Best new credit cards in 2021

1

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

While some of the most popular rewards credit cards have been around for years, card issuers love to come out with new credit card offers to keep their customers engaged. However, not all new credit cards are long-term winners. Some new credit cards are an instant hit with consumers, while others with inferior rewards or benefits quietly fade from the scene.

Either way, it makes sense to compare the best new credit card offers (and newly refreshed offers) to rewards cards that have been around for a while. If you’re in the market for a new credit card and want to see which cards are new for 2021, taking a closer look at these top picks could pay off.

Best new cash back credit cards

Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for rotating categories

  • Welcome bonus: $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening
  • Rewards: Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in activated quarterly bonus categories (then 1% back); 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022; 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases; 1% on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $0

Why it’s best for rotating categories

The Chase Freedom Flex started as the old Chase Freedom® card, yet this cash back credit card was transformed in the last year to include more bonus categories overall. At the moment, this card stands out due to the fact you earn 5% back on up to $1,500 you spend in activated quarterly bonus categories, then 1% back. For the first quarter of 2021, the Chase Freedom Flex category includes wholesale clubs, internet, cable and phone services, and select streaming services.

Add in the fact that you earn 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases and 5% back on Lyft purchases through March 2022, and you have a pretty sweet deal. The fact there’s no annual fee is just icing on the cake.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for flat-rate rewards

  • Welcome bonus: $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening
  • Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5% back on Lyft purchases through March 2022; 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases; 1.5% back on everything else
  • Annual fee: $0

Why it’s best for flat-rate rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® was also refreshed within the last year to include more bonus categories overall. While you still earn at least the same flat 1.5% back on all purchases like you did before, this card now lets you earn 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. Meanwhile, you’ll also earn 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022.

There’s no annual fee, and you’ll get the same $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within three months of opening the account as you did before.

Best new flexible rewards credit card

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for flexible rewards

  • Welcome bonus: 75,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $5,000 in first six months of account opening
  • Rewards: Earn 10X points on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets during the first six months of card membership; 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (annually); 2X points on prepaid car rentals through amextravel.com; 1X points on everything else
  • Annual fee: $550

Why it’s best for flexible rewards

The Platinum Card® from American Express is not new at all, but a new promotion added to this card last year made it more valuable than ever. Currently, you can earn 10X points per $1 you spend on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets during the first six months of card membership, which could lead to 150,000 bonus points if you max this promotion out. And remember, this is offered on top of the welcome bonus and the rewards you earn on all other spending.

The Amex Platinum does have a $550 annual fee, but you get perks like up to $200 in airline fee credits annually, broad airport lounge access, up to $200 in Uber credits per year ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December), a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and more.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

  • Welcome bonus: 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 during the first 90 days of account opening
  • Rewards: Earn 4X points on dining (including takeout and delivery); 2X points at grocery stores, gas stations and streaming service purchases; 1X points on other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0

Why it’s a good new card for flexible rewards

The U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, which you’ll see reflected in the bonus categories it offers. By and large, this rewards credit card is an excellent option for anyone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee, as well as those who want to earn more rewards on dining, grocery purchases and streaming services in particular. Also, you get an annual $15 credit toward streaming services like Netflix or Spotify after 11 months of streaming service purchases .

Your points never expire and you can redeem them for flexible options like merchandise, travel, gift cards, cash back and more.

Best new co-branded credit card

Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

  • Welcome bonus: Get a reward night worth $125 when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Rewards: Earn 1 stamp when you spend $500 with your card; also, earn 1 stamp for each night stayed at an eligible property you earn as a rewards member (10 stamps = 1 reward night)
  • Annual fee: $0

Why it’s the best new co-branded credit card

The Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card launched in 2020, and it’s the first credit card offered by Hotels.com. This card is unique because it lets you earn “stamps” you can collect for hotel stays through Hotels.com. There’s no annual or foreign transaction fees, and you also get one year of Silver membership, which comes with free breakfast, airport transfers, free Wi-Fi and more at selected properties.

