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Best credit cards for 2017 from our partners

By , Site Editor

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.

Best credit cards of 2017As the clock turns over on another year, there's no time like now to ensure that you have a credit card at the ready to get you started with 2017 on the right foot financially. Whether you're looking to consolidate some holiday debt with a balance transfer offer or just want to put your everyday purchases to use toward a great vacation down the road, there is a credit card out there for you.

Our editorial team has been busy reviewing the latest credit card deals from across the country. Are you dreaming of a stellar vacation? On the lookout for a bit of extra cash to set aside for a rainy day? Just want to feel like your credit card is working FOR you? We've highlighted a handful of offers from each category that we think provide the best value for your money. We want to help you avoid high fees, reap maximum rewards and - most importantly - find the card with the rewards you'll actually use.

Unlike many credit card-comparison sites, we evaluate both advertiser and non-advertiser cards, including regional banks and credit unions. Only our editor's favorite cards make the cut - no exceptions.

So, without further ado, here is our Editor's Choice list of Best Credit Cards of 2017.

(Please note: These cards were selected in December 2016 based on the current offers at the time. Throughout the year, we'll stay up-to-date on current offers and update this list as necessary).

Balance Transfer: Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®About Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Enjoy 15 months of 0 interest on balance transfers (and purchases, too!)
- There's no balance transfer fee for transfers made within 60 days of account opening.
- No annual fee.

We did our due diligence and searched high and low for a balance transfer credit card to dethrone Chase Slate® as our top pick, but we simply couldn't find one. On top of offering more than a year of no-interest on balance transfers – 15 months to be exact – Chase Slate® doesn't charge you a balance transfer fee to take advantage of the deal within the first 60 days of account opening. That saves you the typical 3 percent to 5 percent that most balance transfer cards charge.

In addition, the 15-month, zero-interest period applies to purchases as well, so whether you've already made some purchases and need to consolidate with a balance transfer or are looking to make a purchase in the near future and want 15 months to pay it off, Chase Slate® could very well be the card for you.

Beyond the introductory zero-interest period, Chase Slate® offers a solid range of perks and features all with no annual fee. For instance, Chase Slate® cardholders have free access to their FICO scores as well as insights into why your score is what it is. You also won't see a penalty APR kick in if you happen to miss a payment.

You might also like: If you anticipate needing more than 15 months to pay off your balance, you may want to consider the Santander Sphere® credit card, which offers new cardholders 24 billing cycles of zero interest on balance transfers made within the first 90 days. There is a balance transfer fee of 4 percent or $10, whichever is greater, but you could still stand to save some serious money when it comes to not paying interest over a long period.

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No Annual Fee Travel Rewards Card: Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card

Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards CardAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Discover will MATCH all the miles new cardholders earn during their first year of card membership.
- Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases (thanks to the match, that's effectively three miles per $1 during your first year).
- Up to $30 in statement credit annually for in-flight WiFi charges.

Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card comes with a number of features and perks that make it worth a second look, but it is its introductory offer that really made us take notice. Cardholders earn 1.5 miles on every purchase every day, but Discover will MATCH all the miles you earn in your first year. If you add it up, that effectively means new cardholders earn three miles per $1 spent on every, single purchase for the first year. That's a pretty stunning earn rate – especially for a card that has no annual fee.

Even after that first year has passed, Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card makes it worthwhile to keep the card in steady rotation. The 1.5 miles per $1 earn rate is decent and since the miles aren't tied to a particular airline or loyalty program, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to redemption. In fact, anytime you redeem your miles, whether for statement credit to cover a travel purchase or for an electronic deposit to a bank account, 100 miles will always equal $1. An additional fun perk is that Discover will give you up to $30 annually to cover your in-flight WiFi. For folks without any particular airline or hotel loyalty, it's tough to beat this card for travel rewards.

You might also like: If you like the idea of earning a bit more for particular purchases, another no-annual-fee option is the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card, which offers five points on your airfare purchases and one point on other purchases. You could also check out the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card. This one features 1.5 points per dollar on all your purchases, but is particularly attractive for people who already have a relationship with Bank of America. Just for having a qualifying BofA account, you'll earn an extra 10 percent when you redeem rewards; if you are a Preferred Rewards client, you could earn anywhere from 25-75 percent more depending on your account.

