GOBankingRates’ Best Rewards Credit Cards

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If you’re going to be spending money, you may as well be getting rewarded for it — and for many consumers, these rewards are a major motivator to swipe. A recent GOBankingRate survey found that the No. 1 reason people use credit cards is for the rewards and perks. And with the right credit cards, these rewards can really add up.

GOBankingRates found the Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2021 by analyzing rewards cards across a number of factors: annual fees, purchase APR, promotional APR, sign-up bonuses, and rewards and features. GOBankingRates’ top picks offer a range of rewards, including cash back on purchases or points that can be redeemed for Amazon shopping, travel, gift cards, charitable donations and more.

Find out which credit cards will give you the best rewards — without crazy fees or super-high interest rates.

Our Top Rewards Card

American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card

Why we like it: The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card is free of an annual fee for the first year. It offers one of the highest rewards rates available for groceries at 6%. While there is a cap of $6,000 in this category, you can still rake in $360 annually by meeting the maximum threshold each year.

Benefits

  • Earn 6% cash back on groceries, up to $6,000 a year, and 3% cash back on gas
  • $150 bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first six months
  • 12-month promotional 0% intro APR period

Drawbacks

  • This card has a $95 annual fee

Key features

  • 6% cash back on groceries, up to $6,000 a year
  • 6% cash back on streaming services
  • 3% cash back on transit
  • 3% cash back on gas
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $350 bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 12 months

Annual Fee

$95

Top Rewards Categories

Groceries and streaming

Redeeming Rewards:

Cash back is received in the form of reward dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit

How To Get This Card:

You can apply for the card online here with just some basic personal and financial information (clicking the link will take you to American Express's application page). READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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Best Rewards Credit Cards 2021

Keep reading to see the rest of the Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2021.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase
  • 3% on dining, including takeout, and at drugstores
  • 1.5% on all other purchases
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months

APR

14.99% to 23.74%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Rewards Categories

Travel

Redeeming Rewards:

Redeem for cash back via a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts; shop with Points at Amazon; redeem for a variety of gift cards and certificates for shopping, dining and entertainment and more; book your travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards® GET DETAILS

On Chase's site

Chase Freedom FlexSM Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase
  • Earn 3% cash back on dining including takeout and drugstores
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months

APR

14.99% to 23.74%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Rewards Categories

Travel

Redeeming Rewards

Redeem for cash back via a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts; shop with Points at Amazon; redeem for a variety of gift cards and certificates for shopping, dining and entertainment and more; book your travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards® GET DETAILS

On Chase's site

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PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 5x points on gas paid at the pump and EV charging stations
  • 3x points at the supermarket
  • 3x points at restaurants
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • 15,000 Bonus Points when you spend $1,500 in first 90 days

APR

13.49% to 17.99%

Promotional APR

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Top Rewards Categories

Gas

Redeeming Rewards

Redeem for gift cards for shopping, dining and entertainment, and more; check out our reward catalog for more options; travel; shopping – with reward points GET DETAILS

On PenFed's site

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 4x points on dining, food delivery, and takeout
  • 2x points at grocery stores
  • 2x points at gas stations
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points, just spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

APR

14.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 12 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Rewards Categories

Dining

Redeeming Rewards

Redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more GET DETAILS

On U.S. Bank's site

Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on entertainment and streaming services
  • 3% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months

APR

15.49% to 25.49%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Rewards Categories

Dining, groceries, entertainment and streaming

Redeeming Rewards

You can get your cash back upon request in the form of a statement credit or a check GET DETAILS

On Capital One's site

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U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in Altitude Rewards Center
  • 4x points on travel
  • 4x points on gas
  • 2x points on grocery
  • 2x points on dining
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points, just spend $3,000 in the first 120 days

APR

15.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

N/A

Annual Fee

$95

Top Rewards Categories

Prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in Altitude Rewards Center

Redeeming Rewards

Redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more GET DETAILS

On U.S. Bank's site

American Express® Gold Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 4x points on dining
  • 4x points on groceries
  • 3x points on flights
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership

APR

15.99% to 22.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 12 months

Annual Fee

$250

Top Rewards Categories

Dining and groceries

Redeeming Rewards

Pay with points at checkout; get a statement credit when you use points for recent card charges; gift cards; use Membership Rewards points to place an offer on a seat upgrade with over 20 participating airlines; go shopping; charitable donations GET DETAILS

On American Express' site

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U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose
  • 2% cash back on one everyday category, like gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $200 rewards bonus after you apply online and spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Top Rewards Categories

2 categories of your choice

Redeeming Rewards

Cash back is redeemed in the form of a statement credit or a deposit made to your U.S. Bank savings, checking or money market account based on your designation, or as a U.S. Bank Rewards Card GET DETAILS

On U.S. Bank's site

American Express® Green Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 3x points at restaurants
  • 3x points on transit
  • 3x points on travel
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 12 months

Annual Fee

$150

Top Rewards Categories

Restaurants, transit and travel

Redeeming Rewards

Book travel; pay with points at checkout; get a statement credit when you use points for recent card charges; gift cards; use Membership Rewards points to place an offer on a seat upgrade with over 20 participating airlines; go shopping; charitable donations GET DETAILS

On American Express' site

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FAQs About Rewards Cards

Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about rewards cards.
  • What credit score do I need to get a rewards credit card?
    • To qualify for rewards cards with the best interest rates, you'll want an exceptional score, which is at least 800 under the FICO score system. If your score is in the range of 740 to 799, which is considered very good, you are likely to qualify for cards with better-than-average rates. If your score falls in the range of 670 to 739, which is considered good, you'll still have options when you're on the lookout for a rewards card.
  • Can you earn cash back with a rewards credit card?
    • Most rewards cards offer cash back as an option, though it will vary from card to card.
  • Do rewards, points and cash back expire with a rewards credit card?
    • In most cases, rewards do not expire. Points on cards from issuers such as Capital One, Chase and Discover never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. Points on some travel cards may expire.
  • What happens to my rewards if I close my account?
    • If you close your account, you'll lose your points, so use them up before you close it.
  • Are there any rewards cards with no annual fee?
    • Yes. Among our Best Rewards Credit Cards there are many with no annual fee, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, the Chase Freedom Flex credit card and the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card.
  • Can I transfer my rewards to a friend or family member?
    • Most rewards cards will allow you to transfer your rewards points. Check on your card's website to find out if this option is available to you.
  • Will I lose my rewards if I miss a credit card payment?
    • No, but you cannot redeem your rewards if your account is not in good standing. If you miss a payment, your standing will not be "good" until you pay the minimum you owe.
  • Can I earn rewards by transferring my balance?
    • No, rewards cards don't issue rewards on balance transfers.
  • Can I earn rewards by adding an authorized user to my card?
    • Yes. Every eligible purchase, whether it's made by you or another authorized user, earns rewards.
  • Can I use rewards to pay off my credit card?
    • Yes. You can use your rewards as a statement credit. You will still need to make your minimum payment if you have a balance.

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More From GOBankingRates

Karen Doyle contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the best rewards credit cards by analyzing the following factors: (1) annual fees; (2) APR for purchases; (3) promotional APR; (4) sign-up bonuses; and (5) rewards and features. All fees and rates are subject to change at the credit card issuers’ discretion. Some bonus offers may no longer be available on the credit card issuers’ websites, depending on how one accesses the web page. All data was sourced from each financial institution’s website or promotional material and is accurate as of Aug. 11, 2021. Please verify terms and conditions before opening an account.

Last updated: Oct. 19, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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