Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2020

The best rewards credit cards offer valuable points, miles, and cash back. Which is the right one for your wallet?
Last updated Sep 15, 2020 | By Jennifer Calonia

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With so many rewards credit card options on the market, finding the right card for you can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ve done the legwork and identified the best rewards credit cards, depending on your habits and goals.

Here are eight of the most valuable rewards cards and who they’re right for.

Special Offer

Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you love to travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card may be an excellent match for you. It’s one of the most popular travel credit cards available, offering a generous sign-up bonus for new cardmembers, premium travel benefits, and a strong rewards program.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

If you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more, helping you get more value for your points. You can book hotel stays, airfare, and even cruises with your points.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a top-rated credit card for frequent travelers who can take advantage of its generous travel benefits and high point-earning potential. 

Card benefits include a $300 annual travel credit, primary rental car insurance, Priority Pass lounge access, reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and more. 

Earn 3X points on travel, and at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Cardmembers receive 50% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Special Offer

Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

With no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a powerful rewards credit card. It has an easy-to-earn and potentially lucrative signup bonus for new cardholders.

When spending with this card, you can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a great choice if you’re planning on making a major purchase. It has an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 months after account opening on purchases, giving you over a year to pay down your balance without paying interest charges.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Citi Double Cash Card

Special Offer

Earn cash back twice: 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay

Why We Like It

The Citi Double Cash Card lets you earn cash back twice. Earn 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay. To earn cash back, just be sure to pay at least the minimum due on time.

In addition to unlimited cash back on all your purchases with no confusing categories, this card also offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months and no annual fee.


Credit Needed: Excellent

Special Offer

Earn up to $300 in statement credits ($100 at each of the following: Dell Technologies, DocuSign, and FedEx) after making an eligible purchase in first 3 months

Why We Like It

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express offers great rewards and earning incentives on business-related purchases with no annual fee. 

Cardmembers can create employee cards, designate an account manager, and receive a complete year-end summary each year. 

Earn 2X Membership Rewards points on everyday business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on purchases thereafter. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Citi Rewards+ Card

Special Offer

Earn 15,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

The Citi Rewards+ Card is a great option for those who enjoy earning rewards on their everyday purchases. Cardmembers earn 2X ThankYou points per dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations on the first $6,000 in purchases per year. 

This card is good for smaller purchases because every purchase rounds up to the nearest 10 points. So both a $1 item and a $9 item will earn you 10 points. 

Citi Rewards+ cardmembers can also enjoy a valuable welcome offer and no annual fee.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Special Offer

Earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

For foodies who spend a significant amount of money on dining and entertainment, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card can be an excellent rewards card option. It has a valuable welcome offer for new cardmembers.

You’ll earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you tend to spend lots of money at restaurants and bars, you can quickly rack up valuable rewards.

Gourmands will enjoy access to Premier Culinary Experiences, including five-star meals, intimate dinners, and chef-curated cuisine.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you want a premium rewards card with deluxe travel perks, consider the Platinum Card from American Express. With a generous welcome offer, high rewards rate on eligible purchases, and upscale travel experiences, this card can enhance and streamline your next trip.

The Platinum Card from American Express allows you to earn 5X points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com.

The card offers a number of perks to justify its annual fee including up to $200 per year in statement credits for Uber and up to $200 in statement credits for airline fees each year.

You'll also gain access to more than 1,200 airport lounges in over 130 countries through the American Express Global Lounge Collection. You'll also automatically earn Gold Status with the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

For business owners looking for a rewards card with premium benefits, the Ink Business Preferred card is a standout option. It has a lucrative sign-up bonus, valuable rewards program, and flexible redemption options.

With this card, you’ll earn 3X points per $1 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines — up to $150,000 in combined spending each year.

It also has comprehensive travel benefits, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary car rental insurance, and cell phone protection.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Costco Anywhere Visa Card

Costco Anywhere Visa Card

Special Offer

Earn up to 4% back on eligible gas purchases

Why We Like It

The Costco Anywhere Visa Card is an excellent option for loyal Costco customers and those looking to earn cash back on their everyday purchases. 

Cardholders can earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (up to $7,000), 3% on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% on Costco and Costco.com purchases, and 1% on everything else. 

With no annual fee and decent rewards, this credit card offers some decent value if you're a Costco member.

Credit Needed: Excellent

The best rewards credit cards

Card name Best for Why it’s special
Chase Sapphire Preferred Generous sign-up bonus 80,000-point welcome bonus and high bonus rewards in common spending categories
The Platinum Card from American Express Premium travel perks 5X rewards on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com purchaes; airline fee and Uber rideshare credit; and complimentary status at Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy hotels
Chase Freedom Unlimited Earning everyday rewards Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% on grocery store purchases (on up to $12,000 in spending in the first year), as well as regular rewards of 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases
Citi Double Cash Balance Transfers Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months and up to 2% cash back
Chase Ink Business Preferred Business spending Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months and up to 5X points
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card Grocery purchases Earns 6% on U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year) and select U.S. streaming services
Costco Anywhere Visa Card Gas purchases Earns 4% at eligible restaurant and travel purchases
Capital One Savor Rewards Card Dining out Earns 8%unlimited cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022)
Citi Rewards+ Card No annual fee Has a $0 and offers a unique round-up feature on purchases, so you can earn extra points on everyday purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for a generous sign-up bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a tiered bonus category rewards card that offers new cardholders an appealing sign-up bonus. You’ll earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus is valued at $1,000 dollars when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

This card is ideal if you’re new to the Chase Sapphire line of products and haven’t received a Sapphire bonus within the past 48 months. Its $95 annual fee provides a lower barrier of entry than the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee.

