September 17, 2021

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Best New Credit Cards Released in 2020

While new doesn’t always equal better, some of the credit cards that launched in 2020 are top of their class, whether you’re looking for a lucrative rotating cash-back program (Chase Freedom Flex℠) or want to redeem rewards to pay off loans, save or invest (SoFi Credit Card).

This year also saw many big businesses dive into the credit card space, including Verizon, Venmo and Hotels.com. There’s also cards for credit newbies and frequent fliers.

CNBC Select covered a dozen new credit card launches, and below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites.

Best new credit cards of 2020

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Rewards

    5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back in select categories upon activation
  • Rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Long intro 0% APR period for purchases

Cons

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $814
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,647

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

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

Information about the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    4X points on takeout, food delivery and dining, 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services and gas stations and 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High 4X points on takeout, food delivery and dining
  • Annual $15 credit for eligible streaming service purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $581
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,104

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

United Club℠ Infinite Card

  • Rewards

    4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

    $0 intro annual fee, then $525

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    16.49% to 23.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • Annual fee waived the first year
  • United Club membership with access to over 45 United Club locations and participating Star Alliance™ affiliated lounges worldwide
  • 25% back on United in-flight purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit every four years
  • No fee on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • No welcome bonus
  • No intro 0% APR period

Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card

  • Rewards

    2% to 10% cash back from select merchants

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    19.99% to 29.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Opportunity to earn 2% to 10% cash back from select merchants
  • No foreign transaction fees when traveling outside the U.S.
  • Allows fair/low/no credit applicants to apply and build credit
  • No security deposits required

Cons

  • No welcome bonus
  • Rewards are limited to select merchants
  • No introductory APR offer

Venmo Credit Card

Information about the Venmo Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    3% cash back on the category in which you spend the most, 2% back on the second-highest category and 1% back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Rewards program that adapts to your spending habits
  • No foreign transaction fees when traveling outside the U.S.

Cons

  • Currently available to a random percentage of Venmo customers who’ve had a Venmo account for at least 30 days and who’ve been active in the last 12 months
  • No welcome bonus
  • No introductory APR offer

SoFi Credit Card

Information about the SoFi Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% when redeemed through SoFi Student or Personal Loans, SoFi Money® or SoFi Invest® accounts

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    12.99% to 24.99% variable, with a 1% reduction after making 12 consecutive on-time credit card payments

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

    N/A; must currently be a SoFi member

Pros

  • Up to 2% cash back
  • Simple cash-back program that helps you pay down debt, save or invest for the future
  • Opportunity to get a 1% reduction in APR
  • Access to World Elite Mastercard® benefits, Mastercard’s Priceless® Experiences and security features like Mastercard ID Theft Protection™ and Price Protection

Cons

  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Must currently be a SoFi member

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company’s data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri’s data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we’ve included are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.