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Compare the Best Rewards Credit Cards

The BestCards team is here to help you find the best rewards credit card for your wallet. Read comprehensive, unbiased reviews and explore the world of credit with our informative articles. Learn how to earn rewards from everyday spending, and put your money to work for you.

Reward Yourself – Use Your Credit Card Often

Credit card issuers have come up with some great benefits to accompany their credit cards; rewards credit cards are a great way to build credit while simultaneously earning miles, points, and cash back. Whether you’re interested in earning a free trip (rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotels, and even cruises), cash back, or gift cards and merchandise, you’ll find reviews of the best rewards card offers on the market here on BestCards.com. Our team of experts has compiled all the information you need to know to find the rewards card that’s a perfect fit for your needs.

What are the Different Types of Rewards Credit Card?

There are rewards credit cards for every taste and budget. Finding the best rewards credit card may seem like a daunting task, but never fear – the BestCards team has made it easy. Learn about each type of rewards credit card and the unique benefits they provide. Find out which card is best for you by reading our in-depth analysis, organized by reward type, below.

Airline Cards

Airlines across the world have partnered with credit card issuers to present consumers with extremely lucrative rewards programs. Intrepid travelers can earn miles and points with the airline carriers they love. Those rewards can be redeemed towards free flights, free upgrades (first class, here we come!), free checked bags, and more. In some cases, thanks to codeshare agreements, your rewards can be redeemed with multiple partner airlines, too. Find out more by reading the in-depth reviews the experts here at BestCards.com have written. We lay out all the information you’ll need to help decide which co-branded airline rewards credit card is best for you!

Featured Picks:

LATAM Visa Signature® Card

20,000 Bonus Points After First Card Use

LATAM Visa Signature® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 16.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 16.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 24.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $0 for the first 12 months, After that, $75
  • Credit Needed Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn one LATAM Pass Point for every eligible net $1 you spend
  • Get 20,000 bonus points after your first LATAM credit card use and 4,000 bonus points with your annual renewal
  • Receive 20% discount on LATAM Airlines purchase (up to $1,000) 1 time per year
  • Enjoy 3 one-way upgrade coupons per year
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 16.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 16.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either 4% of the amount of each advance or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months, After that, $75
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars, 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

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Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

40,000 Bonus Miles + Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™

Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 17.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 17.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 20.49% to 27.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $75
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on Alaska Airlines purchases
  • 1X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Alaska's Famous Companion Fare® on account anniversary
  • Free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights for up to six other guests on the same reservation
  • Enjoy 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 17.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 17.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 20.49% to 27.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $75
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $28

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Auto Cards

Car lovers can save both on vehicle purchases as well as accessories from their preferred automaker with co-branded auto credit cards. Choose from GM, Dodge, Mopar, Chrysler, and many more – we lay out all the details you’ll need in easy-to-read reviews, so you can make an informed decision quickly and easily.

Featured Pick:

Mopar® DrivePlus Mastercard®

Up to 5% Back in Rewards

Mopar® DrivePlus Mastercard®
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.49% to 26.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.49% to 26.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for the first 6 months from the transaction date for eligible purchases
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Earn 5% back on FCA US purchases, 2% back on gas and travel purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases
  • Redeem rewards for double the value at FCA US dealerships
  • 0% APR special financing for 6 billing cycles on every FCA US dealership purchase of $499 or more
  • When you spend $7,500 in your first year you will receive $1,000 Bonus Certificate towards the purchase of your next FCA vehicle.
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for the first 6 months from the transaction date for eligible purchases
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 26.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 26.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.74% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $15 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

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Cash Back Cards

Perhaps one of the most popular types of credit card rewards comes from cash back rewards credit cards. After all, who doesn’t like getting money back into their account after making purchases? Build your credit without breaking the bank, and check out these reviews of cash back credit cards today.

