Best credit cards for 2014

By updated on November 21, 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 highlight a handful of credit card offers from each category that we think provide the very best value for your money. The best deals of 2014 are sorted into a number of categories to help you find the best card to suit a specific need.  The best low-interest cards will offer the lowest rate, the best cash-back cards will offer the highest percentage of cash back, and so on.

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 at zero percent introductory 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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See How Your Card Stacks Up

Could you be getting better rewards and rates with another card? Find out.

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Best Rewards Points Credit Card

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Editor's Rating

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for airfare and hotels
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro Period

N/A

Purchase Intro

APR: N/A

Purchase APR

13.99% - 22.99%* Variable

Annual Fee

$125

$125; fee waived for the first 12 months*

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor's Rating

  • Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards℠.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus Chip and Signature enabled for international travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
  • 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro Period

N/A

Purchase Intro

APR: N/A

Purchase APR

15.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Editor's Rating

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases until December 2015; 11.9%-19.9% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want—no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles don’t expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • 100% free Capital One® Credit Tracker—see your monthly credit score anytime and get automatic alerts

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Good
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro Period

N/A

Purchase Intro

APR: 0%

Period: until December 2015

Purchase APR

11.90% - 19.90% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Editor's Rating

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases - Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Get 10% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits
  • Chip card for increased confidence and convenience to pay abroad as easily as you do at home
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR currently 14.99% or 18.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival Cardmembers

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0%

Balance Transfer Intro Period

for 12 months*

Purchase Intro

APR: N/A

Purchase APR

14.99% or 18.99%* Variable

Annual Fee

$89 - Waived first year

Best Cash Back Credit Card

Fidelity® Investment Rewards® American Express® Card

Editor's Rating

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases each time you use your card when you direct your deposit into your eligible Fidelity account: every $2,500 spent equals a $50 deposit.

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Learn More Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0%

Balance Transfer Intro Period

7 billing_cycles

Purchase Intro

APR: None

Purchase APR

13.99% Variable

Annual Fee

None

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Editor's Rating

  • One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards
  • Cash back doesn't expire and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until September 2015; 12.9%-22.9% variable APR after that
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR until September 2015, a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One® Credit Tracker--the free way to easily monitor your monthly credit score anytime, anywhere

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Good
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0%

Balance Transfer Intro Period

until September 2015

Purchase Intro

APR: 0%

Period: until September 2015

Purchase APR

12.90% - 22.90% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Best Student Credit Card

Discover it® chrome for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus

Editor's Rating

  • Experience our cash rewards with $20 cash back after you make your first purchase within 3 months of approval.*
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter - no sign-ups needed.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statements so you can track your score’s progress*
  • Free text alerts can remind you when your payment is due. And free mobile app helps you stay on top of your account.
  • 100% U.S.- based customer service—anytime, day and night
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply.”

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Fair
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

10.99%

Balance Transfer Intro Period

6 months

Purchase Intro

APR: N/A

Purchase APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable*

Annual Fee

$0

Best Low Interest Credit Card

First Command Bank Platinum Visa® Card

Editor's Rating

  • Same low, variable APR of prime rate +3% for purchases, cash advances and balance transfers
  • Minimum credit limit of $5,000
  • No annual fee, over-limit fee, balance transfer fee or online account access fee
  • Free ScoreCard™ rewards program earns points redeemable for air travel, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, gift certificates and merchandise

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Learn More Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

None

Balance Transfer Intro Period

None

Purchase Intro

APR: None

Purchase APR

6.25% Variable

Annual Fee

None

Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum

Editor's Rating

  • Created for those with Excellent Credit and approval is based on your credit rating and application review.
  • Low 7.25% variable standard purchase APR and platinum benefits
  • No balance transfer fee for balances transferred in response to this online offer
  • No Annual Fee

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

7.25% Variable

Balance Transfer Intro Period

N/A

Purchase Intro

APR: 7.25% Variable

Period: N/A

Purchase APR

7.25% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

PenFed Promise Visa® Card

Editor's Rating

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No late fee
  • No penalty APR
  • APR for Purchases - 7.49% introductory APR for 36 months. After that, your APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99%.
  • APR for Cash Advances - 9.99%. Your APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
  • APR for Balance Transfers - 4.99% promotional rate for 12 Months on transfers made from November 01, 2014 through December 31, 2014 with no balance transfer fee. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99%. This transaction is subject to credit approval.
  • Chip Enabled for Added Security

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

4.99%

Balance Transfer Intro Period

12 Months on transfers made from November 01, 2014 through December 31, 2014 with no balance transfer fee. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99%.

Purchase Intro

APR: 7.49%

Period: Intro purchase APR for 36 months. After that, the APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99%

Purchase APR

9.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Chase Slate®

Editor's Rating

  • $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5.
  • Pay less interest. Save on balances and new purchases.
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period ends, a variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • This offer is for people with a good to excellent credit history which means, among other things, that your credit history is clear of bankruptcy and seriously delinquent accounts.

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Apply Now Credit Needed: Excellent
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0%

Balance Transfer Intro Period

15 months

Purchase Intro

APR: 0%

Period: 15 months

Purchase APR

12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Best Poor Credit Credit Card

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Editor's Rating

  • Secured card rates well below the national average
  • Borrow against your DCU savings account
  • No Annual Fee
  • No Fees or Higher Rates for Cash Advances and Balance Transfers
  • Insurance, car rental, travel, and warranty benefits
  • Optional Overdraft Protection On Your DCU Checking
  • Buy online easily and safely with V.me by Visa

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Learn More Credit Needed: Limited
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

None

Balance Transfer Intro Period

None

Purchase Intro

APR: None

Purchase APR

11.50% Variable

Annual Fee

None

USAA Secured Credit Card

Editor's Rating

  • It's a real credit card — not a prepaid or debit card, that helps you build or improve your credit score.
  • When you apply — you'll also be opening a USAA 2-year Certificate of Deposit , an interest-earning deposit account that has a two-year term and a $250-minimum initial deposit.
  • Your CD is a security deposit — the money you put in upfront, from $250 to $5,000, is the card's credit limit.
  • Earn interest on your CD — your deposit is guaranteed to grow. Plus the money is yours to keep as long as you don't default on your payments.
  • Start building your credit — opening a CD lets you get a credit card even if you don't have a credit history or have bad credit.*

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Learn More Credit Needed: Limited
X

Balance Transfer Intro APR

None

Balance Transfer Intro Period

None

Purchase Intro

APR: None

Purchase APR

9.90% Variable

Annual Fee

$35