Comparison of the Best Credit Cards of 2021

Comparing the best credit cards is not easy. There are literally dozens of credit card companies in the country. Having a diverse set of options is exciting. For first-timers or cardholders/shoppers who don't know much about credit cards, however, the experience might feel intimidating. Some are even scared or ashamed to ask for help with opening their account.

On top of that, there are a lot of brands that trap newbie cardholders into agreeing to an outrageous transaction fee or regular APR by offering a deceptive, seemingly great rewards credit card. You need to be mindful of the terms and fees you agree to. Don't just go with the first company that offers to give you a high credit limit and has lenient credit history inspections.

Not sure where to start looking? Don't worry! AnyCredit is here to help. We are industry experts who help American shoppers and consumers find a credit card that addresses their needs and matches their lifestyle through unbiased, neutral, and fact-based buyer guides.

Top 5 Credit Cards to Check Out This 2021

Generally, there is no one-size-fits-all credit card solution. The needs of a student who doesn't pay for much except for occasional takeout and shopping sprees won't benefit from what a seasoned traveler uses. Different people have varying credit needs. With that in mind, rather than ranking the most popular standard and rewards credit cards from good to excellent, we've decided to pick the top five-card options and assess who the ideal cardholder would be.

1. Best for Cash Back at U.S. Gas Stations and Grocery Stores: American Express Blue Cash Preferred

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Cash Back Rate: 1% - 6%
  • APR: 13.99% - 23.99%
  • Required Credit Score: 690 - 850

For maximum cashback rewards on daily purchases, we recommend the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. The rewards rate ranges from 1% to 6%. You get a rebate of 6% on grocery store purchases, 6% rebate on certain subscription-based U.S. streaming apps, 3% rebates when filling up gas stations, and 3% rebates on public transit such as trains, buses, and taxis. Users can also get a flat-rate cashback of 1% on other miscellaneous purchases. Also, purchases in the first 12 months get a 0% introductory APR. After which, the rates will normalize to 13.99% - 23.99%. The only downside here is you'll have to pay an annual fee of $95. However, you can offset the fees with cashback rewards if you pay a minimum of $31 on groceries every week.

2. Best for 0% Intro APR and Consistent Cash Back on Purchases: Chase Freedom Unlimited

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rate: 1.5% - 5%
  • APR: 14.99% - 23.74%
  • Required Credit Score: 690 - 850

For the shopper who wants to save on purchase APR fees through long APR intro periods and consistent rebates, try Chase Freedom Unlimited. Earn 5% cashback on travel purchases, 3% rebates on drugstore purchases, 3% on restaurant dine outs and unlimited 1.5% rebates on various miscellaneous purchases. You can also save money through their budget-friendly rates. They offer an introductory APR fee up to 15 months from account opening and charge $0 annual fees. Plus, similar to the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Ultimate rewards, bank rewards earned through the Chase Freedom Unlimited do not expire. Perhaps the only downside here is that you need a good credit history to qualify for this cash rewards credit card.

3. Best Entry-Level Card for Traveling: Wells Fargo Propel American Express

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1x - 3x bonus points multiplier
  • APR: 14.49% - 24.99%
  • Required Credit Score: 690 - 850

For individuals with an insatiable wanderlust, you might want to consider signing up for a Wells Fargo Propel American Express account. It has an amazing rewards system, competitive foreign transaction fees, and free foreign currency conversion. For the rewards, users get to triple their points when they eat out, buy airplane tickets, book hotels/rental cars, buy gas, or even take public transportation. A 1x multiplier applies to all other purchases. New account holders get 20,000 sign-up bonus points worth $200 if you spend a minimum of $1,000 on general purchases within the first three months of your account opening. Perhaps the only downside to the Propel card is American Express isn't as commonly accepted as Visa and Master card options.

4. Best for Long 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfer Fee: Citi Diamond Preferred

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rate: None
  • APR: 14.74% - 24.74%
  • Required Credit Score: 720 - 850

One of the most ideal credit cards to use if you're focused on getting the best fees on balance transfers is the Diamond Preferred Card by Citibank. Users get to enjoy $0 intro APR fees on balance transfers for 18 months from their first balance transfer. Note, however, that you'll need to make a transfer within four months of getting your card. The only downsides to using this Citibank card are the high credit score requirements and lack of rebates and rewards. Remember, Diamond Preferred is a balance transfer credit card.

5. Best Rewards Card for Regular Dining: American Express Gold Card

  • Annual Fee: $250
  • Rewards: 1x - 4x bonus points multiplier
  • APR: 15.99% - 22.99%
  • Required Credit Score: 690 -850

The American Express Gold Card offers one of the best rewards programs among all credit card brands. In fact, you earn 4x points when you shop at any grocery store or eat at any restaurant all across the globe. Travelers can also triple their points by booking directly at amextravel.com or at chosen airlines. And the best part about all this is there is no foreign transaction fee. Unlike with other cards that offset rewards with insane foreign transaction fees, you can use an American Express Gold Card on international purchases without worrying about overseas charges. It was truly built for traveling. Perhaps the biggest downside here is this card requires users to pay the regular APR right from the get-go. The annual fee is also at a steep $250. Plus, bear in mind while traveling that some establishments might not accept an American Express card.

Additional Resources

Leading credit card brands 2019 to 2020 Apart from checking the ratings, it would be very beneficial to understand how the leading credit card brands in the country performed in recent years. Still on the fence about which credit card best suits your needs? We have a wide range of buyer guides and articles comparing some of the best credit cards offered on the market. Check out AnyCredit today!

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