Best credit cards of current year

Best rewards credit cards of July 2024

Explore the world of financial perks and convenience with rewards credit cards. Whether you’re a savvy spender or a frequent traveler, these cards offer a range of benefits, from cash back and points to travel rewards. Discover how rewards credit cards can enhance your lifestyle and provide valuable incentives. View More

Rewards credit cards offer cash-back or points when you make your purchases and many come with additional perks, protections or even introductory 0% APR periods. CardRatings editors reveal the best rewards credit cards including options for cash-back rewards, travel rewards and more.

These credit cards offer cardholders the opportunity to earn rewards, either cash back or points/miles, each time you use your card to make a purchase, and they are among the most popular credit cards out there. Depending on the type of card you’re using, the best credit card rewards can be redeemed for statement credit, cash back, gift cards, airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals and much more. No matter your lifestyle, budget or rewards goals, there’s likely an excellent option available from our partners. View Less

author Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

List of Winners

  • CardName – Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back Rewards
  • CardName – Best for Rotating Categories Cash Back Rewards
  • CardName – Best for Cardholder-Choice Cash Back Rewards
  • CardName – Best Rewards Card for Families
  • CardName – Best Rewards Card for Dining Out
  • CardName – Best Rewards Card for Gas Purchases
  • CardName – Best for Airline Rewards
  • CardName – Best for Hotel Rewards
  • CardName – Best Rewards Card for Small Businesses

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editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This card is a solid no-annual-fee option not just for your first year as a cardholder, but every year after that as well. Plus, cardholders can earn what amounts to an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase made – 1% when you make a purchase, and then an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases in full or over time. Since this credit card is free to hold, as long as you're paying off your balance each month, you'll essentially be getting paid to use it, making this a great everyday go-to card. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

Read our full CardName review.

Rewards
2% cash back Earn 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay for a total of 2% cash back possible.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • We'll give a shout out to a positive that we're always happy to see - there's no annual fee.
  • You'll get your FICO® score for free with this card. It's a little touch, but those little touches add up to make a really good credit card.

CONS:

  • When you do a balance transfer, you won't get cash back. That's not really a strike against it since that's a standard feature with credit cards, but it's good to know that before you apply.
  • This card charges foreign transaction fees, which you should keep in mind if you are planning to use it internationally.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 77.2 84.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 6.9 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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Why We Like It: Rotating-category cash-back cards generally offer the highest rewards earning out there; the catch is that your spending has to align with the bonus category. The nice thing about this card is that the rotating categories are typically popular spend categories meaning most cardholders are sure to benefit from the max reward rate all year long.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
Unlimited cashback match Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
APR
RegAPR
Credit Needed
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Earning 5% back in rotating categories means you can plan your spending and really maximize that earning without being stuck there for longer than one quarter at a time.
  • The welcome bonus has the potential to be very lucrative if you plan your spending well.
  • This card features no annual fee plus no foreign transaction fees so it's a good rewards card to use abroad.

CONS:

  • This isn't the card for someone who just wants to pay for everything with the same card and not employ any strategy. Remember, you only earn 1% cash back if the purchase doesn't fall under one of the bonus categories.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.3 84.9
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.0 8.5
Customer Service 7.8 8.5
Website/App Usability 7.7 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.9 8.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: Cardholder-choice cards are still fairly rare, but we like that they're starting to show up more because they allow each consumer to truly make the most out of their unique spending. With this card, you can chose from six categories where you want to earn top rewards – and you can change your mind as often as once per calendar month.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • No annual fee. That's always appreciated.
  • There is no expiration on the rewards, as long as your account remains open. That's always appreciated, too.
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client with Bank of America, you can earn a 25%-75% cash back bonus on each purchase depending upon your Preferred Rewards tier.

CONS:

  • You need excellent credit for this card, which isn't a negative if you have that, but plenty of people may be frustrated by the barrier to getting this credit card.
  • This card charges foreign transaction fees, which should give you pause if you plan on doing a lot of international travel with it.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.1 80.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.1 8.1
Customer Service 7.9 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 7.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: You already spend money every week at the supermarket, and if you have a car, chances are you're spending at the gas pump on a weekly basis as well. Why not get cash back for the purchases you have to make? American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
$250 statement credit Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on your new card within the first six months.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card offers a whopping 6% cash back on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year. That works out to a maximum of $360 in cash back on supermarket purchases alone. You can also earn unlimited 3% cash back on transit and gas purchases at U.S. gas stations.
  • There is a nice introductory offer of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening. After that, the rate is RegAPR, based on your creditworthiness.
  • The welcome bonus is attractive and can be earned with even moderate spending.

