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The Best Credit Cards of December 2022: Rewards, Top Offers & Reviews

Written by: Jeanine Skowronski | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Jason Steele
|

November 30, 2022

Best Credit Cards of December 2022

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Best for foodies
American Express® Gold Card
Our rating:5.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

4X
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4X
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3X
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

At A Glance

Intro offer
60,000 points Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$250
Regular APR
19.74%-26.74% Variable
BEST FOR FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:4.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

10%
Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
8%
Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
5%
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
3%
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% variable
BEST FOR TRAVEL PERKS
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:5.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

740-850 (Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

10X
Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X
5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X
Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro offer
75,000 miles Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
Annual fee
$395
Regular APR
19.99% - 26.99% variable
BEST FOR CASH BACK MATCH
Discover it® Cash Back
Our rating:4.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.74% - 26.74% variable
Best for everyday spending
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Our rating:5.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
3%
3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
1.5%
1.5% on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro offer
Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
18.74% - 27.49% variable
BEST FOR GENEROUS SIGN-UP BONUS
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Our rating:5.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5x
5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
3x
3x on dining.
2x
2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

At A Glance

Intro offer
60,000 points Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
19.74% - 26.74% variable
Best for customizable bonus rewards
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
1%
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.74% - 27.74% variable
Best for groceries
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Our rating:4.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

6%
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6%
6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3%
3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
1%
1% Cash Back on other purchases

At A Glance

Intro offer
$250 Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Regular APR
17.74% - 28.74% variable
BEST FOR FLAT-RATE TRAVEL
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:4.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5X
Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
2X
Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

At A Glance

Intro offer
75,000 miles New Venture cardholders can earn 75,000 miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
18.99% - 26.99% variable
Best first rewards card
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:3.7 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Annual fee
$0
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% variable
Best for frugal families
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Our rating:4.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
3%
3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
1%
1% Cash Back on other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$250 Earn up to $250 - Here's How: Earn up to $150 back when you shop with PayPal. Earn 20% back as a statement credit on purchases when you use your new Card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.74% - 28.74% variable
BEST FOR BALANCE TRANSFERS
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Our rating:5.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.74% - 26.74% variable
BEST BUSINESS CREDIT CARD
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Our rating:4.4 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

2%
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.
1%
1% cash back on all eligible purchases after spending $50,000 per calendar year.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$250 Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months.
Annual fee
No annual fee
Regular APR
16.99% - 24.99% variable
BEST STUDENT CREDIT CARD
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Our rating:4.3 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
16.74% - 25.74% variable
BEST SECURED CREDIT CARD

Editor's Pick

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Our rating:4.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual fee
$0
Balance transfer intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
28.49% variable

Our methodology and research

3,476Credit Cards Analyzed
600Banks Analyzed

Criteria Used

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

All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.


Comparing the best credit cards

Credit cardBest forAnnual feeCreditCards.com Rating
Wells Fargo Active Cash® CardFlat-rate cash back$04.1 / 5
American Express® Gold CardFoodies$2505 / 5
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardFood and entertainment$04.9 / 5
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit CardTravel perks$3955 / 5
Discover it® Cash BackCash back match$04.6 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Everyday spending$05.0 / 5
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardGenerous sign-up bonus$955.0 / 5
Citi Custom Cash℠ CardCustomizable bonus categories$04.5 / 5
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressGroceries$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)4.6 / 5
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardFlat-rate travel$954.9 / 5
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit CardFirst rewards card$03.7 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressFrugal families$04.9 / 5
Discover it® Balance TransferBalance transfers$05 / 5
American Express Blue Business Cash™ CardBusiness$04.4 / 5
Discover it® Student Cash BackStudents$04.3 / 5
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardSecured$04.2 / 5

best credit cards 2022

Editor’s picks: A closer look at top-rated credit cards

Best for flat-rate cash back: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

  • Best features: The Active Cash card goes further than other flat-rate credit cards that earn a high 2% cash rewards on purchases, offering a sign-up bonus and additional perks like concierge service, hotel benefits at Visa Signature Hotel collection properties worldwide and up to $600 in cellphone protection ($25 deductible applies).
  • Biggest drawbacks: A credit card with high bonus categories that fit your spending habits could help you earn maximum rewards faster. And while the additional perks are nice, the Active Cash card doesn’t offer the longest intro APR period or the highest cellphone protection compared to other rewards cards.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a slightly lower flat rate compared to the Active Cash Card but comes with bonus categories that could easily make up the difference if you spend more on travel and dining.
  • Bottom line: This is one of the best credit cards for anyone looking for a straightforward way to earn cash rewards on purchases.

