Our pick for

Travel rewards and a large bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Bonus value
$500
Annual fee
$95
waived first year
Recommended credit score
690
850
Good - Excellent
We like it for
Foreign travel Flexible rewards Large sign-up bonus

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, it’s made of metal, rather than plastic, giving it a bit of wow factor.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


Our pick for

Easy 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
690
850
Good - Excellent
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

Bottom line


Our pick for

Bonus category cash back

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Bonus value
$150
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
690
850
Good - Excellent
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, which in recent years have included 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

Bottom line


Our pick for

Everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Bonus value
$150
Annual fee
$95
Recommended credit score
690
850
Good - Excellent
We like it for
Everyday rewards Simple redemption Cash sign-up bonus

Benefits

This card has one of the highest rewards rates at U.S. supermarkets — 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

Bottom line


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
690
850
Good - Excellent
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
690
850
Good - Excellent
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: Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


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.

Information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Last updated Jan. 2, 2017.

Gregory Karp is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart. NerdWallet writer Kevin Cash contributed to this article.