Best of

14 Best Rewards Credit Cards of November 2019

Sara RathnerNovember 7, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet's Best Rewards Credit Cards of November 2019

Our pick for

Bonus travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
If you typically fly with one airline, a co-branded card might provide benefits the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not. But if you want flexibility in earning and redeeming rewards, this is among the best cards around.

Pros

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides outstanding value and flexibility for a reasonable annual fee. You earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when you redeem them for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, or you can transfer them at a 1:1 rate to several other loyalty programs, including United, Southwest, Marriott and Hyatt. The card also comes with a superb sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Cons

As a general travel card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lacks the perks — such as free checked bags and priority boarding — that airline-specific co-branded cards offer. And while the annual fee isn’t astronomical, it’s not worth paying if you don’t regularly spend on travel and restaurants.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 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

Our pick for

Simple travel rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

17.49% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Simple rewards and flexible redemption have rightly made the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card one of the most well-liked travel credit cards on the market. It may be even more popular with you if you're a frequent Hotels.com user.

Pros

Earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent on everything, and (through January 2020) a whopping 10 miles per dollar at Hotels.com/venture. You can redeem miles for statement credit against most travel expenses. You’re not restricted to one airline or hotel, as is the case with co-branded cards, and unlike with many cards, there’s no minimum amount required to redeem. Just book your own travel, then pay for it with rewards.

Cons

If you're loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain, you may get more value from one of that brand's own cards. Starting in late 2018, this card allowed you to transfer miles to several airline frequent-flyer programs, but there are no U.S. domestic airlines among them.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:

Our pick for

High reward rates and no annual fee

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Credit Card

on Wells Fargo's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% - 27.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Although the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card lacks some of the premium perks its competitors offer, we can’t think of another card without an annual fee that offers as many lucrative incentives to apply.

Pros

The relaunched Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card offers 3 points per dollar in a slew of popular categories, including dining, travel, gas stations, streaming services and more. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. Points are worth a penny apiece and are redeemable for cash, travel and more. There's a fairly decent bonus for new cardholders, and you even get a 0% introductory APR period. All with an annual fee of $0

Cons

There are some limitations on redemption. For cash back, the minimum redemption amount is $25, or $20 when redeeming at a Wells Fargo ATM. Travel redemptions are available only by booking through Wells Fargo; you can't use points to "erase" travel purchases like with some other cards.
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign currency conversion fee
  • Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points on popular streaming services
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Bonus category cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

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

Rates & Fees

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
The bonus categories, $0 annual fee, solid 0% intro APR period and new-cardmember bonus make the Discover it® Cash Back an all-around winner.

Pros

This card has broad bonus categories that you activate each quarter, allowing you to earn 5% cash back at such places as restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations, among others. (The 5% rewards are capped at $1,500 in spending per quarter; after that, you get 1%. See current categories here.) There’s also a distinctive sign-up bonus: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Cons

Keeping track of the changing bonus categories, and remembering to opt in to them every three months, can be a hassle.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Recommended Credit Score
With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, earning cash back is simple and lucrative. If you're looking for a low-hassle cash back card to use daily, this is it.

Pros

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives cardholders one of the highest flat-rate cash back rates available. You get 1% cash back when you make purchases and another 1% when you pay them off.

Cons

Other cards offer higher cash back percentages in specific categories. This card also charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, making it a poor choice for spending abroad. And this offer does not include a sign-up bonus.
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash + sign-up bonus

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Few cards offer as compelling a mix of rewards rate, redemption simplicity, 0% intro period and sign-up bonus as the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Pros

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card pays an unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything. And unlike other cards that restrict when and how you cash in your rewards, you can redeem cash back in any amount at any time. This card also comes with an outstanding introductory APR offer and a nifty sign-up bonus. The annual fee is $0.

Cons

Unlike many rewards cards, which let you stretch your value with bonus spending categories or by redeeming points or miles selectively, this card won't give you more than 1.5 cents back per dollar spent.
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:

Our pick for

Customizable cash-back rewards

US Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

on US Bank's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR* balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

Recommended Credit Score
Get the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card if you want to choose your own rewards categories and its 5% categories appeal to you. Over the long run, it could be more valuable than similar cards that come with a larger sign-up bonus.

