When you avoid interest charges by paying your balance in full every month, it makes sense to use your credit cards to earn the most valuable rewards possible. These rewards can be in the form of points, miles or cash back.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for Flexible Points
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for Flexible Travel Credits
- Chase Sapphire Preferred®: Best Travel sign-up Bonus
- Citi® Double Cash: Best for no annual fee.
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best for Flexible Rewards for Business
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for Big Business Spenders
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for Flexible Points
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium card that lets you make the most of the Ultimate Rewards points you earn.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening.
- Receive a $300 annual travel credit.
- Earn 3x points on travel and dining worldwide.
- Redeem points for 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards or transfer rewards to airline miles or hotel points.
- Priority Pass Select lounge access.
- $550 annual fee
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been a leader in the market for cards that offer flexible points. This card offers 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel and dining purchases worldwide, including eligible takeout and delivery. Points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards travel booked through Chase, or transferred to more than a dozen travel partners including United, Southwest, Singapore, British Airways and Hyatt.
This card does have a $550 annual fee (+$75 per authorized user), but that cost is justified by its extensive benefits. First, there’s a $300 annual travel credit in the form of a statement credit that’s automatically applied to any qualifying travel purchases. Then there’s a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership that offers unlimited visits for yourself and up to two guests. Add in numerous travel insurance and purchase protection benefits, and it’s easy to see the value.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for Flexible Travel Credit
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers you double miles on all purchases, which are worth one cent each as statement credits towards any travel purchase.
- Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after making $20,000 in purchases within 12 months of account opening
- Receive 2x miles per dollar spent on all purchases, with no limits
- Miles are worth one cent each as travel statement credits or can be transferred to airline miles or hotel points
- Receive up to $100 in credit towards a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
- Most point transfers are at the 2:1.5 ratio, although a few are at 1:1
- $95 annual fee
The Venture Rewards card is great for those who want to make travel reservations the same way they always have, but pay for them with rewards. Venture cardholders can earn a limited-time sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 bonus miles. You’ll earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months of account opening, or you can still earn 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This will leave you with 140,000 Venture miles if you were to spend $20,000 in your account’s first year, since you earn double miles on all purchases.
Points can be redeemed for statement credits towards travel reservations at a rate of one cent per point, or you can use your rewards for shopping when you check out with PayPal. This card also lets you transfer miles to participating airline partners like British Airways, Air France, JetBlue and Wyndham hotels. You’ll enjoy a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and there is a $95 annual fee for this card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred®: Best for Flexible Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred allows you to earn Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to airline and hotel programs or used to book a broad variety of travel reservations directly through Chase.
- Earn 100,000 bonus points (worth $1,250 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) after spending $4,000 in purchases within three months of account opening
- Earn 2x points per dollar spent on on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, and travel
- Transfer rewards to airline or hotel points, or receive 1.25 cents per point on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Receive exclusive benefits from DoorDash, Peloton and Lyft
- $95 annual fee
Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within first three months of account opening (worth $1,250 towards travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards). You’ll also earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases. You can redeem rewards for gift cards, statement credits, experiences, or travel. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to participating Chase airline and hotel partners. This card has a $95 annual fee, but there are no foreign transaction fees.
Citi® Double Cash: Best for No Annual Fee
The Citi Double Cash helps you maximize the cash back you earn by offering up to 2% cash back on all purchases, all of the time.
- 18 months of 0% intro APR financing on balance transfers
- Earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases
- Citi Premier and Prestige cardholders can redeem rewards as ThankYou Points
- No annual fee
- No new account bonus
- You only receive half your cash back at the time of purchase
The Citi Double Cash offers 1% cash back every time you make a purchase, and another 1% cash back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back on all purchases. These cash back rewards apply to all purchases and there’s no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn.
Although this card doesn’t offer a new account bonus, you do get 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers (after that the standard APR applies) with a 3% balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is greater).
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best for Flexible Rewards for Business
This popular small business rewards card offers Ultimate Rewards points and a very generous new account bonus.
- Earn a 100,000 point bonus (worth $1,000 in cash back) after spending $15,000 on purchases within three months of account opening
- Earn 3X points on shipping and other select business categories
- Points are earned in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program which allows transfers to participating airlines and hotels
- Points are worth 25% more when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- High minimum spending requirement to earn the new account bonus
- $95 annual fee
If you’re looking for an excellent credit card deal for your business, look no further than the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. This card offers 100,000 welcome bonus points when you spend $15,000 within first three months of account opening. These points are worth $1,250 towards travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards or $1,000 in cash back. You’ll also earn 3x points on travel, shipping, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, and internet, cable, and phone services (up to $150,00 annually), plus 1x points on other purchases.
