5 Reward Credit Cards for the Responsible

While many of us might see credit cards as a necessary evil, they can actually be an incredible way to not only build (and maintain) your credit but reap financial rewards as well if you’re responsible.

On top of that, if you have what’s considered an ‘excellent’ credit score (800-850), a whole new world of specialized reward cards opens up to you. 

Generally speaking, each reward card can be placed into one of two categories: cash back, and travel.

Cash back cards will earn you back a percentage of what you spend on certain categories, like groceries or gas.

Travel cards can help you rack up airline miles or points you can then redeem for hotel stays or other experiences.

Of course, most of them aren’t free and can come with an annual fee. Still, if you plan to make full use of your card’s specific rewards, you’ll make that money back in no time. 

Here we’ll explore five of the best reward credit cards out there today

Best reward credit cards for excellent credit

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The all-around family card…

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If your family expenses are pretty consistent, this reward card is a great pick.

The Blue Cash Preferred card will net you 6% back on purchases from US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year) and select streaming services, 3% back at US gas stations and transit, and 1% back on everything else.

These cash back rewards are offered as reward dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. 

Additionally, you can give this card a trial run for one year with no annual fee.

If you like it, you’ll pay an annual fee of $95. You’ll also earn a $300 statement credit if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 6 months.

If you travel often…

American Express® Gold Card

If you’re always traveling for business, or just itching to get out and explore the world after spending two years in quarantine, this is the card for you.

While the American Express Gold Card comes with a hefty $250 annual fee, frequent travelers will make that back (and then some) over the course of a year. 

This card will get you 4X points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery, plus, Uber Eats purchases) and at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on any other purchase.

You’ll also get two $120 credits per year in Uber Cash and Grubhub/Seamless credit – great if you’re ordering takeout from your hotel or exploring a new city.

You also don’t have to pay foreign transaction fees, which is nice if you’ll be primarily traveling outside the US. 

Lastly, signing up for this card will get you a very welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months.

For those looking to hit the road

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

This might be a bit of a niche need, but if you’re on the road a lot, it’s nice to have a card that will reward you for gas, EV charging stations, and car rentals.

With the Go Visa Signature Card, you’ll earn 4X points on travel and purchases at gas/EV charging stations. And if you book through the Altitude Rewards Center, you’ll get a nice 5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals. 

On the non-travel side, cardholders will earn a modest 2X points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, on dining, and on eligible streaming platforms. You’ll also get up to $100 in reimbursement toward your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee once every four years. 

When you sign up, you’ll receive an introductory offer of 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days. If you nab those points, it will easily cover the card’s $95 annual fee. 

One of the best welcome bonuses goes to…

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

This is another great travel reward card to consider. While the introductory offer is almost the same as the American Express Gold Card (60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months), those points become worth 25% more when you spend them on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 

With this card, you’ll also have access to a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, along with 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points when dining, 2X points on any other travel purchases, 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, and 1X points on everything else. 

Compared to the American Express Gold Card’s $250 annual fee, this card’s $95 fee is much less imposing, especially if this is your first rewards card.

For frequent flyers…

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Want to pile on those airline miles fast? Definitely consider this card. With an introductory offer of 40,000 miles, you’ll already be off to a great start.

You’ll also be able to pick up 2 miles for every dollar spent on Delta purchases, along with restaurants and groceries. Everything else will net you 1 mile per dollar.

Plus, if you’re traveling as a group, you’ll receive priority boarding and a free checked bag for yourself and up to eight other people traveling on your reservation.

Planning some big trips soon? Take advantage of the first year’s waived fee ($99/year after). 

Ultimately, increasing your credit score will not only land you access to these and other top-of-the-line reward cards but will help you score better interest rates and loan terms when it comes time to buy a new car or move into a new home. 

Learn more about credit cards and why paying an annual fee can actually save you money in the long term here

Get value back on every purchase you make with a rewards credit card!

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