If you have a good credit score and zero debt, you might want to consider playing my favorite game. It can be played alone or in two-player mode, and it involves strategy and earning points. The game I’m talking about is the credit card rewards game, and it’s never too late to learn the rules. To get ahead, all you need is a credit card… or maybe five. Simply choose your weapon and start killing it.
If you’re new to the game, you’ll need more information on the best credit cards for rewards. To get ahead and maximize your rewards, we’ll help you out with some great strategies and excellent card options. So, without further ado, let’s discuss some of the best rewards credit cards on the market in 2018.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards
If you’re into traveling, there are a lot of great rewards credit cards for you to choose from. Here’s our list of the best travel rewards credit cards.
Double Points for All Purchases: Capital One Venture Rewards
With the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card, you’ll earn miles that can be redeemed for statement credits to erase your travel purchases. The miles themselves are worth one cent each, and you’ll earn double miles on all purchases.
Perhaps the best part of this card is that you’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent at Hotels.com/Venture. It’s like earning a 10 percent discount on all paid stays. The promo runs through January 2020, so you can earn tons of travel rewards if you often book accommodations through Hotels.com.
The Venture miles you’ll earn with the Venture card are great for buying cheap airfare or other travel that otherwise cannot be covered with points or miles. That includes more unusual options, such as cruises, ferry tickets, train tickets, ridesharing, taxis and more.
Best First Year Bonus: Discover it Miles Credit Card
Discover it Miles is a no-fee credit card that earns a flat 1.5 miles on all purchases across the board. Your rewards are unlimited and can be used to cover any travel purchase in any amount.
The best part of the Discover it Miles card is the rewards match. At the end of your first year as a card member, Discover will match all the miles you’ve earned in the first 12 months.
Essentially, every dollar you spend earns three miles during your first year as a cardholder. If you earn 25,000 miles, they turn into 50,000 miles at no cost to you. Rewards are unlimited, so you have control over how big that bonus is at the end of the first year.
Best Credit Cards for the Biggest Sign-Up Bonus
Getting a big sign-up bonus is still the best way to earn a lot of miles fast. If you’re looking for a quick way to start traveling for free, check out these cards with the best sign-up bonuses.
Biggest Sign-Up Bonus: Platinum Card from American Express
With the American Express Platinum card, you can earn a 60,000-point sign-up bonus. The Membership Rewards points can be redeemed via Amex Travel at a rate of one cent each. They can also be transferred to a number of airline and hotel programs, such as Delta Air Lines, Air France/KLM and Hilton Honors, to name a few.
Although the card has an annual fee of $550, it comes with tons of benefits to offset that cost. As a Platinum member, you get a $200 airline fee credit, a $200 Uber credit and a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit.
My favorite thing about this card is the vast number of airport lounges you can get into for free. That includes Amex’s own swanky Centurion Lounges, plus Delta Sky Club and the huge Priority Pass network of lounges.
The card is expensive, but you can easily offset the high annual fee thanks to the generous benefits.
Best No-Fee Card Bonus: Bank of America Travel Rewards
The Travel Rewards card from Bank of America offers new cardholders a bonus of 20,000 points after spending just $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days of account opening. For a no-fee card, that’s a tremendous bonus worth $200.
Like the Discover it Miles card, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card earns 1.5 points on all purchases with no caps, limits or categories. This card is great for when you need to buy travel that cannot be booked with points.
Best Bonus Categories: Uber Visa Card
If you enjoy cash back in your wallet, get yourself the Uber Visa card. Even if you don’t use the ridesharing app often, you will find lots of value with this no-fee credit card. It’s easily one of the best credit cards for rewards available today.
First of all, this Visa rewards card offers a $100 bonus for spending at least $500 in the first 90 days of card membership. And if that’s not enough, you will earn bonus points on dining, airfare, hotel rooms, Uber rides and online purchases. That’s quite a range of popular shopping categories.
Cash back is redeemable for Uber rides starting at 500 points for a $5 credit. And if you don’t ride with Uber, you can also redeem rewards for gift cards and statement credits starting at 2,500 points for $25. The Uber credit card is a great choice for a cashback card with no annual fees.
