Best Rewards Credit Cards

There are many kinds of rewards credit cards, but what we're featuring here are those that offer rewards points that can be redeemed for various benefits such as merchandise, gas, cash back, special events, free hotel accommodations and fine dining. But that's not all! Most of these rewards cards also come along with highly favorable terms such as no annual fees, 0% intro interest rates and low regular APRs. Please explore the list we have below to find the card that's a match for your needs.

1

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
None N/A N/A [You must pay your balance in full each month]
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175 N/A Excellent
See Terms for American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
2

Citi Forward® Card for College Students

apply
See Terms for Citi Forward® Card for College Students
3

USAA Rewards Visa®

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
None N/A 9.9%-25.9%
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
$0 Yes Excellent
See Terms for USAA Rewards Visa®
4

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® card

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
0% on transfers; 0% on purchases 12 billing cycles on transfers; 12 billing cycles on purchases 13.99% - 23.99%* (Variable)
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
$0 intro* for the first year, then $49* Yes Excellent Credit
See Terms for U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® card
5

CitiBusiness ThankYou℠ Card

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
0% 6 Months on Purchases 13.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
N/A Yes Excellent
See Terms for CitiBusiness ThankYou℠ Card
6

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
0% on transfers; 0% on purchases 12 billing cycles on transfers; 12 billing cycles on purchases 11.99% - 17.99%* (Variable)
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
$0 with $24,000 in purchases per year* Yes Excellent Credit
See Terms for U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card
7

USAA Rewards™ American Express®

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
None N/A 9.9%-25.9%
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
$0 Yes Excellent
See Terms for USAA Rewards™ American Express®
8

The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN

apply
Intro APR Intro Period Regular APR
None N/A N/A [You must pay your balance in full each month]
Annual Fee Balance Transfers Credit Needed
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175 N/A Excellent
See Terms for The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy January 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Many travel credit cards have annual fees. Should I use them or go with a general rewards card with no fees?

The Digerati Life February 2, 2012 at 7:03 am

@Jimmy,
Thanks for the question. There are certain credit cards worth using over others based on your lifestyle. It would depend on your travel habits and spending patterns. Typically, it may make better sense for the average traveler to use cash back credit cards (perhaps like a Discover credit card or American Express card) to get rewarded in cash, rather than to use specialty travel cards to build up points for mileage, hotel accommodations or other non-cash rewards. But you may find that travel cards may be fruitful under certain conditions. Some points to consider:

1. Last minute travel: Paying for last minute travel accommodations can be expensive. So if you’ve earned a free ticket or hotel stay using points, it can turn out to be the best value under these circumstances.

2. Bonus points? Some travel cards offer bonus points to card members on occasion. Extra points can be an incentive.

3. Flexible terms, conditions and transferable rewards: One complaint I have about travel cards is how limited they typically are with how you can use your earned points. But some cards like Starwood Preferred Guest (from American Express) allow you a lot of flexibility, giving you rooms for a good deal (using points) and allowing you to transfer points for airline ticket purchases.

4. Fees and charges.
Before using rewards credit cards, weigh their perks and rewards against their fees and charges. You’ll come out ahead if you know how to leverage them. If you can pay your monthly credit card in full and you find yourself using these cards frequently, these cards are a good option.

Just Heidi February 5, 2012 at 12:11 am

Scour the fine print for exclusions on rewards programs — you don’t want to book tickets for a trip only to have your plans fall through because your points aren’t up to par.

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Pros and Cons of Rewards Credit Cards

There’s nothing more exciting than getting something for nothing. That’s what makes having a loyalty rewards credit card so much fun to own. Not only do you get the benefit of using a line of credit to make purchases, you earn points for each dollar you spend, which you can redeem for a variety of things from gift cards to prepaid debit cards and much more. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too.

Most rewards credit cards require that the applicant have good to excellent credit. The standards for credit scores have been set by Fair Issac, which defines a good credit score as one that is above 750. An excellent score is one that’s above 780. Credit scores are a reflection of who you are and how seriously you take your financial obligations. They factor in such information as how much credit you have, whether or not you make your payments on time, and how much of your credit you are using. Credit card companies use your credit score to determine how much risk they take on by offering you a rewards credit card. The higher your credit score, the lower the risk, and the more likely the credit card company will be willing to open an account for you.

But good credit pays off. Not only does a loyalty rewards credit card give back, they also offer other perks such as:

  • Higher credit limits
  • Lower interest rates
  • Reduced fees

Some examples of the best credit card rewards programs include Citibank's ThankYou Points program, the Discover Rewards program, Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards program.

Rewards credit cards help you earn points by assigning a point value to each dollar you spend. In many cases, rewards cards are affiliated with certain industries or retail segments. In these cases, you are rewarded for each dollar you spend by allowing you to earn one point per dollar. The exception to this is when you use your card in specific establishments. In these cases you may actually amass more points: two, three and even five points for each dollar you spend, which nets you a greater number of rewards faster.

But, there is a catch. The rewards points you earn aren’t totally free. Balances on rewards credit cards must be paid each and every month, just like the balances on any other credit card. Missing payments on these cards or making late payments will not only damage your credit and lower your score, it will increase your interest rate and can even suspend your eligibility in the rewards program, negating the reasons for having a loyalty rewards credit card to begin with. It is imperative that you keep your rewards credit card in good standing in order to keep reaping the benefits of owning such a card.

As with any other credit product, it's important to make sure that the card you apply for will actually benefit you. Each rewards credit card product is designed differently and what is good for one consumer is not necessarily the best product for you. If you plan to transfer balances to your rewards card, make sure that the card has low balance transfer fees. If you plan to carry a balance, make sure that you are getting the lowest interest rate. But, if you plan to pay your balance in full every month, it may make sense to apply for a credit card that carries a higher interest rate in exchange for a more luxurious rewards structure.