Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2019

Best rewards credit cards

Find the Best Rewards Credit Card for You!

I think it’s safe to say we all know that credit card debt is bad, really bad. And props go out to all you people that don’t use credit cards!

Credit cards can be very useful for some of us though. They can help you build and improve your credit, maximize your savings by offering rewards, arrange traveling accommodations, limit your exposure to fraud, track your spending, receive extended warranties and other benefits.

“Which credit card is best for me?”

To find a rewarding credit card that makes sense for you, consider:

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  • The rewards formulas
  • Fees and restrictions; and
  • Your spending habits (you want to get the most rewards on the purchases you make the most – travel, gas, groceries, etc)

We’ve listed some of the best rewards credit cards below, but make sure to take the time to read the fine print of the credit card offer too. I have listed many of the features below, but not everything! You may find a few features that are valuable and could save you money, and you may also find catches like seasonal savings, spending tiers, hidden caps, rewards expiration dates, and penalties.

calculator check register pen morgue file photo

If you have existing debt, tend to carry a credit card balance, or you have bad credit, you should consider credit cards with low interest rates and low fees rather than focusing on rewards programs, or cut out credit cards altogether! Check out the Cash Envelope System here.

I personally use a credit card for almost everything. BUT I always pay my balance in full and I keep my spending under control too…. it works great for my 7 Bank Account budgeting system. I like to redeem my points for gift cards to places I normally shop, like Amazon or Target. BEWARE: This system DOES NOT work for everyone. 

Best Credit Cards for Rewards

Rewarding credit card offers are plentiful these days, but the best offers are usually only for people with good to excellent credit. See how Cathy raised her credit score.

These first 4 cards are all highly recommended by experts, but they have annual fees attached to them. I personally prefer to avoid cards with annual fees, but you might find that one of these cards is worthwhile for you if the benefits far outweigh the annual fee. Get out the calculator!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

chase sapphire preferred card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best travel rewards cards available. If you travel often, the annual fee of $95 will definitely be worth it.

One of the big reasons this card is so good for travel is because when you redeem your points for a travel reward, they’re worth 25% more. For example, 100 points redeemed for cash is worth $1 while 100 points redeemed for travel is worth $1.25. That may not seem like much but for large travel purchases, it makes a huge difference.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • $95 annual fee
  • Earn 2x points on travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Points never expire as long as the account stays open
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 24/7 customer service access
  • Travel and purchase coverage perks
  • 1:1 point transfer to various frequent travel programs

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

amex blue cash preferred card

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from Amex offers high cash back rates and other perks. If you use it as your primary card, you’ll easily earn the annual fee back in the form of Rewards Dollars. Your Rewards Dollars can then be redeemed toward your card balance, or you can use them to get gift cards or physical products.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: Earn $250 back (as a statement credit) if you spend at least $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months (this offer may not be available all the time)
  • $95 annual fee
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 worth of purchases per year, then 1%
  • 3% back at gas stations
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • Various travel perks
  • Purchase protection perks
  • Access to exclusive American Express ticket presales
  • Free 2-day shipping at 100+ online stores with ShopRunner

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

capital one venture credit card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card is another card that is perfect for frequent travelers. One of the best perks this card offers is the unlimited 2x miles on every purchase. On top of that, having the annual fee waived the first year is a nice bonus.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Free the first year, then $95 annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase
  • 10x miles on thousands of hotels through January 2020
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as your account stays open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Receive up to $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ different Capital One travel partners

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

With a lower annual fee than the other two travel cards we listed above and similar (but simpler) benefits, this card is perfect for anyone looking to get the most value on their rewards miles. The one drawback is that this card doesn’t offer as many perks as the cards listed above.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: 70,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Free the first year, then $89 annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase
  • Get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem
  • Must have at least 5,000 miles to redeem rewards
  • Miles never expire as long as your account is open
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening your account
  • No foreign transaction fees

Best Rewards Business Credit Card

Chase Business Preferred Ink

This is the credit card I use for my business and it’s by far the BEST business card you could have because you can really rack up the points! If you redeem your points for flights, one point is valued at $1.25. I use these points to use for flight for my husband and I to go on trips together!

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5000 in the first three months after account is opened (that is $1,000 in travel rewards)
  • Excellent benefits (like cell phone insurance at no extra cost and auto rental collision damage)
  • You can 1:1 transfer travel rewards to other travel loyalty programs (like Southwest Rapid Rewards)
  • Earn THREE points per $1 on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone, and advertising purchases with social media sites
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases (no limits on what you can earn)
  • Get a 25% bonus when you redeem for travel (you can also redeem for cash back, gift cards and more!)
  • $95 annual fee (and totally worth it for my business!)

