Best Credit Cards of 2020 - Top Offers & Reviews

Simply put, the best credit cards are the products that best suit your needs.

If you are looking for a card to help you pay off a balance from a previous card without having to pay interest, a balance transfer card may work. If you love the idea of rewards without complex rules, a cash back card may suit. And for the traveler, whether avid or occasional, a travel, airline or hotel credit card might be ideal.

Keep in mind that you may actually want to look at more than one card for your purposes. For example, some cardholders use a cash back card for shopping at grocery stores, and one or two others for flight travel and hotel stays.

When you are looking at credit cards, you’ll want to study not only the card’s purpose, but such features as sign-up bonuses; ongoing rewards; benefits such as airport lounge access, fees waived on checked bags and auto rental insurance; balance transfer, annual and foreign transaction fees; and APR rates.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to apply for multiple cards at once because your credit score will take a small, temporary hit each time. Choose your card wisely and make sure you have the right score to improve your chances of getting what you want.

Below are some of the best offers from our partners for the different types of credit cards available. Take a look and check out our advice below about how to make the right choice.

Simply put, the best credit cards are the products that best suit your needs.

If you are looking for a card to help you pay off a balance from a previous card without having to pay interest, a balance transfer card may work. If you love the idea of rewards without complex rules, a cash back card may suit. And for the traveler, whether avid or occasional, a travel, airline or hotel credit card might be ideal.

Keep in mind that you may actually want to look at more than one card for your purposes. For example, some cardholders use a cash back card for shopping at grocery stores, and one or two others for flight travel and hotel stays.

When you are looking at credit cards, you’ll want to study not only the card’s purpose, but such features as sign-up bonuses; ongoing rewards; benefits such as airport lounge access, fees waived on checked bags and auto rental insurance; balance transfer, annual and foreign transaction fees; and APR rates.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to apply for multiple cards at once because your credit score will take a small, temporary hit each time. Choose your card wisely and make sure you have the right score to improve your chances of getting what you want.

Below are some of the best offers from our partners for the different types of credit cards available. Take a look and check out our advice below about how to make the right choice.

By: Laura Mohammad

|

September 17, 2020

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Our methodology and research

3,476 Credit Cards Analyzed
600 Banks Analyzed

Criteria Used

Rates and fees, rewards rates, sign-up bonuses, redemption options, credit needed, miscellaneous benefits, customer service, security, ease of application.

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.

All information about Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card, Citi Prestige® Card, and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card have been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


A Guide to Finding the Best Credit Card Offer for You

The credit cards in your wallet are some of the most important financial tools in your life. You might be on the hunt for the perfect balance transfer offer to help you pay off your home renovations. Or you could have your eye out for the right cash back credit card offer in preparation for that home renovation.

Remarkably, we found in our July 2019 survey that 55% of U.S. consumers either don’t know the last time they shopped for a new credit card or that it’s been more than 3 years. “You have to know yourself, and if you value simplicity, that’s fine too. Just make sure to re-evaluate your strategy often because the best deals are always changing,” says Ted Rossman, CreditCards.com industry analyst.

But it can be tough to wrap your head around all of the available options. Below, we help you narrow down which card is best for you, and offer helpful tips.


Best Credit Cards

best credit cards 2020

Discover it® Cash Back

Why this is the best card for rotating category cash back

The flagship of the Discover cards, the Discover it Cash Back rewards you with 5% cash back on rotating categories such as restaurants and gas stations up to $1,500 a quarter (quarterly sign-up required; 1% after maximum spend). That’s $75 earned a quarter, or $300 for the year.

Overview

With this no annual fee card you can earn double your cash back at the end of your first year, making that $300 into $600 back for the first year. Also, get 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. Then it’s 11.99%-22.99% variable, which is a super low starting rate.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Why this is the best card for balance transfers

Get 0% intro APR for 18 months for the first 4 months, which is one of the longest offers in the industry (it’s 14.74%-24.74% variable after that). In addition, get 0% intro APR on new purchases for 18 months (it’s 14.74%-24.74% variable after that).

