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Bankrate Awards: The best in credit cards for 2022

There are more excellent credit cards on the market than ever before. Our experts decided which ones represent the best of the best.

Summary

The credit card experts at Bankrate analyzed more than 250 of today’s top offers with the goal of choosing 2022’s Bankrate Award winners. Read on to learn which ones ranked the highest based on their rewards, APRs, annual fees and other relevant features.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Picking the right credit card can be an enormous challenge at any time, but that’s especially true right now. After all, there are more excellent credit cards on the market today than ever before, with many of them offering overlapping perks and features.

Not only that, but 2021 was a year of brand new credit cards and upgraded benefits on existing cards from issuers like Capital One, Chase and American Express. If you were confused about which card to get in years past, the myriad card changes that took place in 2021 probably didn’t help.

With that in mind, the credit card experts at our sister site Bankrate analyzed more than 250 of today’s top offers with the goal of choosing 2022’s Bankrate Award winners. If you’re currently searching for a new credit card, read on to learn which ones ranked the highest based on their rewards, APRs, annual fees and other relevant features.

Best credit card for everyday use: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Highlights

  • Elevated rewards for all non-bonus spending
  • Bonus rewards in several everyday spending categories
  • Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus
  • No annual fee

Why it won

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is perfect for everyday spending considering its boosted earning rate of 1.5% cash back on all non-bonus purchases. Add in the fact that you earn 5% back on travel booked through Chase and up to $12,000 in grocery spending the first year, as well as 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and it’s easy to see why this card is a winner for everything you buy.

As an added bonus, there’s no annual fee and you get perks like an introductory 0% APR offer (for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then 14.99% to 24.74% variable thereafter), trip cancellation and interruption insurance, purchase protection against damage or theft and extended warranties.

“This card is a strong cash back offering all by itself since it gives at least 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases and sometimes 3% or 5%, depending on the category,” said Ted Rossman, senior credit card industry analyst for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.

Best credit card for foodies: American Express® Gold Card

Highlights

  • Unbelievable rewards rate at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets
  • Up to $240 in annual dining credits
  • Earns American Express Membership Rewards points

Why it won

The American Express Gold Card gives cardholders the chance to earn American Express Membership Rewards, which are renowned for their flexibility. The earning rate on this card is also spectacular considering you can earn 4X points on dining worldwide and up to $25,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year (then it’s 1X points), 3X points on flights booked direct or through AmexTravel.com and 1X points on other purchases.

While a $250 annual fee applies, up to $120 in dining credits (enrollment required) and up to $120 in credits toward Uber rides or Uber Eats soften the blow.

“This card is at the high end of the range for both grocery and dining rewards with a much higher cap on grocery purchases than most other cards that offer elevated benefits in that category. Plus, up to $240 in annual dining and Uber credits essentially cancel out the annual fee,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for jet-setters: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Highlights

  • Better-than-average rewards rate for everyday spending
  • Generous rewards for eligible travel purchases
  • Perks that are easy to use
  • Low annual fee compared with other premium travel credit cards

Why it won

At just $395 per year, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is less expensive than other premium travel credit cards. Even so, this card comes with a $300 annual travel credit through Capital One Travel, up to $200 in credits toward eligible vacation rentals the first year, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, Capital One airport lounge membership and a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. You even get 10,000 bonus miles when you renew your account on your cardmember anniversary.

Cardholders also earn an exceptional rewards rate on travel purchases made through Capital One, including 10X miles on hotels and rental cars and 5X miles on flights booked through the portal. All other purchases earn a standard rate of 2 miles per dollar spent.

“This new card offers a lofty sign-up bonus and luxury travel benefits at a more affordable price point than most of its rivals. Its flexible travel credits go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee, too,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for cash back: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Highlights

  • Elevated rewards for all non-bonus spending
  • Bonus rewards in several everyday spending categories
  • Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus
  • No annual fee

Why it won

The Chase Freedom Unlimited lets cardholders earn generous rewards in so many categories with no annual fee required. It’s also one of the few rewards credit cards that offer more than 1% back on regular purchases in addition to bonus rewards in other everyday spending categories. You can even earn a $200 cash bonus after spending just $500 within three months of account opening, which is one of the lowest spending thresholds for a sign-up bonus available today.

Also be aware that you can redeem your rewards for several flexible options, including for statement credits, cash back, gift cards, merchandise or travel through Chase.

“The more you spend in the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 3% and 5% categories, the more likely you are to come out with a total return greater than 2%. That’s an important threshold because I think the stiffest competition in this category is the group of no-annual-fee, flat-rate 2% cash back cards,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for families: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Highlights

  • Exceptional rewards rate in several categories popular with families
  • No annual fee
  • Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus

Why it won

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers an unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and groceries, which makes it a well-rounded rewards card for families who spend a lot in these categories.

