Best Rewards Credit Cards of August 2022

We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.   Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for some American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

As rising inflation affects prices on everything from food and gas to flights, Americans are feeling the added pressure on their budgets. But for many increasing costs, credit card rewards can offer some relief.

The right credit card can help you earn points, cash back, or miles on everyday essentials, dining, and streaming services. And those rewards can add up to savings on your summer vacation or trip to the grocery store as prices continue to soar.  

Here are NextAdvisor’s top picks for the best rewards credit cards, and how they can help you stretch every dollar further in a time of soaring prices and inflation:

Before You Start

Rewards credit cards are great tools for savings and benefits on purchases you were already going to make, but any high-interest credit card can also lead to debt. Make sure you pay down any existing high-interest debt before you open a new credit card, and establish healthy credit habits like paying your full balance on time each month.

Our Picks for the Best Rewards Credits Card 

Good For Flat Cash Back Citi® Double Cash Card
Learn More externa link icon
Citi® Double Cash Card
Editor’s Score: (4.9/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site.
Good For Flat Cash Back Citi® Double Cash Card
Editor’s Score: (4.9/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $200 Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    16.24% – 26.24% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Great limited time welcome offer
  • Flat cash back on every purchase
  • 18-month 0% intro APR for balance transfers (16.24% to 26.24% variable APR thereafter)
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5)
  • Delayed cash back rewards if you carry a balance
The Bottom Line
The Citi Double Cash Card has a straightforward rewards structure that gets you up to 2% back on everything — which is great if you’re looking to maximize savings on every purchase you make. It also shines as a debt management tool, with an 18-month 0% intro rate for balance transfers (16.24% to 26.24% variable APR thereafter). And for a limited time, you can benefit from the great welcome offer of $200 after spending $1,500 within the first six months.

Additional Card Details

  • Extra incentive to pay down your balance in full: You’ll earn only 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and the other 1% when you pay it off
  • 18-month 0% intro period on balance transfers, 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR thereafter
  • Redeem cash back for statement credits, direct deposit, check, or convert cash back value to Citi ThankYou points
  • Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening and a 3% ($5 minimum) fee applies, After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5)
Good For Gas and Groceries Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Learn More externa link icon
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
Good For Gas and Groceries Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $350
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    16.99%-27.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Great rewards in everyday spending categories
  • Introductory interest offer for new purchases and balance transfers
  • Competitive welcome bonus
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • U.S. supermarket 6% rewards capped after $6,000 annual spend
The Bottom Line
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is one of the only cash back cards we think is worth an annual fee, especially for modern families. This card’s excellent rewards on everyday purchases can help you maximize all of your most frequent spending — from dining in to at-home entertainment to the expenses that come with your daily commute.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months from the date of account opening, then 16.99% – 27.99% variable APR
  • Early event ticket access and seating through American Express Experiences
  • Eligible for Amex Pay It, Plan It
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
  • Minimum $25 rewards redemption
Good For Maximum Everyday Cash Back Chase Freedom Flex℠
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site.
Good For Maximum Everyday Cash Back Chase Freedom Flex℠
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    17.24% – 25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter! 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Extensive tiered rewards structure
  • Rotating bonus rewards categories every quarter
  • Valuable welcome bonus offer
  • 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • High ongoing APR after intro period
  • Rotating quarterly bonus categories capped after $1,500 in spending
  • Keeping track of rewards categories may be more complex than some other cash back cards
The Bottom Line
The Chase Freedom Flex card offers cash back rewards in rotating rewards categories that will let you save where you spend the most. Plus, you’ll earn rewards in ongoing bonus categories year-round.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers (17.24% – 25.99% variable APR thereafter) ; intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides through March 2025
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Cell phone protection
  • Free credit score and monitoring
  • Access to Chase Offers savings
Good For Maximum Travel Redemptions Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site.
Good For Maximum Travel Redemptions Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    19.24% – 26.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    740-850 (Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Valuable welcome bonus
  • $300 annual travel credit and other added benefits
  • 50% points value boost when redeemed for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Metal card
Cons
  • $550 annual fee
  • High APR
  • Not a great choice if you travel infrequently
The Bottom Line
Luxe benefits and valuable points redemptions draw many people to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, despite its steep $550 annual fee. But if you travel often and your spending aligns with high-value rewards categories, the Reserve’s benefits can outweigh even the high cost of ownership.

