction fees, meaning you can use it on your vacations abroad without incurring extra charges.

Airline and hotel rewards credit cards are the best choice only for people who only fly with a specific airline or those who are a dedicated customer of one hotel brand. These so-called 'co-branded cards' should always give you something extra for your continued loyalty. The best airline rewards cards should come with priority boarding, free checked bags and discounts for people who buy two or more tickets. Hotel rewards cards ought to give you free anniversary night benefits, late check-out and and elite status.

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, Amazon Business American Express Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates are ValuePenguin's alone and for illustrative purposes only. The estimates are not a guarantee, agreement, or commitment to redemption amounts and may not have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).