The best rewards credit cards for 2020
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
We buy things almost every day, so why not make the most of these expenses with a travel rewards card? You can earn cash back with one of the top cards for cash back, or you can receive points or miles that can be redeemed for travel-related items like airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals and more.
There are a number of different credit cards out there, though, which can make it difficult to find the best one(s) for your situation. We’ve done the research and narrowed it down to 10 of the best rewards credit cards for those looking for cash back, miles for a specific loyalty program or flexible points currencies that can be redeemed at various places.
Best rewards credit cards for 2020
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for beginners to rewards travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for frequent travelers
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card: Best for international travel
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for earning dining and travel rewards
- American Express® Green Card: Best for general travel purchases
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for ease of redeeming rewards
- Chase Freedom: Best for rotating bonus categories
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for business owners who travel (now with an increased welcome offer!)
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for no annual fee
- Bank of America® Premium® Rewards credit card: Best for Bank of America Preferred Rewards program members
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best for gas station rewards
Comparing the best rewards credit cards
|Credit Card||Rewards Type||Intro bonus offer||Annual fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Transferable points||60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||$95|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||Transferable points||100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Transferable points||50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||$550|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card||Transferable points||Earn 75,000 bonus points you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. ||$95|
|American Express® Gold Card||Transferable points||60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.||$250 (see rates & fees)|
|American Express® Green Card||Transferable points||30,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $2,000 on purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of account opening. Terms apply.||$150 (see rates & fees)|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Transferable miles||100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.||$95|
|Chase Freedom®||Cash back||$200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||$0|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Cash back||N/A||$0|
|Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ credit card||Travel credits or cash back||50,000 bonus points after you spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||$95|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card||Travel credits or cash back||20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of card opening||$0|
Best rewards credit cards
Best for beginners to rewards travel
Current welcome bonus
When you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s worth at least $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
This card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are incredibly flexible and valuable. Not only can you redeem them easily on things like gift cards and cash back, but you can get even more value by redeeming them on travel.
This is especially true when you transfer the points to any of Chase’s travel partners for hotels or airfare. You can check out our Chase Ultimate Rewards review and also our guide on the value of Chase points.
On top of the card’s welcome bonus, you’ll earn:
- 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants
- 1x point on all other purchases
The card also carries a ton of other perks like primary rental car insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement and more. You can read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s benefits and perks here.
There’s a reason we here at Million Mile Secrets have consistently touted this card as the best card for beginners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn and redeem and can be extremely valuable once you get to know the best ways to use them (usually by transferring to any of Chase’s travel partners).
You can read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred to learn how you can get over $750 worth of travel from the welcome bonus.
Compared to many other more premium travel cards, the $95 annual fee is quite manageable, especially considering the $750 value of the welcome bonus, the ongoing earnings rate for your purchases and how much you could save if you ever needed to use the card’s travel protections like trip delay insurance or primary rental car coverage.
Best card for frequent travelers
As a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmember, you can earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
This card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which you can transfer to any Chase travel partner to maximize their value. Airline travel partners include:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Hotel travel partners include:
To give you an idea of how much Chase points can be worth, I stayed at the Park Hyatt New York earlier this year for three nights. The cash price was $3,000, but I paid nothing by redeeming 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead.
This is a top premium travel card, so it comes packed with perks. You’ll get a $300 statement credit for travel purchases each account anniversary year, a statement credit for up to $100 for Global Entry, plus Priority Pass airport lounge access and more.
You’ll also earn 3x points on travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases worldwide.
You can read more about what the card offers in our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Although the card carries a $550 annual fee, you can think of it effectively as $250 because of the $300 statement credit for travel purchases you’ll receive each account anniversary year. The welcome bonus is also worth at least $750 if redeemed through the Chase travel portal. And if getting through airport security more quickly and with less hassle is your thing, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll also receive a statement credit for up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Then there are the intangibles like having airport lounge access so that you can have a place to relax before your flight, which is hard to put a price tag on sometimes.
Between the card’s welcome bonus, statement credit for Global Entry and the annual statement travel credit, you can easily get over $1,000 of value from this card.
Best for international travel
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless comes with 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
You can transfer Marriott points to 40+ airline partners, including perennial favorites like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and ANA. Transferring to airlines can be one of the best ways to use Marriott points.
Million Mile Secrets team member Jason got this card when it had a 100,000-point bonus (offer no longer available) and converted some of those points into Alaska Airlines miles (to book Qantas flights) because Marriott is the only major flexible points program that transfers to Alaska Airlines.
Perks of being a Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cardholder include a free-night certificate each year on your card anniversary that’s valid at participating Marriott hotels that cost up to 35,000 points per night, automatic Silver elite status, 15 elite-night credits every year you keep the card and more. You can read our in-depth review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless benefits and perks here.
On top of the welcome bonus, you can get plenty of value from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless by making the most of the free-night award at participating Marriott hotels (up to 35,000 points per night). That can more than offset the $95 annual fee.
Plus, you’ll find Marriott hotels all over the world, which means you won’t have any problem using the rewards you earn from this card.
You’ll find our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card here.
