7 Top Rewards Credit Cards of 2018

The best rewards credit cards of 2018 include cash back, points and travel rewards. We cover all three in our list of the most rewarding card offers.

best rewards credit cards

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 Most lists are outdated.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 Many, such as the lists from Consumer Reports, are outdated.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 seven 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 seven best rewards cards today (and seven bonus options):

1. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 

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The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 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 $200 statement credit.

The $95 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 12-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Learn more about this and similar credit card offers

2. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one I’ve carried for years. It has several excellent features. First, you can earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months from account opening. These miles are worth $500 when used for travel.

Second, you earn 2 miles for every dollar spent. Use these miles for travel, and this card offers a 2% rewards rate one every purchase. Many other travel rewards credit cards lure you in with the promise of 3x-5x rewards miles but that only applies to travel spending. This credit card gives you 2% every time.

There is no annual fee to own the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for the first year; $95 thereafter.

Learn more about this and similar rewards credit card offers

Bonus Rewards Offer

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Before we continue with our list, there’s one unique bonus offer to discuss. There’s one card that 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 $1,500 quarterly when activated.

On top of these rewards, this card will match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

This card has no annual fee, and the card offers 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Learn more about this card and how to apply here

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is listed in the best-of lists on plenty of websites, and not without reason. Right now, it’s offering a great bonus: 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in your first three months after account opening. You can add another 5,000 points by adding an authorized user and making a purchase in the first three 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, but that fee is waived for the first year. 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 Unlimited, which offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a similar $150 sign-up bonus. The big benefit of this card vs. the Sapphire Preferred is that it has no annual fee so if you’re a lighter spender, you may earn more overall.

4. Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom Visa is considered one of the best cash back rewards cards available today. After signing up and making just $500 in purchases during the first three months, you’ll receive a cool $150. This card offers 1% cash back on all purchases with 5% cash back on select categories each and every quarter. Those categories include things like gas, groceries and at department stores but there’s a slight catch. Only $1,500 can be spent per quarter in these categories before your cash back rate defaults to 1%. Cash back never expires, and there is no limit to what you can earn.

You’ll also receive a generous 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After this expires, the ongoing variable APR becomes 16.74% – 25.49% variable.

There is no annual fee to own the Chase Freedom.

5. Capital One® Quicksilver® Card – 0% Intro APR for 15 Months

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The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card pays a solid 1.5% on all purchases. The card also offers a one-time $150 bonus and a 0% APR introductory offer on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, with no annual fee.

Perhaps the biggest benefit for Capital One users is that no foreign transaction fees are charged. This means that when you use your and the merchant processes transactions in a different currency, you are not charged a fee. The transaction can be done in person or online; and Capital One will always handle the currency conversion free of charge.

Learn more about this and similar rewards cards here

6. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

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If you’re a frequent road traveler than there may be no better card than the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. You’ll earn 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. Double Starpoints are earned on all purchases made at Starwood locations and single Starpoints are earned for purchases on everything else. When you’re a Starwood rewards member, you’ll earn three additional Starpoints for each dollar spent at Starwood properties, meaning 5x points in total!

There are no foreign transaction fees charged on this card and Starwood points can be transferred to just about any other rewards program (airline or hotel).

There is a $95 annual fee to own the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express but it’s waived for the first year.

Learn more about this and similar rewards cards  

7. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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If you were scared away by the annual fee of our top card on this list, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is right up your alley. 3% cash back is earned at the grocery store (up to $6,000 spent annually), 2% back at gas stations and at department stores and 1% cash back spent on everything else.

New cardmembers will receive a $150 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

Also included with this card is a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After this expires, the ongoing variable APR becomes 14.24% – 25.24% variable.

There is no annual fee to own the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Learn more about this and similar rewards cards  
Topics: Credit Cards

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5 Responses to “7 Top Rewards Credit Cards of 2018”

  1. LilithG

    Per your excellent May 2015 updates, I wanted to suggest a Boglehead-approved card that has flown under the radar of many bloggers — namely, Barclaycard’s Sallie Mae MasterCard.

    With two kids headed to college — per your recent posts about college visits — it occurs to me that the SallieMae MasterCard might be especially handy for your family.

    I say this because the card not only offers 5% back on groceries and 3% back on gas (up to a monthly spend of $250 in each category), but also offers a student-friendly 5% back on all bookstores, including Amazon.com (**all purchases except for electronic downloads**) up to a monthly spend of $750. To round things out, the card offers an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases.

    Another student-friendly feature: the cashback that one earns in the categories above can not only be used to pay one’s balances via Barclaycard’s online interface, but can also be applied to principal or interest payments on one’s student loans or placed in one’s Sallie Mae UPromise account.

    I hasten to add that the card is not just for students and recent grads, as the love that the aforementioned Bogleheads — on whose online forum I first heard of the card — attests. As a 44 year-old college professor, I love the SMMC, which I pair with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred to ensure that virtually every dime I spend earns me money. Indeed, between groceries and my monthly Amazon.com purchases — which are considerable — I have found that the SMMC rivals the AEBCP for usefulness, not least because cashback points appear in one’s SMMC online dashboard within two days or so, versus within several **months** in the case of AEBCP.

    Forgive the long comment. I hope that this is helpful for you and your readers. Thanks again for your great blog.

  2. Credit Card Education

    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).

    • Gary C

      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.

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