6 Best Rewards Credit Cards to Have in Your Wallet in 2017

top credit cards

The rewards credit card market is booming. And as long as you keep a good credit score, you can access an amazing world of travel and cash back rewards.

So if you dream of traveling the world but find yourself held back by money, or you just want to get cash back every time you make a purchase, read on to find the top credit cards for 2017.

What rewards do you want to earn?

Before you start looking at credit card deals to choose the best card for you, it’s important to set a goal around how you want to earn rewards and how you want to use them.

Are you looking to book a free trip to Thailand or Paris? Or do you want to earn extra money to buy a new gadget or gift for someone special? Knowing which rewards you want helps you separate good credit cards from top credit cards for your needs.

Personally, I am a serious travel hacker. So I’ve used credit card rewards for free or cheap trips to London, Paris, Spain, Portugal, and cities all over America.

However, some people don’t want to travel. So they’d probably be better off with cash back rewards instead of travel rewards.

Credit card rewards are typically going to come in one of those two categories, so decide now whether you want cash back or travel rewards.

Top credit cards for travel rewards

The top travel rewards credit cards can vary based on your credit history, spending habits, and your feelings on annual fees.

All of the cards below are cards I either have or personally recommend to friends and family. And remember, annual fees aren’t necessarily a bad thing if you earn enough rewards to cover the cost.

With some of these signup bonuses, the bonus alone is worth a heck of a lot more than the cost of the annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is arguably the #1 travel rewards credit card available today.

While it has a steep $450 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve pays you back in huge dividends. This is a powerhouse card that came onto the market near the end of 2016.

Highlights:

  • You get up to $300 in statement credits each year as reimbursement when you put travel purchases like airline tickets and hotel reservations on this card.
  • Receive 3x points on travel and dining purchases worldwide.
  • If you pay $100 for Global Entry or $75 for TSA Pre-Check, Chase refunds the cost to your card as a statement credit.
  • Travel like an elite traveler with access to over 900 travel lounges.
  • Use your points to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for a 50 percent point value bonus.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase rewards cards are so great that they claim two spots on the credit cards list.

I have had the Chase Sapphire Preferred card in my pocket for years, and it’s led to thousands of dollars in free travel. This card has benefits not quite as good as the Sapphire Reserve, but the annual fee is $95 instead of a steep $450.

Highlights:

  • The annual fee is waived for your first year.
  • You get 50,000 point bonus after spending $4,000 during the first three months of opening your account.
  • Receive 2x points per dollar spent on restaurants and travel.
  • Use points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or transfer to partners for 25 percent higher redemption value.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

For airline specific cards, the Citi /AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard is a powerhouse.

This one also has a steep annual fee at $450 per year, but it comes filled with benefits. You’ll make up that $450 in no time thanks to a big signup bonus and other perks.

The card is best for people who live in an American Airlines hub city or prefer American Airlines and its alliance partners.

Highlights:

  • 50,000-mile signup bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months after opening a new account.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit worth up to $100.
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent at American Airlines and one mile everywhere else.
  • Free access to American Admirals Club lounges when traveling with American Airlines.

Top credit cards for cashback rewards

If you prefer cash in your pocket to miles and points, here are some top credit cards to consider for 2017.

Citi Double Cash

Some cashback cards require you keep track of rotating categories or register quarterly to get your bonus earning cash back.

The Citi Double Cash card makes it much simpler. You’ll earn one percent cash back on every purchase you make, then another one percent when you pay your bill. That’s an effective two percent cash back on all purchases.

Highlights:

  • Earn two percent cash back on all purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 18 month 0% APR introductory period on balance transfers.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday

Another no annual fee card, Blue Cash Everyday from American Express offers up to three percent cash back where you shop most.

Highlights:

  • Three percent cash back for up to $6,000 in annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets
  • Two percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and select department stores
  • One percent cash back everywhere else.
  • $100 bonus cash back after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
  • Zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfer for 12 months.
  • No annual fee.

Chase Freedom

Another card in my wallet, Chase Freedom offers five percent cash back on rotating categories that change every quarter.

Click on a link in an email from Chase to enroll in the five percent cash back bonuses quarterly. You can redeem for cash back or transfer points to a connected Ultimate Rewards card like Chase Sapphire Preferred to use for travel.

Highlights:

  • Five percent cash back on popular rotating categories like grocery stores, gas, and wholesale clubs. Five percent bonus limited to $1,500 in purchases per quarter.
  • Earn one percent cash back everywhere else.
  • No annual fee.

At the end of the day, it’s important to pick a credit card that fits in perfectly with your spending habits, financial goals, and everyday lifestyle.

I mean, if you’re using a credit card to make purchases, why not try and earn some perks in the process?

And if you’re looking for more information on how to best use rewards credit cards without getting into debt, check out our article here.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print, understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.