CONS:

  • There is an annual fee to consider. If you don't plan to use the card regularly, it may be hard to offset this.
  • This isn't the best card to travel abroad with as it charges a fee on foreign transactions.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 78.5 78.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.6 7.8
Customer Service 7.7 8.0
Website/App Usability 8.1 7.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.2 7.5

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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Why We Like It: Dining out is already fun on its own, but it's a whole lot more exciting when you know you're earning cash back while doing so! This card earns cardholders generous unlimited cash back on all dining out and entertainment purchases, making a night out on the town so much more fun. What's more, if your idea of a good time involves cooking up some new dish at home, you'll be pleased to know that you also earn bonus rewards on your grocery store purchases. And, if your love of food needs a global escape, you'll appreciate that this card won't charge you foreign transaction fees when you use it while abroad.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • These are solid rewards for a no-annual-fee card, so don't overlook that all the rewards you earn go right back in your pocket.
  • You can take advantage of an intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (then, RegAPR; balance transfer fee applies).
  • There are no foreign transaction fees, making it great for all of your foodie adventures both near and far.

CONS:

  • The rewards earned with the card are quite high for certain purchases, however if you are not someone who frequently eats out there are cards with higher rewards earning on grocery purchases and other categories.
  • While this card doesn't charge an annual fee – a definite perk – depending on your spending, you might be better off paying a modest annual fee for additional rewards and bonus opportunities with another card.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 79.2 84.5
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.0 8.4
Customer Service 7.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.8 9.0
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 8.5
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.5 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: If you're constantly on the road, thanks to the high price of gas you're probably spending a fortune every year at the pump. With this card you could help to offset this cost with a whopping five points earned on every $1 you spend on gas with 5% cash back earned on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (1% cash back thereafter).

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
20,000 points Spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months of opening an account and you’ll receive 20,000 ThankYou® Points - worth $200
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This is a good card if you have a large purchase on the horizon, or if you need some time to pay off an existing balance interest free, thanks to intro 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months (then RegAPR applies).
  • This card is a nice option if you don't want to worry about rotating categories or category enrollments as it automatically earns you bonus rewards in the eligible category where you spend the most, whether that's on gas or in one of the other eligible bonus categories.

CONS:

  • If you're willing to keep up with rotating categories or a tiered-rewards structure, you may stand to earn more rewards with another card. That said, this card could complement other cards very nicely.
  • This isn't a good card to travel internationally with as it charges a fee on foreign transactions.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.3 87.8
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.8
Customer Service 7.7 8.8
Website/App Usability 7.8 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 8.5

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: As with any airline-branded card, this card is only as good for you as your level of loyalty to the brand. However, this card does go a step further in that you earn bonus rewards for a number of your everyday purchases, so earning rewards can happen more quickly than with many branded credit cards.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Offer
50,000 bonus points New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • On an ongoing basis, the rewards for purchases are a great additional benefit.
  • You also get other travel perks with the airline such as a $75 Southwest travel credit each year and up to four upgraded boardings. Another benefit is 7,500 bonus points each year after your account anniversary.

CONS:

  • The AnnualFees annual fee is slightly higher than other airline rewards credit cards that offer similar benefits. Plus, it isn’t waived the first year, so you have to determine if the perks are valuable enough to cover it.
  • Of airline travel cards, this one offers pretty standard rewards and benefits, especially for the annual fee.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 76.3 79.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 7.8
Customer Service 7.1 8.4
Website/App Usability 7.5 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 7.7

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This card earns generous rewards for stays at Hilton properties, plus cardholders will also receive a generous rewards for purchases at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations as well as on all other eligible purchases.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
70,000 points Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. Offer ends 7/31/2024.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Feel free to comfortably travel abroad with this card. It does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • Cardholders receive a generous rewards for purchases at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations so this is a great card for more than just hotel stays.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors™ Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.

