OUR FAVORITE PARTNER CARDS

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The credit cards with the best rewards and benefits make it easy to maximize your spending. You may prefer the flexibility of cash rewards. However, travelers may enjoy the potentially higher redemption values more. Regardless of your spending style, these cards offer some of the most valuable rewards.

credit cards with the best rewards
Using one of the credit cards with the best rewards points can be most valuable when redeeming them for first-class flights. Photo by Chevanon Photography from Pexels

Credit Cards With the Best Rewards

Platinum Card from American Express

If you fly often, the Platinum Card® from American Express gives you the most luxurious rewards. Some of the best travel benefits include:

  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • $200 in annual Uber credits
  • Airport lounge network access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold loyalty status

You earn 5x Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on flights booked on AmexTravel.com or directly from the airline. Most credit cards only award up to 3x points per $1. Prepaid hotel nights on AmexTravel earn 5x points and everything else earns 1 point per $1.

Your points are worth 1 cent each when booking award flights on AmexTravel. However, the real value for these points lies in the 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers. Each point can be worth up to 6 cents each when booking first class award flights by first transferring your points to airlines like British Airways, Delta, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines.

When you apply for the Amex Platinum using CardMatch, you may qualify for a welcome offer worth $1,000 in award flights.

If you do qualify, you can earn 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards by spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. Otherwise, the welcome offer is the ability to earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase credit card with the best rewards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It’s also one of the best premium travel credit cards.

Every purchase earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points which have some of the highest redemption values for credit card points. You earn 3x points per $1 for all travel and dining purchases and 1x point for everything else.

Your points are worth 1.5 cents each for any award travel booked through Chase but only 1 cent for cash rewards and gifts. You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to over a dozen travel partners including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and World of Hyatt.

Other premium travel benefits include:

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Complimentary travel insurance

If you focus more on earning credit card points and don’t need the fringe travel benefits, you may consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Its annual fee is only $95 instead of $450 like the Sapphire Reserve.

Learn more: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns 2x miles on every purchase. If your typical spending doesn’t match the bonus categories for most cards, the Venture Card can be your best option.

Your miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel. You can also transfer them to the Capital One transfer partners. The primary cardholder also gets a fee credit up to $100 for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

The signup bonus is 50,000 Venture miles worth up to $500 in award travel after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $0 for the first year and then $95.

Learn more: Capital One Venture Card Review

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

For dining and entertainment rewards, check out the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. You can earn up to 8% back on purchases:

  • 8% back at Vivid Seats (through May 2020)
  • 4% back on dining
  • 4% back on entertainment
  • 2% back at grocery stores
  • 1% on everything else

You can get a $300 signup bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. The annual fee is $0 for the first year and then $95. There is no foreign transaction fee.

Learn more: Best credit cards for dining and restaurants

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

One of the best reasons is to consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass sooner. Every point you earn counts toward the annual 125,000-point requirement (this increase in required points goes into effect in 2020).

In the meantime, you can these Southwest Airlines benefits:

  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases
  • 7,500 anniversary points
  • Earn 2x Rapid Rewards on Southwest and select air and car rental partner purchases
  • Earn 1x Rapid Rewards on all non-bonus spending

The current signup bonus is the ability to earn 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

Learn more: Best Southwest Credit Cards

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Certain hotel credit cards offer fun perks like fee anniversary nights and upgraded loyalty status. The World Of Hyatt Credit Card also happens to earn some of the most valuable hotel points.

You will get these credit card perks:

  • 1 free anniversary night (valid at category 1-4 hotels and resorts)
  • 2nd free night after $15,000 in annual card purchases
  • Automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status
  • 5 qualifying night credits (plus 2 extra credits every time you spend $5,000 on the card)
  • Earn 9x points total for Hyatt stays – 4 points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 points per $1 as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2x points on airfare, transit and rideshares, dining, fitness club and gym memberships
  • All remaining purchases earn 1 point per $1

The signup bonus is up to 50,000 bonus points worth 10 free nights in Category 1 hotels. To earn the bonus, spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening to earn 25,000 points. Then, spend an additional $3,000 (for $6,000 total) on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening to earn the remaining 25,000 points.

Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Citi Double Cash

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the best cash rewards credit cards. You earn unlimited 2% back on all purchases. Cardholders earn unlimited 1% cash back when they buy, plus an additional 1% when they pay for those purchases. To earn the cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.

Most flat-rate cards award up to 1.5% back, at best. You can redeem your balance for cash statement credits, bank account deposits, or a paper check.

Although there is no annual fee, you will pay a 3% foreign transaction fee for international purchases.

Learn more: Best cash back credit cards

Summary of the Credit Cards With the Best Rewards

You may think that the best credit cards with rewards earn the most points on your most common purchases. Some cards offer similar purchase rewards and offer additional benefits that can be worth more than the annual fee.

FAQs

How do rewards credit cards work?

Rewards credit cards earn rewards points on each purchase. Co-brand airline and hotel credit cards earn points that add to your loyalty account balance.

Flexible rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Platinum Card from American Express let you redeem your points through the credit card rewards program. Your redemption options vary from card to card. The most common options are award travel, cash statement credits, bank deposits, or gift cards. Some travel credit cards may also let you transfer points to airline and hotel partners.

Some cards also offer additional benefits like free hotel nights or waived checked baggage fees. It’s also possible to get cards that offer complimentary airport lounge access, travel insurance, and cell phone protection.

What can I do with credit card rewards?

Your redemption options for credit card rewards include:

  • Booking award travel
  • Travel statement credits
  • Transferring points to your airline or hotel loyalty account
  • Cash statement credits
  • Bank account deposits
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise credits for select retailers like Amazon or Apple Store

The precise redemption options you have depend on which card you own. For example, a cash rewards card like the Citi Double Cash only lets you redeem your points for cash statement credits, bank account deposits, or paper checks.

However, a travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you redeem points for award travel on the Chase travel portal. Or, you can transfer them to your linked airline or hotel loyalty account so you book award travel directly from that account. Chase also lets you redeem your points for cash, gift cards, and merchandise rewards.

You should always try to redeem your points when they are worth at least 1 cent each. This is the industry average redemption value for most points. For example, 10,000 points are worth $100 in rewards.

How many credit card points can I earn?

Most rewards credit cards let you earn unlimited points for each spending category. The limit is how much you of a balance you can repay in full each month.

Other cards, like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express awards up to 6% back on the first $6,000 in annual U.S. supermarket purchases. All remaining annual spending earns 1% back. Business credit cards also tend to place annual spending limits on select bonus categories.

Josh Patoka

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