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The Best Airline Credit Cards — April 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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For those who travel regularly, the chance to earn more loyalty miles with an airline rewards credit card can be tempting. Airline cards offering a generous sign-up bonus and more miles per dollar spent on certain purchases can add miles to your account, resulting in free flights or seat upgrades. And if you choose the right card, you can also get sweet travel perks, such as priority boarding and free checked luggage.

Most airline credit cards reward frequent flyers for their loyalty, along with enticing others who might not yet favor any particular airline. Below are our picks for the best credit cards for the top six U.S. airlines.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

Best credit card for United Airlines

United ClubSM Card from Chase Bank

United ClubSM Card from Chase Bank

The information related to United ClubSM Card from Chase Bank has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

United ClubSM Card from Chase Bank

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% to 25.24% Variable
Annual fee
$450
Rewards Rate
Earn rewards faster with 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases.

What we like about it:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. But don’t get too excited about this offer if you’ve nabbed a bonus from this card before — this offer is not available to either current cardmembers of this credit card, or previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.
  • The United ClubSM Card from Chase Bank is the only one that gives you a full membership into the United ClubSM. This means you can visit any United lounge at the airport regardless of what airline you are flying, and some Star Alliance® lounges when you fly on those airlines.
  • Earn rewards faster with 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases.
  • You also get great perks when flying aboard United, including Premier Access® travel services and free first and second checked bags — that can easily shave a couple hundred bucks off your cost of flying.

Who is the card best for?

If United is your primary airline and you plan to take more than one international trip every year, the United MileagePlus® Club Card is your best bet. Getting United ClubSM membership from the card is $100 cheaper than buying membership without top tier status. And getting two checked bags on United and some lounge benefits when flying Star Alliance airlines can add up to good long-term value.

Best credit cards for American Airlines

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

The information related to CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations

What we like about it:

  • Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening..
  • In addition to offering a first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines® itineraries and preferred boarding on American Airlines® flights, this is the only American Airlines co-branded offer from Citi that offers bonus points on everyday spending.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. Terms apply.

Who the card is best for?

If you have a small business and American is your primary airline, this card could earn you the most AAdvantage® miles over time. Earning 2 AAdvantage® miles on telecommunications, car rental merchants, and gas stations are among the most generous categories for airline cards, granting many opportunities to earn bonus miles at the places you spend money weekly.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays

The information related to AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays

Regular Purchase APR
17.49% - 26.49% Variable
Annual fee
$99
Rewards Rate
Earn 2X AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1X AAdvantage® miles on all other purchases.

What we like about it:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee.
  • A free checked bag free for the primary cardholder and up to four companions on domestic flights operated by American Airlines.
  • Preferred boarding for the primary cardholder and up to four companions on the reservation for all American Airlines-operated flights.
  • Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) after spending $25,000 on the card during a calendar year — but only if you signed up for the card after Jan. 1, 2018. You’ll have until Dec. 31, 2019, to earn EQDs — then the benefit goes away permanently.
  • Receive a 25% statement credit on in-flight food and beverages when using the card.

Who the card is best for?

If you are loyal to American Airlines, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is a good fit. With the bonus miles, free checked luggage and the in-flight discount, using this as your primary credit card could yield good value over time if you fly American Airlines regularly.

Best credit cards for Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

What we like about it:

  • $100 statement credit, 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Every account anniversary date, earn Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™. Buy one ticket and get a second one for just taxes and fees ($99 base fare plus applicable taxes and fees from $22 depending on your flight itinerary) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
  • Alaska Airlines® Mileage Plan™ miles are among the most flexible available since they can be used on more than a dozen different airlines.

Who the card is best for?

Even if you don’t live in a city served by Alaska Airlines, this card is good for flexible rewards across carriers. Use your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan awards to more than 900 destinations around the world on Alaska Airlines and 17 global carriers including American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines. This card’s combination of a lower annual fee and award availability across multiple airlines makes it a good option for those who might not have considered Alaska Airlines previously.

Best credit card for JetBlue

JetBlue Card

JetBlue Card from Barclays

The information related to JetBlue Card from Barclays has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

JetBlue Card from Barclays

Regular Purchase APR
17.49%, 21.49% or 26.49% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants & grocery stores, 1X points on all other purchases.