Related: Wells Fargo Active Cash vs. Citi Double Cash

Read our full Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for foodies: American Express® Gold Card

  • Best features: On top of earning generous Amex Membership Rewards points for airfare and purchases made at U.S. supermarkets, this card has one of the highest cash back rates for dining, including takeout and delivery. But there’s more to the Amex Gold besides rewards. The impressive welcome offer, credits, multiple travel insurance benefits and numerous other perks help make this one of the top travel-and-dining rewards cards.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The credits are doled out on a monthly basis, in $10 increments, which may feel limiting if you were hoping for a larger payout. Plus, the dining credit only covers a small list of options: Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. These limitations may decrease the card’s value and make it harder to offset the $250 annual fee.
  • Alternatives: At $95 a year, the Citi Premier® Card has a much lower annual fee. But you could end up earning more rewards if your spending habits line up with the card’s multiple 3X bonus categories, which cover restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotels.
  • Bottom line: People looking for a best-in-class card for food purchases will find themselves richly rewarded by the Amex Gold.

Related: Who should get the Amex Gold Card?

Read our full American Express Gold Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for food and entertainment: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: Few cards cover the combination of food and entertainment like the SavorOne. You’ll have an easy time earning an unlimited 3% cash back when grocery shopping, eating in or out, binge watching your favorite shows via popular streaming services or visiting popular destinations like zoos, concerts, sporting events and movie theaters. Plus, it’s hard to beat the 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The SavorOne doesn’t provide the highest rewards rates for groceries or dining, or annual credits for food or entertainment. Other cards may be a better fit if you’re looking for rich bonus features and best-in-class rewards rates on those purchases.
  • Alternatives: If you spend heavily on groceries or dining, you may reap more value from the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and its U.S. supermarket cash back or the American Express Gold card and its dining rewards and perks.
  • Bottom line: Almost any cardholder can benefit from this no-annual-fee card’s unlimited 3% rewards in popular spending categories. However, entertainment fans will find the SavorOne card’s comprehensive category coverage and 8% back on Capital One Entertainment purchases provide a unique value.

Related: Is the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card worth it?

Read our full Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for travel perks: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: This premium card has one of the lowest annual fees for a top-of-the-line rewards card with luxury benefits like complimentary lounge access. On top of valuable annual credits and bonus anniversary miles that easily justify the annual fee, the card also offers an impressive flat rate of 2X miles and a stellar sign-up bonus.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Other luxury travel cards offer more perks and privileges with partner brands, including rideshare credits and complimentary hotel elite status. Competing cards may also earn more rewards on general travel, dining and other travel-related purchases.
  • Alternatives: If you’re not deterred by the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), you may prefer The Platinum Card® from American Express, which offers broader airport lounge access, more luxury travel benefits and a larger network of transfer partners.
  • Bottom line: The Venture X is a great option for anyone looking for a taste of luxury perks without paying over $500 for an annual fee. Frequent travelers will be able to easily offset the card’s annual fee with the card’s practical features, including annual travel credits, yearly bonus miles and generous reward opportunities.

Related: Is the Capital One Venture X card worth it?

Read our full Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for cash back match: Discover it® Cash Back

  • Best features: At the end of your first year of card membership, Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned, which can be incredibly valuable even for those who tend to spend conservatively. Rewards rates are high on bonus categories and the intro APR on balance transfers is ideal for tackling existing card debt.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Enrollment is required for bonus categories. If you’re not up for planning in advance, you may miss out on the potential value of the card.
  • Alternatives: If bonus categories aren’t your bag, the Citi® Double Cash Card is an excellent flat-rate cash back card that charges no annual fee.
  • Bottom line: This card’s high rewards rate is sure to please anyone willing to plot out rotating categories in advance, and big spenders will certainly get the most out of this card’s opportunity to have all your earnings matched at the end of your first year.

