Best credit cards for 2014

By updated on April 24, 2014

We often hear from readers who simply ask, "Which credit card is best for me?" Without knowing more about you and your financial situation, it's difficult to provide a straightforward answer to that question.

The best credit card for your neighbor might not fit your own lifestyle. The lowest interest rate may not be important to you if you're going to pay off your card every month. If you're carrying a balance, the best rewards points program may not save you much money if you're paying a higher interest rate for those perks. That's why it's important to ask yourself how you intend to use the credit card before starting to compare offers.

Our editorial team spends time every day reviewing the latest credit card deals from across the country. We'll spotlight a handful of credit card offers that we think provide the very best value for your money. The best deals of 2014 might include longer zero-APR balance transfer offers, generous cash back credit cards, tempting travel rewards points bonus offers, or anything else that helps save you money.

 

What kinds of deals are out there?

We believe there's a credit card deal out there for everyone. If you're just starting to build a credit history, secured credit cards and credit cards for limited credit can help you establish crucial banking relationships. Bargain hunters love low APR credit cards, especially a new breed of account that eliminates annual fees and service charges.

Banks that really want your business offer rewards credit cards that fit your lifestyle. For instance, you might prefer a travel rewards card if you're at the airport enough to be on a first-name basis with the airport lounge staff. Spend a lot at the supermarket, and you may benefit more from a cash back credit card. And, if it's time for you to knock down your debt, the best balance transfer offers can buy you 18 months or more at zero percent APR.

How do I compare deals?

First, decide what key feature of a credit card is most important to you. Getting a better deal in one area often means trading off another. For instance, rewards credit cards tend to carry higher APRs than plain vanilla credit cards. Balance transfer offers might save money on finance charges, but without a lot of other perks. Homing in on the single most important element of your credit card can eliminate distractions.

We built CardRatings.com to give you the objective advice you need to compare credit cards across major feature categories. Special reports and credit card news columnists alert you to last-minute deals and industry trends. Our editorial reviews put limited-time offers into perspective, while our credit card database stacks up the latest deals against the competition. Use our credit card calculators to run the numbers and see how quickly you could pay off your debt. You can even get opinions from other readers by asking questions in our credit card forum.

What do I need to watch out for?

Credit card issuers mail Americans billions of credit card applications every year, easily enough to fill a typical mailbox for every home. Ads for cash back credit cards and travel rewards cards dominate television commercial breaks. It's easy for banks to tell you what you want to hear, but it's far more important for you to take the time to read and understand the fine print of your cardholder agreement.

For example, a cash back card's huge rebate won't matter if you don't earn enough to clear its annual fee and finance charges. Airline credit cards don't pay off when your redemption fee costs less than a competitor's ticket. Our resources can help you look past the banks' marketing messages to discover how you can really save money with credit cards by finding just the right offer for you.

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