Best-looking credit cards for 2021

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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 2021 and how they may be useful for you:

Bankrate’s picks for the best-looking 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, U.S. supermarkets and on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.—plus credits for select dining merchants. What’s more, the card’s 60,000 Membership Rewards points (after spending $4,000 within the first six months) is a significant welcome bonus.

You will pay a price for the Gold card, 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.

If the traditional Amex Gold design isn’t stylish enough for your wallet, new cardholders can request the rouge-tinted Rose Gold alternate card art. The card features are exactly the same as the standard Gold Card, but the Rose Gold form factor was previously locked behind occasional limited-time offers through American Express’s referral program. Now that the Rose Gold design is here to stay, current Amex Gold cardmembers can also request the Rose Gold finish if they missed out on the time-sensitive opportunity in the past.

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 (including select food delivery services like Uber Eats), 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchase per year, then 1X) and 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com, plus 1X points on everything else—all with no foreign transaction fees.

Also, each year the Gold Card offers up to $120 in credit (up to $10 each month) toward purchases with Boxed, Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). Plus, Amex Gold cardmembers can also receive up to $120 in Uber Cash ($10 per month) each year toward U.S. Uber Rides and Uber Eats orders by linking the Gold Card to their Uber account. This is a handy perk considering the Gold Card also offers up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership (see terms; enroll by Dec. 31, 2021).

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.

You can also earn 3X points on up to $1,000 of grocery store purchases each month until Apr. 30, 2021, and grocery store and gas station purchases can count toward your $300 travel credit until Jun. 30, 2021. Plus, the Reserve boosts your points’ value by 50 percent every time you book travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, making your travel category purchases effectively worth 4.5X points this way. 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 every four years up to a $100 application fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck on top of your complimentary 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 (activate by 12/31/2021) and up to $60 in DoorDash credits (through Dec. 31, 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, plus 3 percent back using Apple Pay with nine other merchants including: Exxon Mobil, Nike, Uber, Uber Eats, Walgreens, T-Mobile, Panera Bread and Duane Reade. You can also rake in 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 reward using your mobile wallet over 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 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, 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 toward 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 reward 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 pizazz to your payments and impress your friends, while a brightly-colored card may stand out among the other options in your wallet. Instead, the unique flair of a card with a personalized image might be just your style.

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 toward 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.

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.

Credit card design FAQs

Where can you select a cool credit card design?

Some credit card issuers, including Wells Fargo, let you customize your credit card with any image you want. Others, including Chase and Discover, let you choose from some credit cards that feature images of pets, sports teams and even Star Wars. A few issuers may even have alternate card art choices tied to limited-time offers. The Amex Gold Card’s Rose Gold design used to appear once in a blue moon as a limited-edition bonus option via friend referral but is now offered to new and existing customers year-round.

If you want a credit card with a cool design, do some research to find out which issuers offer cool logos and designs. Card issuers that offer these options explain them on their websites, so that’s a good place to start your search.

Sometimes, you can only apply specialty designs to certain credit cards an issuer offers, however. For example, the Star Wars brand is only available on co-branded Disney credit cards. 

Can you design your own credit card?

Some card issuers, including Wells Fargo, let you design your own credit card with an image of your choosing, which can be a fun option if you want a credit card emblazoned with a specific logo or even a picture of your spouse or your favorite pet. If you’re serious about having a credit card with an image you select, compare cards from issuers that offer this option. 

Can you print any picture into a credit card?

Wells Fargo is the only major card issuer that lets you print a picture of your choosing onto your credit card. Note, however, that some exceptions apply. Wells Fargo states that they “reserve the right to accept or reject any artwork, images, or logos. For example, any third-party trademarks; copyrighted materials; or name, image, and likeness of any public figures will not be approved.

All information about the Apple Card and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.