What’s the Best Rewards Credit Card for 2019?

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When you need to find the best rewards credit card,  for you may not have time to sift through dozens of card offers. Trying to make sense of how different rewards programs are structured and what the rates and fees are is daunting!

Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work of comparing the top credit card rewards programs to pinpoint those cards that offer spenders the most bang for their buck. If you need a new rewards credit card, here are the ones we think are the best for 2019.

And if you want to take a look at more, check out these rewards cards from our partners, click here.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual Fee: $95

If you’re looking for a travel credit card that offers premium rewards, we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card fits the bill and then some. The rewards program offers Cardmembers 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.

In our opinion, Chase offers some of the best new Cardmember bonuses. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently offers qualifying new Cardmembers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

You’ve got several ways to redeem the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You get 25% more value in travel redemption – what that means is more value redeeming your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, if you qualified for the 60,000 bonus points, that would be worth $750 toward travel when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Another option is to transfer your points on a 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs. Participating leading airline and hotel loyalty programs are subject to change.

Points can be also be redeemed for any available reward option, including cash, gift cards, products or services made available through the rewards program or directly from participating third party merchants, as well as redeemed for travel. Keep in mind that redemption values for reward options vary.

If you’re interested in this card, you need good to excellent credit to help you snag this card. However, the card issuers look at a variety of factors, and use a variety of different types of credit score models to help determine if you qualify for one of their cards. So, bottom line, having a credit score at a certain level does not guarantee you will be approved for a credit card, or approved for the terms you applied for – but having good to excellent credit is a step in the right direction.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an annual fee of $95.

Terms apply.

2. Chase Freedom®

Annual Fee: $0

We think the Chase Freedom® card is a great choice if you prefer earning cash back to points or miles. Chase Freedom® rewards can be broken down into bonus and non-bonus categories for purchases. Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

New Cardmembers who qualify earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Freedom® card has no annual fee, there is a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Terms apply.

3. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Frequent travelers will appreciate the no-muss, no-fuss approach the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers for earning travel rewards. With this card you earn 2X miles per dollar on every purchase. New Cardmembers who qualify enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

Your miles are applied as travel credit against your statement so you can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs.

This card does not offer an introductory promotional rate for balance transfers or purchases, so it may not appeal to those individuals looking for a 0% introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) deal. There are no foreign transaction fees, which can be a money saver on purchases made abroad for individuals who travel outside the United States on a regular basis. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that.

Terms apply.

4. Discover it® Cash Back

Annual Fee: $0

With Discover it® Cash Back earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. For purchases over the quarterly spending limit or any purchases outside the bonus categories, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

There is an introductory offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically, for new Cardmembers only. There’s no signing up and no limit to how much is matched. This can potentially add up to a generous bonus for heavy spenders.

This card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Terms apply.

Card Name:Rewards Structure:Bonus Offer/Special Offer:Annual Fee:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®$95 annual fee
Chase Freedom®Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.$0 annual fee
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardEarn 2X miles per dollar on every purchase.
Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
A one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel$0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Discover it® Cash BackEarn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.Cashback Match™
For an introductory offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically - for new cardmembers only. There's no signing up and no limit to how much is matched.
$0 annual fee
Terms apply

How to Choose the Right Rewards Card

To say “pick a card, any card” when it comes to rewards credit cards is to do yourself and your finances a disservice. Finding the right rewards card isn’t so much about learning more about the cards at your disposal, but knowing your financial tastes, spending habits and preferences. Ask yourself some of these questions:

Do you want to travel? Find a credit card that’s got an airline or hotel co-branding, or a card that emphasizes travel perks over other benefits. The points and miles you earn can go a long way toward future travel plans, airfare, hotel expenses and rental car fees. Some cards even offer other nifty perks and bonuses, like hotel stays on card anniversary dates.

Do you want to earn maximum cash back? Compare cards to see which provider offers the most cash back – but also keep an eye out for bonus spending categories or rotating categories where you frequently shop. Consider using the two best cards tailored to your spending habits to maximize the rewards you receive.

Do you want flexibility in rewards? If your shopping pursuits find you swiping your card for just about everything, look for a rewards card that gives better rewards (2%, two points or more instead of 1% or one point) for everyday spending in a wide variety of categories.

What are your normal spending habits? Where do you like to shop and what do you like to buy? The rewards card in your wallet may be the key to saving money instead of wasting it. If you’re devoted to any particular brand, find a co-branded card that favors that brand. Rewards cards with quarterly changing spending categories can also cater to your purchasing habits by offering rewards, points and cash back during certain times of the year.

Do you have an outstanding balance on one or more credit cards? Are you prone to carrying a balance on your cards? If so, we can’t stress enough the importance of paying down your amount owed, since high interest rates can keep you stuck in a cycle of debt. Furthermore, the interest you pay will always exceed the rewards you earn (unless you’ve snagged a zero percent introductory APR offer). A rewards card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers – like several on our list above – with responsible use by you can help you make headway faster in paying down your credit card debt. Plus, you still can earn rewards on new purchases.

Keep in mind that your credit score by itself does not guarantee or imply approval for any credit card offer, or that you will be approved for the terms you applied for. Credit card companies use a variety of different types of credit score models as well as other criteria to make credit decisions.

Getting a credit card is a personal decision so look for a card that best matches your needs, your preferences and your spending habits.


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Published March 14, 2016
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