Best Credit Cards of 2018

Which credit card is best? In truth, there is no one-size-fits-all card; the best credit card for you depends on your personal needs, wants, and lifestyle. From cash back and sign-up bonuses to luxury perks, travel rewards and more, our experts analyzed 3,476 credit cards to narrow down the winner in each category. Explore our top picks from our partners and find the best credit card for you.

Which credit card is best? In truth, there is no one-size-fits-all card; the best credit card for you depends on your personal needs, wants, and lifestyle. From cash back and sign-up bonuses to luxury perks, travel rewards and more, our experts analyzed 3,476 credit cards to narrow down the winner in each category. Explore our top picks from our partners and find the best credit card for you.


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Best sign-up bonus credit card

Best cash back credit card for flat-rate rewards

Best Cash Back Credit Card for Everyday Spending

Best travel rewards credit card

Best rewards credit card

Best 0% APR credit card

Best no annual fee credit card

Best balance transfer credit card

Best dining credit card

Best low interest credit card

Best no foreign transaction fee credit card

Best airline miles credit card

Best Business Credit Card

Best fair credit credit card

Best credit card for bad credit

Best student credit card

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.

Common Benefits:

  • Auto rental Insurance
  • Extended warrant program
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Price protection
  • Lost Luggage reimbursement
  • Concierge service
  • Roadside assistance
  • Free credit score

What factors to consider when choosing the best credit card

When you are ready for a new credit card, you'll first want to identify which type is right for you. With the right card, you can earn hundreds of dollars a year, build your credit or enjoy special travel benefits. Here are 8 questions to ask yourself in your endeavor to choose the best card.

Want to build credit?

Most credit cards, including cards for authorized users, allow you to build credit. But check with the card issuer to make sure they'll report your credit habits to the 3 major credit bureaus.

Paying a lot of interest and fees?

A balance transfer card helps take away the sharp edges of credit card debt, although you still need to pay off the balance before the 0% intro APR offer ends.

Credit not its best?

Cards for consumers with bad or thin credit can help with this.

Willing to strategize your spending?

A couple of cards offer quarterly categories of 5% cash back – such categories as home improvement stores, wholesale clubs and Load up on spending each quarter for rotating categories.

Specific categories you often use?

Some cards, such as the Amex Blue Cash cards, offer improved rewards year-round on such categories as gas and groceries.

Want to use it and forget it?

For those of us who don't want to think about our shopping rewards, some travel and cashback cards reward at a flat rate for all spending.

Travel your thing?

If you plan to travel often (or even occasionally), some cards reward for worldwide travel and restaurants, such as the Chase Sapphire cards. Flat rate travel cards are also available.

Have a favorite brand?

Express yourself with a card that delivers miles for using your hotel or airline brand of choice.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by 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.

A Guide to Finding the Perfect Credit Card 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 card. Or you could have your eye out for the right travel card offer. Whatever the reason, the best card for you awaits. At, we've compiled thousands of hours of research to help you find the best credit cards across several different categories.

We also recognize that there is not one single best card for all occasions; different people have different needs at different times, and the card you use at the grocery store is not necessarily the card you should use to book airplane tickets. With new credit cards constantly entering the market and offers frequently changing, it can be tough to wrap your head around the available options. We're all over it for you. Check this page regularly for the latest information on the best credit cards and how they compare to the field – we update it almost every day!

best credit cards of 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

Summary: best credit cards of 2018

Credit CardCategoryAnnual FeeReview Score
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardSign-up Bonus$95 waived first year4.1 / 5
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit CardFlat-rate Rewards$03.4 / 5
Discover it® Cash BackEveryday Spending$03.6 / 5
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardTravel Rewards$95 waived first year4.4 / 5
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® CardRewards$03.9 / 5
Citi Simplicity® Card0% Intro APR$03.2 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited®No Annual Fee$03.2 / 5
Discover it® Balance TransferBalance Transfers$04.3 / 5
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit CardDining$95 waived first year4.0 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressGas$03.6 / 5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit CardLow Interest$03.0 / 5
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit cardNo Foreign Transaction Fee$03.5 / 5
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®Airline Miles$99 waived first year4.1 / 5
Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit CardBusiness$03.6 / 5
Capital One® Platinum Credit CardFair Credit$03.7 / 5
Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit CardBad Credit$0-$992.1 / 5
Discover it® Student Cash BackCollege Students$03.3 / 5

Editor's notes on the best credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Most notable features: The Sapphire Preferred allows you to earn 2X points on worldwide travel and restaurants and 1X point on all other purchases. It also has a 50,000-point sign-up bonus that kicks in once you spend $4,000 within your first 3 months of card membership.