Pros

Instead of setting bonus categories for you, this card lets you pick your own. You get 5% cash back in two bonus categories that you choose every quarter, on up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter. You'll also get unlimited 2% cash back in one "everyday" category that you choose, such as gas, groceries or restaurants. You'll earn 1% on all other eligible purchases.

Cons

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card's choices for 5% categories may not suit your spending habits. Choosing and keeping track of multiple spending categories each quarter takes work.
  • Earn up to $550 cash back in the first year.
  • $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 15.49% - 24.99%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Dining and entertainment rewards

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
If a night out is more than a once-in-a-while proposition, the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card will fit neatly into your wallet.

Pros

The Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card pays an outstanding 3% cash back on restaurant dining and entertainment, plus 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. It has an annual fee of $0 with no foreign transaction fees or minimum requirements for redeeming. It even comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Cons

The card offers a good rate at grocery stores, but not extraordinary. If you buy most of your food at a supermarket, a card that pays 3% or more on grocery store purchases would be better.
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:

Our pick for

Family spending (groceries, commuting, streaming)

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

14.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

Recommended Credit Score
If groceries, gas and/or commuting are among your most common expenses, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a winner.

Pros

This card offers industry-leading rewards at U.S. supermarkets — 6% cash back on up to $6,000 of spending per year (then 1%) — supplemented by 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including such things as taxis, rideshares, buses, trains, tolls and parking). You also get 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. All other purchases earn 1% back. A welcome bonus adds to the appeal.

Cons

This card has a high annual fee, although if you spend at least $31 a week at U.S. supermarkets, the cash back will offset it. Because it’s from American Express, you might have trouble using it in some places. And the 2.7% foreign transaction fee makes it a poor choice for spending abroad.
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • NEW 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Over 3 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017 and 2018.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Premium travel rewards

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$450

Regular APR

18.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
The best premium travel card on the market, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you both top-notch rewards (what you get for using the card) and valuable perks (what you get just for carrying the card).

Pros

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them on a 1:1 basis to a dozen hotel and airline partners, possibly giving you even more value. You get $300 a year in credit for travel expenses, and every four years you can get reimbursed for the application fee for TSA PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100). Add in the big sign-up bonus, and this card can easily pay for itself and then some, even with an annual fee of $450.

Cons

The $450 annual fee is a significant out-of-pocket expense. Much of the value of this card is tied to the $300 annual travel credit; if you don’t travel much, this isn’t the card for you.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Our pick for

Best airline card

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature®  Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

on Bank of America's website

Annual Fee

$75

Regular APR

17.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
We acknowledge that Alaska Airlines is not an option for everyone. Even so, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is a best-in-class product that deserves recognition — especially if it prods the bigger carriers to consider matching its features. FOR OTHER OPTIONS: See NerdWallet's best airline credit cards

Pros

This card comes with an annual Companion Fare deal that allows you to bring someone with you on a flight for as little as $99 plus taxes and fees. The savings from that perk alone can pay the $75 annual fee, but you also get a free checked bag benefit, 3X miles on airline purchases and a great sign-up offer.

Cons

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines’ operations are concentrated mostly on the West Coast, and even after completing its takeover of Virgin America, it doesn’t serve every state. So it's not an option for everyone. But if you fly the airline regularly, this card is a must.
  • NOW - 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
  • Get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation.
  • Get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ every year! EACH YEAR on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com with no blackout dates.
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don't expire on active accounts.
  • NEW! Enjoy 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge and 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases when you pay with your new card.
  • Redeem miles with no blackout dates on any of Alaska's 1,200 daily flights or choose from over 900+ destinations with more than a dozen global airline partners. Plus, get exclusive access to discounted redemption levels when you redeem miles for hotel stays at over 400,000 properties using Alaska Airlines Hotels.
  • Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $75 annual fee.

Our pick for

Best hotel card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
The free night's stay each year can be enough to cover the annual fee on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. If you stay regularly at Marriott properties, it's hard to beat. FOR OTHER OPTIONS: See NerdWallet's best hotel credit cards

Pros

If you want to use a hotel card as your primary rewards card, get one that matches where you stay most. If you're starting from scratch, it's hard to beat the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. You'll earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. There's a handsome bonus offer for new cardholders and an annual free night's stay.