What we like about it:

  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • 3X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants & grocery stores, 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 50% discount on in-flight cocktail and food purchases.
  • Earn 3 TrueBlue points per dollar spent at Amazon.com when you shop onboard your JetBlue flight using Fly-Fi® and the card.
  • Pool points together as a family, which means all miles earned by your household can go toward JetBlue award flights faster.

Who the card is best for

If you travel regularly on JetBlue, this card, with its $0 annual fee is a good option because it helps you earn real miles towards discounted travel. If you are just entering the world of airline miles and live near a JetBlue airport, the JetBlue Card is a great beginner option. With a $0 annual fee and 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores, this card can help you earn real miles towards discounted travel. This card is also great for those who use JetBlue as a secondary airline. Because there is a $0 annual fee, you won’t have to worry about justifying rewards by holding this card.

Best credit card for Delta

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

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Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
Rewards Rate
Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable

What we like about it:

  • Earn Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • This card also offers a generous checked luggage fee waiver for cardholders: The fee waiver is available to those traveling on the same reservation as the primary card member, with a maximum of nine waivers per reservation.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • The card also offers priority boarding for cardholders.

Who the card is best for?

If you fly Delta regularly with a family or business colleagues, this is the best card you can hold that balances the annual fee with good benefits. The checked luggage fee waiver covers more companions on the same itinerary than any other card, while the priority boarding allows you to get access to overhead bin space before other flyers. Plus, you can try out the card without a large financial commitment, since there’s a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

But if Delta is the only airline you fly, you may consider getting a credit card with a higher annual fee that offers more benefits and opportunities to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles.

Best credit card for Southwest Airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

The information related to Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Annual fee
$149
Rewards Rate
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

What we like about it:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • The chance to earn 1,500 tier qualifying points that help you earn A-List elite status every time you spend $10,000 on the card.
  • Annual $75 statement credit
  • 7,500 bonus points every card anniversary
  • 20% statement credit when you use the card for in-flight drinks, messaging, movies and Wi-Fi.
  • Four passes for upgraded boarding every year.

Who the card is best for

For loyal Southwest Airlines customers who want a co-branded airline credit card that comes with the best perks, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, unveiled in July 2018, is a popular one to consider. You’ve got to love a card that helps you earn elite status. While anyone flying on this airline gets two free checked bags, this card gives you four priority boarding passes a year, along with an in-flight credit every time you use the card to pay for drinks and Wi-Fi.

There’s also the chance to earn Southwest’s popular Companion Pass. Once you fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you can bring a companion — for free — on every one of your flights for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned the pass.

Best credit union airline card

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from American Airlines CU

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from American Airlines CU

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from American Airlines CU

Regular Purchase APR
10.75% - 16.49% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn one Connection Point for every dollar spent on signature based purchases!

What we like about it:

  • Earn one Connection Point for every dollar spent on signature based purchases!
  • Redeem the card’s Connection Points for gift cards, travel on any airline, hotels, rental cars, cruises and brand–name merchandise.
  • If you also have an American Airlines Credit Union Visa debit card, you’ll also earn Connection Points when making purchases on it.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Who the card is best for:

You must be a professional in the air transportation industry or related to someone who is in order to become a member of the AACU. That includes those who work for the Transportation Security Administration, the FAA, cargo carriers, air courier services, airport baggage handling, commercial airport janitorial, aircraft cleaning, maintenance, servicing, and repair services, airport runway maintenance services and on-board airline food services.

Once approved, you’re eligible to apply for the card. If you’re looking for a card where you can use your points for multiple airlines instead of just one single airline, this card could be great for you. However, you can earn better rewards if you opt for an airline credit card tied to a single airline, such as American, as those typically offer better rewards and more travel-related perks.

Learn More

To find the best airline credit cards, we looked at several different features. First, we looked at which cards had specific airline partnerships, not just perks for specific airlines. From there, we narrowed down our picks to focus on non-premium cards, so this article could be more accessible. Finally, we looked for which cards had the best rewards programs, balancing it against annual fees and the APRs on balances.

As a secondary measure, we looked at all the other perks that come with a card, including free checked bags, no foreign transaction fees, and rental car and trip insurances. These benefits can help to offset the annual fee, or provide you even more value than a more stripped-down card.

