The Best Credit Cards of 2021

The Best Credit Cards of 2021


The pandemic has dramatically reshaped Americans' relationship with credit cards—surprisingly, for the better. Instead of the increased delinquencies, ballooning balances and falling credit scores that might have been expected as the economy struggled and unemployment spiked, the opposite has happened: Balances are down, credit scores are up and credit card issuers are rolling out a red carpet of enhanced rewards to keep consumers spending.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, balances dropped an average of 10 percent from March to June of last year, and the trend continued through 2020, proving true even for people who had been struggling financially before the pandemic. New delinquencies on loans and credit card accounts also fell, after being flat or increasing gradually in 2019.

Experts attribute the improvement to a combination of stimulus payments, expanded unemployment insurance benefits and reduced spending on things like dining out, entertainment and travel, which gave many people extra cash to pay down debt. That in turn pushed credit scores higher: The average score hit 711 in 2020, according to Experian—up eight points from 2019.

"A significant group now find themselves in a much better position than they were a year ago," says Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree. "A lot of Americans need credit cards less than they have for quite some time."

To keep Americans charging and paying annual fees, credit card companies have been tweaking and enhancing their rewards to reflect changing needs. Most now reward spending on takeout and delivery services and added or boosted payouts for buying groceries and subscribing to streaming services. And experts say you can expect those lockdown perks to continue, along with more generous offers on traditional rewards categories such as travel, gas, restaurant, and entertainment, as issuers compete for your post-pandemic spending.

"Card issuers all want to look like the best option for when people feel comfortable going out and spending again so we're going to see potentially bigger sign-up bonuses, longer periods for introductory purchase and balance transfer rates, and lower interest rates and fees," says Schulz. Another plus: With banks relaxing credit standards again and accepting more credit card applications, you won't have any trouble accessing these new offers later this year either.

To help you take full advantage of this credit card competition and find the perfect card for your needs, Newsweek partnered with LendingTree, the online loan marketplace and comparison site for financial services, for our first-ever credit card rankings. From a universe of more than 1,030 credit cards offered by 195 financial institutions, we evaluated 36 different factors about each to find the best-in-class option in 31 different categories. One of them may be just right for you.

