Find and apply for a credit card that’s right for you

Even some of the best credit cards are not right for everyone. Learn how to choose and apply for a card that matches your lifestyle and goals.

Even some of the best credit cards are not right for everyone. Learn how to choose and apply for a card that matches your lifestyle and goals.

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor's Business Daily.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • $120 Uber Cash: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

American Express® Business Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
  • Earn up to $300 in statement credits on eligible U.S. advertising and U.S. shipping purchases. Terms and cap apply.
  • More Rewards: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. **
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option with interest to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
  • *Terms Apply

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

Citi Rewards+® Card

Citi Rewards+® Card

  • The Citi Rewards+® Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor's Business Daily.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • $120 Uber Cash: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

  • Unlimited Bonus: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • New! Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR
Regular APR
Intro Balance Transfers APR

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

Why apply for a credit card?

Applying for a credit card can be a key step in achieving your financial goals. Unlike debit and prepaid cards, credit cards can help you achieve a credit score that will qualify you for the best interest rates on mortgages and loans. Owning a credit card can help you in a variety of other ways, too:

Build credit

If you’re rebuilding your credit after a financial misstep or if you’re brand new to credit, getting a credit card can be the first step in achieving good or excellent credit. Applying for a credit card with a low credit score requirement is your best option for being approved since you likely won’t qualify for the best credit cards at first.

On the other hand, your options are numerous if you already have good credit and simply want to open another line of credit. Though your credit score may take a temporary hit after applying, the increase to your total credit available will likely outweigh the drop in the long term. Read our full guide to understand how your FICO credit score is calculated.

Earn rewards

Most everyone has defined spending habits – from the travel enthusiast to the foodie to the ultra-practical family man or woman. By applying for a rewards credit card, you can start earning bonus cash back, points or airline miles on your most frequent spending categories.

Common rewards categories include grocery stores, dining and entertainment, and travel purchases. And if you’re not sure about a particular category, you can always choose a flat-rate card, which will reward you at a standard rate for all purchases.

Travel benefits

Travel insurance, a TSA PreCheck credit, free checked bags, lounge access and no foreign transaction fees are common credit card perks that make traveling more comfortable and cost-efficient. Travel credit cards often come with annual fees, but frequent travelers can easily get their money’s worth and more by using the card’s benefits.

Financing large purchases

Whether you’ve had to make an unplanned purchase or you simply prefer to split up payments over several months, applying for a credit card can help. By taking advantage of a card with a 0% introductory period, you can spread payments out for more than a year in some cases, while paying no extra in interest.

How to apply for a credit card

Check your credit score

It’s important to know where you stand before applying for a credit card; many credit card issuers explicitly state the credit range required for each card. So if you know your credit score, you can narrow your search to the best cards within your credit range, and you won’t waste time applying for cards that you won’t qualify for.

Checking your credit score is also helpful because you may uncover mistakes on your credit report that you can dispute and have removed. If your score is surprisingly low, check your credit reports for incorrect late payments and other negative items that could be harming your credit. You can check them for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

There are several ways to check your credit score. Most lenders will see your FICO® score, which you can access for free through many financial institutions and credit bureaus. Visit the FICO® Score website for a full list of where to find your FICO® score.

Choose your credit card

Now that you know your credit score, the rest of your decision depends on personal preferences. What kinds of purchases do you frequently make? Do you want to earn cash back or travel points and miles? Will you pay your balance in full each month? The answer to each of these questions will determine which credit card you should apply for.

Some factors you’ll want to consider include:

  • Rewards categories
  • Redemption options
  • Interest rates
  • Annual fees
  • Sign up bonuses

Weighing each of these factors will lead you to the most informed decision about which credit card is right for you.

Find out if you pre-qualify

Some banks will use a soft inquiry – one that won’t hurt your credit – to tell you if you’re likely to be approved. You’ll still need to fill out a formal application in order to be approved, but prequalification is generally reliable in predicting approval. Use our Cardmatch tool to find out in less than 60 seconds which credit cards you’re pre-qualified for – you may also receive special offers, like a boosted welcome offer.

