BEST OF

The Top Credit Cards of 2021

Kenley YoungApril 8, 2021
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The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped household budgets and realigned financial goals. That reality is reflected in the categories we used for choosing credit cards as part of NerdWallet's Best-Of Awards for 2021.

Perhaps you’re focusing less on dining out and more on cooking at home, meaning you could use a good card for the supermarket — preferably one that also rewards purchases made through grocery-delivery services.

Maybe travel isn’t on your radar anytime soon, so instead of paying a triple-digit annual fee for a card with airport lounge access, you’d rather have a solid cash-back rate on takeout or office expenses. Or it could be that your entertainment spending has shifted from concerts and sporting events to Disney+ and two-day delivery on retail therapy, and you need a card that can keep up.

One thing remains the same, though: There’s no such thing as “the best credit card.” There’s only “the best credit card for you.” Whatever your spending priorities look like now, we’ve picked our top 10 credit card offers for 2021, along with a few more options representing the best credit cards for specific needs.

NerdWallet's The Top Credit Cards of 2021

The Top Credit Cards of 2021 From Our Partners

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Citi® Double Cash Card

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

Bonus cash back

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Chase Freedom Flex

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

Flat-rate travel rewards

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

17.24% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

Bonus travel rewards

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

4.6

/5
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Credit Card

on American Express's website

Annual Fee

$250

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

0% intro APR and balance transfer

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
US Bank Visa Platinum Credit Card

on US Bank's website

Annual Fee

$0*

Regular APR

14.49% - 24.49%* Variable APR

Intro APR

0%* intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers*

Rec Credit Score

720-850Excellent

Our pick for

Airline card

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

on American Express's website

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

Hotel card

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
World Of Hyatt Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

College students

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Discover it® Student chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Rec Credit Score

630-689Average

Our pick for

Building credit

Top 10 credit card offers for 2021

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Discover it® Secured Credit Card

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Rec Credit Score

300-629Poor

Our pick for

Small-business cash back

Best credit cards for specific needs

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Capital One Spark Cash Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

20.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

Groceries

Best credit cards for specific needs

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

on American Express's website

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

Our pick for

Dining out or ordering in

Best credit cards for specific needs

NerdWallet rating 

4.9

/5
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's website

Annual Fee

$0*

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.99%* Variable APR

Intro APR

0%* intro APR on Purchases for 12 billing cycles* and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 12 Billing cycles

Rec Credit Score

720-850Excellent

Our pick for

Staying at home

Best credit cards for specific needs

NerdWallet rating 

4.6

/5
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.24% - 22.24%, Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Rec Credit Score

690-850Good - Excellent

TO RECAP OUR EDITORIAL SELECTIONS

TOP 10 CREDIT CARD OFFERS FOR 2021

2021's BEST CARDS FOR SPECIFIC NEEDS

Best flat-rate cash-back card Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Best small-business cash-back card Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Best bonus rewards cash-back card  Chase Freedom Flex℠

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

Best flat-rate travel rewards card Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best card for dining out or ordering in  U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

Best bonus travel rewards card  American Express® Gold Card

Best card for staying at home  Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Best no-annual-fee travel rewards card Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Best 0% intro APR and balance transfer card U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Best airline card Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Best hotel card  World of Hyatt Credit Card

Best card for college students Discover it® Student chrome

Best card for building credit Discover it® Secured Credit Card

PAST YEARS

Top 10 credit card offers of 2020

  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Best for flat-rate cash back

  • Discover it® Cash Back: Best for bonus category cash back

  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate travel rewards

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for bonus travel rewards

  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best for no-annual-fee travel rewards

  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card: Best for balance transfers

  • U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best for 0% intro APR

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best premium card

  • ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card: Best for fair credit

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

2020's best credit cards for specific needs

  • Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for small-business cash back

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for small-business travel

  • Discover it® Student chrome: Best for college students

  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for international students

  • United℠ Explorer Card: Best airline card

  • World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best hotel card

  • Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®: Best store card

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for families

  • Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining and entertainment

  • Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card: Best for gas

Top 10 credit card offers of 2019

  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®: Best for flat-rate travel

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for bonus travel rewards

  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best for no-annual-fee travel

  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Best for flat-rate cash back

  • Discover it® Cash Back: Best for bonus cash back

  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card: Best for balance transfers

  • U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best for 0% interest

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best premium card

  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for fair credit

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

2019's best credit cards for specific needs

  • Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for small-business cash back

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for small-business travel

  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for college students

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: Best airline card

  • Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card: Best hotel card

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best store card

  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best gas card

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for families

  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining and entertainment

Top 10 credit card offers of 2018

  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best flat-rate travel rewards card

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best bonus category travel rewards card

  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Best flat-rate cash back card

  • Discover it® Cash Back: Best bonus category cash back card

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best family card

  • Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Best 0% Intro APR card

  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best card for fair/average credit

  • Discover it® Secured Credit CardBest card for building credit

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back: Best card for college students

  • SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express: Best small business card

Top 10 credit card offers of 2017

  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best flat-rate travel rewards card

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best bonus category travel rewards card

  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Best flat-rate cash back card

  • Chase Freedom®: Best bonus category cash back card

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best card for everyday spending

  • Chase Slate®Best card for balance transfers

  • Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Longest 0% Intro APR period

  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best card for fair/average credit

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back: Best card for college students

  • Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best small business card

Top 10 credit card offers of 2016

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for travel

  • (TIE) — Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®: Easiest travel redemption

  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Best for cash back

  • Chase Freedom®: Best for bonus categories

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for everyday spending

  • Chase Slate®Best for balance transfers

  • Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Longest 0% Intro APR period

  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students: Best for students

  • Ink Plus® Business Credit Card: Best for business

  • Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®: Best for fair/average credit

To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page.

Information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

Last updated on April 8, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.