The world of credit cards has changed drastically to keep up with how we spend money during the pandemic. With the ever-evolving world of credit cards and their membership perks, it can be overwhelming to know which card is best for your situation.
We’ve rounded up the ten best credit cards that are currently out there for three of the most popular spending categories: travel, balance transfers, and cards with the best overall rewards program.
Travel has undoubtedly taken a hit these past few years, so many credit cards that were previously travel-specific have revamped their rewards programs to include more benefits than your typical complimentary hotel or airline elite status. Here are the cards we think are killing it for their customers:
Since the Sapphire product line was released, there’s been stiff competition between the premium Sapphire Reserve® and the lower-tiered Sapphire Preferred®. Previously, the Reserve had the more impressive perks like a yearly travel credit of $350 that was generous in its definition of “travel” but commanded a hefty $550 annual fee.
COVID-19 made many customers reconsider whether the $550 was a worthwhile expense since travel was so limited, so Chase Bank decided to revamp its Preferred card to be a more tempting option that retained its customer base. The Sapphire Preferred® has an annual fee of only $95 but has an impressive amount of travel benefits like a $50 Hotel Anniversary credit, 5x points on travel-related purchases, a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and access to its Chase Ultimate Rewards program which has exclusive rates on travel purchases and vacation packages.
American Express has always been the premier bank for impressive card rewards and top-notch customer service. Their Platinum Card® is one of their most popular travel cards, and it’s no surprise why. The Platinum Card® includes a $100 yearly airline incidentals credit, a $200 yearly hotel credit, complimentary elite statuses at Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy properties, access to the Delta Airlines SkyLounge and American Express Centurion Lounges, a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, $200 in Uber Cash, and a newly-released $179 CLEAR® credit.
The Platinum Card® has a substantial fee of $695 + $175 for the first three additional card members but utilizing its perks and travel credits to the fullest will significantly knock down the net fee you pay.
If you want enhanced benefits for travel for a low annual fee, consider the Venture Rewards card from Capital One. It earns 5x miles back for purchases made through their Capital One Travel platform and a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. At only $95 a year, you can earn your fee back in bonus miles easily.
If you’re not a travel buff but still want to get more bang for your buck, there are credit cards out there tailored just for you. Here are the top cards that have excellent rewards for multiple categories:
The Gold Card is American Express’s powerhouse card with some of the most-popular bonus reward categories. Cardholders can expect 4x Membership Rewards® points at restaurants and US supermarkets, plus a $120 yearly dining credit, and access to their elite-tier benefits, including Extended Warranty options, purchase protection, and award-winning dispute resolution services. The Gold Card has an annual membership fee of $250 but has $0 annual fees for up to 5 additional card members.
The Custom Cash card from Citi is a card that’s designed to adapt to your spending. Instead of needing to remember which categories earn you the most, Custom Cash automatically earns you 5% cashback in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle, plus unlimited 1% cash on all other purchases and a $0 annual fee.
With a $0 annual fee, the Altitude Go card from U.S. Bank is a great everyday card that earns extra points on everyday necessities. Currently, customers receive 4x points on dining, 2x on grocery stores and grocery delivery, plus 2x back on streaming services, gas stations, and now EV charging station fees.
The SavorOne card earns an impressive unlimited 3% back on dining, entertainment, streaming services, as well as grocery store purchases and has a $0 annual fee.
Balance transfer offers were scarce in 2020 while credit companies re-evaluated how they could stay afloat during a time of mass job loss and increased medical debt. Thankfully in mid-2021, we saw offers slowly begin to trickle back and in 2022 we expect to see even more. Here are the balance transfer cards we’re most excited about this year:
Chase Bank’s Slate product line was designed specifically for consolidating debt and currently offers a 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers. In addition, cardholders can expect an automatic APR reduction of 2% every year they spend at least $1,000 by their anniversary date and keep their account in good standing. Not only is the 18-month promotional offer fantastic for those looking to consolidate credit card debt, but the 2% reduction in the regular APR ensures this is a credit card worth keeping for the long haul.
Discover has always been an excellent bank for those who need a robust card that can earn rewards in multiple categories, and its Cash Back credit card does all that, plus offers a generous balance transfer option. Not only can you earn 5% cashback on popular retailers like Amazon, but new cardholders can currently receive a 0% intro APR for 14 months on all balance transfers.
Citibank was one of the first banks to bring back balance transfer options, and qualified cardholders have noticed no shortage of promotional transfer options pop up while this card is active. Expect to see balance transfer offers with a small 3% - 5% transfer fee and promotional periods of 18 months or more.
2022 looks to have an upswing of new and exciting credit cards for every situation. Keep this guide handy for when you’re ready to find your next credit card so that you’ll know which card is best and how you can maximize your earning potential for the spending categories in which you already love to shop.
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