Credit Card Rewards Programs – Featured Rewards Cards

Reward programs from credit cards can be very lucrative. Compare the best offers including points, travel, cash back, airline miles, and other rewards.
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According to the 2015 Credit Card Rewards Report from CardHub.com, Americans are leaving roughly $4 billion dollars in credit card rewards on the table every year. Although excuses vary, the main reason people fail to maximize rewards is that they don’t understand the process. Others, on the other hand, understand the process perfectly yet don’t want to invest the time or effort.

Although that’s understandable, it’s important for consumers to realize what they’re giving up. In many cases, the sign-up bonus from a rewards credit card can be worth up to $400 or more on its own. Of course, not all rewards programs are created equal, which is part of the reason it can be so confusing to begin with.

This post aims to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding rewards credit cards while providing actionable advice for anyone who wants to find the perfect card for their own wallet.

The credit card industry is a very competitive environment, and companies are constantly offering consumers new credit cards and rewards programs. Here are some of our favorite offers.

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

With an emphasis on travel and gas rewards, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card is among the best for bonus rewards. In addition to travel and gas rewards, the card also earns 2x points for everyday spending at grocery stores, dining, and eligible streaming services.

Here are the key features:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first four months of account opening, a $500 value
  • 5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center
  • 4X points on travel, gas stations, and EV charging stations
  • 2X points on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify®, Apple Music, Disney+, HBO Max and more
  • 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, and dining
  • Receive up to $100 in statement credits for reimbursement toward your TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry® application fee once every four years
  • 1X point on all other eligible purchases
  • Pay over time by splitting eligible purchases of $100+ into equal monthly payments with U.S. Bank ExtendPay™ Plan
  • Terms and conditions apply – learn more

The card has a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year). However with its extensive rewards structure, the card more than pays for itself with even moderate usage.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

With the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn unlimited cash back on every purchase, every day, making it one of the most powerful rewards cards you can keep in your wallet.

Here are the key features:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options (terms apply)
  • 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 and balance transfers for 15 months; 17.99%-27.99% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months

Plus, with $0 in annual fees and a $200 one-time cash bonus (after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months), the card is one of the most accessible rewards cards on the market.

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

With the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card, you get to choose how to maximize your rewards. Every quarter, you pick two categories where you earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in purchases.

In addition to that, you can earn unlimited 2% back in one everyday category, like gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. Since you can change categories each quarter, you have flexibility for your card to match your needs.

Here are the key features:

  • $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first four months of account opening
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose
  • 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center
  • 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases
  • No Annual Fee
  • Pay over time by splitting eligible purchases of $100+ into equal monthly payments with U.S. Bank ExtendPay™ Plan.
  • Terms and conditions apply

The card also features a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 biling cycles. After that, a variable currently at 17.49% – 27.49% applies.

Chase Freedom Flex?

Earn cash back every day with the Chase Freedom Flex? credit card. The card is the best of both worlds, featuring rotating categories plus fixed bonus categories. For cardholders who don’t mind putting in some extra work to keep track of the cards reward structure, the Chase Freedom Flex? can offer some major benefits.

Here are the key features:

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Chase’s premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back – you can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24% – 25.99%
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Flex? card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health – Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more

SoFi Credit Card

Designed to help you save, invest, and pay down SoFi debt, the SoFi Credit Card offers unqiue benefits for existing SoFi customers. In addition, the card offers complimentary cell phone insurance coverage (up to $1,000), a robust all-in-one mobile app, no foreign transaction fees, and the extensive World Elite Mastercard suite of benefits.

Here are the key features:

  • Earn 3% cash back rewards for a year when you set up direct deposit with SoFi. After that, earn 2%* unlimited cash back on purchases when redeemed toward investing, saving, or paying down an eligible loan with SoFi. Plus, redeem points toward crypto
  • Earn up to $200 when you fund an Invest account as well as a Checking and Savings account after getting approved for the SoFi Credit Card. See Terms.*
  • SoFi will assess a fee for each crypto transaction outside of rewards redemption. For more information, visit SoFi.com/crypto
  • When you make 12 on-time payments, we’ll lower your APR by 1%.*
  • No annual fee.*
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Cell phone protection (insurance coverage up to $1,000)*
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection™ *
  • $10 Lyft credit when you take 5 rides per month*
  • See all World Elite Mastercard® Benefits offer details
  • See offer and benefit terms

Different Kinds of Rewards Credit Cards

Remember how we said that not all rewards cards are created equal? Part of the reason for that is the fact that each category or “type” of card offers a different rewards currency. Furthermore, how you much value you get out of your points depends heavily on how you redeem them.

There is a credit card for just about everyone out there, but it is impossible to list each of them on this site. The cards on this page are for people who are responsible credit card users and are looking to take advantage of rewards points and cash back bonuses. Depending on your credit card usage, you may benefit most from a cash back card, a gas rewards card, a point rewards card, or a travel rewards credit card.

