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.
Updated: June 19, 2018
Here is a summary of our top picks in an easy to read table. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
CreditCards.com's best credit cards of 2018 by category
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - Travel Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - Overall Rewards
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express - Everyday Spending
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - Flat-rate Rewards
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® - No Annual Fee
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express - Balance Transfers
- Discover it® Cash Back - 0% Intro APR
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card - Gas Rewards
- Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card - Sign-up Bonus
- Chase Freedom® - Low Interest
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - No Foreign Transaction Fee
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® - Airline Miles
- Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card - Small Business
- Capital One® Platinum Credit Card - Fair Credit
- Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards - Bad Credit
- Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® - College Students
Types of credit cards we considered in our research
Out of the 3,476 cards we analyzed to get to the top 16, here's how it broke down by category (certain credit cards overlap across several categories).
|Type||Number of Credit Cards|
|No annual fee||2,744|
|0% introductory APR||1,002|
|No foreign transaction fee||938|
|No credit history||264|
A Guide Finding the Best Credit Cards for You
The card you choose for your financial life is as individual as the clothes you wear or the car you drive. You might be on the hunt for the perfect balance transfer card. Or you could have your eye on the right travel card for you. Whatever the reason, the best card for you awaits. At CreditCards.com, we researched and evaluated hundreds of offers to help you find the best credit cards across several different categories. Along with our picks for the best cards, we go over a few things to know about the world of credit cards. Here, we look at:
Whether you aren't sure how many cards you should own or you want to understand what factors to consider when choosing the best credit card, we can help.
What is my credit score?
Your credit score is basically your financial report card. It's used by lenders to assess your creditworthiness to decide what lending products to grant you and the terms of those products. For example, if you have a FICO score of at least 740 on a scale of 300-850, you have a greater chance of getting the best interest rates on a car loan.
Here's how it works:
- Your credit habits are reported to the 3 major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, by your lenders.
- Those credit habits are used by credit score models FICO and VantageScore to assign you a score.
- Prospective lenders, landlords, insurance agencies and others look at that credit score to assess your creditworthiness.
- You are granted or denied lending products based in part on the score you've been assigned.
How to get a credit score
- Get your VantageScore for free through CreditCards.com. Vantage follows 6 criteria, including on-time payments and available credit. You can also get your TransUnion credit report through CreditCards.com.
- Enjoy getting your score for free. Many credit card issuers offer free access to your credit score as a benefit of holding one of their cards. If this is a deal-breaker, find out which cards you are looking at might offer credit scores. Many offer the score once a month.
- Access your FICO score. The dominant scoring model, FICO sells its scores for about $20 each. There are three scores available, one for each of the major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. There is no need to check all three simultaneously.
What makes up a credit score?
On-time payments, or payment history, figure heavily into the dominant scoring model, FICO, making up 35% of the score's criteria pie. Payment history is extremely influential in the VantageScore model.
How much you owe compared to how much credit you have available makes up 30% of the FICO pie. It's highly influential in the VantageScore, while available credit is less influential. Total balances or debt are considered moderately influential.
Length of credit history.
How long you have been building credit is a consideration to a lesser degree, making up 15% of the FICO scoring model. Age of accounts is highly influential with VantageScore.
This metric makes up 10% of your FICO score, which means you'll want to avoid opening new accounts unnecessarily. VantageScore ranks this as less influential.
Ten percent of your FICO score, you are encouraged to have a mix of credit types such as revolving (typically credit cards) and installment (such as mortgages and car loans). Credit mix is highly influential in VantageScore.
What are the credit score ranges?
|FICO Category||FICO Range||VantageScore Category||VantageScore Range|
Different types of benefits you can get with your credit card
Credit cards offer a host of benefits, ranging from lost luggage reimbursement to access to the card issuer's travel portal, complete with boosted points.
Whether you are on the road or traveling by plane, travel cards can provide unexpected benefits worthy of your attention. The result? Hassle-free travel and even saved dollars with such benefits as Chase Sapphire Reserve's $300 annual travel credit. Here are 8 top travel benefits:
- Free checked bags
- Access to airport lounges
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Roadside dispatch
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
- Airline fee credit
- Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Products such as travel cards, general-purpose rewards cards and cashback cards can provide superior savings with outstanding sign-up bonuses on most rewards cards, free breakfast at select hotel brands such as Hilton Honors, and even access to special events through such programs as Mastercard's World Elite program.