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Travel Rewards Card Most Worth the Annual Fee: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases, every day.
- No blackout dates or expiration for your rewards.
- Receive a 40,000 mile bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a perennial favorite at CardRatings because it offers better rewards than similar no-annual-fee cards, but the annual fee it charges is quite reasonable at $0 for the first year and $59 after that. With this card, you earn two miles per dollar on every purchase and, on top of that, right now you can earn a 40,000-mile bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening – that's worth $400 in travel (See? You've already made up that $59 annual fee).

Besides the simplicity of the earning structure, the redemption structure is nice as well in that there are no blackout dates for your travel and your rewards never expire. Lastly, feel free to take this card along on your next trip abroad since you won't be charged any foreign transaction fees to use it.

You might also like: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an extremely popular card for good reason: cardholders earn two times the points on travel and dining purchases and one point per $1 on all other purchases. Those points are worth 20 percent more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Additionally, new Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points, worth $625 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, after spending $4,000 within the first three months. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

There is also a no-annual-fee version of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, it's the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card and it offers a slightly lower earning rate and introductory bonus in exchange for no annual fee: 1.25 miles per $1 and 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months ($200 in travel). If you're willing to pay a bit more of annual fee and get the rewards that go along with that, consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, which allows you to earn two miles per $1 PLUS gives you 5 percent of your miles back when you redeem for travel. The intro bonus for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months. This card comes with an $89 annual fee that is waived the first year.

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Airline Rewards: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn a 30,000 mile bonus for spending just $1,000 in the first three months and a $50 statement credit for making a Delta purchase in that same timeframe.
- Your first checked bag is free, a savings of up to $50 per round-trip flight.
- Earn two miles per $1 on Delta purchases and one mile per $1 on other purchases.

There are plenty of airline-specific credit cards out there, so this decision for you will come down to what you prefer to fly and, perhaps, where you're already begun banking frequent flyer miles. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express gets you started earning with a 30,000 mile bonus – enough for a round-trip flight – after you spend $1,000, a comparably low bar, in the first three months. Plus, you'll earn a $50 statement credit just for making a purchase with Delta within the first three months. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

While you will pay a $95 annual fee with this card (waived for the first year), you can quickly recoup that cost with the "first checked bag free" perk cardholders enjoy. That perk alone could save you $50 per round-trip flight, so take advantage of it for just two round-trip flights each year and you'll more than make up for the annual fee. On top of that, there's the two miles per $1 spent with Delta and one mile per $1 spent elsewhere that can really add up fast. Additionally, this card comes with a number of travel protection perks and insurance that make traveling just a little less stressful.

You might also like: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard® offers similar perks, like the first checked bag free and additional travel protections, and the same annual fee of $95 after the first year (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser). With this card, you'll also receive a 25 percent discount on in-flight purchases as well as 10 percent of your miles back – up to 10,000 miles annually – when you redeem. Alternatively, if you are someone who frequents JetBlue or Southwest, you might want to consider JetBlue Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Be honest about how often you fly and how loyal you are and then make the decision that's best for you.

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Hotel Rewards: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American ExpressAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn up to five points per $1 spent at Starwood properties (dependent on your Starwood Preferred Guest tier).
- Transfer points to one of 30 major airline loyalty programs and earn a bonus when you transfer 20,000 points.
- For a limited time, earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first six months. Offer ends April 5, 2017.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express isn't for everyone, but it is for the traveler who finds themselves, more often than not, staying at a Starwood portfolio property when they travel. With this card, you earn up to five points per $1 spent at Starwood properties (depending on your Starwood Preferred Guest tier) and one point per $1 on your other purchases. New cardholders are also eligible for 25,000 bonus points after making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, until April 5, 2017, new cardholders can earn an extra 10,000 points after making an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first six months.

Settling on a preferred hotel brand offers you consistency and cuts down on surprises that can make traveling stressful. You might as well be rewarded for that loyalty. Besides being useful at Starwood properties, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cardholders can transfer their points to one of 30 major airline loyalty programs and will receive a bonus of 5,000 points when transferring 20,000 points.

Lastly, there are additional perks for your loyalty, like free Boingo WiFi, free in-room Internet and access to discounts and presale tickets for live events. Waived for the first year, a $95 annual fee kicks in after that. Terms apply.