Kerri Anne Renzulli, Senior Reporter

CategoryAwardDescriptionWinnerInterest RatesAnnual FeeRewardsOther Perks
THE TOP CARDBest Big Bank CardCards from banks with at least $10 billion in assets dominate the market, and their greater financial clout typically allows them to offer the most generous payouts. Our winner makes it especially easy to accrue and cash in rewards, plus offers a longer-than-usual period when you won't be charged interest on balance transfers.Citi Double Cash13.99%–23.99%$01% cash back when you buy, 1% when you pay0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers
THE TOP CARDBest Small Bank CardSmaller banks with less than $10 billion in assets typically can't compete as well as the big boys on rewards but make up for it with lower interest rates and better introductory features. Our winner excels on both of those fronts, and also gives more generous rewards than commonly found in this category.Rewards Credit Card from Dollar Bank12.24%$01.25% cash back0% interest for six months on new purchases, balance transfers
THE TOP CARDBest Credit Union CardFederal laws cap the interest credit unions can charge, making them the place to find low rates. Our winner excels on that score and also offers great extras like refunds for the cost of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry and no foreign transaction fees. (Only cards offered by credit unions anyone could join were considered.)Summit Credit Union Ultimate CashPerks11.15%$03% cash back on airlines; 2% hotels, dining; 1.5% all other purchases0% interest for one year on new purchase, balance transfers
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest for Small BusinessesLucrative rewards on all spending, a generous sign-up bonus, plus tools to help business owners keep operations running smoothly make this Capital One card a standout. Free employee cards, integration with bookkeeping software and the ability to purchase above your credit limit with no fees, when needed, are appealing extras.Capital One Spark Cash for Business20.99%$0 first year, $95 after2% cash back on all purchases$500 sign-up bonus if $4,500 is spent in first 3 months
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest for Start-UpsSmall business entrepreneurs often need access to low-cost borrowing to help cover start-up costs and benefit from generous rewards in the business categories where they initially spend the most. The winner excels on both counts, plus provides a hefty $750 sign-up bonus if at least $7,500 is spent in the first three months, no annual fee and free cards for other employees.Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card13.24%–19.24%$05% cash back at office supply stores and on phone, internet and cable services up to $25,000 a year; 2% at gas stations, restaurants up to $25,000 a year; 1% on all other purchasesNo interest on purchases for a year and $750 sign-up bonus if $7,500 is spent in first three months
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest for Business TravelFlying to woo clients, meet suppliers or attend conferences might not have been on the books last year but, as pandemic restrictions ease up, those delayed travel plans can soon come off standby. In addition to solid rewards for hotel stays, flights, car rentals and meals out, the winners (Capital One is best for smaller spenders, Chase for bigger ones) offer large sign-up bonuses, free employee cards, and integration with bookkeeping software.Capital One Spark Miles for Business20.99%$0 first year, $95 after2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases50,000 mile sign-up bonus if $4,500 is spent in the first 3 months; $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest for Business TravelFlying to woo clients, meet suppliers or attend conferences might not have been on the books last year but, as pandemic restrictions ease up, those delayed travel plans can soon come off standby. In addition to solid rewards for hotel stays, flights, car rentals and meals out, the winners (Capital One is best for smaller spenders, Chase for bigger ones) offer large sign-up bonuses, free employee cards, and integration with bookkeeping software.Chase Ink Business Preferred15.99%–20.99%$953 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, shipping, social media and search engine advertising, and telecom services; 1 per $1 on all other purchases100,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $15,000 in the first 3 months
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest Business Hotel CardIf you or your employees routinely travel for work, it can pay to become loyal to a specific hotel chain that will often reward your spending to the tune of 6 percent or more. The category winner doubles that already generous reward at its properties, plus offers a free weekend night stay perk for spending, no foreign transaction fees and complimentary entry to airport lounges.Hilton Honors American Express Business Card15.74%–24.74%$9512 points per $1 spent with Hilton hotels and resorts; 6 per $1 spent on gas stations, wireless telephone services, shipping, restaurants, airline flights, and car rentals; 3 per $1 spent on all other purchases130,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest Business Airline CardFor frequent business fliers, adding an airline-branded credit card can mean better returns for travel expenses, flight upgrades and other perks. The winners both give users a hefty sign-up bonus, free checked bags, discounted food and drink on flights and no foreign transaction fees. JetBlue, though, flies primarily to U.S. destinations and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean; Delta's routes include parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.JetBlue Business by Barclays15.99%–24.99%$996 points per $1 spent with JetBlue; 2 per $1 spent at restaurants, office supply stores; 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases.50,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days plus an additional 10,000 points if a purchase is made on an employee card in the first 90 days. 5,000 bonus points every year you renew.
BEST BUSINESS CARDSBest Business Airline CardFor frequent business fliers, adding an airline-branded credit card can mean better returns for travel expenses, flight upgrades and other perks. The winners both give users a hefty sign-up bonus, free checked bags, discounted food and drink on flights and no foreign transaction fees. JetBlue, though, flies primarily to U.S. destinations and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean; Delta's routes include parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card​15.74%–24.74%$0 first year, $99 after2 miles per $1 spent with Delta; 2 per $1 spent on restaurants, shipping, advertising; 1 per $1 on all other purchases.50,000 mile sign-up bonus and a $50 statement credit if you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Annual $100 flight credit if you spend $10,000.
BEST, BY CARDHOLDER TYPEBest for StudentsStudents typically need low interest rates, in case their budget goes sideways at school; low fees and an extended no-interest introductory period so they don't have to stress about repaying the cost of that new laptop or dorm furnishings in a single month. The winning card offers all this plus generous cash rewards and bonuses.Discover it Student Cash Back12.99%–21.99%$05% cash back on up to $1,500 a quarter on rotating categories that can include restaurants, grocery stores or Amazon; 1% on all other purchases0% interest on purchases for 6 months. Unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of the cash back you earn the first year, plus a $20 annual credit if your GPA is 3.0 or higher
BEST, BY CARDHOLDER TYPEBest for New HomeownersRenovations, new furniture and decorations don't come cheaply, so you want a card that will reward you generously for those big-ticket purchases. The winner is a rare cashback card that lets you choose the categories in which you earn 5 percent back each quarter, which can include furniture, department and electronics stores as well as utility bills.U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card13.99%–23.99%$05% cash back on up to $2,000 a quarter on two categories of your choosing; 2% on restaurants, grocery stores or gas stations (your choice); 1% on all other purchases$150 sign-up bonus if you apply online and spend $500 in the first 90 days. 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months
BEST, BY CARDHOLDER TYPEBest for Military FamiliesBeing a member of the armed services grants you access to a whole host of military-specific cards offered by both large banks and credit unions that give great returns. The winning card provides a unique blend of perks: solid rewards for everyday spending, an introductory bonus, no annual fee, no balance transfer fee and no cash-advance fee.Navy Federal More Rewards American Express9.65%–18%$03 points per $1 spent on restaurants, supermarkets, food delivery, gas, and transit; 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases10,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. No balance transfer or cash advance fees.
BEST, BY CARDHOLDER TYPEBest for CommutersConsidering many people moved further away from their offices during the pandemic, returning to in-person work may come with higher travel expenses. The winning card offers generous rewards for typical commuting expenses, plus a nice sign-up bonus to lessen the return-to-commuting sting, though it does impose an annual fee after the first year.American Express Blue Cash Preferred13.99%–23.99%$0 first year, $95 after6% cash back on up to $6,000 a year spent on groceries; 6% on some streaming services; 3% on taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses, gas stations and other transit costs; 1% on all other purchases$150 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months, plus 20% back on up to $1,000 of Amazon purchases (worth $200). No interest on purchases for 12 months.
BEST, BY CARDHOLDER TYPEBest for Engaged CouplesBrides and grooms can expect to fork out $22,500 on average this year for a ceremony and reception, says the TheKnot.com. Add in a honeymoon and it's easy to see why some couples may need financing assistance from their credit card to pull off the perfect day. The winning card offers an especially long no-interest period, generous travel rewards and no annual fee.Chase Freedom Unlimited14.99%–23.74%$05% cash back on travel purchased through a Chase portal; 3% on restaurants, takeout, food delivery and drugstores; 1.5% on all other purchases.$200 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. No interest on purchase for 15 months.
BEST, BY CARDHOLDER TYPEBest for People with Bad CreditIf your credit score is low—typically under 600—you can still find a great card with low fees and solid rewards, especially if you're willing to plunk down a cash deposit to open the account (known as a secured card). The winner charges no annual fees, offers a refundable security deposit and will attempt to transition you to a regular unsecured account after just eight months.Discover it Secured22.99%$0; minimum security deposit of $2002% cash back on up to $1,000 a quarter at restaurants and gas stations, 1% on all other purchasesUnlimited dollar-for-dollar match of the cash back you earn the first year
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest for Frequent TravelersIf you take trips often—a possibility again as pandemic restrictions ease—it's worth paying an annual fee for a card that rewards travel more generously than no-fee alternatives. For $95 a year, our best-in-class options also offer hefty sign-up bonuses, no foreign transaction fees, solid rewards in non-travel categories and the ability to transfer rewards to airline, hotel or other loyalty programs.Capital One Venture Rewards17.24%–24.49%$955 miles per $1 spent on hotel and car rental purchases through Capital One Travel, 2 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases100,000 mile sign-up bonus if you spend $20,000 in the first year or 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. No foreign transaction fees. $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest for Frequent TravelersIf you take trips often—a possibility again as pandemic restrictions ease—it's worth paying an annual fee for a card that rewards travel more generously than no-fee alternatives. For $95 a year, our best-in-class options also offer hefty sign-up bonuses, no foreign transaction fees, solid rewards in non-travel categories and the ability to transfer rewards to airline, hotel or other loyalty programs.Chase Sapphire Preferred15.99%–22.99%$952 points per $1 spent on dining, takeout and travel; 1 point per $1 on other purchases80,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months; $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases. No foreign transaction fees. Discounts on DoorDash, Peloton services.