Related: Discover it Cash Back rewards and benefits guide

Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for everyday spending: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Best features: The Freedom Unlimited’s travel and dining bonus categories are great but not the only standout features. The card also offers a higher flat rate for general purchases compared to other cash back cards with bonus categories and comes with a welcome offer worth an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • Biggest drawbacks: The Freedom Unlimited card’s sign-up bonus is worth up to $300 in cash back your first year by earning an additional 1.5 percent cash back on everything you buy, but you’ll have to spend up to $20,000 to take maximum advantage of the offer. This is far more work compared to the sign-up bonuses found with other cash back cards.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking to earn high rewards for food and travel, you have some solid options to consider. The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card doesn’t cover as much travel as the Freedom Unlimited but is a great no-annual-fee option that rewards your spending in a number of popular areas, including dining, grocery store purchases and popular streaming services. Or, for a $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes packed with all the best features found with the Freedom Unlimited and SavorOne, plus additional perks to help offset the annual fee.
  • Bottom line: Anyone seeking a general-purpose cash back card with an extra helping of dining and drugstore rewards will be well-served by the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It’s also a good companion card to people who have other Chase credit cards, given the issuer lets you transfer points between certain accounts.

Related: Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?

Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for generous sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Best features: Travelers will find a lot to love about Chase’s mid-tier travel card. On top of a generous sign-up bonus and high rewards rate on travel and everyday purchases, you’ll get a 25% boost in point value when you redeem for travel with Chase. The Sapphire Preferred card’s travel perks and protections are also exceptional for its annual fee.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Like other top travel rewards cards, you’ll have to spend a lot in a short period of time to earn the sign-up bonus.
  • Alternatives: If you want premium perks like annual travel credits and complimentary lounge access, consider upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture X rewards card.
  • Bottom line: Frequent travelers who aren’t loyal to one airline or hotel brand can get a lot of value out of this general-purpose travel card. It offers stellar rewards value, flexibility, perks and card combination opportunities for a low annual fee.

Related: Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it?

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for customizable bonus categories: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

  • Best features: Few cards adapt to your spending habits like the Custom Cash card, which automatically earns 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category (on up to $500 in spending each billing cycle). Eligible categories include a number of options that don’t typically earn such a high rate of cash back all year long with other cash back cards, like restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and home improvement stores.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Since you only earn bonus cash back in one eligible spend category and all other purchases earn 1% cash back, you could lose out on a lot of cash back rewards if you put all of your spending on this card.
  • Alternatives: Even though it comes with a $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year), the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns more rewards in multiple everyday categories, including purchases made at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets. If you take full advantage of the card’s rewards earning potential, you could offset the ongoing $95 annual fee after the first year and still rake in plenty of cash back.
  • Bottom line: This card is a good option for anyone looking for a well-rounded, no-annual-fee rewards card, given it also includes a sign-up bonus and promotional APR on balance transfers and purchases. To make sure you’re getting the best value, pair it with a flat-rate card or another bonus-category rewards card.

Related: Is the Citi Custom Cash Card worth it?

Read our full Citi Custom Cash Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Best features: This card packs a lot of everyday value, offering high rewards in far more household categories than the typical cash back rewards card. This includes one of the highest cash back rates around for U.S. supermarkets and select U.S. streaming services. This versatile card also comes with an intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers, a generous welcome offer and a number of shopping protections.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There are a few caveats attached to the bonus rewards – namely the $6,000 cap on U.S. supermarket purchases per year (then 1%) and the fact that the 3% and 6% rewards are only available stateside.
  • Alternatives: Families who spend less than $3,200 at U.S. supermarkets annually might prefer the Blue Cash Everyday, which offers lower rewards on similar bonus categories for no-annual-fee, plus a versatile U.S. online retail category.
  • Bottom line: Families who spend $3,200 or more at U.S. supermarkets yearly will recoup the $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year), plus some – and likely come out ahead in the long term, given the card’s additional rewards categories.

Related: Who should get the Blue Cash Preferred card?

