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Some say that the only constant in life is change. With that in mind, the start of 2023 brings five new cards to the front of the pack for NerdWallet’s ranking of the Best Credit Cards of 2023. Since being disloyal can be a great strategy for optimizing your credit card rewards, now might be the perfect time to assess your spending habits to see if one of these new titleholders should earn a spot in your wallet.
From better rewards-earning potential to longer introductory 0% APR periods, meet our five new winning cards and why they're our new champions.
New Winner: Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Category: Best credit card for college students
The card it dethroned: Discover it® Student Chrome
Why: There’s a lot for students to love about the Discover it® Student Chrome, since it helps build credit and offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, capped at $1,000 in combined quarterly spending. Everything else earns an unlimited 1% back.
But the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card offers superior rewards for those who qualify. While the card does require some existing credit, cardholders will earn big rewards in useful categories, including an uncapped 3% cashback for purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, streaming services and entertainment. And through Nov. 14, 2024, cardholders can earn 10% cash back on purchases at Uber and Uber Eats, plus a complimentary Uber One membership.
Students who are approved for the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card are eligible for the following signup bonus: Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months.
Between the signup bonus and the ongoing rewards, qualifying students looking to earn credit card rewards won’t do much better than the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card.
New Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Category: Best all-purpose travel rewards credit card
The card it dethroned: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Why: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card sat on this throne for the last three years. There’s still a lot to like about the card, with its simple earning structure of 2x miles per $1 spent on all purchases and a growing list of travel partners to transfer your miles. It’s simple, if not exciting.
But the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card packs more value for most travelers. It earns 3x points per $1 on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services, plus 5x points on travel booked through Chase (1x on all other purchases). It also gives a $50 hotel credit each year towards stays booked through Chase, and an anniversary points bonus. If you're redeeming your points towards travel through Chase, they're worth 1.25 cents each, compared to 1 cent each with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The travel partners offered by Chase also include domestic brands like Southwest, United and Hyatt, which are probably more accessible to most people than the mostly international partners of Capital One.
New Winner: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Category: Best credit card for entertainment
The card it dethroned: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Why: The replacement of the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and its $95-annual fee with the $0-annual fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card comes down to trends in spending for most consumers. Both cards offer the same bonus rewards categories, but one offers higher rewards in exchange for an annual fee. You’d need to spend more than $9,500 annually on dining out, entertainment and streaming services to break even on that annual fee. If you spend more than $9,500 on these categories, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is a no-brainer, but many consumers spend less.
According to a study by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average household spent approximately $6,600 on dining out and entertainment in 2021. And the potential for less available disposable income for many households due to inflation means less spending on things such as dining out and entertainment. For this reason, we think the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is the better choice for most people.
New Winner: BankAmericard® credit card
Category: Best balance transfer credit card
The card it dethroned: Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
The BankAmericard® credit card is the new winner in the best balance transfer category due to its 21-month 0% APR period on balance transfers. (Editor's Note: As of August 2023, the BankAmericard® credit card's balance transfer offer dropped down to 18 months.)
The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card is also a great card for those needing a balance transfer, however, the 0% intro APR period is a shorter time frame (but has the potential to be extended a few additional months).
If you already have a card with high-interest debt, transferring the balance you owe to a card with a lower introductory interest rate can save you a lot of money. These cards won’t come with a sign-up bonus or earn rewards, but they have the potential to alleviate the financial burden that accrued interest can present when trying to pay down a balance.
In previous Best-of Awards, we combined cards with 0% interest offers on new purchases and balance transfer cards into one category. But this year, we split this category into two to better help people select cards that fit the specific task at hand.
New Winner: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Category: Best 0% APR for credit card purchases
The card it dethroned: Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is our choice for anyone looking for a little breathing room on interest on new purchases. It offers: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR. But it also offers a sign-up bonus and the ability to earn cash-back rewards, perks you won't find on every card. You’ll earn 3% back on purchases in the category of your choice on up to $2,500 in spend per quarter, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings.
Remodeling your kitchen or looking for new furniture? With the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you’ll not only get a 3% discount for selecting “home improvement/furnishings” as your quarterly category (up to the $2,500 spending cap), but you can also finance the purchase for 18 months without accruing interest. New cardholders will also qualify for the following signup bonus: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.