Best Reward / Cash Back Credit Cards

Best Reward / Cash Back Credit Cards


What counts?


Full disclosure: I need credit cards with highest possible across the board rewards.

Already have a few better cards than this, but this seems to me a decent 1.5% card, and there is even a small bonus:

Chase Freedom Unlimited with no annual fee


I have this card too, and use it when no category card matches my purchase, and when gift cards don’t exist for the vendor. The 1.5% is not great, but the reward is amplified if you or your spouse hold a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. In that case, the effective reward is 2.25%+.



But the $450 annual fee on that Sapphire card puts it sadly out of my league.:anguished:


$125 fee if you use the travel credit and global entry credit. Still a tough sell to keep for many.


True. Although that calculation just lost $9 or so because the $300 travel expense to which the credit is applied no longer earns 3% reward.

Priority Pass access may justify the roughly $125 effective cost for some. On the one hand, some of the lounges are heavily restricting Priority Pass people (e.g. Alaska Airlines). On the other hand, there are some airports where you can get like $25 food/drink credit at an airport restaurant every two hours.


Well, I was honest when I posted, above. I’m not an airport rat. I did all my travelling years ago, long, long, before (what I view as) the current travel insanity. Who needs it.

So, again, all I want is across-the-board rewards. Period. You will not find me in any airport lounge. Ever.

Just “show me the money”!


Understood. Just mentioning that for others reading this thread the $450 annual fee isn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

If the Chase UR point ecosystem has no value for you, then I don’t see that Chase FU would be of value to you when there exist plenty of 2% cashback cards.


. . . . with no annual fee?

I have the Citi DC and, obviously, Alliant’s 2.5% offering which has a fee. I acknowledge Alliant’s other 2% fee-free card which is unavailable to persons who have the 2.5% card.

I’m working on the Citizens Bank card which will shortly be at 1.98%. This is documented on another thread. And of course I still have my beloved Priceline card at 2%, worth hundred of bucks a month to me but not a card for which applications currently are being accepted.

And, yeah, I’m doing the Discover thing at 1.5% with hoped-for doubling after the first year. That will be over 2% if they do not cancel me first and the promised dough comes through.

And of course I’m doing quite well with my PayPal (Synchrony) card at a straight 2% across the board and a generous credit line.

But aside from those cards, and remaining free of annual fee, I’m not finding a great many 2% cards out there. So:

Do I turn my nose up at 1.5% across-the-board cards like Freedom Unlimited without an annual fee? No chance. I need all the rewards credit I can get.


Have you run the gamut of all the ones listed at

I don’t want to recommend any that I don’t have myself, so I’ll just suggest the Fidelity 2% card. It supposedly has no limits, and there is no annual fee. You do have to set up an account with Fidelity (for example, a brokerage account), but no reason you can’t withdraw the money once deposited. Also, they redeem in $50 increments. But there’s no annual fee, and it is through Elan Financial (I mention this in case you’ve exhausted other credit card financial services).

At this time, there isn’t a sign-up bonus. So the 2% would only be more valuable than the Chase FU (with sign-up bonus) once you get past $30,000.


American Express Cash Magnet…their newest cashback card… 1.5% on everything…Cool Looking too :slightly_smiling_face:

I just recently got it…AMEX is very good with Credit Lines and CLI Increases (if you have a decent Fico of course…lol)…

Plus Cash Bonus Offers on it…|a%3AAXCB|^B|%23D|d%3ACash%20Magnet-CPS|m%3ABMM|g%3ANA|mcid%3A3572107&utm_adgroup=American%20Express%20Cash%20Magnet|p%3AB|a%3AAXCB|^B|%23D|d%3ACash%20Magnet-CPS|m%3ABMM|g%3ANA|mcid%3A3572107&utm_cmpid=328449329&utm_adgid=1235851179202778&utm_tgtid=kwd-77240790628096:aud-805873253:loc-190&utm_mt=bb&utm_adid=77240749503234&utm_dvc=c&utm_ntwk=o&msclkid=47daf52f6f9117d6e9c5ae74cc4f425d&utm_content=American%20Express%20Cash%20Magnet|p%3AB|a%3AAXCB|^B|%23D|d%3ACash%20Magnet-CPS|m%3ABMM|g%3ANA|mcid%3A3572107