Read our full Blue Cash Preferred Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: This is one of the best general-purpose travel cards for people who want a straightforward travel rewards card with flexible redemption options. A decent sign-up bonus, travel benefits, flat-rate rewards and boosted miles on eligible Capital One Travel bookings combine to make this an especially well-rounded travel card. For many travelers, the $95 annual fee will be well worth the cost.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The Venture card doesn’t carry any perks with a clear monetary value other than the up to $100 fee credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application you can receive every four years. That means you’ll have to rely on your rewards to make up for the $95 annual fee instead of the annual credits and perks competing cards provide.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another mid-level travel rewards card that focuses on earning high rewards. It racks up rewards at an impressive rate in everyday purchase categories like dining and online grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and throws in remarkable travel benefits for its price tag. Or, if you prefer complimentary luxury benefits like complimentary lounge access and travel credits, consider upgrading to a card with a higher annual fee, like the Capital One Venture X or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  • Bottom line: Frequent travelers looking for a streamlined travel rewards card without complicated redemption options or fluff features may enjoy the Capital One Venture.

Related: Is the Capital One Venture Rewards card worth it?

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best first rewards card: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: This popular Capital One credit card has all the features you should look for in a first rewards credit card: no annual fee, a sign-up bonus with a low spending threshold and additional benefits like free credit monitoring and 24/7 concierge service, which help increase the card’s value. You can also choose to redeem cash back automatically if you want to streamline the rewards process.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases isn’t the best rate on the market for flat-rate cash back credit cards. In fact, several flat-rate cards that don’t require a good to excellent credit score offer the same cash back rates.
  • Alternatives: You can earn more with the Wells Fargo Active Cash card, which offers a full 2% cash rewards on purchases. Or, if you have average credit, you might have to settle for the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which lacks the sign-up bonus and comes with an annual fee, but earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Bottom line: The Quicksilver is an excellent choice for your first rewards credit card thanks to its low cost and the ease with which you can earn and redeem rewards.

Related: Guide to Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards benefits

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for frugal families: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Best features: One of the best fixed-bonus category credit cards, this Blue Cash Preferred alternative lets you skip the annual fee while you earn bonus rewards on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and at U.S.-based online retailers.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The bonus rewards are less generous than the Blue Cash Preferred but have the same spending cap on U.S. supermarket spending (along with a cap on the other bonus categories). Similarly, this card isn’t a great fit if you’re a fan of bargain shopping since its supermarket category excludes superstores and warehouse clubs (though you may earn rewards by shopping online at these stores).
  • Alternatives: If you spend $270 or more each month on groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred should rake in enough cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases to make it the more rewarding card, even with its annual fee. Plus, you’ll also enjoy a slew of other bonus categories that cover common spending categories.
  • Bottom line: Families with a smaller grocery budget can enjoy the Blue Cash Everyday’s rewards without worrying about recouping an annual fee.

Related: Is the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card worth it?

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for balance transfers: Discover it® Balance Transfer

  • Best features: This card has great short- and long-term value. Most balance transfer credit cards that offer a long intro APR for balance transfers don’t have much value beyond a lengthy introductory period. But this card stands out from the crowd, thanks to its impressive Cashback Match welcome offer that automatically matches all the cash back you earn in your first year, as well as the card’s rotating bonus category rewards program.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The card’s intro APR offer for purchases is far shorter than the typical 12 to 15 months you’ll find with other rewards cards.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t like the hassle of enrolling in quarterly categories to earn the card’s maximum rewards value, try a flat-rate cash back credit card. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card comes with a welcome bonus, straightforward cash rewards and a generous intro APR offer on both qualifying balance transfers and purchases.
  • Bottom line: If you have high-interest debt, this credit card could give you the time you need to come out ahead.

Related: Is the Discover it Balance Transfer card worth it?

Read our full Discover it® Balance Transfer review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best business credit card: American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

  • Best features: This is a great card for business owners who want an easy-to-use business card packed with features that can help you manage operations. Along with a nice flat rate on all eligible purchases, you also get plenty of expense management tools like free employee cards and access to business software to help you track your spending. Plus, the card comes with Expanded Buying Power, which can offer some peace of mind if you get stuck with unforeseen expenses.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You won’t earn maximum rewards for your business with a flat-rate credit card. And you’ll need to be careful not to exceed the spending cap: If you spend more than $50,000 per year, your flat rate drops to 1% for all purchases.
  • Alternatives: If you routinely spend over $50,000 a year, you could come out ahead with a different business credit card, like the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, which offers 1.5% on every purchase for no annual fee, along with a $900 cash back bonus after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Bottom line: Business owners looking for cash flow solutions, along with business owners who spend less than $50,000 each year, should consider this card a top option.

Related: Is the Blue Business Cash card worth it?