You might also like: Hotel loyalty cards run the gamut, and the decision about what is right for you is really dependent on your travel preferences. We also like the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express as a card that offers excellent rewards earning opportunities even if you aren't staying at hotels all the time. Earn seven points per $1 for stays at Hilton properties; five points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores; and three points per $1 on all other purchases. There's no annual fee with the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express.

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Flat-Rate Cash-Back Rewards: Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offerAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn 1 percent when you use your card and another 1 percent when you pay your balance, effectively meaning you can earn 2 percent back on all your purchases.
- No annual fee.
- New cardholders enjoy 18 months of no interest on balance transfers (A balance transfer fee of $5 or 3 percent, whichever is greater, applies to each transfer).

When you make a purchase with your Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer, you'll earn 1 percent back, which is a bit lower than some other flat-rate cards that offer 1.5 percent. BUT, when you pay for that purchase later as part of your credit card bill, you'll receive an additional 1 percent back, which means you have the chance to effectively earn 2 percent back on all your purchases – well over the typical 1.5 percent other flat-rate cash-back cards offer. We like this card, yes, for its strong rewards package, but also because it encourages responsible use and paying off your balance each month. Remember, you won't earn any rewards on interest, so it definitely doesn't pay to let a balance roll over.

That said, if you already have a balance accruing interest on another card, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer does offer new cardholders 18 months of zero interest on balance transfers. With no annual fee, this isn't a bad card to have around for a rainy day.

You may also like: There are other cards out there that encourage sound financial practices with their rewards plans. A unique no-annual-fee option is the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card. With this card, you earn 2 percent cash back on all your purchases and Fidelity gives you the option of redeeming your rewards directly into an investment account like a 401K or 529 College Savings Account. If you don't want to go the investment route, you can redeem your rewards for travel, gift cards and more, but what makes this card special is that rewarding investment opportunity.

If you prefer to carry a credit card from a smaller bank, the Citizen's Bank Cash Back Plus® World MasterCard® is a good choice. It offers the typical flat-rate percentage of 1.5 percent back on all your purchases, but you can up that earn rate to 1.8 percent through purchase and relationship bonuses.

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Tiered Cash-Back Rewards: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn 6 percent on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually, 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
- $95 annual fee.
- Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first three months.

Tiered rewards cards are geared toward people who understand their spending habits and know those habits fit into a particular pattern. In the case of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, that spending pattern should include a fair amount of spending at grocery stores as that is where you stand to reap the highest cash-back reward: 6 percent on up to $6,000 in spending annually.

If you max out your spending at grocery stores, this card could reward you with $360 cash back annually – and that's not including the unlimited 3 percent back you earn at U.S. gas stations and 1 percent on all other purchases.

Yes, there is a $95 annual fee, but you can quickly overcome that with that high cash-back percentage at grocery stores – it requires less than $1,600 spent at grocery stores annually to more than offset that fee.

One last note on this card: New cardholders can take advantage of 0 percent interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, so this might be a great card if you already have a balance you're paying interest on or if you have a large purchase coming up soon.

You might also like: If you just don't think you'll spend enough to offset the annual fee of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you might consider one of several no-annual-fee tiered cash-back cards on the market. We particularly like the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for its 3 percent back on gas purchases and 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined spending quarterly and 1 percent on other purchases. If you're more of an eat-out than eat-at-home type, you might consider the TRIOSM Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank, which offers 3 percent back at restaurants and 2 percent on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases up to $1,500 in combined spending quarterly. All other purchases earn 1 percent back.

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Rotating Categories Cash-Back Rewards: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

US Bank Cash Plus Visa SignatureAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn 5 percent back on up to $2,000 spent quarterly in two categories of your choosing; an unlimited 2 percent back on one everyday category of your choosing; and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
- No annual fee.
- Earn a $100 reward bonus after spending $500 on your card within the first 90 days.

Card Details

This card kind of blows the mind when it comes to flexibility and stellar rewards earning opportunities. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card brings a ton of flexibility to the table along with a solid cash-back rate. Each quarter, card members must choose two categories in which they want to earn 5 percent cash back. Think about it: During back-to-school season, you could choose department stores and select clothing stores; during the holidays, you could choose electronics stores and bookstores. You tailor the card to fit your spending habits each quarter, so there's really no excuse not to maximize your rewards. And with no annual fee, you don't even have to worry about earning enough to offset that charge.

