These Are the Best Credit Cards for Millennials
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.
This isn’t an article about avocado toast. It’s not a post about how millennials killed cereal, or Applebee’s (who eats there, anyway?!) or cable, for that matter. There will be no jokes about “firing the intern who runs social media” or “living in your parents’ basement.” This is a guide for the best credit cards for millennials, and only the best credit cards for millennials — so leave all of your social commentary at the door, would ya?
With so many cards to choose from, it can be hard to find a “Cinderella slipper” card that fits your spending habits and travel goals… which is exactly why we made this list. We rounded up the best cards that get you the most bang for your buck (cough, cough points) for dining, travel, and everyday purchases. If you’re anything like us, you spend most of your money on these categories — when you’re not paying for rent or other essentials, that is. In short: If you’re a professional in your 20s or 30s, you’re going to want to have at least one of these in your wallet.
Why You Should Get a Credit Card
Using your debit card has virtually no point — pun intended. You’re spending money and not getting anything back in return. For all the money you spend on food, clothing, skincare, workout classes, alcohol, whatever, you could be earning valuable points or miles toward your next vacation. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we promise the points really do add up. Plus, one day you’re going to want to get a house or a car and we guarantee some people in suits will be asking you for your credit score.
Just remember the cardinal rule: Pay your bills on time and in full every single month. Never, ever spend more than you can afford. If you take nothing else away from this article — or really, any article on this site — remember that.
How Credit Cards Work
How do you get these elusive points and miles? We’re glad you asked. You can get them a few different ways, from actually flying on airlines, to going through online shopping portals, but the biggest and the best way is through sign-up bonuses. This is a fancy way of saying “if you spend a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time, you’ll earn a certain amount of points.” It varies from card to card, which we’ll break down shortly, so sit tight. Nothing happens if you don’t hit the sign-up bonus, you just won’t get those bonus points; you will, though, get points for whatever spending you do put on it. Again, this varies from card to card.
The other thing to keep in mind is that your points and miles are worth money, and they’re not all created equal. Our monthly valuations are a good resource to figuring out how much each of yours are worth. At the end of the day, you never want to pay more for a flight in points or miles than if you just booked it outright using your credit card.
All of this to say that you can do some pretty cool things with your points and miles. By using the right credit cards on purchases you’d be spending money on anyway — whether that’s going to SoulCycle, happy hour with your friends or ordering Seamless after a long day at work — you’ll be on your way to your next vacation.
These Are the Cards You Should Have
This is my personal favorite 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 dining and US supermarkets (the 4x on up to $25,000 spent at US supermarkets each year; then 1x) — the most out of any card out there, safe for the Amex EveryDay Preferred which can get you up to 4.5x on groceries. 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 bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, which is worth $700 in our book. Here’s a closer look at what you can do with your stash.
No, you’re not imagining it. Everyone and their mother has this one of these cards — and for good reason. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card if you want to get into points and miles because 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. The sign-up bonus is solid, too: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in three months. There’s a $95 annual fee.
And this article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the CSR. This is definitely not a card for beginners, since it comes with a $550 annual fee, although it really does pay for itself if you take full advantage of its perks, including a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit, an annual $300 travel fee credit and Priority Pass lounge access. It’s also offering a 50,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months, and offers 3x points on all travel and dining. This is pretty much the crème de la crème of travel cards, and all the savvy millennial travelers have it in their wallets. If you don’t travel much, it’s probably not your best pick, though.
You can use your Chase points (Ultimate Rewards) in so many ways, like transferring to Marriott, Hyatt, United, JetBlue and Southwest, just to name a few.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
This was the card I had before BTPG (before TPG). It has no fee and earns 2x at US supermarkets (on the first $6,000 spent each year) and 1x on everything else, plus you get a 20% bonus if you swipe it 20 times or more in a billing cycle. Splurging on AirPods? Amex EveryDay. Buying an Away bag? EveryDay. Need to pick up a few things at CVS? Like I said, EveryDay. You’ll get 10,000 Amex points (Membership Rewards points) after spending $1,000 in the first three months; nothing groundbreaking, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?
The information for the Amex EveryDay Credit 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.
This card made waves recently due to the addition of airline transfer partners. While it’s now offering a lower 50,000-mile bonus after spending $3,000 in 3 months, it’s still a solid pick for college students and young professionals. It earns you 2x miles on every purchase. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
The reality is that you really can’t go wrong with any of these. If you are looking to add a lot of cards to your credit card ~portfolio~ though, be sure to get your Chase cards first because of a little something called the 5/24 rule. Play your cards right (I crack myself up) and you’ll be packing your bags before you can say “Lululemon.”
Featured image courtesy of Thomas Barwick via Getty Images.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
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.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 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.