Looking for the best credit cards? We can help! Our experts have done all the work for you – we analyzed 3,476 credit cards and compiled the 15 best offers all in one place. For rewards, cash back, and more, check out our top picks below and find the right card for you.
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Updated: May 22, 2018
The card you choose for your financial life is as individual as the clothes you wear or the car you drive. You might be on the hunt for the perfect balance transfer card. Or you could have your eye on the right travel card for you. Whatever the reason, the best card for you awaits. At CreditCards.com, we researched and evaluated hundreds of offers to help you find the best credit cards across several different categories. Along with our picks for the best cards, we go over a few things to know about the world of credit cards. Here, we look at:
Whether you aren't sure how many cards you should own or you want to understand what factors to consider when choosing the best credit card, we can help.
|Credit Card||Best For:||Annual Fee||CreditCards.com Rating|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Travel Rewards||$95 waived first year||4.4 / 5|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Overall Rewards||$95 waived first year||4.2 / 5|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Everyday Spending||$0||3.3 / 5|
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Flat-rate Rewards||$0||3.5 / 5|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||No Annual Fee||$0||3.4 / 5|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||Balance Transfers||$0||3.7 / 5|
|Discover it® Cashback Match™||0% Intro APR||$0||3.9 / 5|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||Sign-up Bonus||$0||3.5 / 5|
|Chase Freedom®||Low Interest||$0||3.4 / 5|
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||No Foreign Transaction Fee||$0||3.6 / 5|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Airline Miles||$69||3.2 / 5|
|Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card||Business||$0||3.6 / 5|
|Capital One® Platinum Credit Card||Fair Credit Applicants||$0||N/A|
|Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®||Bad Credit Applicants||$0-$99||N/A|
|Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®||Student Applicants||$0||2.2 / 5|
Annual Fee: $95 ($0 first year)
Why We Like It: Love to travel but don't love to track your rewards? Earn 2X miles on everything – no need to maintain loyalty to a brand. There's also the sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles. A wise choice for simple travel rewards, the Venture Rewards also now offers 10X miles per dollar when booking hotels through hotels.com/venture.
Bottom Line: The rewards for booking hotels are tough to beat.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: This card lives up to its name – it's truly perfect for everyday spending. With 3% cash back rate on groceries and 2% on gas, the Blue Cash Everyday Card is an excellent choice for families, foodies and folks ready for the open road. It also has a nice $150 sign-up bonus to kick things off that comes after a $1,000 spend in 3 months.
Bottom Line: The daily driver's dream card.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: Versatile, yet simple, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards offers a flat 1.5% cash back reward on all purchases and ranks among the best rewards cards in terms of fees, with low transfer fees, no annual fee, and you'll pay no foreign transaction fee. There's also a $150 cash bonus after a $500 spend in 3 months.
Bottom Line: This card leaves the fun to you with its straightforward rewards and solid value.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: With all the benefits of the Freedom card but with set-it-and-forget-it cash back on every purchase – instead of rotating categories, the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% back. There's the same great $150 sign-up bonus after $500 in 3 months, and you can complement it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred for a robust rewards program.
Bottom Line: Cash back was never so easy as with the Freedom Unlimited.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: This rewards card's friendly balance transfer terms outshine those of many competing cards. Not only do you earn double points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000), there's a 0% intro offer for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Also, earn 20% more points when you use your card 20 or more times in a billing period, and earn 10,000 points after a $1,000 spend in 3 months.
Bottom Line: This card doubles as a balance transfer card and a rewards card.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: While there's no sign-up bonus with the Cashback Match, your rewards are doubled at the end of your first year of card membership. That means the 5% back on quarterly categories is matched with another 5% at year-end. Categories can include Amazon.com, wholesale clubs, and the more common categories, such as restaurants and grocery stores. Redemptions were never easier – redeem at Amazon.com, with gift cards and more.
Bottom Line: In addition to its stellar cashback program, the Cashback Match offers a decent 0% APR option of 14 months for purchases and balance transfers.
Annual Fee: $95 ($0 first year)
Why We Like It: Firmly in the "wow" category, the Sapphire Preferred's legendary 1.25X points offer through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal makes it a leader in the pack. There's also the 50,000-point sign-up bonus and 2X points on worldwide travel and restaurants. And you can partner the Chase cashback cards with the Sapphire Preferred's 1.25X points offer.