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest for Occasional TravelersYou don't have to forego outstanding travel rewards if you're more of a one-trip-a-year type or just hate fees. Our no-annual-fee winners offer travelers different but equally great returns: the Discover card has an unparalleled introductory bonus for a free card but limited acceptance outside the U.S.; Bank of America's card is more widely taken abroad and doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.Discover it Miles11.99%–22.99%$01.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchasesUnlimited miles-for-miles match of the total you earn in the first year. 0% financing on purchases for 14 months.
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest for Occasional TravelersYou don't have to forego outstanding travel rewards if you're more of a one-trip-a-year type or just hate fees. Our no-annual-fee winners offer travelers different but equally great returns: the Discover card has an unparalleled introductory bonus for a free card but limited acceptance outside the U.S.; Bank of America's card is more widely taken abroad and doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.Bank of America Travel Rewards13.99%–23.99%$01.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases25,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. 0% financing on purchases for 12 months. No foreign transaction fees.
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest Airline RewardsFrequent fliers will see big payoffs by becoming brand loyal with an airline-specific card, earning reward miles faster, along with enviable perks like free checked bags and priority boarding. The winners in this category—choosing between them depends on which carrier offers more flights to the places you're most likely to go—both offer nice sign-up bonuses, 20 to 25 percent off on inflight purchases and don't charge foreign transaction fees.Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express15.74%–24.74%$0 first year, $99 after2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, groceries, restaurants and takeout delivery; 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases40,000 mile sign-up bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 credit for restaurant purchases. $100 annual flight credit if you spend $10,000. 0% financing on purchases for 14 months. No foreign transaction fees. 20% in-flight purchase discount and free first checked bags for up to nine people.
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest Airline RewardsFrequent fliers will see big payoffs by becoming brand loyal with an airline-specific card, earning reward miles faster, along with enviable perks like free checked bags and priority boarding. The winners in this category—choosing between them depends on which carrier offers more flights to the places you're most likely to go—both offer nice sign-up bonuses, 20 to 25 percent off on inflight purchases and don't charge foreign transaction fees.United Explorer16.49%–23.49%$0 first year, $95 after2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, restaurants and hotels; 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases40,000 mile sign-up bonus if you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus, an additional 25,000 miles if you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. $100 reimbursement of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees, two free United Club passes/year. No foreign transaction fees. 25% in-flight purchase discount and free first checked bags for up to two people.
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest Hotel RewardsIf you're willing to stick with a particular hotel chain on your journeys, getting a branded card can pay off handsomely in free night stays, room upgrades and other exclusive perks. Newsweek's winners additionally offer attractive sign-up bonuses, rewards for non-travel everyday spending and other perks, like complimentary visits to airport lounges or a free nights stay when you renew the card.Hilton Honors American Express Surpass15.74%–24.74%$9512 points per $1 spent with Hilton hotels and resorts; 6 per $1 for groceries, gas stations, restaurants, takeout/delivery; 3 per $1 spent on all other purchases.130,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus 50,000 additional points if you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. A free weekend night stay each year you spend $15,000. Complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges.
BEST TRAVEL CARDSBest Hotel RewardsIf you're willing to stick with a particular hotel chain on your journeys, getting a branded card can pay off handsomely in free night stays, room upgrades and other exclusive perks. Newsweek's winners additionally offer attractive sign-up bonuses, rewards for non-travel everyday spending and other perks, like complimentary visits to airport lounges or a free nights stay when you renew the card.IHG Rewards Club Premier15.99%–22.99%$89Up to 25 points per $1 at IHG properties; 2 points for gas, groceries, restaurants; 1 point on all other purchases125,000 point sign-up bonus point plus one reward night if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Free reward night stay after each year you renew.
BEST INTRODUCTORY OFFERSBest No-Interest PeriodWhen you've got a sudden emergency or big purchase you need help financing, opening a card with a stellar introductory offer gives you a grace period to save for the repayment without incurring additional fees or penalties. The winner doesn't offer fancy rewards or sign-up bonuses but it makes up for it with the longest intro period in our universe.U.S. Bank Visa Platinum14.49%–24.49%$0None0% financing on purchases for 20 months and 0% financing on balance transfers for 20 months. 3% balance transfer fee.
