Best Rewards Credit Cards 2018
- June 28, 2016
- Posted by: Andrew Rombach
- Category: Credit Cards
Companies that provide credit cards constantly seek out different ways to distinguish their products in order to create maximum appeal to their customer base. This can be done in many ways. Credit card providers often advertise low annual fees and interest rates in order to attract consumers. The end result is a competitively driven market for credit cards.
In addition to advertising low rates and fees, another popular way to gain an edge against other credit card competitors are rewards. These are relatively well known to consumers since credit card rewards are generally advertised as a headline for a specific card. In other words, the rewards package is usually the first thing any potential cardholder reads.
A rewards package is a great way to entice customers into obtaining a certain credit card. On top of this, there are some highly beneficial rewards that may be contained within various different categories. These rewards packages generally provide anything from travel discounts, hotel perks, exclusive perks, and more. Many credit cards are generally tailored towards these specific subsets, so potential cardholders have a choice on which type of rewards package is the best fit for their needs.
While there are several rewards categories, many of these cards have similar rewards. There is usually an introductory bonus that can be obtained after spending some predetermined amount within a predetermined time period.
An example would be 30,000 points for spending $1,000 within three months of getting the credit card.
These introductory deals ordinarily differ in terms of magnitude and time period (this can easily be seen in the list below).
There is usually some sort of point system where customers receive a certain percentage back on general purchases. These points are redeemable towards benefits and gifts. These rates are usually consistent; for instance, they normally do not deviate from 1% or 2% back on purchases. Some credit cards offer increased rates of return on certain niche purchase categories. These are usually consistent with the niche category of the card (remember the different niche categories such as hotel perks or travel discounts).
The best benefit packages are usually coupled with the best credit cards. Best credit card simply means harder to get. Credit cards that are harder to get require excellent credit history. Without a decent credit history, it is much harder to get approved for certain cards. As a general rule of thumb, one can associate "excellent" rewards packages with cards that require "excellent" credit.
While there are "special" benefits that customers can enjoy, there are also several standard perks that come with these credit cards. These standard rewards can sometimes tip the balance in favor of one card versus another. These vary considerably, but there are some common benefits. Examples include free car rental insurance or roadside assistance hotlines. Other common perks are online resources that help the cardholder maintain their credit and keep track of their expenses. These perks are sometimes kept under the radar due to the emphasis on the headlining benefits, but they are still important and beneficial.
It can be hard to distinguish between different reward packages, which makes it even harder to choose a credit card. Some rewards packages are fairly similar, while others differ considerably. It takes quite a bit of research to figure out which card is the best fit. Many people don't want to do this research which can lead to a hasty decision.
Luckily, below is a list of several top performing credit cards with some of the best benefits and rewards packages. This is a comprehensive list that includes all of the card benefits as well as fees and interest rates. This guide should make it easier to distinguish which rewards credit card is best for you.
*All APRs listed below are current as of the date of this posting and are subject to change at any time depending on the card issuer and market fluctuation.
The Top 10 Rewards Credit Cards for 2018
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
APR: 15.24% - 23.24%
Rewards: 1.5 pts/$1 for general purchases, 3 pts/$1 on travel-related purchases, 10% rewards bonus for having savings/checking account with Bank of America
Rewards Bonus: $200/20,000 pts if $1,000 spent in the first 3 months
Fees: NO annual, $37 late, $10 or 3% on balance transfers and cash advance
This credit card focuses on the travel rewards niche. Consequently, its rewards package offers special benefits that are redeemable for travel discounts such as free airfare or hotel stays. This card requires excellent credit history in order to be approved.
Starting with the introductory bonus, this Bank of America Travel Rewards Card offers 20,000 rewards points if a new cardholder spends at least $1,000 within three months of opening the account. This bonus deal amounts to $200 towards travel, which is a 20% return on initial purchases.
There are several different rewards points rates to consider when using the BankAmericard. First, the standard rate is 1.5 points awarded for every dollar spent on general purchases. Second, the standard rate is doubled to 3 points per dollar when cardholders make travel-related purchases. There is a third rate available to cardholders who have a checking or savings account with Bank of America. These cardholders can get a 10% rewards points bonus on purchases, so a purchase that gets 10 rewards points also gets 1 extra bonus rewards point.
The rates and fees of a card are as equally important as the benefits and rewards. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card does not have an annual fee. This is one of the best perks to look for when comparing cards.