Overview

Sadly, the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t offer cash back, points or miles, including no sign-up bonus. However, there’s no annual fee, and you gain access to Citi Entertainment, allowing you to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events and dining experiences.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Why this is the best card for no annual fee

While there are plenty of no annual fee cards on the market, the high rewards rates on everyday purchases set the Blue Cash Everyday Card apart. You’ll earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, then 1%) and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.

Overview

Families and frugal shoppers alike will love this card for its practical rewards categories. In addition to a solid rewards structure, cardholders can take advantage of the welcome offer: Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening an account.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Why this is the best card for no annual fee

There’s no annual fee with this card, and it possesses one of the best flat-rate cash back offers as well. Earn 1% back when you purchase, then earn another 1% back when you pay for the item. That’s a better rate than many other cash back cards with no annual fee.

Overview

Despite the generous cash back offer, there’s no sign-up bonus, as well as no 0% intro APR offer for new purchases. However, the Citi Double Cash offers a generous 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then it’s 13.99%-23.99% variable).

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Why this is the best card for low interest

With good credit, you may qualify for the low end of the Cash Magnet’s variable APR range (13.99%-23.99%), which is quite low.

Overview

The American Express Cash Magnet is a favorite of simplicity-seekers. You’ll pay no annual fee while earning unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. While this isn’t the highest rate on the market, you won’t have to keep track of spending caps or bonus categories. You also won’t have to jump through hoops to earn the welcome bonus. Cardholders who spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening an account will earn a $150 bonus. This is a good choice if you’re looking for a solid, low-maintenance credit card.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Why this is the best credit card for rewards

This card’s rewards on everyday purchases are unmatched. Cardholders earn six percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then one percent) and three percent back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. If you’re a frugal parent or caretaker looking for a credit card that will put money back in your wallet, this is an excellent choice.

Overview

It’s unusual to see a rewards rate as high as 6%, especially for a category like U.S. supermarkets, which the average consumer is likely to spend a lot in. Big families who use the Blue Cash Preferred for grocery shopping are sure to find value in this card. For those who aren’t sure whether they spend enough on groceries to justify this card’s $95 annual fee, the Blue Cash Preferred has a little sister: the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. The rewards rates are lower, but there’s no annual fee.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Why this is the best card for students

In addition to unusually strong rewards, the Discover it Student Cash Back offers a $20 credit for each of the next 5 years when you get at least a 3.0 GPA. This card is also light on fees, including no annual fee.

Overview

Like the Discover it Cash Back, this card gives you 5% cash back on rotating categories for up to $1,500 spend each quarter (quarterly sign-up required; 1% after maximum spend). In addition, you earn double your cash back at the end of your first year. Finally, get 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases and 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers (then it’s 12.99%-21.99% variable).

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Why this is the best credit card for sign-up bonus

This card is for big-time spenders – and big-time rewards seekers. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening an account.

Overview

The plethora of perks, credits and rewards that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are sure to please the luxury traveler. While the $550 annual fee is steep, those who often travel and like to do so in style will get that value and more. A $300 annual travel credit, access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® are just a few of the added perks cardholders can enjoy.

Costco Anywhere® Visa Card by Citi

Why this is the best card for gas

Cardholders earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (on the first $7,000 in purchases annually, 1% thereafter).

Overview

If you’re already a Costco member or would like to be, this card is an excellent addition to your wallet. In addition to gas rewards, you’ll earn 3% cash back on restaurant and eligible travel purchases and 2% cash back at Costco. You do need to pay for the annual Costco membership ($60) to use this card, but this is a great way to get even more value out of your membership.

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Why this is the best card for business

Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases up to $50,000 each calendar year, then it’s 1% cash back. The cash back you earn is automatically credited to your statement. You also have the opportunity to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.

