February 28, 2024

The 5 best credit cards for young professionals

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. If you’re a…

The 5 best credit cards for young professionals

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


If you’re a young professional, chances are you want to have a credit card that reflects your style and status. 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 have a real job and your own apartment, it’s time to get a credit card that matches your spending habits and travel goals.

And if you’ve spent any time here, you know your credit card could be the key to making your dream vacation happen — if you choose the right one. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of the best credit cards for young professionals.

Best credit cards for young adults

The information for the Amex Green 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.

American Express® Gold Card

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership — worth $1,200 based on TPG’s latest valuations.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Rewards:

  • 4 points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (4 points per dollar on up to $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each calendar year; 1 point per dollar after that)
  • 3 points per dollar spent on airfare, either booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on other eligible purchases.

Whether you’re going out with friends or learning to cook at home, you’re probably spending a lot of your money on food. And this card rewards you for it, earning 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases each calendar year; then 1 point per dollar spent).

It also offers 3 points per dollar on airfare, either purchased directly from an airline’s website or from American Express Travel, so you’ll earn solid rewards when you book your dream vacation or go home for the holidays.

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You should also check the CardMatch Tool for a potentially better offer (targeted and subject to change at any time). And if you aren’t sure where to start redeeming all those points, we have some suggestions.

Read our full Amex Gold review for more details.


Apply here: American Express® Gold Card


American Express® Green Card

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Welcome offer: 40,000 points after you spend $2,000 within the first six months of card membership. TPG values this at $800.

Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees).

Rewards:

  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel, including hotels, flights, transit, tours, taxis and ridesharing services.
  • 3 points per dollar spent on restaurants worldwide. This also includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

If you find yourself traveling more than you used to, this card deserves a spot in your wallet. It earns bonus points on travel, transit, and restaurants, so you’ll earn when you book a trip but also as you get around and explore all the great food while you’re there.

This card also makes your travel experience easier with perks like a statement credit to cover your Clear membership and a $100 Lounge Buddy credit to get you airport lounge access as well as travel protections like baggage and rental car insurance.*

*Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Read our full Amex Green review for more details.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. TPG values the bonus at up to $1,200, depending on how you redeem the points — either by transferring them to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners, or directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Annual fee: $95.Rewards:

  • 5 points per dollar spent on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3 points per dollar spent on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 3 points per dollar spent on select streaming services.
  • 3 points per dollar spent on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar spent on all other travel.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

If you’ve been paying attention, you probably know someone with this card. You’ve probably also seen us tell you how much you need to get it. And for good reason — this card really lives up to the hype.

Its additional earning on travel purchases and benefits like trip cancellation insurance and no foreign transaction fees earn it a label as a travel card, but it also works hard for you in your everyday spending. Whether you’re dining out, streaming or traveling, you can count on this card to earn you some serious rewards.

There’s a $95 annual fee, but we happily pay that for the benefits this card carries.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred Review for more details.


Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


Citi Premier® Card

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: 80,000 ThankYou bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. TPG values this bonus at $1,440.

Annual fee: $95.

Rewards:

  • 3 points per dollar on air travel and hotels.
  • 3 points per dollar at gas stations.
  • 3 points per dollar at restaurants.
  • 3 points per dollar at supermarkets.
  • 1 points per dollar on all other purchases.

The Citi Premier is another excellent choice for earning bonus points for both travel and everyday spending. And those points are versatile, allowing you to redeem them by transferring them to Citi’s airline or hotel transfer partners.

With a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, this card will have you booking your next trip on points in no time.

Read our full Citi Premier® Card review for more details.


Apply here: Citi Premier® Card


Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.Annual fee: $95.Rewards:

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase.

This card is great if you spend most of your paycheck on purchases that don’t generally fall under other bonus categories. With the Venture Rewards Card, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend, whether you’re spending it at the grocery store or to commission a portrait of your dog to hang in your new apartment.

You’ll love the option to redeem the miles you earn with this card by transferring them to any of Capital One’s airline and hotel transfer partners. This card includes additional travel perks like a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit and no foreign transaction fees.

The card’s versatility and travel perks make it a great choice for young professionals.

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


Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card


Bottom line

Committing to a credit card can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been in the credit card game for very long. You 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.

Related: Not just for the established elite: TPG millennials and Gen Z staff weigh in on their experience with premier rewards credit cards

Official application link: American Express® Gold Card
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Official application link: Citi Premier® Card
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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

Additional reporting by Mimi Wright and Benét J. Wilson