Read our full American Express Blue Business Cash Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best student credit card: Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • Best features: Students will be hard-pressed to find a starter credit card that offers more value than the Discover it Student Cash Back. Not only do you get an unsecured card to help build credit, but you’ll also get the same first-year welcome offer and high rewards rate as the full-fledged Discover it Cash Back card.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll have to keep track and enroll in quarterly rotating bonus categories, which might be more maintenance than you’re looking for.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t want to deal with rotating bonus categories that require enrollment, the Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card keeps it simple by earning cash back on all your purchases. But if you spend more on staples like food and entertainment, then the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card could be more consistently rewarding.
  • Bottom line: Students who want to earn rewards and enjoy beginner-friendly benefits are a great match for this well-rounded cash back credit card.

Related: Is the Discover it Student Cash Back card worth it?

Read our full Discover it Student Cash Back review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best secured credit card: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

  • Best features: This is perhaps the most accessible secured card available. You can put down a deposit of just $49 or $99 (if you qualify) and still get a minimum $200 credit limit. Capital One may also refund your security deposit after only six months of responsible card use — the shortest automatic account review period you’ll find.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll need to pay your balance in full each billing cycle to avoid the card’s high 28.49% variable APR. It also doesn’t earn rewards or offer a clear path to a higher credit limit like some competing secured cards. The $1,000 maximum security deposit may make it harder to improve your credit score since keeping your credit utilization ratio low could be challenging.
  • Alternatives: If you think you’ll need to carry a balance from time to time, a low-interest credit card like the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card may be a better fit. If you’re focused on earning rewards, consider the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, which earns cash back and carries fewer fees.
  • Bottom line: This card is a top option for people with bad credit who aren’t likely to qualify for a non-secured credit card.

Related: Capital One Platinum Secured credit card benefits guide

Read our full Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.


How do credit cards work?

In simple terms, credit cards are financial products that allow you to borrow money (usually) without collateral. Essentially, this is how credit cards work:

  • When you want to make a purchase, you present your credit card or account number to the merchant who will then run the transaction.
  • You’ll receive a bill each month, by email or online, for all of your purchase charges and any interest charges.
  • If you don’t carry a balance month to month, then you don’t pay interest. Carry a balance, and the interest starts accumulating.

Credit cards are designed for short-term borrowing. If you plan on borrowing long term, a personal loan would be a better fit. A credit card APR is much steeper and may lead to hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars in interest charges if you carry a balance long term, especially if you only pay the minimum each month. There are ways to avoid paying any interest, however, and ways to make credit cards benefit your whole financial picture.

How do credit card rewards work?

Credit card rewards and their programs come in many forms but generally fall into one of three categories: cash back, points and miles. Cash back is often the most straightforward to use and allows you to earn and redeem cash, frequently in the form of statement credits, gift cards, checks or direct deposits into your bank account.

The amount of points you’ll earn is based on your spending habits and whether your credit card offers a boosted rewards rate on your preferred spending categories. When you’re ready to redeem, your issuer may offer gift cards, cash, travel or other discounts in exchange. Travel rewards cards offer miles to be used towards discounted travel purchases and offer other helpful perks like free checked baggage and lounge access. The amount of miles you’ll earn are determined by your credit card and while programs may allow for miles to be converted, you may lose some in the process.

How do credit scores work?

When being considered for a credit card, the issuer will review your credit score to determine your creditworthiness and assess risk based on your previous credit history. Your credit score is shaped by a wide range of factors such as your on-time payment history, credit utilization ratio, the age of your oldest line of credit, and number of open accounts. More recently, some credit scores even factor in your rental payment history, which can be a huge boon to your overall credit profile.

The most commonly used credit score is the FICO score. This three-digit number is based on your credit history and ranges from 300 to 850. VantageScore, created by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, is another widely used indicator of creditworthiness and uses a similar range to FICO. In both cases, the lender operates under the assumption that those with a higher credit score pose less risk.

FICO and VantageScore group credit scores within the following ranges:

FICO Score rangesVantageScore ranges
800 to 850
Exceptional
781 to 850
Excellent
740 to 799
Very good
661 to 780
Good
670 to 739
Good
601 to 660
Fair
580 to 669
Fair
500 to 600
Poor
300 to 579
Very poor
300 to 499
Very poor

Naturally, a ”good” credit score or higher will net you the best credit card approval odds, interest rates and credit limit.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can request your credit score for free once every year. It’s a good idea to know your score and review your credit report to look for mistakes, which happen more than you might think. An error on your credit report can drag down your score and prevent you from being approved for credit cards, loans, apartments, and more. If you do find a mistake, you can dispute it and possibly have the error removed from your credit report.

