Key takeaways

  • The new year offers the opportunity to assess your financial goals and credit card lineup.
  • Align your credit cards with the goals you have for your budget and lifestyle in the year ahead.
  • Credit cards can play a role in pursuing goals including better health, traveling more, saving money and even spending more time on personal relationships.

The new year marks an opportunity to look back on the year past while planning out and making changes for the year ahead. Historically, the most popular New Year’s resolutions included eating healthier, exercising more or losing weight, but for 2024, people cited saving more money as their top goal, according to a Statista survey.

Whether your goals are health, life or money focused, start your journey with a look at your current credit cards. Are they working for you? Are you earning top rewards in categories in which you regularly spend? Do you have some existing debt you could wipe out with an intro 0 percent APR card? Are you dreaming of big travel and want credit card travel rewards to help you get there?

At least once a year — or any time you have a major lifestyle change — you should assess your credit cards and update them as needed. Consider the start of the new year a chance to change up your credit card lineup to help you meet your goals for the year ahead. Here are some cards to consider if you have the following goals:

Your New Year’s goal is to travel more

If you’re dreaming of exploring Europe or finally making that cross-country drive, there’s a credit card out there to aid or reward you. With a travel credit card, you can earn points or miles as you check off another destination on your travel list.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for frequent flyers

Bankrate’s view

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best travel credit cards available, earning:

  • 10X points on hotel stays and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after earning your annual travel credit)
  • 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 2025)
  • 10X points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards
  • 5X points on air travel through Ultimate Rewards (after earning your annual credit)
  • 3X points on general travel (after earning your annual credit) and on restaurant purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases

There’s also a welcome bonus of 75,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening (worth over $1,100 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel, thanks to this option’s 50 percent points boost).

The most notable perk is up to $300 in annual travel credits each year on your account anniversary, which can be used as reimbursement for qualifying travel purchases. And if you’re interested in expediting your travel, the card also offers up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Some other perks include a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, access to exclusive amenities through the Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection and comprehensive travel insurance.

Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a large annual fee of $550 per year, but the card’s welcome bonus alone offsets the cost for your first year. On an ongoing basis, the annual travel credit and other perks make it possible for someone who travels several times each year to get value out of this card for years to come.

If you’re a casual traveler, consider the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

You don’t need to be a jetsetter to enjoy the perks of a travel credit card. For instance, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great option for casual travelers as it only charges a $95 annual fee and offers 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 2X miles on all other purchases. Plus, you can earn a welcome bonus of 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, which is equal to $750 in travel. You can also receive up to a $100 credit toward your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.

Additionally, you can maximize the value of your miles by transferring them to one of Capital One’s airline and hotel partners. According to our points and miles valuations, Capital One miles are worth around 1.7 cents each when transferred to a high-value partner.

If you’re a road warrior, consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Spend more time driving than flying? A card like the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, which rewards you highly for purchases at the pump, could help lower the cost of those upcoming cross-country trips you’ve planned. This card offers 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations, at U.S. supermarkets and on U.S. online retail purchases (on up to $6,000 per year in each category, then 1 percent back), plus 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. With no annual fee, all that cash back earned is money in your pocket.

Additionally, new cardholders can earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months. Cardholders enjoy car rental loss and damage insurance, purchase protection and access to the Global Assist Hotline, among other perks.

Your New Year’s goal is to get healthy

Some of the most common goals going into the new year revolve around exercising and living a healthier lifestyle. Whether you’re looking to work out more or eat better, there’s a credit card that will offer you rewards for your spending or benefits related to your wellness goals.

If you’re looking to hit the gym, consider the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Want to earn cash back rewards on your monthly gym membership? The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card* can help without even charging an annual fee. This card offers 5 percent cash back on purchases in two categories of your choice (on up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent), and gyms and fitness centers are among the 12 categories from which cardholders can choose.

With this card, you also earn 5 percent cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations through the U.S. Bank Rewards Center, 2 percent cash back on one eligible everyday category of your choice (such as gas or groceries) and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Additionally, you can earn a $200 welcome bonus when you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 120 days of account opening, which could serve as an opportunity to buy new workout clothes or a pair of running shoes (with cash to spare).

If you’re interested in cooking at home more, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

A healthy diet is a huge factor in an overall healthy lifestyle, and what better way to stay on track than by cooking your own meals? The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers:

  • 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1 percent)
  • 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3 percent back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 1 percent back on other purchases

Plus, it comes with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95 annually). If you reach the $6,000 spending limit in the supermarket category, that alone equals $360 in cash back.

The Blue Cash Preferred also currently offers a major fitness benefit, too: When you use your card for an auto-renewing Equinox+ membership, you’ll receive $10 back per month in statement credits, for up to $120 back annually (enrollment required).

Your New Year’s goal is to better yourself

There are many ways to think about “bettering yourself,” from building stronger relationships to improving your financial situation. We’ve listed out some goals for the new year that can help you earn rewards along the way.

If you want to spend more time with loved ones, consider the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which comes with no annual fee, offers 8 percent cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services, all of which are nice options for spending time with family, friends or significant others. Plus, SavorOne also offers 5 percent cash back on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel, 3 percent cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

This card is a great pick no matter what your Near Year’s goals are. It can reward you for family movie nights, seeing a concert with your friends or a date night with your partner.

Or, maybe you want to do all of this and travel more. If so, this is the card to choose. If you also have a Capital One travel card, such as the Venture Rewards card, you can convert your rewards into miles and redeem them for travel purchases or transfer them to a Capital One travel partner.

If you want to get out of credit card debt, consider the Citi Double Cash® Card

Credit card debt is easy to slip into, but it can be difficult to shake. Make this the year to pay it off for good with a top balance transfer credit card like the Citi Double Cash Card. This card comes with no annual fee and a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then a variable APR of 19.24 percent to 28.24 percent).

With this offer, you can take 18 months to knock out your credit card debt without owing additional money in interest. And when you’re done paying off your debt, this card will still be valuable to hold since it offers the impressive flat cash back. Cardholders earn 2 percent cash back on all purchases — 1 percent cash back as you make purchases and another 1 percent as you pay for those purchases. So not only will this card help you to pay off debt, but it’ll reward you for not carrying debt, too.

The bottom line

No matter what your New Year’s resolutions — whether you’re hoping to travel more, get in shape, cook more at home, spend more time with loved ones or pay off credit card debt — there’s a credit card out there to help you achieve your goals.

Not seeing a card that feels like the right fit? Check out Bankrate’s CardMatch tool to find a card tailored to your unique circumstances. You’ll be on your way to resolution success in no time.

Issuer-required disclosure
Information about the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.