The Most Profitable (and Eco-Friendly) Credit Card Rewards Programs in 2021

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Earn points toward free travel, gift cards, and more with a credit card rewards program. Which one would be best for you?

Credit card rewards programs can be a great way to earn money back on credit card purchases, but they vary in the level of rewards and the requirements for earning them. 

We’ve compiled a list of credit cards with credit card rewards programs that will suit any credit card holder’s needs. Read on to learn more about each credit card’s reward program!

Types of credit card rewards programs

There are credit card rewards programs that offer cash back, points for travel or other purchases, airline miles, and hotel credit. Here are some of the more popular credit card reward offers:

Cash Back

Cashback credit cards typically provide between one percent and five percent cash back on all purchases, depending on the type of credit card you have. 

Cashback is received in the form of a statement credit or checks sent to your billing address after several weeks or months. 

Points for Travel/Flight Miles

If you love to travel, flight miles might be more your speed. 

Flight miles centered credit cards usually provide between one and two airline miles for each dollar spent, but only with the use of a co-branded partner program (for example, you can earn United Airlines Miles if you have a Capital One Venture Card).

Hotel Reward Points

If hotels are your thing, hotel rewards cards may be the credit card for you. Hotel rewards cards usually provide between five and ten hotel points for every dollar spent at their partner hotels. 

Specialty Rewards Points

Finally, specialty rewards cards offer points in exchange for purchases at specific retailers or specific causes (for example, zero-waste living or eco-friendly purchases). 

The 5 most profitable credit card rewards programs of 2021

Our favorite card for frequent flyers

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be a great option if you’re looking to gain points for travel-related spending. 

Annual Fee: $95

Rewards Rate: You can earn five times the points on travel and dining purchases, two times the points at gas stations, and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere.

Introductory Offer: 100k points when you spend $4k within 90 days of opening an account, which can be redeemed for $1250 in travel statement credits or transferred 1:1 to your airline frequent flyer account.

Recommended Credit Score: 720+

Our Rating: 4.5/5

The Pros 

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The $95 yearly fee is waived the first year during seasonal promotions
  • Points can be transferred to partner airline programs. 

The Cons 

  • Very hard to get approved if you don’t have a long, excellent credit history 
  • High APR of 15.99%–22.99%
  • The sign-up bonus is only available when you spend $4000 in three months.

This credit card offers high cashback rates at restaurants and hotels, along with 2X points on all other purchases. The best credit card for travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points after spending $4000 within the first three months.

Our favorite card for newbie travelers

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could be a great choice for the keen traveler looking for a card to introduce them to airmiles and travel perks. 

Annual Fee: $95

Rewards Rate: Two miles per dollar spent. Miles can be redeemed for travel purchases, including airfare and hotels (you still have to pay taxes on these transactions), or used as credit towards Capital One Venture’s purchase protection service that protects your new purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to 120 days.

Introductory Offer: 60,000 points when you spend $3000 within 90 days of opening an account.

Recommended Credit Score: 700+

Our Rating: 4.2/5

The Pros 

  • High rewards rates on travel purchases and no foreign transaction fees. 
  • You can redeem your miles for travel or use them as a credit against Venture’s purchase protection plan. 
  • Good introductory APRs on balance transfers and purchases of 0% APR for 12 months.

The Cons 

  • Points can be only used for travel
  • Only available for people with excellent credit scores (700+).
  • You have to pay taxes on travel purchases when you redeem miles, which can be costly depending on where you’re going and how many miles are required for your ticket.  

This card is perfect if you’re new to flight miles and not sure how to use your miles. The Capital One Venture card offers a good introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, as well as double-miles for all travel-related transactions (including taxes). 

The sign-up bonus is 50k miles when you spend $3000 within 90 days of opening an account––enough for a round-trip flight to Europe or Asia (depending on where you are departing from)!

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Our favorite card for cashback rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited can be a solid card choice for those looking to prioritize cashback on everyday purchases. 

