Finance has come a long way in the past two decades.

We've got instant digital payments, cryptographic currencies—as well as robo advisors and AI handling our retirement savings.

Virtually every aspect of the industry has been impacted, including credit cards.

But what exactly has technology done in this space? And are 'fintech' credit cards any different from those issued by legacy banks?

Keep reading to find out.

What is fintech, exactly?

As you may have guessed, the term fintech combines the words “financial” and “technology.”

While it’s thrown around loosely, it typically refers to the tech that’s rapidly displacing traditional financial services. Think cloud computing, mobile wallets like Apple Pay, big data, and, increasingly, artificial intelligence.

Fintech firms are often Silicon Valley-based, with a technology-first focus. And their mission is to disrupt the status quo in banking with faster, cheaper, and better products and services.

What are fintech credit cards, and how do they compare to traditional ones?

Like most finance areas, fintech has aimed at traditional credit cards. While many similarities exist with conventional cards, distinctions remain:

  • Digital-focused: Fintech credit card firms prioritize the digital experience, like detailed dashboard analytics. In rare cases, they don’t even offer physical cards.
  • Personalization: Fintech banks - or neobanks as they’re often called - leverage data analytics to offer clients customized solutions. This might include personalized recommendations, rewards, and spending insight.
  • Real-time alerts: Fintech cards often have real-time notifications that track usage and help prevent fraudulent activity.
  • Lower cost: Minimal overhead, like no physical branches, can allow fintech credit cards to offer reduced fees.

Pros and cons of fintech credit cards

Fintech credit cards often include innovative featuresUsually no physical branches
They typically include an easier application process compared to traditional cardsPotentially operating on a more fragile network since they wholly depend on technology (i.e., managed 100% online)
By leveraging data science, fintech credit cards offer personalized services, like bespoke financial adviceBecause they’re entirely online, fintech credit cards are more susceptible to cyberattacks
In many cases, these cards offer lower interest ratesFintech firms usually provide a relatively limited range of services compared to legacy banks
Often, these cards have lower fees compared to traditional cards

Top five fintech credit cards

While the space may be young, the number of cards available is extensive.

To help assess which is right for you, below is a shortlist of the top five based on APRs, issuer reputation, services, rewards, and unique benefits.

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa: The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa offers an impressive 3% cash back on home, auto, and health categories. The card can also act as a personal loan. This means holders can send funds to their bank account at a fixed interest rate plus a 5% cash advance.

  • Purchase APR: 14.99%-29.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Perks: Unlimited cash back on payments, including 3% on certain large purchases
Pros: Cons:
No annual feeAPR can be high
No prepayment penalty
Ability to qualify with an average credit score
  • Perfect for: Individuals looking for exceptional rewards compared to a traditional card. It’s particularly valuable for anyone who plans to make a lot of purchases in the home, auto, and health categories.

Gemini Credit Card: The Gemini credit card is the only crypto-focused card on the list. It uses the Mastercard network, ensuring it’s accepted widely. The best part? Rewards are instantaneous, meaning you receive crypto back immediately after every purchase.

  • Purchase APR: 17.99%-29.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Perks: 3% back on dining (up to $6,000 annually)
Pros: Cons:
Receive a minimum of 1% back in crypto on all purchasesNo discounted introductory APR
No exchange fees are incurred when earning cryptocurrency rewards
Conveniently manage your card from the Gemini app
  • Perfect for: Crypto users looking to earn rewards in one of 60 digital currencies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others

GO2bank Secured Visa: The GO2bank Secured Visa is an excellent option for those with poor credit. It’s the only secured credit card on the list, meaning you’ll need to provide a deposit equal to your credit limit. While it doesn’t offer generous rewards like some of its peers, you can acquire the card with no credit check.

  • Purchase APR: 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Perks: No credit check is needed to apply
Pros: Cons:
To help improve your score, Go2Bank automatically reports your credit standing to the three major bureaus monthlyHigher APR than other fintech credit cards
No rewards program
  • Perfect for: Individuals with poor credit looking to rebuild their score

SoFi Credit Card: SoFi offers a straightforward card where you can earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases.

  • Purchase APR: 17.49%-29.49%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Perks: Obtain a 1% discount on your APR when you make 12 consecutive on-time payments
No foreign transaction feesRequires “Good” credit or higher
Encourages responsible credit card use through a discounted APR
  • Perfect for: Individuals with solid credit looking for generous rewards from an established online bank

Apple Card: It probably comes as no surprise that the company that brought us Apple Pay would also release a credit card. So far, Apple Card is only available in the U.S. If you’re eligible and own an iPhone, this card offers a competitive APR and cashback on every purchase.

  • Purchase APR: 15.74%-26.74%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Perks: 3% daily cashback from numerous companies, like Exxon, TMobile, and Nike
Pros: Cons:
A minimum of 2% daily cashback when you use your Apple Card (and 3% with affiliated businesses)You need an iPhone to use the card
Detailed spending breakdown directly on your iPhone
No hidden fees
  • Perfect for: iPhone enthusiasts with good credit who want to integrate their credit cards into the Apple ecosystem.