The $200 sign-up bonus is easy to earn with just $167 in spending per month for the first three months after account opening, and perks like a 0% APR introductory rate (on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then there’s a variable APR of 14.99% to 24.99%), travel accident insurance and no foreign transaction fees sweeten the deal.

“This card offers an enticing 3% cash back at grocery stores and on dining, entertainment and streaming services without an annual fee. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, plus the $200 sign-up bonus only requires spending $500 in your first three months,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for building credit: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Highlights

  • Earn rewards with no annual fee
  • Rewards are doubled after the first year
  • Low security deposit requirement
  • Helps build credit by reporting to the three credit bureaus

Why it won

The Discover it Secured Credit Card is a rarity among secured credit cards because it earns cash back without an annual fee. The fact that Discover will double all the rewards you earn after the first year is just icing on the cake.

You can get started building credit with a security deposit as low as $200, and Discover even says you can upgrade your card and get your deposit back with as little as seven months of responsible credit use.

“Unlike many credit-building cards, this one gives compelling rewards and it does not charge an annual fee,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Highlights

  • Generous rewards in everyday spending categories
  • Rewards are matched after the first year
  • No annual fee
  • Helps build credit by reporting to the three credit bureaus

Why it won

The Discover it Student Cash Back lets students build credit and earn rewards without having to pay an annual fee. Cardholders can rack up 5% cash back in rotating categories they activate each quarter (up to $1,500 in combined quarterly spending, then it’s 1%) and other purchases rack up 1% cash back. Discover will even match all the rewards that you’ve earned after the first year.

This card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and students can benefit from a 0% introductory APR offer for purchases for the first six months (then a variable APR of 12.99% to 21.99% applies).

“It’s great to get 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories, many of which appeal to students. Plus, 1% cash back on everything else isn’t bad when you’re just starting out, especially since Discover doubles new cardholders’ first-year rewards,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for debt consolidators: BankAmericard® credit card

Highlights

  • Lengthy introductory APR offer for purchases and balance transfers
  • Reasonable balance transfer fee
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory $100 bonus available

Why it won

Consumers with high-interest debt to consolidate can use the BankAmericard credit card to save money on interest with no annual fee required. This card lets you pay 0% APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and on balance transfers made in the first 60 days, after which a variable APR of 12.99% to 22.99% will apply.

While some balance transfer cards with longer introductory APR offers charge a 5% balance transfer fee, this card’s fee is only 3% (minimum $10). You can even score a $100 statement credit online bonus when you sign up and spend at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.

“Cardholders can avoid interest on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles with a relatively low 3% balance transfer fee. Just be sure to make every effort to pay off the full amount before the 0% clock expires,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for business: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Highlights

  • Extremely generous welcome offer
  • Earns American Express Membership Rewards points
  • Luxury travel perks included
  • 0% introductory APR for purchases

Why it won

The Amex Business Platinum won as the best credit card for small businesses due to its generous welcome offer and the extensive travel benefits. You can also get a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on purchases that qualify for Amex’s Pay Over Time feature. After that, the regular variable APR is 14.24% to 22.24%.

While a pricey $595 annual fee applies, cardholders can get more value than that when they utilize benefits like up to $400 in statement credits toward Dell purchases, up to $360 in credits toward Indeed.com, up to $150 in credits toward Adobe Creative Solutions and up to $120 in annual credits for wireless services.

Travel perks like airport lounge access, up to $200 in airline incidental credits and up to $179 in credits toward Clear membership also add to this card’s overall appeal.

Note that the Amex Business Platinum’s annual fee is soon to rise – if your application is received on or after Jan. 13, 2022, it will be $695 instead of $595.

“Many business owners would benefit from this card. There are more than $1,000 worth of credits that can offset various technology and hiring costs. But where this card really shines is for travelers, since it offers extensive airport lounge access, a long list of airline and hotel transfer partners and high-end rewards on flights and prepaid hotels booked via AmexTravel.com,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for airline loyalists: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Highlights

  • Earn bonus miles in several categories
  • Pay-per-visit rate for Delta Sky Clubs
  • Frequent flyer perks

Why it won

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card has a lot going for it, including the fact that you can earn bonus miles on more than just Delta flights. In addition to earning 3X miles on Delta purchases, cardholders also earn 3X miles at hotels booked directly, 2X miles at restaurants, 2X miles at U.S. supermarkets and 1X miles on other purchases.

Frequent flyer perks can easily offset the card’s $250 annual fee, including the free checked bag benefit, an annual companion certificate and up to $100 in credits toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. This card also lets you pay $39 to visit Delta Sky Clubs without having to purchase a full membership.