Why we like it: All sign-up bonuses are not created equal – with the Sapphire Preferred, the 50,000-point bonus is actually worth $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

How to make the most of it: Don't forget to use the Ultimate Rewards portal to book travel with your points, and explore Chase's transfer partners to see where you can get the most value out of your points.

What's new: The Points Guy shares how he values the Sapphire Preferred's sign-up bonus and other goodies about this card.

Also consider: For another card with a large sign-up bonus and tiered rewards, check out the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Most notable features: The Quicksilver offers a $150 bonus after a $500 spend within 3 months of card membership, which is a lower spend than the Blue Cash Everyday. Also, it features a flat rate on all purchases of 1.5% back.

Why we like it: Because it offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has the bonus feature of no annual fee, this card lands squarely in the category of best cash back card for flat-rate spending. Andrei Vasilescu, CEO of DontPayFull, says the Quicksilver is one of only two credit cards he carries with him: "The Quicksilver offers unlimited cash rewards on purchases and it charges nothing for any foreign transactions." If you want to shop without worrying about where you are or what you're buying, this card is for you.

How to make the most of it: This is a good card to use for any purchase that doesn't fall into a special category where you earn more with another card. In other words, plan on using this as your "default" credit card.

What's new: Last summer, we compared the Quicksilver with the Chase Freedom. The verdict? We'll tell you all the pluses and minuses of getting a card that allows you to set it and forget it or a card with bodacious, but rotating, rewards.

Also consider: The Citi Double Cash Card is another good card if you prefer its higher cash back rate in exchange for no sign-up bonus.

Discover it Cash Back

Most notable features: Discover's hallmark feature of matching all cash back earned in the first year remains one of the most valuable offers in credit cards. Activate each quarter to take advantage of its 5% cash back on an eclectic mix of rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 in purchases.

Why we like it: The return from its first-year cashback match feature can outshine the sign-up bonuses offered by competing cards, especially for heavy spenders.

How to make the most of it: Make sure you set your e-mail preferences so you get reminders from Discover to activate your earning on the upcoming quarter's bonus categories. That way, you don't have to worry about missing out.

What's new: Discover's aforementioned 5% categories for the quarter will be purchases at wholesale clubs and on from October to December—excellent categories for your end-of-year holiday shopping.

Also consider: For a cash back card with constant rather than rotating categories, consider the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express.

Capital One Venture Rewards

Most notable features: In December, Venture Rewards will partner with 12 airlines; you will be able to transfer your miles to these partners at a rate of 2:1.5. Furthermore, there is a limited time offer of 75,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months available exclusively through Capital One and The Points Guy.

Why we like it: With a bodacious flat rate of 2X miles on all purchases and the excellent 10X miles for hotels through, this card is hands down the best travel rewards card, in our opinion.

How to make the most of it: Note that the redemption value of your miles will vary depending on what you are redeeming them for. You'll always want to redeem your miles for travel rewards, which have the highest value, instead of other categories such as cash back or gift cards.

What's new: This summer, Capital One began waiving the fee on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for Venture Rewards cardholders, an increasingly popular feature among travel cards.

Also consider: For comparable features with no annual fee, consider the Capital One VentureOne.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Most notable features: The revamped Propel card is already making a big splash in the rewards scene. It has everything a rewards aficionado looks for: a stalwart sign-up bonus of 30K points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, along with generous rewards of 3x points on travel, dining, and popular streaming services. Most impressively, it does all this without charging an annual fee. This easily makes it one of the top offers of any credit card this year.

Why we like it: The Propel punches way above its weight class with the magnitude of its intro bonus and rewards – these are exceptional for a credit card with no annual fee.

How to make the most of it: Don't forget that it's a great credit card to bring with you on trips abroad, since no foreign transaction fees are charged. This means you can take full advantage of the Propel's rewards on travel and dining internationally as well.