Cons

Although there are thousands of Marriott Rewards properties across about 30 brands, you might not be comfortable tying yourself to a single hotel group's loyalty program. For more flexibility, try a general-purpose travel card.
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • An additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.

Our pick for

Fair/average credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$39

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
The reality is that not everyone has a credit score above 750. The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card gets a big thumbs-up for offering an extremely competitive 1.5% rewards rate for people still building their credit scores.

Pros

The flat 1.5% cash back rate is pretty great, especially for people without perfect credit, and there’s no limit on the rewards you can earn. The rate is the same as that paid out by multiple cards for people with good or excellent credit. (Those cards usually have no annual fee, however.) There are no foreign transaction fees, and Capital One may bump your credit limit up if you make your first five monthly payments on time.

Cons

The annual fee of $39 isn’t very high, but it will still cost you something to have this card. The ongoing APR is high, so you should plan on paying your balance in full each month; otherwise, the interest will wipe out your rewards.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:

Our pick for

Bad credit

Discover it® Secured

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

Rates & Fees

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
The rewards and other features on this secured card for bad credit are better than those on many unsecured cards for good credit.

Pros

The Discover it® Secured may be the best credit card available for people with bad credit, regardless of rewards. Not only does it have an annual fee of $0, but it also offers rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 worth of spending per quarter on restaurants and gas, and 1% on all other spending. Handle your account responsibly, and you might be able to move up to an unsecured card: Discover begins reviewing your account for a possible upgrade after eight months.

Cons

Like all secured cards, you must make a security deposit, which will determine your credit line; the minimum is $200. The deposit must be paid out of a bank account, so if you don't have access to traditional financial services, you may be out of luck.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • View Rates and Fees

Summary of Best Rewards Credit Cards of November 2019

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

on Chase's website

Bonus travel rewards

N/A

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Simple travel rewards

N/A

17.49% - 24.74% Variable APR

$0 for the first year, then $95

on Capital One's website

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Credit Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

on Wells Fargo's website

High reward rates and no annual fee

0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

15.49% - 27.49% Variable APR

$0

on Wells Fargo's website

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

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

Bonus category cash back

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

$0

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

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

on Citibank's application

Flat-rate cash back

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's application

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Flat-rate cash + sign-up bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

US Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's website

Customizable cash-back rewards

0% Intro APR* balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

15.49% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on US Bank's website

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Dining and entertainment rewards

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express's website

Family spending (groceries, commuting, streaming)

0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$95

on American Express's website

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

on Chase's website

Premium travel rewards

N/A

18.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$450

on Chase's website

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature®  Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

on Bank of America's website

Best airline card

N/A

17.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$75

on Bank of America's website

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

on Chase's website

Best hotel card

N/A

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Fair/average credit

N/A

26.99% Variable APR

$39

on Capital One's website

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

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

Bad credit

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

24.49% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's 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 website

Bonus travel rewards

N/A

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Simple travel rewards

N/A

17.49% - 24.74% Variable APR

$0 for the first year, then $95

on Capital One's website

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Credit Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

on Wells Fargo's website

High reward rates and no annual fee

0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

15.49% - 27.49% Variable APR

$0

on Wells Fargo's website

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

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

Bonus category cash back

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

$0

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

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

on Citibank's application

Flat-rate cash back

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's application

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Flat-rate cash + sign-up bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

US Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's website

Customizable cash-back rewards

0% Intro APR* balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

15.49% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on US Bank's website

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Dining and entertainment rewards

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express's website

Family spending (groceries, commuting, streaming)

0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$95

on American Express's website

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

on Chase's website

Premium travel rewards

N/A

18.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$450

on Chase's website

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature®  Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

on Bank of America's website

Best airline card

N/A

17.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

$75

on Bank of America's website

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

on Chase's website

Best hotel card

N/A

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Fair/average credit

N/A

26.99% Variable APR

$39

on Capital One's website

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

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

Bad credit

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

24.49% Variable APR

$0

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

Personalized_recc

Not sure which card rewards you the most?

Take a quick quiz and we'll find out.