BEST INTRODUCTORY OFFERSBest Sign-Up Bonus (Big Bank)Competition in this category was tight as the biggest lenders typically give the grandest enticements to open an account. Our two winners, one offering cash back rewards and one offering points, deliver the best bang for expanding your wallet, without requiring exorbitant spending to earn the sign-up bonus.Discover It Cash Back11.99%–22.99%$05% cash back on up to $1,500 a quarter on rotating categories that can include restaurants, grocery stores, or gas stations; 1% on all other purchasesUnlimited dollar-for-dollar match of the total cash back you earn the first year
BEST INTRODUCTORY OFFERSBest Sign-Up Bonus (Big Bank)Competition in this category was tight as the biggest lenders typically give the grandest enticements to open an account. Our two winners, one offering cash back rewards and one offering points, deliver the best bang for expanding your wallet, without requiring exorbitant spending to earn the sign-up bonus.Chase Sapphire Preferred15.99%–22.99%$952 points per $1 spent on dining, takeout and travel; 1 point per $1 on other purchases80,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months; $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases. No foreign transaction fees. Discounts on DoorDash, Peloton services.
BEST INTRODUCTORY OFFERSBest Sign-Up Bonus (Small Bank)Cards from credit unions and financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets can't compete outright with bigger issuers on the size of their bonus. But they can deliver a winning combo of features to complement a solid bonus, including lower interest rates than the big boys for those with good credit and no annual fee, as does our best-in-class pick here.Great Lakes Credit Union Visa Rewards9.99%–25.24%$02 points per $1 spent on all purchases30,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Overall Rewards, with No Annual FeeTo earn top rewards, you typically need to pay an annual fee and spend big bucks ($3,000 or more) soon after opening an account. But moderate spenders don't have to miss out with these winners, which offer generous rewards for common purchases and a decent sign-up bonus for charging $1,000 or less; which is better for you depends on where you spend the most.Capital One SavorOne Rewards15.49%–25.49%$03% cash back on dining and entertainment; 2% at grocery stores, 1% on all other purchases$200 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. 0% financing on purchases for 15 months.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Overall Rewards, with No Annual FeeTo earn top rewards, you typically need to pay an annual fee and spend big bucks ($3,000 or more) soon after opening an account. But moderate spenders don't have to miss out with these winners, which offer generous rewards for common purchases and a decent sign-up bonus for charging $1,000 or less; which is better for you depends on where you spend the most.Chase Freedom Unlimited14.99%–23.74%$05% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% on restaurants, takeout, delivery, drugstore purchases; 1.5% on all other purchases$200 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. 0% financing on purchases for 15 months.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Overall Rewards, with an Annual FeeTo find the winner, we looked for the highest rewards in the categories that matter most to consumers, along with a generous sign-up bonus to more than offset the annual fee. The AmEx card has the highest reward rate going for groceries and streaming and a longer-than-usual period to earn the bonus; Bank of America's Premium Rewards card is a standout for travelers.American Express Blue Cash Preferred13.99%–23.99%$0 first year, $95 after6% cash back on groceries, up to $6,000; 6% on streaming services; 3% on taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses, gas and other transit costs; 1% on all other purchases$150 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months, plus 20% back on up to $1,000 of Amazon purchases (worth $200). No interest on purchases for 12 months.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Overall Rewards, with an Annual FeeTo find the winner, we looked for the highest rewards in the categories that matter most to consumers, along with a generous sign-up bonus to more than offset the annual fee. The AmEx card has the highest reward rate going for groceries and streaming and a longer-than-usual period to earn the bonus; Bank of America's Premium Rewards card is a standout for travelers.Bank of America Premium Rewards15.99%–22.99%$952 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, as well as for groceries in 2021, 1.5 per $1 spent on all other purchases50,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Up to $100 in statement credits annually for certain purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees. Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Premium RewardsAttention, big spenders: If you're shelling out more than $100 a year for a credit card—and, often in this category, $250 to $500 or more—you better be sure the sign-up bonus and rewards are outstanding. That's the case with these two winners, which both offer outsized perks compared to competitors but in different spending categories—the AmEx card is best for everyday spending, Chase makes more sense for frequent travelers.American Express Gold15.99%–22.99%$2504 points back per $1 spent on restaurants, takeout, delivery and up to $25,000 on groceries a year; 3 points on flights; 1 per $1 on all other purchases60,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months. $120 Uber cash annually for Uber rides or Uber Eats food deliveries; $10 statement credit each month you use the card at Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed or other partners
