Best Credit Cards in the US in 2021

This is SimpleDirect's guide to everything ranging from Credit Cards 101, types of credit cards, the best credit cards options in the US, best credit card practices for all users!

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By Ben Harper

Part I: General Credit Card Facts

Applying for credit cards today can get confusing. Not only do you have store-branded cards, secured cards, and unsecured cards, but now you have a large variety of reward cards too.

If we broke it down by reward type – you’d see more than 10 categories as credit card companies give rewards in many different ways today. Before you choose a credit card, think about the rewards you want to earn.

Best credit cards in the US: here are the credit card facts

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In this guide, we’ll break down the types of credit cards, rewards you may earn, and what you should consider.

Types of Credit Cards

You have many options when applying for a credit card. Here are the main categories:

Best credit cards in the US: types of credit cards
  1. Secured credit card: If you have bad credit (or no credit), you may need to put money down to get a credit card. The credit card company holds the funds as collateral. If you don’t pay your bill, they keep the deposit.
  2. Unsecured credit card: Most credit cards are unsecured, meaning you don’t need a deposit. You need good or at least average credit but have many options.
  3. 0% APR balance transfer card: You may get a 0% APR for a limited time (usually 6 to 12 months) on balance transfers. You may pay a fee (5% of the amount transferred for example), so read the fine print.
  4. Cashback rewards card: You can earn a percentage of the amount they spend back in cash rewards. Some cards only reward purchases in specific categories while others offer cashback on all purchases.
  5. Travel reward card: You can earn a percentage of the amount you charge back in airline miles which you can redeem for airline tickets.
  6. Retail credit card: Stores offer branded credit cards that may be used in their store (or brand of stores) only. They usually have flexible qualifying guidelines and are a great starter credit card.

Part II: Understanding Credit Card Terms and Features

Before you apply for a credit card, you should understand its term and features. No two reward credit cards or balance transfer cards are the same. Look for the following in the agreement:

Grace period: You won’t pay interest on the amount charged if you pay the balance in full within the grace period. Most cards have a 21 to 25-day grace period, but check the details on your agreement.

APRs: Some credit card companies charge different APRs for different charges. Purchase APRs are usually the lowest and cash advance APRs are the highest. Your credit card company may also offer different APRs for balance transfers, certain types of transactions, or have introductory rates.

Fees: Some credit cards charge no fees, and others charge quite a few. Look for annual fees, balance transfer fees, late fees, and cash advance fees.


Part III: Best Rewards Credit Card Companies in the US

Based on our research, these are the best credit cards in the USA when in comes to rewards. This is the list of best credit card companies based on rewards!

  1. Citi Double Cash Card: No annual fee; 1% - 2% cashback rewards; Need excellent credit
Best credit cards in the US: Citi Double Cash Card

2. American Express Blue Cash Preferred: Annual fee $95 after the first year; 1% - 6% cashback rewards; Need at least a 690 credit score

Best Credit Cards in the US: American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of our top picks

3. Chase Freedom Flex: No annual fee; 1% - 5% cashback rewards; Need at least a 690 credit score

Best credit cards in the US 2021: Chase Freedom Flex

4. Chase Freedom Unlimited: No annual fee; 1.5% - 5% cashback; Need at least a 690 credit score

Best Credit Cards in the USA 2021: Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

5. Discover It Cash Back: No annual fee; 1.5 – 5% cashback; Need at least a 690 credit score

Best Credit Cards in the USA 2021: Discover It Cash Back card is one of our favorites

Part IV: Pros and Cons of Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards are a great way to earn money back on the money you spend, but there are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros

  • You earn back a portion of what you spent. It’s like getting a refund, but may be in the form of a gift card or airline miles.
  • Many cards don’t have an annual fee and still pay you decent rewards
  • Many cards have introductory offers or bonuses if you spend a certain amount of money in a specific period
  • You may get extra perks, like travel insurance or fraud protection

Cons

  • Rewards can expire and/or have blackout periods or exclusions
  • Many rewards credit cards have an annual fee, which may reduce the benefit of rewards
  • There may be earnings caps or you may have to spend in certain categories to get rewards

Rewards credit cards can be a great way to earn a little side cash, especially if you use the card to pay for things you’d normally buy. Whether you want to earn cash back, travel points, or gift cards, there are a variety of credit card options available that help you make the most of using a credit card.


Part V: 0% APR Credit Cards

We know this year has been difficult for many families across America. That’s why we think it’s more important than ever to find a 0% APR Credit Card that works for you. At SimpleDirect, we consider many features to determine which credit cards may be the best ones for everyday Americans.

