The five best credit cards for young adults in 2020

Jul 25, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

If you’re a young professional, chances are you want to have a credit card that… you know, doesn’t have pictures of cats or something on it (I used to have a tie-dye-printed debit card. I feel your pain). After all, you don’t want to be the person at a bar who whips out a debit card to pay for drinks, do you? Now that you (hopefully) have a real job, your own apartment and the like, it’s time to grow up and get a credit card that matches your spending habits and travel goals.

After all, your credit card is the key to making your dream vacation happen — and we know how badly you need one of those. Without further ado, we present to you our list of the best credit cards for young professionals.

Best credit cards for young adults in 2020

New to The Points Guy? Sign up for our daily newsletter and check out our updated beginner’s guide.

In This Post

The best credit cards for young adults

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months — worth $700 based on TPG’s latest valuations.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Rewards:

  • 4x on dining worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (4x on up to $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on airfare, either booked directly with the airline or through amextravel.com
  • 1x points on everything else

This is a really great credit card (no, Amex isn’t paying me to say this). I spend most of my money on food, and this card gets you 4x on global dining and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases each calendar year; then 1x) — a great plus for travelers and home chefs alike.

It also offers 3x points on airfare, either purchased directly from an airline’s website or from amextravel.com. It’s currently offering a welcome offer of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, which is worth $700 according to TPG valuations. You should also check the CardMatch Tool for a potential better offer (targeted and subject to change at anytime). Here’s a closer look at what you can do with your stash.

Read our full Amex Gold Review here.

American Express® Green Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: 30,000 points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months of card membership. TPG values this at $600 — Cha-ching.

Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees)

Rewards: 

  • 3x points on travel, including hotels, flights, transit, tours, taxis and ridesharing services.
  • 3x on restaurants worldwide. This also includes takeout and delivery.
  • 1x on all other purchases.

I’m not lying when I say that my mom has had the Amex Green card for 33 years. You read that correctly. There’s a reason why she has held onto it for so long, especially with perks that were upgraded in September 2019, including 3x on dining worldwide and travel. There is also an up to $100 annual Clear® credit which makes travel easier and faster. This is a great card keep in your wallet… maybe you’ll even have it for the next 33 years.

Read our full Amex Green Review here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. TPG values this bonus at $1,600, depending on how you redeem the points — either by transferring them to an airline or hotel, or directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Annual fee: $95

Rewards:

  • 5x on Lyft through March 2022
  • 2x points on travel (flights, ride shares, etc.) and restaurants
  • 1x points on everything else

No, you’re not imagining it: Everyone you know has this card — and for good reason. If you want to get into points and miles, it earns you 2x points on dining and travel. So yes, every time you go to Sweetgreen or Starbucks, those 2x points will add up very quickly. There is also a complimentary one-year DoorDash DashPass membership, which is especially relevant right now since I keep ordering carry-out. The sign-up bonus is solid, too: 80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. There’s a $95 annual fee, but for what you are getting, this is a great value, especially for a young traveler.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred Review for more details.

Citi Premier℠ Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. We value this bonus at $1,020.

Annual fee: $95

Rewards:

  • 3x points on air travel and hotels; includes gas stations
  • 3x points at restaurants
  • 3x points at supermarkets
  • 1x points on everything else

With an updated rewards structure that went into effect June 2, 2020, this Citi card has some added benefits that are especially applicable right now: I’m talking about the 3x at supermarkets since all I do is raid my pantry while I’m working from home. Plus, the annual fee is conservative when compared to other cards, so you are getting great value for the card, especially with the $1,020-valued welcome bonus.

Read our full Citi Premier Card review for more details.

The information for the Citi Premier card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 50,000-mile bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Rewards:

  • 5x with Uber Eats through January 31, 2021
  • 2x unlimited miles on every purchase

This card made waves when it added airline and hotel transfer partners. It offers a 50,000-mile bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months (valued at $700, according to TPG valuations) and it’s a solid pick for young professionals. It also earns you 2x miles on every purchase, which is a great perk.

The Venture Card also has an up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Card review for more details.

Bottom line

Committing to a credit can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been in the credit card game for a long time. We know you have a lot of options to choose from, but the key here is to pick one that matches your travel goals and spending habits. You really can’t go wrong with any one of these five cards. With everything from huge welcome bonuses to dining benefits, you’ll feel like a boss of credit in no time.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green, click here.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.