As a bit of icing on the cake, cardholders will also enjoy all the benefits that come along with a Visa Signature® card, which include everything travel discounts to 24/7 concierge assistance and more. Plus, new cardholders can also take advantage of 12 months of no interest on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening.

Just remember that you do have to pick your 5 percent categories each quarter; if you don't, you'll only earn 1 percent cash back and that makes this not a great cash-back card.

You might also like: Chase Freedom® is a solid choice if you're looking for a no-annual-fee, rotating categories cash-back card. It doesn't offer the same flexibility as the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, but it's still a solid choice. With Chase Freedom® you'll earn 5 percent on up to $1,500 in spending in bonus categories each quarter and one percent on all other purchases. Chase Freedom® cash back is awarded in the form of Ultimate Rewards® points which can be redeemed for cash back or to purchases travel or other products and services. New cardholders are also eligible for a $150 cash-back bonus after you make $500 in purchases within the first three months.

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Cash-Back Card with No Annual Fee: Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Discover it® - Cashback Match™About Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories when you sign up (then 1 percent after reaching the cap) and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
- Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn during your first year, effectively meaning you can earn 10 percent cash back in those bonus categories.
- No annual fee.

The chance to effectively earn up to 10 percent back thanks to the match at the end of your first year is really what makes this card stand out in our book. Even after that year is up, though, you'll still earn 5 percent back in bonus categories each quarter you sign up and 1 percent on your other purchases, so it remains a solid cash-back rewards option.

Discover also rakes in industry recognition for its all U.S.-based customer service and offers cardholders plenty of behind-the-scenes perks like no foreign transaction fees and amnesty for many of the situations that cause rate hikes with other cards (like missing a payment, for instance).

On top of the introductory match offer, Discover it® - Cashback Match™ also offers new cardholders interest-free purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months, making this a good card for people paying high interest on an existing balance or who have a big purchase coming up.

You might also like: There are plenty of good cash-back rewards cards on the market (we've mentioned several above that don't come with an annual fee). In the end this decision will come down to how and where you spend your money. Just as a quick note, if the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express appeals to you, but you just can't see paying the annual fee, you might want to consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – it's the no-annual-fee version that offers slightly lower rewards, but is still a great option.

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Low Introductory: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees EverAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Enjoy 21 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers.
- No annual fee.
- No penalty if you miss a payment.

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is a no-frills, no-annual-fee option if you need to start attacking some credit card debt and want to do it without paying interest. The 21-month no-interest period for balance transfers is among the longest on the market. You will pay a $5 or 3 percent balance transfer fee, whichever is greater, but that's fairly standard and you still stand to save some serious cash over the long run if you're currently paying high interest on a balance housed on a different card.

Additionally, that 21-month interest-free period applies to purchases, too, so you could use this card to make a large purchase that you anticipate needing several months to pay off. You won't earn rewards with this card, but you will receive some peace of mind knowing that you have nearly two years interest-free to work toward paying off your credit card balance. In this case, that's probably reward enough.

You might also like: The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card also offers 21 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers, but it also comes with a number of perks and features designed to make cardholders feel like VIPs. You'll enjoy elite perks like concierge service and priority access to events and concerts, but it doesn't have the same forgiveness policy as the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, so if you miss a payment, you could be dinged with a late payment fee and/or a penalty APR.

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Low Interest: Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum

Simmons Bank Visa® PlatinumAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- The ongoing APR with this card is well below the industry standard.
- No annual fee.
- No balance transfer fee.

The Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum probably isn't one you've even heard of given that it's issued by a small bank and doesn't feature all the bells and whistles larger issuers can provide. What it lacks in cutting edge banking services, however, it makes up for with its jaw-droppingly low ongoing APR: 7.75% (Variable).

Furthermore, you can transfer balances to this card without paying a balance transfer fee, which will save you anywhere from 3-5 percent over most major issuers.

You won't be racking up rewards or cash back with this card, so you might want to pair it with a rewards card for your everyday purchases and save this one for a big purchase that you'll need an extra couple of months to pay off.