Yes but the $13.50 from the 3% on 300 had brought it below there. CSR only makes sense if someone’s big in the Chase ecosystem. I have 2x Chase Freedom and a chase Ink… And currently a 365k Chase UR balance. And I don’t want to convert too much to Southwest points since their last devaluation brought things down below 1.5cpp. Just one quarter MS of 5% on one of the Chase Freedoms is worth an extra ~2.5% * 1500 = $38. That’s before counting up all the minor benefits of the CSR like lounges.

On a different card topic – Amex. I currently have a hilton aspire ($450 fee) and 2x hilton ascend (95 fee).
My ascends I was planning to downconvert after their anniversaries hit (will get 3 weekend nights between the two of them, just this one time).

However, I just thought of today I could go the insanity route and convert the other 2 to Aspires, for 3 aspires at $450 each. Someone convince me not to!

The way it currently stands, for the yearly $450 fee on the Aspire, every year I get $250 Southwest Airlines, $250 @ Hilton stays, and a free weekend night award (no spend requirement) for the $450. The $500 in credits basically offset the annual fee (unless they make airline more difficult to redeem in the future). So I would get a free night from each of the other cards, for 3 total – could be a full 3 day weekend at a Conrad or such.

The downside would be juggling more annual spend credits and forcing myself to use up $750 @ the hiltons and $750 @ southwest. So I think I won’t actually go this route but it is interesting. I’d also pretty much ONLY be sticking the $500 spend (that gets credited) and the AF on all the cards. So, I think Amex might fire me as a customer if they noticed. If I converted and ended up with 3 ascends, I’d be able to absurdly have >$2k Annual Fees per year which would be a fun story.

Edit: On further research, this is more tempting. With upgrade to aspire, it should (assuming you can hold more than one of the same card at a time) produce a free night immediately and only a pro-rate annual fee. And the other credits can sort of be doubled up. This is looking like it might be worth the effort, at least for one year.


That would be tempting if it could be used at, say, their Hampton Inn properties. But must be one of their resorts.

Point taken that huge annual fees may be worth it if you could otherwise use the benefits.


Fidelity card is good. If doing this, it might be good to setup the cash management account at the same time. It is great for ATM rebates, free checks and intl travel usage.


Yes, it’s supposed to be something from There’s only 201 there, Hilton or higher chains (includes some Doubletrees, Embassy Suites). I prefer Garden Inn to Hampton. Usually around the same price but nicer. And the plebs don’t get breakfast at the Garden Inn without paying $15-20 per person, so the breakfast is better too vs just picking up a banana from Hampton’s (Which you get with Gold or Diamond, and the card provides Diamond status). One card thus definitely made sense for me, because otherwise I was paying $100 for just gold status on prior hilton credit card.

Now, I can say that I didn’t realize it was limited to those 200 “resorts” and I read it as “Hilton Hotels and Resorts” which would have been any property. I stayed at a Hampton Inn and it didn’t credit. I called in after the ~2months or whatever time stated passed, to ask and pulled up and pointed out if you put in the city on the search field on that page, the place I stayed came up. They credited me it for the Hampton stay a couple days later. That’s not how it’s supposed to work though. And, if I had known I would have used it somewhere else and used points that day. You are right, I don’t value airline or hilton credit at face value, especially considering that the airline might be more restrictive in the future too. I value them ~10% off. Even so, if I value the free “any Hilton” night at $200, and the airline and Hilton credit at 90%, that’s $650/year for the $450 fee which is a pretty good ongoing return. Plus the upgrades really look tempting after I see how they charge prorated fees. You can technically use that free night at some places where the cash charge would be ~$800/night too, but I’d never normally stay at.

