I get asked variations of this question all the time.  “Which credit card should I get?,” “What’s the best credit card?, “What’s the most rewarding card?” There is no single answer to these broad questions.  But I’ll do my best here to answer them anyway.

First, though, if your goal is to earn as many rewards as possible, then you’ve asked the wrong question altogether.  The best way to earn rewards, in my opinion, is to sign up repeatedly for credit cards in order to earn signup bonuses.  Most people are surprised to find that their credit score increases when they start this process (really!).  If you’re interested in earning rewards through credit card signup bonuses, then I highly recommend using the free Travel Freely tool.  Travel Freely will walk you through the steps of signing up for cards, meeting the spend requirements, and cancelling or downgrading before paying the next year’s annual fee.  Here’s our affiliate link to Travel Freely (thank you for supporting us!)

Another approach, which this article is not about, is to juggle many different cards, each with its own purpose.  You might use one card that offers the best rewards for grocery purchases, another for travel, another for restaurants, another for gas, and so on.  If you’re interested in pursuing that type of approach, please see: Best Category Bonuses: Which card to use where?  More on this topic can be found here: Awesome credit card combos.

This article is for those who are looking for that one ideal card (or maybe two) that will offer great rewards for spend, and maybe some nice perks too.

Top 6 Credit Cards

Given the above constraints, here are my top 6 answers to the question “What is the best credit card?”

  • Capital One Venture Rewards
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve + Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Citi Premier + Double Cash
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards
  • US Bank Altitude Reserve
  • Amex Gold Card

Now, here’s more info about each:

Capital One Venture Rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

FM Mini Review: This card earns 2 “miles” per dollar, which are worth exactly 1 cent each toward travel. This makes the return on spend similar to a 2% cash back card (though in this case you must redeem your miles to offset travel in order to get 1 cent per mile). One big advantage over cash back: Capital One allows transfering their “miles” to airline miles at a 2 to 1.5 ratio.


Annual Fee: $95

Card Type: Visa Signature

Base

Earning rate: 2X everywhere

Noteworthy perks: Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® ⚬ Redeem miles for travel at value of 1 cent per mile ⚬ Convert “miles” to airline miles at a (mostly) 2 to 1.5 ratio ⚬ No foreign transaction fees

The Venture Rewards card made the top of the list because it is good for those who want the simplicity of being able to use rewards for any travel any time, and it is also useful for those who know how to maximize value by transferring points to airline miles.  This is the only all-in-one card that I can think of that offers solid value for both type of uses.  You can do better by juggling multiple cards, but if you want the one card that does it all, this is it (along with its business twin: Spark Miles for Business).

See also: Capital One “Miles” Complete Guide.

Chase Sapphire Reserve + Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

FM Mini Review: Excellent all-around card for frequent traveler. Best when paired with no-fee Chase Freedom, no-fee Freedom Unlimited & no-fee Chase Ink Cash


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Visa Infinite

Base

Travel

Dine

Earning rate: 3X Travel and Dining

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ $300 Annual Travel Credit ⚬ Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel ⚬ Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ Priority Pass Select lounge access ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee credit

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Chase Freedom Unlimited

FM Mini Review: Great to earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards in categories with no bonuses. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred!


Annual Fee: $0

Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum

Base

Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases.

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

This combination is still one of my favorites.  Yes, the Sapphire Reserve is expensive at $450 per year, but with its annual $300 travel rebate it’s not as expensive as it sounds.  By combining with the no-fee Freedom Unlimited, it’s possible to get 3X for travel & dining (from the Sapphire Reserve) and 1.5X everywhere else (from the Freedom Unlimited card).  Move the Freedom Unlimited points to your Sapphire Reserve account and you’re golden.  Those points are then transferable to airline & hotel programs, or can be used for 1.5 cents per point value towards travel booked through the Chase portal.  When used this way, the card earnings are effectively 4.5% for travel & dining and 2.25% everywhere…