A $95 annual fee applies with this card, but you won’t pay foreign transaction fees on purchases. Note that all the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption opportunities are possible on this card, including 25% more when redeemed for travel to book airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer points 1:1 to participating airline and hotel partners or redeem for statement credits, gift cards, and Apple® Ultimate Rewards Store purchases.
Capital One Spark Cash: Best for Big Business Spenders
The Spark Cash is a simple card that offers small business owners a very easy way to earn a high rate of cash back on all purchases.
- Unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, every day
- One-time $500 bonus when you spend $4,500 within first three months of account opening
- Annual fee waived the first year
- Robust small business benefits
- Few premium card benefits
- $95 annual fee (after the first year)
If you have a ton of business spending coming up and really want to maximize your rewards, consider signing up for the Capital One Spark Cash. This card offers a valuable welcome bonus worth $500 when you use your card to make $4,500 in purchases within three months of account opening. On top of the bonus cash back, you’ll get 2% cash back on everything you buy with the card.
The Spark Cash Card offers numerous service and protection benefits such as Card Lock, extended warranty and protection, security alerts, and customized spending limits on employee card. Also note that this card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year, comes with free employee cards and has no foreign transaction fees.
Frequently asked questions about the best rewards credit cards
Q. Will using a rewards credit card hurt my credit score? Rewards credit cards do not affect your credit any differently than other cards. If you use your rewards card responsibly by avoiding debt and making your payments on-time, you will add positive information to your credit report and improve your credit score.
Q. Do reward credit cards have higher interest rates? Yes, you can expect to pay a higher interest rate with a rewards credit card than you would with a similar card that doesn’t offer rewards. That’s why reward cards are best used by those who avoid always interest charges by paying their balance in full.
Q. Can I get a rewards credit card just for the benefits? Certainly. There are rewards credit cards that have very valuable travel and shopping benefits, some of which you can use even when you don’t use your card often. For example, the Sapphire Reserve offers a airport business lounge membership that’s extremely valuable.
Q. Should I get a rewards card for the new account bonus and then cancel it? No, this is not a good idea. These generous welcome bonuses give you an incentive to try a new card, and there’s no reason not to keep it for a year before deciding if it’s right for you.
Q. How many rewards cards can I have? There are no limits to the number of credit cards you can have, but some card issuers have limits to the number of accounts you can have open with them. That said, you should never have more cards than you can comfortably manage, including paying the bills on-time and avoiding debt.
How We Found the Best Rewards Cards of 2021
You can earn valuable rewards with many kinds of credit cards these days, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the best. Some may offer rewards that are difficult to redeem while others fail to provide the benefits that justify its annual fee. Here’s everything we considered to come up with our list of the best credit card deals available today.
Generous Bonus Rewards
One of the first things you should look for before applying for a credit card is the number of rewards offered and how much they’re worth. With that in mind, we looked for credit card deals that could be worth several hundred dollars or more, giving precedence to offers that let you earn even more rewards over time.
We also looked for credit cards that let you redeem rewards in more ways than one, or at the very least, could be redeemed for statement credits to cover purchases. Keep in mind there are a lot of excellent airline and hotel credit cards available too, which you should consider if you prefer to earn points in a specific loyalty program.
Credit cards with substantial annual fees should offer valuable cardholder benefits for travel and shopping. The higher the annual fee, the more you should expect from your card.
Understandable Annual Fees
Finally, we took a close look at annual fees and what cardholders could expect in return in terms of benefits and perks. Most of the best reward cards charge an annual fee, so we didn’t count them out. Instead, we made sure the annual fees made sense in terms of the value you could receive in return.
Callout: One factor we didn’t consider in this ranking is each credit card’s annual percentage rate, or APR. Since rewards credit cards that offer bonus deals charge high interest rates, you shouldn’t pursue rewards or bonus deals if you plan to carry a balance. The credit card deals explained on this page only make sense to pursue if you have a plan to pay your credit card bill in full each month.
Summary: Best Credit Card Deals of 2021
|Best Credit Card Deals of 2020||Best For|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Flexible Points|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Flexible Travel Credit|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred®||Best Travel sign-up Bonus|
|Citi Double Cash||No Annual Fee|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Flexible Rewards for Business|
|Capital One Spark Cash||Big Business Spenders|