You might also like: The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® is another low-interest rate card, this one featuring a slightly higher 13.49%* Variable APR, but still well under the industry average. Plus, Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® cardholders are voting members of a community that has a voice when Barclaycard is deciding whether to change some features of the card, such as the APR or other fees. There is no annual fee, no fee for balance transfers and no foreign transaction fee, so this card is again a good one to have around for a rainy day.

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Gas: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® CardAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn an unlimited five points per $1 when you pay at the pump, three points per $1 at supermarkets and one point $1 on all other purchases.
- No annual fee.
- Redemption options are varied and simple.

The carpooling coordinator soccer mom, the entrepreneur burning the pavement for her business, the college student traveling back and forth from school – all people who could stand to benefit from a solid gas rewards credit card. Enter the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card, it's among the best when it comes to gas rewards and those rewards can be redeemed in a variety of super helpful ways.

Each time you pay at the pump, you earn five points per $1 spent. You also earn three points per $1 at supermarkets and one point per $1 on your other purchases. Then, when you're ready to cash in your points, you can do it via the Penfed rewards center where you can purchase a variety of goods and services, though you'll earn the best return on gift cards or instant e-certificates to retailers like Gap or Amazon.

In addition to those strong cash-back rewards options, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card also offers new cardholders the chance to earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 within the first three months and a 12-month 0 percent APR on balance transfers. Overall, the card wins for its gas rewards, but packs in a number of other attractive features to sweeten the pot.

You might also like: If you aren't eligible for the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card (it's for members of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union), you might consider the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which offers a range of solid cash-back opportunities including 4 percent back at gas stations. Yes, you do need a Costco membership to take advantage, but anyone can join Costco if they believe the cash-back rewards of this card will work for them.

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Bad/Limited Credit: DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

DCU Visa Platinum Secured Credit CardAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- No annual fee.
- Occasional cash-back opportunities.
- No fee or higher APR for balance transfers.

Sometimes you just need a chance to build or rebuild your credit and finding a card that allows you to do that without charging you a sky-high annual fee can be a difficult feat. The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card does require a minimum security deposit of $500 to establish your line of credit, but that money is still yours, unlike an annual fee, and you'll get all of it back when you close your card (assuming your account is fully paid). Additionally, the card provides you with a number of features and perks that are rare among secured credit cards, such as rental car insurance and some travel services and protections. Furthermore, if you already have a balance on another credit card, you'll be pleased to know that you won't be charged a balance transfer fee to move that balance to the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card if you find it has a lower interest rate.

You might also like: The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® is another no-annual-fee-secured card. In this case, the minimum security deposit is a reasonable $49 and your line of credit will be dependent on what you're able to put down. You'll still receive benefits like rental car insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance, plus this card comes with the unique option to select your monthly due date so it can fit into your bill or paycheck schedule.

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Student: Discover it® Chrome for Students

Discover it® Chrome for Students About Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Provides an introduction to cash-back rewards for students who may be getting their first credit card.
- No annual fee.
- Offers a "good grades" bonus of $20 annually for five years.

Many student credit cards are primarily functional with very little in the way of rewards, perks or features. Discover it® Chrome for Students is different in that cardholders earn 2 percent back on restaurant and gas station purchases on up to $1,000 spent quarterly and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Even more, Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn in your first year, which could add up to a healthy chunk of cash-back change.

New cardholders can also take advantage of 6 months zero interest on purchases and balance transfers, so this could be a good card if you already have a bit of debt you want to pay off interest-free or if you have a big purchase coming soon and want some extra time to pay on it.

Lastly, for every year your GPA is a 3.0 or higher, Discover will reward you with a "good grades" bonus of $20 cash back (up to five years).

You might also like: If you're more the small bank type, you might want to consider the Fulton Bank College Rewards Visa® Card, which offers you one point per $1 spent on all your purchases, plus the opportunity to earn 1,000 bonus points for enrolling in auto-pay and another 1,000 points after making your first purchase. Points do expire after five years, but they can be redeemed as statement credit so there's really no reason you would need to hang on to them for five years anyway.

