Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2018

Gregory Karp

Last updated on December 3, 2018

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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Credit card rewards come in two flavors: points and cash back. Treat yourself to the best card for your lifestyle.

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Our pick for

Travel rewards and a large bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's secure website

on Chase's secure website

Annual Fee

$95

Waived first year

Regular APR

17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Easy-to-use travel rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

on Capital One's secure website

Annual Fee

$95

Waived first year

Regular APR

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Bonus category cash back

Discover It Credit Card

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash + no minimum redemption

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

on Capital One's secure website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Families

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

High reward rates and no annual fee

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Propel American Express (R) Card Credit Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.49% - 26.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Dining

Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

on Capital One's secure website

Annual Fee

$95

Waived first year

Regular APR

16.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

on Citibank's secure application

on Citibank's secure application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Customized rewards

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card

on US Bank's secure website

Rates & Fees

on US Bank's secure website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Best hotel card

American Express Starwood Credit Card

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$95

Waived first year

Regular APR

17.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Best airline card

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

on Chase's secure website

on Chase's secure website

Annual Fee

$95

Waived first year

Regular APR

17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Luxury travel

American Express Platinum Credit Card

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Bad credit

Discover it Secured Credit Card

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

recommended credit score

Summary of Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2018

Credit CardBest ForIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

on Chase's secure website

Travel rewards and a large bonus

N/A

17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Chase's secure website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Easy-to-use travel rewards

N/A

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Capital One's secure website

Discover It Credit Card

Discover it® Cash Back

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Bonus category cash back

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Flat-rate cash + no minimum redemption

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's secure website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Families

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

$95

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Propel American Express (R) Card Credit Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

High reward rates and no annual fee

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.49% - 26.99% Variable APR

$0

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Dining

N/A

16.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Capital One's secure website

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

on Citibank's secure application

Flat-rate cash back

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's secure application

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's secure website

Customized rewards

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on US Bank's secure website

American Express Starwood Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Best hotel card

N/A

17.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

United℠ Explorer Card

on Chase's secure website

Best airline card

N/A

17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Chase's secure website

American Express Platinum Credit Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Luxury travel

N/A

N/A

$550

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Bad credit

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

24.99% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Credit CardBest ForIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

on Chase's secure website

Travel rewards and a large bonus

N/A

17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Chase's secure website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Easy-to-use travel rewards

N/A

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Capital One's secure website

Discover It Credit Card

Discover it® Cash Back

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Bonus category cash back

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Flat-rate cash + no minimum redemption

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's secure website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Families

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

$95

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Propel American Express (R) Card Credit Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

High reward rates and no annual fee

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.49% - 26.99% Variable APR

$0

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Dining

N/A

16.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Capital One's secure website

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

on Citibank's secure application

Flat-rate cash back

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's secure application

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's secure website

Customized rewards

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on US Bank's secure website

American Express Starwood Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Best hotel card

N/A

17.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

United℠ Explorer Card

on Chase's secure website

Best airline card

N/A

17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$95

Waived first year

on Chase's secure website

American Express Platinum Credit Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Luxury travel

N/A

N/A

$550

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Bad credit

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

24.99% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

How their rewards rates stack up

Card Best for ... Rewards rate
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Travel rewards and a large bonus • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
• 1 point per $1 on everything else

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Easy-to-use travel rewards • 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases

Discover it® Cash Back

Bonus category cash back • 5% back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter
• 1% back on all other purchases
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Flat rate cash back • 1% cash back on all purchases, plus an additional 1% back when you pay them off

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Families • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending)
• 3% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
• 1% back on all other purchases

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Customizable rewards • 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter in two categories that you choose
• 2% cash back in an everyday category such as gas or groceries
• 1% cash back on all other purchases

United℠ Explorer Card

Airlines • 2 points per $1 spent on tickets with United
• 1 point per $1 on all other purchases

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Luxury travel • 5 points per $1 spent on flights and hotel stays booked through the American Express travel website
• 2 points per dollar on other travel booked through AmEx
• 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere

Discover it® Secured

Bad credit • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter on gas and restaurants
1% back on all other purchases

How to choose a rewards credit card

There are so many options available among rewards credit cards that picking the right one for you can seem daunting. You can make the process easier if you approach it systematically.

First, decide whether a rewards card is right for you at all. Mainly, choose a rewards card if you pay your bill in full every month and have above-average credit. If you carry a balance from month to month, the interest will wipe out the value of your rewards; you'd be better off with a low-interest credit card.

Next, look for a card that rewards you for the kind of spending you do and that delivers rewards you can use. (Airline miles aren't much good if you never fly, for example.) The right choice also will depend on how much effort you’re willing to exert in learning a rewards program and a card’s built-in perks. Annual fees and sign-up bonuses can also sway your decision.

Because of those factors, there’s no single “best” rewards card for everybody. Best might be a simple, flat-rate cash-back card, a premium travel card laden with benefits, or something in between. If you’re having trouble deciding on a type of rewards card, give special consideration to cash back. A Nerdwallet study has shown cash-back credit cards are better for most people than travel cards.

See more in our guide to choosing a rewards credit card.

Making the most of your card

To get the most from your rewards credit card, you should understand three things: how you earn rewards, how to redeem rewards, and the non-reward perks offered by the card.

  • Earning: Consider paying for everything with the card, including monthly bills, to rack up rewards quicker. That’s the power of a rewards card: getting extra value from your regular spending. Never overspend just for rewards. Consider using complementary cards to extract maximum rewards for your spending. For example, one card might offer high rewards for restaurant spending, while an airline card gives you free checked bags and a third card gives you a nice cash-back rate on all other spending. If you have a card with a sign-up bonus, consolidate spending on that card until you earn that bonus.
  • Redeeming: Redeem your rewards in the way that delivers maximum value. For example, redeeming for cash is almost always a better option than gift cards. Some rewards can be transferred to travel partners, such as airlines and hotels, at a valuable rate. Learn what the options are and what a rewards point is worth.
  • Perks: Beyond rewards, a card might offer perks, or benefits you get just for carrying the card. These include no foreign transaction fees, rental car insurance and extended warranties on items purchased with the card. Premium travel cards are often loaded with benefits, such as travel credits, hotel elite status or refunds for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

Optimizing your earning, redeeming and use of perks will ensure that if the card has an annual fee, you’re extracting more value than you pay.

Other cards to consider

Rewards cards come in a variety of flavors to fit different consumer preferences and spending patterns. This roundup highlights the best cards in each particular category, but there may be a better card for you. Find other great cards in our specialized roundups:

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.

Last updated on December 3, 2018

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2018

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