How to Money has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. How to Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. see disclosures for more info.
Credit cards can be a powerful tool in your hands. If you use them wisely, that is.
Sign-up bonuses or welcome offers can earn you hundreds of dollars in rewards travel. Or even just hundreds of dollars in cash! In fact, the richest sign-up bonus right now earns you more than $1,000 if you meet the spending requirement. We’ll discuss that card in just a second. These cards can also be beneficial for folks that seek to earn cashback or accrue free travel rewards on their everyday purchases. Many of these cards also offer incredible secondary benefits like car rental insurance, extended warranty coverage, travel insurance, and more.
So we figured we should put together a list of our favorite credit cards. And because we all spend on credit cards differently, we listed our favorites based on the different ways people use them. If you are travel obsessed and want to score points to travel for free – there are some great cards for you. If you just want to maximize your cashback benefits – there are some great cards for you as well. Or if you are feeding a big family and you spend a whole lot at the grocery store every month there are even specific cards that will reward you for that.
HTM Favorite Credit Cards for Travel Rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – this is the best overall card for folks who want to travel the world via credit card rewards. You earn a sweet welcome offer (the best we’ve ever seen!) that will snag you $750 cashback if you meet the initial spending requirements ($4,000 over three months). On top of that, Chase allows you to move your rewards points to other loyalty programs like JetBlue, British Airways, United Airlines, and Hyatt. One of the other major perks of this card is the ability to use it for primary rental car coverage. That’s a rare find. And if you rent cars frequently that alone makes this card incredibly valuable.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card – This is the cousin card of the Sapphire Preferred® that we mentioned above. This card is for folks who travel frequently and don’t mind paying an annual fee to do so in style. So what’s the annual fee? $550. You might be thinking, “yikes!” But as an avid traveler, the first $300 you spend on travel every year is reimbursed thanks to the annual travel credit that this card offers. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card also has some great travel perks like lounge access and reimbursement for fees when you join Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card – This card by Capital One offers a sweet welcome offer of 50,000 miles (or $500)! Initial spending requirements are $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Afterwards, you get an unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every single purchase. The annual fee is also much lower at $95 – and it is waived for the first year. Miles earned on this card never expire and there’s no cap on how many miles you can earn. Capital One also makes it pretty easy to redeem the rewards that you earn. That’s because the points you earn are redeemed as statement credits. That means they aren’t limited to specific airline or hotel chains. Learn how to apply for this card here.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card – If Southwest has a major presence in the airport closest to you, getting the Southwest credit card makes a whole lot of sense. The welcome offer alone can be enough for you to book a few round-trip flights. Like any good travel reward card, you won’t have foreign transaction fees when using this card overseas. Airline-specific cards often come with a bevvy of points up front. But those points can be hard to redeem. But Southwest has the easiest rewards redemption out there. So if you fly Southwest frequently, this card is a winner.
HTM Favorite Credit Cards for 2% Cash Back on Everything
Citi Double Cash – This card is one of our favorites for simplicity. If you like to use the same card and know that it is earning you rewards every time, the Citi Double Cash is a good one to use. That’s because it earns you 2% on every purchase you make! No matter where you spend – as long as you pay the minimum statement balance every month. Of course, we would suggest paying the entire balance. Just don’t use this card overseas because it comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee. Added bonus: Citi is offering an 18-month 0% interest rate for new users.
Fidelity Rewards Visa – This card is one that I have been using for years. And this card can also be an amazing help in investing more too. That’s because you get 2% cash back when you deposit it into an eligible Fidelity account. So open up a 529 account for your child or a Roth IRA for yourself and start investing the credit card rewards you earn. Some additional benefits are auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, roadside dispatch, and lost luggage reimbursement. There is no annual fee for using this card.
HTM Favorite Credit Cards for People with a Bad Credit Score
Petal Cash Back Visa Card – This is an awesome card for folks who have had credit trouble in the past. Petal Card doesn’t look at your credit score when issuing the card. They use an alternative algorithm that assesses your other financial behavior. So, if your credit score isn’t great and you want to change that, the Petal Cash Back Visa is an excellent option. In particular because they’ve eliminated most of the fees you would typically find with a card targeted towards people with poor credit. And you’ll even be earning rewards when using it!
