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Top 4 Miles Rewards Cards

By Julie Richards
Updated: July 14th 2015

Credit card issuers are in such fierce competition these days to attract new customers that most have started offering outrageous deals, like huge introductory bonuses worth hundreds of dollars, and miles programs that pay more than ever before. Who can say no to earning a free trip just for signing up and using a card for 3 months?

We researched all the miles rewards cards we could find, then put together the pros and cons of what we consider to be the best of the best below. Happy travels!!

Top High-Paying Miles-Reward Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 2X Miles Rewards Rate. 40,000 mile intro bonus offer (essentially a free trip right off the bat)
Pros: Huge introductory ($400 value) bonus offer for activating and spending $3,000 on the card. That's basically a free trip just for signing up and using the card for 3 months. Best-in-class miles rewards rate of 2 miles per dollar of spend. No blackout dates, total flexibility on where you can use your miles: any airline, any hotel, any time. Rewards are even redeemable for cash value.
Cons: The $59 annual fee (waived for first year), although this is less than the other cards paying at or near this 2X miles rewards rate. Requires good credit.
The Verdict: Balancing high bonus and rewards rates with lower fees and interest makes the Capital One Venture Rewards a tough card to beat, and our highest rated card in the travel category. Especially for those who might spend a substantial amount on their cards, the high rewards rate will pile up the free miles quickly.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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Runner Up High-Paying Miles-Rewards Card

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

2X Miles Reward Plus 5% Miles Bonus at Year End 
Pros: If you combine the miles rewards rate with the year end bonus, the Barclaycard pays out even more miles than the Venture Rewards.
Cons: However, the card does charge quite a steep annual fee at $89 a year, so it really only makes sense if you plan on spending a LOT of money on the card each month in order to outearn the fees charged. We calculated that you'd have to spend about $1200 more per month on the card in order to overcome the fee difference vs. the Venture Rewards.
The Verdict: High paying card, but we feel the fees are a bit high unless you plan on spending quite a tidy sum each month.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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No-Fee Miles-Rewards Card With 20k Mile New Account Bonus

Capital One® VentureOne® RewardsNo Annual Fee. 1.25X Miles Rewards Rate, 20,000 Miles Bonus For New Accounts
Pros: It was a close call between the VentureOne® Rewards and the Discover it® Miles. The VentureOne® features a better new account bonus (20k miles) than the Discover it® Miles. The $200 value of the bonus is quite nice, especially in the context of a no-fee card. We also like the idea of earning all those miles during the first year without paying anything in interest during the intro period. 
Cons: The 1.25X miles rewards rate is lower than the Discover it® Miles.
The Verdict: A great combination of no annual fee, 0% intro APR until December 2016, solid miles rewards, and a nice fat 20k mile bonus.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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No-Fee Miles-Rewards Card - Matches Your Miles the first year

Discover it® Miles - 1.5 miles per dollar and matches your miles at the end of your first year. Only for new cardmembers*
Pros: Discover is offering to match your miles at the end of the first year for new card members instead of charging an annual fee. The respectable 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on purchases is unlimited with no blackout dates on any airline, anytime. In addition, the Discover it® Miles has a 0% intro APR* on purchases for 12 months. 
Cons: You trade an up-front large intro bonus for no annual fee and an intro APR on purchases for 12 months.
The Verdict: If you plan on spending more than $1,500 per month on your card, the Discover it® Miles would be a good choice because of the matched miles offer at the end of the first year. If you maintain at least a 1,500 spend per month, that will net you at least 54,000 bonus miles (a $540 value) with end of the year with your matched miles reward. There are no blackout dates on any airline anytime, and there is an unlimited 1.5 mile per dollar travel reward which can be converted to cash if you prefer. The 0% intro APR for purchases for 12 months and no annual fee are also good perks.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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With so many issuers competing to offer such great incentives, it seems smart to make use of them in the right way. We hope our reviews of these cards was helpful, and if you have any comments, please don't hesitate to let us at the LendingTree Credit Card Review Team know!