How does credit card interest work?

Credit card interest is the fee financial institutions charge you to borrow money. It’s listed as an annual percentage rate (APR) on your credit card statement or in your card’s terms and conditions. There are various credit card interest charges, such as purchase APR, cash advance or penalty APR, but it’s purchase APR you typically encounter the most.

  • Your issuer determines your interest rate. You will often see a range of interest rates listed with a credit card based on the prime rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve, but your exact rate is determined by the card issuer. Your creditworthiness is the main determining factor, and if you fall into a good or excellent credit rating, then you will qualify for a lower interest rate compared to people with fair or bad credit.
  • Interest gets added on to any unpaid balance. Interest is calculated by what you owe at the end of your billing cycle, including your unpaid balance from the previous cycle. Issuers typically calculate the credit card interest owed using a daily periodic rate, which is multiplied by your average daily balance and the number of days in your billing period.
  • You can avoid paying interest. There are two ways to avoid paying costly interest. The first is to take advantage of the grace period found with most credit cards. This gives you a certain amount of time (typically at least 21 days) to make purchases with your card and pay them off without having to deal with interest charges. Another way to avoid paying interest is to take advantage of cards offering a 0% introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers.

Benefits of having a credit card

When used responsibly, a credit card has endless advantages, such as the ability to earn rewards, handle emergencies and build credit. The five most useful benefits of using a credit card are:

  • Credit building. Using a credit card responsibly can help you build credit since your card issuer will report your transaction activity to the three credit bureaus. This is especially helpful if you have no credit history or wish to improve your credit score.
  • Earning rewards. You can earn cash back, points or miles earned on your spending, potentially saving hundreds of dollars on purchases you would have made anyway. Rewards are one of the main appeals of credit cards and can make a big difference in the long run, as long as you pay on time and in full.
  • Access to card membership perks. Certain credit cards come with a variety of discounts, purchase protections or complimentary services or memberships. Plus, your credit card may provide more peace of mind next time you travel with benefits such as baggage delay insurance, rental car collision coverage or trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
  • Protection against fraud. Credit cards are far more secure than debit cards since they are not tied to your bank account. Many credit cards include some form of fraud protection, so if your card is stolen and someone makes large transactions with it, you will not be held liable. Cardholders are covered under the Fair Credit Building Act (FCBA) in the case of fraudulent credit card transactions, so if you fear your card has been lost or stolen, or if you notice strange charges, your credit card issuer will most likely cancel your card and cover the fraudulent charges.
  • Pay off purchases over time. Credit cards also allow you to make a purchase and repay the balance at a later date, which could come in handy if you have any unexpected expenses arise. However, accruing interest can snowball into a costly problem. Be sure to pay off your purchases before the end of your billing cycle, or before your grace period expires at the latest. If you need a bit more time, you may want to find a card with a lengthy 0% intro APR on purchases.

Types of credit cards

There are numerous types of credit cards available to consumers, ranging from straightforward, no-frills cards, to options that are packed full of features. You’ll need to compare credit cards based on your spending habits, credit history and any desired benefits. To help you narrow it all down, we’ll detail a few credit card types and their top features.

How to choose a credit card

Finding your ideal card isn’t always an easy process. Your choice of credit card should be one that fits not only your credit score but also your spending habits and financial goals.

