Best rewards credit cards: Team Clark’s picks

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Best rewards credit cards: Team Clark’s picks
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If you’re searching for the best rewards credit card, money expert Clark Howard says remember just two words: cash back!

“No one can tell you where you can and can’t spend your cash,” Clark says. “The best cards pay you 2% cash back on everything you do, automatically. It’s so simple!”

Although Clark likes cash back the best, many people prefer cards with large sign-up bonuses to earn points or miles for travel.

RELATED: 5 best travel rewards credit cards

Best rewards credit cards: Team Clark’s picks

Finding a new rewards credit card requires you to think about your spending and the rewards you want. I’ve reviewed hundreds of the latest offers and selected eight of the best overall picks.

Best rewards credit cards: Table of contents

  1. Citi Double Cash
  2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
  3. PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express
  4. Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature
  5. Costco Anywhere Visa Card By Citi
  6. Sam’s Club Mastercard
  7. Uber Visa Card
  8. Savor Rewards from Capital One

Remember, rewards credit cards are for people who avoid interest charges by always paying their statement balance in full.

If you ever need to carry a balance, then you shouldn’t worry about earning rewards and instead focus on finding a low-interest credit card. This aligns with Clark’s credit card philosophy.

Read on to compare our picks for best rewards credit cards and let us know your favorite in the comments below…


Citi® Double Cash

If you just want a lot of cash back on all of your purchases, this card makes sense.
Sign-up bonus None
Rewards 1% cash back at the time of purchase and another 1% when you pay, for up to 2% total
Annual fee None
Advantages
  • No annual fee
  • High rate of return
Drawbacks
  • No sign-up bonus
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Learn more: Citi Double Cash review


Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®

If you’re tired of dealing with traditional airline miles, then you’ll like being able to redeem these rewards for any airfare, hotel, car rental or other travel expenses.
Sign-up bonus 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within 90 days of account opening
Rewards
  • Double miles on all purchases, and miles are worth one cent each as statement credits toward any travel purchase
  • 5% rebate on rewards redeemed, for a net 2.1% return
Annual fee $89, waived the first year
Advantages
  • Large sign-up bonus
  • Strong rate of return on all spending, with no categories to worry about
Drawbacks $89 annual fee, waived the first year

Learn more: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard review


PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express®

This is probably the best travel rewards card you can get with no annual fee, and Clark is a big fan of PenFed Credit Union.

Sign-up bonus 25,000 points after spending $2,500 on purchases within three months of account opening
Rewards
  • 3x points on all travel and commuter expenses (4x for PenFed account holders)
  • 1.5x points elsewhere
  • Points can be redeemed for travel reservations, generally worth slightly less than one cent each
Annual fee None
Advantages
  • Competitive rewards whether or not you’re spending in the bonus categories
  • $100 TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Annual $100 air travel credit
Drawbacks Points are worth slightly less than other reward points

Learn more: PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express


Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature

This card acts as a savings and investment tool, not just a cash back credit card.

Sign-up bonus None
Rewards 2% cash back deposited in a qualified Fidelity savings or investment account
Annual fee None
Advantages 2% is a high rate of return for a cash back card with no annual fee
Drawbacks
  • No sign-up bonus
  • Must have a Fidelity account

Learn more: Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature


Costco Anywhere Visa Card By Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card By Citi

Great card for gas, and good rewards for travel and dining, but nothing special for use at Costco or elsewhere.
Sign-up bonus None
Rewards
  • 4% cash back on gas
  • 3% at restaurants and travel
  • 2% at Costco
  • 1% elsewhere
  • You receive a certificate for your cash back once a year
Annual fee None, with paid Costco membership
Advantages 4% cash back at gas stations and excellent returns elsewhere
Drawbacks
  • No sign-up bonus
  • Cash back is only offered as an annual credit each February and must be redeemed in-store

Learn more: Costco Anywhere Visa Card By Citi review


Sam’s Club® Mastercard®

This card earns even better cash back on gas than the Costco card, but it offers very poor rewards for shopping at Sam’s Club itself.
Sign-up bonus  $45 statement credit after opening an account and making a $45 purchase the same day
Rewards
  • 5% cash back on gas
  • 3% on travel and dining
  • 1% elsewhere
Annual fee None
Advantages High rates of cash back on gas, travel and dining
Drawbacks
  • No sign-up bonus
  • Mediocre cash back for shopping at Sam’s Club and other non-bonus spending

Learn more: Sam’s Club Mastercard


Uber Visa Card

This is a card for those who spend a lot on eating out, traveling and online purchases. It offers a high rate of return on these purchases, but like many similar cards it doesn’t do that well elsewhere.
Sign-up bonus  $100 after spending $500 on purchases within 90 days of account opening
Rewards
  • 4% cash back or Uber credits for dining, including UberEATS
  • 3% cash back on airfare, hotels and vacation rentals
  • 2% for online purchases including entertainment streaming
  • 1% elsewhere
  • $50 credit toward online subscriptions after spending $5,000 in a calendar year
Annual fee None
Advantages
Drawbacks
  • Modest sign-up bonus
  • Low 1% return on non-bonus spending

Learn more: Uber Visa Card


Savor Rewards from Capital One

Savor® Rewards From Capital One®

A great card for those who spend enough on dining and entertainment to justify the annual fee.
Sign-up bonus  $500 after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening
Rewards
  • 4% cash back or dining and entertainment
  • 2% at grocery stores
  • 1% elsewhere
Annual fee $95, waived the first year
Advantages
  • Huge sign-up bonus
  • High rates of cash back on dining and at grocery stores
Drawbacks
  • High annual fee
  • 1% cash back outside of bonus categories

Learn more: Savor Rewards from Capital One

More credit card content from Clark.com: 

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Jason Steele About the author:
Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards, award travel, and other areas of personal finance. You can check out his website at JasonSteele.com.
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