Looking for a piece of plastic that pays you to use it? According to our experts, these cards offer the most generous perks. Pick one based on your priorities and the type of reward that is most important to you.

By Vera Gibbons
Updated October 06, 2010
Raymond Biesinger

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How it works: Earn 5 percent on purchases in designated categories, including gas, groceries, restaurants, and department stores, and up to 1 percent on everything else.
Reward: Cash back.
Annual fee: None.
APR: 0 percent for the first 6 to 12 months.*

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express

How it works: Earn one point for each dollar spent.
Reward: Redeem points at any Starwood hotel; at more than 30 airlines; for gift cards from Starbucks or Amazon; and for events, like NASCAR races.
Annual fee: None the first year; $65 after that.
APR: 2.9 percent for the first six months.*

Capital One Venture Visa

How it works: Bank two miles for every dollar you spend.
Reward: Use points for air travel on any airline (no blackout dates and miles won’t expire).
Annual fee: None the first year; $59 after that.
APR: 13.9 percent.

Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa

How it works: For every $100 you spend, $1.50 is deposited into a Fidelity account.
Reward: Money is added to your brokerage account, IRA, or 529 plan.
Annual fee: None.
APR: 14 percent.

Citi Forward Visa

How it works: Collect five points for every dollar spent on dining, books, movies, and music; one point for every dollar on all other purchases. Earn points for good behavior (like paying on time).
Reward: Redeem points for items like iPods and watches.
Annual fee: None.
APR: 0 percent for the first seven months.*

*The APR following your card’s introductory period will vary, depending on your credit score and usage.