Overview

This card now comes with a welcome offer of up to $300 back. Earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. The card also doesn’t have an annual fee, and there’s a 0% intro APR offer for 12 months on purchases, as well (then it’s 13.24%-19.24% variable).

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Why this is the best card for airline miles

Cardholders earn 2x miles on Delta purchases, but you don’t have to be a frequent traveler to rack up airline miles. The same rate also applies to spending at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide. Plus, Delta Skymiles are more valuable than the average airline mile – we estimate Delta Skymiles are worth 1.61 cents per mile.

Overview

Complementing the far-reaching rewards structure is a long list of perks and benefits including priority boarding, purchase protection and free checked bags on Delta flights. The introductory bonus is great: 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months (offer expires 10/28/20). Additionally, big spenders will earn a $100 Delta flight credit every year they spend $10,000 on their card.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Why this is the best card for travel

With more than 10 travel partners, the Capital One Venture Rewards offers plenty of travel opportunities. Also, receive up to $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and earn 50,000 miles after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months.

Overview

The annual fee of $95 is not waived the first year, but this card offers flexibility in spending that many travel cards don’t offer: Earn 2X miles on all purchases.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Why this is the best card for no credit

The problem with many starter credit cards is a combination of high fees and low credit limits. That’s why the Capital One Secured card is a great choice – there’s no annual fee and the credit limit will be anywhere between $200 and $1,000, depending on how much you provide as a security deposit.

Overview

You won’t earn rewards with this card, but it’s more important for new-to-credit consumers to focus on building credit first. One helpful feature this card offers is the opportunity to get a higher credit limit after your first six on-time payments. Demonstrating responsible use and gaining access to more credit can help provide the positive history needed to graduate to a rewards credit card.

Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card

Why this is the best credit card for bad credit

The process of rebuilding credit can be daunting. Features like the ability to choose your own payment date and set custom credit limit alerts make it a bit easier to stick to your goals. You’ll also have free online access to your Experian credit score, making it easier to track your progress.

Overview

The Credit One Bank Visa allows you to earn rewards while rebuilding your credit. Eligible essentials like gas, groceries, and phone and cable bills earn 1% cash back. Everyday rewards paired with helpful features like custom email and text alerts make this an excellent choice for the determined credit-builder.

Compare the best credit card offers

Credit Card Category Annual Fee Review Score
Discover it® Cash Back Rotating Cash Back $0 4.3 / 5
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Balance Transfer $0 3.9 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express No Annual Fee $0 3.5 / 5
Citi® Double Cash Card Flat-rate Cash Back $0 3.8 / 5
American Express Cash Magnet® Card Low Interest $0 2.9 / 5
Discover it® Student Cash Back Students $0 4.2 / 5
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card Sign-up Bonus $550 4.6 / 5
Costco Anywhere® Visa Card by Citi Gas $0 with your paid Costco membership ($60) 2.5 / 5
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card Business $0 3.9 / 5
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Airlines $99 $0 intro fee in first year 3.6 / 5
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel $95 4.2 / 5
Capital One® Secured Mastercard® No Credit $0 2.2 / 5
Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card Bad Credit $0-$99 3.4 / 5

What are credit cards and how do they work?

In simple terms, credit cards are financial products that allow you to borrow money (usually) without collateral.

Heads up that they are designed for short-term borrowing. Plan on borrowing for years to come with a credit card and you are destined to pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest charges, particularly if you only pay the minimum each month. What you pay in interest depends on the amount you borrow, how long you borrow and the interest rate you are assigned.

There are ways to avoid that pothole, though. For one, you can pay in full and on time each month to avoid interest charges. Also, with a 0% intro APR card, you can pay no interest for a limited time (up to 18 months). But the purpose of getting that type of card is to pay off the debt before the offer ends.

As we’ve mentioned, there are oodles of types of credit cards, including for travel, cash back and credit building. Below, we help you map out the best card for your needs based on your answers to some simple questions we ask.