Although earning airline miles sounds great for free travel, there are situations that can prevent you from flying. With all credit cards, you should watch out for these downsides:

  • Points devaluation: Miles aren’t a good long-term investment, because their value is constantly subject to change. If you aren’t planning to use your miles regularly, you could be better served with a cash-back credit card.
  • Hidden fees: Even when using credit card miles, hidden fees for redeeming miles, cancelling trips, or transferring miles to other people can cut your overall value quickly. Be sure to understand all the fees you may face before you decide if a card is right for you.
  • Blackout dates and reward restrictions: Airlines often place restrictions on the number of seats available on flights, while some dates are completely closed off for awards and companion passes. Unless you can use your airline miles on the dates you want, an airline credit card may not be your best option.
  • Partner carrier rules: Although you can book flights with miles on partner airlines, their prices are often higher and come with more restrictions on dates and routes. Before you commit to one airline program, be sure you understand how to use miles for partner flights — both the number required and special rules for using them.

Extra perks are all well and good, and airline credit cards can be rewarding for many frequent flyers, but they aren’t the best choice for everyone.

If you are thinking about applying, ask these four questions first:

  1. Am I loyal to one airline?
    If you primarily fly one airline and want to maximize your miles towards free flights, an airline credit card could make sense. If not, consider a card that earns bank points or cash back instead.
  2. Do I want miles specifically for flying?
    If your goal is to fly more often for a lower price, airline credit cards can help you achieve that plan by earning miles for your everyday spending. Most miles can’t be used for anything outside flying, however, so it’s important to carefully consider how many miles you need for a flight.
  3. Are frequent flyer perks right for me?
    Most credit cards offer a number of airport bonuses, including priority boarding, checked luggage fee waivers and lounge passes. If you find value in checking luggage for free or stopping at a lounge for a beverage, then an airline credit card is the right choice for your spending.
  4. Will I get the value of the credit card annual fee in return every year?
    Many airline credit cards come with annual fees. If your airline rewards (from perks and free flights) add up to more than the annual fee, then you’re getting a good value from your credit cards.

MagnifyMoney has plenty of options to help you find the right credit card for you. If you want to compare airline credit cards on your own, consider the following:

  • Point values: Not all miles are equal in value. It’s important to understand how many miles you need to take a flight, and if an airline credit card will help you get there.
  • Foreign transaction fees: While most airline credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees, many charge fees of 3%. If you plan on traveling abroad, a card with no foreign transaction fees is a must.
  • Free checked bags: Although most cards come with one free checked bag for cardholders, high-end cards may allow two free checked luggage pieces. Additionally, the number of available pieces varies between cards and airlines, with some offering up to nine people on the same itinerary.
  • Extra benefits: Annual free lounge passes and priority boarding are two of the luxuries offered to most airline credit card holders. In turn, these perks can help you justify the value of credit cards.
  • Point flexibility: Although you often can’t use miles for hotel rooms or rental cars, some programs allow more flexibility than others. If you want to use your miles for other rewards, be sure to understand how much those values would cost.

The information related to Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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Credit Cards

Best Travel Credit Cards April 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

 

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Looking over the sheer number of travel credit cards available is enough to overwhelm anyone. With so many cards offering points, miles or cash back, what should you look for in a new travel rewards credit card?

While having options is a good thing, trying to decide which travel rewards credit card to apply for can be a difficult decision. Consider these four factors before you hit that “apply now” button:

  • No foreign transaction fees. While up to 3% in foreign transaction fees may not sound like much, it can add more than 30 cents to every $10 you spend abroad. If you plan on traveling abroad, choose a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • Good rewards for spending. For every dollar you spend, you should be able to earn rewards that you can apply directly to your next trip: either flights, hotel rooms or other experiences.
  • Sign-up bonuses. Most cards offer a sign-up bonus after a required minimum spend. The sign-up bonus should offer a substantial award that justifies the spending needed to get it.
  • Annual fee. Although most travel cards come with an annual fee, the perks, along with the points or cash back you could earn, should outweigh the cost.

Instead of getting lost looking for the perfect travel rewards card, start with this guide. We found the best travel cards for every lifestyle, each of which offer you some of the best rewards now and over time. If you want good travel rewards for the money you spend, consider adding these credit cards to your wallet.

