4 best credit cards: Earn rewards, elevate your travels, or save on interest

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There is no single best credit card out there for everyone. But whether you’re looking for cash back or travel rewards, an introductory 0% APR promotion, airline or hotel perks, or a card to help you build your credit history, some cards are better than others. 

While it’s important for you to consider your credit score, spending habits, and feature preferences, the Fortune Recommends™ team evaluated dozens of different types of credit cards to give you an idea of what best-in-class credit card rewards and benefits look like.

Best premium travel card: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers premium benefits, and while it does charge a high annual fee, the fee is hundreds less than competing cards with similar perks.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

INTRO BONUS

Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

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Annual Fee $395
Purchase APR 19.99%–29.99% variable
Foreign Transaction Fee None

View offer

at Cardratings.comOUR TAKE

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card includes valuable travel benefits, like complimentary lounge access and travel protections, with an annual fee that’s up to $300 less than competitors. You’ll earn up to 10x miles, which can be redeemed for travel, statement credits or transfer to 15+ airline and hotel partners.REWARDSPROS AND CONSOTHER BENEFITS

Why we like this card: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card may charge a steep annual fee like other premium travel cards, but it doesn’t make it too difficult to get that value back in the form of perks. On top of the card’s annual travel credit and miles bonus, you’ll also get access to more than 1,300 airport lounges in the Priority Pass, Capital One Lounge and Plaza Premium networks. 

When it comes to redeeming your rewards, Capital One offers more flexibility than other credit card issuers. You can use miles to book travel through the issuer’s travel portal or book on your own and request a statement credit. You can also transfer your miles to select airline and hotel rewards programs, though it can require some effort and attention to detail to maximize your rewards value that way.

Learn more: For more travel card options, check out list of the best travel credit cards. To learn more about miles and points, check out our beginner’s guide to travel rewards.

Pro tip

Capital One Travel regularly adds travel offers to your account but rarely notifies you that they’re there. Right now, I have six offers for discounts on hotels worldwide. I plan on using an offer for $100 off hotel bookings in Australia for a trip this September. Harrison Pierce, Fortune contributor

Best mid-tier travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With a generous welcome bonus and elevated rewards on travel and dining, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a strong value proposition.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

INTRO BONUS

75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual fee $95
Regular APR 21.49%–28.49% variable

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers an impressive welcome bonus, bonus value on travel redemptions and several transfer partners. If you’re looking for luxury travel perks, however, the card may leave you wanting more.REWARDSPROS AND CONSCARD DETAILS

Why we like this card: Despite its modest annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card packs a big punch. The card’s welcome bonus is sizable on its own, but it’s made even more valuable with a 25% boost on travel redemptions through Chase. You’ll also get an annual bonus of 10% of your purchases each year — for example, if you spend $30,000, you’ll get 3,000 bonus points. It even comes with primary rental car insurance.

The card offers bonus rewards on several different spending categories, plus up to $50 toward hotel stays if you book through Chase. You can also enjoy special perks with select partners, including Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Peloton.

While travel redemptions through the Chase portal give you 25% more value, you can also use your points to get cash back, buy gift cards, and more. You can even transfer your rewards to a variety of airline and hotel rewards programs.

Learn more with our guide to Ultimate Rewards and get inspiration on how to spend that welcome bonus with 4 best ways to spend your Ultimate Rewards points.

Pro tip

Chase Ultimate Rewards’ “Combine Points” feature is massively underrated. It allows me to earn points using my Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom Flex card and simply move those points onto my Chase Sapphire Preferred account where they’re instantly worth 25% more in travel redemption value. Chris Butsch, Fortune contributor

Best no-annual-fee card: Bilt Mastercard®

The marquis benefit of the Bilt Mastercard® is the ability to earn points on rent—up to 100,000 points in a calendar year, as long as you use the card five times each statement period—while avoiding the convenience fee landlords typically charge for paying by credit card. But even without that perk the card offers a compelling set of benefits, all for no annual fee.

Bilt Mastercard®

See Rates ad Fees

SPECIAL FEATURE

The Bilt Mastercard offers the unique ability to earn points on rent.

Annual fee $0
Regular APR See Terms

View offer at BiltOUR TAKE

The Bilt Mastercard®’s single biggest advantage is the ability to generate points from rent payments. As of June 2023 the median rent in a major U.S. city was $2,029, and if the average renter paid using their Bilt Mastercard instead of a bank transfer, they’d generate over $300 in travel rewards each year. The Bilt Mastercard is an excellent choice if you’re looking to generate travel rewards or points that can go toward a down payment fund through rent payments. If you’re looking to maximize short-term cash back, however, consider a card with a $200 – $600 cash welcome bonus like the Citi Double Cash Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.REWARDSPROS AND CONSCARD DETAILS

Why we like this card: It can be difficult to earn credit card rewards on rent payments because most landlords either don’t allow credit card payments or charge a hefty convenience fee. With the Bilt Mastercard®, you can make your rent payments through Bilt without the transaction fee and earn rewards on the monthly bill. Just make sure you use the card at least five times per month to earn rewards.

Bilt cardholders earn 3X Bilt Points on dining, 2X on eligible travel, 1X on rent up to 100,000 points per year, and 1X on other spending. You can also earn double the rewards on the first of every month if you use the card 5 times each statement period (up to 10,000 points, excluding rent).

The card also offers some solid insurance benefits, including Cell Phone Protection, Trip Delay Protection, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance, and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. That said, there are no new-cardholder incentives.

Learn more: To learn more about Bilt, check out our Bilt Rewards guide. To see Bilt Rewards in action, check out how paying rent can get you to Europe.

To view rates and fees of the Bilt Mastercard®, see this page

Pro tip

You can choose from lots of options when redeeming your Bilt Rewards points. I think the best is to transfer points to partner hotel and airline programs, and then book a rewards flight or hotel night. I was able to top-up my American Airlines AAdvantage account and book a business-class flight back from Japan because of the points I earned paying rent. Louis DeNicola, Fortune contributor

Best airline card: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers more than enough benefits on Delta to offset the high annual fee.

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