Best Rewards Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

No-fee rewards credit cards are great for building and diversifying your credit as they’re completely free to use (as long as you pay off the balance monthly). Here are six of the best no-fee rewards credit cards:

Citi Double Cash Card

citi double cash card

With 2% cash back on every purchase and no annual fee, the Citi Double Cash Card is perfect for all around spending and it encourages you to pay off your balance. Just keep in mind you won’t earn cash back on balance transfers, cash advances, account fees, interest, or returns.

Details & Benefits:

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1% back on every purchase and an additional 1% when you pay
  • Unlimited cash back
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • Free pass on your first late fee
  • Citi Private Pass (special access to event ticket purchases, complimentary movie screenings and more)
  • 24-hour fraud protection and identity theft assistance
  • Purchase protection
  • 24/7 customer service

Discover it

discover it card

Since this card has no annual fee and a rotating 5% cash back offer, it would pair nicely with other rewards credit cards. Just make sure to check the 5% cash back calendar and plan your purchases accordingly. Your cash back never expires so you can save it up for as long as you like.

Details & Benefits:

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories (restrictions apply), 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 14 months
  • Get your first year of cash back matched automatically at the end of the year
  • Cashback never expires as long as your account stays open
  • Freeze your card easily on the mobile app or website
  • Free monthly FICO credit score
  • No minimum point redemption amount

Chase Freedom

chase freedom card

Just like the Discover It card, the Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. However, after you’ve spent over $1,500 on the bonus category, you’ll start earning 1% cash back again. Also, you need to make sure to activate your 5% bonus each quarter before the deadline.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories (restrictions apply), 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Cashback never expires as long as your account stays open
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back
  • 1 year extended warranty on U.S. manufacturers products (eligible on warranties of three years or less)
  • 120-day purchase protection against damage or theft up to $500
  • Fraud protection

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

capital one ventureone credit card image

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card is probably the best fee-free travel rewards credit card. You’ll earn 1.25 miles on every purchase, you get extra travel insurance perks, and you can transfer your miles to over ten different airlines.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: One-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 dollars on purchases within the first 3 months
  • No annual fee
  • 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase
  • 10X miles on thousands of hotels through January 2020
  • Redeem miles for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and more
  • No limit on the miles you can earn and miles don’t expire as long as your account stays open
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Option to transfer your miles to 10+ different airlines

American Express Blue Cash Everyday

american express blue cash everyday

The American Express Blue Cash Everyday card is basically a no-fee version of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card. The difference is that you’ll be earning a bit less cash back with this no-fee card, but other than that, the features are almost exactly the same.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: Earn $200 back if you spend $1,000 or more in 3 months or less
  • No annual fee
  • 3% cash back at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select major department stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit or for gift cards or merchandise.
  • No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Travel protection
  • Shopping protection
  • Free 2-day shipping at 100+ online stores with ShopRunner
  • Access to American Express event ticket presales

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

capital one quicksilverone

With a nice 1.5% cash back on every purchase and no annual fee, this cash back credit card is a well-balanced card that’s suitable for all-around spending. It’s also great for balance transfers with a 15-month 0% intro APR.

Details & Benefits:

  • $0 annual fee
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Earn unlimited cash back that doesn’t expire
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud protection
  • Travel and retail benefits

Best Rewards Credit Card for Students

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Citi rewards plus student card

The Citi Rewards+ Student Card is a GREAT fee-free cash back credit card. It offers 2x points on gas and supermarket purchases (1x on all other purchases), as well as other benefits that make earning points easier. You can redeem your points for gift cards, purchases, vacations, and more, and you’ll receive 10% points back for the first 100,000 points you redeem each year.

Details & Benefits:

  • Bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases within 3 months of opening account
  • No annual fee
  • 2 points per dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 spent per year (then 1 point per dollar)
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Every purchase is rounded up to the nearest 10 points (e.g. a $3 purchase will earn you 10 points)
  • 10% points back for the first 100,000 points you redeem per year
  • Earn unlimited points that do not expire
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 7 months

Conclusion

When it comes to picking your first credit card or maybe even your second, third, or fourth, it’s a big decision. You want to make sure that you’re getting a card that will work with your spending habits and you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your dollar as well.