- Signup bonus
- Purchase rewards in miles, points or cash back
- Points for travel, gift cards, merchandise or entertainment
- Percentage boost for use of issuer's travel portal
- Special benefits at member hotels, including early check-in and late check-out, as well as free breakfast
- Access to special sporting, theater and dining events, as well as other experiences
Cards on the market today have a multitude of features and advantages, from no foreign transaction fee to U.S.-based customer service. Look carefully at what the cards you are eyeing have to offer, because the possibilities may surprise you.
- Zero liability protection
- 24/7 concierge
- 24/7 customer service
- U.S.-based customer service
- Shopping portal
- No foreign transaction fee
- No annual fee
- EMV chip technology
- Cellphone insurance
Most popular types of credit cards
We asked cardholders what they love most about their favorite credit cards and why they chose them. Overwhelmingly, rewards ruled. In the poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates Jan. 19-22, 2017, 1,003 consumers were polled, with a subset of 670 cardholders.
Peoples' favorite credit card benefits
- Rewards/cash back - 40%
- Low interest - 21%
- Accepted most places - 16%
- Easy to get - 8%
- Low fees - 5%
- Customer service - 4%
- Other - 3%
Reasons people choose their favorite credit cards
- Rewards/cash back - 24%
- Low interest rate - 18%
- Easy to get - 14%
- Accepted most places - 12%
- Brand of card - 7%
- Low fees - 5%
- Customer service - 4%
- Sign-up bonus - 2%
- Other - 9%
How to make the most out of each type of card
How you use your card depends on the type of card you go with. For example, you'll want to use a secured card primarily for building credit, while a travel card is great for earning miles. Here are 8 types of cards and how best to use them.
Rather than using this card for convenience, focus on building your credit. Just make sure the card issuer will report your good credit habits to the 3 major credit bureaus.
This is a good card to practice on. Take advantage of the rewards, but pay in full at the end of each payment period.
An excellent option for building credit while earning rewards. Make sure you pay on time and in full each month.
Check out whether there is a balance transfer fee (some BT cards don't have one) and make sure you choose a card with terms you can live up to.
Look at whether the card has an annual fee and if the categories are ones you'll actually use.
Study the sign-up bonus and make sure you can spend (and pay back) the minimum limit within the required timeframe. Also, see if the rewards are ones you will actually use and enjoy.
This type of card can have nice travel rewards, although the annual fee can be steep. Check out the benefits, such as priority boarding and preferred seating, to see if they are experiences you will use.
A great card for the traveler who doesn't love it. Superior benefits can include room upgrades, access to airport lounges, high-end gifts and 24/7 concierge service. The annual fee will likely be pricey.
Common rewards categories
If you look at the best credit cards on the market, you will be sure to find many rewards cards among them. There are several different ways to take advantage of these credit cards to maximize your earnings; below are some of the most popular categories and our research on the best credit cards in each one.
Typical fees and rates to watch out for
No matter how rewarding your card, it's crucial that you understand the rates and fees you could face depending on how you treat the card and how the card treats you. Don't let an annual fee sneak up on you or allow a late payment to slam you with a late fee. Here are 13 of the most common rates and fees.
An annual fee is often your tradeoff for convenience or excellent rewards. While rewards cards and credit-builder cards often have annual fees, there are plenty of cards without them. This fee can go into the hundreds of dollars, but it's sometimes waived the first year.
Foreign transaction fee
When you make a purchase that goes through a foreign bank, whether online or while you are traveling, many cards charge a foreign transaction fee. Typically, they are 3%-5%, but increasingly card issuers are offering products with no foreign transaction fee, so check.
A late payment fee is charged to a borrower who misses paying at least their minimum payment by the payment deadline. In a 3-month period, 1 in 5 consumers pays a late fee, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Some cards, such as the Discover it Balance Transfer, waive the first late fee, but it can be up to $38 for failing to pay on time.
