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Although this guide is about credit cards for people in their 30s, there’s no best card for you based on your age. This is because everyone has different lifestyles, redemption goals, credit history and cards already in their wallet. So although I’m 33, the best credit card for me is probably different from the best credit card for you.

New to TPG? Check out our points and miles guide for beginners.

Most of the cards included in this guide include benefits or bonus categories that are well suited for the average traveler in their 30s, but obviously travelers in other age ranges may also find significant value from these cards.

In This Post

Citi Premier Card

Welcome bonus: 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. These points are worth between $750 and $1,020 (the latter based on TPG valuation), depending on how you redeem them. Note that you won’t be eligible for the bonus if you’ve received a bonus or closed an account for select ThankYou cards in the last 24 months.

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: 3x points on travel (including gas stations); 2x points on restaurants and entertainment; 1x points on everything else

Other benefits: Points are worth 1.25 cents each when used to book airfare through the Citi ThankYou Travel portal, or you can transfer your points to airline transfer partners (which is why TPG values Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each). Access to extended warranty protection, damage and theft protection on recent purchases and World Elite Mastercard benefits. No foreign transaction fees. See the full card review for more details.

Who should sign-up? If you tend to spend on gas and general travel — including expenses like trains, parking and rideshare that you may incur at home — you can quickly earn enough points to justify the Citi Premier‘s $95 annual fee. In fact, using TPG’s valuation of ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, you only need to spend $156 per month on travel and gas to offset the $95 annual fee. The card’s current 60,000-point bonus makes signing up now particularly worthwhile.

Official Application Link: Citi Premier Card (60,000-point bonus offer)

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x on all travel. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. These points are worth between $750 and $1,200 (the latter based on TPG valuation), depending on how you redeem. Note that you won’t be eligible for the bonus if you have another Sapphire card or you’ve received a bonus on a Sapphire card within the last 48 months.

Annual fee: $95

Rewards: 2x points on travel and restaurants; 1x points on everything else.

Other benefits: Points are worth 1.25 cents each when used to book airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, or you can transfer your points to airline and hotel transfer partners (which is why TPG values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each). Access to travel and shopping protections. No foreign transaction fees. See our full card review for more information.

Who should sign-up: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent first card with its solid earning on travel and restaurants as well as its shopping and travel protections. It only takes $198 per month in travel and restaurant spending to earn enough points to effectively offset the $95 annual fee, based on TPG’s valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each. If you’re looking to improve your earning potential, consider also signing up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited which earns 1.5% cash back (1.5x points) on all purchases and makes for a good general spending card when paired with the Sapphire Preferred.

Official Application Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (60,000-point bonus offer)

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
Earn 2x on all purchases with the Capital One Venture Card. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. This bonus is worth between $500 and $700 (the latter based on TPG valuation and not provided by issuer), depending on how you redeem.

Annual fee: $95, but waived the first year

Rewards: 2x miles on all purchases; 10x miles on hotel stays booked through hotels.com/venture and paid with the card though January 2020

Other benefits: A statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years. Access to extended warranty protection and travel accident insurance. No foreign transaction fees. Transfer miles to airline transfer partners (which is why TPG values Capital One miles at 1.4 cents each), or redeem your miles toward travel or gift cards at a fixed rate of one cent each. See our full card review for more details — or, if you’re looking for a card without an annual fee, consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

Who should sign-up: The Capital One Venture Card can be great for beginners — especially if you frequently book hotel stays through hotels.com or prefer the simplicity of having one card for everything. One of the best parts of the Venture Card is that you can easily redeem your miles at a fixed value of one cent each toward recently booked travel, new travel or gift cards — which can provide excellent flexibility when award space simply isn’t available for your dates.

Official Application Link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (50,000-mile bonus offer)

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
Earn 4% cash back on dining with the Capital One Savor. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: $300 once you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $95, but waived the first year

Rewards: 4% cash back on dining and entertainment; 2% cash back at grocery stores; 1% cash back on all other purchases

Other benefits: 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020. Sign up for Postmates Unlimited and get your monthly membership fee covered through December 2019. Access to extended warranty protection and travel accident insurance. No foreign transaction fees. See our full card review for more details — or, if you’re looking for a card without an annual fee, consider the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Who should sign-up: The Capital One Savor Cash card earns solid cash back on the spending that most people in their thirties do: dining, entertainment and groceries. You only need to spend $198 per month on dining and entertainment to get enough cash back to effectively offset the $95 annual fee after the first year. Plus, with a cash-back card you don’t need to worry whether you’re making the “best” redemption.

Official Application Link: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card ($300 bonus offer)

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend on at US supermarkets each year.

Welcome bonus: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in your first three months

Annual fee: $95 (See Rates & Fees)

Rewards: 6% cash back at US supermarkets on the first $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 6% cash back on select US streaming services; 3% cash back on transit and at US gas stations; 1% cash back on everything else

Other benefits: Access to extended warranty protection, return protection and purchase protection. A 0% intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (then a variable APR of 14.99% to 25.99% applies) (See Rates & Fees). See our full card review for more details.