What's new: A summer spectacular, this card was revved up with a whole host of categories that allows you to earn 3X points on purchases.

Also consider: The Capital One Venture is an alternative worth considering if you don't mind paying the annual fee that comes with its larger sign-up bonus.

Citi Simplicity Card

Most notable features: This card offers 12 months 0% intro APR on purchases and a whopping 21 months 0% intro APR on balance transfers, as well as no late fees and no penalty rate. After the intro period, its regular APR of 15.99% - 25.99% (variable) will take effect; while it's not the lowest interest available, it is serviceable and the long intro period makes up for it. Also, there's no annual fee.

Why we like it: With rising credit card APRs, a 0% offer this generous is something to be cherished.

How to make the most of it: Take note of the fact that the regular APR is variable depending on your creditworthiness. While 12 months—let alone 21 months—is a long time, it can pass by faster than you think, so make sure you have a concrete plan to pay off your balance before the intro period ends.

What's new: On Sept. 26, 2018, the Federal Reserve announced the third rate hike in 2018, prompting many credit card issuers to raise APRs. The Citi Simplicity's zero interest offer seems even more attractive as credit card APRs continue to climb.

Also consider: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card has even lower regular interest rates but requires excellent credit.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Most notable features: The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a competitive 1.5% back on all purchases and $150 after a $500 spend within 3 months of card membership.

Why we like it: For those of us who don't want to get bogged down by an annual fee, this card is the one to choose. Its flat rate cash back is competitive, as is its sign-up bonus, and it has the added feature of allowing you to sync it with a Sapphire card to take advantage of those cards' bonuses on travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

How to make the most of it: This is another excellent card to use as your go-to payment method on purchases that don't fall into any of your other cards' bonus categories. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or plan on getting one in the near future, use the CFU to stock up on points which you can then transfer to the CSP for superior redemption value. The same thing goes for if you have or are planning to get a Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

What's new: When we compared the Freedom Unlimited with the Freedom, we found that the Freedom Unlimited is ideal for the consumer who doesn't want the hassle of card maintenance.

Also consider: The Discover it Cash Back is potentially more lucrative than the Freedom Unlimited, but requires a little additional legwork.

Discover it Balance Transfer

Most notable features: The Discover it Balance Transfer offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers, followed by a reasonable regular APR of 13.99% - 24.99% variable. Unfortunately, its intro 0% APR only lasts for 6 months on purchases. It does offer impressive rewards, with 5% cash back in rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum after you activate and automatic cash back match at the end of your first year.

Why we like it: This card's 18-month 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers is hard to beat, helping you stay interest-free into 2019 and beyond. There is also potential to earn a lot of cash back.

How to make the most of it: As with any balance transfer card, make sure you pay off your balance before the introductory period ends, to avoid paying interest.

What's new: Our recently updated guide to balance transfers for Discover credit cards covers everything you need to know about performing a balance transfer with Discover.

Also consider: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has a shorter intro offer on balance transfers, but no balance transfer fee.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Most notable features: The new and improved Savor card comes with a generous 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% back on all else. Additionally, it has one of the hottest sign-up bonuses right now: a $500 cash bonus for a required spend of only $3,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee is waived in the first year, but it will be $95 after that.

Why we like it: It's a no-brainer for foodies, and even if you aren't someone who spends a lot at restaurants, the sign-up bonus could still be worth it.

How to make the most of it: Don't forget that you get 4% cash back not only on dining, but also entertainment, which includes a number of different purchases such as . Take some time to check out the card agreement to see all the types of purchases that are covered under "entertainment."

What's new: This card was upgraded over the summer, with a ramped-up 4% back on dining in and out.

Also consider: The similarly named SavorOne card is a no-annual-fee version of the Savor that comes with a lower 3% back on dining and a smaller sign-up bonus.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Most notable features: Cash back on regular purchases is the hallmark of the Blue Cash Everyday, which earns you 3% at U.S. supermarkets and 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. The 3% at U.S. supermarkets applies for your first $6,000 in purchases each year, then it goes to 1%, which is also what you earn on all other purchases. Additionally, you earn $150 back after making $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months.

Why we like it: This card's allows you to get the most out of your gas and grocery purchases.

How to make the most of it: Log into your account online regularly to check out special offers from American Express; there are often deals with popular retailers that can net you even more savings on top of your regular cash back.

What's new: With excellent cards like the BCE, it's no surprise that American Express once again ranked very highly in customer satisfaction in J.D. Power's 2018 credit card study, coming in a close second to Discover.

Also consider: For an alternative that offers higher cash back but charges an annual fee, check out the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Most notable features: The VentureOne card has a low regular APR and great travel features to boot. Namely, it earns 10x miles per dollar on hotels booked and paid through With this card, you'll also earn 1.25x miles per dollar on all other purchases. It has no annual fee.

Why we like it: This card is our favorite low interest card since its intro offer of 12 months 0% APR on purchases is followed by a low regular interest rate of 13.74% - 23.74% variable. This low APR is complemented by strong travel rewards and a sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles for spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.

How to make the most of it: Remember to use this card when you pay for your hotel bookings on Go for travel rewards when you redeem the miles you've earned, as they tend to hold the greatest redemption value.

What's new: Capital One's partnership with was launched earlier this year, and is scheduled to run through January of 2020.

Also consider: For another low APR card that offers strong rewards, consider the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card

Most notable features: The BofA Travel Rewards card is a straightforward card that comes with handsome rewards. It earns a consistent and unlimited 1.5X points per dollar on every purchase, and provides a 25,000 point sign-up bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Why we like it: With no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee, it's easy to use this card to earn rewards on international trips.

How to make the most of it: Be mindful of how you redeem your points. Generally, you'll get the best value from redeeming points for travel purchases or as statement credits on travel purchases.

What's new: In our full review, we delved into the advantages of the Bank of America Travel Rewards, and found that we love the no blackout dates and that the points don't expire. On the downside, we found that the cash redemption is only 0.006 cent per point.

Also consider: For a premium credit card with flexible redemption options, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Most notable features: Earn 40,000 miles after a $2,000 spend within the first 3 months, and another 10,000 miles after spending $6,000 total in the first 12 months. Additionally, you get 2X miles back at gas stations, restaurants, and every eligible American Airlines purchase. There's also a $100 American Airlines flight discount after you spend $20,000 in a year and renew your card.

Why we like it: Plenty of airline cards allow you to earn boosted points for airline purchases, but this one also offers increased points for everyday purchases. And the preferred boarding and free first checked bag just pile on superior travel benefits of the Platinum Select, making this our favorite airline card.

How to make the most of it: This card is great for making purchases abroad since there is no foreign transaction fee.

What's new: New to this card is the two-part sign-up bonus structure, as well as the $100 American Airlines flight discount for spending $20,000 in purchases in a cardmembership year and renewing.

Also consider: The AAdvantage MileUp Card is a worthwhile alternative with no annual fee and a smaller, more attainable sign-up bonus.

Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card

Most notable features: With 1.5% cash back on all purchases, this offer is among the best credit cards out there and can translate into huge savings for businesses that make substantial purchases. With no annual fee, the Ink Business Unlimited offers a compelling value for any business, but especially small businesses. That's not to mention the $500 sign-up bonus after only $3,000 in purchases made in the first 3 months.

Why we like it: The 1.5% unlimited cash back and large sign-up bonus means business owners can quickly rack up the dollars from using this card.

How to make the most of it: To maximize your cash back, take advantage of the fact that you can add employee cards to your account at no additional charge and have them use their employee cards on business expenses. Note that you can easily monitor and set spending limits for each employee.

What's new: This relatively new card for the small-business owner offers a host of superior features, including primary auto rental insurance, which means you can use it before you use your personal insurance.

Also consider: The Capital One Spark Cash for Business offers even higher cash back of 2% on all purchases, but charges a $95 annual fee after the first year.

Capital One Platinum

Most notable features: The Capital One Platinum accepts you even if your credit that's not the best, as low as a 580 credit score, making it ideal for credit building. If you pay it off in full and on time each month, you have a good shot at getting a higher credit line after your first 5 months of on-time payments.

Why we like it: This card doesn't have the hidden fees that you'll sometimes find with a card that accepts fair or limited credit. And with no annual fee, the Capital One Platinum is our favorite among the fair credit cards.

How to make the most of it: Set your own monthly due date and use the payment method that is most convenient for you (by check, online, or at a local branch).