Cardholders whose spending habits favor dining out and traveling benefit the most when using the Chase Sapphire Preferred for daily spending. You’ll earn 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. You'll also receive exclusive benefits from DoorDash's subscription service, Dashpass, including unlimited deliveries, waived delivery fees, and reduced service fees.

American Express Platinum Card: Best for premium travel perks

The American Express Platinum Card is a trusty companion for travelers who enjoy a luxury travel experience. It’s regarded as one of the best rewards credit cards for those who don’t mind paying a premium price ($550 annual fee) for VIP treatment.

Some of the many travel perks include 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com, a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 in Uber Cash, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, and no foreign transaction fees. Cardholders also get access to the exclusive Centurion Lounge, receive benefits for stays at partner hotels, and more. While the Amex Platinum is a valuable card, some travelers prefer to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. If this sounds like you, check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve card instead.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for earning everyday cash back

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has powerful categories that help you earn on both everyday and discretionary spending. Cardholders earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

If you already own the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Chase Freedom card, the Freedom Unlimited card completes the Chase trifecta for maximum earning in the Ultimate Rewards universe.

Citi Double Cash: Best for balance transfers

A balance transfer credit card can be a helpful debt consolidation tool, and the Citi Double Cash card comes out on top as a multi-faceted option. It offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months, which helps you pay off your at no extra interest over a generous time. There is a relatively low balance transfer fee with this card, but it has a $0 annual fee, and you can earn up to 2% cash back cashback rewards.

Although you won’t earn rewards on a transferred balance, the Citi Double Cash is a workhorse for new purchases. You’ll earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay. There are no bonus categories or caps to worry about. It’s a functional card for those looking to pay down their existing debt and earn rewards.

Chase Ink Business Preferred: Best for business spending

Starting a small business means you might have to spend on a few upfront costs. New Chase Ink Business Preferred cardholders can earn an impressive 100,000 bonus points. To receive the bonus, you’ll need to spend a minimum of $15,000 in the first 3 months of opening a new account.

Beyond the welcome bonus, the Chase Ink Business Preferred is among the best business credit cards, because of its practical bonus categories. You can earn 5X points on Lyft rides; 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else.

If a high percentage of your spending hits all of most of these bonus categories, the rewards opportunity and sign-up bonus might be well worth the $95 annual fee. That said, if you prefer a no annual fee business card, the American Express Blue Business Plus Card may be a better option.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card: Best for grocery purchases

If you gravitate toward a home-cooked meal more than eating at a restaurant, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is a strong option. It rewards cardmembers with 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year) and select U.S. streaming services.

This card is best for cardmembers with a modest monthly grocery budget who also don’t shop at supercenters or warehouse stores, which are ineligible for the bonus cash back rate. It also earns 3% on U.S. gas stations and eligible transit and 1% on all other purchases.

If you’d prefer a Chase credit card and you’re under 5/24, the Chase Freedom Unlimited also offers generous rewards at the grocery store and everyday spending. Cardmembers can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases; plus 5% on Lyft rides. New cardholders also get 5% on grocery store purchases (on up to $12,000 in spending in the first year).

Costco Anywhere Visa Card: Best for gas purchases

Those who brave a long daily commute to work or choose long, scenic road trips as their preferred vacation can find value in the Costco Anywhere Visa Card. The card offers 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (up to $7,000), 3% on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% on all other Costco purchases, and 1% on everything else.

If you don’t fill your gas tank at the same fuel station every time, this card offers a flexible alternative to getting locked into a specific gas card. While you do need a Costco membership to qualify for this card, the cash back you’re likely to earn will more than offset the $60 Costco membership fee.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining out

The Capital One Savor Rewards card is a handy card for those who dine out frequently. As a cardholder, you’ll earn 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card offers tremendous value, whether you’re ordering takeout or eating at your favorite restaurant.

New cardholders can earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, which makes up for the $95 annual fee.

Citi Rewards+ Card: Best for no annual fee

The Citi Rewards+ Card is among the best no-annual-fee credit cards that let you earn points on your everyday purchases. With this card, you can earn 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations on the first $6,000 in purchases per year, and 1X points on all other purchases. While the earning rate is lower than what you might see with a higher-tier card, the Rewards+ offers an exclusive benefit that adds value for cardholders.

Rewards on all purchases with this card are rounded up to the nearest increment of ten. So whether you purchase a $2 candy bar or a $9 coffee mug, you’ll earn 10 points back. If you use this card regularly, the round-up feature can help you rack up rewards quickly.