Additional Card Details

  • 50% redemption boost on points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or eligible statement credits via Pay Yourself Back
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Up to $100 credit every four years toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee
  • Complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select membership
  • 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash subscription through 12/31/24
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
Good For Travel Rewards from Everyday Spending American Express® Gold Card
Learn More externa link icon
American Express® Gold Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
Good For Travel Rewards from Everyday Spending American Express® Gold Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $250
  • Regular APR:
    18.99%-25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Tiered points system
  • Welcome bonus offer
  • Annual credits
Cons
  • Annual fee
  • Value of points dependent on how you redeem
The Bottom Line
The American Express Gold Card offers a great rewards structure that lets you rack up points when you make everyday purchases on groceries and dining out. You’ll get the most value from your American Express Gold if you use your points to save on travel — especially if you transfer your points to airline or hotel partners. The Amex Gold is one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards, and frequent travelers can get a lot of value from it, even in spite of its $250 annual fee.

Additional Card Details

  • Up to $120 annual dining credit
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides
  • Up to $100 credit on qualifying activities when booking through the American Express Hotel Collection
  • $250 annual fee
  • Amex Offers
  • Car rental insurance
  • Global travel assistance hotline
  • Baggage insurance
  • Extended warranty on covered purchases
  • Purchase protection
  • Dispute resolution
Good For Earning Flexible Miles Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Learn More externa link icon
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Capital One’s secure site.
Good For Earning Flexible Miles Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    75,000 miles
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    17.49% – 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options. Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Flat 2x miles on every purchase
  • Generous sign-up bonus
  • Flexible rewards redemptions
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • High variable APR
  • $95 annual fee
  • Travel transfer partners options and value aren’t as good as some other programs
The Bottom Line
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great travel credit card option for travel enthusiasts who value flexible rewards over premium benefits or credits. It even ranks among our best credit card picks. Double miles on every dollar you spend, a generous welcome bonus, and numerous redemption options can all go a long way to offset the card’s $95 annual fee — and help you save on future travel.

Additional Card Details

  • Flexible redemption options to use rewards toward future travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® membership every four years
  • Two complimentary visits to Capital One Lounge locations each year
Good for Cash Back on Every Purchase Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Learn More externa link icon
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Editor’s Score: (4.6/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Wells Fargo’s secure site. See Rates & Fees.
Good for Cash Back on Every Purchase Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Editor’s Score: (4.6/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $200 cash rewards
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
  • Valuable welcome bonus
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24%) variable APR thereafter)
  • Cellphone and travel protections
Cons
  • High variable APR after introductory offer ends
  • No bonus categories to maximize
  • 3% foreign currency conversion fee
The Bottom Line
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card comes with an enticing 2% cash rewards on purchases, along with a valuable welcome bonus. You won’t pay an annual fee, and can also benefit from the 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (followed by a variable APR of 17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24%.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (followed by a variable APR of 17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24%).
  • Cell phone protection worth up to $600 when you pay your bill with your eligible Wells Fargo card (subject to a $25 deductible)
  • Visa Signature® Concierge service
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Roadside dispatch
Good for Quarterly Rotating Cash Back Discover it® Cash Back
Discover it® Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Good for Quarterly Rotating Cash Back Discover it® Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.24% – 25.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • 5% back in popular categories like grocery stores, gas stations, or Amazon.com purchases throughout the year
  • No annual fee and no late fee on your first late payment.
  • 15-month intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Cashback Match at the end of your first 12 months
Cons
  • High ongoing variable APR
  • Limited redemption options for rewards
  • Must keep track of rotating bonus categories to maximize rewards
The Bottom Line
The Discover it Cash Back stands out — and earns a spot among our best cash back credit card picks — due to its generous revolving rewards structure, which gives cardholders the chance to earn 5% cash back upon activation (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%) in categories that change throughout the year. There’s no annual fee, and you can save money on interest with an introductory APR for a limited time.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.24% to 25.24%
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • All quarterly rotating categories for the ur annpcoming yeaounced in advance
  • 5% category earn only applies after you activate rewards each quarter (bonus rewards do not apply retroactively if you wait to activate mid-quarter)
Good for Delta Travelers and Everyday Spending Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Learn More externa link icon
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Editor’s Score: (3.85/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
Good for Delta Travelers and Everyday Spending Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Editor’s Score: (3.85/5)
  • Intro offer:
    40,000 Miles
  • Annual fee:
    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
  • Regular APR:
    18.74%-27.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Exceptional welcome offer
  • Earn bonus miles on Delta purchases and everyday spending categories
  • In-flight and airport benefits for frequent Delta flyers
  • Option to Pay with Miles when you book Delta flights
Cons
  • High variable APR
  • $99 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year)
  • Rewards not as valuable for those who don’t often fly Delta
The Bottom Line
The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card strikes a nice balance for Delta enthusiasts who want to enjoy a few travel perks without paying the annual fees of more premium travel card options (which can cost upwards of $500). For $99 annually ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year), you can score a great welcome bonus, enjoy benefits like a free checked bag on Delta flights and priority boarding, and earn bonus rewards on everyday spending categories.

Additional Card Details

  • First checked bag free and priority boarding on Delta flights
  • Annual $100 Delta Flight Credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets
  • No foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees)
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, $99 annual fee
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections

Best Rewards Credit Cards

Our picks for the best rewards credit cards include both cash back rewards and points-and-miles rewards. They cover a wide range of annual fees, bonus categories, and redemption options. To choose the right rewards card for you, don’t forget to consider your travel plans and regular spending habits, to ensure any new card aligns with your financial goals.

Citi Double Cash Card

Good For: Flat Cash Back

Earn up to 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy, plus 1% when you pay off your purchase. 

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Good For: Gas and Groceries 

You can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases. 

Chase Freedom Flex

Good For: Maximum Everyday Cash Back 

This card offers 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter), 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining and drugstores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.  

The Platinum Card from American Express

Good For: Exclusive Travel Benefits

In addition to a host of premium benefits, you’ll also earn 5x points on flights booked with Amex Travel or directly with airlines (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year), and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Good For: Maximum Travel Redemption

You’ll earn 3x points on travel and restaurants (3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit), and 1x points on other eligible purchase in addition to this card’s other perks and benefits. 

American Express Gold Card

Good For: Travel Rewards From Everyday Spending

Earn points on everyday purchases. You’ll get 4x points at restaurants and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x ), 3x points on flights booked through amextravel.com or direct with airlines, and 1x points on other purchases. 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Good For: Earning Flexible Miles

Earn a straightforward 2x miles per dollar on every purchase.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Good For: Cash Rewards on Purchases

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases. 

Discover it Cash Back 

Good For: Quarterly Rotating Cash Back Categories

Earn 5% cash back on revolving bonus categories each quarter after activation (on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending), then 1% after that. And get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Good For: Delta Travelers and Everyday Spending

Earn 2x miles on dining at restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.), 2x miles on groceries at U.S. supermarkets, 2x miles on Delta purchases, and 1x on every other purchase. This is an American Express card, but you’ll earn rewards as Delta SkyMiles.

Best Rewards Credit Cards for June 2022 Summary

CardGood ForBonusEarning RateAnnual Fee
Citi Double Cash CardFlat Cash BackFor a limited time, earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of card membershipUp to 2% cash back on every purchase (1% when you buy plus an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases)$0
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American ExpressGas and Groceries$350 statement credit after spending $3,000 within the first six months of card membership.6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases$95
Chase Freedom FlexMaximum Everyday Cash Back$200 if you spend $500 in the first three months from account opening 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter), 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining and drugstores, at least 1% cash back on other purchases$0
The Platinum Card from American ExpressExclusive Travel Benefits100,000 bonus points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership5x points on flights booked through Amex Travel or direct with airlines (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year), 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel$695 (See Rates & Fees)
Chase Sapphire ReserveMaximum Travel Redemption60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months3x points on travel and restaurants, 1x points on other eligible purchases$550
American Express Gold CardTravel Rewards from Everyday Spending60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first six months of card membership4x points at restaurants, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x), 3x points on flights booked through amextravel.com or direct with airlines, 1x points on other purchases$250
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardEarning Flexible Miles75,000 miles if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening2x miles per dollar on every purchase$95
Wells Fargo Active Cash Cash Rewards on Purchases$200 cash rewards bonus when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening2% cash rewards on purchases$0
Discover it Cash BackQuarterly Rotating Cash Back Cashback Match: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year5% cash back on revolving bonus categories after activation (on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending), then 1% after that; 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases$0