What's new: When we compared the Capital One Platinum with the Quicksilver, it became pretty clear that the Platinum's biggest downside was the lack of rewards. However, the Platinum's no foreign transaction fees and opportunity to increase your credit limit were pluses.

Also consider: For better rewards and a small annual fee, take a look at the Capital One QuicksilverOne.

Credit One Bank Visa Credit Card

Most notable features: Earn 1% back on select everyday purchases such as gas, groceries, and services such as cellphone, internet, cable and satellite TV. This card is perfect for you if your score is under 670 on a scale of 300-850, and Credit One automatically monitors you to see if you qualify for a higher credit line.

Why we like it: This card is great training if your credit isn't the best but you want to practice with a rewards card.

How to make the most of it: It cannot be emphasized enough, pay your full balance on time every month. Only use it for purchases that you know you can pay off at the end of the month.

What's new: The serviceable Credit One Bank Visa Credit Card offers the opportunity to open a card account that doesn't require a refundable deposit – meaning it is not a secured card.

Also consider: For a secured card alternative, consider the Capital One Secured Mastercard.

Discover it Student Cash Back

Most notable features: College students can benefit from this card's 5% back on rotating categories after you activate, up to the quarterly maximum. Backed by one of the leading credit card networks, this is a great option for students looking to build credit without having to worry about an annual fee. The fact that Discover automatically matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year is a huge bonus.

Why we like it: This card is truly tailored for students. In addition to its generous cash back, it also gives students a $20 statement credit for each 3.0+ GPA school year for up to 5 years.

How to make the most of it: Remain disciplined in your spending habits and do not be tempted into making extra purchases now that you have a credit card. That said, do use it on things you would ordinarily buy with cash, so that you earn cash back on fixed expenses and build up your credit history.

What's new: Student cards are on the downswing, but there are still a few that offer uniquely valuable features for the college student, including the Discover it Student Cash Back.

Also consider: Take a look at the Discover it Student chrome and decide which rewards structure suits you best.

Credit cards we considered in our research

Out of the 3,476 cards we analyzed to get to the top 17, here's how it broke down by category (certain credit cards overlap across several categories).

TypeNumber of Credit Cards
No annual fee2,744
Rewards points1,640
Excellent credit1,526
Good credit1,478
0% introductory APR1,002
No foreign transaction fee938
Low interest869
Cash back682
Bad credit269
No credit history264
Fair credit161
Charge card27

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards provide you with a line of credit that can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. Credit is essentially borrowed money from the card issuer, usually capped at a dollar amount (known as your credit limit). All credit cards carry an Annual Percentage Rate (APR), also known as the card’s interest rate. You’re not obligated to pay your entire credit card bill in full every month, but if you carry a balance, you’ll accumulate interest based on your APR.

Credit cards offer significant advantages over other payment methods. Ted Rossman, industry analyst, points out that "the main reason to use a credit card instead of a debit card or cash is because credit cards offer lucrative rewards. Credit cardholders can easily get 1.5% or even 2% cash back on everything they buy. As long as you can pay your statement balance in full, it’s a no-brainer, because it’s free money."

"Credit cards are also faster when it comes to checking out," says Randall Yates of The Lenders Network. "Debit cards require a PIN, adding precious seconds to a transaction."

We consumers love our credit cards. In fact, the American Bankers Association just learned that in Q2 of 2018, card use picked up dramatically. There was a record increase of 9.2% of super-prime credit card accounts and a record increase of 6.6% of prime accounts during that period compared to the same period the previous year. Even subprime accounts increased, although at a slower pace of 3%.

Is a credit card right for you?

There is a right time and a wrong time to take out a credit card. We look at how to time it so that you can get the product that best suits your needs — here are some general guidelines to follow. Only consider getting a new credit card if:

1. Your credit score is where it needs to be – This is a big one. Make sure your score is within the range of the card you are looking at. If you have a credit score of 550, there's no point in applying for a high-end travel card that requires a much higher score.

2. You don't have any upcoming loans to take out – It's generally a bad idea to apply for a credit card if you are about to take out a loan for, say, a car or home. It can appear to lenders that you are desperate. Instead, time your applications so that you give each one a cushion of several months.

