The best Chase credit cards you can sign up for, whether you prefer cash back, flexible points, or airline and hotel rewards

By David E. Slotnick

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Credit card points and frequent flyer miles are incredibly useful, no matter what program you earn them with or what you eventually choose to do with them. While there are a few different types of credit card rewards, you benefit regardless of which kind your card earns by collecting a rebate on your everyday spending — as long as you practice financial discipline and pay off your statement in full each month.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium rewards card that has set the standard for other credit card issuers who updated their own products to keep up with the Reserve's top-of-the-line rewards and benefits. But even if you don't want to pay the steep annual fee for the Reserve, Chase has other excellent rewards cards to consider, including options that earn cash back and great small-business credit cards.

Take a look below at our choices of the best available Chase cards, including our overall top pick, the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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.

Why you'll love it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® makes it easy to earn rewards for travel and more with a great sign-up bonus and a lucrative points-earning scheme.

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

With 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and any travel (after earning the full $300 travel credit), and 1 point per dollar on everything else, the Sapphire Reserve earns points quickly through your everyday spending, and it comes with a slew of perks.

Points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through Chase or with Pay Yourself Back, but you can also transfer them to over a dozen Chase airline and hotel partners — typically, this gets you the most value for your points. Benefits include access to airport lounges through the Priority Pass network, trip delay coverage, purchase protection, up to $100 to cover the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, and primary car rental insurance.

However, while the airport lounge access can be great, most Priority Pass lounges are in international terminals, which isn't helpful when you're flying domestically.

The annual fee is $550, but that's offset by up to a $300 travel credit each year, which is good for things like taxis, subway fare, parking, tolls, and flights.

There aren't many downsides to this card — besides the upfront annual fee. Chase has invested heavily in making the Ultimate Rewards program competitive. Booking flights by transferring points to frequent flyer partners is generally more lucrative — that's usually how people use points to fly in first and business class — but it can be complicated because you have to decipher award charts, find availability, and work around complex airline rules.

However, because the Sapphire Reserve allows you to get 1.5 cents for each point when you book paid travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, there's a simpler and still-valuable option.

Pros: Solid welcome bonus, easy-to-earn points, points transfer to popular frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, good airport benefits

Cons: High annual fee, Priority Pass lounges are typically in international terminals

Why you'll love it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a lower annual fee than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and offers an excellent sign-up bonus.

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

The Sapphire Reserve's older sibling, the Sapphire Preferred, offers a number of similar features and a substantial sign-up bonus, for a lower annual fee. The card earns 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of the Reserve's 3x points on dining and travel, and 1x points on everything else.

Points are worth a lower 1.25 cents on travel booked through Chase and with Pay Yourself Back, but you can still transfer them to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs partners. There's no annual travel credit, but there's still car rental primary coverage, as well as slightly less-generous trip delay coverage and purchase protection. The annual fee is a more manageable $95.

Pros: Great sign-up bonus, transferable points, travel perks, lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve card

Cons: No annual travel credit, earns points more slowly than the Sapphire Reserve

Why you'll love it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® helps you earn points for normal purchases and get cash back with no annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

If you already have the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred and are saving your points for a redemption, the Freedom Unlimited can give your balance a nice boost. While Chase markets the card as "cash back," it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash, gift cards, travel, and more (1 point = 1 cent).

If you have a premium card like the Sapphire Reserve, you can pool your points from the two cards. The Freedom Unlimited earns a minimum of 1.5% cash back (or 1.5 points per dollar spent), so paired with a Sapphire Reserve, it's a great card to use for purchases that aren't made on travel expenses or dining.

The Freedom Unlimited also earns 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases.

Best of all, the card has no annual fee and comes with an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases. After that, there's a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR. If you have a major purchase ahead of you, that introductory offer can be useful.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic all-around card. However, to get the most value when it's time to spend your points, you need the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred, too, so you can pool your points. Otherwise, points are only worth 1 cent each no matter how you use them and they can't be transferred to airline or hotel partners.

Pros: Strong sign-up bonus, earn points on regular purchases, no annual fee, 0% APR on purchases for first 15 months (and a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR after that)

Cons: One point only equals 1 cent for cash back; to get a better value you'll need to pair it with the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred

Why you'll love it: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card helps small business owners rack up points quickly, and combine them with points earned on their personal cards.

The Ink Preferred is an excellent rewards credit card for small-business owners — and you don't have to run a multi-million dollar corporation to qualify for a business credit card.

The card, which has a $95 annual fee, earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 you spend each cardmember year in select categories, including travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone, and advertising on social media sites or with search engines, such as Google Ads. Purchases after you reach $150,000, or in any other category, earn 1 point per dollar.

Unless you operate a small business that's on the larger side, chances are you won't hit that cap for bonus rewards. The card's welcome bonus is a great value — you'll earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth $1,250 toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Like with the Sapphire Preferred, you'll get a 25% bonus when using points from your Ink Preferred to book travel directly with Chase. Of course, if you pool them on your Sapphire Reserve card, that bonus will be 50% instead.

The card comes with a handful of other perks, many of which overlap with the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve, such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary car rental coverage, and various purchase protections. It also comes with cell phone insurance when you use the card to pay your phone bill, offering up to $600 for each covered claim.

Pros: Useful bonus categories, cell phone insurance, ability to transfer points

Cons: Caps on bonus earning which larger small businesses may reach quickly

Why you'll love it: The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers 5% cash back or 5x points on up to $1,500 of spending in categories that rotate each quarter when you activate (then 1%), in addition to 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% back on everything else

Sign-up bonus: $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Just like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is marketed as a cash-back card, but actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash, gift cards, and travel (1 point = 1 cent). You can combine them with Ultimate Rewards earned from a different card, which gives you the option to get a bonus when redeeming them for travel or transfer them to travel partners.

The key feature of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is that it earns 5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 spent per quarter once activated in rotating quarterly bonus categories. In the past, quarterly categories have included Amazon, grocery stores, and PayPal. 

However, that's not where the bonus cash back ends; the Chase Freedom Flex℠ also earns 5% cash back (with no cap) on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% back on everything else.

Otherwise, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is pretty similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It doesn't have an annual fee, and there's an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases  (with a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR afterwards).

Pros: Good sign-up bonus, great earning rate for several bonus categories, 0% APR for first 15 months (and a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR after that)

Cons: One point only equals 1 cent for cash back, to get a better value you'll need to pair it with the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred

Chase has become a leader in the credit card rewards and benefits space, growing its Ultimate Rewards program with the lucrative Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and then rolling out the premium Sapphire Reserve in 2016 with a massive introductory sign-up bonus.

Beyond their welcome bonuses, these cards remain a powerhouse of value, and the Ultimate Rewards program is fiercely competitive, with a ton of different ways to redeem points and a number of different cards available with varied benefits.

If you're looking for a new Chase card to boost your stash of Ultimate Rewards points, or you're interested in getting access to new benefits or perks, it's worth considering a new Chase card — just make sure that you know how opening a new card for the sign-up bonus or benefits can affect your credit.

Before you start applying for Chase credit cards, there's an important restriction you should know about. The issuer has an unofficial policy, commonly referred to as the 5/24 rule, which prevents you from getting approved for Chase cards if you've opened five or more credit cards with any bank in the last 24 months. Due to this rule, many rewards enthusiasts focus on opening Chase credit cards before cards with other banks.