Looks like if I upgraded both cards and held for a little over a year (say, $600 in fee) before downgrading, I would potentially get 2x the annual credits (one is calendar and one is cardmember year) and 2 or 3 free weekend nights for the cards (terms say you get one immediately when you first upgrade, only once, which I am assuming is once per card to prevent someone from upgrade/downgrade repeatedly to game it. And then you get it based on original cardmember year date.). So, for maybe $1000-1100 I could potentially get $1000 airline credits, $1000 hilton credits, and possibly 4 or 5 weekend nights if I went through with upgrading the other 2 cards --it’s really unclear if they’d get one when upgrade occurs. ~3:1 return for ~$2k benefit. If I really wanted to push my luck on things, I could possibly even downgrade at some point with less than a year of holding the upgraded aspires for a smaller total but higher relative return.

This discussion all assumes I trust Amex enough not to somehow mess up the night awards if I have multiple of the same product.


Well, briefly:

I was aware of the Fidelity card but really do not want to open a Fidelity account. I ceased doing brokerage account stuff many year ago.

I have a couple of Amex cards which I did not mention because they are, for me, garbage bin cards. No place I’m making money with my reward credit cards will accept American Express. I must have over thirty grand of Amex credit between the two cards . . . all worthless to me except that the lines inflate my nominal available credit and, hence, lower my utilization.

I have TWICE tried, on widely separated occasions, to convert my one Amex card to Visa. The bank will not hear of it. I explain to them how worthless the Amex credit is to me, how none of my counterparties will accept Amex, and how much I would use a Visa card with the same credit line. They quite simply could not care less and, in effect, tell me to go pound sand. Oh, well. I tried.:anguished:


Surprising…i have read some articles that in certain overseas countries, AMEX is not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard and i know many years ago, sometimes there was a problem with it’s acceptance here…but in 2018, it seems like most places these days DO take AMEX…Most places i go to generally say: VISA/MASTERCARD/AMEX/DISCOVER welcome here…Yet, from the way you describe it, very few places you try to use your AMEX card will accept it…I’m a bit puzzled! :roll_eyes:


Hi, craig10x

I accept what you wrote. But you have to realize I’m using my reward cards mostly to make money. I’m not really “buying things” per se. And the interchange fees on Amex cards are some of the very highest. So there is just not enough money left over for my counterparties to accept Amex while dough remains available in the transaction to pay me. Said another way, and with only a smidgen of hyperbole, “Amex is taking all the money”.:grinning:

BTW, the fact I’m not “buying things” per se is a key reason my principal focus is on across-the-board reward cards, and not at all on category cards.


I don’t get the discussion above – do you have a question? The wiki has an Everything category that lists all the bests cards for everything accross the board, not category-specific. To summarize, if you don’t have platinum status with BofA, your best choices are Alliant and DC, which you already have.

They are not Amex cards then. Without clarification, “Amex cards” are cards issued by Amex. If they’re BofA cards on the Amex network, they’re “BofA Amex cards,” not “Amex cards.” And yes, it’s not surprising that your card issuer does not allow conversion of a product to another network. This is a common restriction. You can always close the account you don’t use and open a new one you will use, it’s just a trade off.


It was something I viewed as restrictive and unfortunate. I have done at least one conversion prior, recently, at B of A. There might have been others in the past which I’m no longer able to recall.

I do not view conversion restrictions as “common”. I would never shy away from attempting to accomplish a needed conversion in any event, nor would I encourage others to refrain from such attempts. Instead, if you would benefit from a conversion, I counsel you to “go for it”. Worst that can happen is a denial. There is no penalty and there is no nick to your score.

In fact, when I did my recent conversion at B of A, a real benefit was that they did not do a hard pull! I converted a worthless (to me) card into a valuable line (again, to me) while even retaining my stranded rewards! It was sweet! :grinning: