The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

24 Best Credit Cards for Rewards in 2020

24 Best Credit Cards for Rewards in 2020

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: December 2, 2019
Advertiser Disclosure

Saving is awesome. And that’s not just an opinion. Studies have shown that coupons not only entice us to spend more and try new things but can actually decrease stress and just plain make us happier — as much as 11% happier, in fact.

That’s right, your dedication to a good deal may be due to a physiological love of savings. And that sentiment for savings is hardly limited to clipping coupons from the paper. Indeed, so many consumers have experienced the oxytocin-rich rewards of a good deal that everyone from airlines to the local zoo offers coupons and rebates to entice new customers.

Despite the discount ubiquity, however, one of the most universal of all deals is still that of the credit card rewards program. Like a rebate you can use on just about anything, credit card rewards offer nearly endless opportunities to de-stress with a great deal. In the article below, we’ll explore some of our choices for the best credit cards for rewards. These days, there is something for everyone — whether you’re looking for cards geared toward cash back, travel rewards, or students.

Cash Back | Points | Travel | Balance Transfers |
Students | Business | Fair Credit | Bad Credit

Best Credit Cards for “Cash Back” Rewards

If there is one thing that most people can likely agree on, it’s that cash is good — and more cash is better. Cash back credit card rewards put more cash in your pocket by giving you back a portion of your purchases in the form of rewards that can be redeemed for a statement credit or deposited into a qualifying bank account.

Nearly every cash back credit card will offer a low unlimited cash back rate for every purchase you make with your card, typically between 1% and 2% cash back. Many cash back cards will also offer bonus cash back rates for purchases made in specific categories, such as gas station or restaurant purchases. Start your search with our favorite cash back cards, which includes both program types.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards for Cash Back Rewards

For those who spend a lot in a common category, cash back bonus categories can be extremely lucrative, but be careful not to overspend just for the rewards. Additionally, many cards have purchasing caps for bonus categories, meaning you’ll only earn bonus rewards on category purchases up to a specified amount, after which purchases will earn rewards at the default unlimited rate.

Best Credit Cards for “Points” Rewards

Of all the credit card rewards, points are generally the most flexible, offering redemption options that include those of cash back rewards — i.e., a statement credit or bank deposit — as well a range of other options, like travel expenses, merchandise, or special events or experiences.

As with cash back rewards, most rewards points credit cards will provide an unlimited flat rate on all purchases, typically 1X point per $1, as well as offering bonus points on purchases made in specific categories. The top points cards on our list include lucrative bonus categories like travel, dining, and restaurants.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • 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®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.8

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 unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards for Points Rewards

Besides the direct redemption options offered by the credit card issuer, a common way to maximize the per-point value of rewards points is to transfer them to a partnering airline or hotel loyalty program. This turns your rewards points into frequent flyer or hotel points that can be pooled with your existing loyalty program points to purchase flights or hotel stays.

Best Credit Cards for “Travel” Rewards

As evidenced by just about every online dating profile ever, we all love to travel — but few of us like to pay for it. Travel rewards credit cards allow you to earn points or miles that you can redeem for a variety of travel-related expenses, including using your rewards to book flights, hotel stays, and rental cars.

Similar to other credit card rewards, most travel rewards credit cards allow you to earn unlimited, flat-rate points or miles on every purchase, and a variety of cards also offer bonus points or miles for purchases in specified categories. Many of the travel rewards cards on our list provide blackout-free travel redemption without limiting you to specific airlines or hotel brands.

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 unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • 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®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards for Travel Rewards

When comparing travel rewards cards, an important thing to look out for, especially if you intend to travel abroad, are cards that charge foreign transaction fees. Typically ranging from 2% to 4% of your purchase amount, foreign transaction fees are charged whenever you make a credit card purchase in a foreign currency and can add up quickly.

Best Credit Cards for “Balance Transfers” and Rewards

A successful credit card balance transfer can be a great way to reduce your monthly interest fees by transferring your balance from a card with a high APR to one with a lower APR. This is particularly effective when you take advantage of a balance transfer introductory 0% APR offer, which can provide interest-free balance transfers for 12 months or more.

While you won’t actually earn any rewards on the balance you transfer to your rewards card, you can earn rewards on any new purchases made with your card. What’s more, many great introductory APR offers — including our favorites below — will apply to both new purchases as well as balance transfers, so you won’t be charged interest on those rewards-reaping new purchases during the introductory period.

10

Discover it® Balance Transfer

This card is currently not available.

0% Balance Transfer Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
12

Discover it® chrome

This card is currently not available.