Who should sign-up: The Blue Cash Preferred is another cash-back card that provides excellent cash back on two categories where many people in their thirties spent significant money: US supermarkets and select streaming services. Indeed, you only need to spend $134 per month on groceries at US supermarkets and select streaming services to earn enough cash back to effectively offset the $95 annual fee. However, if you’d rather earn American Express Membership Rewards points — especially if you make 30 or more purchases on your card each billing period — The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express may be a better choice.

The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred 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.

Official Application Link: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ($250 bonus offer)

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide with the Amex Gold Card. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 in your first three months. This bonus can be worth up to $700 based on TPG’s valuation of Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each.

Annual fee: $250 (See Rates & Fees)

Rewards: 4x points at restaurants worldwide; 4x points at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; 1x points on everything else

Other benefits: Enroll your card and get up to $10 in statement credits monthly at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations — this can provide up to $120 of value per year. Select one qualifying airline and receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Gold Card. Access to The Hotel Collection, lost baggage insurance, extended warranty protection, return protection, purchase protection and no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees). See the full card review for more details.

Who should sign-up: The Amex Gold Card is a solid options for foodies with 4x earning at restaurants and US supermarkets, as well as the $10 monthly statement credits and $100 annual airline fee credit. If you can use the monthly statement credits and annual airline fee credit, your annual fee is effectively reduced to $30 — which you can consider to be offset with the points earned through spending just $32 per month at restaurants or US supermarkets based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each. Even if you don’t use the statement credits or airline fee credit, you only need to spend $261 per month at restaurants and US supermarkets to earn points valued at $250 per year.

Official Application Link: American Express® Gold Card (35,000-point bonus offer)

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
The Platinum Card earns 5x on hotels booked through amextravel.com. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in your first three months. This bonus can be worth up to $1,200 based on TPG’s valuation of Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each.

Annual fee: $550 (See Rates & Fees)

Rewards: 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel; 5x points on hotels booked with amextravel.com; 1x points on everything else

Other benefits: Up to $200 of Uber Cash credits, up to $200 of airline incidental fee credits and up to $100 of Saks Fifth Avenue credits each year. Statement credit for a Global Entry application fee every four years or a TSA PreCheck application fee every 4.5 years (up to $100). Access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program, The Hotel Collection and Global Lounge Collection. Marriott Gold elite status and Hilton Gold elite status. Extended warranty protection, return protection, purchase protection and no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees). Plus, you can add up to three authorized users to your card — who also get access to many of the card’s benefits — for just $175 per year (See Rates & Fees). See our full card review for more details.

Who should sign-up: The Amex Platinum is more of a membership card than a general spending card — so it’s certainly not for everyone. However, if you can fully use the Uber cash credits, airline fee credits and Saks Fifth Avenue credits you’ll bring the effective annual fee down to just $50 — and the other perks that come with the Amex Platinum are likely worth $50 if you’re able to visit at least a few lounges or book even one Fine Hotels and Resorts stay. Alternatively, if you book $5,500 worth of flights per year, you can earn enough points to fully offset the $550 annual fee based on TPG’s valuations — but remember that the Amex Platinum doesn’t offer travel protections like trip delay protection or delayed baggage protection.

Official Application Link: The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer)

Other Cards to Consider

You may want to add some cards that have specific uses, such as cobranded airline or hotel credit cards.

If you spend a lot of money in one particular category — such as gas, entertainment, dining, groceries or even everyday non-bonus spending — then you should look for a card that earns bonus points in that category. Don’t automatically exclude cards with an annual fee — the points, miles or cash back that you earn may more than justify the annual fee.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Cards for Each Bonus Category

Even if you only stay in hotels a few times each year, it may still be worthwhile to add a hotel credit card to your wallet. This is because many cobranded hotel credit cards offer an annual free night credit; this free night alone can often justify the annual fee. Here are some of my favorites:

Likewise, even if you only fly once or twice a year, you may want to consider an airline credit card. Some cobranded airline credit cards allow you to check a bag free of charge — even when you’re traveling in basic economy — which can save you money. Here are some cards to consider:

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year (See Rates & Fees), first checked bag free on flights marketed and operated by Delta for you and up to eight passengers traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card: $75 annual fee, first checked bag free on flights marketed and operated by Alaska for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: $99 annual fee that’s waived the first year, first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • United Explorer Card: $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, first checked bag free on United-operated flights for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation when you purchase the ticket using your Explorer card
  • The JetBlue Plus Card: $99 annual fee, first checked bag free on JetBlue-operated flights for you and up to three companions on the same reservation when you purchase Blue fares with your JetBlue Plus Card

Finally, you might want to have a World or World Elite Mastercard in your wallet. This is because Mastercard recently added various benefits to its World and World Elite Mastercards that include Lyft and Postmates discounts, extra points on Fandango purchases and cell phone insurance when you charge your monthly telephone bill to your card.

Bottom Line

Spending habits and redemption goals can differ greatly in your thirties. A suburban mother in her thirties may incur very different expenses from a single woman in her thirties who’s living alone in the city. So the best strategy when selecting a new card is to consider the categories where you spend substantial money but aren’t currently earning bonus points, miles or cash back. Then, select a card (or cards) with bonus earning in these categories — ideally, a card that’s also offering a handsome welcome bonus.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, click here.

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED 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.

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More Things to Know
  • 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
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% 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.