In addition to a nonexistent annual fee, there are several other transaction fees to consider. When wiring money through a non-financial institution, a fee of either 10$ or 5% is applicable. Balance transfer and cash advance transactions warrant a $10 or 3% fee. There is no foreign transaction fee with this card.
Like most credit cards, the BankAmericard comes with a couple of different penalty fees. If there is a late payment, a fee of up to $37 is applicable. When there is a returned payment, up to $27 can be charged to the account.
When talking about credit cards, the interest rate is an unavoidable topic. After opening an account, cardholders can enjoy a 0% introductory purchase annual percentage rate (APR) for twelve months. Afterwards, this rate bumps up to a range of 15.24% to 23.24% APR. This range is also applicable to balance transfer transactions. Cash advance transactions are subject to APRs ranging from 18.24% to 25.24%. Finally, a penalty APR of 29.99% is applicable after late payments. All of these rates are variable and depend on the market.
Chase Freedom® Card
APR: 14.24% - 23.24%
Rewards: 5% on first $1,500 in niche categories, 1% elsewhere
Rewards Bonus: $150 back if $500 spent in first 3 months, $25 for first purchase
Fees: NO annual, $15-$37 late, $5 or 5% balance transfer, $10 or 5% cash advance
The Freedom® Credit Card offered by Chase Bank is tailored like a cash back credit card. Basically, it has multiple different rewards packages for niche purchases that can be redeemed towards gifts and cash back. This is a card that requires excellent or good credit history in order to be approved.
There are two introductory bonuses that sum up to 17,500 rewards points for spending with the Chase Freedom® Credit Card. The first involves a 15,000 point offer for spending only $500 within the first three months of opening an account. This reward is worth $150. In addition, there is another immediate introductory bonus deal for making just one purchase (so long as it occurs during the first three months). The bonus amounts to 2,500 points which is worth $25. These rewards total up to $175 in introductory bonus deals.
Cash back rewards credit cards usually have multiple rates of return on different niche purchases. The standard cash back rate is 1%, so general purchases put one cent back into a Chase Freedom account for every dollar spent. There is another cash back rate of 5% awarded for purchases that fall into a niche category. These niche categories are updated quarterly. For example, cardholders can get 5% back on groceries during one quarter and then on gas the next quarter. This bonus needs to be activated at the start of the quarter.
The Chase Freedom® Credit Card has no annual fee, however, there are still other transaction fees to be aware of. A balance transfer transaction is subject to a $5 or 5% fee while cash advances receive a $10 or 5% fee. When in a foreign country, a 3% transaction fee is applied to every purchase.
There are penalty fees for this card to be considerate of. Several different late payment fees are possible. For balances of $100 or less, a fee of $15 may be assessed. The late payment fee increases to $27 for balances that fall between $100 and $250, and the max fee is $37 for balances that exceed $250. Returned payment fees can run up to $37.
For the first fifteen months of opening an account, there is a 0% introductory APR, but this rate is increased to somewhere between 14.24% and 23.24% after the intro period. The balance transfer APR falls between 14.24% and 23.24% as well. If there happens to be a cash advance or overdraft, the APR is 25.24%. All of these rates are variable, so they depend on market fluctuations.
Barclaycard Arrival World™ Mastercard®
APR: 16.24% - 24.24%
Rewards: 1 "mile" ($0.01) /$1 spent on general purchases, 2 miles/$1 spent on dining or travel
Rewards Bonus: $200 back if $1,000 spent during first 3 months, 5% rebate when redeeming miles
Fees: NO annual, $37 late, $5 or 3% on balance transfers, $10 or 5% cash advances
This is one of the premier travel credit cards offered by Barclays. It requires excellent credit in order to be approved. The Arrival World™ Mastercard® rewards package is centered around travel benefits.
The reward system involves earning "bonus miles" which are redeemable towards travel discounts. For spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening a Barclaycard account, the cardholder is eligible for 20,000 bonus miles. This bonus is worth $200 towards travel purchases, which amounts to a 20% return on initial expenses with the Arrival World™ Mastercard®.
There is a rate of return on purchases, so cardholders can earn bonus miles on everyday and niche buys. On general transactions, one mile is awarded for every dollar spent, which is a 1% return. When making purchases that fit into the travel or dining category, cardholders earn two miles for every dollar spent. These miles do not expire and can be redeemed so long as the account is open.