Bottom Line: In addition to double points on worldwide travel and restaurants, earn 1.25X points when redeeming travel through the Chase travel portal.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: The Wells Fargo Cash Wise earns a solid flat rate of 1.5% unlimited cash rewards on purchases. However, an even greater selling point is its $200 sign-up bonus. While there are luxury travel cards out there with larger bonuses, the Cash Wise's $200 is still higher than the $150 sign-up bonuses offered by many of its competing no annual fee cards, and has a reasonable minimum spend requirement ($1,000 in the first 3 months) to boot.
Bottom Line: The Cash Wise's sign-up bonus strikes a good balance between bonus size and required spend.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: If you don't mind working a little for your dinner, the Chase Freedom is well worth your effort. It gives 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories and 1% on everything else, as well as a $150 cashback sign-up bonus after a $500 spend within 3 months. Use this card in conjunction with other Chase cards, like the Sapphire Preferred, to pool your points and maximize value when you redeem your rewards through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal.
Bottom Line: Variety is the spice of life – if you'd enjoy spending on your Chase Freedom in a number of ways, this is a good choice.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: If VentureOne's 1.25X miles and 20,000-mile sign-up bonus (after $1,000 spend in 3 months) isn't enough, the no blackout dates and no annual fee will seal the deal for you. Also, your dollar will go a long way at hotels.com/venture where this card will net you 10X miles on hotel purchases.
Bottom Line: The VentureOne is a superb companion for adventures abroad, with its no foreign transaction fee offer.
Annual Fee: $69
Why We Like It: This card will give you even more reasons to love Southwest Airlines, with its hefty sign-up bonus and 2X points on all Southwest purchases and at certain car rentals that are partnered with the Rapid Rewards program. Also, bags fly free and there are no change fees.
Bottom Line: Southwest flyers will enjoy racking up miles with this card.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: Offset the overhead at your business with the Ink Business Unlimited, which earns unlimited 1.5% cash back including on major expenses such as internet, cable, phone and office supplies. Also, earn $500 back after a $3,000 spend within 3 months. Employee cards are at no cost, and there's no annual fee.
Bottom Line: Ink provides tremendous value for small business owners.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: The fastest and easiest way to build credit is with a credit card, and the Capital One Platinum will get you where you need to be. With this card, you can choose the monthly due date that works for you. After five months of on-time payments, your credit line will increase.
Bottom Line: The Platinum is a no-nonsense credit card that's great for building or rebuilding credit.
Annual Fee: $0 - $99
Why We Like It: Earn 1% cash back on everyday purchases like gas, groceries and phone bills while building your credit score. Credit One Bank will revisit your eligibility for a credit line increase. You'll also have the ability to track your credit online for free – an important good habit to establish.
Bottom Line: Good for earning rewards and building credit simultaneously.
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Like It: This student credit card can help you learn good spending habits by rewarding you with bonus points for on-time payments. That means 1% back on all purchases becomes 1.25% when you pay on time.
Bottom Line: This card doubles as a rewards card and credit-builder card – perfect for college students.
Credit cards analyzed: 3,476
Banks analyzed: 600
Common benefits (and number of cards we analyzed): Auto rental insurance (3,380), extended warranty program (1,995), travel accident insurance (1,445), purchase protection (1,353), price protection (903), lost luggage reimbursement (868), concierge service (852), roadside assistance (776), free credit score (579)
See other benefits below
Criteria used: Rates and fees, rewards rates, sign-up bonuses, redemption options, credit needed, miscellaneous benefits, customer service, security, ease of application, ability to improve credit line
Out of the 3,476 cards we analyzed to get to the top 15, here's how it broke down by category (certain credit cards overlap across several categories).
|Type||Number of Credit Cards|
|No annual fee||2,744|
|0% introductory APR||1,002|
|No foreign transaction fee||938|
|No credit history||264|
The type of card you choose is the single most important factor in a product. With the right card, you can earn hundreds of dollars a year, build your credit or enjoy special travel benefits. Here are 10 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 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. Some offers go as high as 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers, such as Citi Diamond Preferred.
Have a big purchase coming up? With a card like the Citi Simplicity, you can get 0% intro APR on purchases for up to 18 months. This is a great way to save on interest rates, and possibly avoid them, if you pay in full before the offer ends.
Credit not its best? Cards for consumers with bad or thin credit can help with this. Look at secured cards, such as the Capital One Secured Mastercard, as a possibility.
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 Amazon.com, as offered by the Discover it Cashback Match. 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.
Travel often but don't love it? Luxury cards are a good choice if you want to eat and live well while traveling. You can gain access to airport lounges, land member gifts and get travel upgrades with such cards as the Barclays Luxury products.
Have a favorite brand? Express yourself with a card that delivers miles for using your hotel or airline brand of choice, such as American Express' Hilton Honors or Starwood Preferred Guest cards.
Your credit score is basically your financial report card. It's used by lenders to assess your creditworthiness to decide what lending products to grant you and the terms of those products. For example, if you have a FICO score of at least 740 on a scale of 300-850, you have a greater chance of getting the best interest rates on a car loan.
Here's how it works:
On-time payments, or payment history, figure heavily into the dominant scoring model, FICO, making up 35% of the score's criteria pie. Payment history is extremely influential in the VantageScore model.
How much you owe compared to how much credit you have available makes up 30% of the FICO pie. It's highly influential in the VantageScore, while available credit is less influential. Total balances or debt are considered moderately influential.
How long you have been building credit is a consideration to a lesser degree, making up 15% of the FICO scoring model. Age of accounts is highly influential with VantageScore.
This metric makes up 10% of your FICO score, which means you'll want to avoid opening new accounts unnecessarily. VantageScore ranks this as less influential.
Ten percent of your FICO score, you are encouraged to have a mix of credit types such as revolving (typically credit cards) and installment (such as mortgages and car loans). Credit mix is highly influential in VantageScore.
|FICO Category||FICO Range||VantageScore Category||VantageScore Range|
Credit cards offer a host of benefits, ranging from lost luggage reimbursement to access to the card issuer's travel portal, complete with boosted points.
Whether you are on the road or traveling by plane, travel cards can provide unexpected benefits worthy of your attention. The result? Hassle-free travel and even saved dollars with such benefits as Chase Sapphire Reserve's $300 annual travel credit. Here are 8 top travel benefits:
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.
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.
We asked cardholders what they love most about their favorite credit cards and why they chose them. Overwhelmingly, rewards ruled. In the poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates Jan. 19-22, 2017, 1,003 consumers were polled, with a subset of 670 cardholders.
How you use your card depends on the type of card you go with. For example, you'll want to use a secured card primarily for building credit, while a travel card is great for earning miles. Here are 8 types of cards and how best to use them.
Rather than using this card for convenience, focus on building your credit. Just make sure the card issuer will report your good credit habits to the 3 major credit bureaus.
This is a good card to practice on. Take advantage of the rewards, but pay in full at the end of each payment period.
An excellent option for building credit while earning rewards. Make sure you pay on time and in full each month.
Check out whether there is a balance transfer fee (some BT cards don't have one) and make sure you choose a card with terms you can live up to.
Look at whether the card has an annual fee and if the categories are ones you'll actually use.
Study the sign-up bonus and make sure you can spend (and pay back) the minimum limit within the required timeframe. Also, see if the rewards are ones you will actually use and enjoy.
This type of card can have nice travel rewards, although the annual fee can be steep. Check out the benefits, such as priority boarding and preferred seating, to see if they are experiences you will use.
A great card for the traveler who doesn't love it. Superior benefits can include room upgrades, access to airport lounges, high-end gifts and 24/7 concierge service. The annual fee will likely be pricey.
If you look at the best credit cards on the market, you will be sure to find many rewards cards among them. There are several different ways to take advantage of rewards credit cards to maximize your earnings; below are some of the most popular reward categories and our research on the best credit cards in each one.
No matter how rewarding your card, it's crucial that you understand the rates and fees you could face depending on how you treat the card and how the card treats you. Don't let an annual fee sneak up on you or allow a late payment to slam you with a late fee. Here are 13 of the most common rates and fees.
An annual fee is often your tradeoff for convenience or excellent rewards. While rewards cards and credit-builder cards often have annual fees, there are plenty of cards without them. This fee can go into the hundreds of dollars, but it's sometimes waived the first year.
When you make a purchase that goes through a foreign bank, whether online or while you are traveling, many cards charge a foreign transaction fee. Typically, they are 3%-5%, but increasingly card issuers are offering products with no foreign transaction fee, so check.
A late payment fee is charged to a borrower who misses paying at least their minimum payment by the payment deadline. In a 3-month period, 1 in 5 consumers pays a late fee, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Some card issuers, such as Discover it, waive the first late fee, but it can be up to $38 for failing to pay on time.
