Best Credit Cards for Millennials in 2019

The best credit cards can put hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars back into your pocket every year.

If you’ve learned to use credit responsibly by paying your credit card bills in full each month and you’ve established an excellent credit score, you may have access to all types of credit cards that offer generous sign-up bonuses in cash or free travel, in addition to ongoing rewards for every dollar you spend.

Here’s my list of some of the best credit cards for millennials in 2019 based upon the overall value of their sign-up bonuses and recurring rewards structures.

Keep in mind, these cards are suited for consumers who don’t carry balances. If you need to transfer an existing balance to a lower-rate card, check out these balance transfer credit card offers instead.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards
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Capital One Quicksilver Credit CardCapital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit CardUnlimited 1.5% cash back on all qualifying purchases
Chase Freedom Credit CardChase Freedom®Up to 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to the quarterly maximum; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Discover it Cash Back Credit CardDiscover it® Cash BackUp to 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to the quarterly maximum; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Wells Fargo Propel American Express CardWells Fargo Propel American Express® Card3x points per $1 spent on eating out, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, car rental, and popular streaming services; 1x points on everything else
Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards
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Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit CardCapital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card1.25x miles on all purchases; no annual fee
BOA Travel Rewards Credit CardBank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card1.5x points for every dollar spent; no annual fee
Discover it Miles Credit CardDiscover it® Miles1.5x miles on all purchases; no annual fee
Best Premium Travel Rewards Credit Cards
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Capital One Venture Rewards credit cardCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card2x miles on all purchases
chase sapphire preferred credit cardChase Sapphire Preferred® Card2x points per $1 spent on travel and dining
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit CardChase Sapphire Reserve Card3x points per $1 spent on travel and dining
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card2x points per $1 spent with Southwest; 1x points on everything else
Best Business Credit Cards
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Chase Ink Business Cash Credit CardChase Ink® Business Cash5% cash back on internet, phone & cable, and office supply stores; 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants; 1% cashback on everything else
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card3x points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines‌®; 2x points per $1 spent on search & social media advertising, internet, phone & cable services
Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit
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capital one secured MasterCardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®Applicants with no credit history
milestone unsecured MasterCardMilestone® Unsecured Mastercard®Applicants with fair credit

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Millennials

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Everybody loves free money. And that’s exactly why Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card deserves to be in the top 3.

It’s a cashback credit card with solid earning power – and you’ll need to spend very little to qualify for the bonus.

No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees mean you can get cash back as you shop, no matter where in the world you may be.

Spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months, and you’ll earn a one-time $150 cash bonus (free money in your pocket!)! That’s a winning number for me.

You’ll also get a flat rate of unlimited 1.5% cashback on every purchase.

To qualify, you will need excellent credit – but if you have it, I think it’s a fantastic way to rack up cash back rewards.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months – get a $150 cash bonus

Chase Freedom® with No Annual Fee

Chase Freedom Credit Card

Now we’re getting into some of my favorite territory: no annual fees. Even though most annual fees are reasonable at ~$100, savings is savings. Right? Each cost you can eliminate is a valuable one.

So how about earning cashback in addition to not paying an annual fee? That’s what the Freedom card from Chase is all about.

It’s a simple formula. $150 cash back after spending just $500. $0 annual fee. Unlimited 1% cashback, with 5% cashback (up to $1,500) categories each month.

Freedom has been one of my favorite and most used cards for a long time. It’s a great first or second credit card with solid credit.

It doesn’t require a ton of spending upfront to get bonuses, so it can help you practice smart financial management.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1% cashback, with 5% cash back categories each month
  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 cash back after spending $500

Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card

And if you’d prefer a cashback card, Discover it® also has another very appealing option.

Get 5% cashback on rotating categories up to 1,500 each quarter, which will become 1% after that. You’ll also get 1% cashback on all purchases – and there are no foreign transaction fees.

Redeeming your cashback is easy in any amount, except for gift certificates or eCertificates (those start at $20).

Want to know the best bit? For your Sign-up Bonus, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. And there’s no limit to how much is matched. Say what now?!