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Premium RewardsAttention, big spenders: If you're shelling out more than $100 a year for a credit card—and, often in this category, $250 to $500 or more—you better be sure the sign-up bonus and rewards are outstanding. That's the case with these two winners, which both offer outsized perks compared to competitors but in different spending categories—the AmEx card is best for everyday spending, Chase makes more sense for frequent travelers.Chase Sapphire Reserve16.99%–23.99%$5503 points back per $1 spent on travel, restaurants, takeout, delivery; 1 point on all other purchases60,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Annual $300 credit for travel; $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application; access to more than a 1,000 airport lounges worldwide; no foreign transaction fees.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Gas RewardsRoad trippers, long-distance commuters and other gas guzzlers need a card that will cut the price of fueling up. The two no-fee winners, one for those willing to become brand loyal and one for those who want the freedom to shop around, will both knock serious money off your gas costs, in addition to offering solid rewards in other common spending categories.Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard26.49%$010¢ off every gallon (up to 20 gallons per transaction); Statement credits for Shell purchases worth 10% on $1,200 Shell non-fuel purchases; 2% on $10,000 in dining and groceries purchases; 1% on all other purchases30¢ off every gallon (up to 20 gallons per transaction) on your first five Shell fuel purchases with the card.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Gas RewardsRoad trippers, long-distance commuters and other gas guzzlers need a card that will cut the price of fueling up. The two no-fee winners, one for those willing to become brand loyal and one for those who want the freedom to shop around, will both knock serious money off your gas costs, in addition to offering solid rewards in other common spending categories.PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature13.49%–17.99%$05 points per $1 spent on gas; 3 per $1 on groceries; 1 per $1 on all other purchases$100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 in first 90 days. 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Grocery RewardsThe typical American family spends upwards of $4,600 a year on groceries and more in costlier areas—and that total, from 2019, has likely gone higher during the pandemic. The winner offers the highest rewards for this spending, hands down, for a modest annual fee; AmEx offers a very good no-fee version too—Blue Cash Everyday—but the rewards are half as much.American Express Blue Cash Preferred13.99%–23.99%$0 first year, $95 after6% cash back on groceries, up to $6,000; 6% on streaming services; 3% on taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses, gas and other transit costs; 1% on all other purchases$150 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months, plus 20% back on up to $1,000 of Amazon purchases (worth $200). No interest on purchases for 12 months.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Dining RewardsDon't want to taste your own cooking for the rest of 2021? These two winners, one with an annual fee and one without, practically give you an excuse to go out, rewarding dining handsomely and dishing out a solid introductory bonus for dessert.Capital One Savor Cash Rewards15.99%–24.99%$954% cash back on dining, entertainment; 2% on groceries; 1% on all other purchases$300 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest Dining RewardsDon't want to taste your own cooking for the rest of 2021? These two winners, one with an annual fee and one without, practically give you an excuse to go out, rewarding dining handsomely and dishing out a solid introductory bonus for dessert.U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature13.99%–23.99%$04 points per $1 spent on dining, takeout, food delivery; 2 points on groceries and grocery delivery, streaming services, gas; 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases20,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest for Simplicity (Flat Cashback Rewards)Not a big spender in any one area or just prefer a simple-to-use card that will give you a decent, steady return for all your purchases? Cards with a flat cashback rewards rate are for you. No rotating categories, no annual fee, no headaches—and Citi's offering is the best of the bunch.Citi Double Cash13.99%–23.99%$01% cash back when you buy, 1% when you pay0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers
BEST REWARDS CARDSBest for Maximizers (Rotating Rewards)You can earn as much as 5 percent cash back on your spending, if you're willing to try timing your biggest purchases to when an issuer offers its biggest payouts in rotating categories. It's a hassle, but with a potentially great payoff—and the winner in this category makes it easier by offering good rewards on fixed categories as well, along with an easy-to-earn sign-up bonus.Chase Freedom Flex14.99%–23.74%$05% cash back on up to $1,500 spent on bonus categories each quarter; 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% on restaurants, takeout/delivery, drugstores; 1% on all other purchases.$200 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. 0% financing for 15 months
BEST FOR BORROWERSBest If You Carry a BalanceIf you're among the 43 percent of U.S. households with credit card debt, there is only one thing you really care about: nabbing the lowest possible rates to minimize your interest charges and help you pay off your debt faster. The winner offers the same low rates to all successful applicants, and as a bonus, provides modest rewards of one point for each dollar you spend.Visa Classic ScoreCard Rewards from Merchant Bank9.99%$01 point per $1 spent on all purchases0% financing on purchases for 6 months. 0% financing on balance transfers for 6 months. No balance transfer fee.
BEST FOR BORROWERSBest for Balance TransfersWith card rates averaging 16 percent, shifting an outstanding balance to a card that doesn't charge interest for an extended time can be a smart payoff strategy. In addition, our winning card doesn't impose a transfer fee (3 to 5 percent is common) and offers financing rates as low as 8.49 percent after the promotional period—useful if you haven't fully cleared that balance.Union Bank Platinum Visa8.49%–19.99%$0None0% financing on new purchases for 15 months. 0% financing on balance transfers for 15 months. No fee for balance transfers in first 60 days, then 3%.
Methodology

