Nerdwallet’s best rewards credit cards

Best for … Card Rewards Annual fee
Travel rewards & large bonus Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. $0 for the first year, then $95
Bonus category cash back Chase Freedom® Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. $0
Easiest travel redemption Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 2 miles per $1 spent on everything. $0 for the first year, then $59
Easiest travel redemption with chip-and-PIN Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® 2 miles per $1 spent on everything. $0 for the first year, then $89
Everyday spending Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S. gas stations; 1% other purchases. $95
Flat-rate cash back Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 1% cash back on each dollar spent, and 1% back on each dollar paid off. $0
Online shopping cash back Discover it® - Cashback Match™ 5% cash back in bonus categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter; 1% cash back on all other spending. $0

Our pick for

Travel rewards and a large bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Bonus value
$625
Annual fee
$95
waived first year
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
Foreign travel Flexible rewards Large sign-up bonus Wow factor

Benefits

Unlike cards tied to a specific airline or hotel brand, you can use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s rewards in many places. You earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Points are worth 25% more when you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or you can transfer them at a 1:1 rate to several other loyalty programs. Plus, the card comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Finally, we can’t help but note the high-end impression this metal card makes when you pull it out of your wallet.

Drawbacks

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Our pick for

Bonus categories

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Bonus value
$150
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
Optimizing cash back Rotating bonus categories No annual fee Cash sign-up bonus

Benefits

This card earns 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, such as gas, groceries, restaurants and wholesale clubs, and 1% on all other purchases. It also comes with a cash sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Drawbacks

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Our pick for

Easiest travel redemption

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Bonus value
$400
Annual fee
$59
waived first year
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
Flexible rewards Simple earning structure Simple redemption process Foreign travel

Benefits

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the most flexible travel cards available. You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on everything; miles can be redeemed for a credit against most travel expenses. And you’re not restricted to one airline or hotel, as is the case with co-branded cards. You just book your own travel, then pay for it with your rewards. The annual fee is fairly low relative to other travel cards, and there are no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal to take abroad.

This card also comes with a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel.

Drawbacks

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Our pick for

Easiest travel redemption with chip-and-PIN

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Apply Now

on Barclaycard's secure website

Bonus value
$500
Annual fee
$89
waived first year
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
Flexible rewards Simple earning structure Simple redemption process Foreign travel Balance transfers

Benefits

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® gives you 2 miles for every $1 spent. Simply pay for travel with your card, then redeem your miles for a statement credit. You’re not restricted to one airline or hotel, as is the case with co-branded cards. You’ll also get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem — a great way to start saving for your next trip.

This card comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit. It’s one of the only travel cards with a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers, although there’s a 3% transfer fee. And it has chip-and-PIN capability and no foreign transaction fees, so it’s an ideal choice for travel abroad.

Drawbacks

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Our pick for

Everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Bonus value
$350
Annual fee
$95
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
Everyday rewards Simple redemption Cash sign-up bonus

Benefits

This card has one of the highest rewards rates at grocery stores — 6% cash back on up to $6,000 of spending per year — supplemented by an unlimited 3% cash back at gas stations and department stores. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% back. You can extend the 6% cash back far beyond groceries by buying gift cards at the supermarket and using them at retailers and restaurants. The sign-up bonus also adds to the appeal — and you may be eligible for an even better offer from American Express. Check out our American Express Pre-Qualified Offers page.

Drawbacks

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Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now

on Citibank's secure website

Bonus value
$0
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
High rewards rate Simple rewards Free FICO score Balance transfers No annual fee

Benefits

The Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives cardholders one of the highest overall cash back rates available. You get 1% cash back when you make purchases and an additional 1% when you pay them off. You can redeem cash back as a statement credit, a gift card or a check by mail.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


Our pick for

Online shopping cash back

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Bonus value
$0
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
Excellent 720-850
Good 690-719
We like it for
Free FICO score Rotating bonus categories New cardmember bonus Optimizing cash back No annual fee

Benefits

This card has broad rewards bonus categories that change each quarter, allowing cardholders to earn 5% at restaurants, online retailers and gas stations, among others. If you sign up, you can also access the Discover Deals online bonus mall, which offers 5% to 20% cash back on purchases at popular online retailers.

This card has no foreign transaction fees, and it waives the first late payment fee. Finally, there’s a distinctive sign-up bonus: Cashback Match™ - We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.

Drawbacks

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Honorable mention

The Amazon.com Store Card earns an impressive 5% back in Amazon credit on all Amazon purchases of less than $149. For purchases of more than $149, users can choose between 5% back or 0% interest financing. And since Amazon sells just about everything these days, most cardholders won’t have any problem racking up rewards.

The card — which is issued by Synchrony Bank and available only to Amazon Prime members — works only for Amazon purchases, so it won’t replace the other options on this list just yet. Nevertheless, if you shop online, you probably spend some money at Amazon. And if you have the Amazon.com Store Card, you’ll get some money back when you do.

Our methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects 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 win in multiple categories.

Kevin Cash is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: kcash@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kevin_cash.