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in two categories you choose up to $1,500 on purchases each quarter, with 1% after; 1% cashback on ALL purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

And, last but not least, it’s the Wells Fargo Propel American Express – your no fee, incredible value credit card.

The truth is, no other card will offer such rich rewards without paying hundreds of dollars in annual fees. So you may want to grab onto this one.

Earn 3x points per $1 spent on eating out, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, car rental, and popular streaming services.

Plus, 1x points on all other purchases. There’s no cap on how much you can earn – plus, there’s a 30,000 bonus when you spend at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months (that’s $300!).

The downside is that, as you may know, AmEx isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard. You’ll also need to be up there in the credit world – aka excellent credit.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: Earn 3x points per $1 spent on eating out as well as ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, car rental, and popular streaming services
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months – and get 30,000 bonus points

Want to know more about the best ways to get cashback? Check out this post on the best cashback credit cards for Millennials.


Best ‘No Annual Fee’ Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

If you’re looking for a credit card that offers fantastic rewards, but you can’t justify an annual fee, Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card deserves your attention.

While its sibling Capital One Venture Rewards is up there for millennials, this is a better option for those who would prefer to skip the annual fee.

It’s an ideal option if your spending is light: get 20,000 bonus miles for spending just $1,000 from opening your account.

Besides, you’ll earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent, which is pretty awesome (and above the market average), plus 10x miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020!

Also, you won’t need an excellent credit score for it either – although you will need it to be good.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: 25 miles per $1 spent, plus 10x miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account – get 20,000 bonus miles

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

For a generous flat rate on all purchases, look no further than the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.

Offering an online bonus of 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account, as well as 1.5 unlimited points per $1 spent on ALL purchases, this card is a strong candidate.

The best thing about Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card? No annual fees! Yup – you won’t have to pay a penny for it.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: You get 1.5 points per $1 spent in all purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 online bonus points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of opening the account

Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card

I have always appreciated Discover’s top-notch customer service. Seriously, every interaction I’ve had with the Discover crew has felt more like a small bank. A personal touch goes a long way in my book.

And with their it Miles card, Discover will match every mile you earn in your first year. That means if you earn 40,000, then you’ll end up with 80,000 miles! I think that’s hard to beat.

My favorite aspects are unlimited 1.5x miles on all purchases and no annual fee. It’s a great card for earning miles quickly while featuring no blackout dates.

Discover also makes it easy (and free) to check your credit score. This is a great financial tool that more and more banks are providing to credit cardholders. It helps keep me accountable for my spending.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5 miles on all purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: At the end of your first year, Discover it Miles will match every mile you have earned. That means if you earn 35,000, then you’ll end up with 70,000 miles

Best Premium Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards credit card

Continuing with excellent travel card options, the Venture Rewards card from Capital One is a high-value pickup for those with good credit who want to pick-up double points on every single purchase.

Not just travel purchases, but 2x points for EVERY purchase. In addition to that, you can earn 10x miles at hotels.com on thousands of hotels!

Good personal finance habits are often the little things we do daily but don’t necessarily have to think about.

I like the Rewards Venture so much because I don’t have to think about where I’m getting extra miles – they are built-in to all of my purchases.

And it’s not just the every day extra points. Capital One will give you 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Even with a $95 annual fee, this is one of the best all-around cards available, in my opinion. No surprise it’s one of my favorites.

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Rewards: 2 x miles on every purchase, plus 10 x miles on thousands of hotel deals (through January 2020)
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $3,000 in the first three months – get 50,000 bonus miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card

chase sapphire preferred credit card
  • earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Like its older brother the Reserve, Chase’s Sapphire Preferred travel rewards card offers a lot for millennials with good credit who want to hop the globe.

The Sapphire Preferred is another hugely popular travel card I give props to because of its high value to cost ratio.

USA Today named it the Best Overall Travel Card for 2019, noting its impressive benefits and flexible points.

With a massive 60,000 miles bonus, no foreign transaction fees, and flexibility to transfer points 1:1 between loyalty programs, what’s not to love?

