The 10 Best Credit Cards for Young Adults & Professionals [2021]

Young professionals

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Young adults and professionals fall into one of the largest target markets for credit card issuers and banks.

Thanks to a renewed emphasis on lifestyle, luxury, travel, and dining, banks have introduced strong credit cards that are perfect for millennials.

Since there are thousands of different credit cards out there, we figured we would give you a head start by showing you the best credit card choices that might apply to you.

From there, you can narrow it down to your favorite choice and avoid analysis paralysis! But before we do that, though, let’s walk you through our methodology!

What To Look for in a Credit Card for Young Adults & Professionals

Young adults and professionals put a solid chunk of their spending on food (including groceries and dining/food delivery), travel, streaming services, and entertainment.

And admittedly, there isn’t a credit card that literally rewards every single one of those categories, but you can get pretty darn close.

So the best credit cards for young adults and professionals ought to offer massive rewards on those purchases above and boast travel and lifestyle benefits that set them apart from the rest of the crowd.

Let’s take a look at our best choices!

The 5 Best Personal Credit Cards for Young Adults & Professionals

Young adults
Image Credit: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

1. American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold card has been solidified as one of our favorite cards out there, and it’s certainly our top pick for young adults and professionals.

In addition to a phenomenal welcome bonus, the Amex Gold card boasts some incredible bonus categories:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • 4x Membership Rewards points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (1x points after that)
  • 3x Membership Rewards points per $1 on flights purchased directly with the airline or at Amex Travel
  • 1x Membership Rewards points per $1 on all other purchases

Young professionals and adults spent a large chunk of their money on restaurants, groceries, and travel, which makes this card an awesome choice. And by earning 4x points per $1 spent, you’re getting a return on spend of 8.8%, with a valuation of 2.2 cents per point!

You’ll also get:

  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. ($10 per month)
  • Up to $120 dining credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations ($10 per month; enrollment required)

As if these perks weren’t enough, you’ll also get access to Amex’s The Hotel Collection, offering you a $100 property credit and a room upgrade (subject to availability) on qualifying stays of at least 2 nights at eligible properties.

Lastly, the Amex Gold card will give you secondary rental car coverage, baggage insurance, access to Amex Offers, and some crucial shopping benefits like purchase protection, extended warranty, a complimentary ShopRunner membership (enrollment required), and no foreign transaction fees.

Why We Like Earning American Express Membership Rewards Points

We absolutely love Amex Membership Rewards points. They’re the most valuable type of transferable points out there, worth around 2.2 cents each.

So by hitting 4x points, you’re getting an 8.8% return on your spending. But wait, it gets better! If you book luxury travel using transfer partners, you can exceed that value by a considerable margin!

Other ways you can use your points won’t get you the same redemption value, but they include cash-back, statement credits, gift cards, charitable donations, travel booked made through Amex Travel using Pay With Points, and more.

Bottom Line: Thanks to ultra-rewarding bonus categories on common categories like dining, supermarkets, and airfare, the Amex Gold card is our favorite card for young adults and professionals.  

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is our runner-up credit card, and this excellent credit card happens to be the best beginner rewards credit card.

It generally offers a superb welcome bonus, and to make things better, you will earn some of the most solid rewards out there:

  • 5x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on all travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • 5x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on Lyft purchases (including bikes and scooters) through March 2022
  • 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries
  • 2x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel
  • 1x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on all other purchases

With this card, you’ll receive a complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription, as well as a $60 statement credit through December 31, 2021, towards a Peloton Digital or All Access Membership.

Plus, you’ll also receive a $50 annual credit towards hotel stays booked via the Chase travel portal.

One of the most valuable characteristics of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is its impeccable travel insuranceprimary car rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, trip delay insurance, baggage delay coverage, lost luggage coverage, travel accident insurance, and so much more are included with your card!

Lastly, the card is rounded out with purchase protection, extended warranty, zero fraud liability, and no foreign transaction fees.

Why We Like Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most useful points in the world. Period.

We value them at 2 cents apiece, which means your 5x, 2x, and 1x Ultimate Rewards points are worth a 10%, 4%, and 2% return on spend, respectively.

Although Amex has the most airline transfer partners, Chase Ultimate Rewards has the most valuable hotel transfer partner in World of Hyatt, plus the ability to use points for solid value without transfer partners.

This includes Pay Yourself Back, travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, gift cards, Amazon purchases, and lastly, cash-back or statement credits.

