Editor's note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.
The best rewards credit cards of 2021 include cash back, points and travel rewards. We cover all three in our list of the most rewarding card offers.

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 Most lists are outdated.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 Many, such as the lists from Consumer Reports, are outdated.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.

3. A lot of lists don’t include alternative strategies. You’re probably not going to get alternative strategies that can help you maximize your cashback. As a result, it’s important to plan ahead and look for complementary services, like Earny, that can work with virtually any credit card to help you take advantage of programs like price protection and help you boost your cashback. Read our Earny app review

Here, we’ll list our editor’s picks of the best overall rewards credit cards.

1. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 

Learn More See Rates & Fees

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 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem your Reward Dollars as a statement credit. For new card members, spend $3,000 on purchases within six months of account opening, and get a $150 statement credit. Plus, earn an additional 20% back on Amazon.com purchases (up to $200 back) for a total welcome bonus of $350. Terms Apply.

Plus, AMEX has also added a few new bonus categories; 6% cash back on select US streaming services (like Netflix, Hulu and others) and 3% cash back on ground transportation.

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.

2. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. These miles are worth $600 when used for travel if you hit the 60,000 mile bonus.

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. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card gives you 2% every time.

The annual fee for this card is $95.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is listed in the best-of lists on plenty of websites, and not without reason. Right now, it’s offering a great bonus: 100,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in your first three months after account opening.

On an ongoing basis, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 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 Unlimited, which offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.  Plus it now offers a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. The big benefit of this card vs. the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is that it has no annual fee so if you’re a lighter spender, you may earn more overall.

4. Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex 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 $200. 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 for 15 months. After this expires, the ongoing variable APR becomes 14.99% – 23.74% variable.

There is no annual fee to own the Chase Freedom Flex.

5. Brex 30 Card

If you want the opportunity to earn as much as 5% back in rewards without having to deal with rotating categories, the Brex 30 Card may be more your speed.

Unlike the other cards on this list, the Brex 30 Card is a business charge card. That means you need to own a small business to qualify. Your business must also have $50,000 in its bank accounts if the money is invested. Otherwise, the business must have $100,000 available.

If you can qualify, this card can be a great choice.

You can earn:

  • 7x points on rideshares
  • 4x points on flights and hotels through Brex Travel
  • 3x on dining
  • 1x on everything else

You can redeem points for cash back, gift cards, or travel. You can also transfer your points to airline loyalty programs.

On top of its rewards, the card offers useful tools to manage your company’s finances and thirty-day payment terms. Plus, it has no annual fee.

6. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card pays a solid 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The card also offers a one-time $200 bonus (after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening) and a 0% APR introductory offer on purchases for 15 months (everyday APR is 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable), with $0 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.

7. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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 $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first six months or card membership. Plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases (up to $150 back) for a total welcome bonus of $250. Terms Apply.

Also included with this card is a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. After this expires, there is an ongoing variable APR. There is no annual fee to own the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

8. Petal 2 Visa Credit Card

Are you worried a lack of credit history could make it hard to get a good rewards card? The Petal 2 Credit Card—issued by WebBank, Member FDIC— is here to help. Instead of relying solely on credit scores, Petal uses what they call a “Cash Score” to help make a decision on your application.

The “Cash Score” is determined by looking at your bank account. You link your account during the application process using a secure portal. Petal will look at your income and expenses to help determine if you qualify for the Petal 2 card.

If approved, the Petal 2 card is great to help you build credit while also earning cash back on purchases. The Petal app gives you access to your credit score as well as budgeting tools to make managing your spending easier. There are no fees of any kind with the card, including annual fees, foreign transaction fees, or late payment fees.

As for rewards, the Petal 2 card comes with 1% cash back to start. As you make your monthly payments on time for 12-months, this amount is increased to up to 1.5%. While this may not seem like a lot compared to other rewards cards, you’ll also get access to special offers from local Petal partners in the app. Special cash back offers from  select merchants could give you up to 10% cash back.

If you don’t want to pay fees for your card, earn cash back, and don’t have a lot of credit history, the Petal 2 card could be a great option.

For more information on Petal 2 read our review or click here

Related: Will Credit Card Rewards Soon Be ‘a La Carte’?

Author Bio

rob
Total Articles: 1074
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.

Article comments

6 comments
Gary C says:

For groceries, and restaurants I like the AMEX Gold card.

LilithG says:

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.

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).

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.

John P says:

Looks like a combo of the PenFed for gas (or Sam’s Club visa) for gas and American Express Blue Cash Preferred for groceries.