Best premium travel cards

Premium travel cards come with the highest annual fees but also offer the highest level of rewards. From flexible points that can be transferred to travel partners, to elite hotel and lounge offers, your annual fee can be recovered through the luxury benefits on these cards. If you travel frequently and want to get the best experiences, these are the cards you’ll want.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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The information related to Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99%-23.99% Variable
Annual fee
$550
Rewards Rate
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Why we like it: Because you automatically receive up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers solid rewards for what effectively turns into a $150 annual fee ($550 annual fee minus up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases). Cardholders also receive up to a $100 application fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. In addition, you will earn three Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide, and one point per dollar spent everywhere else. If you make this your primary card, you could earn rewards which value more than the annual fee every year.

Rewards program: Purchases earn points in Chase Ultimate Rewards®, a flexible point program that can be used for travel rewards. One point has a value of 1 cent, but when redeeming for travel through the Chase travel portal, points have a fixed value of 1.5 cents. You can get an even greater value by transferring points to one of Ultimate Rewards® nine airline partners or four hotel partners.

Pros:

  • Flexible points that offer good value. Chase Ultimate Rewards are among the most flexible in the travel space, with nine airline and three hotel rewards transfer partners – giving you many different ways to use your points. You can also use points through the Chase travel portal at a fixed rate of 1.5 cents each towards airfare and hotels of your choice.
  • Exceptional rewards for travel and dining. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a generous amount of points per dollar spent for both travel and dining. If you primarily use this card when you travel, you would earn unlimited triple points on most of your big expenses.
  • Great travel insurance options. In addition to points earning opportunities and flexible points, this card also offers one of the best travel insurance plans available. When you use your card or Ultimate Rewards points to pay for your trip, you are automatically covered with baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation insurance and roadside assistance.

Cons:

  • $550 annual fee. One of the biggest cons of this card is the $550 annual fee, due immediately in the first year. Even though $300 can be recovered from the annual travel credit, you still pay the $550 out of pocket. If you do not travel often, this card may not be right for you.
  • Points limit. You won’t earn higher Chase points for travel until you spend the card’s $300 annual travel credit before the end of your cardmember anniversary.
  • Limited travel lounge access. For the high price tag, this card only offers lounge benefits through Priority Pass, a network of lounges around the world. It does not allow entry into any carrier’s lounges and comes with some surprising rules, including limited accommodation during busy times.
  • No elite status with travel partners. Unlike its nearest competitor, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does not come with any elite status with partner brands. If you get accepted for this card, don’t expect to get to the front of the line at any hotels or car rental locations.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$550
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.

Why we like it: Considered one of the oldest and most prestigious awards cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers the most elite status, luxury experiences and credits for your spending. When you book trips directly with airlines or American Express Travel, you can also earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, allowing your rewards to rack up quickly. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. If you value luxury experiences and airline lounge access, this card could be a better choice.

Rewards program: Your purchases will earn Membership Rewards points, which can be used with American Express or transferred to their travel partners. When using Membership Rewards points at American Express Travel, your points are valued at 1 cent each, so your best use of points is through transferring to their airline or hotel partners. Points transfer to 18 airline and two hotel loyalty programs, offering the most choices for award travel.

Pros:

  • Best lounge access programs. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers you the most ways to get into lounges when you travel around the world. In addition to Priority Pass, you can also enter Centurion Lounges and the International American Express lounges on arrival or departure at select airports, as well as Delta Sky Clubs when you are flying on Delta.
  • Elite status for holding the card. The Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with elite status at three car rental and two hotel loyalty programs: Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, National Car Emerald Club, Hilton Honors Gold Elite and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
  • Credits for Boingo Wi-Fi, Global Entry, Shoprunner and Uber. Even with the high annual fee, this premium card also comes with several credits and free services for frequent travelers. Cardholders get free Boingo Preferred Plan membership, free Shoprunner two-day delivery, along with monthly credits for Uber rides and one Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee waiver every five years.

Cons:

  • Highest annual fees. While the card may offer the most status and immediate benefits, it also comes with the highest fee. At $550 for the annual fee, you will be pay for all your benefits in the first month, before you can get any value from them.
  • Only one bonus category. Another major downside of this card is that there is only one bonus category: five points per dollar spent directly with airlines or travel booked through Amex Travel. If you do not spend much on prepaid hotel reservations or airfare, you can’t maximize this bonus category effectively.
  • Limited airline fee credit. For years, The Platinum Card® from American Express was the only card to offer an airline fee credit. Today, it is one of the most limited: $200 only usable towards airline fees, available for only one airline you choose at the beginning of the year.