Understanding cash-back rewards credit cards

How cash-back rewards work

With a cash-back credit card, you earn rewards equal to a percentage of the amount you spend. Cash-back rates range from 1% to 6% — that is, 1 cent to 6 cents per dollar spent — depending on the card you use and where you use it. Your monthly statement will show you the rewards you've earned to date; you can also track your rewards online.

Cash-back cards come in three main varieties: flat-rate, tiered and bonus-category.

FLAT-RATE CARDS

The simplest cash back cards earn the same percentage on every purchase, no matter where you use your card. Examples include:

TIERED CARDS

These cards pay a higher rate in certain categories and 1% back on everything else. Every card has its own structure, designed to appeal to a specific type of consumer. For example:

  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a good card for families. It earns 6% back on up to $6,000 in spending per year at U.S. supermarkets (1% after that); 6% back on select U.S. streaming services; 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit expenses like taxis, tolls, trains and buses; and 1% everywhere else (terms apply).
  • The Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a nice option for people who like a night out. It pays 3% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

CARDS WITH ROTATING OR CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN BONUS CATEGORIES

Cards with bonus categories that change from time to time require more effort from you. You have to have to "opt in" or "activate" the bonus categories online. Some cards even let you (or make you, depending on your perspective) choose your own categories. Once you've opted in, spending in the bonus categories earns a higher rate, although the amount of spending eligible for the bonus rate is typically capped. Examples:

  • The Chase Freedom® pays 5% cash back in bonus categories that change every three months, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. All other spending earns 1%. Common quarterly categories include supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants.
  • The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card lets you customize your categories. You earn 5% back on up to $2,000 in combined quarterly spending on two categories you choose from a pretty extensive list, plus 2% back in one “everyday” category you choose, such as gas stations or grocery stores. All other purchases earn 1% back. Category options are subject to change, and you must make your choices each quarter.

What determines your bonus rewards?

When a card pays bonus cash back in specific categories, you earn those higher rewards based on where you use your card, not what you buy. If the category is "grocery stores," for example, then anything you buy at a supermarket will count — not just groceries. Conversely, groceries bought somewhere else, such as at a drugstore, wouldn't qualify for grocery store rewards.

Each merchant that accepts credit cards is assigned a category code by credit card networks like Visa. The code identifies the type of merchant it is, and these codes are what trigger your bonus rewards.

How to redeem cash-back rewards

Despite the term "cash back," most people don't actually take their cash-back rewards in the form of, well, cash back. The easiest and most common thing to do is to apply your rewards to your account as a statement credit. This directly reduces the amount you owe. (If your balance is $80, for example, and you redeem $30 in cash back, your balance becomes $50.) You're not getting literal cash back from the issuer, but less cash will be coming out of your pocket to pay the bill, so the effect is the same.

Depending on the card, you could also get your rewards deposited directly into your bank account or receive them as a check in the mail. Some cards set a minimum amount to redeem, usually $20 or $25. Other cards have no minimum for redemption.

» MORE: For cash-back options beyond those featured on this page, see our best cash-back credit cards.

Understanding travel rewards credit cards

How travel rewards work

By Joe Cortez, NerdWallet point and miles expert

With a travel rewards credit card, you earn points or miles every time you use the card, but you can often earn more points per dollar in select categories. For example, some travel rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, offer bonus points on any travel spending, while others grant bonus points only when you use the card with a specific airline or hotel chain.

Not all points and miles earned on travel credit cards are the same:

What is a credit card point or mile worth?

How do we value points and miles? With the rewards earned on general travel cards, it's simple: They have a fixed value, usually between 1 and 1.5 cents apiece, and you can spend them like cash. Some general travel cards also let you transfer your points to airline or hotel programs.

With airline miles and hotel points, finding the true value is more difficult. How much value you get depends on how you redeem them. As a general rule, airline miles go further if you use them for business- and first-class accommodations on international flights.

To better understand what points and miles are worth, NerdWallet researches cash prices and reward-redemption values for hundreds of hotel rooms and flights. The tables below show our current assessment of average point values.