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No-Annual-Fee Small Business: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American ExpressAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn 3 percent back in a category you choose from a list of approved categories.
- Earn 5 percent back on office supply purchases and wireless phone charges.
- Enjoy nine months of zero interest on purchases.

Having some choice with your credit card rewards is a good thing, but it's not necessarily a common feature. With the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express you earn 5 percent back at office supply stores and on wireless phone charges, but you also get 3 percent back in a category you choose from a list that includes popular small business expenses like airfare, hotels, shipping and more. That 5 percent and 3 percent back apply to your first $50,000 in purchases annually in the combined categories. All your other purchases earn 1 percent back.

Having that kind of agency with a credit card is fairly rare, but it means that you can ensure this card is allowing you to reap maximum rewards. And, since there's no annual fee, all the cash back you earn can go right back to your business' bottom line. Additionally, this card won't hit you with a fee if you spend above your credit limit; in fact, you'll earn rewards on even the amount you spend above the limit.

Lastly, this could be a great card for business owners just starting out and making some start-up purchases as it offers nine months of zero interest on purchases.

You might also like: The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business card is a winner in terms of simplicity: Earn a flat 1.5 percent back on all your purchases. There's no need to keep up with tiers, categories or spending caps. You can also take advantage of nine months of no interest on purchases with this card. Plus, new cardholders can earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.

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Small Business Card Most Worth the Annual Fee: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit CardAbout Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn three points per $1 on purchases in popular business categories like travel, shipping, and advertising with social media or search engines among others.
- Redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and they're worth 25 percent more.
- Cell phone protection for you and all employee phones on the same account.

When Chase launched the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card in fall 2016, it brought a number of features to the table that make this the kind of card almost any business could use. The reasonable annual fee of $95 gets you the opportunity to earn three points per $1 on travel; shipping purchases; Internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. You earn one point on all other purchases.

What's truly impressive about this card is the redemption options and additional perks and features. This card is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and when you redeem your points for travel through that program, they're worth 25 percent more. Furthermore, cardholders enjoy travel and purchase protections that offer peace of mind. Perhaps most uniquely of all, however, is that paying your wireless bill with the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card card gets you cell phone protection for your phone and all the phones on your account.

And, just to get you started on the right foot, cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within the first three months.

You might also like: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business brings a simple and unlimited rewards earning structure to your business, which means you could rack up some decent cash back. And the annual fee is just $59 (waived the first year). You earn 2 percent back on all your purchases, every day with no spending cap to worry about. In addition, right now new cardholders can earn a one-time bonus of $500 after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first three months.

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Card Most Worth an Above-Average Annual Fee: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ About Our Ratings
 
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Key reasons it's our top pick:

- Earn a 50,000 point bonus, worth up to $750 in travel, when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
- Receive up to $300 in statement credit each calendar year as reimbursement for travel expenses.
- Enjoy complimentary access to more than 900 airport lounges around the globe.

When Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ launched in summer 2016, the credit card world (and consumers everywhere) couldn't stop talking about it – and they had good reason. The new card took everything consumers already loved about Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and infused it with luxury perks and features. The initial sign-up bonus was among the best ever seen, but the ongoing features and perks were just as impressive. Sure, you pay a $450 annual fee, but it's worth it. Free access to airport lounges around the globe, up to $300 in statement credit each calendar year to cover travel expenses including airfare and hotel charges, 50 percent more value for your points when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and the list of perks goes on.

The initial sign-up bonus has ended online, but even after that massive sign-up bonus went away, the card is still tops when it comes to high-annual-fee cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ cardholders earn three points per $1 spent on dining out and travel and one point per $1 on all other purchases. The rewards rate isn't through the roof, but when you combine that earn rate with a 50 percent bonus when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® plus the $300 you can earn annually in statement credit reimbursement for your travel purchases, it's not hard to see how you can quickly offset that hefty annual fee.

You might also like: The Platinum Card® from American Express is another solid luxury card option. It's annual fee is the same at $450 and many of the perks are similar: airport lounge access, 24/7 concierge service, and an annual travel fee reimbursement (though lower at just $200). The big difference here is that The Platinum Card® from American Express is a charge card which means you have to pay off your balance in full each billing cycle. That could be a good thing in that you won't rack up interest charges, but if you anticipate needing to carry a balance at some point, a traditional credit card, like Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is a better option.

