Not everyone travels enough to make cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card worth it. If you’d prefer to earn money back on your spending, you have plenty of great options as well. Unless otherwise specified, these cash-back cards don’t have an annual fee.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — This card has a $95 annual fee, and it has some great bonus categories. These include 6% back on select U.S. streaming services, 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1%), 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, and 1% on everything else (cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars).
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — If you don’t want to pay an annual fee while you earn cash back, this Amex card is worth a look. Bonus categories include U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card — If you want to earn extra cash back on your dining purchases, this is a good pick. The Savor card earns an unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment, 3% back at grocery stores, and 1% back on everything else. There’s a $95 annual fee, and no foreign transaction fees.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card — For those who don’t want to worry about different cash-back bonus categories, the Quicksilver is a straightforward choice. It earns 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 1.5% cash back on all other purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ — This new card replaces the original Chase Freedom, which is no longer open to new applicants. it earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in rotating bonus categories each quarter, and it also earns bonus cash back on dining, drugstores, and more. Plus, there’s no annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® — This card offers a solid flat rate (1.5% back) on most purchases, and it’s one of the most flexible cash-back cards around, because it gives you options (the Freedom Unlimited also recently started offering bonus cash back on eligible travel and drugstore purchases). If you decide you’d like to get into travel rewards further down the line, you can combine your cash-back earnings from the Freedom Unlimited with Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred to use them toward travel.
Chase Freedom® — Like the Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Freedom earns cash back on every purchase. But instead of offering a flat cash-back rate, it offers 5% back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter of the year in rotating bonus categories, such as gas stations and streaming services, and 1% back on everything else. You have to activate the bonus each quarter to earn the 5% back. The Freedom’s cash-back earnings can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points if you have a more premium Chase card.
Citi® Double Cash Card — If your priority is simplicity when it comes to earning cash back, the Citi® Double Cash Card is hard to beat. You’ll earn 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% back when you buy, and 1% back when you pay your bill. There’s no annual fee, and there are no bonus categories to keep track of. If you have another Citi card, you have the option to redeem your cash back as Citi ThankYou Rewards points that can be used for travel.
0% APR and balance-transfer credit cards
Credit cards that offer introductory APR periods can save you money on interest if you need to transfer an existing credit card balance or finance a large purchase over several months. Just remember that you need to pay off your debt by the end of the introductory period to avoid interest; if you don’t, the fees will add up quickly.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card — Not only is this card a great option for earning Amex Membership Rewards points without paying a sky-high annual fee (it’s a reasonable $95), but this card also offers 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months, then a 14.49% – 24.49% Variable APR.
Citi Simplicity® Card — This card has one of the longest introductory APR periods for balance transfers: 21 months with 0% APR on balance transfers (balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening) and 12 months with 0% APR on purchases, then a rate of 16.99% – 26.99% Variable. There’s no annual fee, and no rewards — the point of the card is to help you maximize your time to pay off debt without accruing interest.
Travel rewards credit cards
First up are the cards that can get you the most value if you’re willing to put in the work: travel rewards credit cards that earn Amex, Chase, and other bank points. You can transfer these points to various airline and hotel partners, as well as use them to book travel directly through your credit card issuer.
The mega-popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, American Express® Gold Card and others fall into this category.
American Express® Gold Card — If dining is one of your top spending categories, the Amex Gold is a great card for you. It earns 4x points at restaurants (and 4x at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 each calendar year, then 1x) and each month you get up to $10 per month in statement credits when you use the card at GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House (through August 1, 2022), Boxed (through August 1, 2022), and participating Shake Shacks**. There’s a $250 annual fee.
American Express® Green Card — Amex recently revamped its Green card from the ground up, and the result is a great rewards card with a moderate annual fee of $150. That fee is especially easy to justify if you can use the card’s annual statement credits: up to $100 toward CLEAR® membership each year, and up to $100 toward airport lounge access through LoungeBuddy each year.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card — This card has a $95 annual fee and earns 2x points on travel and dining, and 1.5x points on all other purchases. If you have a lot of money parked with Bank of America and you enroll in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you could get even more bonus points.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card —Like the Sapphire Preferred, the Venture Rewards Card packs in a lot of benefits for a sub-$100-annual-fee card. You’ll earn 2x miles on all purchase, and you can redeem miles to cover travel purchases on your statement, or transfer them to a selection of airline programs.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — The rewards card that started it all. For a $95 annual fee, you get 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 2x points on all other travel purchases, 3x points on dining, not to mention valuable protections like primary car rental insurance and baggage delay insurance.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® — The premium sibling to the Sapphire Preferred has a $550 annual fee, but offers more perks like a $300 annual travel credit and 5x points on air travel and 10x points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (after earning the $300 travel credit) and 3x points on all other travel and dining.
Citi Premier® Card — This card doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but it offers similar valuable perks at the same price of $95 per year. It earns 3x Citi points on air travel and restaurants and offers a high sign-up bonus.
Citi Prestige® Card — This premium card has a $495 for the primary cardmember annual fee, but it could be worth it for frequent travelers thanks to a $250 annual travel credit and a 4th Night Free benefit that you can use twice per year to save money on hotel stays.
Discover it® Miles — This card isn’t a premium travel rewards cards with airport lounge access and statement credits. It has no annual fee, and it earns 1.5x miles on every purchase. You can redeem the Discover miles you earn to cover any travel purchases you make with your card. Read the Discover it Miles review.
The Platinum Card® from American Express — It’s one of the most premium personal cards out there, with a $695 annual fee and a long list of benefits. You get annual statement credits for airline incidental fees, Saks purchases, and Uber rides, and can access a variety of airport lounges including Amex’s own Centurion Lounges.