The 5 Best Rewards Credit Cards – May 2015

More than ever before, credit card companies are throwing cash, points, and miles at consumers to entice them to sign up for new credit cards. We’re talking bonuses worth hundreds of dollars just for signing up for a new credit card. Many of these cards don’t even have an annual fee!

Here are a couple of things to note about finding the best rewards credit cards:

1. Most lists are outdated. Be careful which lists you’re looking at when it comes to rewards credit cards. Many, such as the lists from Consumer Reports, are outdated. Those cards have long been replaced with even better offers.

2. Many lists leave out the best cards. Of course, it’s not practical to list every one of the thousands of great credit card options out there. But here, we’re really trying to distill it down to the best offers at the time of this writing.

Here, we’ll list our editor’s picks of the top five best overall rewards credit cards. If you’re interested in cards within a certain category, check out our specific lists. Otherwise, this is just the top five best rewards cards today (and five bonus options):

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred CardThis card is listed in the best-of lists on plenty of websites, and not without reason. Right now, it’s offering a great bonus: 40,000 bonus points ($500 worth of travel rewards) for spending $4,000 in your first 3 months after account opening. You can add another 5,000 points by adding an authorized user and making a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.

On an ongoing basis, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers 2 point per $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other categories.

Other perks include 20% off travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and a 1:1 point transfer program. This lets you transfer your Chase points into other travel rewards programs, which can let you leverage your rewards more easily.

The card also offers no foreign transaction fees, and it’s chip enabled for more security and worldwide acceptance.

The main drawback to this card is that it has a $95 annual fee. If you don’t spend enough money on the card to out-earn that $95, then this card may not be worth your while. But if you want to reap excellent rewards on everyday spending, then this could be the rewards card for you.

Another Option: Another option is the Chase Freedom®, which offers unlimited 1% cash back, plus 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases on rotating categories each quarter. It has no annual fee, and you may be able to get this card with slightly lower credit. The lowest approved score for the Chase Freedom® is 585, whereas the lowest approved score for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is 627.

2. Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

barclaycard arrival plus world mastercard - Google Search.clipularThis card offers excellent travel benefits, including a huge bonus points offer. It gives you 2 miles per $1 spent on any purchase, without messing around with rotating categories. If you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card ownership, you’ll get 40,000 bonus miles – worth $400 in travel credits.

Barclaycard makes it easy to redeem travel rewards for what you want to use them for. Just book your travel online or in person through your card. Then, redeem your accrued miles for a statement credit.

As another bonus, this card offers a 0% introductory APR for 12 months on any balance transfer made within 45 days of opening your account. APR after that is 15.99% to 19.99%, variable.

Unfortunately, this card has an $89 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. So that’s slightly less than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but still a hefty fee. Still, if you use it for most of your spending throughout the year, you’ll well out-earn that fee.

Another Option: Barclaycard offers a similar option with no annual fee. The Barclaycard ArrivalTM World Mastercard® offers 2 miles per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else. When you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of card ownership, you can get 20,000 bonus miles. This card, also offers 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening your account. The average approved credit score for this card is around 720, while it’s around 745 for the Arrival Plus.

3. Discover it®

The Discover it® line of cards has a lot to offer – including options. You can get a cash back card, a student card, or a miles card. Here, we’ll focus on the cash back card, one of Discover’s most popular options at the moment.

The Discover it® card offers 1% cash back on all purchases everyday, and there’s no limit to the rewards you can accrue. Then, it offers bonus cash back of 5% in rotating categories, up to the quarterly maximum. For instance, right now, card holders can get 5% cash back at gas stations and on ground transport.

Discover makes it easy to redeem your rewards, since you can cash in any amount at any given time. You can use the rewards for a statement credit, a deposit to your bank account, or use them to pay at Amazon.com.

This card has no annual fee, and it offers 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, your rate will go to 10.99% to 22.99%, and it has a 3% balance transfer fee. This is a good card for average to high credit, with the average approved score at 675.

Another Option: The Discover it® miles card offers 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases, and double your miles after the first year of use. Miles are easy to cash in, and there are no black-out dates or added redemption fees.

4. Citi Double Cash® Card

citi double cash The Citi Double Cash® card is an interesting option. It offers cash back two times – once when you buy and once when you pay. So you get unlimited 1% cash back on all of your purchases. Then, as you pay off purchases, you get an additional 1% cash back. As long as you pay your minimum due, you can earn that second 1% cash back.

With no categories or caps to worry about, this is an easy card to use. Just spend, and then pay off your purchases on time. If you’re a little late once time, you get a free pass, too.

This card has no annual fee, and it has a great introductory APR offer right now. You can get 0% APR for the first 15 months on balance transfers and purchases. The balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3%. After the introductory period, the APR will go to 12.99% to 22.99%.

Another Option: The Citi ThankYou Premier® card is for those with excellent credit. It offers 3 points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment, 2 points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels, and travel agencies, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases. You could earn up to 50,000 bonus points, too. The major drawback is a steep $125 annual fee.

5. American Express Blue Cash Preferred®

Amex Blue Cash PreferredThe Blue Cash Preferred card is an excellent way to earn cash back on your everyday expenses. In fact, unlike most cards weighted more towards dining, entertainment, and travel, this one is weighted towards gas and groceries.

With this card, you’ll get 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in supermarket purchases, 3% cash back at US gas stations and department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem your Reward Dollars as a statement credit. For new card members, spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, and get a $150 statement credit.

The $75 annual fee for this card isn’t fun to pay, but it’s definitely not the worst option among high-rewards cash back cards. It also offers a 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. After that, you’ll have a 12.99% to 21.99% variable APR.

Another Option: The Blue Cash Everyday® is the no annual fee version of the Blue Cash Preferred®. It offers 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in annual supermarket purchases, 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can get a $100 statement credit by spending $1,000 in the first three months of opening your account. Credit requirements for the two cards are quite similar, so it’s really all about whether or not you’ll spend enough to balance out the Preferred® card’s annual fee.

Published or Updated: May 4, 2015
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. k says:

    thanks for these tips and this webpage. i used it to find a good credit card and so far the chase card has worked out fine. thanks!

    • Gary C says:

      PenFed Pentagon Federal Credit Union has the best Reward card. Fuel 5%, Groceries 3%, and 1% everything else. It is easy to join if you’ve ever been in the military, or worked for the Federal government. I haven’t checked in a while, but it might also be open if you have worked for a state, county, or city government.

  2. Credit Card Education says:

    I completely agree with the assessment about the Starwood Card — it’s one of my favorite rewards cards too because you can really stay at a range of hotel levels and the sign-up bonus is pretty nice. My wife and I stayed at a level 1 hotel for two nights for a wedding and it cost us very few points. Going forward we’re hoarding points to help subsidize the cost of our dream vacation to Bora Bora as there is a sweet spot in the Starwood network, although sadly that will be about 10 years worth of points because we’re trying to have it pay for the whole trip (air/hotel).

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