2015 Rewards Report, Capital One Best Issuer, Arrival Plus Best Card

CardHub has published a list of the best credit cards that offer the most valuable rewards. The CardHub study looked a 10 big credit card issuers and their non-cobranded, consumer-rewards cards. Cards were scored on their inclusion and registration, earning capabilities, redemption capabilities and the overall perks offered and restrictions each card has.

I’m sure there’s many that won;t agree, but Capital One took the highest honors with an 86% score. But the Barclays’ Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card was the most valuable in terms of rewards, yielding $1,621 across two years.

When you read a research like this you should always put these results in your own terms. Miles and points from each credit card, have different values to different people. Perks that are a must have for one person, might be an afterthought for the next. This study will help to point you in the right direction but always do your own research and find the best card that best suits your needs.

Main Findings

  • Americans currently leave roughly $4 billion in annual rewards value on the table, while racking up $39 billion in credit card debt in 2013, $57 billion in 2014 and a projected $60+ billion in 2015.
  • The difference in rewards value between the best rewards credit card from the best issuer and the best rewards card from the worst issuer is $739.01 over the first two years the accounts are open.
  • The Arrival Plus Barclaycard is currently the best rewards card on the market. It yields $1,621.40 in travel rewards during the first two years an account is open, according to CardHub calculations and average consumer spending statistics.
  • Capital One is the best overall issuer for rewards, registering an 86.2% score in this report. Capital One rewards cards do well across the board, ranking in the top three for each category we evaluated.
  • Discover came in a close second, registering just 4.8 fewer percentage points than Capital One.
  • Redeeming rewards for travel tends to provide the most value across cards and issuers, with each rewards currency unit yielding an average value of 1.05 cents, relative to cash back – which provides 0.82 cents per point – and the least fruitful option, merchandise – offering 0.66 cents per point.

2015 Credit Card Rewards Report

Best Rewards Credit Cards for Each Issuer

CardHub determined the best card for each issuer based on how much monetary worth its rewards yielded through the first 2 years of account opening. Again this is not ideal for everyone, since there’s many cases when a credit card is closed within a year to avoid annual fees.

  1. Barclays – Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
    1. $1,621
  2. Capital One – Venture® Rewards
    1. $1,482
  3. Discover – Discover it Miles
    1. $1,284
  4. U.S. Bank – FlexPerks® Travel Rewards American Express® Card
    1. $1,260
  5. Chase – Chase Sapphire Preferred®
    1. $1,213
  6. Citibank – Citi® Double Cash Card
    1. $1,141
  7. American Express – Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
    1. $1,073
  8. PNC Bank – PNC CashBuilder® Visa® Credit Card
    1. $998
  9. Bank of America – BankAmericard Travel Rewards®
    1. $972
  10. Wells Fargo – Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card
    1. $882

Tips for Choosing a Rewards Card

Rewards don’t have the same value for everyone as we already mentioned above. So here are some tips for you to pick the best card possible for your needs:

  • Identify Your Spending Interests – Get a rewards credit card that compliments your spending habits and interests. If you rarelydine out, do not pick a card that offers high earning rates on restaurant spending – rather, pick a card with extra on travel or gas.
  • Consider Both Earning & Redemption Value – To gauge how much value a rewards card can yield, it’s important to look at both sides of the rewards equation. A card with high earning rates might have low redemption rates, and vice versa, and that can drastically skew the offer’s value proposition.
  • Avoid Hassle If You’re Forgetful – If you know you’re the forgetful type, stay away from cards that feature rotating categories requiring sign-up. They prevent customers from earning bonus rates if the spending categories are not “activated” each quarter, resulting in a lot of wasted time, energy and earning potential.
  • When In Doubt, Think Cash Back – You will never have to worry about rewards devaluation with cash back cards, as you will be earning rewards in terms of dollars and cents. Points and miles cards, on the other hand, are quite vulnerable, however, because credit card execs can jack up the number of points or miles needed for a free flight or hotel room whenever they please.
  • Don’t Rule Out Annual Fees – Cards with annual fees offer better initial bonuses and higher earning rates than free cards. Don’t discount a card simply because it charges a fee, especially if it’s low or if it’s waived for the first year. Just make sure the rewards outweigh the costs it’s the case with most card offers that we post on our blog.

Check out the full article at CardHub for more info.

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