As you narrow down your choices, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your credit score? Card issuers primarily look at your credit score and income to determine approvals, so a big first step in choosing a credit card involves checking your credit. Typically, the higher the score, the better the benefits and rewards.
  • Do you tend to carry a balance? If so, a low-interest or non-rewards zero interest credit card is a better choice than a rewards credit card, given you’re likely to lose any points, miles or cash back you earn to interest.
  • Are you currently carrying high-interest credit card debt? If so, opt for a balance transfer credit card with a long 0% introductory APR window or a waived balance transfer fee.
  • Are you a transactor? That means you charge most purchases to a credit card, but pay them off in full each month. If so, a rewards credit card is the best way to get a return on your spending.
  • Can you recoup an annual fee? If you charge a lot (and pay your balances in full each month), don’t necessarily forego a card with an annual fee. A premium card may be worth it since these cards tend to carry the most lucrative benefits. Big spenders are more likely to offset the cost of the annual fee with these perks and potentially pocket more value than a no-annual-fee rewards card may offer.
  • Are you looking to earn cash back or miles? Travel credit cards offering points or miles can be quite lucrative, but cash back cards are generally very easy to leverage, particularly when it comes time to redeem.
  • Do you favor a certain airline, hotel or retailer? Co-branded cards tend to carry a good return on those specific purchases, plus extra perks that make them a worthwhile addition to your wallet.
  • Are you looking for a sign-up bonus? These offers let you earn bonus rewards in your first year if you spend a certain amount of money in a set time frame (usually within your first 90 days). The best credit card sign-up bonuses have a spending requirement that you can reasonably reach based on your normal spending habits.
  • Do you already have a credit card? It’s common to carry more than one credit card, given your financial profile and goals change over time. In fact, a common way to maximize your credit card rewards is by pairing a flat-rate card with bonus category or travel-specific credit cards in order to cover a wide range of spending. That way, you’ll earn the most rewards possible.

How to compare credit card features

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all credit card. Each cardholder will have their own unique set of wants and needs and it’s unlikely that one credit card will tick off every box. When determining which credit card offers the best set of features to fit your must-haves, compromise is the name of the game. If you’re hoping to land a card that comes loaded with premium frills but doesn’t charge an annual fee, you may have to choose one or the other.

When narrowing down the type of card that’s right for you, ask yourself which of the following features you hope to avoid and which you absolutely can’t do without:

Fees

While avoiding credit card fees altogether is unlikely, you could keep them to a minimum with certain cards. However, this may mean losing out on extra perks and benefits. For example, if you’re looking to skip annual fees, there are $0 annual fee credit cards to choose from, but cards with annual fees (ranging from $35 to as much as $699) typically offer better perks and consumer protections.

Whether annual fees are worth it or not depends on how much use you’ll get out of your card’s benefits based on your lifestyle and spending habits.

Interest rates

A card’s interest rate is one of the most critical aspects to be aware of when choosing a card. This is the rate your card issuer will charge you for borrowing from your line of credit, and that rate can vary quite a bit based on your credit score and other factors.

Issuers will typically offer a lower introductory interest rate when you first join, lasting anywhere from six to 21 months. This intro rate can be as low as 0 percent during this period, while some cards may just reduce the ongoing rate for a time (typically cards for less-than-perfect credit). After this time, the regular interest rate kicks in. If you tend to carry a balance month-to-month, a high interest rate can be financially risky.

Benefits and rewards

Credit cards often come loaded with handy benefits for cardmembers, such as extended purchase warranties, airport lounge access, travel insurance and discounts on services or at retailers. Generally, the higher your annual fees the more premium your benefits will be.

Premium cards also offer a better rewards rate on purchases. When looking at a card’s rewards program, you’ll want to consider not only the reward rate per dollar but also the value of those rewards and ease of redemption.

Introductory bonus

Credit cards offer hefty introductory bonuses, also known as welcome or sign-up bonuses, to new cardholders. These bonuses are often given in the form of points or cash after the new cardholder spends a certain dollar amount within a given period of time in order to entice them to spend.

Such offers can be extremely lucrative depending on the card, but bigger isn’t always better. In the event of inflated points, a 100,000-point bonus may not get you as much as you think when it comes time to redeem. For some, spending to meet the bonus threshold could leave them with a debt that is difficult to repay, especially when the regular APR period begins.

Tip: To help make your decision, check out our compare credit cards tool to find the card that is best for you.

How to apply for a credit card

Check your credit score

Before you apply for a credit card, you need to know where your credit stands and which credit cards you qualify for. A quick glance over your credit report will also help you spot any errors or potential hurdles and give you an opportunity to correct them before you apply.

You can access your credit for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, or visit the FICO® Score website for more info on where to view your score.

Find a credit card that matches your needs

Once you have a sense of the type of cards available to you based on your credit score, it becomes easier to narrow down the search. The card you choose should match your spending habits, budget, and financial goals. For example, will you carry a balance month to month? Will you use rewards primarily for travel or would a more flexible rewards card suit you best?