0% Balance Transfer Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

+See More Cards for Balance Transfers

If you’re looking at taking advantage of an introductory APR offer to save on both new purchases and balance transfers, be sure to read the terms of the offer carefully. While many offers will have the same terms for both new purchases and balance transfers, some intro-APR offers will have different rates or lengths depending on the type of transaction.

Best Credit Cards for “Student” Rewards

As a student, it can seem as though the credit card odds are stacked against you. Not only do you probably suffer from a stunted (or nonexistent) credit history, but your income level is likely not particularly exceptional, either. All is not lost, however. You can use a student credit card to establish and/or build your credit history — and earn rewards while you do so.

Indeed, while not as sought-after an applicant as someone with a well-established credit history, the rewards options for students are still quite competitive, with cards offering both unlimited flat-rate rewards, as well as some options for bonus category rewards, as well. Our list includes both types of rewards cards, none of which will charge you an annual fee.

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

+See More Cards for Student Rewards

When considering applying for a credit card as a student, you should be aware that certain requirements will need to be met if you are under the age of 21. Specifically, the CARD Act of 2009 requires that credit card applicants between the ages of 18 and 21 must either have a parental cosigner on the account or be able to demonstrate a reasonable level of independent income to qualify for their own card.

Best Credit Cards for “Business” Rewards

Whether your business has one employee or 100, every business has something in common: expenses. From pens and paper to internet service and web hosting, even a digital small business can have its share of expenses, and bricks-and-mortar businesses only have it worse. Which means it’s probably safe to say that many business owners experience the same physiological joy in saving a few bucks as do the rest of us.

For many business owners, a business credit card is a must-have tool to keep the business going, but a good rewards credit card can be more than that — it can also be a tool for saving money. Not only do most business rewards cards provide unlimited flat-rate rewards, but many also offer business-centric bonus categories to reward you for the things you buy most. Check out our top picks to start your search.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
14.74% - 20.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed 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
17.49% - 22.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards for Business Rewards

One of the best things about obtaining a credit card for your business is that a credit card account can help you establish and build a business credit profile, which is separate from your personal credit reports and scores. Your business will need an established business credit profile to qualify for many credit products, including many business loans.

Best Credit Cards for “Fair Credit” Rewards

To paraphrase the old saying, building credit isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. In general, it can take up to six months to even establish enough history to qualify for a credit score, and twice that long to reach a good to excellent score. At the same time, it can take just 30 days to have a late payment turn delinquent and drop that good score like a meteor.

No matter how you got your fair credit score, whether you’re just starting out or recovering from a hiccup or two, you can often still find good quality credit cards — even ones offering purchase rewards. While fair-credit rewards cards may have an annual fee, including some of our cards below, if you spend enough with the card each year you can often earn enough rewards to cover the fee (and then some).

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
21

Discover it® Student Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Fair Credit Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

+See More Cards for Fair Credit

Since your payment history is the biggest portion of your credit score, it can tank your score the easiest. While missing a card payment by a day or two won’t result in a payment being reported to the bureaus as delinquent, anything more than 30-days late will be reported. Setting up automated payments can be an effective way to ensure your credit card bill is always paid on time.

Best Credit Cards for “Bad Credit” Rewards

Having bad credit can be a financial bummer. Not only is it significantly harder to qualify for new credit, but the quality of that credit — including the rates, fees, and credit limits — often leaves much to be desired. But while it can be a challenge to rebuild your credit after a few missteps, it is hardly impossible. In fact, you may even earn rewards while you rebuild.

You shouldn’t expect bad-credit rewards cards to provide a high earnings rate, but several options exist for obtaining at least an unlimited 1% cash back on your purchases. You can even find some cards (mostly secured cards) that provide bonus cash back categories, though they likely have spending caps. Compare some of expert-rated rewards cards for bad credit below.

22

Discover it® Secured

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
23

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
24

Credit One Bank® Visa® with Free Credit Score Tracking

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

+See More Cards for Bad Credit

While cards for those with bad credit tend to have very flexible credit score requirements, remember that you aren’t guaranteed acceptance. Certain types of derogatory credit marks may be deal breakers for some issuers. For example, you are unlikely to find new credit if you have a pending bankruptcy filing that has not yet been discharged by the court.

Turn Everyday Errands into Rewarding Experiences

Whether you like to shop online, in stores, or merely as little as possible, it turns out most shoppers share a biological love of savings. But you may not need to clip coupons or print promo codes to get that same warm-and-fuzzy oxytocin boost of savings delight; your favorite rewards credit card can likely offer nearly universal savings on anything you purchase with plastic.