Best Credit Card for Business
Just because you need a business card it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have one of the best credit cards for rewards. Business expenses add up, so grab a card that rewards you for those purchases.
Great Bonuses: Amex Business Platinum Credit Card
The Business Platinum card from American Express OPEN offers business owners a 75,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $20,000 on qualifying purchases. The perks of having the business version of the card are similar to the personal version of the Amex Platinum card, though the annual fee is lower at $450.
One great perk with this card that you won’t get with the personal card is that you can get 35 percent of your points back if you redeem through Amex Travel. To qualify, the flight can either be booked in any class with the airline you selected in the Membership Rewards program or in business class on any airline.
Best Credit Card for Airline Miles
If you often fly on a particular airline, you might want to get a rewards card that is co-branded with that carrier. These cards often come with perks and benefits you won’t get with other cards, such as free checked bags, in-flight discounts, elite qualifying miles and companion passes. Below are the best rewards cards for airline miles.
Good for Couples: Alaska Airlines Credit Card
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card comes with 30,000 miles sign-up bonus and, more importantly, Alaska’s famous companion fare.
With the annual companion fare, you can purchase a ticket on any Alaska Airlines or Virgin America flight and receive the second ticket for just $99 plus the cost of taxes.
This deal is a reason enough to get this card and take your honey on a trip to somewhere romantic.
Good for Solo Travelers: United Airlines Credit Card
The United MileagePlus Explorer card offers travelers a 40,000-mile sign-up bonus, which is enough for a flight to almost any corner of the planet.
United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world. So the miles you earn with the card can be redeemed for flights on a huge number of airlines.
My favorite benefit of the MileagePlus program is the Excursionist Perk, which lets you visit two cities in the same region for the same mileage as one.
Best Cashback Credit Cards
Cash back is great because it offers the ultimate in flexibility. You can use your rewards for anything you want because they’re as good as cash. Just redeem for statement credits or even a check in the mail. That makes cashback cards some of the best credit cards for rewards. Below are our top picks.
Best for Cashback Rewards: Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature
The Fidelity Visa card earns 2 percent cash back on all purchases with no limits if you deposit the rewards into an eligible Fidelity account. If you already have an existing Fidelity account, you will receive a $100 bonus on top of your awards. This no-annual-fee card really is a contender for those looking to secure their future.
Read More: The Best 2 Percent Cashback Credit Cards
Best for Rotating Categories: Discover it – Cashback Match
The Discover it – Cashback Match credit card earns 5 percent cash back in quarterly rotating bonus categories, which vary from movie theaters and restaurants to Amazon and grocery stores.
All Discover cards have a rewards matching feature for the first year of card membership. With that, you’ll essentially earn 10 percent cash back in bonus categories plus 2 percent back on everything else for the first year. That’s unbeatable.
Best Credit Card for Hotel Rewards
You may be surprised, but co-branded hotel credit cards aren’t just for those who frequent certain hotel chains. They can be quite flexible and rewarding. Our pick for the best credit card for hotel rewards is the Starwood Preferred Guest card.
The Most Flexible Points: SPG Amex Credit Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card has been a fan favorite among travelers for a long time. That’s because the points earned with this card can be redeemed for free flights with more than 30 airlines, as well as for free hotel stays.
The card is changing its earning structure in August after the official merger with Marriott. Be sure to check back to see what the changes will be. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll continue to offer great value to Starwood guests.
Best Rewards Credit Card for Everyday Use
If flexibility in bonus earning categories sounds good to you, consider our pick for the best rewards credit card for everyday use. This card lets you decide which purchases earn extra cash back.
Choose Your Own Bonus Categories: U.S. Bank Cash+ Credit Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+ credit card lets cardholders decide which spending categories earn a bonus. That means that you can let your shopping habits work for you. Whether it’s groceries, cell phone bills or gas stations, you are in control of how you earn the most rewards.
The no-fee Cash+ card also sets a higher limit of $2,000 per quarter for bonus categories, as opposed to $1,500 on the popular Chase Freedom and Discover it cards. The U.S. Bank Cash+ card’s rewards are unlimited, and the earning structure always works for you.