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® – This is another solid card offered by Capital One for people who have had credit struggles. Although it comes with a $39 annual fee, you’ll be earning 1.5% in cash back rewards on every purchase you make.
Best Credit Card for High Grocery Spending
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – There’s really one card that stands alone in this category. The claim to fame for this American Express card is the incredible 6% cash back rate on all purchases at US supermarkets (with an annual spending cap of $6,000 annually). Other perks of this card include 6% cash back on US streaming services and 3% cashback on US gas stations, rideshare, and other transit expenses. Terms apply.
Matt and I both use this card regularly as our growing families spend a lot of money at Aldi and Costco! They’ve also have a generous welcome bonus where you’ll earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months with this card. Learn how to apply for this card here.
Best Credit Card for High Gas Spending
Sam’s Club Mastercard – This card from Sam’s Club offers the best cash back rewards on gas purchases. You can earn 5% back on you gas purchases (Up to $6,000 annually) when using this card to pay at the pump. This card will also earn you 3% back on dining and travel purchases. Bonus: You’ll get a free year of membership to Sam’s Club when you sign up through January 15, 2020.
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi – It’s certainly interesting that the warehouse clubs offer the highest rewards on gas purchases. As a Costco member I, of course, have this card in my wallet, fully maximizing the cost of my Costco membership!
The Costco Anywhere Visa only offers 4% on eligible gas purchases up to $7,000 a year. Not quite as lofty as the 5% offered by the Sam’s Club card. But, other Costco membership perks make this card a great get for Costco members. You will get 3% cash back on dining and travel. And you will also get 2% cash back on all Costco and Costco.com purchases. Your rewards can only be redeemed once a year and must be done at a Costco store. Insider tip: You can opt to redeem your reward certificate for cash. You do not have to spend it on merchandise at the store. Here are some other insider tips at Costco!
Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfers
American Express EveryDay Credit Card – If you are currently carrying a balance on your credit card, that stinks. This card by American Express is the only card that doesn’t charge the typical balance transfer fee of 3% of your overall balance. On top of the $0 transfer fee, you’ll also receive a 0% intro APR for 15 months. The rewards on this card isn’t much to write home about, but if you are carrying a balance, sweet rewards aren’t your main priority. This card also offers a $0 annual fee and 0% intro rate on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. (See Rates and Fees)
Best Business Credit Cards
Chase Ink Business Preferred® – This is the best credit card for business folks who want to earn travel perks. And the welcome offer is the best out there. You can earn $1,250 towards travel by spending $15k on the card in the first three months. Your points are worth the most when you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There’s an annual fee of $95 but that’s not too bad for small business owners who can extract a good bit of value from using it regularly.
American Express Blue Business Cash Card – If you want a business card with no annual fee and solid cash back, this card from American Express is perfect for you. You’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases up to $50,000 a year and a 1% cash back amount thereafter. This card also has no annual fee. But for big spenders, you can find bigger rewards elsewhere. (See Rates and Fees)
Finding the Right Card that Meets Your Spending Needs
There are certainly a lot of reward credit card options out there. For most people, it makes sense to have three or four cards to use for different purchases in order to maximize the rewards they earn.
It’s important to note that credit card rewards are not worth it if you won’t be able to pay your bill in full when your statement arrives. A 2% cash back reward or sweet sign-up bonus doesn’t make sense if you are paying the minimum balance and accruing lots of interest. But if are able to handle credit cards responsibly, this list can be a powerful aid in helping you pick the right card to maximize rewards in your life.
Related Credit Card Tools and Posts:
- How To Money Credit Card Search Tool
- Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Beginners
- What’s in Our Wallet? (These are the Credit Cards we personally use!)
- BILT Mastercard: Earn points for paying your rent!
*To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees; Blue Business Cash Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees
* Advertiser Disclosure: How to Money has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. How to Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
* User Generated Content Disclosure: Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.