Cool Credit Cards: Best Terms, Designs & Trends

Selected by WalletHub Editors from 1,000+ credit cards — Jan 18, 2018

“Cool” is a subjective term that few people associate with credit cards. Sure, celebrities flashing black cards may seem pretty sweet. But how cool can us common folk really look when we pull out our plastic at the gas station or grocery store?

It depends on your definition of cool. We

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“Cool” is a subjective term that few people associate with credit cards. Sure, celebrities flashing black cards may seem pretty sweet. But how cool can us common folk really look when we pull out our plastic at the gas station or grocery store?

It depends on your definition of cool. We think the coolest thing about a credit card is its ability to save you money. And in that sense, credit cards are about as cool as they’ve ever been, offering $400+ sign-up bonuses, $1,000+ in savings from 0% intro rates and fuel for credit-score improvement. Other people might want fancy new card materials, custom designs or an air of exclusivity.

With these differing conceptions of cool considered, WalletHub’s editors compared more than 1,000 offers (including cards from WalletHub partners) to identify the coolest cards on the market in two major categories: 1) those with the sexiest savings potential and 2) the coolest looking.

This content is not provided or commissioned by any issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of an issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by an issuer.

2018's cool credit cards


You can check out the rest of our selections below, followed by an in-depth look at the latest credit card trends. If you’re worried your card’s social cache, you should review our picks for the year’s most exclusive credit cards, too. Finally, if you’re interested in the other side of the equation, our picks for the 2018’s worst Credit Cards would have to be the least-cool offers on the market.
 

Coolest Credit Card for Rewards (Overall)

Coolest Credit Card for Rewards (Overall)

This card stands out in terms of both initial and ongoing value, offering a $400 travel credit to users who spend at least $3K in the first 90 days as well as the miles-equivalent of 2% cash back across all purchases. This card does not charge a first-year fee, but an annual fee of $89 applies thereafter.

Coolest Credit Card for Cash Back

Coolest Credit Card for Cash Back

If you’re a responsible credit card user who values straightforward, consistently valuable rewards, then this is the offer for you. It provides 1% cash back across all purchases as well as another 1% cash back on monthly payments. It doesn’t charge an annual fee either.

Coolest Credit Card for Hotel Rewards

Coolest Credit Card for Hotel Rewards

Nearly two-weeks’ worth of free nights at hotel chains like Radisson and Country Inn & Suites is pretty darn cool, and that’s just what this card offers to users who spend at least $2,500 within the first 90 days

While it does charge a $75 annual fee, you also get a host of assorted ongoing benefits, such as a 40K-point annual anniversary bonus and high earning rates at Club Carlson properties.

Coolest Credit Cards for Financing

Coolest Credit Cards for Financing

If you have a big-ticket purchase in your future, make sure to include both this card and our Debt Payment Calculator in your planning process. The former gives you a 15-month interest-free intro period, while the latter will help you determine what monthly payments you’ll need to make in order to be debt free by the time high regular rates take effect.

Rates & Fees  | Terms Apply
While not quite as cool as the Sapphire Preferred Card from Chase, Amex’s Blue Cash Card is made out of clear plastic and does indeed look pretty nice.

Coolest Credit Card Material

Coolest Credit Card Material

This card – which also happens to have a 50,000 bonus points offer – is made out of titanium and is both heavier and thicker than a normal credit card. If you’re trying to impress cashiers, plunking this baby down will do the trick.

Coolest Credit Card Design

Coolest Credit Card Design

Capital One gives all cardholders the option of customizing their card with a custom image. Users can thereby express themselves with pictures of family, pets, favorite vacation spots, etc. And applying for a new card gets you a metal card.



Cool Credit Card Trends

Like any trend, those permeating the credit card landscape are fleeting by nature and typically have forces well beyond our control – such as economic fluctuations, technological advances or Illuminati ideas – as their foundation.

We can, however, strive to identify and understand these trends as they emerge, thereby using this knowledge to save money in our day-to-day lives and perhaps even make more insightful investing decisions. Here are a few of the trends that we’re eyeing these days:
  • Cards Within a Card: Coin is the most prominent example of this technology, which allows users to “load” their credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, gift cards and membership cards to a single “connected” card. When it comes time to make a purchase or otherwise use a loaded card, the user simply presses a button and selects the card they intend to use. Coin costs $100, plus taxes and shipping fees. Coin’s main competitors are Plastc ($155) and Swype ($99).