 

Best travel cards for simple rewards

While earning points and miles can be rewarding, some of the best programs are simple and straightforward. When we looked for the best simple rewards credit cards, we looked for those that not only offered cash back, but also bonuses for spending and redeeming, along with a low annual fee. After considering all our options, these are the best travel rewards cards for simple rewards.

Best cashback travel rewards card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Why we like it: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has a simple rewards program earning you the same amount of miles for all your spending. So, no need to worry about bonus categories — simply use your card on all purchases to rack up miles.

Rewards program
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. You can redeem miles in several ways: as a statement credit for travel purchases via Purchase Eraser®, for new travel purchases made with the Rewards Center, for a check, account credit, gift card and more. Travel purchases eligible for Purchase Eraser® include: airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and timeshares. Keep in mind that these redemptions must be made within 90 days from the date your travel purchase posts to your account.

Pros:

  • Easy to use rewards. You can easily redeem your points in a variety of ways and Purchase Eraser® makes is simple to get a statement credit for travel purchases made within the past 90 days.
  • New points transfer. You can now transfer the miles you earn to 15 travel loyalty programs.
  • Visa Signature® benefits. As a Visa Signature® card, you can benefit from travel perks including lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, the Visa Signature® Luxury Hotel Collection with over 900 properties and more when you use your card. Certain restrictions, limitations, and exclusions apply.

Cons:

  • Annual fee. The card is rather expensive for earning two miles per dollar toward travel, currently $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. If you don’t travel abroad often, there are other cards that offer the same cash back with no annual fee, though they may lack some of the travel perks this card offers.
  • Fewer points. There are other cards on the market that offer more miles for travel-related spending.

 

Best travel card for millennials

Uber Visa Card

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Uber Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 27.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% back in Uber Cash on Uber, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% back in Uber Cash on dining, hotels, and airfare and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases

Why we like it: The Uber Visa Card offers high cash back rewards at some of the places millennials spend the most — including restaurants, Uber and UberEATS — along with up to $600 in mobile phone protection and a $0 annual fee.

Rewards program
The card offers 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% back in Uber Cash on dining, hotels, and airfare and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases

Cash back can be used as statement credits, credits towards Uber rides, redeemed for gift cards or transferred to a bank account with a limit of $500 in transfers per day. Conditions apply.

Pros:

  • Big cash back categories. The Uber Visa Card offers a generous rewards rate on Uber, UberEats, dining, travel and other purchases. Using this card as your primary option for restaurants and Uber purchases could help your rewards add up quickly.
  • Up to $600 in mobile phone protection. While many cards offer travel insurance, not many offer cellphone insurance. If you pay your cellphone bill with your Uber Visa Card, you could qualify for $600 in protection for accidental damage or theft. Conditions apply.
  • $50 online subscription service credit. Who doesn’t have at least one online subscription service anymore? If you spend at least $5,000 in your cardmembership year, you automatically get a $50 credit for an online subscription you pay with your card.

Cons:

  • Limited transfer options. While the cash back is good, The Uber Visa Card only has one transfer partner for their points right now: Uber. You can’t turn over your points into any other loyalty program, limiting their overall usage.
  • No travel insurance. Although you may get up to $600 in mobile phone protection, you won’t get any travel insurance benefits when paying for your next trip with this card. If your flight gets delayed or your luggage gets lost, your card won’t reimburse any of your expenses.

Read our review of the Uber Visa Card

 

Best travel card with no annual fee

Discover it® Miles

Why we like it: The details make this card a real winner. Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get. The card also comes with strong back-end features, including free Social Security number alerts and FICO® score checks.

Rewards program
The Discover it® Miles offers miles that can be used as cash back to pay for travel experiences. When you book trips using the Discover it® Miles card, you can redeem your miles towards statement credits on the trips, with no blackout dates. Your miles never expire as long as your card is active.

