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Best Reward Credit Card

Can I Get a Rewards Card With Bad Credit?

Yes, even if you don’t have stellar credit, there are some entry-level cards offering rewards. Naturally, the higher-earning cards with the best sign-up bonuses and benefits are for consumers who have a strong credit history. But that’s something you can work toward as you improve your credit.

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Best Reward Credit Card

How Do You Redeem Rewards?

Redeeming rewards is simplest with cash-back cards, but may get more complicated with airline programs.  

For cash-back cards, you might get automatic statement credits, or an ability to redeem for cash or gift cards whenever you want, or when you reach specific thresholds (such as every $25 earned). Other redemption options might include requesting a paper check, giving money to a charity, or paying with points at Amazon.com. 

With general travel cards, some allow you to redeem points by buying your travel through their booking portal. Others let you book travel however you want and then use points for a statement credit on those charges.

You might also have the option of transferring points to travel partner programs, which can be the most lucrative option. For instance, The Balance values American Airlines points at nearly 1.5 cents each. That’s somewhat more than you get from cash-back cards.

Points don’t always transfer 1:1 between programs. For example, you may have to transfer 20,000 credit card points to get only 10,000 airline miles. Look for a card’s transfer partners and transfer ratios to get the best value.

With hotel and airline cards, you usually can book your free hotel room or free flight just like you normally would, but look for a box to check that says “Pay with points” or something similar. Depending on the airline and your travel needs, you can score great deals on free flights. But you can also at times be frustrated by a lack of available award flights. 

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Best Reward Credit Card

How Can You Accumulate Rewards Faster?

Maximize your rewards by accumulating as many points as possible while staying within your budget. Don’t overspend just for points. In fact, carrying a balance month to month will quickly erase any benefit you earn.

Assuming that you’re paying your bill in full each month, here are a few strategies for earning the most rewards possible:

  • Earn the sign-up bonus:Many rewards cards offer a large bonus up-front if you spend a certain amount in the first three months of card opening. A cash-back card usually gives a statement credit; with travel rewards cards, you’ll get a lump sum of points. 
  • Consider pairing different kinds of rewards cards:If you have a cash-back card that earns 5% on groceries but only 1% on everything else, you may want to use a second 2% flat-rate card for all non-grocery purchases.
  • Pay recurring bills on your card:If you have to pay your cable and phone bill anyway, why not get points or cash back? The same goes for car insurance, subscriptions, and other regular expenses. Just be sure to check that you won’t be charged a fee for paying with a credit card.
  • Boost points with additional cardholders:Add partners or grown children as authorized users, so that multiple people will be earning points on the same account. But be mindful that the primary account holder is responsible for all charges, so only add authorized users that you completely trust.
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Best Reward Credit Card

How Do You Choose a Rewards Card?

To determine which rewards credit card is best for you, focus on your spending habits and your redemption goals. See which of these descriptions match up best with you. 

  • Cash-back card: You don’t travel frequently and prefer cash rewards.
  • General travel rewards card: You want to earn rewards you can use for different airline, hotel, and car rental companies.
  • Airline card: You travel a few times a year, stick with one major airline or alliance, and want VIP treatment.
  • Hotel card: You travel frequently and like to stay with one specific hotel chain.  
  • Retail card: You regularly shop at the same retailer and want to receive rewards for your loyalty.

Here’s another summary of our top picks for rewards credit cards:

Best Rewards Credit Cards
Credit CardCategoryAnnual Fee
HSBC Cash Rewards MastercardBest Overall$0
HSBC Cash Rewards MastercardBest for Simple Cash-Back Rewards$0
Wells Fargo Propel American Express CardBest for Earning Different Levels of Cash Back$0
Discover it SecuredBest for Less-Than-Perfect Credit$0
Chase Sapphire Preferred CardBest Travel Card With an Annual Fee Under $100$95
Chase Sapphire ReserveBest for Luxury Travelers$550
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit CardBest Travel Card With No Annual Fee$0
Capital One Spark Cash Credit CardBest Business Cash Credit Card$0
Ink Business Preferred Credit CardBest Business Travel Card $95
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Best Reward Credit Card

What Are the Pros & Cons of Rewards Cards?