  • Valuable Initial Perks: One of the ways we track credit card trends is by conducting quarterly credit card landscape reports. Our most recent reports have revealed that credit card issuers are continuing to sweeten their initial rewards bonuses and 0% balance transfer offers, which have the potential to save qualified applicants $400 - $1K+. You can find the best of these offers on our Best Credit Card Deals page.

  • Photo Credit Cards: We look at our credit cards so often, that it might be nice to diffuse the pain of making payments with a nice to see picture of your family or pet, for example. With that being said, it’s imperative that you don’t settle for inferior terms in order to get it. Capital One is one major issuer that allows users to customize any card – which happen to include some of the market’s leading offers – with images of their choosing. That’s not to say you should only compare Capital One cards, but rather that options exist to have your cake and eat it too – at least as far as visuals and value are concerned. To compare all of the credit card offers with custom image capabilities, check out our Photo Credit Cards page.

  • Chip-Based EMV Smart Cards: Many of the aforementioned cards already fit into this category, and the rest soon will. You see, the U.S. is in the process of migrating to a payments system based on computer chips embedded in credit cards and debit cards for added security. Until these cards are fully rolled out, having one might seem pretty cool. If you want to compare all of the credit cards currently using EMV chips, check out our EMV Credit Cards page. And if you want to learn more about the technology underpinning these products, take a look at our article on the difference between Chip-and-PIN and Chip-and-Signature credit cards.

  • Apple Pay: Apple Pay obviously isn’t a credit card, but it’s a new way to use your credit cards. Rather than swiping your plastic (or metal) at the check-out counter, you simply waive your iPhone under a special sensor. Apple Pay isn’t widely accepted enough to completely replace your credit card as of yet, but that probably adds to its cool-factor in the meantime.

Bottom Line: Prioritize Key Terms – Again, it’s important to note that “cool” is a subjective perspective. To some people, the coolest thing you can do is get a credit card that will enable you to maximize savings. To others, cool means representing an affinity or showcasing a special memory. Then there folks who want to get a credit card that few others have. We tend to fall into the first camp, although the latter two groups don’t necessarily need to sacrifice value in favor of their other priorities. Whatever the case, it’s important to keep the following in mind. You first need to figure out which terms are most important to you: rewards for those who always pay in full and 0% rates for those who don’t, for example. Then determine which of the cards you can qualify for offers the best terms in that category.

For your convenience, we’ll recap WalletHub’s picks for the coolest credit cards on the market, which all offer a lot whole of substance to complement their stylish features.

Here are 2018's cool credit cards:

 

Coolest... Card Name Editors’ Rating Why It’s Cool Annual Fee Min. Credit Required
Material Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 4.5 / 5 Metal card $0 Intro for the First Year, $95 after Excellent
Design Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 5.0 / 5 Customizable image & metal card $0 for 1st yr, $95 after Good
Overall Rewards Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® 5.0 / 5 $400+ initial bonus & 2%+ back on all purchases None 1st yr, $89 after Excellent
Cash Back Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 5.0 / 5 1% cash back on purchases & 1% back on payments $0* Good


If you’re unsure about whether you can qualify for one of the coolest cards, checking your latest credit score for free on WalletHub will give you a good sense of your approval odds.
 
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Nowadays, a number of credit cards are made of metal, at least in part. Issuers don’t always disclose exactly what materials their cards are made from, you see. And there’s usually more than one ingredient, as alloys, or combinations of metallic elements, are generally used. But you don’t need to be a metals expert to understand that the following cards are much heavier than your standard plastic credit card for a reason.
 

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Some credit cards are heavy because they’re made of metal, or some similar material that is heavier than plastic. Having a heavy card is meant to stand out and leave an impression on onlookers when it’s plopped down on a counter or table. But a heavy card isn’t necessarily a better card. The rates, rewards and fees a card offers are all that really matter.

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The annual percentage rate on a credit card reflects the cost of carrying an unpaid balance for a year. In other words, it’s how much interest you will have to pay. For example, a $10,000 balance on a card with a 15% APR would grow to $11,500 in year’s time, assuming no payments or additional payments are made.

You can learn more about how annual percentage rates work from WalletHub’s APR guide.