Depending on the card you’re looking at, you might get no foreign transaction fees, travel benefits like access to airport lounges and other buried treasure. On the flip side, be mindful of annual fees, high interest charges and other little surprises. Our funnel below can help with that as well.

Which type of card is best for you?

There are a few core reasons why you may be looking for a new credit card. Take a look at our prompts, see what matches your needs and click on the card type that seems to best suit you.

Card category Does this sound like you?
Rewards
  • Do you want to fund your next trip through rewards?
  • Are you looking to maximize your earning potential?
  • Do you want to earn rewards without thinking about which card to use?
0% intro APR/balance transfer
  • Do you have a credit card balance and want to save on interest rates?
  • Do you want to consolidate card balances?
  • Do you have a large upcoming purchase?
Brand loyalty
  • Do you often turn to a favorite airline or hotel brand for travel?
  • Do you often shop with a single merchant, such as Amazon.com or Target?
Building credit
  • Have you never had a credit card before?
  • Do you have a low credit score and want to build it?
  • Do you want the convenience of a credit card?
Small business
  • Do you have a small business or are you a sole proprietor and need access to capital?
  • Do you want to provide employees cards?
  • Do you want to separate your business and personal purchases?
Student
  • Do you need to build credit?
  • Do you want to take advantage of student cards’ special features?
  • Are you looking for shopping convenience?
  • Do you want to learn how to use rewards?

Rewards

Get rewarded with points, miles or cash back when you use these cards. Often, rewards cards fall in one of two buckets: cash back and travel, although there are others, as indicated here.

Types of cards

  • Cash back
    • Flat rate – This card often has no annual fee, but typically requires good or excellent credit. The regular percentage rate is often quite low. There is often a sign-up bonus. Suggested card: Citi® Double Cash Card
    • Rotating category – While this card may not have a sign-up bonus, there may be a year-end reward. There’s usually no annual fee and the regular APR is usually low. Suggested card: Discover it® Cash Back
    • Tiered – There can be an annual fee on this type of card, but the sign-up bonus is often quite generous. The regular interest rate varies. Suggested card: Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Travel
    • Airline or hotel – The annual fee can get into the hundreds, and the regular interest rate is pretty high, but the sign-up bonus and ongoing rewards are among the best in the industry. Suggested card: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
    • General purpose – General purpose travel cards are great for the traveler who craves flexibility. A few come with no annual fee, although the sign-up bonus on those can be low. Benefits can include cancellation insurance and other features. Suggested card: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • Other types

0% intro APR/balance transfer

A 0% intro APR card can be used for balance transfers or new purchases, and typically have a promotional period of anywhere from 6 months to 21 months. Once the offer ends, the regular APR usually kicks in, making it worth your while to pay off the balance during the offer.

Types of cards

  • Purchases – There’s often no annual fee, and business cards will sometimes have a new purchase offer. The regular APR rate can range widely, and a number of these cards offer rewards. Suggested card: American Express Cash Magnet® Card
  • Balance transfers – An annual fee is typically not an issue with these cards, but there may not be rewards. The regular APR rate ranges widely. Suggested card: Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Brand loyalty

Some cards are co-branded, meaning that the card issuer partners with a brand such as an airline, a hotel chain or a merchant of some kind. In some cases, a card that isn’t co-branded will reward for brand loyalty. In either case, your rewards are boosted for purchases of certain brands.

Types of cards

  • Airline – While airline cards’ rewards options are specific to a brand, some have branched out to reward for other types of spending. Annual fees are common, good to excellent credit is expected, and regular APR rates are usually pretty high. Suggested card: United℠ Explorer Card
  • Hotel – Hotel cards reward heavily for favoring a specific hotel brand, but they might have no annual fee. Good to excellent credit is a must, and regular APR rates are high for these cards as well. Suggested card: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Credit building

If you are looking to build credit, there are a number of options, depending on your current credit rating.