How we chose these cards

The rewards credit cards listed were chosen based on a combination of factors. These criteria included whether a welcome bonus was offered, the minimum spend required to earn the bonuses, and the value of the offer.

Prospective long-term rewards were also a key factor. We looked at bonus rewards categories, earning caps on rewards, and if flexible redemption options were available. The cost to carry the card (e.g., the annual fee) and other limitations were also compared against the value of its benefits and rewards.

The 3 types of rewards credit cards

Although the best rewards cards listed are bucketed together, the type of rewards you earn will vary based on the card issuer and type of card you choose. Here are three types of rewards credit cards and how they add value in different ways. The best card for you will be the one that suits your needs best.

Cashback rewards cards

Cashback credit cards let you earn a certain percentage of cash back based on your purchases. Certain cards may offer flat-rate cash back, and others may offer bonus rewards in rotating spending categories. When you’re ready to redeem your cashback rewards, you can do so in the form of statement credit on your account, a direct deposit or check, or a gift card or donation.

Travel rewards cards

Some of the best travel rewards credit cards are issued by financial institutions and may be co-branded with an airline or hotel. These rewards credit cards typically have benefits and perks that help you save money and enjoy a better travel experience.

Some travel rewards offer the biggest value when you redeem them for airfare or hotel stays, but many also offer flexible redemption options that let you transfer rewards to your preferred airline or hotel.

Store rewards cards

You can also find rewards credit cards for your favorite retail stores. These cards offer store-specific rewards that can help you save on future purchases. Some store cards also offer tiered status, depending on how much you spend with the brand. In exchange for a higher spend, the store might offer a bigger percentage off of your next purchase or other perks.

Popular credit card rewards programs and their benefits

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards is the rewards program for Chase’s suite of rewards credit cards.

You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points in a number of ways, which makes this program very flexible. For example, points can be redeemed for cash back or a statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, or toward Amazon or Apple purchases. When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they are worth 25% more.

Chase also partners with many airlines and hotels. Rewards transfers are typically offered at a 1:1 ratio, which ensures your points don’t lose their value.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners include:

  • Aer Lingus, AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Flying Blue Air France KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel partners under Chase Ultimate Rewards include IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt.

American Express Membership Rewards

The American Express Membership Rewards program lets you use earned points that can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise. You can also use them to book on Amex Travel — which typically provides the most value — or donate to charity.

When shopping on store websites that partner with American Express Membership Rewards, you can easily redeem points at checkout. Some popular retailers that participate are Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart.

Like Chase Ultimate Rewards, travelers can also transfer points to Amex partners. Airline partners include:

  • Aer Lingus, AerClub
  • AeroMexico, Club Premier
  • Aeroplan
  • Air France KLM
  • Alitalia, MilleMiglia Program
  • Al Nippon Airways
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
  • El Al Israel Airlines, Frequent Flyer Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways, Guest Miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Loyalty, Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines, KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Amex also has three hotel partners: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Capital One Venture Rewards

Depending on the kind of Capital One card you have, you can choose to participate in the Capital One Venture Rewards loyalty program to earn points or miles. Your Capital One Venture rewards never expire as long as the account is active.

You can redeem your rewards as cash back, for travel, on Amazon, and more. Capital One also has 14 travel partners:

  • Accor Live Limitless
  • AeroMexico, Club Premier
  • Aeroplan
  • Air France KLM
  • Alitalia, MilleMiglia Program
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways, Ethiad Guest
  • EVA Air, Infinity MileageLands
  • Finnair, Finnair Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Loyalty, Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines, KrisFlyer

Are rewards credit cards worth it?

Though you'll likely need a good or excellent credit score to get approved for a rewards card, they can offer incredible value on purchases you would have otherwise made with cash or conventional credit cards. There are many scenarios in which a rewards card can be useful, whether you opt for a cashback card or a travel card.

For example, if you’re planning a wedding and already have savings set aside for expenses, like the venue or catering. Instead of paying vendors with cash, opt to use one of the best credit cards for weddings, and repay the credit card statement in full using the savings you’ve set aside. By doing so, you’ll accumulate rewards from the wedding expenses that you can use to offset the cost of a honeymoon.

Using a rewards card is also valuable if your timing is strategic. If you need a new laptop, for example, and are planning to purchase one soon, you might try to find a rewards card that offers a lucrative welcome offer. When you make the purchase within the welcome promotion window and hit the minimum spend, you can earn rewards to offset the cost of the laptop. Just make sure you have enough saved to repay the charge.

When used responsibly, rewards credit cards can help you save. Many also offer valuable perks that can help make your travel experiences more enjoyable.

Bottom line

If you’re in the market for a new card, chances are you’ll find a rewards card that aligns with your needs. Whether you’re starting a business or making a large purchase, the best rewards credit card can earn you extra savings on the purchases you’re already making.

Unlimited Cash Back

Benefits

  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • 5% cash back grocery store purchases for the first year (up to $12k)
  • Bonus rewards on travel, dining, and drugstores
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases