18 Best Credit Cards for Points & Miles in 2018

18 Best Credit Cards for Points & Miles in 2018

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: May 24, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Besides the security and convenience, earning rewards is one of the driving reasons for using a credit card for everyday purchases. But which type of rewards are the best? Not only do you need to choose between cash back or points and miles, but within each category are dozens of credit cards from which to choose.

For those who like simplicity, cash back rewards are a common choice, offering basic earnings and easy redemption. But cash back isn’t for everyone. Many points and miles cards offer a much wider range of redemption options, from travel credit to merchandise to special events and exclusive experiences. And the ways you can earn those points are as various as the redemption options. No matter where your spending takes you, there’s likely a credit card perfect for earning points and miles rewards.

Travel | Business | Gas | Dining | Airline | Hotel

Best Credit Cards for “Travel” Points

As is human nature, we often want what we can’t have, and vacations are hardly exempt from this desire. When we have ice and snow, we dream of sunny beaches, and those with 80-degree winters fantasize about mountainside retreats. Luckily, whether you want to ski, surf, or simply nap, you can find a travel rewards credit card that will help you afford it.

In contrast to airline co-branded cards that award frequent flyer miles, travel rewards points cards allow you to redeem your points for credit toward travel expenses, such as airline tickets and hotel stays, as well as related purchases, including rental cars and bus fares. Even better, our favorite travel points credit cards won’t stick you with irritating blackout dates or brand restrictions.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • 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
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards for Travel Rewards

While these cards all allow you to redeem your travel points through the issuer for free travel, some may offer you the ability to improve your per-point value by transferring your points to an eligible airline or hotel partner, adding to your current stash of frequent flyer miles or hotel points.

Best Credit Cards for “Business” Points

A practical necessity for any small business owner, business credit cards get used for everything from employee lunches to merchandise orders — and all the expenses in-between. Yes, in many cases, your typical small business spends more on their trusty plastic pal in one month than a family will in six, making it downright illogical to forgo a rewards credit card for all those purchases.

Picking a points card for your business expenses will require you to take a look at where you’re really spending the most; then, choose the card that will reward you the most for those purchases. If your business goes through more paper than an origami contest, a card offering bonus rewards for office supply purchases is likely best. If your expenses don’t fit neatly into a category, try a card offering unlimited points on all purchases.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 22.74% Variable
$95
Excellent Credit

Similar to its consumer companions, the Ink Business Preferred earns the popular Ultimate Rewards points, which provide the best value when used for travel by transferring to one of Chase’s hotel or airline partners.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
  • Plus, a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account, and there are no categories to limit where or what you buy
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • There's no limit to the amount of miles you can earn
  • Redeem miles for travel, cash back, gift cards and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

Capital One miles can be redeemed for a variety of travel expenses, including hotels and airline flights, all without blackout dates or brand restrictions that might limit your ability to book a necessary business trip (or much-needed vacation from your business).

6. The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card lets you choose your main bonus points category so you can customize your earnings. Category options include airfare, advertising, gas, shipping, and computer services.

Amex Business Gold Rewards Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 in a category of your choice and 2X points per $1 in remaining four categories
  • Earn 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $175

While not technically a charge card, the Business Gold Rewards Card has no pre-set spending limit, with your available credit line varying depending on your payment history, credit record, and financial resources.

+See More Cards for Business Rewards

Best Credit Cards for “Gas” Points

While plenty of people who live in the city can get by just fine without a car (or a driver’s license, for that matter) once you leave the hustle and bustle of the big city, a vehicle can become a vital tool for both work — and life in general. And while gas prices have come down from the nearly $4 a gallon average it hit in 2013, it’s not likely to ever drop below $2 a gallon again.

With the right points credit card, you can help take the edge off your next fill up. Qualified applicants can find rewards points cards that offer multi-point bonuses for gas station purchases, plus additional bonus rewards in other popular categories, including things like grocery store and entertainment purchases. All of our top points cards also offer unlimited 1X point per $1 on all other purchases.

7. Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card gives users bonus rewards on gas station purchases on top of double points for restaurants and entertainment, including live concerts, sporting events, movie theaters, and on-demand streaming services.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

ThankYou Points can be redeemed for a variety of things, but generally offer the best value when redeemed for free flights through the ThankYou® Travel Center.

8. Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card not only offers bonus points for gas station purchases, but you’ll also earn triple points on grocery store purchases.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent at US gas stations
  • Pay $95 annual fee

Frequent swipers can earn more with their card by making at least 30 purchases with their card per billing period to earn 50% extra points on those purchases.

9. U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

The U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card offers triple points on restaurant purchases on top of its gas and airline purchase bonus rates.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

  • Earn 3X FlexPoints per $1 spent on eligible restaurant purchases made with your card
  • Earn 2X FlexPoints on airline and gas station purchases
  • Pay an $85 annual fee

The FlexPerks® Gold card also provides a number of travel benefits, including a statement credit for a TSA Precheck® or Global Entry application fee, a $25 airline fee allowance, and complimentary Boingo WiFi.

+See More Cards for Gas Rewards

Best Credit Cards for “Dining” Points

Whether you drive a car or take the subway, own a business or work for The Man, everyone, everywhere shares at least one key similarity: we all gotta eat. And while some of us eat out significantly more than others, most of us dine out at least once a week, to a tune of over $3,000 per year per household.