Types of cards

  • Fair credit – If you are trying to improve your credit into the good or excellent category, a card that accepts fair or average credit is a good choice. There may be an annual fee, regular APR may be higher, and a 0% intro APR is unlikely. Suggested card: Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa
  • Bad credit – You can find a card that accepts bad credit with no annual fee, but many of these cards have weird, little one-off fees that you need to watch out for. The regular APR will almost certainly be high, although some offer rewards. Suggested card: Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®
  • No credit – This is a good choice if you have no credit history. Some of these cards offer rewards, but watch out for fees, and the regular APR can be high. Suggested card: Discover it® Secured

Small business

Business credit cards aren’t just for the owner of a business – the solopreneur or gig worker can also benefit. These cards are good for sorting out your personal from your business expenses, and there’s a strong likelihood of rewards offered.

Types of cards

  • Rewards – While it’s rare to find a business card that offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers, rewards are plentiful. They can reward you for business-specific purchases, as well as travel. Suggested card: American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
  • Luxury – These cards generally offer luxury benefits for the frequent traveler, such as access to airport lounges, or waived fees on Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. Suggested card: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Student cards

Student cards are similar to other credit cards, although they can offer features that are special to the college student. Heads up that even with a student card, you have to have an independent income if you are under 21 in order to land any credit card. That said, they will often accept applicants with no or limited credit.

Types of cards

  • Rewards – Student cards often offer competitive rewards, although a sign-up bonus is rare. Annual fees are a rarity, but credit limits are typically low, depending on your income. Suggested card: Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • Credit building – Probably the most important part of getting your first card is that you have the opportunity to build credit, provided you pay in full and on time each month. Suggested card: Discover it® Student chrome

How to compare two credit card offers

Here we put it all together by comparing 2 cards in the first year of card membership, one with an annual fee and one without:

Card: Capital One Venture Rewards Capital One VentureOne Rewards
Card Type: Travel Rewards Travel Rewards
Credit Recommended: Good to excellent Good to excellent
0% intro APR: N/A 12 months on purchases
Regular APR: 17.24% – 24.49% Variable 15.49% – 25.49% Variable
Foreign transaction fee: N/A N/A
Sign-up Bonus Spend $3,000 in first 3 mths,
50,000 miles
Spend $1,000 in first 3 mths,
20,000 miles
Ongoing Rewards 2X miles X $1,000/mth =
24,000 miles
1.25X miles x $1,000/mth =
15,000 miles
Annual Fee $95 $0
First Year Net Value $500 + $240 – $95 =
$645
$200 + $150 =
$350

As you can see, Venture Rewards leads the way the first year. However, in the second year, that can change. If you are spending $1,000 a month on the Venture Rewards, you will earn $145 after paying the annual fee (24,000 becomes $240, then minus $95 makes it $145). With the VentureOne, $1,000 a month spent becomes 15,000 miles, which is worth $150. You’ll notice that if you aren’t a heavy spender, the VentureOne is a better choice.

What are the differences between Visa and Mastercard?

Despite the fact that neither actually issues any credit cards, Visa and Mastercard are two of the biggest names in the credit card game. These two entities act as payment networks, partnering with card issuers and processing credit card payments between banks and merchants.
The reputation of both Visa and Mastercard has done wonders; either name on your card makes it a viable payment option at almost anywhere around the world. There are likely some vendors out there that accept only one of the two, but the most clear-cut differences between these powerhouses are found in their status levels and associated benefits:

Mastercard

  • Standard: At this status level, Mastercard provides emergency card replacement, identity theft protection and zero fraud liability.
  • World: Those that fall in this tier will have the same benefits as the Standard level, as well as cellphone insurance, discounts with particular vendors and travel benefits through Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services.
  • World Elite: In addition to all the benefits listed above, World Elite members will have access to exclusive golf deals and a wider catalog of available discounts.