Average value per point/mile, in cents
AIRLINES Domestic International
Alaska 1.2 1.1
American 1.0 5.0
Delta 1.4 2.7
Frontier 0.8 1.1
JetBlue 1.5 1.7
Southwest 1.6 1.9
Spirit 0.4 0.7
United 1.3 3.3

» MORE: NerdWallet's best airline credit cards

Average value per point, in cents
HOTELS Domestic International
Best Western 0.5 0.6
Choice 0.7 0.8
Hilton 0.4 0.4
Hyatt 1.8 1.5
IHG 0.6 0.5
Marriott 0.8 0.7
Radisson 0.3 0.3
Wyndham 0.7 0.7

» MORE: NerdWallet's best hotel credit cards

How to redeem travel rewards

How you go about cashing in your travel rewards depends on the type of card you earned them on and what you want to do with them. In most cases, you'll be redeeming either through your card issuer or through the loyalty program tied to the card.

REDEEMING REWARDS ON GENERAL TRAVEL CARDS

With a general-purpose travel card, you can usually use your points to pay for travel ahead of time by going through your card issuer's booking portal, which operates much like Orbitz or Expedia. Many cards also allow you to turn your points into statement credit for travel expenses already incurred. With this option, you use your card to book travel however you want, and then wipe out the cost on your statement by applying your points to your balance. You'll also go through your issuer's rewards portal to transfer points to airline or hotel programs.

You might have other options for using your points on general travel cards, such as for cash back or gift cards, but be careful with these options. You'll often get a lower value per point for non-travel redemptions.

REDEEMING AIRLINE OR HOTEL REWARDS

When your rewards are airline miles or hotel points, you typically redeem them for free flights or stays by signing in to your account in the associated loyalty program, such as Delta SkyMiles, American AAdvantage, Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors. Enter your desired booking dates, then choose to see the price expressed in miles or points. Depending on the program, there may be limits and restrictions. An airline may have "blackout dates" when you can't get a free flight, for example, or a hotel may make only a certain number of rooms available for reward redemptions on a first-come, first-served basis.

Determining the right type of rewards card for you

There are so many options among rewards credit cards that picking the right one for you can be daunting. Make the process easier by approaching it systematically.

Rewards cards aren't for everyone

The first step is determining whether a rewards card is right for you at all. The best rewards credit cards require good to excellent credit — generally defined as a credit score of 690 or above — although there are a handful of options for fair or even bad credit.

A rewards card makes sense if you pay your bill in full every month. If you carry a balance from month to month, the interest you'll pay can quickly wipe out the value of your rewards; you'd be better off with a low-interest credit card, or a balance-transfer credit card that would allow you to pay down your debt over a defined period of time with 0% interest.

Look at both 'earn' and 'burn'

You'll want a rewards credit card that makes sense on both the "earn" side and the "burn" side. That means a card that rewards you for the kind of spending you do (earn) and that gives you rewards you can use (burn). For example, earning 5% cash back on home improvement stores might not do much for someone who lives in a small studio apartment. And if you never travel, airline miles are pretty much worthless.

The right choice also will depend on how much effort you’re willing to put into learning a rewards program and understanding a card’s built-in perks. Annual fees and sign-up bonuses can also sway your decision.

'Best' is a personal matter

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.

» MORE: Our guide to choosing a rewards credit card.

How to compare rewards credit cards

We've discussed how to evaluate a credit card's rewards structure. But rewards rates aren't the only factor to consider when choosing a rewards credit card.

Annual fee

The credit cards with the richest rewards often charge annual fees. This is especially the case with travel credit cards. Typical annual fees range from around $90 to more than $500. Although some people are dead-set against paying them, annual fees can be worth it (or even a bargain) if the rewards and perks you earn outweigh the cost, and some cards waive the annual fee for the first year.

Most cash-back cards don't charge an annual fee. You can find good travel cards without an annual fee, although their rewards rates and sign-up bonuses tend to be small than those offered by their full-fee siblings.

» MORE: NerdWallet's best no annual fee credit cards

Sign-up bonus

Also known as welcome offers, sign-up bonuses can give you a nice wad of cash or hundreds or thousands of points or miles for spending a certain amount in the first few months you have the card. But don't just look at the windfall you stand to receive. Pay attention also to the spending requirement. In general, the bigger the bonus, the more you'll have to spend to earn it. Avoid overspending to get a bonus.

» MORE: NerdWallet's best offers for new cardholders

0% intro APR period

You don’t normally want to carry a balance from month to month with rewards cards, but some of them offer 0% introductory APR periods on new purchases, balance transfers or both. A 0% period can be helpful if you have a big purchase coming up that you'd like a little time to pay off (which could also help you earn the sign-up bonus).

