Best of

This Year’s Top 10 Credit Cards

Kenley YoungOctober 15, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

There’s no such thing as “the best credit card.” There’s only “the best credit card for you” — and the right choice for you depends on your goals, your spending habits and your credit scores. Some people want cash back, others want rewards they can use for travel, and still others are looking to pay down debt or simply build a strong credit history.

The marketplace is large and can be confusing, so breaking it down into broad categories is helpful. Below, we’ve selected our 10 best credit card offers for 2020, plus 10 more options representing the best credit cards for specific needs.

Some of our selections can be applied for through NerdWallet, and some cannot. Below, you'll find application links for the credit cards from our partners that are available through NerdWallet, followed by the full list of our picks

NerdWallet's This Year’s Top 10 Credit Cards

This Year’s Top 10 Credit Cards From Our Partners

Our pick for

Families

Best credit cards for specific needs

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
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

Recommended Credit Score

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express rewards families where they typically spend the most. It earns an industry-leading 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1%); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back on eligible transit including U.S. gas stations; and 1% back on everything else. Terms apply. With this card, you’ve got groceries, gas, Uber and Netflix all covered. The $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee is hefty for a cash-back card and might be a turnoff for some. But spend just $31 per week at the supermarket alone — an easy feat for big families — and you’ll make up that cost in rewards. The card also has a juicy welcome offer.

Pros

  • Leading cash-back rewards at U.S. supermarkets
  • Rich bonus offer for new cardholders
  • Intro APR period on Purchases

Cons

  • Has annual fee — but if you spend more than $31 per week at U.S. supermarkets, the rewards offset the fee
  • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard
  • $25 minimum redemption
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Offer Expires 12/10/2020
  • Limited Time Offer: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95. Offer Expires 12/10/2020
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Top 10 credit card offers for 2020

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

Recommended Credit Score

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is an ideal workhorse card thanks to its exceptional ongoing rewards rate: 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy something, and 1% when you pay it off). It lacks some of the incentives often found on cash-back cards — there's no sign-up bonus or 0% intro APR period on purchases — but with no bonus categories to track and no annual fee to worry about, it’s a top-notch option for everyday spending.

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR period on Balance Transfers

Cons

  • No sign-up bonus
  • No 0% APR for purchases
  • $25 minimum redemption
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Our pick for

Bonus category cash back

Top 10 credit card offers for 2020

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

Rates & Fees

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score

The Discover it® Cash Back offers a stellar rewards rate for those who don’t mind a little maintenance. It earns 5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% back on other purchases. The catch: You have to remember to activate the categories via web or app every few months. Historically, the bonus categories have included common household expenses like restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and Amazon, making it a solid pick either as an everyday card or paired with a flat-rate cash-back card. Add in Discover's signature cash-back match bonus offer, and this card delivers.

Pros

  • Cash back match at the end of your first year
  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

Cons

  • Slightly less merchant acceptance for Discover in US - acceptance outside of US can be an issue
  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better
  • 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.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Bonus travel rewards

Top 10 credit card offers for 2020

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

We chose the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as our winner in this category before it raised its annual fee by $100 in mid-January. Even at $550, though, the card can be a bargain for frequent travelers. It gives you a broad $300 travel credit every year, cutting the sticker price by more than half. You earn 3 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. Plus, through March 2022, you'll earn an industry-leading 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides. Points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel booked through Chase. You can also transfer them on a 1:1 basis to multiple airline and hotel travel partners, including Southwest, United, Marriott and IHG. Valuable perks include airport lounge access and an application fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. Plus, there's a lucrative bonus offer.

Pros

  • A large bonus
  • High rewards rate
  • High value benefits
  • Cool factor - metal card
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.

Our pick for

Building credit

Top 10 credit card offers for 2020

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

Rates & Fees

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score

When it comes to secured cards, the Discover it® Secured stands out. As with all secured cards, you’ll need to put down a refundable deposit, in this case at least $200. But the annual fee is $0, and after eight months, Discover automatically begins reviewing your account for a possible upgrade to a regular unsecured card. It's one of the rare secured cards that offers a rewards program, and new cardholders get Discover's signature cash-back match bonus in their first year.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus
  • Offers rewards and a sign-up bonus
  • Chance to upgrade to unsecured account after 8 months

Cons

  • Requires minimum deposit of $200
  • Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Small-business travel

Best credit cards for specific needs

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$595

Regular APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express carries an eye-popping annual fee of $595, so it’s certainly not for everyone. But that fee is a deductible business expense, and as with the consumer version of this card, it unlocks a suite of generous perks and benefits that can ease a lot of the pain points for frequent travelers. You get unmatched access to airport lounges worldwide, automatic elite status with eligible hotel chains Marriott and Hilton, a $200 credit each year for eligible airline fees, a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee credit, plus a major welcome offer. The card earns 5 points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked via amextravel.com, 1.5 points per $1 on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1 point per $1 on other purchases. (And you can get 35% of those points back when you redeem them for eligible flights through American Express Travel.) Terms apply.