With the ability to earn 2x points per $1 spent on a wide range of travel purchases, I really like the high earning potential of the Sapphire Preferred.

I know I love to travel and this card has helped me earn a lot of free miles. I know you would love it too!

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Rewards: 2x points per $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $4,000 in the first three months – get a whopping 60,000 bonus miles (equivalent to $750 towards travel)

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
  • earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

The Sapphire Reserve from Chase is another top-shelf travel card. I love it because of how flexible the Chase travel rewards are when booking travel.

I have access to a wide range of top-flight airlines, like flying to Australia on Qantas, no matter where I’m going. Using travel rewards has never been easier.

A 50,000-mile bonus offer is one of the best you’ll find right now. To get it you will need to spend $4,000 in the first three months, so make sure the $1,000 equivalent is worth it.

It’s often no problem for those who can use a credit card to pay bills, groceries, and other monthly costs.

Chase will also give you a $300 statement credit to cover travel expenses from the past year. This helps cover most of the $450 annual fee. While high upfront, it more than pays for itself if you travel often, like me.

The Sapphire Reserve may not be the most accessible travel card, as it requires excellent credit. If that includes you, it could be a valuable pick-up.

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Rewards: triple points on traveling and dining – which you can easily redeem for travel or transfer to partner hotels and airlines
  • Sign-up Bonus: A 50,000-mile bonus offer after you spend $4,000 in the first three months

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card’s Rewards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months

This is Grant’s favorite card because he says nearly everyone he knows either have or have used the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus card!

Me, I rarely fly Southwest. But if you do, I agree that this is a card to put at the top of your list!

First, you only have to spend $1,000 in the first 3 months to get the 40,000-mile sign-up bonus.

Just use it for everyday expenses (paying off your balance as you go), and you’ll have a ~$400 travel bonus in your pocket after 90 days. Pretty sweet, huh?

You’ll also get a 3,000-mile bonus after a year to mark your first anniversary.

My favorite part though is the low $69 annual fee. It’s not free, but I’ll take it if there are no blackout dates and I’m getting 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest and most travel expenses, and 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else.

  • Annual Fee: $69
  • Rewards: 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest and most travel expenses, and 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $1,000 in the first 3 months – get the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus

Side Hustling? Check Out the Best Small Business Credit Cards

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
  • earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! I obviously love to side hustle, and the Chase Ink Business Cash card helped me get where I am today.

Perfect for small businesses, the Ink Business Cash gives you 5% cash back on the first $25,000 each anniversary year for things like internet, phone and cable services, as well as office supply stores.

You can also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on things like gas stations and restaurants, plus 1% unlimited cash back on ALL other purchases. Plus, your rewards don’t expire as long as your account is open!

The Ink Business Cash card usually requires excellent credit – but there’s no annual fee. But for most people looking for a high-value card to help them save on business expenses and travel, it’s a hard one to beat.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Rewards: Earn 5% cash back for things like internet, phone and cable services, as well as office supply stores; 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% cashback on everything else
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months – and get a $500 bonus

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
  • earn 80,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is a new kid on the block – but it definitely deserves your attention.

There is a $199 annual fee, but you get fantastic perks like 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airline purchases, as well as four upgraded boardings per year, and even in-flight Wi-Fi credits.

Add an impressive sign-up bonus to the mix, and you have a deal that’s hard to say no to.

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, you’ll get a whopping 80,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your first 3 months.

While many other cards require a lower spend to get the sign-up bonus, for a bonus that’s worth $1,200, I’d say it’d be a shame to give it a miss.

That said, if you want to hit the $5,000 minimum spend, you will have to plan your expenses responsibly. Mainly because many expenses can’t be paid with a credit card.

But if you’re making purchases for your side-hustle, or need to hire someone to do something for you on sites like People Per Hour or Upwork, you should be able to pay with a credit card.

On the other hand, the bonus helps you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, allowing you to designate a companion who can fly with you nearly for free. Whether it’s your business partner or life partner, I’m sure they’d appreciate it!

