September 17, 2021

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U.S. News & World Report’s Best Credit Card Awards for 2021 | Credit Card News & Advice

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! What? No, I’m not talking about the holidays. I’m talking about U.S. News & World Report’s second annual Best Credit Card Awards.

For U.S. News to determine the winners of the Best Credit Card Awards for 2021, we analyzed each credit card in our database to identify the top credit card in nine categories. Here is our methodology.

And this year, we’ve added an enticing category that’s perfect for not just surviving but also thriving during a pandemic.

Here are the winners in nine categories:

I think we can all agree that this past year has been unusual, to say the least. One day, we’re having lunch with friends and browsing at the mall. And the next day, we’re suddenly thrust into a world of masks, sheltering in place and social distancing. But embracing the new normal doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your life.

As a credit card expert, I always watch the response of credit card issuers during times like this. I was pleased to see the Chase Freedom Flex offer the types of rewards that make it a pleasure – both emotionally and financially – to enjoy your time at home.

The Chase Freedom Flex has gotten a lot of things right during the times of COVID-19. Here are the pandemic-friendly rewards you get:

  • Cooking more? Get 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Tired of cooking? Earn 3% on takeout and delivery services.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in quarterly revolving categories on things like Amazon.com, Whole Foods and Walmart.
  • Get 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Get 3% on drugstore purchases and 1% on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: You can get a $200 bonus if you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Purchase annual percentage rate: 0% intro rate for 15 months. After that, it’s a variable 14.99% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness.

This has always been a popular travel credit card, and it’s easy to see why. It offers excellent rewards, reasonable rates and no foreign transaction fees.

For airline travel, there are no blackout dates or travel restrictions. You get a 1-to-1 point transfer ratio to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card uses a rewards points system.

Here’s a rundown of the rewards for this card:

  • Two points per dollar spent on travel and dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services.
  • A DashPass from DoorDash, which waives the delivery fee when your orders exceed $12.
  • Two points on up to $1,000 per month on groceries from now through April 30, 2021, including eligible pickup and delivery services.
  • Get 25% more value on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Example: 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel redeemed via Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn five points per dollar on Lyft rides. A great way to get to the airport!
  • Get one point per dollar on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Purchase APR: A variable 15.99% to 22.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

Annual fee: $95 per year.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers a lot of travel flexibility. You can redeem miles for any airline, hotel, rental cars and more. There are also no foreign transaction fees, which can save you money when traveling overseas.

This card has a straightforward rewards program, and you earn rewards in miles. Here’s what you get:

  • Two miles per dollar spent on every purchase.
  • Unlimited rewards.
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry.

How’s that for easy? Some people enjoy a more complex program, but if you’re trying to simplify your life, this might be the card for you.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months of opening your account. Or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Purchase APR: A variable 17.24% to 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness.

Annual fee: $95 per year.

The Citi Diamond Preferred Card offers a balance transfer credit card that can help you get out of debt while paying 0% interest. As a bonus, you also get a 0% introductory APR on purchases.

Here’s what you should know about the introductory offers:

  • You get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months.
  • You get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months.
  • The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

This is an excellent card for paying down debt. Even though you also get a 0% purchase intro offer, I recommend not using this credit card for new purchases. Just for now, focus on paying off your debt. You can use this card for purchases after you’re debt-free and happy.

Purchase APR: After the intro period ends, it’s a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.

The Chase Freedom Flex also won the award for best credit card for the new normal. The rewards are so good, this card also happens to be the best cash back card for 2021.

Here’s a quick reminder of the cash back rewards:

  • You get 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • You can earn 3% on takeout and delivery services.
  • The card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on quarterly revolving categories on things like Amazon.com, Whole Foods and Walmart.
  • You get 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • You get 3% on drugstore purchases and 1% on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: You can get a $200 bonus if you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Purchase APR: 0% intro rate for 15 months. After that, it’s a variable 14.99% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness.

Whether you’re attending college in person or virtually, this card helps you save money. And when you’re a student, you need all the help you can get.

  • Earn 3% cash back in a category of your choosing. Category examples: gas, dining, drugstores and online shopping.
  • Get 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale clubs.
  • Get 3% and 2% cash back applied to up to a combined total of $2,500 per quarter.
  • Earn 1% on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: You can get a $200 cash rewards bonus if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Purchase APR: 0% intro rate for 12 billing cycles. After that, it’s a variable 13.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

The Citi Diamond Preferred Card also won the award for the best balance transfer credit card. Whether you use this credit card for the 0% intro APR on purchases or for a balance transfer, you’ll save a bunch on interest.

Here are the terms of the introductory offers:

  • Get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months.
  • Get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months.
  • The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

This is an excellent card for those who need to make a purchase and pay it off over the course of 18 months. But I only recommend that if you know you can make the monthly payments and pay it off before the intro rate ends. Once it ends, you’ll have to pay interest on the remaining balance. That can get expensive because you’ll pay compound interest.

Purchase APR: After the intro period ends, it’s a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.

If you’re running a small-to-medium-sized business, you need a credit card that helps you manage expenses and create essential reports. The Ink Business Cash Credit Card does all that while also helping you save money on some business expenses.

The cash back for this card is earned as points, with $1 being equal to 100 points. Here are the rewards the card offers:

  • You get 5% cash back per dollar of the first $25,000 spent during your account anniversary year in these categories: office supply stores and internet, cable and phone services. (Basically, you’re getting an additional 4% cash back on top of the 1% rewards earned on each purchase.)
  • After $25,000 on these categories in each account anniversary year, you go back to earning 1% cash back for every dollar spent.
  • You’ll earn 2% for each $1 of the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year on the following categories: gas stations and restaurants.
  • After $25,000 is spent in these categories each account anniversary year, you then earn 1% cash back for every dollar spent. There’s no limit on rewards.
  • You earn 1% on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: You can get a $750 cash rewards bonus if you spend $7,500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Purchase APR: 0% intro rate for the first 12 months. After that, it’s a variable 13.24% to 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also won for the best travel credit card. As already mentioned, one of the best features of this card is the travel flexibility, simplicity of the program and the lack of foreign transaction fees.

This card has a straightforward rewards program, and you earn rewards in miles. Here’s what you can earn:

  • Two miles per dollar spent on every purchase.
  • Unlimited rewards.
  • Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry.

If you aren’t traveling right now due to the pandemic, you can redeem your miles for a statement credit. That’s an excellent way to reduce your expenses without actually traveling.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months of opening your account. Or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Purchase APR: A variable 17.24% to 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness.

Annual fee: $95 per year.