Pros

  • High rewards rate on certain travel purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Bonus offer for new cardholders
  • Lounge access, airline fee credit

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Other cards offer a higher rewards rate on non-travel spending
  • Complicated rewards structure
  • Requires good/excellent credit
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Terms Apply
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

College students

Best credit cards for specific needs

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

Rates & Fees
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

Recommended Credit Score

Simplicity and student-friendly rewards push the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student chrome to the head of the class. It earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. Unlike with some other Discover cards, you don’t need to track or activate bonus categories — one less hassle for students just getting started with credit. New cardholders get Discover's cash-back match bonus, and students with good grades can earn a $20 credit each year for up to five years. Note, however, that merely being a student doesn’t guarantee approval, and since Discover is less accepted outside the U.S. than Visa or Mastercard, it’s not an ideal companion for studying abroad.

Pros

  • No FICO history required.
  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Higher rewards available elsewhere
  • Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.
  • 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.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

International students

Best credit cards for specific needs

on Deserve's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

International students not only lack a U.S. credit history, but they usually don't have a Social Security number, making a U.S. credit card next to impossible to get. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students can evaluate creditworthiness without either. For applicants with no credit file, the issuer can use its own underwriting criteria, considering factors such as your school, your major, your likelihood of graduating and becoming employed, and how much you have in the bank. International students without a Social Security number can apply with other documentation, such as a visa, passport and certain school forms. The annual fee is $0, there’s no foreign transaction fee, and the card even earns rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases.

Pros

  • Qualify with limited credit
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Earns rewards

Cons

  • High APR
  • If you have at least some credit history, better options may exist
  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.

Our pick for

Airline card

Best credit cards for specific needs

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

16.49% - 23.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The United℠ Explorer Card has mass appeal, even for those who fly United only occasionally. You’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, but also at restaurants and on hotel stays when you book directly via the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 mile per $1. Perhaps just as valuable are the card’s perks. If you and a companion take just one round trip a year, the free checked bag benefit alone can more than make up for the annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95. The card also offers a statement credit for the cost of a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee, 25% back on in-flight purchases, and — unique among major U.S. airline credit cards in this price range — two free lounge passes per year. You're eligible for a sign-up bonus, too.

Pros

  • Free checked bag and priority boarding
  • Two United Club passes annually
  • Primary rental car coverage

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Checked bag fee waived for fewer traveling partners than competitors
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck™ fee credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services including GrubHub, Caviar, Seamless and DoorDash

Our pick for

Hotel card

Best credit cards for specific needs

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Hyatt doesn't have as many locations as its bigger rivals, but The World Of Hyatt Credit Card makes up for it with tremendous value that easily earns back the $95 annual fee. You get a great sign-up bonus, a free night every anniversary year and another free night each year you hit a spending threshold. The high-value points you rack up along the way also help: 4 points per $1 spent at eligible Hyatt properties, as well as 2 points per $1 spent on dining, eligible airline tickets, fitness club and gym memberships, and local transit and commuting services. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1. Throw in the automatic elite status the card grants you — which includes room upgrades when available — and you’ve got an essential card for Hyatt loyalists (or anyone who could become one).

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • High-value rewards
  • Free night every anniversary year
  • Automatic elite status

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Hyatt has a smaller footprint than other brands
  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
  • Free nights start at 5,000 points
  • Receive 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Elite status and 5 qualifying night credits every year as long as your account is open
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships

Our pick for

Gas card

Best credit cards for specific needs

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

19.99% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

UPDATE April 1, 2020: The Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card has changed its rewards structure. It now pays a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. While that's a decent rewards rate, this card is no longer especially valuable for gas. When NerdWallet chose it as our best card for gas of 2020, it was offering unlimited 5% cash back on gas and at sporting goods stores.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No reward caps

Cons

  • High APR
  • Minimum redemptions apply
  • No sign-up bonus
  • No Annual Fee
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases everywhere Visa is accepted
  • A portion of every purchase you make with the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Visa® Card helps fund wetlands conversation efforts

TO RECAP OUR EDITORIAL SELECTIONS

TOP 10 CREDIT CARD OFFERS FOR 2020

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 category cash-back card Discover it® Cash Back

Best small-business travel rewards card The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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

Best card for college students Discover it® Student chrome

Best bonus travel rewards card Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best card for international students Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

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

Best airline card United℠ Explorer Card

Best balance transfer card Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Best hotel card The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

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

Best store card Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®

Best premium card The Platinum Card® from American Express

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

Best card for fair credit (NOTE: THIS CARD HAS CHANGED ITS ELIGIBILITY RULES AND NOW REQUIRES EXCELLENT CREDIT) ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

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

Best card for building credit Discover it® Secured

Best gas card Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card

Information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet and has not been provided or reviewed by the issuer of this card.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.

Last updated on October 8, 2020

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.