Featured Picks:

Blue Cash Everyday® Card

$175 Statement Credit + 0% Intro APR for 15 Months

Blue Cash Everyday® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 12.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 12.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 15 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on other eligible purchases
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Global Assist Hotline
  • Complimentary Shoprunner membership
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 12.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months on transfers requested within 60 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 12.99% to 23.99% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: 29.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

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Discover it® Cash Back

Earn up to 5% Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back
  • Regular Purchase APR 13.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 13.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 14 months from account opening
  • Processing Network Discover
Best Benefits
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories - choose from grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Discover matches all of the cash back earned by the cardholder at the end of the first year automatically; there is no limit to how much cash back is matched
  • Cash back rewards never expire, earn unlimited cash back
  • Use rewards at Amazon checkout
  • No annual fee
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 14 months from account opening
  • Regular Purchase APR: 13.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 14 months from date of first transfer
  • Balance Transfer APR: 13.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount of each transfer posted at the promotional rate. After that, 5% of the amount of each transfer
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

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Gas Cards

If you find that you drive a lot for your job, put that commute to work. Anyone who spends a lot of time in their car knows that gas can come at a premium – so why not earn rewards (and discounts) while you’re stuck at the pump? These co-branded gas rewards credit cards offer great bonuses and discounts at their respective fueling stations; choose from Exxon, Chevron, and more!

Featured Pick:

Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard

Save 10 Cents per Gallon and Earn Shell Rebates

Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard
  • Regular Purchase APR 27.99%, variable with the market based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 29.99%
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Save 30 cents per gallon (up to 20 gallons) on your first five shell fuel purchases made by 10/31/2020
  • Save up to 10 cents per gallon, on up to 20 gallons every time you fill up (5 cents per gallon with the card and 5 cents per gallon with Fuel Rewards Gold Status)
  • Enjoy 10% Shell rebates on your first $1,200 Shell non-fuel purchases per year
  • Enjoy 2% shell rebates on your first $10,000 Dining and Groceries purchases ber year
  • Enjoy 1% Shell rebates on all other qualifying purchases
  • Rebates are applied as a statement credit against Shell purchases made with your card in future billing cycles
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 27.99%, variable with the market based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99%
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each purchase transaction in U.S. Dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

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Hotel Cards

For those who book hotels often and love their loyalty programs, it’s a good idea to consider a co-branded hotel rewards credit card. This way you can save money while taking advantage of top perks like free hotel stays, spa visits, upgraded hotel rooms, and more. BestCards.com has compiled reviews of the best hotel rewards credit cards on the market – check them out.

Featured Picks:

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.74% to 24.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.74%-24.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate on transfers made within 60 days of account opening
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $450
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • 6X Marriott Bonvoy points on direct purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 3X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Free Night Award each year on account anniversary
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • Annual $300 statement for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or $85 credit for TSA Pre Check
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.74% to 24.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.74%-24.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate on transfers made within 60 days of account opening
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

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World of Hyatt Credit Card

Earn up to 50,000 Bonus Points (Worth 10 Free Nights!)

World of Hyatt Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $95
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status
  • 4X points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels
  • 2X points per $1 spent on transit, dining, airline tickets, and gyms
  • 1X points per $1 for all other card purchases
  • Free night award after every cardmember anniversary
  • Additional free night for spending $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

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Retail Cards

Many retailers have partnered with credit card issuers, so it’s now possible to find a co-branded retail rewards credit card that allows you to earn rewards with your favorite retail stores. Spend money, and earn towards discounts and even free products – find out more!

Featured Pick: 

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Get Instant $100 Amazon.com Gift Card Upon Approval

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Instant $70 Amazon.com gift card on approval
  • 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods
  • 2% back at restaurants and gas stations,
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Only eligible to those with an Amazon Prime membership
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Minimum Deposit Required: N/A
  • Credit Needed: N/A

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Travel Cards

Ideal for frequent travelers, travel rewards credit cards offer a great variety of travel-related perks, ranging from airlines and hotels to cruises, destination experiences, and much more. Explore travel credit card reviews from the experts at BestCards.com!

Featured Picks:

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Earn 60,000 Bonus Points ($750 Value)

Chase Sapphire Preferred®
  • Regular Purchase APR 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $95
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from opening
  • Earn 2X points on travel and dining, including airfare, hotels, cafés, and more
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on every other purchase
  • Get 25% more in travel redemption when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1:1 point transfer to various airline and hotel travel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of each transfer amount, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of each transaction amount, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

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Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

50,000 Bonus Points ($500 Value) + Unlimited Rewards Earning

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 20.49% to 26.49
  • Annual Fee $95
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • 50,000 bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 2X points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Airport Security Statement Credit towards TSA Pre? ® or Global Entry Application fee, every four years
  • Annual $100 statement credit for airline incidentals
  • No blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fee
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 20.49% to 26.49
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on creditworthiness the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $28

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How Does a Rewards Card Work?