There is a special redemption bonus when redeeming accumulated miles. After a redemption, there is a 5% rebate on miles. For example, cardholders who redeem 100 miles receive 5 miles for the transaction.
Moving away from the benefits, there are several fees and interest rates to note. The Barclaycard Arrival World™ Credit Card does not have an annual fee for membership, which is a desirable trait. Balance transfers see a fee of $5 or 3%, cash advances see a fee of $10 or 5%, and there is no foreign transaction fee. Up to $37 is charged as a late payment fee and up to $37 is charged for a returned payment.
The annual percentage rate on general purchases ranges between 16.24% and 24.24%. The balance transfer APR starts out at 0% for twelve billing cycles and then mirrors the general APR after the introductory period. Cash advance APR varies around 25.49%. All of these APRs are variable and dependent on the market.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
APR: 12.24%, 17.24%, or 22.24%
Rewards: 1.25% or 1.25 miles/$1 spent redeemable for travel expenses
Rewards Bonus: $200/20,000 miles back for travel expenses if $1,000 spent during first 3 months
Fees: NO annual, $10 or 3% cash advance, $35 late fee
Capital One's travel rewards credit card, VentureOne®, serves as their main competitor in the travel credit card market. It is offered to applicants who have very good credit, so it might be harder to get. Like other cards in the travel rewards industry, it offers benefits that are specifically tailored to reducing travel expenses.
The introductory bonus deal is typical for travel rewards cards. When cardholders spend $1,000 during the first three months with a VentureOne® card, they receive 20,000 bonus miles. This bonus is redeemable for $200 towards travel rewards. This amounts to a 20% rate of return on purchases during this intro period which is considerably greater than the standard rate.
On top of the bonus deal, everyday purchases receive a 1.25% return on the transaction amount. That is 1.25 miles per dollar spent, which is redeemable towards travel expenses. These points do not expire provided that the account does not close.
True to a competitive nature, the VentureOne® Credit Card is not accompanied by a bothersome annual fee. Additionally, there are limited fees and penalties for this card. There is a transaction fee for cash advances of $10 or 3%. If there is a late payment, a maximum late fee of $35 is possible.
There is an introductory annual percentage rate for regular purchases. There are three potential rates: either 12.24%, 17.24%, or 22.24%. The same APRs are applicable for balance transfer transactions. For cash advance transactions, there is an APR of 23.34%. All of these rates are variable depending on market fluctuation.
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature Card
APR: 15.49% - 19.49%
Rewards: 2 pts/$1 on regular purchases, 3 pts/$1 at supermarkets, drug stores, and gas stations, 6 pts/$1 spent at eligible hotels
Rewards Bonus: 40,000 pts/$400 for eligible hotels if $1,000 spent in first 4 months & 10,000 pt reward if $1,000 spent on eligible hotels per year
Fees: NO annual, $5 or 3% on balance transfers, $10 or 5% on cash advances, $35 late
This credit card is specifically meant for hotel rewards, and there are a ton of them. The Citi Hilton HHonors Card comes with quite a bit of benefits, so it is fairly hard to acquire since it requires excellent credit history.
The introductory bonus offer is an attractive one, it offers 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points (referred to as bonus points from here on) for spending $1,000 within four months of getting an account. These points are redeemable toward hotel expenses around the globe.
There are multiple different hotel bonus point rates on different transactions. The standard rate is two bonus points per dollar spent on regular transactions. This rate increases to three bonus points for every dollar spent at a supermarket, drug store, or gas station. Finally, six bonus points are awarded for every dollar spent at an eligible hotel. The variety of bonus point rates is refreshing compared to other stagnant cards, but there are even more bonuses to this card.
In addition to a hefty intro bonus and multiple bonus point rates, there are more aspects to the full rewards package to consider. An annual 10,000 bonus point reward is given if a cardholder spends at least $1,000 on eligible hotel stays throughout the year.
Cardholders are automatically upgraded to HHonors Silver status when they get the Hilton HHonors credit card. Additionally, there is a way to reach Gold status much sooner than usual. There are actually two ways. First, a cardholder gets upgraded if they spend $20,000 annually on regular purchases. Second, if a cardholder books four hotel stays within the first three months of opening an account, they get upgraded to Gold status.
Silver status perks include an additional 15% bonus on all points that are earned. When booking five nights or more at a hotel, the fifth night is free of charge as a compliment of the HHonors program. Gold status members get all of these perks, but they receive a 25% bonus on any bonus points that are earned.