CONS:

  • This card is designed for those loyal to the Hilton brand. If that's not you, you'll want to look elsewhere.
  • There is no option to earn a free weekend night reward with this card.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 76.4 79.9
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.5 8.0
Customer Service 7.9 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.0 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.9 8.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.4 7.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: With this card, users will have the opportunity to rack up a bunch of rewards under a high spending cap. Because the spending cap is so high, this card could work well for medium sized businesses. Additionally, redeeming your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program means they will be worth 25% more; that makes the welcome offer worth as much as $1,500 in Chase Travel℠.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
120,000 points Earn 120k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 cash back or $1,500 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel℠.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • You may save a lot in the future if you or your employees tend to drop, break or shatter your phones. This card offers cell phone insurance for the primary cardholder and employee phones on the same account. So for your smartphone, you have a smart credit card.
  • With the state of travel these days, you'll likely appreciate the trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance and trip delay reimbursement.
  • The business tools are helpful, as well; this card offers features such as bookkeeping integration and account alerts to make your accounting go more smoothly.

CONS:

  • There's a AnnualFees annual fee, which is only really a negative if you don't spend much on the card. The more you spend, the more you save, which means you can more than offset the fee with ease.
  • This isn't a credit card that you'd want to transfer a balance to. A balance transfer fee applies: BalanceTransferFees If transferring debt to a low interest card is your goal, you could likely find something better.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.0 74.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 7.4
Customer Service 8.0 7.6
Website/App Usability 8.3 7.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.9 7.6
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.3 7.3

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

NO ANNUAL FEE, STILL REWARDING

Sure, the CardName is a good card in its own right, but it shines when paired with another member (or two!) of the Ink family. For instance, the CardNamediscontinued offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. That means you could use the Unlimited card for all the purchases that don't earn 3% back with the CardName. Furthermore, you could pair one or both of these cards with the CardNamediscontinued to up your earning even more.

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What is a rewards credit card?

A rewards credit card is just what it sounds like: a credit card that offers your cash back or points/miles each time you use the card to make a purchase. Let’s take a closer look at different types rewards credit cards:

Cash-back rewards credit cards

Cash-back rewards credit cards allow cardholders to earn a percentage of a purchase back each time they use their card, but how much they offer differ often depends on the category of the purchase you’re making. For example, if you make a $1,000 purchase with a card with earns 2% cash, you’ve effectively earned $20 cash back on that transaction. It’s important to note that some cash-back cards accumulate rewards as points that can be redeemed for merchandise or other rewards, but many simply accumulate as a percentage amount that you can then redeem for the dollar value.

Travel rewards cards tend to get most of the media coverage and attention, but a 2019 CardRatings survey revealed that cash-back rewards cards are still the most popular choice.

There are a few distinct types of cash-back rewards cards:

Flat-rate cash back cards: These cards offer a single percentage rate of cash back no matter where you make your purchase. These cards are excellent options for people who want to earn cash-back but who don’t want to expend a lot of energy determining which card to use for each transaction in order to maximize rewards. The CardName is an example of a flat-rate card in that you earn 1% cash back on all your purchases, no matter where you use your card, and then another 1% when you pay your bill making each purchase effectively worth 2% cash back.

Tiered cash-back cards: These cards offer higher percentages of cash back in center categories that generally do not change but do generally have a spending cap. For example, the CardName offers 6% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 spent annually (then, 1%) as well as 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on transit and at U.S. gas stations and 1% cash back on your other purchases. As you can imagine, earning the maximum rewards with this card requires you to think about where you’re using your card. It isn’t as straightforward as a flat-rate cash-back card, but the rewards-earning opportunity is potentially higher.

Rotating categories cash-back cards: These cards offer the highest amount of cash back, 5% is a common amount, on a particular category of purchases that changes each quarter. There’s a spending cap to keep in mind and you usually need to “activate” the bonus categories each quarter by logging into your account. An example of this card is CardName, which offers, among other rewards earning opportunities, 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the bonus category each quarter that you activate (1% after reaching the cap). Information related to Chase Freedom Flex has been collected independently by CardRatings and was neither reviewed nor provided by the card issuer.

