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If you can only have 3 good credit cards in your wallet, do you know which ones you would carry? If you’re searching for ideas, here are some suggestions to earn the most travel and cash rewards.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Up to 5x on purchases, 25% travel redemption bonus, 1:1 point transfers, and an annual $50 hotel savings credit
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Up to 5% back on purchases, no annual fee, cash or travel rewards
- Citi Premier® Card: Up to 3x on travel and lifestyle purchases, $100 annual hotel savings credit
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best travel credit cards for its many benefits and valuable redemption options.
Your purchases earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® for these categories:
- 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit)
- 3x points on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out)
- 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart®, and wholesale clubs)
- Also 3x points on select streaming services
- 2x points on all other travel purchases
- 1x point per $1 spent on all non-bonus purchases
There is a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit. It comes in the form of a statement credit that will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for hotel accommodation purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program, up to an annual maximum accumulation of $50.
Plus, on each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year. So, if you spend $25,000 on purchases, you’ll get 2,500 bonus points.
Your points are most valuable when you redeem them for award travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Each point is worth 25% more (1.25 cents) for award travel and 1 cent for cash or gift cards.
You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to over a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs. Some of the partners include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, World of Hyatt, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Additional benefits include:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Primary rental car insurance
The annual fee is $95 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred Review
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® gives you several ways to earn above-average cash rewards. This card previously only awarded 1.5% back on every purchase. But as more flat-rate cash rewards credit cards introduce tiered rewards, you can now earn up to 5% back on purchases.
The rewards categories include:
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Being able to earn at least 1.5% back instead of the industry-standard 1% for non-bonus purchases increases your earnings potential if you make frequent purchases.
Each point is worth 1 cent for cash, award travel, and gift cards.
You might also consider this card if you already have a Chase Sapphire card as you can pool your points for travel rewards. Then, you can redeem your earnings through your Sapphire account for travel redemption bonus or 1:1 point transfers.
New Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! That means new cardholders can enjoy:
- 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (Chase’s premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more)
- 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 4.5% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service)
- 3% on all other purchases
New cardholders earn this extra 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.
The isn’t an annual fee but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
This card can be better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you want a no annual fee credit card or want to earn 1.5 points on basic purchases instead of 1 point per $1. And yes, you can have both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Related: Chase Freedom Unlimited Review
Alternate Cash Back Recommendation: Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card can be a worthy alternative to the Freedom Unlimited if the Chase 5/24 application rules prohibit you from applying at this time.
All purchases earn 2% back. This is one of the highest cash back rates for a flat-rate rewards card.
You can redeem your purchase rewards as a cash statement credit with a minimum $1 balance.
Other options include gift cards ($25 minimum), Wells Fargo bank account deposits, and Wells Fargo ATM withdrawals ($20 with a cash card or debit card).
You can also get up to $600 in complimentary cell phone protection.
New cardholders can earn $200 bonus cash after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
This card doesn’t charge an annual fee but has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Learn more: Cash Back Credit Cards
Citi Premier Card
The Citi Premier® Card is another excellent travel rewards card as you can easily earn bonus points when you travel or run errands.
You will 3x ThankYou points on these purchases:
- Air travel
- Gas stations
Each non-bonus purchase earns 1 point per $1.
Each point is worth 1 cent when booking award travel through the Citi ThankYou portal or for gift cards.
You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to many airlines to book international flights or partner flights with domestic carriers. Some of the best partners include Avianca LifeMiles, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
One additional benefit that can cover the annual fee is the yearly $100 hotel savings credit. When booking a single $500+ hotel stay through thankyou.com, you automatically redeem the benefit. This can be one of the best hotel credit cards.
For a limited time, new Citi Premier® Card cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
The annual fee is $95 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
What Credit Score Do You Need for Good Credit Cards?
Many of the best rewards credit cards require good or excellent credit. You should apply when you have a minimum 700 credit score.
Each bank also has different application guidelines. There can also be credit card-specific rules.
For example, you will want to make sure you’re eligible for the signup bonus. Some cards may prohibit you if you currently have another card in the same family or recently closed a related card.
Other banks may reject your application if you have opened several new cards in a short period of time.
Hopefully, these 3 good credit cards make sense for your goals and spending. Focusing on getting approval for good credit cards first can help you find cards to hold long-term that have some of the best ongoing benefits. These cards usually offer attractive signup bonuses. Now, it’s time to decide which card is the best fit for your spending and travel habits.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.