A credit card with a cool metal design or standout neon hue can be a great conversation starter or even status symbol among cardholders.
But just because a credit card’s appearance may impress your friends when you pick up the bar tab doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for you.
Luckily, some of the most visually appealing cards on the market today also offer the most competitive rewards and flexible redemptions, so you don’t have to sacrifice substance for style.
Here are a few of the best-looking credit cards for 2020 and how they may be useful for you:
Bankrate’s picks for the best-looking credit card (March 2020)
- Best for foodies: American Express® Gold Card
- Best for traveling in style: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for wiping out fees: Apple Card
- Best for nights on the town: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for foodies: American Express® Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card isn’t just gilded in appearance — its benefits meet the gold standard as well.
As a Gold cardmember, you’ll earn rewards on restaurant, supermarket and travel spending, plus credits for airline incidentals and select food purchases. What’s more, the card’s 35,000 Membership Rewards points (after spending $4,000 within the first three months) is a significant welcome bonus.
You will pay a price for the Gold, as its annual fee equals $250. But heavy restaurant spenders or home chefs — especially those who like to dish out while on vacation — can easily make up the cost.
For a limited time in both 2018 and 2019, Amex did release another version of its Gold Card: the Rose Gold Card. There’s currently no indication that Rose Gold will make its return in 2020, but check back for any updates on another limited release.
Why it’s the best-looking card for foodies
While the Gold Card is beautiful to look at, it shines most in its rewards and benefits offerings.
As a cardmember, you’ll earn 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurants worldwide, 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1X) and 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com, plus 1X points on everything else.
Also, each year the Gold Card offers up to $120 in credit (up to $10 each month) towards purchases with Boxed, Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). And don’t forget to charge your meals to the Gold Card while traveling. You’ll earn 4X points at restaurants anywhere in the world and incur no foreign transaction fees.
Whether you prefer to prepare your own gourmet options at home or check out the latest five-star plates your city has to offer, the Gold Card’s rewards are just as enticing as its appearance.
Best for traveling in style: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card is among the best of the best when it comes to earning rewards on travel and cashing in redemptions on travel expenses. Plus, makes a nice visual addition to your wallet.
The Sapphire Reserve jewel-toned color palette and durable metal design are complemented by its travel rewards and premium perks. Those perks do come with a premium price tag: you’ll pay $550 annually for the Reserve. But if you travel frequently and are looking to upgrade your travel experience, you should have no trouble making up the cost each year.
Why it’s the best looking card for travelers
In both travel rewards earnings and redemptions, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is top-notch.
You’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel worldwide (after earning your $300 travel credit) and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus, every time you book travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, the Reserve boosts your points’ value by 50 percent, making your 3X travel rewards worth an effective 4.5X points through the portal. The Reserve also charges no foreign transaction fees.
There are plenty of additional benefits for Reserve cardmember travelers, too. Each anniversary year of your account, you’ll earn a $300 travel credit and up to a $100 application fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and Priority Pass airport lounge access. While you’re on the road, you can enjoy 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022), Lyft Pink membership, one free year of DashPass membership and up to $120 in DoorDash credits ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021).
In addition, you’ll get access to travel insurance benefits like trip cancellation insurance and lost luggage reimbursement for any unexpected interruptions.
Best for wiping out fees: Apple Credit Card
The Apple Card has gotten much recognition over the past year not only for its no-fee structure and daily rewards redemptions but also for its titanium build and laser-etched engraving. It’s minimalist too; the actual card doesn’t display any card number, expiration date or other identifying information besides the cardholder’s name and Apple’s logo.
The Apple Card also has a decent rewards structure, especially if you plan on making a purchase with the brand anytime soon. You’ll earn 3 percent cash back on all purchases with Apple, 3 percent back on Walgreens, Duane Reade, Nike, Uber and Uber Eats purchases made with Apple Pay, 3 percent back at T-Mobile stores using Apple Pay, 2 percent back on all other Apple Pay purchases and 1 percent back on everything else using your physical card.