Compare Best 0% APR Credit Cards In 2020

The Best 0% APR Credit Cards for October 2020:

  • U.S Bank Visa Platinum Card
  • Citi Double Cash Card
  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Chase Freedom Flex
  1. U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card is perfect for anyone looking to consolidate debt. Debt consolidation is a great way of turning multiple payment obligations into a single payment loan. With 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 20 months, this card is perfect for debt reduction!

US Bank Visa Platinum Card: Best Credit Cards USA 2021
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good/Excellent
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99%
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 20 months
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2%-3%

2. Citi Double Cash Card

This card is good if you are looking to consolidate some debt and looking for some decent cash back rewards at the same time. It is important to remember that the 0% APR only applies to balance transfers and not purchases. If you plan on making some large purchases, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card would be a better option.

Citi Double Cash Card 2021: Best Credit Cards in the USA
  • Recommended Credit Score: Excellent
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99%
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for a span of 18 months
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%

3. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is ideal for someone that tends to spend frequently on dining/entertainment as well as grocery. You get a 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores along with 1% on all other purchases. A $150 cash welcome bonus is also given when you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account.

USA Best Credit Cards 2021: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card offers 0% APR for 15 months.

4. Chase Freedom Flex

This card is meant for consumers that tend to spend a lot. The cash back  program starts with 5% cash back at grocery stores (excluding Target or Walmart purchases) the first year. There is also 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining and drug stores, and 1% on all other purchases. With a $200 welcome cash back offer, this 0% APR card offers the most comprehensive cash back rewards program.

USA Best Credit Cards 2021: Chase Freedom Flex

Part VI: Good Credit Card Habits

Listed below are the points we will be discussing:

  • Pay in Full, and on Time
  • Stick to a Budget
  • Stay Below Credit Limit
  • Do your research before getting a new card
  • Monitor your Accounts

1. Pay in Full, on Time

If you use a credit card, we advise you to pay your bill in full and in a timely manner.

  • Credit Cards have a very high interest rate. You want to avoid paying this.
  • Credit cards offer cash back rewards, sign-up bonuses, or travel points. Carrying a balance leads to the bank decreasing or voiding your rewards.
  • Every late payment hurts your credit score. Remember, Credit score is hard to build but easy to hurt.

In case you are worried about forgetting to make a payment, you can set up autopay of a specific amount at the end of each month!

2. Stick to a Budget

Yes, we get that budgeting is not very fun. But making it a habit will be very handy for you!

We’ve all been there. We go out to the mall or on Amazon to buy one thing and only one thing. Before we know it, we are checking out five items. This is more likely to happen if you do not have a budget in place!

The first step is to create a fixed maximum amount you want to spend for each month. This should be based on how much you can afford to pay at the end of the month. Once you have the figure in mind, we would advise you to sit down each week and calculate your expenses and note them down.

With every purchase, go back to your budget and track your progress.

3. Stay Below Credit Limit

By rule of thumb, if you want to maximize your credit score, you should aim that you use less than 30% of your overall credit limit.

To track your spending, it is advisable to sit down each week and calculate your expenses. One way to do this is to download your bank’s app that tracks spending from your accounts. This will give you an idea of how much you have spent and where you are spending the most.

4. Look for Better Offers

New credit card offers pop up regularly. Credit cards are big business for the banks, so they compete to reel you in. It’s important that you do your research before getting any new credit card because you may be eligible to get cards that a) offer better rewards and b) have lower interest rates.

SimpleDirect can help you find the best credit card for you!

5. Monitor Accounts

Credit cards should never be an area of concern only at the end of the month. You incur costs throughout the month and as such, you should be monitoring your accounts throughout the month as well.

The reason to do this is to get a better idea of your own spending habits, find any fraudulent or incorrect transaction, and ensure that you are not on track to significantly surpass your budget. Finally, monitoring your accounts is especially important if you have multiple credit cards. You would not want to be in a situation where you forget to make payments solely because you forgot to check your account. This simple habit will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in interest and charges.

Conclusion

We are all human. We love to buy stuff we see in stores or online and sometimes we end with a bill higher than we expect. Becoming a better credit card user is a result of active efforts in applying simple, responsible credit card habits that we’ve listed above.

It will take some time but getting started is one step in the right direction! If you have any doubts or questions, we would love to help you out! Feel free to get in touch with us!

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Ben Harper

Ben is a personal finance writer with SimpleDirect, where he focuses on topics such as personal loans, credit cards, and offering financing.

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