So, I recommend carefully taking a look at this list of the best credit cards for rewards, weighing the pros and cons of each card, and whatever you do, don’t make a rushed decision. Take your time, read through all of the details and information, and make your decision once you feel 100% confident!

If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment below.

I put this list together by researching NerdWallet, The Simple Dollar, Kiplinger, cardhub.com, Forbes.com, and consumerreports.com. However, I am not a financial expert or adviser.

Which creadit card is best for me

Comments

  • CB327

    The problem with credit card rewards are that the vendors you shop pay for those rewards through merchant fees. Those fees add up to a LOT of money.

    And unless you pay your card in full every month, you’ll be paying more in interest than you ever earn in rewards.

    All in all, it’s better to go with cash.

    • Susan

      Card swiping is very expensive for merchants, true. Every now and then you’ll see right up front that you’re charged more to pay with a credit card. Allegiant Air for example. I recently bought two RT tickets BOI/LAS for $111/ea, and the additional fee for paying with a credit card was $21/ea!

      But for consumers who use them wisely and pay the balance diligently, the rewards can be quite lucrative. A number of years ago, I obtained a Disney Rewards card during a promotion and used it for just about every purchase I made for a couple of years, in anticipation of a trip to Disneyland. By the time we made that trip, I had earned close to $500 in rewards but paid zero in interest or fees.

      After that, since we wouldn’t be going to Disney again any time soon, I switched to using a different card that offered rewards that I was interested in.

      I made the ignorant mistake of cancelling the Disney card because I was no longer using it. Don’t cancel cards! It’s far better for your credit score to have credit available to you even if you don’t use it.

    • Michelle

      I think that was the whole point here, pay off the balance and then you pay no interest. It does take discipline, but I have bought many small household appliances with our rewards from Discover card. We charge our insurance, our household shopping, and our business expenses on our credit card. We have yet to pay a single cent of interest. We can even get cash advances and pay no interest. That is like a zero interest loan. You just gotta know how to use the system. Being a former working mom, but now a SAHM, it is like having a little job of my own.

  • Nicole

    We pay off our credit cards in full each month before interest rates come due, so for us, it’s better than cash in that we also get rewards. We have a Discover card and enjoy the rewards from that. We don’t travel, so air miles cards don’t interest us. We usually save up and get a gift card for a store where we need stuff.

  • Rheana

    If you don’t want to hassle with the credit part of credit cards but want to earn some rewards…perkstreet. Even Dave Ramsey recommends!!

  • Stephanie

    I have owned a credit counseling and repair company for the past 5 years. I agree with most everything you said on the post except, you don’t need credit cards for good credit. Unfortunately, this is not true. Revolving credit makes up 30% of the credit score. Having no credit cards is exactly the same as having cards and them all being maxed out. For your cards to help your score you need 3-4 cards than never exceed 30% of the limit. Credit cards are a very important part of maintain a healthy credit file.

  • Amy

    I just got my very first credit card at age 30 and it’s a secured card through my bank. I’m hoping to build credit because it is NOT fun without any! I can’t tell you what it feels like to have absolutely no debt and still be denied a house, car and even a cell phone. It took almost a year to get into our home and I had to pay cash for my car. It was ridiculous!! (And I’m pretty sure none of those cards would accept me! haha)

  • Kimberly

    Just ran across your site. I agree with you. We pay everything with credit cards. We use the American Express Blue Card the most. It gives great rewards and all your purchases on it are protected. Also if your card is stolen the credit card company is out the money unlike your debit card. My husband has worked in this industry for over 10 years and would never use his debit card. It is too dangerous. And if we pay our balance off every two weeks its the same as using cash. jBut once again only if you are disciplined enough to do it.

  • Sydney

    I am currently looking to get a credit card to help improve my credit. When my husband and I got married 2 years ago it was a last minute decision. We had already been discussing marriage but hadn’t carried out any plans, when I found out I was pregnant. It then became a rush to get married before I was showing (I was already 12 weeks along so I was already almost at that point) but none the less we planned and carried out a wedding in a month. Since it was such short notice, we didn’t really have money saved up. When we went dress shopping I decided to get the David’s bridal credit card to pay for my dress (which would have been great had I known what I was getting myself into!) then we had our daughter, and we owed taxes, and other bills kept piling up keeping me from paying on that credit card. Needless to say I didn’t really understand that it went on my credit report. So now I guess my question is how do I improve it and if I get a credit card does it hurt/help if I pay it as soon as I use the card? Or does it only help if I pay it off at the end of the month?

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