Best Credit Cards for Rewards

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 9, 2022

Quick Look at the Best Credit Cards for Rewards:

Whether you’re using credit already or thinking about applying for your 1st card, consider a card that offers rewards for spending. If you’re already going to cover your expenses with credit, you may as well make the most of your card.

Benzinga has sifted through a wide range of contenders for the best rewards cards to bring you a solid roster to choose from.

Best Rewards Credit Cards

Which rewards card suits you best depends on several factors. Do you have excellent credit? Then you could be the perfect candidate to apply for cards with hefty rewards programs offering cash back or travel points. And if you’re building (or rebuilding) your credit, we’ve got you covered too.

Best Overall: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Cash back rewards are usually paid out as a statement credit or in dollars you can use towards certain merchants. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6000 per year in purchases, then 1% and with U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit costs and 1% on general purchases.

This card aims for people with great credit, so it's not on the table yet if you’re in the building or rebuilding stage. But if you meet its borrower standards, you can take advantage of the offers.

Best for Luxury Rewards: Luxury Card

  • Luxury Card
    Regular APR

    For Titanium, Black and Gold Cards: Ongoing Purchase APR 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24%; Balance transfers 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24% based on your creditworthiness (posted within 45 days of account opening) (APR varies with Prime Rate); Cash Advance 30.49% (variable based on Prime Rate)

    securely through Luxury Card's website

    Terms and Conditions apply*

Luxury Card is a heavy metal card with serious perks. You do pay a higher fee, but Luxury Card offers the ultimate rewards experience. You don’t have to choose with a Luxury Card in your wallet. Every purchase can earn you travel points AND cash back, depending on whether you choose the Titanium, Gold or Black Card. You’ll have a direct connection to your Luxury Card Concierge. Think of this as your digital butler. The concierge can take care of details big and small like finding those spur of the moment tickets to your favorite vacation destination or getting a (wrapped) gift to your boss ASAP. Plus, each card comes with a suite of useful features and impressive perks.

Best for Cash Back Rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The APR rates are determined by an individual’s creditworthiness, but the card calls for no clearly defined minimum credit score. 

Enjoy a generous APR from the date of your account opening that helps make the card more functional.

The introductory rates and specific rates are not available to individuals who have had cardmember benefits for this card within the past 2 years. Apply Now.

Best for Entertainment Rewards: Capital One® SavorOne® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Rewards Credit Card provides high levels of cash back deals on both dining and entertainment. For entertainment, the card in combination with Vivid provides 8% cash back on tickets, which is an extremely high amount in contrast to the larger card market. Customers are able to earn 3% cash back on groceries, dining and streaming. The card is recommended for individuals with excellent credit.

Best for Airline Mileage Rewards: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Credit Card provides double the miles on dining, groceries and items that are purchased directly through Delta. The card allows individuals to quickly gain miles through common purchases. You can get a $200 flight credit when you spend $10,000 in a year, get your first checked bag free on Delta flights, priority boarding on Delta flights and up to a $100 Delta Stays credit each year.

There’s also the chance to earn 70,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in your first 6 months.

The SkyMiles can be used when purchasing flights or upgrading seats. Credit cardholders enjoy benefits such as having their first bag checked for free as well as introductory $0 annual fees for the first year, then $150. In terms of additional benefits, the card has no foreign transaction fees or overlimit fees. See rates and fees for more information.

Best for Travel Rewards: U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card 

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card offers five times the points on hotels and rental cars directly purchased through the Altitude Rewards System. The card allows for three times the points on EV charging and gas when traveling.

Best for GM Rewards: My GM Rewards Card™

When you use the My GM Rewards Card™, you get a robust welcome bonus and collect points on your purchases that can go toward the lease or purchase of a GM vehicle, as well as select gift cards and in-dealership services. There’s no annual fee, and you can even use the card overseas with no foreign transaction fee.

Yes, there is a 0% intro APR that expires based on the issuer’s current guidelines, but it gives you time to earn rewards without paying interest.