Best card for earning dining and travel rewards
You can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening when you apply for the Amex Gold Card.
This is a fantastic card for those who travel and eat out frequently. For starters, the Amex Gold earns flexible Membership Rewards points which can be transferred to any Amex travel partners, which include a number of airlines and hotels. And if you eat out often, you can quickly rack up rewards for your next trip thanks to the card’s strong earnings rate for purchases made at restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and on travel.
When you use your card for your daily purchases, you’ll earn:
- 4x Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants
- 4x Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
- 3x Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
- Terms apply
You’ll also get the below benefit and perk (terms apply):
- Dining credit of up to $120 ($10 monthly) each year at participating restaurants (enrollment required)
Although the card carries an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees), it’s effectively just $130 for those who eat frequently. That’s because the card’s dining credit offers a value of $120 right off the bat. When you factor in the welcome bonus and strong daily earning rate, it’s definitely worth the annual fee for those who take advantage of what the card has to offer.
Amex Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for at least 1 cent per point, making this card’s welcome bonus worth at least $600. But it can be worth much more if transferred to an Amex travel partner.
You can read our full review of the American Express® Gold Card here.
Best card for general travel purchases
Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases on the card in the first three months.
For anyone who eats out and travels, this card is definitely worth a look. You’ll earn 3x Amex Membership Rewards points on travel and restaurant purchases worldwide, along with a few handy perks, like statement credits for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy.
The Amex Green offers two unique perks that few other cards are currently offering. Each year, you can receive a statement credit of up to $100 when you use your card to pay for a CLEAR membership. CLEAR is one of the programs that can help you speed through security more quickly. Read our review of CLEAR here.
You’ll also receive up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits per year, if airport lounge access floats your boat.
If you plan on taking advantage of the card’s perks, you can easily come out ahead and make the $150 annual fee (see rates and fees) worth it. Here is our take on who should (and shouldn’t) get the Amex Green card.
The welcome bonus is worth at least $300 (and possibly more if you transfer to any of Amex’s travel partners). You also receive $100 in statement credit for CLEAR, and up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits.
All in all, you’re getting much more than the card’s annual fee. If you plan on taking advantage of the card’s perks, it’s well worth it to add to your wallet. You can read our Amex Green card review here.
Best for ease of redeeming rewards
With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, for a limited time, you can earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardmembers will be able to earn the following:
- 2x Venture miles per $1 spent on all purchases
- A statement credit of up to a $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
- No foreign transaction fees
You’ll also be protected with additional purchase and travel protections like travel accident insurance and lost luggage insurance. You can read the full details in our review of the Capital One Venture Rewards card as well as our Capital One Venture benefits and perks guide.
Earning and redeeming rewards doesn’t get much simpler than with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. After you make a travel-related purchase, you can log into your online account and “erase” the travel expense by redeeming your miles.
Right out of the box, you can see a value of at least $1,100 between the card’s welcome bonus (worth at least $1,000) and the statement credit of up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Best for rotating bonus categories
With the Chase Freedom, you can earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
If you have other Chase cards, you can pool Chase Ultimate Rewards points so that you can get more value from them. For instance, if you transfer the points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, they’ll be worth as much as 50% more when redeemed through the Chase travel portal or you can transfer them to travel partners like United or Hyatt.
As a Chase Freedom cardholder, you’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. All other purchases will earn an unlimited 1% cash back.
With rotating bonus categories that change on a quarterly basis each year, you’re bound to find at least a few months out of the year when you can earn a whopping 5% cash back on purchases you’d be making anyway. And because the card carries no annual fee, it won’t cost you anything to keep in your wallet.
The welcome bonus is worth at least $150, and because you’ll earn these in the form of Ultimate Rewards points you could potentially get even more value if you combine it with another Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Best for business owners who travel
With the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you’ll earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months of account opening.
If you’re a business owner and rent cars or travel frequently, you can definitely save a lot of time and hassle with the primary rental car insurance that is baked into the card.
When you rent a car for business purposes and decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) through the car rental agency, you generally won’t have to file a claim with your own personal insurance if the vehicle ends up being damaged. Instead, you can simply file a claim through Chase and you should see a reimbursement check in the mail in just a matter of weeks.
If you’re a business owner, I’m sure it seems like the expenses never stop. So why not get something back for these expenses?
With the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you’ll earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year). You’ll also receive valuable cellphone insurance if you pay your cellular bill with the card.
The great thing is that Chase’s definition of travel is very broad and includes a ton of things you might not have thought would qualify. For instance:
- Amtrak or European rail travel
- Bridges and tolls
- Bus fares with Megabus or BoltBus
- Campground reservations at KOA and others
- Car rentals (plus primary auto rental insurance when renting for business purposes)
- Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline reservations
- Ferry rides
- Lyft and Uber rides
- Monthly mass transit card
- National Park admission fees
- Parking at a stadium or concert venue
- Renting a public bicycle from services like Citi Bike in New York City
- Zipcar rentals
You can read our Chase Ink Business Preferred review for more.