A balance transfer fee is a fee charged by a credit card company to transfer a balance from one account to another. Typically a fee of $5-$10 or 3%-5%, whichever is greater. Occasionally this fee is waived when you transfer a balance to a new card.
A returned payment fee is charged by a credit card issuer if you pay your bill with a check that bounces. Can run $38.
An over-limit fee is a fee charged when your balance goes over your credit limit. This is often waived, but you can run the risk of having your limit lowered or the account even closed if you abuse the terms of the contract.
A cash advance fee is a charge that a credit card issuer charges a customer for accessing the cash credit line on his or her account. This can be $10 or 5% of the amount advanced, whichever is greater.
The rules vary by card processing company, but in general, a convenience fee is allowed when payment by credit card is an alternative form of payment not ordinarily accepted by a merchant or service provider. For example, you might pay a 2%-4% convenience fee for using your card to pay income taxes.
Credit-builder cards sometimes have added unspecified fees, which will be in the rates & fees section of the card's landing page. They can be a monthly charge for having the card, an expedited telephone convenience fee, a billing statement copy fee, and more. They will typically be in the body of the rates & fees copy, rather than in the Schumer Box at the top, where the more common fees are mentioned.
A purchase rate is the interest rate charged on regular purchases put on a credit card. Each month that you carry a balance, you face an interest charge. They are typically variable, and can be under 10% or over 25%.
The penalty rate, also called the default rate, is the very high interest rate charged by the credit card issuer, as much as 29.99%, when a borrower violates the card's terms and conditions.
When consumers take out cash advances, they are usually charged a higher rate.
This might be 0% for a limited time, up to 21 months, then it reverts to a higher rate, called the go-to rate, which is usually the variable purchase rate. The national average APR is currently 16.71%.
Some rates or fees can be waived or lowered by simply picking up the phone and calling. In fact, we found that of those who asked, 85% received a higher credit limit simply by asking. Our poll, conducted by YouGov, found that just asking can be rewarding:
Some fees, such as late fees, should be avoided at all costs. But others may be worth your while, depending on the type.
For example, a card with an annual fee will frequently have more robust rewards, and the annual fee may be waived the first year:
|Card||Sign-up Bonus||Ongoing Rewards||Annual Fee||End of First Year Total|
|Capital One Venture Rewards||50,000 miles/$3,000 spend in 3 mths||2X miles x $1,000/mth=24,000||$95 waived first yr||$500+$240=$740|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards||20,000 miles/$1,000 spend in 3 mths||1.25X miles x $1,000/mth=15,000||$0||$200+$150=$350|
In the same way, the advantages of a balance transfer card may outweigh the expense of a balance transfer fee. For example, you might want to look at the intro period's length or whether there is an intro period for purchases:
|Card||BT Fee||0% Intro APR Period||Monthly Payment|
|Chase Slate||$0/first 60 days||15 months||$1,500/15 mths=$100/mth|
|Citi Double Cash||$5 or 3% ($45 for $1,500)||18 months||$1,500/18 mths=$83.33/mth|
So you can see that even though you pay a $45 balance transfer fee with the Citi Double Cash, your monthly, interest-free payment for the limited-time offer is $83 compared to $100 for the Chase Slate. This makes it worth your while if you need more time to pay off your balance transfer.
FICO discovered a bit of a surprise in 2012 when it looked at what it calls "high achievers," or consumers with a score of greater than 785 out of a possible 850. These consumers:
What does this mean? Simply that it isn't that the most successful consumers are debt-free, but that they are responsible with their debt. Also, fewer accounts aren't necessarily better; rather it's how you handle the account that matters.
You can have one card, and it's too many, or 5 and it's just enough. It all has to do with how you manage your cards and what you are using them for.
|BankAmericard Rewards||Oldest account||Build credit|
|Gold Delta Skymiles from American Express||2X miles on eligible Delta purchases||Earn Delta Skymiles|
|Capital One Platinum||Free authorized users||Let authorized users build credit|
As you can see, each card has a purpose. But how do you keep up with payments and annual fees when you have this many cards?
Here's an example of a spreadsheet you can create to keep track of your credit card accounts. Below that, we've listed some tips to get you started with managing multiple credit cards.
|Card||Amount Owed||Due Date||When Paid|
|BankAmericard Rewards||$500||Due 4/1/18||Pd in full 3/10/18|
|Gold Delta Skymiles from American Express||$25 min. due/$225 balance||Due 4/1/18||Need to pay|
|Capital One Platinum||$0||Due date 4/2/18||$0 owed|