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 3x points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines‌® purchases; 2x points per $1 spent on search engine and social media advertising, internet, phone and cable services
  • Sign-up Bonus: Spend $5,000 in the first 3 months – and get a whopping 80,000 points bonus

Less-than-perfect Credit? No Credit History? The Best Credit Cards for You

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

capital one secured MasterCard

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is the ideal choice for first-time credit card applicants who don’t have a credit history yet or for applicants with prior credit problems.

Secured credit cards work just like other cards with the exception that you must make a security deposit when opening the account. This money will be returned to you when you close the account or when your account becomes eligible to be upgraded to an unsecured card.

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has no annual fee and provides an initial credit line of $200 after you make a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, which will depend on your credit history.

Sure, $200 isn’t a large credit line, and there are no rewards associated with this card. But, keep in mind that the purpose of a secured credit card is to help you build your credit score in a responsible way so that one day you will have access other kinds of rewards cards. Finally, you’ll get access to a higher credit line after you make your first five payments on time—there’s no additional deposit needed.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: $49, $99, or $200

Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard®

capital one secured MasterCard
  • an unsecured credit card available to applicants with poor credit

The Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard® is an unsecured credit card available to applicants with poor credit histories.

Again, because this card offers a chance of approval to people with bad credit, there are no rewards or other frills.

However, the Milestone® card is an unsecured credit card, meaning you don’t have to make a security deposit before using it.

There is, however, an annual fee that will vary based on your creditworthiness at the time of application.

  • Annual fee: $35 – $99 (depending on creditworthiness)
  • Security deposit: None required

Finding the Best Credit Cards for Millennials

With so many good credit cards to choose from, how do you choose the best credit card for you?

Finding the best credit card for you will be easier if you know how you want to use your rewards and where you spend the most.

Cashback credit cards provide the most straightforward rewards. When you’ve accumulated enough cash back, you can simply apply the credit to your bill or deposit them to your checking account.

Travel cards, on the other hand, let you redeem points or miles for airfare, hotel stays, and more. With some cards, you can be selective about how you redeem your rewards and actually get more value from your miles than you would receive in straight cash back. Plus, sometimes free travel simply “feels” more like a reward than a statement credit.

If your spending is average, I’ve found that you’ll likely earn the most rewards by choosing a simple cash back credit card. The most rewarding cash back credit cards are actually Chase Freedom® and Discover it® Cash Back, which let you earn up to 5% cash back on a certain amount of purchases in categories that change each quarter. However, you have to remember to “activate” the 5% each quarter—as well as pay attention to where you’re spending. If that sounds like a hassle, then stick with a straightforward cash back card like the Capital One® Quicksilver® card.

If you spend more than a couple thousand dollars per month, on average, or your spending is concentrated on travel or dining, you’ll likely earn more from a premium travel rewards credit card. And if you travel even just a few times per year, the additional travel perks on some of these cards make them a no-brainer.

If you’re like me, you may even end up with multiple premium credit cards simply because the travel perks are so valuable. Between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Delta Reserve Amex that I carry, I get free TSA Pre-check, free checked bags on Delta, lounge access on multiple airlines, priority boarding on Delta, accelerated elite status with Delta, and more. Together, these perks almost make flying fun.

That said, the most important thing is to manage your spending effectively. If you get so blinded by credit card rewards that you’re overspending and then paying interest when you can’t pay your credit card bill in full, you’re not getting ahead.

The best advice I can give is to know yourself: If you’re not fully in control of your spending and have no hesitation that you’ll pay your balance in full each month, be wary of using credit cards too much until you’ve got your spending mastered.

When you’re there, make the most of your credit card’s reward schemes and use it to boost your credit score over time. And, most importantly, have fun with it – I love keeping track of the cash back I earned as well as other perks and rewards I get.

David Weliver

David Weliver

David Weliver is the Credit Cards Editor at Millennial Money. He is the Founder of Money Under 30 and is widely regarded as one of the top credit card rewards experts in the world. David has been writing about personal finance and credit cards since 2006 and been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and many others.
David Weliver

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