Each rewards card has its own structure that determines how the cardholder earns their rewards. Cardholders earn points, miles, or a cash back percentage based on their net spend each billing cycle. Each time a cardholder swipes their credit card on an eligible purchase, they add to their rewards total. However, depending on the card’s terms, not every purchase will qualify for rewards. Rewards cards vary from co-branded credit cards, where card issuers pair with a retailer or brand like an airline or department store, to cash-back credit cards for everyday use. As the name implies, cash-back cards reward the cardholder with a percentage of their purchase issued as cash back. Every card type provides unique benefits, and the rewards they provide reflect this.

What Should I Look For When Comparing Rewards Credit Cards?

Determining the right type of credit card for you isn’t easy. The BestCards team is here to help, however! We’ve put together a handy guide to help you compare rewards credit cards. After all, the rewards rate isn’t the only factor you should consider when shopping for a new rewards card. Other metrics to look out for include:

Fees

  • Annual Fee – Does the card charge an annual fee? If it does, do the rewards offset this annual fee? This last question will determine whether the proverbial juice is worth the squeeze when considering the rewards structure of a card that charges an annual fee.
  • Foreign Transaction Fees – Always check to see if the credit card offer you’re interested in has fees associated with foreign transactions. This is particularly important if you’re looking for a travel rewards card. If you’re going to use a credit card for travel, but it charges you extra fees for foreign transactions, it may not be worth your time. Many rewards credit cards do not charge an annual fee, so consider this when looking for a card to use abroad.

Bonuses

  • Intro APR Period – Does the card offer an introductory APR period? If so, how long is it? Some card issuers offer an introductory interest rate for purchases and balance transfers. This is an incentive to make a big purchase, or to transfer existing debt from another card. It can help you save a significant amount of money when it’s utilized correctly. Cardholders who pay off their balance before the introductory APR period has ended will avoid interest charges during that time frame. The longer this period lasts, the more beneficial it is to you and your bank account.
  • Sign-up Bonus – Some rewards card offer a sign-up bonus, which is also known as a welcome bonus. This is a perk that is exclusive to the card offer, and rewards the cardholder for spending a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time. Of course, some signup bonuses do not have a threshold that needs to be met – they are also issued as a “thank you” for choosing that credit card, too.

Benefits

In addition to lucrative rewards, many rewards credit cards are accompanied by a suite of perks and benefits for cardholders. These include things like consumer protections against identity theft, 24-hour emergency services, auto rental collision damage waivers, and more. Additional benefits can include travel-related perks, like travel credits, reimbursement for TSA Precheck and Global entry and airport lounge access. Some cards even offer free hotel nights, free checked bags, priority boarding and other amenities!

Protections

Card issuers know that your peace of mind is a rewarding too, which is why basic consumer protections are an integral part of rewards credit card terms. Credit card scams like skimmers at gas stations have become increasingly common, and are a cause for concern. To combat fraudsters and credit creeps, things like zero liability for fraudulent purchases and protection against identity theft are part and parcel here. Travel protections are also a big deal, and are particularly common with rewards cards. It’s not easy to plan ahead for the unexpected, particularly when traveling away from home. Cardholders who travel often can take advantage of services like basic rental car collision coverage and travel accident insurance. Some cards go as far as offering luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance,

How are Points and Miles Valued?

Examining the valuation of rewards points and miles is an important step to determine if a credit card is a good fit for you. The rewards earned from general travel cards have a fixed value – typically between 1 and 1.5 cents per point. The rewards earned from airline and hotel co-branded cards, however, tend to fluctuate in value due to the market. The value of each point or mile from airline and hotel cards will depend on what it is redeemed for. Cash back credit card rewards also have a fixed value represented as a percentage of the net spending of the cardholder. The average cash back reward is valued at $0.01 for each dollar spent with that card.