“Frequent Delta flyers will love the travel perks they can access when booking a Delta flight with this card – a free checked bag, priority boarding, preferred seating and a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, to name a few,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for hotel loyalists: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Highlights

  • Excellent sign-up bonus worth several free nights
  • Large hotel network with 7,000-plus properties worldwide
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status

Why it won

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is perfect for leisure or business travelers who spend a lot of time in hotels. There are more than 7,000 properties to consider for paid stays and free night awards, and this card gives you automatic silver elite benefits and a leg up toward the next tier of elite status with $35,000 in spending each account year.

The sign-up bonus on this card can help you score three free night awards right off the bat, although terms and conditions apply. Cardholders can also rack up points quickly, especially since they can earn up to 17X points on paid stays with the hotel brand.

“You can find a Marriott property just about everywhere since it’s the world’s largest hotel chain. This card even offers the unique ability to transfer points to more than 40 airline partners, opening up even more possibilities,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for large purchases: BankAmericard credit card

Highlights

  • Lengthy introductory APR offer for purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory $100 bonus available

Why it won

If you need to make a large purchase and pay it down over time, a credit card with 0% APR on purchases can work as a short-term, interest-free loan. The BankAmericard credit card won in this category because it offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (made within 60 days of account opening) for 18 billing cycles, followed by the standard variable APR of 12.99% to 22.99%.

You can also earn a $100 statement credit online bonus when you spend at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening. Best of all, there’s no annual fee required.

“In addition to 18 interest-free billing cycles on balance transfers, this card also offers 18 billing cycles with 0% interest on new purchases. Cardholders don’t earn rewards, but it’s compelling to avoid interest for that long,” Rossman said.

Best credit cards for stacking: Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom Flex ℠ and Chase Sapphire Reserve

Highlights

  • Stellar coverage of everyday spending categories
  • Pool rewards in one account
  • Ultimate flexibility when redeeming rewards

Why it won

This combination of credit cards offers the best of everything in the rewards world, including excellent category coverage and extremely flexible rewards. You’ll earn 1.5X points on all non-bonus spending, and you’ll also earn anywhere from 3X to 10X points in popular bonus categories that include travel, dining, drugstores and more.

Since Chase lets you pool all your rewards points in one account, you can move your point haul to your Chase Sapphire Reserve before you redeem. Once there, you can get 50% more value for your points when you book travel through Chase. This also unlocks point transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners.

“This strategy, known as the Chase trifecta, appeals to frequent travelers. The key is including a card that allows transfers to airline and hotel partners such as the Sapphire Reserve,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for shopaholics: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Highlights

  • Ability to choose your own bonus categories
  • Generous rate for groceries and wholesale clubs
  • Solid intro bonus and APR

Why it won

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card is great for shopping enthusiasts who want the chance to pick the categories they earn the most rewards in. After signing up, customers can choose to earn 3% back on gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings, as well as 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% back on other purchases. It’s worth noting, however, that bonus rewards in 3% and 2% back categories apply only to the first $2,500 in spending per quarter, after which you earn 1% back.

An introductory APR offer for purchases and balance transfers can also help you pay down larger shopping spree balances interest-free for a limited time. You’ll get 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and on any balance transfers made within the first 60 days, after which a regular variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies.

“Cardholders who qualify for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program by keeping at least $20,000 in eligible deposits/investments with the bank can boost those rewards by 25% to 75%. Especially at those higher tiers (which begin at $100,000 in eligible deposits/investments), the Customized Cash is one of the best cash back cards on the market, period,” Rossman said.

Best credit card for streaming: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Highlights

  • Unbelievable rewards rate on eligible streaming purchases and U.S. supermarket spending
  • Intro annual fee and purchase APR offer
  • Generous welcome bonus

Why it won

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% cash back on select streaming services, which include dozens of options like Apple TV+, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and SiriusXM. The same rate also applies for up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year, and cardholders also earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% back on other purchases.

The $95 annual fee for this card is waived the first year, and an introductory offer for purchases lets you pay down large purchases interest-free for a limited time. You’ll get 0% APR for the first 12 months, with a regular variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% after that.

Better yet, cardholders can earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.

“If you love streaming, you’ll love getting 6% cash back on eligible streaming services with this card, which is best known for offering 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1% cash back after that). It also gives 3% cash back on gas, so there’s a lot of everyday value potential. This is the go-to card for my family of four,” Rossman said.

Bottom line

The credit card scene changed quite a bit in 2021, mostly due to new card offerings and sweeping changes to existing credit cards. However, one factor remained constant all throughout the year – card issuers seemed to know customers wanted more out of their rewards credit cards than ever before.

If you’re on the hunt for a new credit card, Bankrate’s award winners could suit your needs and spending style. Be sure to compare all of the cards that made our ranking until you find one with rewards, perks and features that make sense for your goals.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Credit Card Rate Report
Reward
16.39%
Student
17.07%
Airline
16.04%
Business
14.62%
Cash Back
16.51%

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