3. You haven't applied recently for a loan or card – In the same way, you don't want to apply for a card immediately after you apply for another type of loan. Every time you apply for a lending product your score takes a small hit (although it's temporary, so don't despair).

How do you qualify for the best credit cards?

Which credit cards you can get depends on your creditworthiness; the most common measure of this is called your credit score, a number which ranges from 300 to 850. The higher your credit score, the more options are available to you in terms of which credit cards you qualify for.

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, you have a greater chance of being approved for the best credit cards.

Here's how it works:

  1. Your credit habits are reported to the 3 major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, by your lenders.
  2. Those credit habits are used by credit score models FICO and VantageScore to assign you a score.
  3. Prospective lenders, landlords, insurance agencies and others look at that credit score to assess your creditworthiness.
  4. You are granted or denied lending products based in part on the score you've been assigned.

How to get a credit score

There are two major types of credit score: FICO and VantageScore. As 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.) You can get your VantageScore for free through Many credit card issuers also offer free access to your credit score as a benefit of holding one of their cards.

How a credit score is determined

Your credit score is influenced by the following major factors. In order to increase your chances of being approved for top tier credit cards, make sure your credit is healthy in each of these regards:

Payment history
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. "I recommend not buying what you can't pay for in cash within 30 days," advises Angelo Mendola of Priority Payments Local.

Amounts owed
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.

New credit
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.

Credit mix
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.

As Brandon Ackroyd of Tiger Mobiles puts it, "Two things have served me well to build a strong credit score: making 100% of payments on time and keeping my credit utilization low."

How credit card rewards work

Our September 2018 survey on rewards cards found that 57% of U.S. consumers have at least one rewards card, whether travel, cash back or co-branded, so it's no surprise that new credit cards are entering the market every day. They might reward you for dining out, shopping at department stores, even making purchases at office supply stores. Used correctly, you can earn hundreds of dollars a year with them.

There are basically 2 ways to earn rewards – with a sign-up bonus and with ongoing rewards. There can be other ways, such as signing up your first authorized user, but those are the most common ways to earn rewards.

With a sign-up bonus, you usually are required to spend a minimum in order to get the bonus, and it will have a deadline – usually 3 months, but sometimes longer. So you might be able to earn $150 back after a $500 spend within 3 months, as in the case of the Freedom Unlimited.

The ongoing rewards are trickier. You can be rewarded for loyalty to hotel and airline brands; certain types of shopping; and loyalty to the card. Nathalie Noisette of Credit Conversion says she mostly uses her credit card for travel: "I travel often for seminars, card use is a good way to cover expenses to earn points towards future travel." Credit cards can be cash back cards or travel cards, and there are different types of both, including rotating categories, tiered categories and flat rates.

Ways to redeem the rewards vary from issuing checks and statement credits to redemptions for travel and using loyalty miles for flights. Top credit cards tend to offer higher rewards and be more flexible in how you can redeem them.

Benefits you can get with your credit cards

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. Here are some of the most common—and most compelling—benefits you can get with a top-tier credit card.

Travel benefits

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

Rewards benefits

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

Miscellaneous benefits

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

Is an annual fee ever worth it?

Some fees, such as late fees, should be avoided at all costs. But others may be worth your while, depending on the type. One of the most common decisions you'll come across is whether to go for a card with an annual fee. A card with an annual fee will frequently have more robust rewards, and the annual fee may be waived the first year. Depending on your goals and spending habits, a card with an annual fee can definitely be worth your while, even compared to cards without one. For example:

CardSign-up BonusOngoing RewardsAnnual FeeEnd of First Year Net Value
Capital One Venture Rewards50,000 miles / $3,000 spend in 3 mths2X miles x $1,000/mth = 24,000 miles$95 waived first yr$500 + $240 = $740
Capital One VentureOne Rewards20,000 miles / $1,000 spend in 3 mths1.25X miles x $1,000/mth = 15,000 miles$0$200 + $150 = $350

Remember to keep an open mind and carefully consider how much you could get out of an annual-fee card compared to no-annual-fee alternatives. The above example can be used as a guideline for conducting a basic cost-benefit analysis.

More of our top picks

Want to do more research? Check out our best credit card picks in popular categories like travel, cash back, and sign-up bonuses.

All information about The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is no longer available through

Laura is an editor and writer at She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura's work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.

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