The 5 best new or refreshed credit cards of 2020

Dec 14, 2020

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We saw change after change (after change) in 2020.

The credit card industry as a whole also saw a variety of developments, from tightening of credit limits to shifting bonuses and benefits and even the launch of new and refreshed card products. Yes, even in an economic environment where fewer people were applying for cards, issuers still revealed new and updated products throughout the year.

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Many of these launches were in the works before the pandemic took hold in 2020. And contrary to previous years, many of this year’s card updates were focused on things that weren’t just about traveling. After all, travel was lower on the priority list for many cardholders.

Let’s take a look at some of the major card launches and permanent refreshes of 2020 — and what TPG readers thought was the most significant of the bunch. Note that not all cards are included, only permanent refreshes or entirely new products from major issuers. 

In This Post

All-new Verizon Visa Card

Back in June, Verizon and Synchrony Bank unveiled the no-annual-fee Verizon credit card, a product that has proved to be an ideal complement to existing Verizon customers. The card includes an impressive array of bonus categories:

  • 4% back on gas and groceries
  • 3% back on dining
  • 2% back on Verizon purchases
  • 1% back on everything else
(Photo courtesy of Verizon)

Earnings come in the form of “Verizon Dollars.” For instance, you’ll get four cents back per dollar spent on gas and groceries, but those cents can only be redeemed towards Verizon purchases and bills. Cardholders also receive up to $100 in wireless bill credits over 24 consecutive months for monthly bill payments.

Related: 4 things you need to know about the rewarding Verizon credit card 

All-new Venmo Credit Card

In early October, Venmo launched its own card in partnership with Synchrony Bank. Venmo, most usually recognized by its peer-to-peer payment platform, entered the cash-back credit card space for the first time.

(Photo courtesy of Venmo)

One of the most important elements of any cash-back card is its earning structure — and Venmo came out with a very competitive offering. You’ll earn 3% back on your highest spending category each month, 2% back on your second highest spending category and 1% back on everything else.

With the Venmo app, there is functionality to track activity in real-time organized by spending categories, split and share purchases, view cash back status and make payments.

Related: 5 things to know about the new Venmo credit card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Back in March, United and Chase revealed a new, premium travel card for United Club lounge access.

Instead of simply refreshing the previous United Club card, United decided to launch a new product that offered not only United Club access but also an impressive 4x miles per dollar spent on United purchases, 2x on all other travel and dining and 1x on everything else.

Related: United Club Infinite Card review

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Unfortunately, the timing was not ideal for this travel card with its launch in March. Nevertheless, if United lounge access is what you’re looking for, this is the card to get.

The perennial perk of the Infinite Card is a United Club membership, which typically costs $650 per year for a general United MileagePlus member. Chase Freedom Flex and refresh of Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase significantly overhauled its no-annual-fee card lineup in September with the launch of the new Chase Freedom Flex (replacing the Chase Freedom) and a refresh of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Freedom Flex

First, with the Freedom Flex, Chase took the original Freedom’s rotating category rewards structure and added to it. Here’s a quick rundown of the bonus categories offered with the Chase Freedom Flex:

That’s an impressive lineup of earning categories for any card, nonetheless a no-annual-fee credit card. Additionally, the Chase Freedom Flex is a Mastercard, unlike most of Chase’s credit cards. As part of the Mastercard network, you have access to a solid cell phone protection plan. You’re covered for $800 per claim for theft or damage, with a maximum of two claims and $1,000 total in a 12 month period.

Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Freedom Unlimited’s premier feature is a flat 1.5% back, making it a popular pick for beginners and experts alike. The refresh saw the addition of three new bonus categories, similar to the Freedom Flex:

  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (new)
  • 3% back on dining (new)
  • 3% back at drugstores (new)

The best part of both of these cards listed above? You can unlock the full potential of Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. With just one of these cards, you can pool your points into one Chase Ultimate Rewards account which allows you to transfer to lucrative travel partners.

Related: The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

Refresh of Citi Premier® Card benefits

In August, Citi overhauled the category bonuses that you’ll earn for new Citi Premier Card applicants. The good news is that Citi added two categories that will help you earn ThankYou points faster.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Cardholders also began receiving an annual $100 hotel credit each calendar year (eligible on single hotel stay $500+ purchases, excluding taxes and fees made through ThankYou.com). However, Citi did eliminate the bonus on entertainment purchases (previously 2x) and the broad category of travel (previously 3x).

Related: Citi Premier card review

The winner, according to TPG readers…

All-new Chase Freedom Flex and refresh of Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The addition of the new bonus categories on both the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited pushed this no-annual-fee dynamic duo over the edge to take the crown for the best new or refreshed card(s) in 2020.

In particular, the 3x bonus on dining was particularly impressive, matching the $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve and even beating the $95-per-year Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s 2x bonus. Interestingly, the perks on the Flex and Unlimited highlight how the Reserve and Preferred may need additional benefits to keep them competitive.

Here are a few comments from TPG readers:

Shana G.: I really liked the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited bonus categories of 3x points on dining (since I intend to downgrade my Chase Sapphire Reserve) & drugstores (I shop a lot at Walgreens)!

Sarah P.:  The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex is really competing with my Chase Sapphire Reserve right now. Mine renews in April and I’m not sure I’ll keep it considering the new bonuses on the no-annual-fee cards.

Chris M.:  I have to say the Chase Freedom Unlimited with 3x on dining throws a lot of shade on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’m not a big Ultimate Rewards portal user (1.5x return with the Reserve) so truly the Freedom Unlimited combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred would probably get the job done to unlock access to transfer partners.

The Freedom Unlimited is no stranger to winning, as it also took home the crown of the Best No-Annual-Fee Card at this year’s TPG Awards.

Related: Chase adds grocery bonus category for Sapphire cards through April 2021

Featured photo courtesy of Venmo.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

Apply Now
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 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
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.