Best Credit Cards of 2023: Why These Repeat Winners Are Still No. 1

These eight cards consistently get our stamp of approval because of the outsized value they offer to cardholders.
Jae Bratton
By Jae Bratton 
Edited by Erin Hurd

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Our credit card Nerds are often asked, “What’s the best credit card to get?”

Truth is, it depends. The best credit card for one person’s lifestyle, spending habits and personality can be drastically different from someone else’s. And some people like to have a wallet full of credit cards; others only want one. 

While we can’t give you a definitive answer when it comes to the best credit card, it’s also true that some cards always seem to make an appearance on our annual list of winning credit cards in our Best-Of Awards. Like Meryl Streep on an Oscar ballot, these cards are favorites to win almost every year. 

Here are the eight credit cards that continue to win one of NerdWallet’s Best-Of Awards.

Best credit card for simple cash back: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Rewards:

  • 2% cash back on all purchases, unlimited.

Why it keeps winning

Though the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card just debuted on the credit card scene in 2021, it became an instant favorite of those who want cash back without having to put in effort to get it. Cardholders earn an unlimited 2% back on purchases, and there are no spending caps to track or bonus categories to activate. The sign-up bonus, which is tied to a reasonable spending requirement, only adds to this card’s overall value. 

Best credit card for bonus cash back: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex
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Card details

Annual fee: $0.

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

Rewards:

  • 5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter. (Activation required.)

  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3% back on dining, including takeout and delivery services.

  • 3% back on drugstore purchases.

  • For all cardholders, through March 31, 2025, 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.

  • 1% on all other purchases.

Why it keeps winning

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ continues to win for best bonus cash-back card because it combines an excellent 5% rewards rate with a rotating calendar of categories featuring high-spend areas for many consumers. Every quarter, Chase offers new 5% bonus categories, which historically have included gas, Amazon.com, streaming services and grocery stores. By making sure to use the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card for purchases that align with that month’s bonus categories, you can ensure yourself a rewards rate that is rare among $0-annual-fee cards. Plus, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ also earns an elevated 3% back on popular spending categories like dining and drugstores all year long, setting it apart from other rotating category bonus cards. 

Best credit card for building credit: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

Rewards:

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Why it keeps winning

If you have minimal or bad credit, your credit card options may be limited, but the Discover it® Secured Credit Card won’t make you feel like you’re settling for less. Available to those with poor credit, it's one of the few secured cards that offers rewards and a sign-up bonus. Cash back accrued with the Discover it® Secured Credit Card can help to offset the cost of the required $200 minimum security deposit, too. However, Discover automatically refunds the security deposit after six consecutive on-time payments and six months of good status on all of your credit accounts.

Best credit card for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

Rewards:

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%).

  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains and buses).

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Terms apply; see rates and fees.

Why it keeps winning

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a superior 6% cash-back rate on groceries on up to $6,000 spent per year. If you spend that amount — and many households will have no trouble hitting that number — you’ll end up with $360 back by year’s end, which is more than enough to make up for the card’s annual fee. Terms apply.

Best credit card for dining: U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards:

  • 4 points per $1 spent on dining, including takeout and delivery.

  • 2 points per $1 spent at grocery stores (including grocery delivery), gas stations, electric vehicle charging stations and on eligible streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

Why it keeps winning

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card serves up a mouthwatering menu: 4x points on dining, which includes restaurants, fast food and bars. Takeout and delivery through meal-delivery services count, too. Plus, its annual fee is $0, meaning all of these benefits are on the house. U.S. Bank points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for options like cash back, travel, gift cards or merchandise.

Best airline credit card: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

Welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.

Rewards:

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

  • Terms apply.

Why it keeps winning

Yes, there are other airline cards that offer a laundry list of luxury perks, but you’ll pay for it in an annual fee that can cost hundreds of dollars. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card’s annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $99, is reasonable considering you’ll get priority boarding, a 20% discount on in-flight purchases and one free checked bag for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation. The card’s welcome offer alone may make it a valuable addition to your wallet: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.

Best hotel credit card: World of Hyatt Credit Card

World Of Hyatt Credit Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $95.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

Rewards:

  • 4 bonus points per $1 spent with your card at Hyatt hotels, including participating restaurants and spas.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants, cafes and coffee shops; airline tickets purchased through the airline; fitness club and gym memberships; and local transit and commuting, including rideshare services.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Why it keeps winning

Several hotel credit cards award a free night’s stay each year you hold the card. But with the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you have the opportunity to score several. Cardholders automatically receive a free night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year on their account anniversary. More free nights can be squeezed out of the card’s sign-up bonus, depending on when you travel and what Hyatt hotel you book: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

Hyatt hotel stays and experiences paid for with the World of Hyatt Credit Card earn 9 points per $1 spent. And since Hyatt has an attractive award redemption chart, you'll often pay less in points for an award than with other hotel brands. The card also gives you Discoverist status within World of Hyatt’s loyalty program, which comes with its own set of perks, including potential room upgrades. 

Best credit card for small businesses: American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
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Card details

Annual fee: $0.

Welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Rewards:

  • 2% cash back on eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year.

  • 1% back on eligible purchases after.

  • Terms apply. 

Why it keeps winning

It’s almost too easy to get cash back on purchases made with the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card. It earns a solid 2% back on eligible purchases up to $50,000 per year; after that, you get 1%. You don’t even have to remember to cash out your rewards since cash back is automatically converted to a statement credit. That’s one less task to worry about for the business owner or solopreneur who has plenty of them. Terms apply.

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