Best Rewards Credit Card

Selected by CardHub Editors from 1,000+ credit cards — Updated August 27, 2016

Credit card rewards differ greatly. They are issued by different companies, are accrued in different forms and can be redeemed in different ways for different things. However, our Editor’s Picks for the Best Rewards Credit Cards (some of which originate from CardHub advertising partners) all have one thing in common: they provide better rewards than the standard programs offering one point/mile per dollar spent or 1% cash back. While, the majority of the best rewards credit cards require excellent credit for approval, it's not a prerequisite and options with less stringent requirements do exist, though they are likely to be limited in both number and associated benefit.

excellent Credit

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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  • Purchase intro APR N/A
  • Regular APR 13.24% - 23.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee $0 for 1st yr, $59 after
  • Rewards Rate 2 miles / $1
  • Rewards Bonus 40,000 miles

Best For Rewards. The Capital One Venture Card is travel rewards royalty. The 40,000 bonus miles you get after spending $3,000 during the first three months can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit applicable to any travel-related charges that post to your account. And the 2 points per $1 spent that you will earn on a recurring basis equates to 2% cash back on all purchases, provided that you redeem for travel statement credits. That might be all you need to know before adding Venture to your wallet, but if not, check out our full-length review. For full disclosure, Capital One is one of our advertising partners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Purchase intro APR N/A
  • Regular APR 16.24% - 23.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee $0 Intro for the First Year, $95 after
  • Rewards Rate 1 - 2 points / $1
  • Rewards Bonus 50,000 points

While you might be able to find an initial bonus that offers more points/miles than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, it’s hard to argue against this card being the best given the ultimate value and versatility of its rewards. The 50,000 bonus points you get after spending $4,000 during the first three months can be redeemed for a $500 statement credit, which is clearly more useful to the average consumer than a free flight or a couple of complimentary hotel nights. However, it’s important to note that you should only apply for this card if you would ordinarily spend $4,000 within a three-month period.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

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  • Purchase intro APR N/A
  • Regular APR 16.24% - 20.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee None 1st yr, $89 after
  • Rewards Rate 2 miles / $1
  • Rewards Bonus 40,000 miles

Best For Rewards. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is one of a select few offers providing consumers with the opportunity to earn a $400 initial rewards bonus, which itself provides a great deal of flexibility given that it can be applied to any travel-related expense. This card also follows the very successful Venture Card model, providing the miles equivalent of 2% cash back across all purchases as long as users redeem for travel. As a result, this is a great option for travel-minded consumers who will be able to meet the card’s $3,000 initial spending requirement within the first 90 days. Note: Barclays is one of our advertisers.

good Credit

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

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  • Purchase intro APR 0% for 12 months
  • Regular APR 12.24% - 22.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee None
  • Rewards Rate 1.25 miles / $1
  • Rewards Bonus 20,000 miles

While the VentureOne Rewards Card isn't quite as rewarding as Capital One's flagship Venture Card -- offering 20k bonus miles vs 40k, and 2 miles/$1 vs. 1.25 -- it's not quite as expensive either, having no annual fee compared to the Venture Card's $59 charge that kicks in during the second year. This card also provides an extended 0% introductory term for purchases, enabling cardholders to leave their would-be payments in the bank for longer. It is a very solid option for people with good credit.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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  • Purchase intro APR N/A
  • Regular APR 13.24% - 23.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee $0 for 1st yr, $59 after
  • Rewards Rate 2 miles / $1
  • Rewards Bonus 40,000 miles

Best For Rewards. The Capital One Venture Card is travel rewards royalty. The 40,000 bonus miles you get after spending $3,000 during the first three months can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit applicable to any travel-related charges that post to your account. And the 2 points per $1 spent that you will earn on a recurring basis equates to 2% cash back on all purchases, provided that you redeem for travel statement credits. That might be all you need to know before adding Venture to your wallet, but if not, check out our full-length review. For full disclosure, Capital One is one of our advertising partners.

fair Credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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  • Purchase intro APR 0% for 9 months
  • Regular APR 23.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee $39
  • Rewards Rate 1.5% Cash Back
  • Rewards Bonus None

Best For Rewards. The QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Card from Capital One (one of our advertising partners) represents the absolute best rewards-earning option available to people with fair or limited credit. It boasts a straightforward rewards program, offering 1.5% cash back across all purchases, which will easily overcome its $39 annual fee for users who make most of their purchases with plastic. 1.5% cash back across the board is equivalent to what people with excellent credit get from the best rewards cards on the market. In addition, a 0% introductory interest rate on new purchases for 9 months makes the QuicksilverOne Card a great way to avoid interest on big-ticket purchases as well.

