Money again vs. journey rewards factors: How to decide on a bank card

If you happen to’re new to bank card rewards, one of many first questions you may must reply for your self is: Ought to I get a card that earns journey rewards or a card that earns money again?

The excellent news is yow will discover dependable choices among the many prime cash-back bank cards and the most effective journey bank cards. Ultimately, it’s your decision each a money again and a factors card.

Beneath, we’ll break down the professionals and cons of various kinds of playing cards and their related rewards packages. We’ll dive into issues like rewards worth, welcome presents, redemption, ease of use and perks. Contemplating these choices will aid you select the most effective card for you.

Your spending and objectives

The variety of bank card choices is each the most effective and most difficult a part of selecting a card. Earlier than we dig into what totally different playing cards supply, you may need to take into consideration your personal spending habits and objectives.

First, check out the place your cash goes proper now. Are you renovating a house and spending a big portion of your cash at dwelling enchancment shops? Perhaps you are touring quite a bit for work or spending your weekends making an attempt out all the brand new eating places close by. No matter you are doing, yow will discover a card that can maximize your rewards in your highest spending classes.

Then, decide what you want to get out of your bank card rewards. Do you need to use factors and miles to go to household over the vacations or e-book a dream trip? Or are you hoping to assist cowl the price of a big upcoming expense?

These solutions are distinctive to you, and figuring out them upfront will aid you resolve which choices will work greatest for you.

Sorts of playing cards

Typically, we designate bank cards as both journey rewards playing cards or cash-back playing cards. The names are fairly self-explanatory: they’re playing cards that both earn journey rewards or easy money again.

Nevertheless, some playing cards supply extra flexibility and permit customers to decide on how they redeem their rewards. Playing cards that earn transferable factors, akin to American Categorical Membership Rewards or Chase Final Rewards, permit the cardholder a wide range of choices for redeeming the factors they earn. Whereas some redemptions are extra beneficial than others (extra on that under), it may be good to have the choice to alter your redemption technique in case your objectives change sooner or later.

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Welcome presents

What you earn on bank card spending is important, however nothing beats a card’s welcome bonus with regards to accumulating rewards rapidly. The primary few months of card possession are doubtlessly probably the most beneficial since these bonuses could be price tons of and even 1000’s of {dollars}.

Journey rewards playing cards nearly all the time supply greater welcome bonuses than cash-back playing cards. For instance, The Platinum Card® from American Categorical at present presents a welcome bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards factors, price $1,600 (in response to TPG calculations).

Nevertheless, the next bonus on a journey rewards card often comes with the next spending requirement. In an effort to get the bonus on The Platinum Card, for example, you may must spend $6,000 within the first six months of membership. (Phrases apply.)


Money-back playing cards, alternatively, typically supply a a lot decrease bonus but in addition require a a lot decrease spend in an effort to obtain it. For instance, the Capital One Quicksilver Rewards Credit score Card (see charges and charges) offers a one-time $200 bonus however solely requires you to spend $500 on purchases inside the first three months of opening your account to unlock the bonus.

Reward classes

When you think about a card’s reward classes, it is useful to determine the place you spend nearly all of your cash.

Whereas it is smart that the majority journey rewards playing cards earn probably the most on journey purchases, yow will discover each journey rewards and cash-back card choices that can reward you for on a regular basis spending at locations like supermarkets and fuel stations.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for instance, is a journey rewards card. Utilizing it, you may earn 3 factors per greenback on all journey spending. Aside from journey, although, the cardboard additionally earns 3 factors per greenback on eating and 10 factors per greenback on Lyft rides (by way of March 2025). Since TPG values Chase Final Rewards Factors at 2 cents every, you may successfully earn a worth of 6 cents per greenback spent on journey and eating, in addition to a really profitable return of 20 cents per greenback spent on Lyft rides.

But when journey is not an enormous spending class for you, or if you wish to earn your rewards within the type of money again, there are some glorious cash-back playing cards with totally different reward class choices.

The Blue Money Most well-liked® Card from American Categorical, for instance, offers you 6% money again at U.S. supermarkets (on as much as $6,000 per calendar 12 months in purchases, then 1%) and 6% money again on choose U.S. streaming providers (with no cap), 3% money again at U.S. fuel stations and transit, whereas giving 1% again on different purchases. Which means for each greenback you spend at U.S. supermarkets, you may earn 6 cents that may be utilized to an announcement credit score.

Annual charge

An necessary ingredient to contemplate as you make your bank card choice is whether or not a card has an annual-fee and, in that case, whether or not it’s worthwhile to pay

Journey rewards playing cards have a popularity for carrying greater annual charges, and generally for good purpose: many premium journey rewards playing cards have annual charges of $350 or extra. The welcome bonuses and perks of those playing cards typically offset the price of the annual charge, however the fee itself might not be one thing you need to pay proper now in case you’re on a tighter finances.

The excellent news is that there are many decrease and no annual charge journey rewards playing cards accessible.

The Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® Card, for instance, has an annual charge of solely $95 and nonetheless comes with a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Final Rewards factors after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. It additionally nonetheless earns you 2 factors per greenback on journey, 3 factors per greenback on eating, and 5 factors per greenback on Lyft rides (by way of March 2025). With our 2-cent-per-point valuation, that is plenty of worth for a comparatively low annual charge.

