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

Bottom line

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

Benefits

Drawbacks

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

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom® has one of the best rewards rates available without an annual fee or a complicated redemption program. If you spend on the items in the 5% bonus categories — and most people do — you’ll easily earn substantial cash back with this card.

Benefits

Drawbacks

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

Bottom line

If supermarkets, gas stations and department stores are among your most common destinations, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a winner. However, if you spend less than $3,175 per year — about $61 per week — at the supermarket, you might save more money with the similar Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Its rewards rates are lower, but it has an annual fee of $0.

Benefits

Drawbacks

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

Bottom line

With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, earning cash back is simple: Get 1% back on every dollar you spend and another 1% on every dollar you pay off.

Benefits

Drawbacks

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

Bottom line

When it comes to easy earning and redemption, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is tough to beat. Whether you want to redeem miles for hotel stays, flights, cab rides or cruises, it has you covered.

Benefits

Drawbacks

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

Bottom line

The high cash-back rates from popular retailers at the Discover Deals online mall could save you a lot. Combine those with the card’s rotating 5% bonus categories, a $0 annual fee, a solid intro APR and a new-cardmember bonus, and you have an all-around winner.

Benefits

Drawbacks

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.