Best Credit Cards - Rewards (Air Miles & Points)

If you're looking for the best credit cards to earn air miles or points for your purchases you've come to the right place.  MoneyRates.com has assembled some of the top rewards credit cards available.

Take your purchases farther with a rewards credit card that gives you miles or points for your preferred airlines and travel partners. Don't miss out on introductory offers and the best rewards credit card deals that literally go the extra mile. From airline tickets and car rentals to hotel rooms and vacation packages, a rewards credit card can give you something back for your spending.

Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on gas, grocery, and utility purchases and 1 point per $1 everywhere else
  • Use the points you earn like cash to pay for almost any purchases you've made.
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Start by earning 20,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 20,000 bonus miles equates to $200 off your next trip!
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on travel and dining purchases
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next travel redemption!
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • 5000 Reward Points bonus on first purchase
  • 2X Rewards for First 60 days
  • $1 purchase = 1 reward point
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99% - 22.99% based upon your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater*
  • 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment
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These quotes are from credit card issuers which have paid for a link to their website. Offers are subject to change without notice and may not be the same for all consumers.

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Best credit cards: air miles and points

By Doresa Banning | Money Rates Columnist

With the wide variety of reward options available now, it's no wonder that credit cards offering miles and points are a popular choice. After all, who doesn't like free trips, food and other goodies?

Earning your rewards

With rewards cards, you earn points or frequent-flyer miles when you make purchases. In most cases, you don't earn points or miles with cash advances, balance transfers and payments.

With most of these cards, you earn between one and two points or miles for each dollar you charge on the card, depending upon your card's terms. Some card issuers will award multiple points for each dollar you spend on purchases at certain locations such as gas stations with your 2012 gas credit card, grocery stores, drugstores and car rental agencies. You might also receive a bonus, such as 30,000 miles or 60,000 points (again, it depends on your specific card) for signing up or for reaching a spending amount within a given time period. Some even offer a free flight after your initial purchase when certain conditions are met. The more miles or points you accumulate, the greater your reward.

Because of the array of options, it's often easy to find a rewards card that suits your lifestyle and spending habits. For example, if you enjoy frequent travel, a card offering frequent-flyer miles would be a better fit than one offering points to be redeemed at one or more retail stores. Conversely, a big shopper might prefer the points card.

Redeeming your rewards

Some cards require you to accrue a certain number of points or miles before redeeming them while others allow redemption anytime. What you can redeem the miles or points for depends on your specific credit card's program. Typical redemption rewards include airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, vacation packages, cruises, airport parking, as well as other goods, services and gift certificates. You may be limited to redeeming your frequent-flyer miles with certain airlines. In some cases, when cashing in your miles, you may only fly on low-volume travel days and when seats are available.

When the time comes for redemption, keep in mind the average monetary value of one frequent flyer mile or one point is 2 cents. Most frequent-flyer programs let you use both miles and cash to purchase airfare or other rewards, which means that if you don't have enough miles for a flight, you can use the miles you have and pay the balance with cash.

With some of these credits cards, your miles or points will expire if you don't use them within a certain period. With others, such as those offered by many larger airlines, the miles don't expire as long as there's some activity on the account every three years. However, airlines can change their expiration policies at any time. In addition, you could forfeit any accumulated rewards if you close your account.

Other fine print

Some credit cards that earn points have a cap on the number of points you can collect. With others, you can earn 'til your heart's content.

Because rewards credit cards are more expensive for the issuers to manage than typical account, they tend to have higher APRs, often in addition to an annual fee. And while most airlines offer free enrollment, you'll likely encounter fees down the line for things such as processing your miles or having an inactive account.

And as with any credit card, paying your account balance monthly ensures you get the maximum benefits.

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