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
Delta Travelers and Everyday Spending40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening.2x miles on Delta purchases and restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and supermarkets; 1x miles on all other eligible purchases $99

The Current State of Rewards

There are many different ways you can use credit card rewards, and card issuers are constantly evolving their cards to match rewards with consumer spending habits. Credit card rewards can help offset the rising prices of everyday spending or a big upcoming purchase. Here’s what to know about rewards credit cards right now:

Offset Inflation with Credit Card Rewards

Rising inflation is driving up the cost of everything from your grocery store trips to dream vacations. Fortunately, a rewards card can help you save money on planned purchases. If your spending habits align with your credit card’s bonus categories, you can earn rewards on the items you were already planning to buy anyway. 

“As long as you’re able to pay your bills in full and avoid interest, I’d recommend putting everything on the card and viewing the rewards as free money,” says  Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, which is owned by Red Ventures, like NextAdvisor.

If you’re considering a new credit card, the welcome bonus can also help cut costs as long as the the card’s rewards categories match your spending habits. 

Travel Rewards are Taking Off

With travel back on the rise, rewards are one way to cut the cost of an expensive trip. Once you’ve racked up rewards on your spending, you can redeem your points or miles toward a future vacation. 

You might choose a co-branded airline or hotel card if you’re loyal to a specific travel brand, or a more flexible rewards card that has transferrable points and travel partners for the best deal. With general travel cards, you can also redeem your points for travel using the issuer’s rewards portal.

As with any card, make sure you charge only what you can afford to a travel rewards card, and can pay your balance in full and on time each month. Also think about your travel and spending habits before deciding to open a new card. If you only plan to take one or two trips within a year, you may choose a cash back card for more flexibility. 

New Rewards Credit Cards

In the past few months, several new card offers and welcome bonuses have hit the market. Most recently, Chase upped the welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to a whopping 80,000 points (worth $1,000 when you redeem for travel). Though the offer has since ended, you can still get a 60,000-point bonus as a new cardholder. 

Earlier this year, Capital One also debuted its new Capital One Venture X Credit Card. The premium travel card has a $395 annual fee but comes with a 75,000-mile welcome bonus, annual travel credits, and lounge access.

If you’re looking for a less costly cash rewards card, PayPal recently upgraded the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®, too. Current and new cardholders can earn unlimited 3% cash back on purchases. If you don’t already have the card, you may also qualify for the new $100 welcome bonus after you spend $500. 

What Is a Rewards Credit Card?

A rewards credit card works just like any other credit card, but will offer you some form of rewards currency in exchange for using that card to make purchases. Your rewards dollars can be simple cash back, points that can be redeemed for different items, or airline miles that can be directly translated into your next trip.

Guide to Cash Back Rewards Cards

How Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards Work

Cash back credit cards can save you hundreds of dollars on the everyday items you purchase regularly. Cash back credit cards are the simplest types of rewards credit cards and can put cash directly back into your wallet based on how you spend. Some cash back cards also allow you to convert rewards into points or miles, giving you extra flexibility in how you redeem. Check what redemption methods your cash back card offers. 

Typically, you’ll earn back a percentage of purchases in qualifying categories, usually through statement credits, checks, or a direct bank deposit — if you opt for the cash back redemption. 

Flat Rate, Tiered, Rotating Categories

Cash back credit cards generally fall into three types: flat rate, tiered, and rotating. You should make sure the type you choose aligns with your own spending habits, and won’t influence you to spend more than you otherwise would. 