Moreover, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit score Card (see charges and charges) has no annual charge and presents 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 inside the first three months from account opening. You additionally earn you 1.25 miles per greenback on each buy.

Whereas the perks aren’t as considerable because the perks of playing cards with greater charges, these playing cards, together with different low and no-annual-fee journey playing cards, are a good way to earn journey rewards with decrease out-of-pocket prices.

With cash-back playing cards, you may discover much more choices if you wish to keep away from annual charges. A few of our favourite no annual charge money again playing cards are the Citi® Double Money Card (see charges and charges) and the Chase Freedom Limitless®. If you happen to’re taking a look at a cash-back card that does carry an annual charge, although, make certain your incomes potential makes the charge price it. An annual charge on a cash-back card can rapidly eat into the rewards you may earn with the cardboard.

Card perks

Large welcome bonuses and hefty annual charges are likely to result in beneficial perks, which is some extent in favor of factors and miles playing cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, features a $300 annual journey credit score reimbursement and complimentary entry to Precedence Move lounges.

Different card advantages to look out for embrace baggage insurance coverage, main automobile rental insurance coverage and buy safety.


Money-back playing cards are likely to have fewer advantages, however you need to nonetheless be capable to discover a card that gives some industry-standard advantages, like these:

  • Buy safety: Covers your new purchases for a restricted period of time towards harm or theft as much as a certain quantity per declare and per account.
  • Prolonged guarantee: Extends the interval of a U.S. producer’s guarantee (sometimes as much as a 12 months) on eligible warranties (of as much as three to 5 years sometimes).
  • Zero Legal responsibility: You will not be held answerable for unauthorized expenses made together with your card or account data. Federal legislation typically limits your legal responsibility to $50.

Ease of utilizing rewards

Whereas many journey rewards playing cards supply glorious bonus classes and perks, maintaining with every little thing takes effort. Particularly if you find yourself with a number of playing cards, it may be simple to get overwhelmed as you determine which playing cards to make use of for various purchases to maximise your advantages. Then, after you have your factors and miles in hand, you may want to determine the way you need to redeem them. If you happen to’re in a position and prepared to place some work into your technique, you can get some glorious worth with these rewards.

Nevertheless, not everybody needs or is ready to put a lot vitality into maximizing their bank card rewards. If that is you, a cash-back card could also be a better option.

If you happen to’re searching for simplicity, cash-back playing cards are laborious to beat. Essentially the most work you may probably need to put in for one is activating the quarterly 5% bonus classes on the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

However in case you do not even need to cope with rotating classes, you’ll be able to go for a card just like the Citi Double Money, which pays 2% money again (1% money again on all purchases and one other 1% again if you repay on time) on all purchases. Paying on time and in full (considered one of TPG’s ten bank card commandments) means you may get pleasure from an nearly easy 2% cash-back reward on all purchases with this card. That is a fairly whole lot for on a regular basis spending and little or no effort.

Redeeming factors for money again or journey

Money-back playing cards win once more for simplicity on redemption since one cash-back share level equals 1 cent per greenback spent. However with regards to worth, factors and miles playing cards nearly all the time come out on prime.

When redeeming factors and miles, 1 level or mile is nearly all the time price greater than 1 cent. Moreover, some extent is usually not a fixed-rate commodity. The worth of currencies like Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Final Rewards and Citi ThankYou factors are laborious to pin down since you’ll be able to switch these rewards to numerous journey companions and get rather more worth for a first-class flight.

There is definitely a studying curve, however referencing our valuations is a superb method to see in case you’re getting a great bang on your buck, particularly in case you’re contemplating touring quickly.


Is it higher to redeem factors for money or journey?

Typically talking, it is higher to redeem your factors for journey. You may probably get extra worth from a journey redemption than money again for a similar variety of factors. It is best to goal to get not less than 1.5 cents worth from every level.

Is it higher to get money again or reward playing cards?

It relies upon. It is laborious to beat the simplicity of a cash-back redemption since most playing cards supply this redemption within the type of an announcement credit score. Nevertheless, generally reward card redemptions are supplied at the next worth than money again. If yow will discover a great deal on a present card you may use, a present card redemption might make sense.

Is there a draw back to money again?

Cashback is nice if money move is what you want or need proper now or if you do not have the vitality to maintain up with a extra complicated bank card technique. Nevertheless, you may typically get extra worth for journey redemptions through the use of a rewards bank card slightly than a money again card.

Are airline miles price greater than money again?

Sure. Cashback is often valued at 1% or 1 cent, whereas most airline miles are price greater than 1 cent. Nevertheless, some airways like Hawaiian Airways and Spirit Airways have poorly-valued miles, so money again is best in these instances.

Backside Line

In case your prime precedence is getting probably the most worth out of a bank card — regardless of the blood, sweat and tears required — you need to get a journey rewards card and perhaps a premium one at that. You may get way more worth out of considered one of these playing cards from the bonus, the factors, the perks and the redemption choices than you may get from a cash-back card.

However not everybody has the time or inclination to place this a lot effort into monitoring spending and returns, which is the place cash-back playing cards are available. There’s nothing unsuitable with both perspective.

The one main misstep you’ll be able to take — in case you pay your bank cards off each month — is to not reap the benefits of the free cash issuers will throw at you within the type of welcome presents.

Further reporting by Danyal Ahmed

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