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7 Comments

  1. Sam September 09, 2015 at 7:57 am
    Mr. Labe, life happens. I had to urgently leave the US when my mom passed away and my disabled father was left by himself. I wasn't able to pay of about $450 in CC balances. I had over $15 000 available but didn't spend a dime in Europe, knowing that without a job I will not be able to pay my monthly payments. It was hard for 3 years. Then, my father died and about 4 weeks later I was back in US. I cannot tell you how horrified I was when I found that my previous landlord placed me on collection, plus public record because it was stated that I was evicted from my apartment. None of that was true. While I did leave in a day notice, I wasn't under long contract with my landlord, I was paying "month-by-month", with a little higher cost than without contract. I moved out on March 7th 2007 in the morning, giving keys to the apartment to leasing agent with the explanation. That whole month was already paid for. But I didn't give them the 60-day notice, since I did not plan on leaving suddenly. So, they had it right about "no-notice" charge. But, I have no idea why and what they were trying to do, they sued me, "evicted" me and I was faced with $4800 (?) in charges and a public record of civil judgement against me. I couldn't rent the apartment even when I tried to put 2-3 rents in deposit...

    Eventually, in my travel bag, I found old, rarely used Capital One CC which had $750 limit when it was active. I called Capital One (also I had $8000 PayPal CC but they wouldn't give anything after they closed it, I owed them nothing). Capital One immediately reinstated my previous limit to $750.

    Everything started from there. They approved me for another card and in about 6 months raised my limit on first card to $2750. I was spending and paying of my CC like before and offers started to come in regularly. Public record was off my report and now I am at 786 FICO. All thanks to capital One readiness to give me a second chance. So, please, try to understand that behind a lot of bankruptcies there is a story that you don't know about and that those people didn't stand a chance against a set of circumstances that put them in position where they became no longer able to pay anything...
      Reply »  
  2. Rick Wise July 03, 2015 at 6:31 pm
    Yeah...what Amber and especially what LULU said...till you know each circumstance it is silly or worse to make a blanket statement.
      Reply »  
  3. PIERRE LABBE May 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm
    WHY DO YOU EVEN HAVE A CARD RECOMENDATION FOR PEOPLE WITH BAD CREDIT? ITS LIKE THE CAR SALES -HUCKSTERS THAT PRACTICALY GUARANTEE A CAR LOAN TO PEOPLE WITH BAD CREDIT.HAVENT WE HAD ENOUGH PROBLEMS WITH PEOPLE WHO CAN'T PAY THEIR MORTGAGES ? NO CREDIT IS ONE THING BUT BAD CREDIT IS NOT SOMETHING WE SHOULD TRY TO HELP BY ENCOURAGING CREDIT CARD USAGE.
      Reply »  
    1. Amber Stubbs June 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm
      I respectfully disagree. I rebuilt my credit with the help of a secured card and it was well worth the nominal annual fee. Although there are still cards out there with too many fees and other "gotchas" (e.g. no grace period on purchases), it's pretty easy to find a card that will only cost you a small annual fee as long as you pay in full each month. Credit cards can be a valuable, cost-effective tool for building or rebuilding credit and definitely can't be compared to a car loan for someone with poor credit which is likely to cost thousands in interest even if you are able to pay the car off early.
        Reply »  
    2. lulu June 15, 2015 at 9:02 am
      Obviously you missed the point that some of these people are working hard to rebuild their credit and this is an important way to do it. Poor credit can be caused by many circumstances some of which are not due to being irresponsible ( job loss,illness with loss of income, huge medical bills, divorce with a spouse who does not help with mortgage)Although I have not had to go through these hardships, as a landlord I have been able to hear their stories and see that some of them are working hard to get back on track. You shouldn't be passing judgment and having such a superior attitude if you haven't walked in their shoes.
        Reply »  
  4. Andrea Listening Deer May 09, 2015 at 9:50 pm
    How does Wells Fargo secured credit card rate
      Reply »  
    1. Amber Stubbs June 16, 2015 at 2:55 pm
      The interest rate on purchases is about average for a secured card, but you can definitely find lower. The annual fee is fairly low ($25 as of today, but always check terms before applying). Overall it's a good secured card, but not the best.
        Reply »  

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