A flat cash back credit card is the most straightforward type of rewards card. You’ll get a fixed cash back return on every eligible purchase, usually around 1-2% flat cash back on every dollar spent. 

A tiered cash back card offers different rewards percentages for different spending categories, such as groceries, gas, dining, and travel. Tiered rewards might not be as simple as flat cash back, but can give you even more value with higher rewards where you spend most. Top cash back categories might offer as much as 5-6% back. 

Rotating cash back cards are also tied to specific categories, but these categories regularly change, generally on a quarterly basis. You’ll need to keep up with your spending each quarter and plan so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your card. Rotating bonus categories typically earn 5% cash back on each qualifying dollar you spend.

How to Redeem Cash Back Rewards

How you redeem your cash back rewards — and how often you can redeem — depends on the card you have. In general, you’ll redeem cash back for a statement credit, check, or a direct bank deposit, but log into your card account to find out exactly how you can redeem your rewards. 

Some issuers allow rewards redemption directly at online retailers, like Amazon, or by shopping through the issuer’s site, and a few will also let you convert your cash back rewards to points, which can unlock even more valuable redemptions, especially for travel. 

Guide to Travel Rewards Cards

How Travel Rewards Credit Cards Work

Travel rewards credit cards can be general purpose or specific to a certain airline or hotel. General travel rewards credit cards earn points or miles that can be redeemed through your issuer’s rewards program, often by booking directly through the issuer site or transferring to a travel partner. 

A co-branded travel rewards credit card earns points or miles you can instead redeem through a specific airline or hotel chain’s rewards program. These cards can be advantageous if you always fly with a specific airline or stay at a certain hotel brand, but otherwise limit your redemption options. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to redeem your points or miles for travel with travel rewards cards, though this will often result in the best value for your points. Many issuers also offer  points and miles redemptions for cash, statement credits, directly for items when shopping, or gift cards. Check your card account to figure out all the ways you can redeem your rewards currency. 

What Is a Credit Card Point or Mile Worth?

The value of a point or mile varies a lot depending on the card. A general baseline, however, is 1 point or mile equals 1 cent. Certain rewards programs or transfer options can add more value than this for your rewards, and certain redemption strategies can make them worth less. Generally, you’ll get the best value for your points or miles by using them to book travel directly through your issuer. 

How to Redeem Travel Rewards

You’ll get the best value for your points by using them to redeem for travel with your issuer. There are other ways you can redeem your points, though you may lose some value in the process. Most travel rewards credit cards will let you redeem your rewards currency for cash, statement credits, gift cards, or directly for items when shopping. 

Some rewards cards will require you to have a minimum rewards balance before you can redeem. 

Types of Rewards Cards 

Rewards cards can widely vary based on types of rewards and bonus categories, but three common types include cash back, travel, and business. The rewards program that’s best for you will depend on your spending habits and what you’re looking to gain from the card. For example, you may want to use your rewards to upgrade your travel experiences, or to save on several small purchases over time. 

The different types of rewards cards can also affect how you earn rewards. Some rewards cards are more geared toward earning on everyday purchases, while others are focused on certain bonus categories or specific travel purchases. 

You can even maximize different types of rewards and build your own trifecta or card pair to make the most of nearly every dollar you spend. Here’s more about these three different types of rewards credit cards: 

Cash Back Cards

With a cash back credit card, you’ll earn a percentage back on eligible purchases. Some cash back rewards credit cards offer a flat rate (typically up to 2% back) on all purchases while others offer tiered or quarterly bonus categories (usually 2% to 5% back) to let you earn more on select purchases such as groceries and gas. 

You may prefer to earn cash rewards if you want straightforward rewards. Most commonly, you can redeem rewards from a cash back card for a statement credit, direct deposit, gift cards, and more. Often, cash rewards credit cards also do not charge an annual fee.

Travel Cards 

If you’re a frequent traveler or want to earn rewards you can use toward future trips, you may prefer a travel rewards credit card. 

You can earn points or miles rewards from eligible purchases in bonus categories, which can range from everyday spending to travel bookings. When you’re ready to redeem rewards, you’ll maximize your earnings by redeeming for travel. Travel credit cards also usually come with travel perks such as annual travel credits, lounge access, travel and purchase protections including lost luggage insurance and rental car coverage, no foreign transaction fees, and more. 

