Best Rewards Credit Cards for March 2021

Maximize your miles, points and cash back by using the right rewards credit card for every purchase.
By Maryalene LaPonsie
MoneyRates has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyRates and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Best-Rewards-Credit-Cards

Getting a rewards credit card just makes sense. It's a simple and easy way to earn money on all your purchases. However, you want to choose your rewards cards wisely.

Let's say you spend $500 a month on your card. At 1% cash back, you'll have an extra $60 in your pocket at the end of the year...

  • ... with 1.5% cash back, you'll have $90...
  • ... but if you can get 5% cash back, you'll earn $300 for the year.

That's a big difference in cash back rewards and exactly why it's so important to select your cards carefully:

To maximize earnings, you want to find the best rewards credit card for your spending habits.

Keep reading for a list of cards that are good for general use, gas, groceries or dining. They were selected based on their earning potential, low fees and bonus offers, which can award as much as additional $300 to those who begin using their cards quickly after opening an account.

Best Overall Rewards Credit Card - Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Everyone should have a good, all-purpose rewards card in their pocket. These aren't the flashiest cards; they're the workhorses, providing a solid rewards rate on everything you buy. They're good to use whenever you can't get a higher cash back reward from one of your other cards.

Our top choices all have similar cash back rates, and none of them charge an annual fee. Plus, they have additional perks beyond cash back. However, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card edges out the competition thanks to its lower ongoing interest rate.

Best Overall Rewards Credit Card Purchase Intro/Period Regular APR Annual Fee Credit Score Needed
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Intro APR: 0%
Period: 15 months from account opening
14.49%-24.99% Variable $0 Excellent, Good
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Intro APR: 0%
Period: 15 months
14.99% - 23.74% Variable $0 Excellent, Good
American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Intro APR: 0%
Period: first 15 monhths
13.99% - 23.99% Variable $0 Good, Excellent

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

The Basics: Wells Fargo offers several solid rewards credit cards that seem to fly under the radar.

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card is one example. It's a particularly good choice for anyone who likes to use a digital wallet. Qualifying digital wallet purchases earn 1.8% cash back for the first 12 months after you open your account. Other purchases net you 1.5% cash back.

>> Among its more unique redemption options, you can redeem your earnings in $20 increments at Wells Fargo ATMs or apply your rewards to the principal of your Wells Fargo mortgage.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases.

Bonus: $150 cash back after spending $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account

Intro APR: 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (must be made within 120 days of account opening to qualify) for 15 months.

Regular APR: 14.49%-24.99% Variable

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Basics: With Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you earn at least 1.5% cash back on every purchases. You'll also be rewarded with a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 within three months of account opening.

Don't forget that the card has a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases (then, 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).

Cash back can be redeemed in multiple ways, including direct deposit and statement credits. You can also use your rewards for travel and gift cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% back on travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal; 3% back on restaurant and drugstore purchases; and 1.5% cash back o your other purchases.

Bonus: You can get $200 cash back after spending $500 within 3 months of opening your account.

Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months.

Regular APR: 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Pro Tip: Although not a formally published policy, Chase is known for having a 5/24 rule. It means the bank typically doesn't approve card applications from those who have opened five or more personal credit cards in the previous 24 months.

So if you're planning to apply for multiple cards, start with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. That way your other applications don't affect your ability to be approved for the card.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

The Basics: We like the American Express Cash Magnet® Card for the fact that the annual fee is $0 and you can get 1.5% cash back on your eligible purchases.

While its welcome offer isn't quite as good as the cards listed above, it does come with some other added benefits. For instance, you'll get free two-day shipping through ShopRunner, access to a global assist hotline, and car rental loss and damage insurance.

Cash back can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards and merchandise.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5% cash back on your eligible purchases

Welcome Offer: Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening account.

Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from account opening.

Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


Best Rewards Credit Card for Groceries - Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Groceries are a major expense for U.S. households. However, you can save money by using a rewards credit card that provides extra cash back for purchases at supermarkets. Further increase your savings by combining your credit card with coupons and store loyalty program discounts.

The clear winner in this category is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express with its 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets.

Be aware, though, that purchases at Walmart and Target do not qualify as supermarket spending for these and other card issuers.

Best Credit Card for Groceries Rewards Groceries Rewards Rate Regular APR Annual Fee Credit Score Needed
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

See rewards description below 13.99% - 23.99% Variable $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 Good, Excellent
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

See rewards rate below 13.99% - 23.99% Variable $0 Good, Excellent

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Basics: If you spend at least $150 a month in groceries, you can easily make back the annual fee for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. And if you spend $6,000 annually at U.S. supermarkets - which would max out the 6% cash back offered in the category - you'll wind up with an extra $360 in your pocket at the end of the year.