limited Credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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  • Purchase intro APR 0% for 9 months
  • Regular APR 23.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee $39
  • Rewards Rate 1.5% Cash Back
  • Rewards Bonus None

Best For Rewards. The QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Card from Capital One (one of our advertising partners) represents the absolute best rewards-earning option available to people with fair or limited credit. It boasts a straightforward rewards program, offering 1.5% cash back across all purchases, which will easily overcome its $39 annual fee for users who make most of their purchases with plastic. 1.5% cash back across the board is equivalent to what people with excellent credit get from the best rewards cards on the market. In addition, a 0% introductory interest rate on new purchases for 9 months makes the QuicksilverOne Card a great way to avoid interest on big-ticket purchases as well.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points

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For College Students

  • Purchase intro APR 0% for 7 months
  • Regular APR 14.24% - 24.24% (V)
  • Annual Fee $0*
  • Rewards Rate 1 - 2 points / $1
  • Rewards Bonus 2,500 points

This card brings a lot to the table, offering a relatively hefty initial bonus as well as solid ongoing rewards in spending categories popular among young people and 0% financing for the first seven months. Plus, Citi (one of our advertisers) doesn’t even charge an annual fee.

bad Credit

Unfortunately, there are no rewards credit cards for people with bad credit. Below is the best secured credit card for people with bad credit.

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

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Secured Card

  • Min Deposit $49, $99 or $200
  • Annual Fee None
  • Monthly Fee None
  • One-Time Fees None
  • Regular APR 24.99% (V)

Best Partially-Secured Card. The fact that the Capital One Secured MasterCard does not charge an annual fee and has the potential to be partially-secured makes it quite attractive for many people. With a partially-secured credit card, your credit line may exceed the amount of your security deposit, thereby providing you with an emergency line of credit, if needed, and enabling you to maximize your available credit. The more credit you have available, the faster your credit standing will improve. The Secured MasterCard Credit Card from Capital One (one of our advertisers) is therefore an option that at least merits consideration if you have bad or limited credit. To learn more about this helpful credit-building tool, check out our full review.

Unfortunately, there are no rewards credit cards for people with bad credit. Below is the best unsecured credit card for people with bad credit.

Credit One Bank® Visa® with Credit Line Increase Reviews

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  • Annual Fee $0 - $99
  • Monthly Fee None
  • One-Time Fees None
  • Regular APR 15.65% - 24.15% (V)

Best Unsecured Card For Bad Credit. We tend not to recommend unsecured credit cards for bad credit given the prohibitive costs and low credit lines typical of the genre. If you truly need an emergency loan, however, this Credit One Bank Visa Card is your best bet. It charges a relatively modest annual fee of $0 - $75 the first year, depending on your credit standing, and $0 to $99 each year thereafter. And it even offers 1% cash back on gas and grocery purchases.

Expert Answers

How are the best reward credit cards selected?

By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance Editor

The main criterion that our editors used to pick these products is the amount of rewards (i.e. airline miles, points, cash back, etc.) offered. The best rewards credit cards typically set themselves apart from the pack with one or more of the following features: a significant initial rewards bonus, a high points/miles/cash back earning rate on all purchases and/or extra rewards on certain spending categories.

What is the correlation between credit standing and rewards credit cards?

By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEO

The lower your credit score, the fewer the options available to you in terms of rewards credit cards as it is only natural that the best credit card rewards programs be found on the cards with the highest credit lines. In addition, it's actually the norm for credit cards geared toward people who have not yet reached good credit standing (FICO score > 660) not to have rewards, so products that do provide such benefits really stand out. However, as rewards credit cards for people with fair or limited credit typically bring high annual fees with them, you should think carefully and evaluate the overall benefit of such a card before opening it.

How do I know what kind of rewards to get?

By: Sonia Garrison

The best credit card rewards complement your lifestyle. Therefore, before picking a rewards credit card you must evaluate your spending and pinpoint your main expenses (e.g. travel, gas, groceries). The best reward credit card will be the option that provides the most lucrative savings in these areas. If no one spending category sticks out, the best credit card rewards program will be the one that provides the most cash back on all purchases.

Can I have more than one rewards credit card?

By: Ross Garner

Depending on your credit level and monthly spending, having more than one rewards card might be advisable. According to the Card Hub Island Approach, consumers with excellent credit who spend at least $1,000/month should segment their rewards (i.e. open the best rewards credit card for each of their main spending categories) in order to garner the greatest possible savings. If, for example, your main expenses are gas and airfare, the most lucrative rewards will not come from a single general rewards card but instead from a airline credit card used in concert with a gas rewards credit card.

Community Discussion

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