Here are the best rewards credit cards:

Best for easy travel redemption

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now on Capital One's secure site

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Rewards rate: Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • What our experts like about it

Best for travel rewards and a large bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Apply Now on Chase's secure site

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Rewards rate: 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.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for online shopping cash back

Discover it® - Cashback Match™
Apply Now on Discover's secure site

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for bonus category cash back

Chase Freedom®
Apply Now on Chase's secure site

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards rate: 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 - it's automatic
  • What our experts like about it

Best for flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Apply Now on Citibank's secure site

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now on Citibank's secure site

Best for everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply Now on American Express's secure site

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Rewards rate: 6% at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • What our experts like about it

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Our pick for

Easy travel redemption

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.99%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Bonus Offer

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

  • 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 unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • 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
  • Get a metal Venture Card when you apply today
Bonus value
$500
Annual fee
$95
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 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

Drawbacks

Bottom line

Our pick for

Travel rewards and a large bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Bonus Offer

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®

  • 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®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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

Online shopping cash back

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Apply Now on Discover's secure site

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

APR

  • APR: 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Bonus Offer

You could turn $150 into $300 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • You could turn $150 into $300 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Target now through December 2017, on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
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: You could turn $150 into $300 with Cashback Match™. 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

Our pick for

Bonus category cash back

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

APR

  • APR: 15.99% - 24.74% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Bonus Offer

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
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

Flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now on Citibank's secure site

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

APR

  • APR: 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Bonus Offer

None

  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
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

Everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

APR

  • APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%, Variable

Annual Fee

$95

Bonus Offer

$200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) – that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • View Rates and Fees
Bonus value
$200
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 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. All other purchases earn 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

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 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.