There is no annual fee associated with the Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card, which is significant considering the slew of benefits with this card. Late or returned payments incite a maximum fee of $35.
Several transaction fees are present. Balance transfers may see a fee of $5 or 3%, while cash advances may warrant a fee of $10 or 5%. Foreign transaction fees require a 3% charge.
The annual percentage rate for both regular purchases and balance transfers ranges between 15.49% and 19.49%. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%. These rates are variable, so they are dependent on market variance.
U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card
APR: 14.24% - 24.24%
Rewards: 1 pt or $0.01 per $1 spent on general, 2 pts or $0.02 per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and airlines, 3 pts or $0.03 for charitable donations
Rewards Bonus: 20,000 pts/$200 if $3,500 spent in first 4 months & 3,400 pts/$34 if $24,000 spent each year
Fees: $49 annual ($0 first year), 3% or $5 balance transfer, 4% or $10 or cash advances, $37 late
This travel benefits credit card is provided by the United States bank. It provides competitive benefits compared to some of the cards on this list, and only applicants with good credit scores are considered for membership. Those who do not qualify for this card can qualify for the FlexPerks® Select Rewards Visa® Card which has fewer rewards, but this section focuses on the FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card.
20,000 bonus FlexPoints are awarded for making $3,500 worth of purchases within the first four months of getting a card. These points are redeemable for travel or other types of financial gifts as a part of the FlexPerks® program.
If cardholders spend at least $24,000 a year with their credit card, they earn an additional 3,400 FlexPoints. When redeeming points towards airline travel, an additional $25 per ticket is awarded towards baggage fees or other additional expenses.
As a part of the FlexPerks® program, there are a few different FlexPoint rates on purchases. The standard rate is one FlexPoint for every dollar spent on general purchases. Two FlexPoints are earned when making purchases at a gas station, grocery store, or airline. If a cardholder feels the need to donate to charity, they get the opportunity to earn three FlexPoints for every dollar that is donated.
After an introductory annual fee of $0, the annual fee jumps to $49 for every year of holding the FlexPerks card, which is a bit of a disappointment compared to other cards.
Balance transfers are either 3% or $5, and cash advance fees are either 4% or $10. There is no foreign transaction fee associated with this card. There are several penalty fees for making a late or returned payment. Late payments receive a fee of $37 while returned payments garner a $35 fee.
The annual percentage rate range for balance transfers and regular purchases is set between 14.24% and 24.24%. The cash advance APR is set at 24.24%. These are variable and dependent on the fluctuation of the market.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
APR: 14.24% - 23.24%
Rewards: 1.5% cash back per $1 spent
Rewards Bonus: $150 if $500 spent in first 3 months, $25 for making first purchase
Fees: NO annual, $5 or 5% on balance transfers, $10 or 5% on cash advances, $37 max late
This is the counterpart to the Chase Freedom Credit Card mentioned earlier; it is more attainable than its cash back sibling. The Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card offers similar benefits as the Freedom Credit Card, but they are downscaled in certain respects. Those with decent credit can get this card.
The introductory bonus deal is similar to the Chase Freedom deal. New cardholders can get $150 after spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account; additionally, they get an extra $25 for making their first purchase within that time period. Overall, this amounts to $175 in credit from introductory deals.
One of the key differences between the Freedom Unlimited Card and Freedom Card is the cash back rate. Instead of two different rates, there is one set rate on all purchases: 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent. These rewards are unlimited, and they do not expire.
Cardholders of the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card do not have to worry about a troublesome annual fee. There are several standard fees for certain transaction as usual. Balance transfers are charged either $5 or 5%; cash advances are charged either $10 or 5%. When a cardholder is abroad, their transactions are subject to a 3% foreign transaction fee.
There are multiple penalty fee stipulations. For late payments on balances of $100 or less, a fee of $15 may be assessed. The late payment fee increases to $27 for balances that fall between $100 and $250, and the max fee is $37 for balances that exceed $250. Returned payment fees can run up to $37.
When opening an account, an introductory APR of 0% is active for the first fifteen months. Afterwards, the regular APR ranges between 14.24% and 23.24%. The same range is used for the balance transfer APR. Cash Advance and overdraft APRs are 25.24%. Each of these rates are variable and dependent on the market.
