dcsimg

Editor's Choice Awards: Best Credit Cards for 2017

By Brooklyn Lowery, CardRatings contributor
Updated, January 30, 2017

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity and are independent of whether a card is an advertiser (they are neither commissioned by nor reviewed, approved or endorsed by issuers); however we may receive compensation through the issuer's affiliate programs when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. See details on how we make money here.

  • Google +
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Fresh starts – they are what the new year is all about. And that extends to your financial life just like it does to your health, career goals and personal betterment. Your credit makes up an enormous part of your financial well being; it affects everything from how easily you can get a mortgage to whether you are maximizing the credit card rewards out there.

It's that rewards landscape and helping you find the credit card that is right for your unique situation that drives our annual Editor's Choice list. Each year, CardRatings editors comb through hundreds of credit card offers and anoint our favorites with an Editor's Choice accolade. We know that the average consumer doesn't have the time to sort through all the details of each credit card offer, so we're doing it for you. Whether you're on the hunt for a balance transfer card to help you tackle debt or you want to make this the year that you really cash in with a cash-back rewards credit card, we have you covered. 

In this slideshow you'll find some of our most popular categories, but if you're looking for something more specific, be sure to check out our full "Best Credit Cards of 2017" list that includes categories such as "travel rewards card most worth the annual fee" and a variety of best cash-back card depending on whether you want a flat-rate, tiered or rotating categories card.

 

Best credit cards of 2017

clerk taking credit cardFlat-rate cash back

Earning cash back on your purchases is always a nice feature and there are lots of reward structures to help you do that. The flat-rate cash-back card is the simplest with its single earn rate across all categories, every day.

*Check out our full "Best of 2017" list for our picks for tiered and rotating categories cash-back cards.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

(Citi is a CardRatings advertiser) This flat-rate cash-back card offers you 1 percent back when you use your card to make your purchase and then another 1 percent when you pay for the purchase by paying your credit card statement. That effectively means you earn 2 percent back on all your purchases and that makes the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer among the highest earning flat-rate cards on the market. There's no annual fee for this card and you can also take advantage of 18 months of zero interest on balance transfers.

Fidelity® Rewards® Visa Signature Card:

With this card, you earn 2 percent cash back on all your purchases, but it's redemption options are unique. Fidelity gives you the option of redeeming your rewards directly into an investment account like a 401K or 529 College Savings Account. You can redeem for things like gift cards or other products and services, but we like this card primarily for its sound financial planning and saving options.

Editor's Note: This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers. Some of the offers in this article might have expired. Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

Balance transfer

balance transfer hacksBalance transfer credit cards offer a helpful path to paying down balances quickly thanks to the zero interest periods – often from 12-18 months. During that period, every penny of every payment goes toward reducing the principal owed, and that's a good thing given that 51 percent of Americans with a credit card report carrying a balance some, most or all of the time according the Federal Reserve's 2015 Report on the Economic Wellbeing of American Households. Here are our picks for top balance transfer credit cards.

Chase Slate®:

There are a number of cards that offer introductory balance transfer periods, but there are very few that offer you that 0-interest period along with no balance transfer fee. Chase Slate® is that card. You can take advantage of 5 months of zero interest on balance transfers AND purchases, and you won't pay a balance transfer fee for transfers made within the first 60 days. All of this with no annual fee and no penalty APR if you happen to miss a payment.

Santander Sphere®:

If you need longer than 15 months to pay off a balance, you might consider the Santander Sphere® card, which offers 24 months interest free on balance transfers made within the first 60 days. You will pay a 4 percent or $5 balance transfer fee, whichever is greater, but you still stand to save some money if that transfer means not paying higher interest for the months you need to pay off the balance.

Editor's Note:  This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers.  Some of the offers in this article might have expired.  Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

credit card expiration date

Introductory APR

Sometimes you just need a little extra time to pay off a large purchases or perhaps you’re looking for a way to pay less on a balance you already have. Low introductory APR credit cards could be excellent options for you.

Citi Simplicity® – No Late Fees Ever:

(Citi is a CardRatings advertiser) With 21 months of zero interest on purchases and balance transfers, the Citi Simplicity® – No Late Fees Ever card is a regular pick for top low intro APR card. You won'3t be earning rewards with this card, but it does allow you the option of paying off a large balance interest-free over time, so you could consider that your reward. You also won’t be dinged with a late fee if you happen to miss a payment. There is a balance transfer fee of a $5 or 3, whichever is greater, but you won’t pay an annual fee.

Citi® Diamond Preferred®:

You also have 21 months interest-free on purchases and balance transfers with the Citi® Diamond Preferred® card, but you also have a number of perks and features geared toward making cardholders feel like VIPs. Enjoy access to exclusive events and 24/7 concierge services, among other things. All of this, and no annual fee to worry about.

Editor’s Note:  This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers.  Some of the offers in this article might have expired.  Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

Low ongoing interest rate

The 5 Best Low Interest Credit Cards - 2010 EditionSure a nice introductory APR offer is nice if you already have a balance you're trying to pay down or know you'll be making a big purchase in the near future, but an ongoing low-interest credit card is the one you'll want to reach for when an unexpected major purchase comes your way. Take a look at our top pick.

Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum:

With an exceptionally low variable APr, the Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum is one that could save a lot of money if you have an unexpected purchase come up and no 0-interest introductory offer available to you. What's more, if you already have a balance on another card, you can transfer that balance to this card – and take advantage of that low APR – without paying a balance transfer fee, which is typically 3-5 percent with other cards.

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®:

Another low ongoing interest option is the Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®. It features a slightly higher variable APR, but it's still much lower than the industry norm. An interesting feature of this card is that cardholders have a vote with Barclaycard is considering change features of the card such as its APR or other fees. As with the Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum card, you won't pay an annual fee to carry this card.

