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For many people, a new year brings New Year’s resolutions. If goal setting is on your mind, you may be looking for ways to improve your financial health. One way that you can help add to your financial bottom line is through the judicious use of credit cards and credit card rewards. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best credit cards for 2021.
Before you apply for a new credit card
Credit card rewards CAN be a lucrative addition to a healthy financial picture, but if not used wisely can really drag your net worth down. Before you look to open a credit card for rewards or points, make sure you have the financial ability and discipline to pay your credit card statement off in full, each and every month. If you don’t, then credit card interest and late fees will easily outstrip any rewards you might earn.
There are three main reasons you might apply for a new credit card:
- Rewards like airline miles or cash back that you get from every dollar you spend on the card. These are usually in the range of 1-2% back.
- Perks from having the card — you might get free food delivery subscriptions.
- Signup bonus when you apply — many credit cards offer an initial welcome offer when you are approved for the card. This might be along the lines of 50,000 points or miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months of having the card.
Signup bonus offers change frequently — the ones mentioned here were accurate at the time of publishing but for the most up-to-date offers, check out our credit cards section.
For more information, check out our guide on how to maximize credit card rewards without hurting your credit. With that said, here are some of the best credit cards for 2021.
Capital One Venture
The Capital One Venture card earns double miles on all purchases and currently comes with a welcome offer of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of having the card. Your Venture miles can be used to offset just about any type of travel, at a rate of 1 cent per mile. That makes the signup bonus alone worth at least $600 towards travel. The Venture card has a $95 annual fee.
Bank of America Cash Rewards
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card has no annual fee, and currently offers a $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months of having the card. The Bank of America Cash Rewards card has a tiered rewards rate, where you get 3% cash back in the category of your choice each quarter. You also get 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash doesn’t come with a signup bonus but it also has no annual fee and earns 2% cash back on all purchases. That makes it one of the best cards for everyday spending.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee and is a great rewards credit card because it earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Currently, you can get 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months you have the card. You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining. Your Ultimate Rewards points can be used as a statement credit at a value of 1 cent per point or used towards travel with a 25% bonus. You can often get even more value from your Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to Chase’s hotel and airline partners.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card also has a $95 annual fee but earns 6% back on your first $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets and streaming services. That makes it one of our best cards for groceries. You can currently get a $250 statement credit after spending $1,000 in the first three months of having the card. Terms Apply.
Discover it Cash Back
The Discover it Cash Back card offers the opportunity to sign up to earn rotating quarterly 5% bonus categories. Each quarter there is a different category where you can earn 5% cash back. These categories can include grocery stores, gas stations, dining and more. During the quarter, you’ll get 5% cash back on the first $1500 in purchases of the quarter. You’ll get 1% cashback on all other purchases. The Discover It card doesn’t have a traditional signup bonus — instead, Discover matches the cash back you get at the end of your first year, with no maximum. This can be a huge bonus for heavy spenders.
The Bottom Line
Responsible usage of credit cards can add hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year in rewards and benefits. But before you sign up for and/or use a credit card, make sure you have the discipline to pay your statement off in full, each and every month. You’ll also want to make sure you are using a budgeting tool like Mint and not spending extra money on things you don’t really need just to get a 2% reward.
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