NFL Extra Points Credit Card
APR: 15.24% - 25.24%
Rewards: 2 pts per $1 spent on NFL related things, 1 pt per $1 for everything else
Rewards Bonus: 10,000 pts or $100 for $500 spent in first 3 months
Fees: NO annual, $5 or 3% on balance transfers, $10 or 5% on cash advance, $37 late
The NFL Extra Points Credit Card is offered by Barclays, and it offers some decent benefits for those heavily invested in the National Football League. Applicants with decent credit can qualify for this branded card.
Their introductory bonus deal involves a 10,000 point bonus for making $500 in purchases during the first three months of opening an account. This block of points is valued at $100 and is redeemable for cash back or NFL rewards.
There are two standard cash back rates with the NFL Credit Card. The first rate is applicable for NFL-related purchases which earns the cardholder two bonus points for every dollar spent. The next rate is applicable towards general purchases that are made every day; this rate is one point per dollar spent. Overall, these rewards amount to 1% and 2% returns on eligible purchases.
The Extra Points Credit Card does not require an annual fee of any sort. There are some transactions fees for balance transfers, cash advances, and foreign transactions. Either $5 or 3% is charged for balance transfers, and $10 or 5% is charged for a cash advance. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Late or returned payments warrant a fee that runs up to $37.
For six months following the opening of an account, there is a 0% APR on regular transactions. After the intro period is over, this rate ranges between 15.24% and 25.24%, which is also applicable to balance transfers. Cash advances warrant an APR of 25.49%. These rates are variable and dependent on the market value.
Barclays Rewards MasterCard®
Rewards: 2 pts per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and on utilities & 1 pt per $1 spent elsewhere
Fees: 3% or $5 balance transfer, $10 or 5% cash advances, $37 late
This product is meant for applicants with a moderate or fair credit history, so it is a good start for people with an unimpressive history. The Rewards MasterCard® from Barclays is a standard cash back rewards card that does not offer extensive benefits.
Since this card is targeted at the lower percentile of creditworthy applicants, there is no attractive headline offer, so approved applicants do not get the benefit of a hefty introductory benefit package deal.
Despite the lack of introductory deals, this card comes with standard cash back rewards which is a positive aspect. These rewards are redeemable at any time since they do not expire. Cardholders can accrue two bonus points for every dollar spent at gas stations, utilities, and grocery stores. On all other types of purchases, one point is awarded per dollar spent. These are comparable rates to many credit cards that require better credit.
There are several typical fees that come with the MasterCard®. One fee that is waived is the annual fee, so cardholders do not have to worry about that yearly expense. Balance transfer transactions require an additional charge of either $5 or 3%; additionally, cash advance transactions warrant a fee of either $10 or 5%. When cardholders are out of the country, they have a 3% foreign transaction fee to deal with. $37 is charged for late or returned payments.
There are slightly harsher APRs for this card. The APR for balance transfers and regular purchases is set at 25.24%, and the cash advance APR is set at 25.49%. These rates are variable, so they depend on fluctuations in the market.
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
APR: 10.99% during first 6 months, 23.24% after
Rewards: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, 1% elsewhere
Rewards Bonus: Double cash back for first year
Fees: 3% balance transfer, $10 or 5% cash advances, $37 late
A secured credit card is specifically meant for applicants who have a bad credit history. Since it is targeted at such a crowd, there are no enticing benefits. The main purpose of this card is to build a good credit practice in the hopes that it leads to better credit card opportunities in the future.
Instead of the chance to earn big introductory reward benefits, the Discover it® Secured credit card requires a security deposit in order to be eligible. This security deposit defines the cardholder's credit limit. For example, a $300 deposit provides a $300 credit limit.
Despite the limited rewards aspect, there is a cash back system on this card. Cardholders can get 1% on all purchases; additionally, they can get 2% back on purchases at restaurants and gas stations. For the first year, Discover will double whatever amount of cash back is accrued.
Luckily, there is no annual fee for the Discover it® Secured Credit Card; however, there are some harsher penalty fees with standard transaction fees. The balance transfer fee is 3% for every transaction while the cash advance fee is either $10 or 5% per transaction. Late payments and returned payments garner a $37 charge.
The annual percentage rate for regular purchases is 23.24%. Balance transfers have a 6 month introductory period where the APR is 10.99%, but this converts to an APR of 23.24% afterwards. An APR of 25.24% is applicable to cash advances. There is no penalty APR, surprisingly. Each of these rates are dependent on the market.