This is the sort of card you use when you want to put your rewards towards your biggest goals in life. It can also help you if you’re planning on buying vehicles for your children or shuffling vehicles in your family, seeking in-dealership services or shopping with GM. Business owners might also do the same to earn rewards towards their business fleet.

Features to Look for in Rewards Credit Cards

Credit cards with rewards often have features such as low introductory rates, reduced annual fees and various benefits that can attract an interested potential cardholder. When considering features, it’s important to compare the offered items to your personal needs to understand how useful such tools would be in your life. 

#1 Strong Rewards

When deciding on the rewards credit card options that work best for your financial goals and personal needs, research the details and relate them to your own life. For example, specific cards accumulate points or cash back offers on areas such as travel or entertainment. If you travel for work or enjoy entertainment, then rewards with these benefits will likely prove beneficial. When in doubt, consider selecting a card that shines in a specific area to gain stronger rewards in the section of your choice.

#2 Cash Back

Cash back assists individuals who want to save up for specific needs. This reward provides an added level of freedom by allowing you to purchase and spend rewards freely. Examine if the cash back rewards expire or have a set penalty for inactivity. These rewards accumulate over time depending on how much you purchase on your credit card. 

#3 Low Introductory Rates

Introductory rates help interested customers save money by providing lower rates. Decreased rates help individuals to promptly pay off monthly balances. However, consider both regular rates and introductory rates when deciding on a rewards credit card. Before signing up for a card make sure that you are able to also pay the regular rates. 

#4 Minimal Introductory Annual Fees

Low or waived annual fees attract individuals to cards that typically charge high annual fees. These fees can act as barriers to entry for more budget-conscious people. Annual fees range from around $50 to up to several hundred dollars depending on the type of card and its benefits. Before applying, contemplate if the annual fee will prevent you from maintaining a card once the introductory period ends.

How to Get Approved for a Rewards Credit Card

Getting approved for a credit card with rewards can open the door to helpful benefits such as points for airlines and cash back. Before applying for a rewards credit card, examine your credit score. If the score is low then work on increasing it to ensure a probable chance at having your application accepted. 

#1 Check Your Credit Score

A major step when attempting to get approved for a rewards credit card is first knowing your credit score. Credit scores are one of the main factors that indicate if you are likely to be approved for a credit card. If you don’t know your score, then research the companies and websites that help individuals check credit scores for free.

#2 Examine Your Financial History

Look at your entire financial history before applying for a rewards credit card. Certain credit cards could inquire about additional documents or information when deciding on your level of creditworthiness. 

#3 Boost Your Credit Score 

Improve your credit score to strengthen the likelihood that your application will be accepted. Typically, strong credit scores such as scores above 750 receive the best rates and terms. 

#4 Ask Questions

If you have questions, reach out to a card issuer. Card issuers typically have multiple methods of communication where interested individuals can reach out with questions. 

Research websites that host customer reviews to have a better understanding of credit cards. Customer reviews can provide details about card rewards and benefits that might not be available on a company website. 

How You Can Improve Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score allows you to decide if it’s important to focus on boosting the score or immediately applying for a credit card. Credit scores usually range between 300 and 850. Higher scores indicate that a borrower is more creditworthy, which means that individuals with elevated scores receive better rates and terms. Scores above 750 are generally considered good and frequently offer individuals the best rates and terms. 

#1 Know Your Score

Knowing your exact score might seem demoralizing, but it’s the first step to improvement. Understanding how far away you are from a strong score will allow you to more effectively create a plan of action. Many credit cards and companies permit you to check your score for free, but understand that a slight variation in the score is normal because credit bureaus reference different guidelines when creating scores. 

Understanding your debt-to-income ratio also improves the chances of boosting your credit score. The debt-to-income ratio explains how much debt an individual obtains compared to the amount a person earns per month. Ideally, people make more per month than they spend on debt. Lower ratios are viewed as better because they indicate that people have less debt and more income.

