How are the best reward credit cards selected?
WalletHub’s best rewards credit cards offer the most overall value, with fees taken into account, in their respective creditworthiness categories. We identified the top offers by projecting the two-year earnings for each card, based on the average person’s spending habits
. We used a two-year timeframe to account for offers with either a big initial bonus and little ongoing value or an annual fee that’s waived for the first year.
This approach led us from 1,000+ offers to the eight best credit cards with rewards right now. Here are the winners:
2017’s Best Rewards Credit Cards – Editors’ Picks
For more great offers, check out WalletHub’s picks for the best cash back credit cards
and the best travel rewards cards
. And if you’re mainly in the market for a hefty initial rewards bonus, make sure to review our up-to-date list of the best credit card deals
What is the correlation between credit standing and rewards credit cards?
Whether your credit is excellent, bad or somewhere in between, you may be able to find a rewards credit card that will approve you. But the better your credit standing is, the more options you’ll have and the more attractive their terms will be. For example, the market’s best overall rewards cards are generally available only to people with good or excellent credit.
On the flip side, the lower your credit score is, the more important low fees will become relative to rewards. You’ll be unlikely to get approved for a high spending limit, after all, making it difficult to earn enough rewards to offset any annual fee your card may charge. And rewards cards for people with fair or bad credit do tend to charge annual fees. As a result, if you don’t yet have good credit, your top priority should be finding a no annual fee credit card
that will approve you, rather than worrying about rewards.
If you don’t know where your credit currently stands, you can find out by checking your latest credit score for free on WalletHub
How do I know what kind of rewards to get?
Rewards credit cards come in all shapes and sizes, offering different rewards currencies (i.e. points, miles or cash back) at different earning rates, which often vary based on the types of purchases you make and how much you spend. And since even the best credit card rewards won't do you much good if they're practically difficult to earn and redeem, you need to consider how well each offer complements your lifestyle and personal preferences.
More specifically, your goal should be to find the card that will allow you to benefit the most, both in terms of how much you earn and how frequently you're able to cash in. For example, an airline's credit card might offer great rewards, but if you never leave town or don't always fly with that airline, you will neither earn as much as you would with a standard cash back credit card, nor be able to redeem often enough to actually enjoy any perks you do receive.
As a result, your first step (after checking your credit score
) should be to pinpoint your biggest monthly spending expenses (e.g. travel, gas, groceries). Next, decide whether to use this card for all of your everyday expenses or just for earning rewards on certain types of purchases. This will allow you to narrow down your options to the offers with particularly good rewards in the categories that matter to you.
After that, calculate the dollar value of each card's rewards, based on the purchases you plan to use it for. This will make it easier to do an apples-to-apples comparison of each offer. Finally, ask yourself how much hassle the most rewarding offer will add to your daily life. Jumping through hoops just to earn a few extra dollars in rewards might not be worthwhile, after all.
With all of that being said, there's also a far easier way to find the best rewards credit card for your needs. Just sign up for a free WalletHub account
, and we'll give you a personalized recommendation based on your latest credit score and your desired features.
Can I have more than one rewards credit card?
There is no rule against having more than one rewards credit card. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to maximize your earnings. No credit card is perfect, after all, which means you won’t find a single rewards credit card that gives you the highest earning rate on every purchase that you make. But you can assemble a collection of cards, each of which excels for a certain type of transaction. For example, you could have a gas rewards card
for filling up your tank, a cash back card
for groceries and other everyday expenses, a travel rewards card
for airfare and hotel reservations, and a store card
or two for purchases at your favorite retailers.
This strategy is called the Island Approach
, and it can be applied to financing as well as rewards. For instance, you could have one rewards card for everyday purchases that you can pay in full within a single billing period, a card offering 0% on new purchases
for big-ticket buys that will take a while to repay, and a 0% balance transfer card
for reducing the cost of existing debt.
The Island Approach isn’t for everyone, though. And that is why your decision about using more than one rewards card should ultimately come down to personal preference and your credit performance to date. If you don’t feel comfortable managing more than one credit card account at a time or you’ve found yourself missing payments and making other mistakes with just a single card, you’re probably better off not adding more plastic to the mix.
What are points on a credit card?
Points on a credit card are a rewards currency, like miles and cash back. Points credit cards, many of which are affiliated with hotel chains and airlines, reward you with a certain number of points for each dollar that you spend, usually depending on the types of purchases you make. For example, you might get 1 point per $1 spent on most purchases, except for airfare or hotel reservations, which could yield at least twice as many points.
These points are then redeemable for airfare, hotel reservations, gift cards, statement credits and more. Credit card points are generally worth about a penny apiece, but the value varies from card to card.
Where can I get cash back on a credit card?
Cash back credit cards reward you for every purchase that you make. So if you have a Visa or a MasterCard, you can get cash back at any merchant that accepts Visa or MasterCard. And if you have a store credit card, you can get cash back at whichever retailer your card is affiliated with. If your card’s rewards come in the form of points or miles, you can also redeem them for cash – whether in the form of a check or a statement credit – though you might sacrifice some value by doing so.
The only other way to get cash back on a credit card is by performing a cash advance. But doing so is a bad idea, as you will have to pay a hefty fee and interest will immediately begin to accrue at a high rate.
If you’re interested in earning cash rewards, you can check out WalletHub’s editors’ picks for the best cash back credit cards, here: https://wallethub.com/best-cash-back-credit-card/
How do I find the best credit card for me?
The key to finding the best rewards credit card for your needs is to convert everything into dollar terms. Calculate how much you are likely to earn per year with each card, based on your actual spending and payment habits, and pick whichever figures to be most lucrative. Or you can just sign up for a free WalletHub account
to get a personalized recommendation based on your credit standing and financial priorities.