Pros:

  • Good credit security tools and customer service. In addition to having call centers based in the United States, this card also comes with solid credit security tools. These include free FICO® credit scores, Social Security number alerts, Experian® credit report monitoring and the ability to freeze your credit card from the Discover mobile app or website.
  • Wide acceptance in China and Japan. If you travel to Asia often, the Discover it® Miles may be your best bet for secure spending. Discover is accepted by China’s largest credit card network, UnionPay, and one of Japan’s largest payment processors, JCB.
  • Matched miles in the first year. Currently, no other company offers matched points or miles for your first cardholding year, effectively doubling your rewards. If you use this as your primary spending card, you could earn a lot of cash back towards travel.

Cons:

  • No transfer partners. Although doubled miles in the first year and unlimited rewards are great, you may not get to fly first class with them. Miles do not transfer to any airline partners – they can only be applied as cash back for travel expenses.
  • Low miles earning after first year. With no bonus categories, this means you may not earn very many miles after the first year.

Best credit union travel card

Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU

Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU

Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU

Regular Purchase APR
12.49% to 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
First year free, then $75 annual fee thereafter
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 Reward Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Why we like it: We searched over 50 credit unions with few membership restrictions for the best travel rewards credit cards, and found it at First Tech Federal Credit Union. The Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU offers competitive bonus categories (Earn 3 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 Reward Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases), but comes with a lower interest rate than its competitors. The annual fee is first year free, then $75 annual fee thereafter.

How to Qualify: To apply for the card, you must be a member of First Tech Federal Credit Union, which requires you to work for a sponsor company, live in Lane County, Ore., or become a member of the Financial Fitness Association or the Computer History Museum. A membership share in the credit union is $5 (held in a membership savings account), a membership in the Financial Fitness Association is $8, and a membership to the Computer History Museum is $15.

Rewards program
Points earned with the card go towards the Scorecard Rewards program, which fulfills rewards. Your points can be used towards travel experiences including cruises, hotels, or car rental certificates, merchandise available in their catalog, or can be redeemed for cash back. While your points value may vary for awards, cash back rewards are valued at one cent per point.

Pros:

  • Strong bonus categories. The bonus categories offered by the Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU are comparable to other major rewards cards. Earn 3 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 Reward Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. This gives it strong value with better terms for the cardholder.
  • Flexible rewards options. Like other programs, points earned on the Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU can be used toward several different awards. Airfare, cruises, hotel certificates and car rental certificates are all available when you use your points and miles.
  • Lower annual fee and APR than other cards. Credit unions often offer better terms to cardholders than banks, and this card is no exception. The APR may be lower on balances held on the card, and the annual fee is at least $20 less than other comparable cards.

Cons:

  • Points vary in value. The two downsides about Odyssey™ Rewards points are that points vary in value, and they can’t be transferred to other airline partners. Because of this, using them for non-travel rewards may value them under one cent per point.
  • Credit union membership required. While the card is a good deal, you must be a member of the credit union to get the card. If you decide to take your money out of the credit union, your card could be canceled as well.
  • Upfront membership fees. This card is subject to membership in the credit union and an associated organization. Before you can apply for this card, you have to pay $13 in fees.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Best of, Earning Cashback

10 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards for April 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Cash Back Credit Cards for 2017
iStock

Credit card rewards programs come in so many varieties that it can be difficult to find the best cards for your spending habits. A basic, flat-rate card that earns you a certain percentage of cash back on all purchases is probably the simplest bet out there. Typically, rates range from 1-2%. Not shabby, especially if you use that card exclusively. But it’s not exactly something to write home about either.

There are even better cash back rewards offerings out there, some as high as 5%. But with these high-rewards cards, there’s almost always a catch, since most don’t offer 5% cash back across the board.

Every few months, the cards offer a few select shopping categories that can earn 5% cash back. Once those few months are up, the categories change. For example, a card could offer 5% cash back on groceries, gas and airfare from January to March, then switch those categories to wholesale stores, restaurants and gyms from April to June.

Additionally, there are often caps on how much of your spending can qualify for the 5% rewards rate. So if the cap is $1,500, for example, everything past that amount won’t qualify for the higher reward.

The key to maximizing these great cashback card offers is to find ones that offer cash in the categories you use the most. We dug around and found 10 cards that offer at least 5% cash back in some of the most common spending categories including gas, groceries and entertainment.