To identify America's Best Credit Cards, LendingTree in consultation with Newsweek collected data on candidates from an initial universe of more than 1,030 credit cards issued by 195 financial institutions and credit unions. LendingTree then applied filters to create a short list of eligible candidates in each category, based on the most salient features for each kind of credit card. LendingTree supplied the data and made recommendations about the feature weightings for each category; the final proprietary scoring system used was developed by Newsweek, based on the factors editors deemed most important to consumers for that type of credit card.

Data sources included MagnifyMoney,com, DepositAccounts.com and information published by each credit card issuer, including digital advertisements and terms-of-service agreements. All together, 36 factors were assessed, covering a wide variety of fees, current interest rates, balance transfer details, introductory purchase offers, introductory sign-up offers, rewards rates for purchases and other special perks.

Among the specific data collected for each category: the lowest and highest possible financing rates (APR) offered on purchases and cash advances; balance transfer duration; balance transfer fee; balance transfer introductory rate offer; purchase intro rate offer, purchase intro rate duration; annual fee for the first and subsequent years; foreign transaction fees; late payment fee; returned payment fee; cash advance fee; introductory bonus offer and the requirements to earn it; and average rewards rates, either in cashback, points or miles, as well as specific rewards rates in various categories, such as dining, travel, groceries, transit, or gas.

For consideration in the best big bank credit card categories, financial institutions needed to have at least $10 billion in assets per the FDIC. For the best credit cards from a small bank, institutions had to have less than $10 billion in assets. Only credit unions that allow anyone to join were considered.

For all business credit card categories, only cards that are available to businesses were considered; all personal cards were excluded. For best student credit card, cards must cater specifically to students and be labeled as such. For best card for military members, only credit cards offered by banks that traditionally cater to military members and their families, and also have at least $10 billion in assets, or by credit unions available to military members and their families were considered. For best credit card for people with poor credit, cards needed to be either secured or designated specifically as being for low credit score applicants. All other credit card category winners were selected from all available personal cards offered by any size financial institution.

Newsweek exercised final editorial judgment when selecting winners. The complete data set was collected by LendingTree and reviewed by Newsweek between February 1, 2021 and April 21, 2021. Current interest rate information and introductory offer details are accurate as of May 6, 2021.