» MORE: NerdWallet's best 0% and low-interest credit cards

Foreign transaction fees

If you travel abroad, or plan to, look for a card that doesn't slap a surcharge on purchases made outside the U.S. Foreign transaction fees typically run about 3% of the purchase amount. A good travel card won't charge these fees, but many cash-back cards do.

» MORE: NerdWallet's best credit cards with no foreign transaction fee

Perks

Rewards are what you get for using a credit card. Perks are what you get simply for carrying the card — and depending on the card, perks can deliver even more value than rewards. Travel cards, in particular, are known for their perks. Examples include:

  • Automatic credit for travel expenses. Several general travel cards will reimburse hundreds of dollars a year in travel expenses. This might apply to any travel purchase, or to specific expenses such as airline fees or Uber rides. Learn more about travel credits.
  • Reimbursement for TSA Precheck and Global Entry. More and more cards are paying you back for the application fee for these trusted traveler programs, which help you get through airport security and customs more quickly. Learn more about trusted traveler programs, and see which cards offer reimbursement.
  • Airport lounge access. The biggest airlines (American, Delta, United) all offer high-end, high-annual-fee credit cards that get you into their airport lounges when you travel, and some lower-fee airline cards offer discounted or limited access. Several general travel cards get you into lounges in worldwide networks such as Priority Pass. American Express even has its own lounge network. Learn more about cards with lounge access.
  • Free checked bags and priority boarding. Exclusive to airline cards, these perks make travel a lot easier because you don't have to stuff everything into a carry-on to avoid a bag fee, and you don't have to fight for overhead-bin space because you're among the first to board the plane. The checked-bag perk alone can easily pay the annual fee on some cards. Learn more about free checked bags.
  • Free nights and other amenities. Credit cards issued by hotel chains offer perks that general travel cards can't match. Some of them give you one free night a year, which can make up the cost of the card immediately. Other benefits include free breakfast, free internet and early check-in or late check-out.

Pros and cons of rewards credit cards

Pros

  • Rewards cards make purchases work harder for you. Earning rewards on every dollar you spend is like finding change in your couch cushions every day. Save up that change, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.
  • They allow you to travel more often, or more luxuriously, at a discount. Travel rewards credit cards can make it possible to sit in first class, upgrade to a suite or skip the long security line. Even if you don’t cash in points to travel like an Instagram influencer, they can help you travel for less money.
  • They can help protect you if your vacation falls apart. Many travel cards will compensate you if your bags get lost, your flight gets significantly delayed or canceled, or you have to cut your trip short because of a family emergency or illness. Many also offer coverage for your rental car. This all comes at no additional cost to you.

Cons

  • Rewards cards typically have higher APRs. That means credit card debt will cost you more over time. For a major purchase you’d like to pay back over time, look into a card with a 0% introductory APR offer. In general, use a rewards card only for purchases you’ll be able to pay in full when your statement comes.
  • Annual fees add up, especially if you carry multiple rewards cards.
  • They require a fair amount of mental energy. Some people relish the challenge of maximizing every purchase and piecing together a complicated, yet heavily subsidized, vacation itinerary. Others have zero interest in memorizing which card to use at gas stations, which to use at grocery stores, and which to use at restaurants. If you want rewards with little effort, a flat-rate cash back card or a travel card with a straightforward rewards program (no fancy transfers to airline partners or complicated redemptions) will make jumping into the pool of rewards cards warm and inviting.

Making the most of your rewards credit card

Use the card for the bulk of your spending

Put all your ordinary expenses on the card, including monthly bills, to rack up rewards more quickly. That’s the power of a rewards card: getting extra value from your regular spending. Before applying for a card, make sure you’ll be able to meet the spending minimum required to earn the sign-up bonus. Be careful to never overspend just for rewards.

Pair cards to earn even more

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 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.

Redeem rewards thoughtfully

Redeem your rewards in the way that delivers maximum value. With travel cards, you usually get a better redemption rate when you redeem for travel expenses than you would if you opted for cash back. Cash-back cards, meanwhile, may give you the highest redemption rate for statement credit, but a lower rate if you redeem points for 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 your rewards are worth.

