What Can You Get with a Rewards Credit Card?

Reading time: 6 minutes

6 minutes read

Category: Credit Cards
Posted on: 05/06/2021
a happy couple sits on their couch wearing flower leis and excitedly holding up their passports and tickets

Rewards credit cards can be grouped into two categories: cash-back and travel rewards. Cash-back cards, like their name suggests, pays you back a specified percentage of your transaction. Travel rewards allot you points or miles for every dollar you spend that you can later redeem on travel-related events like flights, hotels, or car rentals.

For most rewards credit cards, what you’ll get are points described as cash back. Cash back rewards are actual cash that’s applied against your credit card balance, or you can choose to receive it as a check or deposit. Travel rewards can be redeemed for free flights, a free night’s stay, or other discounted travel-related perks.

Travel rewards can get specific. Some are generous and let you use your earned points on any flight or any hotel chain, but other cards only allow you to redeem your rewards at a designated airline, hotel, or brand. At first glance, this doesn’t sound beneficial, but some travelers prefer a branded travel rewards card, and others don’t. Like all rewards cards, it simply depends on your preferences, how you spend money, and where you want your rewards.

Travel Rewards

There are so many credit cards out there that can rake in the travel rewards. Here are a few that can grab you additional travel rewards, hotel rewards, and premium travel rewards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

This rewards card is named quite often for travel rewards. It has an enticing intro offer of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of opening your account. You earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants globally and 1x points on everything else. You also earn 25% more value when you redeem your rewards for travel-related expenses like hotels, airfare, and rentals through Chase’s rewards program (Chase Ultimate Rewards).

What You Get:

  • 2x points on travel and dining
  • 1x point on everything else
  • 60,000 points sign-on bonus
  • 25% more value when you redeem for travel expenses at Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The next tier is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so if you travel frequently, you could earn even more points, although there is an annual fee of $450. A similar intro offer will have you earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within three months of opening your account. You’ll get a $300 annual travel credit on your account anniversary, and that 25% more value on travel-related expenses at Chase Ultimate Rewards increases to 50%. You’ll earn 3x points on travel and dining, 1x point on everything else, and $0 foreign transaction fees—just to name a few perks.

What You Get:

  • 50,000 sign-up bonus
  • 3x points on travel and dining
  • 1x points for everything else
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 1:1 point transfer to designated travel loyalty programs
  • Access to international airport lounges through Priority Pass Select
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
  • 50% more value at Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel expenses

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Traveling often means hotel stays, and a hotel credit card can earn you more rewards than everyday cards. 

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card has a promotional offer that will earn you 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account. Every year, you’ll receive a Free Night Award on your account anniversary. You’ll earn 6x Bonvoy points for $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2x Bonvoy points for everything else. You can earn 15 Elite Night Credits per year, earn unlimited Bonvoy points, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

What You Get:

  • 75,000 bonus points
  • Free Night Award on your card’s anniversary
  • 6x points earned per $1 at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2x points earned per $1 on everything else
  • 15 Elite Night Credits every year

Cash-Back Rewards

What can you really get from a cash-back rewards credit card? It depends on what category you tend to spend the most in. Some cash-back cards favor dining, others have higher rewards for groceries or gas, and some cards simply have a better rewards system than others.

Discover it Cash Back

Discover’s only fault is that it’s not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard, but this card is mentioned as one of the best rewards cards out there, it’s hard to pass up. 

Its intro offer begins with Discover matching all of the cash back you’ve earned in your first year—no limits. 

Earn 5% cash back at revolving categories like gas, groceries, or restaurants, earn unlimited 1% cash back on everything else. Reem your points at any time as they won’t expire.

What You Get:

  • Discover matches your first year’s cash back automatically
  • Earn 5% for purchases made in designated categories that revolve quarterly
  • Earn 1% back on everything else
  • Points can be redeemed anytime and never expire
  • Rewards can be used at Amazon.com checkouts

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Customize where you earn your cash-back rewards with U.S. Bank’s Visa card. In your first 90 days of account opening, you can earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 in qualifying purchases. You’ll earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 purchases on your two selected categories (that’s $400 in cash back). You’ll earn 2% in an everyday category that you choose and 1% on everything else. There’s no limit to what you earn and no annual fee.

What You Get:

  • $150 bonus
  • 5% back on your first $2,000 purchases in the two categories of your choice
  • 2% back on your chosen everyday category
  • 1% back on everything else
  • Unlimited cash back

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

There’s no annual fee and a sizable bonus offer with Wells Fargo’s reward card: earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. You’ll earn 3x points on eating out and eating in, 3x points on travel, 3x points on gas and transit, 3x points on streaming services, and 1x points on everything else.

What You Get:

  • 30,000 bonus points
  • 3x points on dining in or out, travel, gas, and transit
  • 3x points on streaming services
  • 1x point on everything else

How to Get the Most Out of Your Rewards Cards

There are an overwhelming number of rewards credit cards out there, but that’s good news for you. When you figure out what category you’re spending the most in (travel, dining, groceries, etc.), you can then begin to look for a card that matches your habits in rewards. Some credit cards like U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card will even let you select your categories to where you want to receive your cash back.

The trick is sticking with the most rewarding card instead of trying to use several. You earn better rewards with a single card rather than trying to spread them out over several cards that may not have as much earning power. Putting more spending into one card with a better reward system means more points and more rewards for you.

It can be easy to forget what your cards earn you, so if you carry more than one, jot down what they earn you in each category. Drop the ones that charge you an annual fee unless you rely on them enough to balance it out. Know when your points expire, so you don’t lose out on your rewards.

Finance Guru

Finance Guru