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The 5 most notable new or refreshed credit cards of 2021

Dec. 22, 2021
7 min read
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2021 was the year when many people began traveling and increasing their spending again.

The major credit card issuers also stayed busy, revamping or launching a variety of credit card products throughout the year. There was a new or refreshed product for everyone, from no-annual-fee, cash-back cards to high-end, premium rewards cards.

Let’s look at some of the significant card launches and permanent refreshes of 2021.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy)

In July, Amex revamped its consumer Amex Platinum Card with a host of new benefits, a new welcome offer, and, yes, an increase of its annual fee. Later in the year, the issuer also added two more benefits to the Platinum Card: one for Walmart+ and another for SoulCycle.

With the revamp in 2021, it’s clear that the Platinum Card is no longer focused exclusively on travel or travel-adjacent perks.

In addition, the annual fee went from an already high $550 (see rates and fees) to an even more expensive $695 (see rates and fees). That may have given current and prospective cardholders pause since the card has been at $550 for only four years, up from $450 in 2017.

Although Amex added a host of new Platinum perks and raised the card’s annual fee, it didn't eliminate or change the card’s existing benefits. In total, there is the potential for $1,800 in value by maximizing every single credit card perk to its fullest. However, that assumes you’ll know what those perks are, and more importantly, care about each specific benefit and the services it covers.

Even though the overall value for the card can certainly still be there, be sure to keep track of all of those new credits and put them to good use.

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Apply: Amex Platinum official application link

Read: A full review of the Amex Platinum card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

In November 2021, Capital One launched the Venture X rewards credit card. The launch was a critical turning point for Capital One.

With simple rewards and overall solid value the card has mass appeal, especially for those searching for (or switching from) a premium travel rewards card. Its $395 annual fee undercuts the competition and the card's plentiful perks are easy to understand.

Earlier this fall, Capital One also unveiled its first-ever airport lounge, a 10,000-square-foot space at Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW). This is the first of a network of Capital One Lounges, with already-announced locations set to come in Denver (DEN) and Washington Dulles (IAD).

Finally, Capital One made significant improvements to its mileage program, including shifting from solely fixed-rate redemptions to adding a host of airline and hotel transfer partners, most of which now convert at a 1:1 ratio.

Apply: Capital One Venture X official application link

Read: A full review of the Capital One Venture X card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

One of the best beginner travel rewards cards got even better earlier this year.

In August, Chase launched new (or increased) category bonuses: 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal, 3 points per dollar on dining (up from 2 points per dollar), 3 points per dollar on select streaming services and 3 points per dollar on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

In addition, Preferred cardholders now get a $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards as well as 10% of your points back each year based on your card spending.

All of these additions arrived without an increase to the card's very reasonable $95 annual fee.

Apply: Chase Sapphire Preferred official application link

Read: A full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

In June, Citi launched a lucrative cash-back card, the Citi Custom Cash.

The no-annual-fee product earns 5% back on your top eligible spending category each statement period, with a limit of up to $500 per billing cycle for the 5% earning rate. All earnings after $500 earn only 1% cash back. Therefore, the maximum earnings are $25 per billing cycle at the 5% rate.

This card should be especially enticing for existing Citi cardholders. Even though the Custom Cash (see rates and fees) is branded as a cash-back card, you’ll earn rewards in the form of Citi ThankYou points. If you already carry one of Citi’s travel rewards cards (such as the Citi Prestige® Card or the Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees), you can combine the points earned on that card with the points earned on the Custom Cash.

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

Apply: Citi Custom Cash official application link

Read: A full review of the Citi Custom Cash card

Aeroplan® Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

In December, Chase and Air Canada launched the Aeroplan credit card for the U.S. market.

While this wasn't the first time an Air Canada credit card became available in the U.S., it did mark a significant new product launch and one that gives U.S.-based customers yet another Star Alliance option for accruing frequent flyer miles.

Notably, you'll get automatic elite status (Aeroplan 25k), generous earning rates on everyday spending (3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent at grocery stores, dining, and purchases made directly with Air Canada) and the ability to Pay Yourself Back at 1.25 cents per point. These are unique features for a cobranded card.

Apply: Air Canada Aeroplan card official application link

Read: A full review of the Aeroplan credit card

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.

Featured image by It's always a good idea to take inventory of your wallet every so often. (Photo by The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.