The Apple Card’s rewards structure and integration with the iPhone’s Wallet app rewards mobile wallet use over paying with the actual card. This means you may not get as many chances to show off the card’s sleek design, which may be a drawback if the card’s appearance is among the most important factors for you.
Why it’s the best-looking card for no fees
Its rewards structure may not be the biggest draw, but in addition to its good looks, the Apple Card does shine when it comes to fees (or lack thereof).
The card has no annual fee, late payment fees, penalty fees, cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees, over-limit fees or returned payment fees. Plus, there’s no penalty APR and $0 liability and fraud protection. And to help you build habits of a responsible credit use, Apple offers an interest calculator, smart payment suggestions and spending reports within the app.
With such a user-friendly structure, the Apple Card has a lot more than its looks going for it. This may be an especially great option for someone with limited experience regularly using a credit card who wants a bit of a safety net when it comes to extra fees and charges.
Best for nights on the town: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Savor card isn’t just a great option for dining and entertainment purchases — it also comes in a unique orange hue, spiraled design and metal build.
For a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), the Savor offers a competitive cash back program, no foreign transaction fees and access to exclusive events and dining experiences. This card is best if you want a straightforward cash back option and you have a solid credit history, since it doesn’t offer any introductory balance transfer or purchase period and is most attainable for those with good to excellent credit.
Why it’s the best-looking card for going out
The Savor card doesn’t just satisfy in appearance; its cash back offerings are strong in dining and entertainment and easily redeemable for statement credits, gift cards, paper check and more.
You’ll earn unlimited 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and 1 percent on everything else. If a large chunk of your budget regularly goes towards seeing shows and going out or you enjoy picking up the tab when dining out with friends, this rewards rate is tough to beat. And “entertainment” is a far-reaching category; it includes movie theaters and sporting events, as well as theme park tickets, aquarium and zoo entry fees, bowling alley purchases and more.
In addition, you can kick-start your cash back earnings with a $300 cash back bonus after spending $3,000 with the Savor within the first three months of account opening.
How to choose the best-looking credit card
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the best-looking card will always be a matter of personal preference. A metal credit card can add some pizzazz to your payments and impress your friends, while a brightly-colored card may stand out among the other options in your wallet and a personalized image can help make your card unique to you.
But you should be careful not to choose a card based on looks alone.
Make sure any credit card you apply for has a rewards structure that aligns with your spending habits and fees that won’t break your budget. Look back at your past statements and receipts to figure out which categories you spend in most and think about any upcoming large purchases you may want a bit of assistance making. Evaluate how much you’re willing to put towards annual fees and consider your chances of carrying a balance, making a high interest rate detrimental to your debts owed.
How to personalize a credit card
Many credit cards on the market have standard designs set by the issuer which may be to your taste or not, but there are some issuers that allow you to personalize your card with a custom image or design. There are a few personalization options offered by different issuers:
- Affinity designs: Affinity credit cards are similar to co-branded cards. Instead of retailers, though, these cards are designed with the logos of your favorite charitable organizations, sports teams and more. You may choose an affinity card simply to show your loyalty to your favorite team or organization, but some also offer retail discounts or donation incentives.
- Choose from available designs: Some issuers, like Discover, allow cardholders to customize cards by choosing from a stable of images and designs. These can allow you some creativity while staying within the issuer’s guidelines.
- Personalize your card however you like: Taking the customization one step further, issuers like Capital One may even allow you to use your own image or design on your credit card. Be warned though: there are limits to your personalization options. For instance, you likely won’t be allowed to personalize your card with images like firearms or skulls or submit political or religious imagery. You’ll also need to make sure your image is the correct size and refrain from using any copyrighted imagery.
It’s important to note that issuers offering personalization options may not make them available for each card, so you should read your cardmember agreement and contact your issuer directly to learn the options for any specific card you’re considering.