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Some credit cards make a compelling case for that coveted slot in your wallet, granting you useful benefits and steady rewards year after year. Maybe they don’t check off every item on your wish list, but overall, you’re happy.
Once in a while, though, another card comes around that makes you question your devotion. Indeed this year, during our selection of NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards of 2022, we found three new offerings that unseated cards we'd previously awarded several years in a row. Here’s why.
New winner: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Category: Simple cash back
The card it dethroned: The Citi® Double Cash Card.
Why: The Citi® Double Cash Card has been a perennial champion in the cash-back category, boasting a rich 2% rate on all purchases: 1% back when you buy, 1% back when you pay it off. That's earned this venerable card a Best-Of Award for every year NerdWallet's contest has been in existence, since 2016.
But the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which burst onto the scene in 2021, out-duels the Citi® Double Cash Card in several ways:
Most important, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card comes with a generous sign-up bonus, phrased this way: "Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.." The Citi® Double Cash Card does not usually offer a sign-up bonus.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers an introductory APR promotion on both purchases and balance transfers. With the Citi card, you get an intro promotion on balance transfers only.
With the Wells Fargo card, you'll still earn 2% cash back on all purchases, but it's not broken down into two required steps as with the Citi card.
In addtion, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers cell phone protection, along with access to the Visa Concierge service and the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.
Overall, that's a powerhouse package.
New winner: Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
Category: 0% intro APR and balance transfer credit card
The card it dethroned: The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card.
Why: If your top priority is saving on interest while paying down debt, both of these cards offer very long 0% APR promotions. But the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card has a slight edge over the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card.
With the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card, you’ll pay 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 18.74%-28.74% Variable APR. That's an excellent deal, and it's earned the card honors on our annual awards list for the past three years.
But the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, which debuted in 2021, grants you a little extra time, provided you make on-time payments — which is something NerdWallet always recommends because late credit card payments can damage your credit scores. You get a 0% intro APR on Purchases for up to 21 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24%-29.24% Variable APR
That means, in total, you can snag a 0% intro period of 21 months by paying on time.
Neither card earns rewards on your spending, but the reprieve from interest can be a reward unto itself.
Wells Fargo won big this year with the addition of the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card and the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card to its card portfolio. On the other hand, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card — which had been NerdWallet's pick for "Best no annual fee travel credit card" three years in a row — was taken off the market in 2021. We did not award that category for 2022.
New winner: American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Category: Small-business credit card
The card it dethroned: The Capital One Spark Cash for Business.
Why: The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card earns an impressive 2% cash back on up to $50,000 per year, then 1% after you reach that spending threshold. Terms apply.
Plus, there’s a generous welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
If you need to finance large business purchases, you’ll pay 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.49%-25.49% Variable APR.
Not bad for a card with a $0 annual fee.
Terms apply; see rates and fees.
Meanwhile, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business is no longer available. When it was on the market, it routinely won NerdWallet Best-Of Awards in the small-business category, including the past three years running.
But the card was replaced in 2021 by the Capital One Spark Cash Plus. This new card also earns 2% cash back on all purchases (with no spending limit) and offers a generous sign-up bonus, but there are two considerable drawbacks. First, the annual fee is $150, which you can offset with a $200 annual cash bonus every year you spend $200,000 or more on the card — a sizable sum. Second, there’s no APR because you must pay your bill in full each month, so this isn’t an ideal card if you need to finance a major purchase.