Customer-choice cash-back cards: These are the top-of-the-line when it comes to the amount of effort a cardholder needs to put into making these cards work for them. You can think of them as hybrids of tiered and rotating categories cards. In this case, cardholders get to choose a category in which they’ll earn top cash back. There’s usually a spending cap and you’ll need to remember to select your category each quarter or each month depending on the card, but because you have so much flexibility, with a little planning these cards can be extremely rewarding. One example is the CardName that offers 3% cash back in a category of your choosing from among the following list: gas/EVC, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings. You also earn 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases (3% and 2% earning are on up to $2,500 combined quarterly spending in choice category/gas/wholesale club purchases) and 1% on your other purchases.

One last note on cash-back rewards cards, these are NOT the type of cards that give you cash back at the the grocery store register or at an ATM (that’s a debit card). Retrieving cash back in this manner with a credit card is considered a “cash advance” and you will, in most cases, immediately begin accruing interest on that withdrawal. Cash advances should be used in emergencies only. Learn more about getting cash back with a credit card.

Travel rewards credit cards

Other rewards credit cards, such as travel rewards cards or airline-branded and hotel-branded credit cards, earn you points or miles each time you make a purchase, but instead of redeeming these miles or points for cash back, you can use your rewards for things like airline tickets, hotel stays, gas cards, gift cards, and more. With some of these cards you can even redeem points for cash back, however, if it’s cash back you want, you’re better off sticking with a cash-back credit card as the redemption value will likely be better. That said, there are a number of travel rewards cards that allow you to redeem your rewards for statement credit to cover travel expenses. 

Once again, there are a few types of travel rewards cards to know:

General travel rewards: These cards allow you to accrue rewards that you will then redeem like cash at a set value – often one cent to 1.5 cents per point – to either directly purchase travel through a credit card issuer’s travel portal, such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal or the American Express Membership Rewards® portal, or as statement credit to cover travel-related purchases. Another option with some of these cards is that you can transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program.

Hotel/airline rewards: Cardholders earn rewards in the form or points/miles in a branded loyalty program. Examples of this type of card include the CardName, with which cardholders earn points into a linked Rapid Rewards account, or CardName through which cardholders accumulate World of Hyatt points. Information related to The World of Hyatt Credit Card has been collected independently by CardRatings and was neither reviewed nor provided by the card issuer

How do you choose the best rewards card?

With so many great credit card rewards available, why are you still using a basic card with no benefits? It’s time to find a card that pays you for your purchases!

Choosing the right credit card can be an overwhelming process if you’re new to the world of rewards cards. You have your choice of points, miles or cash back as well as incentives, signup/welcome offers and fine print to navigate. So let’s answer the following question: What are the steps to choosing the best rewards credit card?

To start your search, take a look at the cards the experts cite as being the best of the best. However, remember credit card terms can change at any time so be sure to check the terms before you decide to apply. The CardRatings team regularly updates our “best of” lists, including this article, so this is a great place to start. Or, if you already have an idea of the type of rewards card you want, take a look at one of our more specialized “best of” lists, such as best cash-back credit cards, best airline rewards credit cards, best travel rewards credit cards or best gas rewards credit cards.

The most important thing when it comes to choosing the best rewards credit card is to understand your own finances, lifestyle and credit needs. It is one thing to know what others think are the best credit cards, it is another to find a card that’s right for you. Here’s are some tips to help you narrow down the list.

