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PFI Illustrations pattern of credit cards with coins, an airplane and credit score

We review credit cards that earn cash back, airline miles, hotel points, and flexible rewards to help you find the right one for your wallet.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

Credit cards are one of the most powerful tools you can wield in life. Responsible use can result in a good credit score which opens the door to auto loans, mortgages, and even favorable health insurance. Some of the most important things in life are made possible thanks to credit cards.

There are dozens of credit cards to choose from. Whether you’re after cash back, free hotel stays, super cheap airfare, a tool to help grow your small business, or even if you’ve got poor/no credit and would like to improve your credit score, there’s a card for you.

Insider’s Featured Cash Back Credit Cards

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Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

$200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

$200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening

Insider’s ultimate credit card reviews guide will help you find the exact product you’re looking for. 

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

PFI Newsletter Illustrations credit card with coins that have a US dollar symbol

Cash-back credit cards can earn you anywhere from 1% to 6% back on your everyday spending.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

In terms of flexibility, cash back is the king of credit card rewards. Many cash back credit cards give you the option to redeem your accrual as either cash, a statement credit, or a transfer to your bank account.

Flat-rate cash-back cards are best for those who don’t want to keep track of multiple bonus categories and just want a simple earning structure. But choosing a card that earns bonus cash back in categories where you spend a lot — like groceries, dining, or gas — can make a huge difference in your rate of return.

Best cash back credit cards

This table reflects our current picks from the best cash-back credit cards guide.

Other cash back credit cards

PFI Newsletter Illustrations credit card with coins, and airplane for travel rewards

Airline credit cards aren’t just for earning airline miles; most come with additional perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

If you want to use travel rewards to save money on flights, an airline credit card is a must. You can choose between credit cards that earn airline miles, or cards that earn more flexible rewards points that you can transfer to various frequent flyer programs.

Airline cards also often come with valuable ongoing benefits like a free checked bagpriority boarding, or an airline companion ticket.

Best airline credit cards

This table reflects our current picks from the best airline credit cards guide.

Other airline credit cards

PFI Newsletter Illustrations car surrounded by tower of coins (buying a car/taking out a car loan)

Travel and flexible points credit cards can help you earn rewards you can use for almost any kind of adventure.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

While it takes more effort to redeem points or miles compared to cash back, the upside is that you can get much more value for your points compared to simply cashing in your rewards for a statement credit or check at a rate of 1 cent per point. 

In fact, it’s possible to receive double, triple, or even more than that amount when you’re strategic about how you redeem your rewards, particularly if you book expensive luxury hotels or first-class flights.

Best travel credit cards

This table reflects our current picks from the best travel rewards credit cards guide.

Other travel credit cards

PFI Newsletter Illustrations for group finances on vacation: Cocktail in glass with straw and small umbrella, surrounded by falling coins

Hotel credit cards often comes with additional benefits like automatic elite status and free nights on your card anniversary.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

If you’re thinking about opening a hotel credit card, the first step is to analyze your travel goals.

Are you a road-tripper who wants to book cheap hotels along the highway? Do you mostly use small-town hotels during trips to grandma’s for Thanksgiving? Do you want a five-star vacation in the Maldives?

It’s also important to consider the card’s welcome bonus, recurring benefits, ease of earning free nights via credit card spending, category bonuses, and elite status perks (if any).

The best hotel credit cards offer a free night after each account anniversary or for meeting spending thresholds. These nights can be worth much more than the cards’ annual fees, and make them worth keeping year after year.

Best hotel credit cards

This table reflects our current picks from the best hotel credit cards guide.

Other hotel credit cards

PFI Newsletter Illustrations stack of coins (US dollar sign)

Whether you own a large corporation or have a part-time side gig, opening a small business credit card is a smart move.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

You’d be surprised at what qualifies you for a small business credit card. Small businesses aren’t always multi-million dollar operations — whether you’re a freelancer, an Uber driver, a dog-walker, or have any other side hustle, you could qualify for a small business credit card.

If you’ve got a sizable business, keeping your personal and business finances separate is vital. Things can get murky quickly when you’re cutting personal and business checks from the same account — a business credit card will not only help separate expenses, but also help you establish business credit, so that you have flexibility later on with loans and leases.

Best small business credit cards

This table reflects our current picks from the best small business credit cards guide.

Other small business credit cards

PFI Illustrations credit cards with coins and credit score

If you’re new to credit or rebuilding your score, a credit card for bad/no credit is a good starting point.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

Having a low credit score makes it harder to get approved for a new credit card and other types of loans, and it means that when you do get approved for, say, a mortgage, you’ll generally get less-favorable terms like the highest variable interest rates. A bad credit score is defined as anything below 580, according to the FICO scoring model, and anything below 601 according to VantageScore. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but opening and using a credit card responsibly is one of the best ways to build your credit history and score.

Best credit cards for poor/no credit

This table reflects our current picks from the best credit cards for bad credit guide.

Other credit cards for poor/no credit

PFI Illustrations student credit card with graduation cap and pencil

College students can earn rewards and build their credit history by using a student credit card responsibly.

Alyssa Powell/Insider

Applying for your first credit card is an exciting milestone regardless of age, but young adults can find it hard to get approved with limited income and credit history. Some parents add their children as credit card authorized users while they’re still minors to get a head start on building credit, but this strategy isn’t a good fit for everyone.

If you’re a student without established credit, there are still plenty of credit cards that you can qualify for. Then, once you’ve improved your credit score by using a credit card responsibly, it can be easier to upgrade to more lucrative rewards credit cards.

Best student credit cards

This table reflects our current picks from the best student credit cards guide.

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