You can also get 6% cash back on streaming services and 3% cash back on transit and gas purchases. Then it's 1% cash back on your other eligible purchases.

On top of all that, you can earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate: Earn 6% back on up to $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets (then, 1%); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back at U.S. gas stations; and 1% back on your other purchases.

Bonus: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.

Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months from account opening.

Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Basics: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is another card offering extra cash back for U.S. supermarket purchases. You'll earn 3% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets. There is no annual fee, and the card offers perks such as car rental loss and damage insurance and a global assist hotline. If you need another reason to apply, check out the generous welcome bonus currently being offered.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate: Earn 3% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent annually (then, 1%); 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on your other purchases.

Bonus: Earn $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months.

Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 monhts from account opening.

Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


Best Credit Card for Gas Rewards - Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Gas is another major expense in many households, and so it makes sense to have a card that offers extra rewards in this category.

Some cards offer extra cash back in rotating categories that provide additional rewards for gas purchases during only part of the year. However, we selected the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card as the best credit card for gas rewards since it has enhanced earnings for fuel purchases year-round.

Best Credit Card for Gas Rewards Gas Rewards Rate Regular APR Annual Fee Credit Score Needed
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

3x points at gas stations 14.49%-24.99% variable $0 Excellent, Good

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

The Basics: If you're looking for flexible rewards, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is a good choice.

Rather than earning a cash back percentage, you'll get points for every purchase. Those points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards or travel through the company's Go Far® Rewards portal. The 20,000 bonus points it offers to new cardholders who spend $1,000 in three months have a $200 cash redemption value.

Another perk with this card is cell phone protection coverage, a benefit not offered by many rewards credit cards.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Rewards Rate: You can earn 3x points on dining (eating out and ordering in included); popular streaming services; gas station, rideshare and transit purchases; and travel, including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

Bonus: 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within 3 months of opening account

Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (must be made within 120 days of account opening to qualify) for 12 months from account opening.

Regular APR: 14.49%-24.99% Variable

Annual fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Best Business Credit Card for Gas Rewards - Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Business owners have different needs than other cardholders. They may require additional cards for employees and often have significant spending in specific categories based on their business needs. Business credit cards are designed with these needs in mind.

While there are a number of good rewards credit cards for businesses, we think the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card deserves the top spot for offering 5% cash back on $25,000 combined spending on office supply store and internet, cable and phone expenses each account anniversary year and 2% cash back on $25,000 combined spending at gas stations and restaurants each account year.

Best Business Credit Card for Gas Rewards Gas Rewards Rate Regular APR Annual Fee Credit Score Needed
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

See rewards rate below 13.24% - 19.24% variable $0 Excellent, Good
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

See rewards rate below 13.24% - 19.24% Variable No annual fee Good, Excellent

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

The Basics: The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers lucrative rewards in business categories.

When it comes to fuel purchases, cardholders can receive 2% cash back on up to $25,000 combined spending each calendar year at gas stations and restaurants. There is no annual fee for the card, and it comes with additional perks such as free employee cards.

Rewards can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards and travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Rewards Rate: It's a tiered rewards structure: Earn 5% cash back on up to $25,000 combined spending on office supply store and internet, cable and phone service purchases each account year. Earn 2% cash back on up to $25,000 combined spending on gas station and restaurant purchases each account year. Earn 1% cash back on your other purchases.

Bonus: You can earn $750 cash back after spending $7,500 within 3 months of opening account

Intro APR: Enjoy an intro 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening.

Regular APR: 13.24% - 19.24% variable

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

The Basics: For simplicity, select the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card.

It lets you earn 2% cash back on up to $50,000 spent each calendar year, then 1%

The card gives eligible business owners expanded buying power to spend beyond their credit limit if needed (it isn't unlimited and will adjust based on your card use, payment history and other factors), and there is an intro 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months from account opening (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable). The major drawback for this card is that it doesn't have a welcome bonus offer.

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Rewards Rate: Earn 2% cash back on up to $50,000 spend in a calendar year, then 1%.

Bonus: None currently

Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months from account opening.

Regular APR: 13.24% - 19.24% Variable

Annual Fee: No annual fee

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Pro Tip: If you're self-employed or work in the gig economy, you may be eligible to open a business credit card.


The Key to Understanding How Rewards Cards Work

To make the most of your rewards credit cards you need to understand all the following:

  • The type of card you have
  • Rates and fees charged by the card
  • Earning opportunities and limits
  • Redemption rules

Let's take a closer look at each one…

Types of Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards typically fall into one of two broad categories:

  • Cash back credit cards

    These cards may offer a flat percentage of cash back for every purchase or have tiers in which some purchases earn a higher level of cash back than others.