Use the freebies

A free checked bag can save you $60 on a roundtrip domestic flight. Access to airport lounges means free snacks and a more relaxing space in which to wait for your flight. Global Entry reimbursement is worth $100, and you’ll be spared having to remove your shoes to go through a metal detector at the airport. Take advantage of all the perks you’re offered, especially if you’re paying an annual fee.

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:

How these cards' rewards rates stack up

Card Best for ... Rewards rate
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Simple travel rewards + Hotels.com • 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases
• 10 miles per $1 at Hotel.com/venture (through January 2020)
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
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Bonus travel rewards • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
• 1 point per $1 on everything else
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate cash + no minimum redemption • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card High reward rates and no annual fee • 3 points per $1 spent on dining out and ordering in
• 3 points per $1 on gas stations, rideshares and transit
• 3 points per $1 on travel
• 3 points per $1 on eligible streaming services
• 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Best premium card • 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
• 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Flat-rate cash back • 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy + 1% when you pay it off)
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
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment rewards • 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
• 2% cash back at grocery stores
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Family spending • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending)
• 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
• 3% back at U.S. gas stations
• 3% back on transit (including taxis, rideshares, buses, trains, tolls and parking)
• 1% back on all other purchases
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card Best airline card • 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases.
• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card Best hotel cards • 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
2 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Fair/average credit • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
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

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this page.

Last updated on November 7, 2019

Methodology

NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best rewards credit cards based on overall consumer value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of consumers, including both those seeking cash-back rewards and those interested in travel rewards. Factors in our evaluation include annual and other fees, rewards rates, the earning structure (for example, flat-rate rewards versus bonus categories), redemption options, bonus offers for new cardholders, introductory and ongoing APRs, and other noteworthy features such as airline or hotel perks or the ability to transfer points.

Frequently asked questions

There are two main types of rewards credit cards: cash-back cards and points/miles cards:

  • With a cash-back credit card, the card issuer "pays you back" a certain percentage of every purchase. For example, if your card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases and you buy something for $100, you would earn $1.50 in cash back.
  • With a points or miles card, the issuer gives you a certain number of rewards points (often called “miles” on airline and travel credit cards) for each dollar you spend. How you use the points or miles depends on the card. Common redemption options include travel, gift cards and merchandise.

With most rewards cards, you can see your accumulated earnings on your monthly statement or through your online account portal, and you can decide when and how to redeem them.

What you can do with your credit card rewards depends on the type of rewards you’ve earned and the card’s rules:

  • Cash-back rewards are typically redeemable for a credit on your statement, which reduces your outstanding balance. You may also be able to have your rewards deposited into a bank account or sent as a check.
  • Points or miles are most commonly redeemed for travel, but you may also be able to redeem them for gift cards, merchandise or cash back. For cards that carry the name of an airline or hotel brand, you typically use your rewards for free travel or upgrades. Some bank-branded credit cards let you transfer their points into airline or hotel programs.

In most cases, there is no limit to how many points or miles or how much cash back you can earn with a credit card. Some cards do limit how much spending is eligible for bonus rewards — that is, higher rewards offered in specific categories — but after you hit that limit, you still earn rewards at the base rate. For example, a card might offer 3% rewards on up to $6,000 a year in spending and then 1% after that.

How much each point or mile is worth depends on the card that issued it and how you redeem it. As a very general rule of thumb, it’s helpful to think of points and miles as worth an average of 1 cent apiece, although you can certainly get a higher (or lower) value.

In some programs, points are worth 1 cent apiece regardless of how you redeem. In others, you might get 1 cent per point when redeeming for travel and 0.5 cents when redeeming for gift cards or cash back. Airline miles could be worth anywhere from less than 1 cent to more than 5 cents apiece depending on how many miles you need to earn a free flight and how much that flight would have cost if you were paying cash. Hotel points are similarly variable in value. See our travel loyalty roundup page for NerdWallet’s current valuations for airline miles and hotel points.

The best rewards credit cards typically require good to excellent credit for approval. Good credit is generally defined as a credit score of 690 or better. However, there are some decent rewards-bearing cards for people with fair credit and even bad credit. Keep in mind that credit scores are only one factor in your application. Every issuer has its own criteria for approval.