Apply online

Once you’ve picked your favorite credit card, it’s time to apply. Applications are usually simple; you’ll probably know most of the required information off the top of your head. Information you’ll usually need to provide on a credit card application includes:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Type of residence
  • Phone number
  • Annual income
  • Social Security number

One thing to note is that income doesn’t just mean your personal income. You may include any income that you have “reasonable expectation of access” to, according to a 2013 amendment to the CARD Act, which makes it much easier for stay-at-home spouses and partners to qualify for credit cards.

Before hitting submit on your application, be sure you have read all terms and conditions. It pays to do your research so that you don’t get hit with surprise fees or penalties. If you’re confused about the fine print, you can always call the issuer directly.

How to increase your odds of approval

Increase your credit score

Having good or excellent credit not only boosts your approval odds but also qualifies you for the best interest rates. Here are a few ways you can make sure your credit score is at its best before applying.

  • Check your credit reports. Late payments and unpaid debt can be reported by lenders and pull your score down. They can’t be removed unless they are reported inaccurately or until enough time has passed. However, if you find an error in your report, alert the 3 major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Pay down any existing debt. One of FICO’s 5 factors is your credit utilization, or the percentage of your available credit that you’re currently borrowing. There’s no magic number, but it’s good to keep your utilization under 30%. If it’s much higher, your score could suffer.
  • Ask for a credit limit increase. Increasing the total amount of credit you have access to can also lower your total utilization, without you actually paying off any debt. It’s simple to ask – just call your bank. A poll by CreditCards.com found that 85% of those who requested a credit limit increase were granted one.
  • Become an authorized user. If you know someone with a good credit history who trusts you with their card information, you can build credit by becoming an authorized user on their credit card. That account will start to show up on your credit, and you’ll benefit from his or her on-time payments.

Avoid applying for multiple credit cards in a short amount of time

A credit card application results in a hard inquiry, which can temporarily drop your score by about 5-10 points. This can be compounded by an increase in new credit, which accounts for about 10% of your credit score. Having several new accounts can reflect poorly on your credit as well.

You should choose one card that you’re confident about getting approved for, and wait until you receive an approval or denial before applying for another credit card.

What to do if you’re denied

Understand why

If your application is denied, you should know why before applying for another card or giving up. The good news is that issuers are legally obligated to tell you why they denied your application if the reason lies within your credit report, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Issuers will usually send a rejection letter or email, stating one or more reasons why they decided not to lend to you. The letter will also give you instructions for obtaining your credit report for free, as you are entitled to do after being denied a credit card.

Some common reasons for application denial include low credit score, high card balances, low income, too many recent credit inquiries, too many credit cards, recent delinquency or unpaid bills, limited credit history, or limited employment history.

Once you understand the reason your application was denied, you can take the necessary steps to improve your credit or increase your odds of approval.

Check your information

If you’re surprised about being denied, you should examine your credit reports thoroughly to make sure there aren’t any mistakes. If you do find an incorrect item, you can dispute it by sending a letter to the responsible credit bureau.

You should also review the information you provided on the application. Perhaps a typo caused you to enter your income incorrectly.

Consider calling the issuer’s reconsideration line

If you’ve assessed the reason for your denial and determined that you weren’t far off from approval, call the issuer’s reconsideration line.

Now, if you applied for a card that requires excellent credit while having poor credit, you probably won’t be able to talk your way to approval. However, you may be able to call the issuer and politely explain the situation, citing your timely recent payments and steadily improving credit. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you are approved, you’ll have the card you wanted and save yourself an additional credit inquiry.

Apply for a card you can be approved for

After assessing your credit profile, you may want to pursue a different card.

  • Secured credit cards often have low credit score requirements and are a great way to build credit.
  • Requirements vary between issuers, so you may have better luck with a different issuer. Check out our picks for the best credit cards from different issuers.