Access to bonus 5% Categories: Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

The information related to Chase Freedom® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

How it works: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. This translates to a maximum return of up to $75 per quarter on the 5% bonus category. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases outside of the bonus categories. You can also Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Earn 5% back in these categories in 2020 (quarterly categories are announced throughout the year):

  • January to March 2020: Gas stations, select streaming services and internet, cable and phone services.
  • April to June 2020: Gym memberships, fitness clubs and grocery stores.
  • July to September 2020: To be announced.
  • October to December 2020: To be announced.

Another area where the Chase Freedom® shines is in how it allows customers to redeem their rewards. The cash you’ve earned converts into Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Every $1 equals 100 points. You can easily use the cash and apply it to your monthly statement. Or you can convert them into points and use them on travel, gift cards, merchandise, and other services through the Chase Freedom® rewards dashboard.

They make it super simple to redeem points on the go through the Chase Freedom® Mobile app. While you’re shopping, you can pick the merchant from the list on of eligible merchants on your app (popular ones include Nike, Regal Cinemas, Lowe’s, Starbucks and Best Buy). Then tell the app how much cash you want to use. You’ll get a custom e-gift card that you can present at checkout to pay for your purchases.

chasefreedommobileapp

Plus, you can stack the points earned on your Chase Freedom® card with your points on other Chase rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. That just increases the spending power of your points.

The Fine Print: You can’t beat 5% cash back for your spending, especially with no annual fee. The downside is you have to remember to activate the category each quarter by subscribing to the program. But, if you set a reminder to do so, you can earn money without too much effort.

The original 5% cash back card: Discover it® Cash Back

How it works: With the Discover it® Cash Back you earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at
different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.The 5% is limited to $1500 spending per quarter, 1% after that. Activation is required.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories throughout 2020:

  • January through March 2020: Grocery stores, Walgreens, CVS
  • April through June 2020: Gas stations, Uber and Lyft, wholesale clubs
  • July through September 2020: Restaurants and PayPal
  • October through December 2020: Amazon.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com (Activate now)

Using your rewards: Cash back from the Discover it® Cash Back is tracked in dollars and cents. You can immediately apply your cash back earnings to your bank account or as a statement credit toward your bill (note: your minimum payment will still be due). There’s also no minimum rewards value if you want to redeem them for charitable donations.

The fine print: You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spend each quarter you activate. Once you’ve hit the spending limit, you’ll earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases. This adds up to a $75 maximum return on your rotating bonus categories. There is no annual fee.

Extra perks: For new cardmembers, Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up and no limit to how much is matched.

Best for gas and restaurants in 2019: Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
11.00% - 15.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter).

How it works: The Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union lets you earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter). Notably, it offers both gas and restaurants in two quarters. As a bonus New card holders earn 10,000 bonus points for $500 in purchases during first 90 days.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2019:

  • January to March: Groceries and gas expenses
  • April to June: Movies, restaurants and home improvement
  • July to September: Gas and education expenses
  • October to December: Restaurants, hotels and airfares

Using your rewards: This offer stands out as a decent companion card for maximizing cash back. When coupled with the Chase Freedom® or Discover it® Cash Back, you can maximize cash back in different areas during one quarter.

For an example, you can turn to the Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union for 5% at restaurants in Q4. Then pull out the Discover it® Cash Back to make purchases at Amazon.com for another 5% the same quarter.

The fine print: Once again, you’ll need to monitor your spending habits to get the most cash back from a revolving category card. If you choose to use this card along with another one, a good practice would be labeling the cards in your wallet to ensure you use the right one for the right purchases in a given quarter.

One final caveat: While there is no annual fee, Nusenda is a credit union, so you will have to go through the process of applying for membership.

Pick your own cash back categories: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Regular Purchase APR
13.99% - 23.99%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$0*
Rewards Rate
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has a revolving cash back program that’s unique in comparison to the others above because you get options.

Earning cash back: You can earn 5% cash back in two categories of your choosing each quarter limited to the first $2,000 of spend. Then you can choose another category with no cap to earn 2% cash back. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.

The categories for an unlimited 2% cash back (choose one each quarter) are:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

The categories for 5% cash back up to $2,000 (choose two each quarter) are:

  • Home utilities
  • Ground transportation
  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phone providers
  • Electronics stores
  • Car rentals
  • Gyms/fitness centers
  • Fast food
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Movie theaters

Using your rewards: You can redeem cash back for gift cards, statement credit or a deposit into a U.S. bank savings, checking or money market account. The first time you redeem $100 in cash back in a single transaction, you get a $25 Cash+ Bonus.