If you travel as a small-business owner, this card could go a long way toward helping with your expenses. You can save tons of money by redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel instead of paying out of pocket. And with perks like primary rental-car coverage and cellphone insurance for you and any employees listed on your cellphone bill, you could turn an accident into a mere inconvenience.
All that for a very reasonable annual fee.
The value of the welcome bonus alone is at least $800. If you decide to redeem through the Chase travel portal, that value goes up to $1,000. And if you ever have to use the card’s cellphone insurance or primary rental-car coverage, that could easily save you still more from an expensive repair bill.
Best card for no annual fee
You can squeeze even more value from the rewards you earn on this card by converting them to ThankYou points and redeeming through any of Citi’s transfer partners. You’ll need a linked ThankYou rewards account to do so, but it does add flexibility and value to the card.
With the Citi Double Cash card, you can earn 2% on every purchase – 1% when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for the purchases. As with any other credit card, make sure you make your payments on time.
Here is our full review of the Citi Double Cash Card.
Cards with no annual fee don’t cost you anything to hang onto year after year. This card offers simplicity and flexibility. You can use it like a straight cash-back card, earning 1% on your purchases plus an additional 1% when you pay for them. You can also link it to a ThankYou rewards account and potentially get even more value by transferring your points to Citi’s travel partners.
The card isn’t currently offering any welcome bonus, but it’s also not charging any annual fee, so you’ll come out ahead with your very first purchase.
Best card for Bank of America Preferred Rewards program members
The welcome bonus on the Bank of America Premium Rewards offers you 50,000 bonus points after you spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
In addition to a strong earnings rate, you’ll also get some travel perks. Cardmembers of the Bank of America Premium Rewards receive:
- 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases
- 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
- A credit of up to $100 for airline incidentals per calendar year
- A credit of up to a $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- No foreign transaction fees
The Bank of America Premium Rewards card comes with a number of valuable benefits and perks, which help offset the card’s $95 annual fee. If you take advantage of the airline incidental-fee credit, you’ll come out ahead in the first year, even when you factor in the card’s annual fee. And that’s not even considering the other perks like the credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (which are an absolute must-have if you don’t like long airport security lines).
Plus, if you’re part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, your rewards could be worth as much as 75% more.
Between the card’s welcome bonus of $500, the up to $100 airline-incidental credit per calendar year, and an up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, the math shows that the card’s small annual fee of $95 is worth paying.
You can read our full review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards here.
Best for gas rewards
You’ll earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of card opening.
One of the Wells Fargo Propel card’s best perks is the great cell phone insurance it offers. With a low $25 deductible, it covers up to $600 per claim, and $1,200 per 12-month period.
The card also offers triple points on popular spending categories, including eating out and ordering in, travel, select streaming services, gas stations and more.
Here’s a detailed look at the Wells Fargo Propel’s benefits and perks.
Being able to earn a welcome bonus worth $200 on a card that doesn’t have an annual fee is a solid deal. Plus, there are very few cards that offer such great cell phone insurance — especially given it’s a no-annual-fee card!
Points are worth 1 cent each, so you’ll receive a value of $200 by meeting the spending requirement and earning the card’s welcome bonus. You can use it for cash back, travel, gift cards, and other rewards. Here’s our full review of the Wells Fargo Propel card.
Types of rewards cards
Cash-back cards are great if you want to earn rewards that are simple to understand and even simpler to redeem. With these cards you’ll earn cash every time you use your card. So if you have a card that’s giving you 2% back on every purchase and you make a $100 purchase, you’d earn $2 just from using your cash-back card.
There are many cards out there that earn points but not all points are created equal. Some points programs allow you to transfer your points directly into a frequent-flyer account, or you can redeem your points for cash back or a gift card. It takes research to understand what each points program offers for redemptions.
The biggest advantage of having a points-earning card is that you can sometimes get massive value when transferring to a hotel or airline partner. For instance, if you transfer 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United, that’s enough to book a one-way flight from the U.S. to Europe in business class. Business-class flights to Europe typically cost thousands of dollars, so you’d be getting more value if you used your points this way than if you were to redeem them for cash back (60,000 Chase points = $600 cash back).
How we choose the best rewards cards
The credit card industry is competitive and banks are constantly fighting to win your business. Many will offer lucrative welcome bonuses that are worth several times what they charge in an annual fee. These are the best types of offers because you come out ahead as a new customer.
We’re not talking about one-trick ponies here. We go after the cards that have something to offer for the long haul. That’s why we look at each card’s earnings ability for your daily purchases. A strong rewards rate means you can quickly accumulate points to redeem for something meaningful in a reasonable amount of time.
Flexibility and ease of redeeming rewards
Cards that offer you multiple avenues to redeem your rewards make it more likely you can find a redemption option that you’re happy with.
The more flexibility a card offers, the more likely it is to offer more value too. So it’s important to easily redeem the rewards you’ve worked hard to earn.
Some things are difficult to put a price tag on, like having the ability to speed through security and have plenty of time to relax and enjoy snacks and drinks in a lounge before you board your flight. That’s why cards that offer perks like airport lounge access and statement credits to TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or CLEAR are among our favorites.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)