Balance transfer fee
A balance transfer fee is a fee charged by a credit card company to transfer a balance from one account to another. Typically a fee of $5-$10 or 3%-5%, whichever is greater. Occasionally this fee is waived when you transfer a balance to a new card.
A returned payment fee is charged by a credit card issuer if you pay your bill with a check that bounces. Can run $38.
An over-limit fee is a fee charged when your balance goes over your credit limit. This is often waived, but you can run the risk of having your limit lowered or the account even closed if you abuse the terms of the contract.
A cash advance fee is a charge that a credit card issuer charges a customer for accessing the cash credit line on his or her account. This can be $10 or 5% of the amount advanced, whichever is greater.
The rules vary by card processing company, but in general, a convenience fee is allowed when payment by credit card is an alternative form of payment not ordinarily accepted by a merchant or service provider. For example, you might pay a 2%-4% convenience fee for using your card to pay income taxes.
Additional card fee
Credit-builder cards sometimes have added unspecified fees, which will be in the rates & fees section of the card's landing page. They can be a monthly charge for having the card, an expedited telephone convenience fee, a billing statement copy fee, and more. They will typically be in the body of the rates & fees copy, rather than in the Schumer Box at the top, where the more common fees are mentioned.
A purchase rate is the interest rate charged on regular purchases put on a credit card. Each month that you carry a balance, you face an interest charge. They are typically variable, and can be under 10% or over 25%.
The penalty rate, also called the default rate, is the very high interest rate charged by the credit card issuer, as much as 29.99%, when a borrower violates the card's terms and conditions.
Cash advance rate
When consumers take out cash advances, they are usually charged a higher rate.
APR for balance transfers
This might be 0% for a limited time, up to 21 months, then it reverts to a higher rate, called the go-to rate, which is usually the variable purchase rate. The national average APR is currently 16.71%.
Can I get my rates or fees waived?
Some rates or fees can be waived or lowered by simply picking up the phone and calling. In fact, we found that of those who asked, 85% received a higher credit limit simply by asking. Our poll, conducted by YouGov, found that just asking can be rewarding:
Of consumers who asked about rates and fees...
- Received a higher credit limit
- Got a late fee waived
- Had an annual fee waived or lowered
- Got a lower interest rate (APR)
When is it worth having a fee?
Some fees, such as late fees, should be avoided at all costs. But others may be worth your while, depending on the type.
For example, a card with an annual fee will frequently have more robust rewards, and the annual fee may be waived the first year:
Is an annual fee worth it?
|Card||Sign-up Bonus||Ongoing Rewards||Annual Fee||End of First Year Total|
|Capital One Venture Rewards||50,000 miles/$3,000 spend in 3 mths||2X miles x $1,000/mth=24,000||$95 waived first yr||$500+$240=$740|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards||20,000 miles/$1,000 spend in 3 mths||1.25X miles x $1,000/mth=15,000||$0||$200+$150=$350|
In the same way, the advantages of a balance transfer card may outweigh the expense of a balance transfer fee. For example, you might want to look at the intro period's length or whether there is an intro period for purchases:
Is a balance transfer fee worth it?
|Card||BT Fee||0% Intro APR Period||Regular APR||Monthly Payment|
|Amex EveryDay||$0/first 60 days||15 months||14.74% - 25.74% (Variable)||$1,500/15 mths=$100/mth|
|Citi Double Cash||$5 or 3% ($45 for $1,500)||18 months||15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)||$1,500/18 mths=$83.33/mth|
So you can see that even though you pay a $45 balance transfer fee with the Citi Double Cash, your monthly, interest-free payment for the limited-time offer is $83 compared to $100 for the Amex EveryDay. This makes it worth your while if you need more time to pay off your balance transfer.
Best way to use your credit card
- How will you spend on your card? Figure out if you are a big foodie, always going to new restaurants or buying groceries, or if you like to max out your points on rotating categories.
- How will you pay on your card? If you feel certain you can pay in full each month, a rewards card is a great choice, because you'll be saving on interest fees. If you need to get a handle on your debt and you are ready to pay down on your balance, look at a balance transfer card.
- How will you save on your card? Look at whether you will actually use the points or miles your card gives you. If you aren't loyal to a specific brand, a general purpose travel card is best. If you want statement credits, look at cashback cards.