Find the Best Rewards Card For You

The BestCards team is dedicated to helping you choose a rewards card that’s right for you. Our impartial credit card reviews will give you the information you need to find the credit card that suits your financial goals, and your budget. However, credit cards come are not one-size-fits-all: not every rewards credit card will be a good fit. Are there are pros and cons to using a rewards credit card?

The Good

The benefits of using a rewards credit card can be immeasurable, even if you can literally track and count how many points you’ve earned by checking your card account. Earning rewards for every purchase is a bit like finding spare change in your pocket whilst doing laundry. The more money you spend with your card, the more rewards you’ll earn – and they really add up. Rewards cards put your spending to work for you.

Travel rewards cards in particular are coveted for their flexible redemption opportunities. The ability to earn discounts towards travel – be it a free flight, an upgraded ticket to first class, a free room upgrade or even a free hotel stay – means a travel rewards card is perfect for the wallet of every hodophile. They’re also good for business travelers – after all, saving money on work trips is good for business, too. Additional travel perks and protections are just the icing on the cake. Travel credit cards are a unique way to save money and experience first-class amenities while traveling.

The consumer protections included with most rewards credit cards also stand out. Travel-related protections against trip disruptions like delayed or cancelled flights, illness and medical emergencies, and lost luggage can make a huge difference when your vacation seems like it may fall apart.

The Bad

Rich rewards command high fees since card issuers want to offset their costs. As such, many rewards cards are accompanied by an annual fee.  Some rewards cards have higher annual fees than others. For consumers who carry multiple cards, these fees can start to add up. It’s important to ensure that you use your rewards card enough to offset the annual fee. If not, the juice may not be worth the squeeze.

Rewards credit cards tend to have a higher interest rate for purchases and balance transfers than other types of credit cards. If you don’t carry a balance between billing cycles, this isn’t a huge deal. However, if you use your card to make large purchases, this can mean hefty interest charges if you pay them down over time. While interest charges aren’t the end of the world, they can certainly add up. It’s a good idea to pay each monthly statement in full to avoid extra charges.

Due to the way that rewards programs work, not every purchase will qualify for rewards. Rewards credit cards often focus on one or several spending categories. Depending on the card, those spending categories  typically earn rewards at a higher rate than other purchases made with the card. However, it can get a bit complicated – not every purchase will qualify for that spending category. Some merchants qualify for multiple category codes; for others, their categories are not as obvious. Additionally, the payment method you use when making a purchase can affect whether you earn rewards. Shopping using a mobile wallet, for example, can disqualify purchases from earning rewards when using certain credit cards. This is why it’s important to read the terms and conditions of each card you’re interested in before applying.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

With proper planning, a rewards credit card is a powerful financial tool. Cardholders can really augment the rewards they earn if they:

Focus on Utilization

  • Target a credit card that rewards spending in categories you make purchases most often in. If you target everyday spending categories like gasoline and groceries, you can earn rewards more quickly by using your card since you’d make those purchases either way. Additionally, rewards credit cards have a base rate, which means that every eligible purchase earns some sort of reward. Using the card for the bulk of your spending means you’ll earn rewards for every purchase. Get extra value from your monthly bills, by using your rewards card!
  • Make sure you take advantage of the perks that accompany your rewards card – especially the freebies. An offer of a free checked bag (which can save you upwards of $60 on a domestic flight) is useless, if you don’t take a trip and use it. Similarly, it wouldn’t make sense to sign up for a credit card with free airport lounge access only to not use it. These benefits often help to counter the card’s annual fee, and it would be a shame to see them go to waste – especially if you’ve already paid to use the card.

Focus on Rewards

  • Couple cards to get the biggest bang for your buck, too. Many rewards cards are complementary, and pairing a cash back rewards card with a travel rewards card can go a long way towards big savings.  In fact, holding multiple credit cards that offer different rewards is a great way to maximize savings when it’s time to redeem points – as long as you plan your spending and use the right card for the right purchases.
  • Look for credit card offers that have flexible options for redeeming rewards points and miles. Rewards from most cards can be redeemed for cash back or merchandise and gift cards. That said, some cards take it a step further. A general travel card is often the best option here, since points earned can be applied towards discounted or free flights and hotel stays, room and seat upgrades, and even cruises. Co-branded rewards cards tend to be more limiting when it comes to where a cardholder can redeem their rewards.