Annual Fee: $0 

Rewards Rate: The cashback rewards programs that the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers are pretty impressive. You earn one 5% cashback on travel, 3% cashback on dining, 3% cashback on all drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cashback on all other purchases. 

Introductory Offer: 15k sign-up bonus when you spend $500 within 90 days of opening an account.

Recommended Credit Score: 690+

Our Rating: 4.7/5 

The Pros 

The Cons 

  • You don’t get any travel benefits like reimbursement of baggage fees or airport lounge access with this card.
  • The sign-up bonus is only available when you spend $500 within 90 days of opening an account.
  • If your credit isn’t quite up to snuff, either because your score doesn’t meet the recommended minimum or because you just don’t have a long enough history with credit cards, then this card might not be for you. 

This card is perfect for people who want to earn cashback without having to keep track of categories or caps. By far our favorite cashback credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a great introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. A great choice if you want to maximize your cashback rewards.

Our favorite card for everyday purchases

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card offers great point bonuses on everyday spending. 

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: The Amex EveryDay card offers two points for every dollar spent on supermarket purchases including grocery stores and one point for all other purchases. You can get a 20% bonus on your points if you make 30 or more purchases per billing cycle.

Introductory Offer: 10,000 points when you spend $1000 within 90 days of opening an account.

Recommended Credit Score: 670+ 

Our Rating: Our Rating: 4.2/5 

The Pros 

  • No introductory APR on balance transfers or purchases for 15 months.
  • No annual fee
  • An average recommend credit score 

The Cons 

  • Rewards can only be redeemed for statement credits, and points expire after 12 months of account inactivity.
  • The sign-up bonus is only available when you spend $1000 within 90 days of opening an account. 

This credit card is a great introductory card for those that don’t have a long credit history. It has no annual fee and an introductory APR on purchases for 15 months, which can help you get out of debt faster if you’re trying to pay down existing balances from other cards. 

Plus the rewards program is great––double points at supermarkets mean that with each purchase where you use your card, not only do you get your regular amount in points but then another 20% on top of that. There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn and redeeming them is easy!

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Our favorite card for low interest

The BankAmericard® Credit Card not only boasts no annual fee but it has an enticing introductory low interest offer.  

Annual Fee: $0 

Rewards Rate: The BankAmericard credit card offers rewards points that can be redeemed as a statement credit for any purchase you make with the card.

Introductory Offer: No introductory APR on balance transfers or purchases for the first 18 months.

Recommended Credit Score: 670+ 

Our Rating: Our Rating: 4/5

The Pros 

  • No annual fee to use this card. 
  • No interest charge when you pay your bill in full each month. You’ll enjoy no interest on purchases if you do choose to carry a balance for the first year. 

The Cons 

This card is perfect for anyone that wants to maximize their savings without having to pay an annual fee. Plus it has a great interest rate and rewards program so if you’re looking for the lowest APR on purchases, this is one of our favorites! 

Our favorite eco-friendly credit card

The Aspiration Zero can be a great option if you’re looking for rewards for yourself and for the planet.  

Annual Fee: N/A

Rewards Rate: Up to 1% cashback on every purchase.

Introductory Offer: With the Aspiration Zero card, Aspiration plants a tree every time you make a purchase and has a rewards program that lets you plant a tree too! 

Recommended Credit Score: 700+

Our Rating: 4.7/5

The Pros 

The Cons 

  • The card is still new, so it may take time to build up a comprehensive rewards program 

This card has a great rewards introductory program––you earn up to one percent on every purchase! Plus with the Aspiration Zero card, Aspiration plants a tree every time you make a purchase. 

That means if you use this credit card for all of your day-to-day purchases like groceries or gas, not only are you earning rewards but also helping to fight climate change. This card is perfect for our eco-friendly friends.

Ready to get started with your new card?

All of these reward programs can be great options, but when it comes down to it, there is no one credit card reward program that is better than all of the others. 

While they can be great for people who travel often or those interested in eco-friendly purchases, it’s important to take into consideration what type of purchases you usually make with your credit card, to get the maximum benefit. 

Interested in Aspiration Zero? Apply now to get started today!

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