#2 Examine Your Bills

Look at both regular bills such as utilities as well as credit card bills to understand your financial situation. Paying credit card bills helps boost credit scores and has the potential to lower the amount of money owed to a card company. Consult a financial professional to see if options such as debt consolidation or personal loans are right for you. Paying off bills in a consistent manner builds credit. Automatic payments ensure that payments are made on time and allow you to maintain control of your finances. However, automatic payments are not advised for individuals with account balances that are lower than the funds necessary for automatic payments. Having insufficient funds when automatic payments are withdrawn negatively impacts credit scores. 

#3 Avoid Hurting Your Credit 

One way to boost your credit is to defend your current score. Avoid taking out too many hard credit inquiries within the same period. Hard credit inquiries temporarily ding credit scores for a few months at a time. In addition, these credit inquiries also remain on your credit report for an extended period. Too many credit inquiries could potentially raise questions or cause lenders to hesitate when deciding on your creditworthiness. 

#4 Keep Track of Your Progress

Check your credit score to know if your efforts are working. It’s possible that building and improving credit will take multiple months, so it’s important to have patience. 

However, a continuously decreasing score could indicate underlying problems such as forgotten payments or bills. Check your emails and financial accounts to discover any outstanding amounts. When in doubt, think about speaking with a financial professional. 

How to Compare Credit Cards

Before you start applying for cards, it's best practice to research which cards you are likely to qualify for. Many merchants will allow you to prequalify for a card without affecting your credit score. Or you can use a card comparison service like Credible to compare cards side by side before you apply. 

When comparing cards, there’s a few things to keep in mind when choosing. Aside from a card’s rewards program, you’ll want to take a look at a card’s fee structure, its perks, bonuses and features, the protections it offers and the annual percentage rate (APR) that is applied to your balance. 


The annual fee should carry some weight in your decision making process. Cards with annual fees aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and you’ll want to consider if the perks that come with the card are worth the fee. Heavy credit users who can pay down their balances regularly may offset the annual fee in rewards and other kickbacks. 

If you’d rather not pay extra to use credit, prioritize fee-free credit cards. You’ll have plenty of options, including from many of our partners.


Are you a frequent flyer? An aspiring travel blogger? If so, a card that rewards you with airline miles is the perfect card for you. 

Or do you use your card to cover your day-to-day purchases like groceries or gas? Cards that earn cash back can put money back in your pocket just for paying for the necessities. 

Although rewards cards tend to come saddled with higher annual fees and interest rates, it’s not a dealbreaker if you find the right card. It all comes down to if what you get back from the card is worth the money you put into it.

Perks and Bonuses

Rewards, perks and bonuses — they all sound similar, huh? But the things your card can do for you don’t stop at earning points on dollars spent. The right card can come with a surprising number of benefits. 

Some offer travel benefits like priority boarding or security pre-checks. You can even use some cards as a concierge service to take care of bookings, access lower prices at merchants or even send gifts for you. 

Most credit cards today protect your purchases and offer insurance on your trips, purchases or even on lost or stolen phones. Some may even refund you for online purchases you never received or reimburse you if you find a better price after you make a purchase. 


APR is 1 of the biggest factors in choosing a card. Cards with lower APR rights are preferable because it won’t cost you as much to use your credit, and you’re less likely to get buried under growing interest. 

While that may seem like a no-brainer, it's still a game of give or take. Credit cards will all the bells and whistles come with a high APR to match. 

If a rewards card is high interest, be sure you can afford to pay down your balance each month so you don’t get hit with hefty charges. And make sure you’ll be getting enough back from the rewards to make the high interest rate worth it.

Credit Card Responsibility

It's best to approach any credit card use with caution. Credit shouldn’t be something you should rely on to live outside your means. 

You don’t want to rack up a balance that you can’t feasibly pay off within a reasonable amount of time. A maxed out card could mean months of paying it down before you lower your balance enough to reuse your card, which means you could also earn less in rewards. 