The Fine Print: The same opt-in revolving category applies here, except you must also remember to choose your categories. There is no annual fee. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is another good example of a card you may want to couple with another that gives you higher cash back for necessities, i.e., groceries. But, for diverse spenders who can benefit from the 5% category options, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is worth considering.

Ideal for typical business expenses: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

How it works: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

Earning cash back: Along with the rewards rate, cardholders earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Using your rewards: You can redeem your cash back as statement credits, which can be applied toward your card balance or directly deposited into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. You can also redeem cash back for travel, gift cards or Apple purchases through Ultimate Rewards.

The fine print: Although the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offers a generous rewards rate on select business expenses, you can only earn the higher cash back rate on the first $25,000 in combined purchases in those categories each account anniversary year.

5% cash back for the Amazon Prime enthusiast: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

The information related to Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.74% to 23.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

How it works: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card is open to Amazon Prime Members, so it’s somewhat exclusive. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Buying items on other merchant websites that have the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card payment option enabled will not earn you 5% cash back.

Using your rewards: The cash back you rack up will apply as a credit to your statement.

Do the math: If you’re not already an Amazon Prime Member, it’s probably not worth signing up to become one just for the card unless you intend to spend big bucks on the site or at Whole Foods Market. You need to spend $2,380 per year at Amazon.com for the 5% cash back to cover the $119 annual membership fee.

The fine print: The fine print of what you can and can’t buy to earn 5% is the only gotcha here. But, if you shop a lot at Whole Foods Market or on Amazon.com often and stick to the rules, you’ll see a nice return from this card. There’s no annual fee for the card, but you must be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $119 a year ($59 for students).

Good fit for the regular Target shopper: Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
25.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com

How it works: For Target shoppers, there’s the Target REDcard™ Credit Card. It gives you a discount of 5% at Target & Target.com (minus any other discounts or promotions). Purchases that won’t earn 5% cash back include:

  • Prescriptions, over-the-counter items located behind the pharmacy counter and clinic services
  • Target Optical™ eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards, Stockpile, Gift of College and lottery gift cards
  • Previous purchases
  • Certain restaurant merchants in Target stores, such as D’Amico & Sons Italian Kitchen and Pret A Manger
  • Target credit account payments, Target Debit Card cash back and cash advances on the Target Mastercard
  • Shipt membership fees
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling charges on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by mobile carriers

Earning and using rewards: The program is pretty simple as far as how Target gives you money back. Your 5% will apply to eligible purchases in your shopping cart at checkout. In addition to 5% cash back, this program includes free shipping from Target.com and 30 extra days for returns.

The fine print: No red flags with the REDcard other than watching out for the purchases excluded from cash back listed above. For faithful Target shoppers, this no annual fee card with the 5% discount may be a no brainer.

Most straightforward 5% rewards card just for gas: Platinum Visa® from Abound Credit Union

Platinum Visa® from Abound Credit Union

Platinum Visa® from Abound Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
10.75% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 5% cash rewards for gas and 1% cash rewards for other eligible purchases.

How it works: The Platinum Visa® from Abound Credit Union makes our list with the most straightforward, no cap rewards program. You can Unlimited 5% cash rewards for gas and 1% cash rewards for other eligible purchases.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear on your statement as a credit.

The fine print: This rewards program is offered by a credit union in Kentucky. You’ll have to take a few extra steps to qualify for membership. If you don’t live in Kentucky or have family in Kentucky, membership is open to anyone that joins the American Consumer Council. There is no annual fee for the card, but you will need to become a member of the credit union.

Only advantageous for military service members living on base: USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA®Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA®Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Regular Purchase APR
13.40% - 27.40% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

How it works: USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card lets you earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members.

Earning cash back: You Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem cash back in increments of $1 through the USAA Rewards Service Center online or over the phone.

The fine print: The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is light on the fine print. Just remember, the 5% category yearly maximum is $3,000 for combined gas and military base purchases per year and not per quarter. There is no annual fee.

The key to earning from any cash back card

In closing, regardless of which cash back card you choose, be sure to pay off your bill in full each month. That’s one underlying trap of any card rewards program. If you carry a balance over time, adding interest into the equation means you may end up paying the credit card company more than what you’re making in cash back.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.