Rewards cards are great, but only if you pay your balance in full each month. Otherwise, any rewards you earn will be eaten up by interest charges. If you know you’ll run a balance, you’re better off forgetting about rewards and using a low-interest credit card. Pros

  • Let you earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars in free travel or cash
  • Often offer a sign-up bonus
  • May come with perks like rental car insurance

Cons

  • May have an annual fee that’s more than the value of the rewards
  • Tend to have higher interest rates than non-rewards cards
  • Can require work to keep up with complicated earnings or redemption schemes
  • May tempt you to spend more to earn rewards
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Best Reward Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

If you frequently travel for business, there’s simply no card that’s more well-rounded than this. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most valuable out there, especially when used for travel. For starters, you’ll get a massive bonus of 100,000 points (worth $1,460 when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards platform) if you spend $15,000 or more within your first three months. And our valuations found points may be worth even more if transferred to a partner airline or hotel program. In addition to travel purchases, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent on common business purchases like social media advertising and shipping (up to $150,00 annually).

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Outstanding bonus for new cardholders
  • Extra rewards points on many different types of business expenses
  • Many ways to redeem rewards
  • Option to transfer points to eligible airline loyalty programs, in some cases getting more value per point

Cons

  • No rewards on dining or gas
  • Rewards tiers and caps, which are higher maintenance
  • Steep spending requirement to earn bonus

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That’s $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Stay on top of your business with Fraud Protection, Purchase Protection, personalized Account Alerts, and more.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
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Best Reward Credit Card

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

If you prefer cash back to travel rewards, this is an exceptional business card. You’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases, which is one of the best flat earning rates offered by a business card right now. Getting your cash back is easy, too: Just request a statement credit or check. There’s even an option to set up automatic redemptions. To top it off, this card comes with a $500 bonus if you spend $4,500 within the first three months, which is in line with many other card offers right now.

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Stellar cash-back earning rate on all purchases, with no limits
  • Redeeming rewards is as easy as earning them

Cons

  • Annual fee after the first year
  • No chance for more than 2% cash back on any spending category

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Earn a one-time $500 bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Get unlimited 2% cash rewards.
  • Add employee cards for free and earn all the rewards from their purchases.
  • Get a custom, itemized spending report to simplify planning, budgeting, and taxes.
  • Make purchases outside of the U.S. with zero transaction fees.
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Best Reward Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

Solid travel rewards without the number-crunching or annual fee—that’s why we find this card so appealing. You earn the same number of reward points no matter what type of spending you do, but you can access benefits usually reserved for higher-end travel cards, like transferring to airline partners. There are two additional ways to redeem rewards for travel, which offer even more flexibility. Either book travel directly through Capital One, or use the bank’s Purchase Eraser tool to redeem miles as statement credits for eligible travel purchases made within the past 90 days.

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Simple and predictable rewards
  • Rare option (for a no-annual-fee card) to transfer miles to eligible airline and hotel partner programs
  • Flexible redemption options
  • Travel insurance not common with a no-annual-fee card

Cons

  • Low rewards-earning rate
  • Limited number of travel partners, especially U.S. airlines

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 1.25X miles on all purchases. Earn unlimited miles with no caps.
  • Earn 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Use miles as a statement credit against any airline or hotel booking with no blackout dates. Or, transfer miles to eligible travel loyalty programs.
  • Enjoy an introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months.
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Best Reward Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

This card comes with one of the highest annual fees among travel cards, but if you travel a lot and like luxury touches, it’s truly a case of “you get what you pay for.” The list of benefits that come with this card is a mile long. The highlights include airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees, and a sizable 50,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 within the first three months (worth $750 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards). What’s more, if you transfer those points to a partner like World of Hyatt, those points could be worth up to $1,005, based on our valuation.

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Earn extra points for travel and dining purchases
  • Many different purchases count as travel spending, which makes earning rewards easier
  • Several valuable ways to use points, including transfers to partner loyalty programs
  • Jam-packed with valuable travel credit and travel insurance benefits

Cons

  • Massive annual fee
  • High ongoing APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Receive 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Get an annual $300 travel credit for eligible purchases charged to your card each anniversary year.
  • Earn 3 points on travel (excluding purchases eligible for the travel credit), restaurants, and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.
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Best Reward Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

This card feels like a premium product, just without the sky-high annual fee. The new cardholder bonus is worth an impressive $1,000 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and possibly a lot more if you transfer to one of the program’s airline or hotel partners. Plus, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on a slew of travel expenses as well as your restaurant tabs. And the card comes with primary rental car insurance, a valuable perk that many competitors lack.

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Good bonus compared to other travel cards with similar annual fees
  • Option to transfer points to eligible airline and hotel programs, often at a 1-to-1 ratio
  • Points are pretty valuable when redeemed for travel
  • Some premium travel insurance benefits

Cons

  • No credits to cover incidental airline fees or other travel-related costs
  • Few everyday purchase categories earn extra points

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.