  • Know your financial situation. Before applying for any card, you need to have a clear idea of where you stand financially. What is your credit score? How many cards have you applied for in the past year and from which issuers? Are you employed? Are you anticipating applying for a car loan or mortgage in the immediate future? Knowing the answers to these basic questions will help you apply for a card for which you stand a good chance of being approved. You don’t want to apply for a bunch of cards for which your current financial situation will likely disqualify you.
  • Pick your rewards. Let’s start with the fun part: how do you want to be rewarded? Do want cash – typically awarded as a statement credit of deposit into a qualifying account – or do you plan to travel and want to earn miles toward free flights? Other cards may reward you with points that can be redeemed for hotel visits, gift cards or merchandise.
  • Determine how the rewards are calculated. Next, figure out how you are going to rack up those points, miles or cash. Do you get a flat amount per $1 spent or are there bonuses for certain types of purchases or merchants. Are those bonuses fixed or do they change every month or quarter? Changing categories and tiered rewards are particularly common among cash-back rewards cards.
  • Look for signup/welcome bonuses and ongoing perks. Many, if not most, rewards cards offer some kind of signup/welcome bonus to new cardholders when they spend a certain amount of money on the card within a specific time frame. You’ll want to make sure you can meet that spending threshold to earn the bonus. Additionally, if you are in need of an intro 0% APR period for purchases and/or balance transfers, make sure you understand those terms before applying. Lastly, take a look at the extra features and perks available to cardholders beyond the rewards earning. This could be anything from trip cancellation insurance to extended warranties on your purchases to free checked baggage for your flights and more.
  • Consider the fees. If you pay off your balance in full each month, this probably won’t be as big a consideration for you; however, if you carry a balance, you need to know the interest rate so you can anticipate your payments. Furthermore, you’ll want to consider whether you’ll reap enough rewards to offset an annual fee and whether a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees it something you’re looking for.
  • Read the fine print. Some cards make you jump through hoops, and you don’t want these little details to catch you by surprise. Check if your rewards are capped or if there are limitations on redemption. Also find out if you need to spend a certain amount to get promised bonuses.

A rewards credit card can be a great way to put some extra money in your pocket, but you want to be sure you aren’t leaving money or perks on the table by choosing the wrong card. More importantly, you want to be sure you don’t do damage to your credit score by applying for, and being turned down by, the wrong card.

Best practices and credit card reward redemption tips

In general, using a rewards credit card is very simple. Since credit card transactions automatically accumulate rewards on your behalf, there’s little you have to do beyond using your credit card and then later deciding how you want to redeem your rewards. With this said though, it’s important that you make sure to pay off your card every billing cycle, otherwise, interest charges could quickly cancel out any rewards you’ve accumulated.

Now that you know a bit more about the best rewards credit cards and how to choose the right one for you, we’ll leave you with a few of our best spending practice and reward redemption tips to help you make the most out of your rewards credit card.

Consider carrying more than one card. Depending on your spending habits, it might make good sense for you to utilize more than one credit card so you can maximize the rewards. Say you spend a lot on gas each year, for example, but you also fly and eat out a lot. To make the most of your rewards, it might be practical for you to have a great gas rewards card in your wallet as well as a top rewards card for dining out.

Keep your card utilization low. Just because you have a high spending limit doesn’t mean you should use it all, even if doing so means you could accumulate some extra rewards. Keeping your credit card utilization low can help your credit score, and also keeps space available in case you have a large emergency purchase arise that you need to put on your card.

Use your rewards. This one probably seems like a no-brainer, but far too often people accumulate rewards and forget to use them. Usually, your rewards will stay in your account as long as your account is active, but it’s good to have a timeline and goals in mind for when and how you’ll use your rewards. Either work toward a specific goal, such as accumulating enough points to pay for a plane ticket to Europe, or redeem your rewards as they become available. Most often with cash-back credit cards taking the cash as soon as it’s available, whether in the form of a statement credit or a check or deposit, is a fine idea. Keep in mind there’s often a minimum redemption value. What happens to your rewards when and if you close your account and knowing whether your card has a minimum redemption amount (most cash-back cards do) are two important things you’ll want to find out before applying for a new credit card.

Pay your monthly balance on time. We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Pay your monthly balance on time! (And in full whenever possible.) Rewards cards can be great for all of the enticing perks that they offer, but if you don’t pay your bill on time, late fees can quickly cancel out any points that you’ve accumulated. If you carry a balance, that accumulating interest will eat into any rewards you earn.

author
Jennifer Doss
CardRatings Executive Editor

Jennifer Doss is a credit card analyst and the executive editor of CardRatings.com. She has worked as both a print and online journalist and has over a decade of experience in the media industry. Her published work has covered a broad range of topics, from finance and technology to travel and dining. Through extensive travel experiences and her personal interest...Read more


Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September 2023 to conduct surveys among 1,869 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2023 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents’ scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to “How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?” was double weighted. “Current Scores” reflect scores from the most recent survey (2023); “Past Scores” reflect scores from the 2022 survey.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links:  CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees);

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.