There are literally hundreds of credit cards on offer that promise easily earned and generous rewards for every dollar you put on the card. But which cards are the best? And how do you tell which are the best anyhow?
WalletHub has tried to simplify the task of choosing a rewards card by first winnowing the list of possibilities down to 79 cards from the 20 largest card issuers and those that are not co-branded with another business. The best cards let you redeem the points you earn for travel, merchandise or cash back toward your monthly bill. The least desirable card charges an annual fee to participate in its rewards program.
Before running down the top cards on WalletHub’s list, here are some tips to keep in mind as you try to decide which rewards cards might be best for you.
- Determine how you’ll use it: just for travel rewards or for everyday purchases?
- Consider both earning and redemption value: cash is worth cash, dollar for dollar; rewards can be devalued at the issuer’s discretion.
- Take the cash unless you have a good reason not to.
- Don’t rule out a card that comes with an annual fee.
WalletHub describes its methodology in detail, but for our purposes, we’ll be looking only at the aggregate score, which has a top value of 21. Here are the top 10 issuers ranked by their two-year value, along with their WalletHub scores and the number of rewards cards they offer:
- Barclaycard: Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard; two cards; WalletHub score of 15.0; value of $1,634
- Discover: Discover It; six cards; score of 14.6; value of $1,559
- US Bank: Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card; six cards; score of 15.5; value of $1,527
- Alliant Credit Union: Alliant CU Visa Platinum Reward Card; two cards; score of 14.5; value of 1,510
- Capital One: Venture Rewards; six cards; score of 17.0; value of $1,482
- Chase: Chase Sapphire Preferred; four cards; score of 17.3; value of $1,338
- Citi: Citi ThankYou Premier Card; five cards; score of 16.2; value of $1,311
- Bank of America: BankAmericard Travel Rewards; four cards; score of 15.9; value of $1,177
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card; three cards; score of 12.9; value of $1,107
- Navy Federal Credit Union: CashRewards Credit Card; four cards; score of 15.5; value of $1,056
The lowest ranked card, based on its two-year value, is the Boeing Employees Credit Union card, with a value of $555, about one-third the value of the top-rated cards.
WalletHub also makes one strategic point about redeeming points that it pays to remember:
Redeeming for travel is still the best deal, yielding 30% more value than redeeming for merchandise, the worst option.
For WalletHub’s full list and other information, visit the website.