Are You Signed Up For The Best Credit Card Rewards Program?

Photographed by Raven Ishak.
Many of us turn to credit cards to pay for purchases big and small. You're just as likely to charge a $1.29 pack of gum as you are to pay for a $200 bridesmaid's dress. Why not, especially when you're signed up for a rewards card where each dollar spent earns you points that can later be used to redeem plane tickets, buy gift cards, or pay off your monthly bill? But, is your card of choice giving you the most bang for your buck?

CardHub, a credit card comparison website, did a deep dive and looked at all the non co-branded rewards programs for you. At the top of the list is the Arrival Plus Barclaycard, which earns the average spender a cool $1,621.40 in travel rewards in the first two years the account is open.

Also scoring high was Captital One, who rated first in the roundup of best overall issuers. The bank's products are super familiar to anyone who watches TV, as the ads always feature A-list celebs repeating the catchphrase, "What's in your wallet?" It turns out you should listen to Alec Baldwin (at least on this point) and sign up for one of Capital One's cards.

One of the most interesting data points to come out of CardHub's study is the shocking statistic that we leave $4 billion in unclaimed rewards points each year. It's even more upsetting when you consider Americans had $57 billion in credit card debt in 2014.

CardHub also determined that consumers are better off redeeming their rewards for travel rather than cash back or merchandise. According to the research, travel rewards have an average value of "$1.05 cents, relative to cash back, which provides .82 cents per point — and the least fruitful option: merchandise, offering .66 cents per point."

Click here for a full list of the rewards credit cards reviewed by CardHub, along with a more detailed explanation of how the cards were rated. 

More from Work & Money