Editor's Note: This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers. Some of the offers in this article might have expired. Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

woman reading on beach

Travel rewards card most worth the annual fee

A small annual fee can help you bring in top-of-the-line travel rewards, so if you travel even a few times a year, our pick for best travel rewards card worth the annual fee may very well pay off for you.

*For our top "no annual fee" travel rewards card, as well as cards specifically for airline and hotel rewards, check out our full "Best of 2017" list.

Capital One® Venture Rewards® Credit Card:

When it comes to travel rewards flexibility, it’s hard to beat the Capital One® Venture Rewards® Credit Card. You earn two miles per dollar on every purchase and, on top of that, you can also earn a 40,000 mile bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening – that’s worth $400 in travel. That intro bonus alone will more than make up for the $59 annual fee (waived for the first year). When it comes to redeeming your rewards, you don’t have to worry about blackout or expiration dates, which is another plus for this easy-to-carry card.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®:

For just a slightly higher annual fee of $89 (waived the first year), you can earn two miles per $1 PLUS receive 5 percent of your miles back when you redeem for travel. Right now, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is offering an introductory bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Editor’s Note: This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers. Some of the offers in this article might have expired. Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

No-annual-fee small business card

CardRatings.com Monthly Newsletter February 2008Small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers can benefit from small business credit cards, but your bottom line may not be in a position to handle an annual fee for that card. Good thing there are some great options for no-annual-fee business cards that still meet the needs of many business owners.

*Sometimes a very small annual fee can mean a big jump in rewards and perks. If your business can support an annual fee, check out our pick for "small business card most worth the annual fee" in our full "Best of 2017" list.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express:

Every business has different needs, which is why we like the option to select a bonus earning category with this card. SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express cardholders (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser) earn 5 percent back at office supply stores and on wireless phone services, but you also get to choose from a list of categories in which you'll earn 3 percent back. The category choices include airfare, hotels, shipping and more, so you can tailor the card to your needs. You earn the 5 percent and 3 percent on up to $50,000 in combined spending annually, then 1 percent, and you earn 1 percent on all your other purchases every day. Start-up business owners take note: this card offers nine months of zero interest on purchases, so if you have so initial costs to get your business off the ground this could be a great option.

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business:

Business owners are busy – no one can blame you if your primary goal with your company credit card is simplicity. Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business cardholders earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases. It also offers nine months of no interest on purchases, so new businesses can fund some start-up costs and enjoy several months to pay them off.

Editor's Note: This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers. Some of the offers in this article might have expired. Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

credit cardsBad/limited credit

Sometimes you just need some time and an opportunity to build or rebuild your credit. While the top-tier credit cards aren't available to you, there are solid credit card options that, if used responsibly, could help you take a major step forward in improving your credit score and, down the road, qualifying for credit cards with flashier perks and features.

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card:

This card is available to members of the Digital Federal Credit Union, an organization open to certain individuals based on location or involvement with one of these participating organizations. If you are a member, you'll have access to the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card, the rare secured card that doesn't come with an annual fee and it features a relatively low APR. You will need to pay at least a $500 security deposit to establish your line of credit, but you'll also enjoy no balance transfer fees.

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®:

Another no annual fee option is the Capital One® Secured MasterCard®, which requires a minimum security deposit of $49 is accessible for many individuals. Plus, there's no need to qualify for membership in a credit union to apply. A helpful feature with this card is the ability to select your monthly due date to fit into your paycheck schedule or otherwise fit your financial needs.

Editor's Note: This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers.  Some of the offers in this article might have expired. Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

velvet rope red carpetCard most worth an above-average annual fee

Credit cards with high annual fees certainly aren't for everyone, but sometimes those high annual fees give you access to such impressive perks and rewards that, depending on your lifestyle, the annual fee might be more than worth it. This year we've added this "Editor's Choice" category to help you determine whether paying a few hundred dollars to carry a particular credit card just might open up a world of rewards and perks to you that make your life just a bit more comfortable. 

*If a high annual fee isn't your thing, don't fret. Our "Best of 2017" list also features our picks for best no-annual-fee cards.

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM:

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM set the credit card industry buzzing in summer 2016 when it launched. The sign-up bonus alone is enough to make the $450 annual fee worth it for the first year: earn 100,000 points, worth up to $1,500 in travel, after spending $4,000 in three months. Beyond the annual fee, cardholders are also eligible for up to $300 in statement credit each calendar year as reimbursement for travel charges and enjoy complimentary access to more than 900 airport lounges around the world.

When it comes to rewards, you earn three points per $1 on travel and dining and one point on all other purchases and redeeming your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® makes those points worth 50 percent more (hence, the 100,000 intro bonus is worth up to $1,500).

Luxury credit cards with high annual fees aren't for everyone, but if you have the credit score to qualify and the funds to cover the annual fee, you could find that you quickly offset that fee with all the perks and features the card offers.

The Platinum Card® from American Express:

Another $450 annual fee card that offers lovely luxury perks, The Platinum Card® from American Express (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser) comes with complimentary airport lounge access, 24.7 concierge service and an annual travel charge reimbursement of $200. One key difference here is that this card is a charge card, which means the balance must be paid off each billing cycle. You don't rack up interest charges with charge cards, but you also don't have the option of carrying over a balance if you need to.

Editor's Note: This article is kept accurate as of the date it was written in order to correctly reflect award winning offers. Some of the offers in this article might have expired. Please check our database for the latest terms and conditions.

Page / 9
1 Comments

  1. andrew mitchell March 18, 2014 at 2:18 am
    you forgot to include:

    Iberia Bank Classic = 7.24% low interest rate for purchases and no annual fee.
      Reply »  

Start Here

Search. Compare. Apply.

Featured Partner Cards

loading