Keep in mind that most travel credit cards have an annual fee, which makes it even more important to pay your balances in full and on time each month to get the full value from your rewards. 

Business Cards

Business credit cards are a great tool for small business owners to earn points or cash rewards on select business expenses — including gas, dining, travel and other purchases. You can use your rewards to save on travel and other business purchases. Some business credit cards are more tailored to cash back, and others reward business travel or offer travel upgrades for frequent business travelers.

Keep in mind, a business credit card has certain requirements for approval. However, you don’t need to be a traditional brick-and-mortar entrepreneur to qualify — you may be eligible for a business card if you have a side gig, own a business, or you’re a freelancer. Business credit cards are also a good way to keep your personal finances separate from business spending, and usually include credit card perks that can be beneficial to entrepreneurs — such as purchase protections and access to spending reports for end-of-year accounting. 

Who Should Get a Rewards Card

Rewards credit cards can be beneficial for any type of card user, as long as you pay your balance in full to avoid high interest debts that could wipe out the value of your rewards. 

For instance, if you often use your credit card to pay for groceries, you may choose a cash rewards card, like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to get 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year. You’ll get $360 cash back from your groceries if you reach the spending limit in this category. The card has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year.

If you’re a frequent traveler, on the other hand, you might find more value in a premium rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It has a $550 annual fee, but regular travel can offset the cost, since you’ll earn rewards on travel expenses in addition to a $300 annual travel credit, a 50% boost when you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel, airport lounge access, and more.

Just keep in mind that a rewards card is most valuable when you pay your balance in full and on-time each month to avoid debt and interest. If you’re currently paying off credit card debt, you may choose a balance transfer card to eliminate your debt first, then look for a low-cost rewards credit card that can help you save on regular spending after you pay your balance off. 

Crypto Rewards Cards

Crypto credit cards are one of the most recent rewards card innovations, and may pique the interest of cryptocurrency enthusiasts looking to expand their portfolios or curious investors looking to buy in without much risk. These cards let you redeem rewards you earn (typically a small amount on every purchase or select everyday bonus categories) as cryptocurrency instead of cash rewards or points. Depending on the issuer, there may be restrictions on which cryptocurrencies you can redeem rewards for and where you’re allowed to keep your crypto holdings, as well as fees that may apply when you cash out your crypto.

However, experts we’ve spoken to generally don’t recommend crypto rewards cards over more general credit card rewards. That’s because cryptocurrency is highly volatile, with constantly fluctuating prices. There is a chance you could turn your 2% back in bitcoin into a much more lucrative return, but you’ll also risk the opportunity to earn a guaranteed return in the form of points or cash back.

Points vs. Cash Back 

One of the biggest differentiating factors for rewards credit cards is whether they earn rewards in the form of points or cash back

Cash back offers a more straightforward redemption process, since you can simply redeem your cash rewards for statement credits toward your account or a direct deposit to a connected bank account.

Points rewards are a bit more involved, but can also be more flexible. Points-earning rewards cards are usually part of a rewards program — such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards — and offer multiple redemption options, like travel booked through the rewards program, new or past purchases, and transferring to partners, as well as statement credits. 

Rewards Portals

If you have a flexible rewards credit card that earns points toward an issuer’s rewards program, you can often maximize the value of your rewards by redeeming them for travel and other options via the issuer’s rewards portal.

Oftentimes, you’ll get the best value of your rewards by redeeming them for travel using the rewards portal or transferring to a travel partner. You can even get boosted value. The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, for example, offers a 25% – 50% boost to the value of points you earn with a Chase Sapphire card. 

You can also use the portal to redeem rewards for other things, like merchandise, gift cards, and eligible spending with online merchant partners. Some rewards portals also offer limited time bonus rewards when you shop online through the portal. It can pay to check your issuer’s rewards portal regularly, to stay on top of discounts that may pop up.

How to Choose a Rewards Credit Card

Make sure the card you choose aligns with your existing spending habits. Don’t choose a card that will encourage you to spend outside of your normal patterns, or influence you to spend more than you otherwise would. 