As a side note, carrying this card gets you access to cell phone protection against damage or theft worth up to $600 (subject to a $25 deductible), although you have to pay your phone bill with your card to qualify.

United Club℠ Infinite Card

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Rewards: Earn 4X miles on United purchases; 2X miles on all other travel, restaurants and eligible delivery services (including GrubHub, Caviar, Seamless and DoorDash); 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $525
  • Perks: United Club membership (up to $650 value), up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, a first and second checked bag free for you and a companion, priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation and more

Why it’s one of the best new co-branded credit cards

When United stopped offering the United Club Card last year, it also launched the new United Club Infinite Card. Like its predecessor, this card comes with United Club membership, which is normally valued at up to $650.

You’ll earn bonus miles in a wide array of categories. You’ll also get a slew of meaningful perks including a first and second checked bag free for you and a companion, priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle elite status and Visa Infinite Concierge Services. Travel protections you get when you pay for travel with your card include lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, and more.

Best new student credit card

SoFi Credit Card

  • Welcome bonus: Earn up to $100 when you open and fund a SoFi Money and a SoFi Invest account after getting approved for the SoFi Credit Card (See Terms).
  • Rewards: Earn 2% unlimited cash back on eligible purchases when redeemed towards investing, saving, or paying down an eligible loan with SoFi.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Perks: Make 12 on-time payments and see your APR go down by 1%

Why it’s the best new student credit card

If you have student loans through SoFi or you’re considering student loan refinancing with them, the new SoFi Credit Card is worth considering. This card lets you earn 2% back when you redeem your rewards for payments toward a SoFi personal loan or student loan, or when you move your money to a SoFi Money or SoFi Invest account.

This card also doesn’t have an annual fee, and you can get a lower APR by 1% after you make 12 on-time payments. You can also manage your SoFi Credit Card and all your other SoFi accounts in a useful mobile app. As a final bonus, this card is a World Elite Mastercard, so it comes with perks like a free ShopRunner membership, 5% back in rewards at Boxed.com and a $10 Lyft credit when you take five rides with Lyft within a month.

How credit card benefits are changing

While rewards credit cards have always made it possible to earn points and miles, credit cards have focused a lot of effort on rolling out unique statement credits over the last few years. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® came out with statement credits for DoorDash and Peloton over the last year, and we’ve also seen changes like the Uber credits from Amex Platinum and Dell credits from The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Credit card statement credits tend to be specific, so it’s important for cardholders to understand how they can be used, when they can be used and whether any benefit rolls over from year to year.

Credit card changes amid COVID-19

You may have also noticed all the updated earning categories rewards credit cards have offered since the pandemic began. For example, some cash back credit cards came out with added rewards on groceries and restaurant dining, including takeout and delivery.

Even airline credit cards have changed up their offerings due to COVID-19 with the goal of helping consumers earn more rewards for how they’re spending right now. For example, the United Gateway Card is offering 3X miles on grocery store purchases (up to $1,500 per month) through Sept. 30, 2021.

Not only that, but some cards have expanded their rewards options, or they have made rewards more valuable when redeeming for non-travel options. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card started letting customers redeem rewards for purchases made through Amazon.com or PayPal. Meanwhile, select Chase credit cards now qualify for a new “Pay Yourself Back” feature that lets you get 25% or 50% more value for your points when you redeem them for purchases at grocery stores, restaurants and home improvement stores. This promotion currently applies to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® through April 30, 2021.

As a final note, you’ve probably noticed that most credit cards have rolled back their balance transfer offers right now as the pandemic continues. It’s likely some balance transfer offers will be reintroduced later in the year, so make sure to stay tuned to our best balance transfer credit cards page.

The bottom line

We haven’t seen any new credit cards in 2021 just yet, but we may see new or refreshed credit card offers as the year goes on. Either way, it always makes sense to compare all the best credit cards on the market before you apply. If you don’t like the best new credit cards in any given year, an oldie but goodie might be a better fit.

All information about the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card, United Gateway℠ Card, Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.