Once you’ve determined exactly what it is you’re looking for in a credit card, it’s time to apply.

Apply

There are a number of ways to apply for a credit card. The application process is fairly standard, as you can apply by mail or online directly through the issuer’s site. You can also apply through your financial institution if you like the card’s offerings. Chances are you’ll receive more favorable terms as an existing client. Assuming your account history has remained relatively unblemished, your bank may be willing to approve you for cards you may not be able to get elsewhere.

When applying, you’ll be asked to provide basic personal information such as name, address, SSN and annual income as well as a list of current financial obligations such as your monthly housing costs or auto loan payments. When calculating your income, you may include money earned outside of work such as any government benefits or passive income.

Receive a decision

In many cases, your online application is processed right then and there, giving you an answer in a matter of seconds. Once approved, your new card will typically be mailed out to you within a week or two. Other times, the process may take a bit longer and you may receive a later decision by email, snail mail, or telephone.

What happens if your credit card application is denied?

As many Americans continue to struggle financially as a result of the pandemic and inflation, card issuers have been quick to tighten requirements for approval, resulting in a decline in overall credit card ownership. If your credit card application has been rejected, the issuer must provide you with an explanation for its decision, which is usually sent by email or sometimes snail mail.

There are a number of reasons why an issuer might choose to reject an application, here are a few:

  • Your credit score is too low. Credit cards come with an estimated minimum credit score. If your credit score falls below the required minimum, then it’s likely that you will be denied. You can sometimes check if you’re pre-approved for certain cards on the issuer’s website or you can use Creditcards.com’s CardMatch™ tool which helps match you with personalized card offers based on your credit profile.
  • Unreliable proof of income. If you fail to report stable or regular income in your application, the credit card issuer may ask for proof of income or deny your application. You can get a credit card without a job, but issuers will look to see that you have a reliable way to pay back the money you borrow.
  • You have errors on your credit report. Errors on your credit report, like unauthorized accounts, duplicate accounts, incorrect balances or the wrong personal information like an address or misspelling can hurt your chances of approval.
  • You’re carrying too much debt. If you already hold a credit card that you carry a balance on month-to-month or have loan accounts open which you have not made frequent payments on, then you may be denied when you apply for a new credit card because of excessive debt. Issuers will approve applications from potential borrowers who they are confident will pay their credit card bill on time.
  • Multiple credit applications. If you have applied for several credit cards in a short period of time then an issuer will likely deny your application because they view this as risky behavior.

If a rejection takes you by surprise, you can appeal the decision by calling the issuer’s reconsideration line. There you can make your case to an agent and address any concerns they may have about your credit profile. There’s no guarantee that they’ll reverse the decision but it’s worth a shot for those who feel they are a good candidate for the card. If you do plan to reach out to the issuer, it’s best to call within a few days of the rejection and have a copy of your credit report handy for quick reference.

Applying for a credit card results in what is known as a hard pull on your credit, which temporarily dings your score each time. For that reason, you don’t want to apply for another card immediately after you’ve been denied. Issuers will interpret this as risky behavior.

How we picked the best credit cards

Different types of credit cards are designed to help you achieve different financial goals. As a result, comparing cards across categories can be difficult. The best rewards credit card, for instance, will be characterized by a solid base rewards program, generous sign-up bonus and additional benefits, while the best balance transfer credit card would depend on the length of its balance transfer offer, its balance transfer fee and what its APR might be once the balance transfer expires. Having said that, we picked the best credit cards in our database by considering the following criteria.

  • Standout terms in the card’s category: We assessed whether a card’s terms and conditions were competitive when stacked against other cards in its respective category. For instance, for a rewards card, we looked at its rate of return on spending and evaluated whether that return was competitive, compared to other cards in the rewards category.
  • Reasonable costs: We looked at the major costs associated with most credit cards (purchase APR, balance transfer APR, penalty APR, annual fee, foreign transaction fees, etc.) to determine if a card’s offer was competitive in its category.
  • Overall value: If a card does carry certain fees, could those fees be justified by its other benefits? For instance, could you recoup an annual fee via the card’s rewards program? Could you still save on a balance transfer offer paying the balance transfer fee if you paid your balance off in the introductory 0% interest period?

Remember, the right credit card for you will vary, depending on your spending profile and financial goals.

More information on credit cards

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