- What's the worst thing you can do with your card? If you forget to pay your bill on time, it's a promise you'll set back your credit score, possibly to a lower tier.
- What's the best thing you can do with your card? If you pay in full and on time each month, putting at least a small charge on it, your credit score can get an incredible boost within a few short months.
- What's the best thing you can do with your card (Part II)? Spend as much as you can on your card (only what you were going to spend anyway and if you have the money to pay it back by the due date) to maximize your rewards earnings.
How many credit cards should I own?
FICO discovered a bit of a surprise in 2012 when it looked at what it calls "high achievers," or consumers with a score of greater than 785 out of a possible 850. These consumers:
- Have an average of 7 cards, both closed and open.
- They have an average of 4 cards or loans with balances.
- Some 58% didn't open a new account in the last year.
- Their most recent account is an average of 28 months.
- The oldest account is an average of 25 years.
What does this mean? Simply that it isn't that the most successful consumers are debt-free, but that they are responsible with their debt. Also, fewer accounts aren't necessarily better; rather it's how you handle the account that matters.
How many are too many credit cards?
You can have one card, and it's too many, or 5 and it's just enough. It all has to do with how you manage your cards and what you are using them for.
A winning wallet
|BankAmericard Rewards||Oldest account||Build credit|
|Gold Delta Skymiles from American Express||2X miles on eligible Delta purchases||Earn Delta Skymiles|
|Capital One Platinum||Free authorized users||Let authorized users build credit|
As you can see, each card has a purpose. But how do you keep up with payments and annual fees when you have this many cards?
How do I manage multiple credit cards?
Here's an example of a spreadsheet you can create to keep track of your credit card accounts. Below that, we've listed some tips to get you started with managing multiple credit cards.
|Card||Amount Owed||Due Date||When Paid|
|BankAmericard Rewards||$500||Due 4/1/18||Pd in full 3/10/18|
|Gold Delta Skymiles from American Express||$25 min. due/$225 balance||Due 4/1/18||Need to pay|
|Capital One Platinum||$0||Due date 4/2/18||$0 owed|
- Identify what you need a card for. Are you building credit? Would you like to get cash back? If you plan to have multiple rewards cards, figure out how you will use each one.
- Put your card expenses on your budget. You can have a row on the left for card expenses, a row for types of expenses in the middle and a row for expenses you pay out of your checking account on the right.
- Line the due dates up so that they are around the same time each month. Many card issuers will allow you to do this.
- Create a spreadsheet. Include the card name, the amount owed, the due date, and when it was paid. Plan to check it the same time each week to make sure you aren't missing any bills and that you aren't going over budget.
- Pay them off several times a month. This ensures that you don't pay interest and it keeps your credit utilization ratio low, which is good for your credit.
Best Credit Cards of 2018: Expert Picks and Comparison
|Credit Card||Best For…||Annual Fee||CreditCards.com Rating||Rewards Rate|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Travel Rewards||$95 waived first year||4.4 / 5||10X on hotels|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Overall Rewards||$95 waived first year||4.2 / 5||2X on travel and dining|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Everyday Spending||$0||3.3 / 5||3% at US supermarkets|
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Card||Flat-rate Rewards||$0||3.5 / 5||1.5% on everything|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||No Annual Fee||$0||3.4 / 5||1.5% on everything|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||Balance Transfers||$0||3.7 / 5||2X at US supermarkets|
|Discover it® Cash Back||0% Intro APR||$0||3.9 / 5||5% on rotating categories|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Gas Rewards||$0||3.7 / 5||3% on gas|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||Sign-up Bonus||$0||3.5 / 5||1.5% on everything|
|Chase Freedom®||Low Interest||$0||3.4 / 5||5% on rotating categories|
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||No Foreign Transaction Fee||$0||3.6 / 5||10X on hotels|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®||Airline Miles||$99 waived first year||4.3 / 5||2X on AA|
|Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card||Business||$0||3.6 / 5||1.5% on everything|
|Capital One® Platinum Credit Card||Fair Credit Applicants||$0||N/A||N/A|
|Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards||Bad Credit Applicants||$0-$99||N/A||1% on eligible purchases|
|Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®||College Students||$0||2.2 / 5||1% on everything|