Best rewards credit cards for January 2022

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Best rewards credit cards for January 2022

A rewards credit card can be extremely lucrative for all types of shopping when used wisely. Finding the right rewards credit card depends on your spending habits. There are flat-rate rewards credit cards, store-specific rewards cards and some that offer bonus rewards for certain spending categories.

Subject to the rules of each individual card, when you make purchases with your rewards card you can earn points, cash back or miles for travel. On top of that, these cards often offer an opportunity to earn a welcome bonus and come with other perks. Here are our top partner offers for the best rewards credit card in every category. We’ll update this list periodically. 

Intro BonusIntro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

APR14.99% – 23.74% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% on all other purchases

Annual Fee$0

Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Balance Transfer APR14.99% – 23.74% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% on all other purchases

Our Take

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card, you earn 5% cash back on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining, 3% on drugstore purchases and 1.5% flat-rate cash back on all other purchases. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers all-around great rewards, with one of the highest flat credit card rewards rates out there. 

New card members will also enjoy the welcome bonus, for which you earn an additional 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases in your first year. This rewards credit card works well whether it’s the only card in your wallet or used to supplement a specific category card, which may offer higher bonuses for a particular type of purchase.

Intro BonusGet 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.

APR15.99% – 23.99% Variable APR on purchases

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual Fee$75

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Balance Transfer APR15.99% – 23.99% Variable APR on balance transfers

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR

  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Our Take

Alaska Airlines offers one of the highest-valued reward miles on the market — which is saying something of a card with only a $75 annual fee. The Points Guy values Alaska Airline miles at 1.8 cents per mile, meaning you receive approximately 5.4% value back on Alaska Airline purchases, and 1.8% value back on all other purchases. Though they fly to a handful of international destinations, the routes are generally domestic. 

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card* offers other perks for your travels, including Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) and 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 or more on the card within the first 90 days of account opening. You can also enjoy free checked bags for you and up to six guests on your reservation, no foreign transaction fees and the opportunity for instant approval.

Intro BonusEarn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

APR16.99%-23.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent

Reward Rates

  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Annual Fee$550

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater

Balance Transfer APR16.99%-23.99% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees $0

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Our Take

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a general travel rewards credit card, meaning you earn points on any travel or dining purchase, making it a great option for international travel. The Points Guy values points for this card at 0.02 cent, meaning you’re effectively earning a 20% return on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (10x points), 10% return on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (5x points), 6% return on other travel and dining purchases (3x points) and a 2% return on all other eligible purchases (1x points). You can earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases after earning the $300 annual travel credit. And through March 2022, you can earn 10x points on Lyft purchases, effectively a 20% return based on The Points Guy’s value.

While the $550 annual fee for this Chase credit card is on the high side, an annual statement credit of up to $300 for travel purchases essentially brings the yearly commitment down to $250. The signup bonus earns you 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months (worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards). Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders also get a Priority Pass™ Select membership, giving them VIP lounge access at more than 1,300 airport lounges across the world for more comfortable traveling upon enrollment.

Intro Bonus$300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

APR15.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Excellent, Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services
  • Earn 3% at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases

Annual Fee$95

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.

Balance Transfer APR15.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR None

  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services
  • Earn 3% at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases

Our Take

The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card* boasts a headline rate of 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, which includes bars and restaurants, as well as tickets to movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, pool halls and bowling alleys. But the rewards don’t end with dining and entertainment: You can pick up another 3% cash back on your grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% on everything else. And as long as you spend $3,000 in the first three months after opening your account, Capital One will give you a $300 welcome bonus.

Intro BonusEarn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

APR14.99%-24.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Excellent, Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Annual Fee$0

Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5

Balance Transfer APR14.99%-24.99% Variable APR

Foreign Transaction Fees 3%

Penalty APR None

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Our Take

With the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, you don’t need to worry about activating rewards categories, rotating categories or which card gives you the most back. Things are kept simple via a 2% cash rewards rate on purchases — and no annual fee. Most credit cards offer only a 1% blanket cash rewards rate if at all, so you’re in good shape with this card. 

If you spend at least $1,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of account opening, you earn a $200 cash rewards introductory bonus. Yet another perk is 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (14.99% to 24.99% variable APR thereafter).

FAQs

How do you value points and miles to compare cards?

To keep our comparisons accurate and consistent, we use The Points Guy for monetary valuations of points and miles. The Points Guy updates points valuations on a monthly basis and addresses inconsistencies across cards via a proprietary scoring algorithm.

Is cash back better than points?

While cash back is a more accessible concept, cash back and points both have their strengths and weaknesses. While cash back can be more universally applicable, points are often worth more in value than their cash-back equivalents. Depending on your shopping preferences and plans, you may find points or cash back to be more valuable to you.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles — with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different — and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the “welcome bonus” and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card’s respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

*All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Go to Publisher: CNET News
Author: Joe Van Brussel