Visa

  • Traditional: Entry-level Visa cardholders at this level receive auto rental collision damage coverage, emergency card replacement, emergency roadside assistance and zero fraud liability.
  • Signature: As well as the benefits included for Traditional members, those in this tier will have access to extended warranty protection and worldwide travel and emergency assistance.
  • Infinite: Achieving the top status level with Visa will give cardholders all the above perks, plus purchase protection, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance, return protection and lost luggage reimbursement.

Although there are several differences found in their rewards structures, Visa and Mastercard aren’t too different. In any case, keep in mind that the benefits offered by your card are determined by the issuer, not the payment network. Pay close attention to your potential card’s offer; some of these listed perks may not be included despite the partnership.

When is the best time to apply for a credit card?

If you go strictly by the calendar, more people prefer to apply for new credit cards late in the year when holiday shopping gears up and juicy sign-up bonuses appear. Equifax data from 2008 to 2017 shows that credit card applications were 15% higher from October through December than January through March.

But what if your circumstances aren’t tied to the calendar and you have other reasons for getting a new card? Figuring out when to apply for a credit card depends on several factors, some that are within your control and others that are entirely external.

Here are some questions to consider:

What’s your current credit status?

Have you applied for any other lines of credit recently (mortgage, car loan, etc.) and do you expect to seek them out in the near future? Credit applications that trigger hard inquiries on your credit report will temporarily lower your credit score.

A credit card that offers pre-qualification without a hard inquiry can help you gauge your chances of approval, but the actual application would still affect your credit in the short term. The best time to apply for a credit card might be when you have no immediate plans for taking out other credit lines.

What kind of offers are available?

A generous sign-up bonus offering travel miles, loyalty points or cash back can provide a strong incentive to apply for a credit card. So can special promotions that become available as issuers respond to consumer preferences and economic trends.

Just make sure the card fits your spending habits and makes sense as a long-term financial commitment. A big sign-up bonus coupled with a big annual fee could mean diminishing returns over the long haul.

How do you choose a credit card?

Predicting how you will use your card could be the most effective way to find the best choice for you. Maybe you already know you want a new card for everyday spending, rebuilding credit or earning specialized rewards — and maybe you don’t. No matter the case, before looking through dozens of options with various rewards structures, welcome bonuses, benefits and the like, assess your financial circumstances to determine what type of card would serve you best.
Start by looking at your budget and credit score. Most cards have requirements when it comes to credit scores, a quick way to narrow the search. Knowing your budget will help determine some key factors:

  • Are you going to be able to meet the minimum monthly payments?
  • Is the card’s APR manageable if you were to carry a balance?
  • Is the annual fee affordable?

If the answer to any of these is “no”, it’s time to move on. Filtering out cards outside of your credit range and knowing when an option is financially irresponsible will expedite your search.

Understanding your financial situation not only rules out options beyond your means, but will also shed light on the best type of card for you. If you’re still in a place where you need to build credit or you’re in debt, there are cards designed to help you. In addition to student and secured cards, a balance transfer card can be a wonderful tool to manage debt, allowing cardholders to move their debt to a new card account with a 0% APR. These cards’ interest-free periods close eventually, but some current balance transfer card offers extend into 2022.

For those looking for a little more out of their credit card, hone in on your spending habits. Many credit cards give bonus rewards for specific categories, so identifying where you spend the most will give you the insight you need. The most common bonus categories are gas, travel, groceries, entertainment, dining and business spending, so find a card that rewards your typical purchases in these areas.

Some options offer flat rate cash back when you swipe, some provide access to consistent points rewards and some change their bonus categories each quarter — it’s up to you to decide how you can get the most out of your rewards and the level of planning you want to commit to your spending strategy.

Once you know your budget, credit score and the type of card you’re in the market for, there’s likely a selection of cards that fit your needs. Cap off your search by comparing welcome bonuses, introductory 0% APR periods, benefits, associated fees and any other perks offered by each option — the little details are what separate a great card from the best credit card for you.

How many credit cards should you have?

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule as to how many credit cards you should have, it’s a good idea to hold onto at least two cards – each from a different card issuer and each offering a different type of rewards (cash back, travel rewards, etc.). This should make it easier to tailor your earning to your spending patterns and enjoy greater variety and flexibility in how you redeem rewards.