By charging those meals on a quality points rewards credit card, you can save on every breadstick and french fry. Plus, with the right card, you can earn multiple points per dollar spent on dining at your favorite restaurants, making it a little easier to enjoy your night out. Our top card picks even provide additional bonus points in other useful categories, like travel and entertainment purchases.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K 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®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Named a ‘Best Travel Credit Card for 2017’ by MONEY® Magazine
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$450
Excellent Credit

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit

For the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® cards, you’ll earn 3X or 2X points per $1 (respectively) for all dining purchases, which is defined by Chase as, “merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments.”

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer
  • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points on dining out and entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent

With the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, you’ll earn 2X points on dining purchases, including many fast food restaurants. Just be aware that this may not include establishments that primarily serve alcoholic beverages.

+See More Cards for Points Rewards

Best Credit Cards for “Airline” Points

While a general-purpose travel rewards card is the choice of many who don’t have a favorite airline, others, particularly frequent travelers, are more likely to have an airline loyalty account — and a growing balance of frequent flyer miles. Airline co-branded rewards credit cards can provide an easy way to earn frequent flyer points and miles that can be added to your stash for free flights with your favorite brand.

Regardless of how much you travel, however, a co-branded card might be a good addition to your wallet. In addition to frequent flyer points, these cards, including our favorites below, often offer branded benefits, such as free checked bags or lounge access, that can make any travel experience a better one.

13. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® allows cardholders to earn American Airlines AAdvantage points, as well as providing preferred boarding and your first checked bag for free.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

  • Earn 2X AAdvantage® miles per $1 on American Airlines, restaurant, and gas station purchases
  • Earn 1X AAdvantage® miles per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $99 each year after

As an added perk, redeeming your points can actually earn you more points, as you’ll receive bonus miles equal to 10% of your redeemed miles.

14. United MileagePlus Explorer Card

The United MileagePlus Explorer Card gives cardholders United miles on every purchase, plus preferred boarding and a free checked bag.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased from United, 1X on all other purchases
  • Get your first checked bag free on United-operated flights
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

To add to the perks, the United MileagePlus card also provides cardholders with two United Club lounge passes each anniversary year.

15. British Airways Visa Signature® Card

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card helps cardholders earn extra Avios points with every purchase, and offers automatic enrollment in the Executive Club for new members.

British Airways Visa Signature

  • Earn 3X Avios per $1 on British Airways purchases and 1X Avios on other eligible purchases
  • Receive a Travel Together Ticket for spending $30,000 in a year
  • Pay a $95 annual fee

The cost of rewards flights are based on the distance you fly, with short-distance trips (650 miles or less) starting at 4,000 Avios miles for off-peak travel dates.

Best Credit Cards for “Hotel” Points

Whether due to location, amenities, or the staff uniform, many travelers have a favorite hotel brand with which they stay whenever they’re away from home. To help encourage this behavior, most major hotel brands offer loyalty programs, similar to frequent flyer programs, that allow you to collect points redeemable toward free hotel stays.

With a hotel co-branded points credit card, you can not only earn hotel loyalty points faster by accruing them with every purchase, but you’ll also usually unlock additional perks and benefits, including cost-saving bonuses like room upgrades and free in-room WiFi. Some of our top picks also allow you to transfer hotel points to a partner airline to boost your bank of frequent flyer points.

16. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is one of the few hotel cards that offer bonus points for branded purchases as well as offering additional bonus categories. Cardholders also get guaranteed elite status and access to exclusive cardholder events.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 5X Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible Marriott or SPG purchases
  • Earn 2X Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, car rental agencies, and airlines
  • Earn 1X Marriott Rewards points on all other purchases

The Marriott Rewards Card also rewards you for your credit card loyalty, providing a free night at a Category 1 through 5 hotel each year after your account anniversary.

17. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express lets you earn Starpoints with every swipe, including bonus Starpoints for qualifying Starwood and Marriott purchases, as well as providing free in-room premium internet access.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2X Starpoints per dollar spent on eligible Starwood Preferred Guest® or Marriott purchases
  • Earn 1X on all other purchases
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $95 each year after

Besides redeeming your Starpoints at over 1,300 locations worldwide, you can also transfer your points to a variety of airline and hotel partners, usually at a one-to-one rate.

18. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card gives cardholders a quick way to collect Club Carlson Gold Points, plus new cardholders will receive Gold Elite Status after activation.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 10X Gold Points per $1 on Carlson Rezidor hotel purchases and 5X points on other eligible purchases
  • Receive 40,000 points each year when you renew your card
  • Pay a $75 annual fee

Your first card purchase will net you 50,000 Gold Points, and you’ll also earn an additional 35,000 points for spending $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days.

Point Your Spending in the Right Direction

With so many different shapes and sizes of credit card rewards programs available in the current card marketplace, the hardest part of earning rewards on every purchase is often choosing the right card. Even knowing you prefer the flexibility of points and miles only narrows down the decision a little bit, as you still have dozens of options from which to choose.

No matter what points card you wind up with, however, be sure to follow the basic rules of credit card rewards. First, always, always, always pay on time — credit damage from late payments can ruin any rewards experience. Additionally, try to avoid carrying a balance whenever possible, as interest fees can add up quickly, easily wiping out any savings you earned from redeeming your rewards.