The following chart illustrates how each type of card works:

Type of Rewards Credit CardType of Rewards EarnedHow to Redeem Them
Airline Credit CardsEarn airline miles (also called frequent flyer miles) based on your everyday spendingRedeem your miles for domestic or international flights, seat upgrades, other types of travel, or merchandise
Hotel Credit CardsEarn hotel loyalty points or free hotel stays for your everyday spendingRedeem for free nights, room upgrades, and more.
Cash-Back Credit CardsEarn cash-back as a percentage of your everyday spendingRedeem your points for statement credits, cash in the mail, gift cards, or merchandise
Flexible Rewards CardsEarn points you can redeem for travel, gift cards, or merchandiseRedeem your points directly for travel, or for cash-back, merchandise, or gift cards. You can also transfer points out to participating hotel and airline loyalty programs
Fixed-Value Travel Rewards CardsEarn points you can redeem for travel purchases as a percentage of your everyday spendingRedeem your points for travel through the use of fixed-value statement credits

As you’ll notice, all rewards cards offer a distinct “currency” that is unique to their program or brand. In almost every case, the points you earn with any rewards card are based on a percentage of your spending. Although earning 5 points per $1 spent isn’t unheard of, most rewards credit cards offer between 1-2%.

With that being said, the cards with the biggest bang for your buck are travel rewards cards – airline cards, hotel cards, fixed-value travel cards, and flexible rewards cards. You can almost always extract the most value from redeeming your points for pricey hotel stays or flights. The reason behind this is the fact that travel with hotels and airlines is usually based on a formula, not on how much a hotel stay or flight is actually worth.

But, what if you don’t want to travel? If that’s the case, you’ll do much better with a flexible rewards card or cash-back card that will let you redeem points for statement credits you can use to cover everything thing from bills to everyday purchases.

How to Find the Best Credit Cards

The best credit cards can be difficult to find if you don’t know what to look for. The first thing you want to look at when comparing credit card offers is to look at all the associated interest rates, fees, and other applicable charges. These should be spelled out clearly in the Schumer Box (example below), which is required to be disclosed by all credit card companies.

 

Look beyond the Schumer Box. The Schumer Box only displays fees, but it does not disclose rewards programs and other benefits. For this, you will need to search through the terms and conditions. In addition to the rewards, you want to consider other factors such as low introductory interest rates, 0% balance transfers, 0% interest credit cards, credit card sign up bonuses, taxable rewards and benefits.

How to Select a Rewards Credit Card

Since rewards credit cards can sometimes have little in common, it’s important to compare all of your options to see how they stack up. Since you can’t always compare apples-to-apples, consider these tips instead:

If you don’t want to be tied down…

If you’re not sure how you want to redeem your points in the future, it makes sense to get a flexible rewards card that offers as many options as possible. By getting a card in the Chase Ultimate Rewards family, for example, you can earn points that are redeemable for travel, cash-back, merchandise, or gift cards.

If you want to earn rewards specific to an airline or hotel chain, look for a co-branded credit card…

Credit cards that are co-branded with an airline or hotel loyalty program will allow you to earn points that are redeemable with that brand. If you are loyal to a specific chain, getting a card associated with that brand is usually your best bet.

If your average spending is low…

If you don’t spend a lot of money on credit, the rewards you rack up may not amount to much. When that’s the case, you’ll almost always be better off finding a cash-back rewards card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

If you want to keep your costs low…

Although rewards credit cards are meant to provide value, there are costs associated with having one. Some cards charge an annual fee and all rewards cards charge higher interest rates than typical credit cards. If you want to keep costs low, choose a card with a reasonable annual fee and always pay your balance in full each month.

What to Look For in a Rewards Credit Card

No matter what you decide, it’s still important to find the best card within your desired category. As you begin your search, you should also look for cards that offer at least a few of these perks:

  • A Sign-Up Bonus – Many rewards cards offer a sign-up bonus to customers who are able to meet a minimum spending requirement within a certain length of time, usually around 3 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees – The best travel credit cards don’t charge an extra fee when you make transactions overseas.
  • Plenty of Redemption Options – Although many people find value in airline and hotel-specific rewards cards, it’s best to choose a card that will allow you to redeem your points in more than one way.
  • Other Perks – Many of the best rewards credit cards offer “extras” such as trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, extended warranties, and fraud protection.

Rewards credit cards come in all shapes and sizes. While some focus on offering cash back as a percentage of your spending, others come up with creative rewards programs that can be useful if you travel frequently or want to be able to redeem your points in a number of ways.

Other Credit Card Rewards Programs

There are other credit card rewards programs in addition to the cards listed above. Some of the best credit card offers aren’t heavily publicized and maybe run through individual banks, credit unions, etc. It can be difficult to track down each offer, so check with your bank or credit union about their offers. Some of these offers may include a rewards system that works toward reducing your mortgage or saving money for college education, such as a credit card sponsored by Upromise, or balance transfer credit cards to help you reduce your debt more quickly.

No matter what, the key to getting the most out of these offers is learning to maximize their benefits. Once you master that skill, you’ll be on your way to hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in rewards over time.

*Note: Credit card terms and conditions change frequently. These terms were correct as of the date of publication and we do our best to keep them current. Please read the application thoroughly before you apply for a credit card.

The Military Wallet has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Military Wallet and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

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