For these reasons and more, be sure to only use credit you can pay back fairly quickly. This will keep your credit utilization low, leave credit open for emergencies or large purchases and keep what you pay in interest low. And being able to regularly pay off and reuse your card means maximizing the reward points you earn. 

More Rewards Options

Upside is a simple and free app that allows you to earn cash back on many of the things you already do. Basically, when you use the app, you can see returns from activities like:

  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Dining and more

When you earn these rewards, you can cash out with a:

  • Direct deposit
  • PayPal deposit
  • Gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks and more

You can download the app to your Apple or Android device, claim offers that appeal to you and wait for the reward to appear in your account—it usually takes 2 to 4 days. Plus, you can earn up to 3x the cash back you would normally get on particular programs, spanning more than 50,000 businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What are the benefits of rewards credit cards?


The benefits of rewards credit cards tend to vary by card. Certain cards specify reward strengths such as cash back options. 

Benefits can include reward options as well as additional card perks such as fraud protection. For example, rewards credit cards can provide useful benefits while boosting credit scores and allowing you to access your credit score information for free. These cards enhance customer freedom by helping individuals achieve both financial and personal goals. 

Research different rewards credit cards to understand if points, cash back, travel rewards or lower fees appeal to you. Each card provides different benefits and drawbacks that should be taken into account. Rewards can work with a person’s spending habits to provide the greatest amount of benefit for each situation.


What are the rates for rewards credit cards?


Rewards credit cards typically have higher rates than other types of credit cards. These cards tend to have elevated rates because card providers need to find ways to regain the money and funds spent providing rewards. Higher fees and interest rates are a way for card issuers to regain funds. 

Paying off bills in full helps customers avoid some of these often-elevated rates. Rewards credit cards might not appeal to individuals who intend to leave unpaid balances from month to month. Consider paying off the monthly bill in full to enjoy the benefits of this type of card with fewer drawbacks. Examine the different cards to understand if the fees and rates make sense for your financial position.


What type of credit card rewards should I select?


Choosing a specific rewards program might seem overwhelming. Companies offer many different kinds of rewards credit cards, but it’s recommended to view the options from a realistic perspective. For example, a rewards program that offers airline miles would likely work well for a frequent flier but has a minimal impact on a person that had no interest or need for long-distance travel. However, gas points or rewards could prove beneficial if the same person spends a substantial amount of time driving in a car. The first step to knowing which types of rewards to select is understanding your personal needs and activities. Think about what you use most on a daily or weekly basis to better understand what types of rewards could help add value to your routine. 



What are reward points on credit cards?


Reward points follow a point system designed for the specific credit card. For example, some point systems offer one point for every dollar spent. The exact system depends on the specific card, so it’s important to research the details before applying to avoid feeling dissatisfied with the strength of the rewards program. 

The credit cards that use point systems might temporarily offer incentives such as additional points during specific promotional periods. However, the inflated points per dollar will likely stop once the stated introductory or promotional period ends.

Certain credit cards also have different rewards tiers. Individuals who have more favorable credit scores will often move into more exclusive tiers. The tier system also motivates individuals to spend more by providing additional perks such as more points per dollar. Within tiers, people with elevated standing have the potential to receive extra benefits such as lower fees. The tier system often rewards strong credit and can prove beneficial for individuals with good-to-excellent credit who consistently pay off their monthly bills.


Do credit card rewards expire?


Yes, credit card rewards can expire. Rewards such as airline mileage points and hotel benefits usually expire after an extended period of inactivity. To prevent inactivity, cardholders can typically purchase specified items on the cards such as groceries or items from online shopping. 

Typically, cash rewards do not expire as long as a cardholder remains active. The level of card use that qualifies as active varies from card to card. For example, certain cards term a period of inactivity as no use for over two years while other rewards cards consider six months too long. Check what each card considers an active user to help safeguard against lost or expired rewards opportunities.