In some cases, you can also “stack” cards from a single issuer to get even more value out of your rewards. For example, you could pair the Chase Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card (which earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase) with a premium Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (which gets you 2 points per dollar on travel and restaurant purchases). This would allow you to could convert the cash back from your Ink Business UnlimitedSM card to Ultimate Rewards points and enjoy a 25% boost in point value when you redeem them for travel through the Chase travel portal.

Of course, if you’re still new to credit cards, you should stick to just one or two until you get used to using them, and if tracking your spending from quarter to quarter or swapping out cards between the gas station and grocery store sounds like more of a headache than it’s worth, a card that offers travel rewards or cash back at a flat rate on every purchase may be a better fit.


CreditCards.com Poll: Americans find value in credit cards with annual fees despite pandemic

A surprisingly high number of cardholders feel their credit cards with an annual fee have retained their value during the COVID-19 pandemic, our June 2020 poll has found.

This is particularly surprising because a large number of annual fee cards are products with travel features and rewards, yet travel has been at a virtual standstill in recent months.

A full four-fifths of Americans with annual fee cards said they enjoy the same or more value from those credit cards: Some 58% of those polled said their annual fee cards have maintained their value, and 23% said their cards’ value has improved. (Some 34% of Americans hold at least one card with an annual fee.)

Value cardholders report getting from their annual fee cards…

  • Much more value
  • 8%
  • Somewhat more value
  • 15%
  • About the same value
  • 58%
  • Somewhat less value
  • 10%
  • Much less value
  • 9%

Travel perks lead among cardholders’ favorite features

Despite the travel bans put in place in recent months, travel and cash back features lead among the benefits cards offer, our survey found.

“I’m a big cash back fan myself, but it’s important to note that most of the best cash back cards do not charge annual fees,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst for CreditCards.com. “Generally, the points and miles that you earn on annual fee cards are most valuable when you redeem them for travel. You often get a lower payout when you redeem for cash. If you prefer cash back, you’re probably better off switching to a pure-play cash back card.”

Americans’ favorite benefits on annual fee credit cards…

  • Travel rewards/perks
  • 23%
  • Cash back
  • 23%
  • Accepted at most places
  • 15%
  • Low interest rate
  • 10%
  • Merchandise/gift cards
  • 8%
  • Customer service
  • 7%
  • No favorite benefit
  • 14%

Annual fee cards’ incentives during shelter-at-home

Some card issuers are trying to accommodate the new normal of increased takeout and in-home streaming with offers not normally attached to travel and luxury cards. Lowered renewal annual fees, statement credits on streaming and boosted points at U.S. supermarkets are among the incentives currently offered.

“Card issuers made smart, quick adjustments to their annual fee cards to compensate for the sharp pullback in travel,” says Rossman. “Cardholders have responded very favorably. For example, they love being able to earn extra rewards at the grocery store and on their streaming and cell phone subscriptions.”

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express Through 12/31/20, get up to $320 in statement credits on select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, up to $20 per month on each. (Annual fee is $550.)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Chase has expanded the $300 annual credit, with the remaining balance automatically applied to purchases at grocery stores and gas stations starting June 1 until 12/31/20. (Annual fee is $550; renewal annual fee lowered to $450 from Aug. 1 through 2020. Cardholders with a renewal date from April 1 through July 31 receive a $100 statement credit to offset the annual fee.
  • Citi Prestige® Card Use your annual $250 travel credit on supermarkets and restaurants (excludes wholesale clubs and superstore), as well as grocery delivery services and restaurant delivery services such as DoorDash and GrubHub. Offer is good until 12/31/20. (Annual fee is $495.)

Methodology

CreditCards.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,551 U.S. adults, including 864 who pay credit card annual fees. Fieldwork was undertaken June 3-5, 2020. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a non-probability-based sample using both quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.