If you find a card that aligns with your normal shopping habits and offers benefits that you can take full advantage of, then rewards cards can be a great way to earn some additional value for things you were already going to buy. Look at past receipts and bank statements to determine where you spend the majority of your money and determine what type of redemptions would be best for your lifestyle, then find a card that aligns with those needs. 

How to Compare Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards cards are all very different. Make sure you consider things like the annual fee, rewards structure, sign-up bonus, ongoing APR, perks, and fees. A lot of rewards credit cards come with an annual fee, so make sure the value you get from the card makes the fee worth it. 

There are plenty of rewards cards with no annual fee as well, and though you may not earn top benefits, these cards can definitely still help maximize your purchases and make a great addition to your wallet. 

Pros and Cons of Rewards Credit Cards

Pros

  • Maximize spending with cash back, points, or miles rewards

  • Additional perks and benefits

  • Welcome bonuses

  • Redemption flexibility

Cons

  • May encourage you to spend in ways you wouldn’t normally or overspending

  • Can charge high annual fees

  • Rewards may not align with your spending

How to Make the Most Out of Your Rewards Card

To maximize your rewards credit card, make sure you nab the sign-up bonus, if there is one. Then use your card every time you spend in the qualifying rewards categories to rack up cash back or rewards currency. 

Lastly, enjoy your rewards! You’ve earned them. Make sure you compare redemption options so you redeem your rewards currency for the highest value, without leaving any of your cash back, points, or miles on the table. 

Methodology

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

To determine our picks for the best rewards credit cards, we evaluate cards earning the three primary types of rewards — points, miles, and cash back. Within these categories, we consider criteria like rewards earning categories, redemption value, annual fee, introductory bonus, and ongoing benefits. 

With all the different types of benefits you can earn with a rewards card, it’s important to consider different types of spenders as well as different ways people are looking to cash in. We evaluate the stated purpose of each card with a mind toward who it would be best-suited for when picking our list of best rewards credit cards.

How much are credit card rewards worth?

It’s hard to determine exactly how much rewards are worth since their value can vary by issuer and change based on how you redeem your rewards. Cash back cards are the most straightforward — you’ll get a certain percentage of cash back based on how much you spend. 

Points and miles can be a little more complicated and it will depend on how you redeem your rewards to figure out how much they are worth. But, as a baseline, one point is generally worth between 1 and 2 cents.

Do all rewards cards have annual fees?

No. There are quite a few rewards cards available that don’t have any annual fee. But if you want a card that has access to exclusive benefits and top-tier rewards, you are likely going to have to pay an annual fee. Make sure whatever card you get aligns with your spending habits and needs, and make sure the card’s annual fee is worth the benefits and rewards you will get.

Is a rewards credit card worth it?

Any credit card — rewards or not — is a financial responsibility. You need to make sure you’re paying off your credit card balance on time and in full every month to avoid debt and damage to your credit score. But if you have those healthy habits, a rewards card can offer serious value if used correctly.

Are credit card rewards taxable?

Generally, most credit card rewards are not taxable because the IRS views them as a discount on your spending. But if you receive rewards outright, without any spending requirements, they may be taxable. If you’re unsure whether or not you should include your rewards when you file, it’s best to ask a tax professional. 

Are store rewards cards worth it?

It may seem like a good idea to get a store credit card if you spend a lot of money on a particular merchant or retailer. Retail cards can offer discounts and perks on your most frequent spending. But make sure your spending aligns with the card — and that you’ll be able to pay down your balance each month. Most store credit cards come with high interest rates, and while the perks may be great at the related store, they’re not much use elsewhere. Before you apply, compare the store card to a general credit card that may offer more rewards categories and flexibility to earn and redeem your rewards.

How do you redeem credit card rewards?

Most credit card issuers have a mobile app, portal, or website to redeem your rewards toward travel, statement credits, gift cards, or purchases. Keep in mind that your points’ value may vary depending on how you redeem them. For instance, you may redeem your points at a higher rate if you’re booking with a travel partner compared to redeeming towards a purchase or gift card.

For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, click here.

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