    Some cards also have bonus categories that either rotate quarterly or allow cardholders to decide which purchases earn a higher cash back reward.

  • Travel credit cards

    Travel credit cards may be general purpose and earn points or miles for a program such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards.

    These programs allow cardholders great flexibility in redeeming for travel. Other hotel and airline cards earn rewards for a specific company's loyalty program, such as Hilton Honors or Delta SkyMiles.

Most of the cards on this list are cash back cards. That's because cash back cards typically offer the most flexibility both in earning and redemption. After all, cash can be used for anything. However, if you travel frequently, you may get greater value from a general-purpose, airline or hotel travel card.

Rewards Credit Card Rates and Fees

The rewards you earn with a credit card can be quickly wiped out by the fees you pay. Check for the following before applying:

  • Annual fees
  • Balance transfer fees
  • Foreign transaction fees

You should also check the interest rate. While some cards, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, have introductory 0% APRs, it is more common for rewards credit cards to charge higher interest rates than those found on non-reward cards.

Earning Opportunities and Limits

Next, you need to consider how you can earn rewards with a card and if there are any limits on what you can receive. Cards make it easy to see how much cash back, points or miles you can earn. Limitations can be a little trickier to find.

Scan the fine print for the following restrictions:

  • Caps on how much you can earn
  • Minimum requirements for redemptions
  • Expiration dates for rewards

Rewards Credit Card Redemptions

Finally, you want to make sure you are able to access your rewards in a way that makes sense for you. Some cards only redeem cash back as statement credits, but most offer several of the following options:

  • Statement credit
  • Automatic deposit to bank account
  • Withdrawal from ATM
  • Paper check
  • Gift cards
  • Travel
  • Merchandise
  • Redemption on shopping sites such as Amazon

>> Most cash back cards redeem your rewards on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Points and miles may have a more variable value.


Strategy: The Fastest Route to Rewards

Once you know the ins and outs of how cards are structured, it's time to select your cards and start earning rewards. Use the following steps to quickly maximize your cash back, miles or points.

1. Plan to use more than one card

To earn the most rewards possible, you'll need several credit cards.

Everyone should have a good all-purpose card such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card.

Then look for cards that match your major spending categories. For instance, if you have a business, you might also want the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.

2. Maximize welcome offers

You get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, with welcome offers.

These sign-on bonuses provide hundreds of dollars or tens of thousands of points or miles to new customers. The catch is that you need to spend a certain amount of money within a specified period, often three months.

To maximize a welcome offer, be sure you can comfortably meet the spending requirement on a card before applying. If you can't, move on to another card or see if you have any big expenses coming up that could help you meet the requirement in the future.

3. Label each card

An easy way to be sure you're using the best card for each purchase is to label them in advance. Affix a sticker or write on the card to indicate how you plan to use it. For instance, you may write "groceries" on your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and "gas" on your Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card.

4. Use cards to pay regular bills

Check with your utility providers, trash service, lenders and other billers to see if they accept credit card payments. If so, use your rewards credit cards to pay your bills and then pay off the credit card with money from your bank account.

However, be aware that some companies assess a surcharge for credit card payments. In that case, you'll have to calculate whether the rewards you'll receive outweigh the costs.

5. Have back-up cards for major categories

If you spend a lot in a certain categories, it only makes sense to have a back-up card if there are spending limits.

You're most likely to encounter this with the best cash back cards for groceries. For instance, you get 6% cash back on groceries for the first $6,000 you spend in a year on your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

After that, it's best to switch to a card such as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express so you can earn 3% cash back on the next $6,000 you spend, up to the $6,000 cap in a year.

6. Don't carry a balance

One of the worst things you can do with a rewards credit card is to carry a balance. Many of these cards have higher APRs, and the interest you'll pay on a balance will quickly negate the rewards you earn.

7. Downgrade unused cards with annual fees

You may find at some point you end up with a card that isn't as valuable or useful as expected. If it has no annual fee, you can simply discontinue using it. However, you don't want to pay an annual fee for a card you aren't using. Still, cancelling that card could have an impact on your credit score by increasing your debt utilization ratio.


Credit Score You Need for a Rewards Card

Many rewards credit cards are looking for applicants with credit scores at or above 700. If yours is lower, take some time to improve your credit before applying. This can be done by making timely payments and reducing your debt.


Methodology

Everyone has different priorities and that means your top rewards credit cards may be different than ours. However, we looked for cards that we felt would be most beneficial to the widest assortment of people.

To rank cards, we weighted them based on the following factors and in this order:

  • Percentage of cash back offered
  • Value of welcome bonus
  • Cost of annual fee
  • Other card perks and benefits
Give Us Feedback - Did You Enjoy This Article? Feel Free to Leave Your Comment Here.