Best Rewards Credit Card for Groceries and Gas
Groceries and gas are two things that just about everyone spends a lot on every month. They are nearly inescapable expenses. So why not earn more back for those purchases? These are our choices for the best rewards credit cards for groceries and gas.
Best for Groceries: Blue Cash Everyday from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday card earns 3 percent back at supermarkets. Though that’s capped at $6,000 in spending per calendar year, you won’t find another no-fee card that offers a return rate that good for groceries all year long. You’ll also get unlimited 2 percent back at gas stations.
Swiping the Blue Cash card at least 20 times per month will add another 20 percent to your points total. Overall, this is a great card. If you have the Discover it card, you can use the Blue Cash when Discover doesn’t offer 5 percent back at grocery stores.
Best Return for Gas Purchases: PenFed Credit Card
Many consumers won’t be familiar with this card issued by the PenFed Credit Union. You should, though, because of its generous rewards.
This card earns five points per dollar spent on gas purchases and three points per dollar at grocery stores. Points are worth 85 cents each, but you can earn quite a bit of them.
The $100 sign-up bonus doesn’t hurt, especially considering the fact that the card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. If you spend a lot on gas and groceries, make sure that this card is on your radar.
Best Credit Card for Amazon Purchases
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature credit card is great for Amazon addicts. You receive a $50 credit upon approval and earn 3 percent cash back on all Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, plus 2 percent back at gas stations, restaurants and drug stores.
If you’re a Prime member, you’ll get a whopping 5 percent back for Amazon and Whole Foods purchases. Cash back can be redeemed at Amazon.com in any amount toward most purchases.
Best Cashback Rewards Credit Card for High Spenders
If you spend a lot on your credit cards, you should consider one of our picks for best rewards credit card for big spenders. These cards may charge an annual fee, but it can be worth it if you spend enough because of the generous rewards they offer.
Get 3% Back on All Purchase: Alliant Cashback Credit Card
This card, issued by Alliant Credit Union, is another relatively obscure pick that you need to know about. That’s because it earns 3 percent cash back on all purchases during the first card membership year and then 2.5 percent cash back going forward. You won’t find a return rate like that on any other card.
This card has no earning limits, but it’s designed for customers who spend at least $50,000 on the card per year. This works out to about $4,200 per month.
If you’re not a big spender, you just have to spend at least $12,000 on the card annually to offset the $59 annual fee. That fee is waived for the first year, so you can give this card a try to see if it works for you.
30% Bonus for Big Spenders: BB&T Spectrum Rewards Credit Card
The Spectrum Rewards credit card from BB&T earns 3 percent cash back on net qualified purchases made in the first three months. Plus you’ll get a 5 percent anniversary bonus every year.
What’s interesting, though, is that this credit card earns an incredible 30 percent bonus if you spend a total of $50,000 or more per year.
Keep in mind that the card is only available to residents of the following states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C.
Best Rewards Credit Card for Supermarkets and Department Stores
Instead of getting one of those co-branded store credit cards for your department store purchases, get the Blue Cash Preferred. It offers better benefits and rewards, plus it will be way more flexible.
Skip the Store Card, Get Blue Cash Preferred Instead
If you shop at grocery stores and department stores frequently, this card is a match made in heaven. While it has a $95 annual fee, you’ll earn a phenomenal 6 percent cash back at grocery stores. It also earns an impressive 3 percent back at select department stores and gas stations.
Best Rewards Credit Card for Office Supply Purchases
If you’re a small business owner or independent contractor, you may find yourself spending a lot of money at office supply stores like Staples or OfficeMax. You should be getting a little extra back for that.
Get 5% Back for Offices Supplies and More: SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card
The SimplyCash Plus Business credit card gives business owners the ability to earn 5 percent cash back at office supply stores and on cell phone bills. You’ll also get 3 percent back in another category of your choice. For a no-fee business card, you can score a ton of cashback rewards with this one.
Whichever rewards credit card you end up getting, make sure it works with your spending habits. There is no single ‘best card,’ there is only the best card for you. Pick one that will earn the most cash back or miles based on how you use your credit cards. And don’t forget that the rewards you earn need to be useful to you, too! Don’t get a miles card if you rarely travel.