The Best Rewards Cards for Everyone From Budgeters to Foodies and Frequent Flyers


If you’re an ad executive in NYC, you probably don’t drive a pickup truck. Likewise, a Wyoming rancher wouldn’t be caught dead in a Smart car. The same goes for rewards credit cards: If it doesn’t complement your lifestyle, then what’s the point?

So, which rewards credit card is best for you? Check out our top picks to see which cards can help you get the most benefits, depending on your lifestyle.

If you love to travel… These cards can allow you to do it more often—with less money and more perks.

Barclaycard Arrival+. Want travel rewards without complicated loyalty programs? Instead of transferring your rewards to partner hotel points or airline miles, you accumulate two “miles” for every dollar you spend—on anything—with this card that you can then redeem for credit back on travel-related purchases or general cash-back credits and gift cards (10,000 miles translates to $100 in travel redemption credits).

You’ll get 5 percent of your miles back upon redemption, too.

For now, new applicants get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days. The $89 fee is waived the first year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card generated a lot of buzz last year—for good reason. It offers triple points on dining and travel, as well as airport business lounge access. Points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each as travel reservations, or converted to miles with nine airline partners or points with four hotel programs. You’ll also get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening.

I’ve been collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a while, and they’re so flexible that I haven’t paid for airfare in years. The one downside of this premium card is its $450 annual fee, but it’s largely offset by a $300 annual travel statement credit and the redemption of points earned.

If you’re budget conscious… These provide extra rewards for everyday expenses from gas to groceries.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred. This card has a $95 annual fee, but you can make it up—plus some—with features like 6 percent cash back at grocery stores (up to $6,000 a year) and unlimited 3 percent back at gas stations and select department stores. You’ll also earn $150 after spending $1,000 within three months, and get 12 interest-free months.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card. This free option offers 3 percent back on gas and 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 of combined spending each quarter. If you redeem your rewards into a Bank of America account, you’ll get a 10-percent bonus.

This card also comes with a sign-up bonus of $100 after spending $500 within 90 days. New accounts receive 12 months of 0-percent interest and a 3-percent balance transfer fee.

If you’re a commuter… These cards will reward you for all that time spent in rush-hour traffic.

Citi Premier. This card ($95 fee) offers 3x points for travel expenses, including tolls, taxis, parking and public transportation—costs you’re already probably already paying if you’re a commuter or city dweller. You also receive 2x points on dining out and entertainment, like theatre tickets, concerts, museums. New cardholders earn 40,000 Citi ThankYou bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months.

Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card offers 2x points on dining and travel purchases, which also include parking, tolls and public transportation. Points can be redeemed for travel reservations or transferred to airline and hotel programs. New applicants earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

If you’re a foodie…These cards will reward you for eating out, and even the cost of getting there.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold. Get paid whether you’re dining out or eating in with 3x points at restaurants and supermarkets, plus 3x points on travel and 2x at gas stations. Other benefits include a $100 annual air travel credit and access to sports and entertainment pre-sales. The $195 annual fee is waived the first year.

Discover it® Chrome Card. Calling all foodies on a budget: This card offers 2 percent cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After one year, Discover matches your rewards earned during the first year. There’s no annual fee, and Discover will automatically waive your first late payment. It’s also accessible to those who fall in the “average” credit range.

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