Still, it’s best to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for luxury travel via its transfer partners for maximum value.

3. The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum card is the top card in the world for luxury travel perks, but it’s also perhaps the most well-known card in the world, too.

And for many young adults, it’s the perfect card option for optimizing lifestyle and travel benefits.

To start, you’ll earn a great welcome bonus upon meeting the spending criteria. Plus, you’ll earn 5x points per $1 spent on flights purchases directly with the airline or via Amex Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year), plus 5x points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel. You’ll earn 1x points on all other purchases. So depending on whether you’re earning 5x or 1x points per $1, you could be getting a return on spend of 11% or 2.2%!

The Amex Platinum card is laden with other travel benefits, such as:

Not only that, but the lifestyle perks you get are pretty awesome, too, like up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits (2 $50 credits semi-annually), up to $240 digital entertainment credit (upon enrollment), and up to $300 Equinox credit (upon enrollment). Cardholders also receive purchase protection, extended warranty, zero fraud liability coverage, access to Amex Offers, and no foreign transaction fees.

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a lot going for it. It’s essentially the ultra-premium version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card above.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card allows you to earn up to 10x points per $1 spent:

  • 10x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on car rentals, hotels, and dining booked via the Chase travel portal
  • 10x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare booked via the Chase travel portal
  • 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on all dining and travel purchases
  • 1x Ultimate Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases

You’ll also get a $300 travel credit every cardmember anniversary year, which, though December 31, 2021, can be used towards grocery store and gas station purchases, in addition to travel!

Here are a few of its other perks:

  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • The ability to redeem points for 50% more value on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (1.5 cents per point)
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership (activation required)
  • Complimentary Lyft Pink membership (includes Grubhub+ and Seamless+)
  • $120 Peloton Digital and All Access Membership statement credit through December 31, 2021
  • $60 DoorDash statement credit and complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription
  • Access to Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • The best travel insurance available on a credit card, including primary car rental insurance, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, trip delay, lost luggage, baggage delay, roadside assistance, emergency evacuation and transportation, emergency medical and dental, travel accident, and travel and emergency assistance coverage

5. Citi Premier® Card

Our last personal credit card is the Citi Premier card, one of the best out there for diverse spending categories and all-around excellent rewards.

Currently, the Citi Premier card offers an amazing welcome bonus, plus this long list of bonus categories:

  • 3x points per $1 spent on air travel, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and supermarkets
  • 1x points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Being able to earn 3x points on all of these categories is unique to this credit card only — that’s not all, though, because here are the other perks:

  • $100 in annual hotel savings when you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com or 800-THANKYOU (once per calendar year)
  • Access to Citi Entertainment and Citi Concierge
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Zero fraud liability

You’ll notice that this card has no travel insurance coverage at all, so you’d generally only want to keep this card for the vast rewards structure it offers.

Why We Like Earning Citi ThankYou Rewards Points

Earning Citi ThankYou Rewards Points is no joke. Thanks to a great list of transfer partners, you can get some phenomenal value out of these points.

Citi ThankYou Rewards Points, by our valuations, are worth around 1.6 cents each, which makes earning 3x points equal to a 4.8% return on spending! 

You can also use your points for cash-back, gift cards, charity, travel booked through the Citi ThankYou travel portal, mortgage and student loan payments, as well as Sears Shop Your Way transfers.

The 5 Best Business Credit Cards for Young Adults & Professionals

Young adults working
Image Credit: Akson via Unsplash

If you’re a young adult or professional running your own business or have a side hustle, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best business credit cards.

Here are our favorites!

1. American Express® Business Gold Card

The Amex Business Gold card is similar to the Amex Gold card in the sense that you enjoy some incredible rewards categories without diving deep into those luxury travel perks that the ultra-premium cards offer.

The welcome bonus is a great way to give yourself a head start on your point stash.

You can earn 4x Membership Rewards points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. Keep in mind that the 4x applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year for your top 2 categories in this list. After that, you’ll earn 1x.

That means you can earn up to 600,000 Membership Rewards points every calendar year from the 4x points structure before dropping down to the normal 1x points structure.

Earning 4x points is equal to a return on spending of 8.8%, which is incredible. Best of all, you won’t need to select any bonus categories, as Amex does it automatically for you.

This card offers purchase protection, solid travel insurance (including secondary rental car coverage), as well as no preset spending limit, no foreign transaction fees, and up to 99 employee cards with no annual fee after the first employee card with a $50 annual fee (see rates and fees).

2. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Credit CardKey Benefits & Info
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Learn More
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 25% more value when redeeming points through Ultimate Rewards® travel
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $95

$2,000

Must Reads: For more info on the Ink Business Preferred, see our guides on its benefits, 7 things to do as a new cardholder, and our full review. This is our favorite Chase business credit card.

Our runner-up credit card is the famous Ink Business Preferred card, offering a solid welcome bonus and some of the best bonus categories for earning Ultimate Rewards points.

Also, you will earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on the following business categories, up to $150,000 in combined purchases per anniversary year:

You’ll earn 1x Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases, making your return on spending equal to 6% or 2% if earning 3x and 1x points, respectively.

Plus, you’ll get some top-notch cell phone insurance benefits, as well as purchase protection, extended warranty, and zero liability fraud protection.

Don’t forget about the card’s noteworthy travel coverages, including primary rental car coverage when renting for business and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. You also won’t pay any foreign transaction fees or any employee card fees.

3. Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash card boasts an amazing welcome bonus, plus some unique rewards structures.

You’ll earn up to 5% cash-back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services (on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year), as well as 2% cash-back at gas stations and restaurants (on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year, separate from the 5% cash-back categories). Earn 1% cash-back on all other purchases, as well as after the 2 $25,000 bonus ceilings are achieved.

You can also take advantage of the 0% introductory APR! Regular APR, as indicated in the table above, applies after the introductory period.

And although these rewards aren’t Ultimate Rewards points, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Ink Business Preferred card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can actually convert your 5%, 2%, and 1% cash-back to 5x, 2x, and 1x Ultimate Rewards points, netting you a return on spend of 10%, 4%, or 2%, respectively.

You will get primary rental car coverage, travel insurance, and purchase protection with this credit card.

4. Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

The Ink Business Unlimited card is yet another amazing business credit card from Chase.

It has a great welcome bonus and a straightforward rewards structure. You’ll get a flat 1.5% cash-back on all of your business purchases without any caps or limits to earning.

As with the Ink Business Cash card, if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Ink Business Preferred card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can convert your cash-back to Ultimate Rewards points to get a return on spending of 3% on your purchases!

Plus, this card offers a 0% introductory APR perk (after the introductory period, the regular APR shown in the table above applies), primary rental car insurance when renting for business, purchase protection, extended warranty, zero liability, and no-fee employee cards.

5. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Business Platinum card rounds out our best business cards for young adults and professionals. Simply put, if you want a card that’s loaded to the max with perks, the Amex Business Platinum card needs to be in your wallet.

To kick off your points accrual, enjoy a huge welcome bonus. After that, earn 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked at Amex Travel.

Importantly, if you’ll also earn 1.5x on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else (up to $2 million in purchases per calendar year).

But the real kicker is the luxury perks, including access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which is the best lounge access of any card in the world.

Plus, you’ll get all kinds of other travel perks, like complimentary hotel and rental car elite status, access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, a $200 airline fee credit, a 35% rebate on select flights using Pay With Points (~1.52 cents per point in redemption value), and more.

You’ll also get a $179 CLEAR credit, up to $400 in statement credits for U.S. purchases with Dell, and a suite of travel coverages like baggage insurance, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, secondary car rental insurance, and travel accident insurance. Lastly, make use of the purchase protection, extended warranty, no preset spending limit, and even return protection!

Final Thoughts

If you take the typical archetype of a young adult and professional, you would probably agree that our top credit cards recommended are almost a match made in heaven, given these individuals’ high spending on dining, travel, streaming, and entertainment.

As you can tell, the banks and credit card companies that made this guide’s shortlist are American Express, Chase, and Citi.

That’s not terribly surprising, simply because these 3 banks offer the most competitive rewards, whether it’s high bonus categories, worthwhile transfer partnerships, or unique travel perks.

We hope you have enough information to make an informed decision for the next card you’ll be getting.


For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best credit card for a young professional?

The best personal credit cards for young professionals are the Amex Gold card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Amex Platinum card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and the Citi Premier card.

What is the best credit card for a 25-year-old?

The best rewards credit card for young adults is likely the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Amex Gold card.

What is the best credit card for someone just starting out?

The best beginner rewards credit card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

What are the best business credit cards for young adults and professionals?

The best business cards for young adults and professionals are the Amex Business Gold card, the Ink Business Preferred card, the Ink Business Unlimited card, the Ink Business Cash card, and the Amex Business Platinum card.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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