Best credit cards of 2024

This “best credit cards” list highlights what our editors, as well as real cardholders, think are the best credit cards of the year. Each year CardRatings’ staff breaks down the top card picks for popular categories announcing a winner for each category. In addition to this, we’ve polled thousands of actual cardholders over the years so you can see what real cardholders think alongside what our editors think. View More

Our editors and cardholders don’t always agree on which card should be considered the winner in any given category – and that’s okay! There’s no one true best card for everyone as each of our needs are unique. While cardholders’ opinions certainly weigh heavily into the overall decision, there are other factors that CardRatings’ staff must consider when making the tough decision of naming “the best credit card” in any given category. That said, we’ve indicated which cards are a “Cardholder Favorite.”

Need help deciding what’s right for you? Compare up to three options side-by-side with the “compare cards” feature, and don’t forget to check out the “user scores” tab for each card to see how cardholders rate this year’s top picks. Want to see more card options in any given category? Select “See more cards in this category” after each card’s details for a list of the best credit cards in that particular category.

Don’t settle for a credit card that isn’t right for you or for the one that you’ve always had! Find the best credit card for your current lifestyle, credit card rewards dreams and spending habits. We, and thousands of cardholders just like you, can help you find your perfect card! Read our methodology. View Less

author Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

20+ years

finding the best card for you

850+ cards

in our database

6,500+ cardholders

polled about their cards

175+ reviews

from our experts

List of Winners

  • CardName – Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back
  • CardName – Best Cash Back Card with Rotating/Tiered Reward Categories
  • CardName – Best for General Travel Rewards
  • CardName – Best for Premium Travel Rewards
  • CardName – Best for Dining Out and Delivery
  • CardName – Best for Groceries
  • CardName – Best for Gas Purchases
  • CardName – Best Small Business Card
  • CardName – Best Balance Transfer Offer
  • CardName – Best for Luxury Perks
  • CardName – Best Student Credit Card
  • CardName – Best Card for Building Credit/Low Credit Scores

At CardRatings.com we discuss the most up-to-date news and trends within the credit card space. Since we first pioneered the concept of online credit card reviews in 1998, our team of financial experts has provided comprehensive and unbiased credit card reviews for more than 175 cards, plus hundreds of additional resource articles to help educate everyday cardholders so they can feel more confident about their card choices. All our content is written and reviewed by industry experts. Though our content may occasionally contain references to products from our partners, we maintain strict editorial integrity and advertiser relationships and compensation never influences ratings, reviews or featured products. The difference between editorial content and advertising must always be clearly stated. Learn more.

 
 
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card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card is a simple card to earn rewards with, and it encourages responsible financial habits to boot! Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, and an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 cash rewards $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,500 on purchases within the first 6 months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.

Rewards Rate: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, and an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.

Intro APR Offer: Take advantage of an 18-month, zero interest offer on balance transfers.

Balance Transfer Fee: BalanceTransferFees

Ongoing APR: RegAPR

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Some balance transfer credit cards don't offer ongoing rewards, so earning unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases, and no annual fee, is a great offering.
  • Similarly, a 0% intro period on eligible balance transfers is generally the "bonus" with balance transfer credit cards. This card, however, takes things a step further with a cash rewards bonus for new cardholders.

CONS:

  • Savvy shoppers willing to employ a little more strategy might prefer cards with rotating bonus categories.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 77.2 84.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 6.9 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: Cardholders have the power here. You choose where you can earn the most cash back from among a list of popular categories. That makes this an incredibly flexible (and possibly lucrative!) card for a wide range of card users.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 online cash rewards $200 online cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Needed
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases on your new card within the first 90 days of account opening.

Ongoing APR: RegAPR

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate:  Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice - now with expanded categories, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Choose 3% cash back on gas and EV charging station, online shopping/cable/internet/phone plan/streaming, dining, travel, drug store/pharmacy or home improvement/furnishings purchases.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • The freedom to choose the category in which to earn the highest rewards makes this customizable card an excellent option for many people's spending habits.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can earn even more: 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase.
  • Take advantage of IntroAPRRate, and balance transfers made in the first 60 days (then, RegAPR). A 3% intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open; after that the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.

CONS:

  • The cash-back opportunities are good, but they're great for Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients. If that's not you, you might want to look elsewhere for higher cash-back earning.
  • Be aware that this card charges foreign transaction fees, so you'll want to carry another option along when you travel abroad or when you shop in foreign currency from home.
  • You can only adjust your 3% cash-back earning category once per calendar month. If an unexpected expense arises in a different category after you've already made your choice, you're out of luck for the 3% on that purchase until the following month rolls around.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.1 80.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.1 8.1
Customer Service 7.9 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 7.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: Lucrative signup bonus, excellent ongoing rewards and flexibility with redemptions make for an excellent card. Bonus points can be redeemed through Chase Travel℠. This is a perennial "starter" card recommendation for people who want to start racking up travel rewards.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
75,000 points Earn 75,000 points – worth over $900 in travel through the Chase Travel – after spending $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: 75,000 bonus points (worth over $900 when redeemed through Chase Travel) when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. You can transfer points to multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs, so you might find that bonus to be worth a lot more when converted to rewards under one of your existing loyalty accounts.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate:  Earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $937.50 toward travel.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Save with an annual $50 hotel credit for a stay booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • That bonus of 75,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months is worth over $900 when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel. It's a solid bonus, especially for a card with a modest annual fee.
  • This card is an excellent complement to other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards, such as CardName or even business cards like CardName. Combine all your points into a single pot and, depending on which card you group them under, they may be worth even more. Learn more in our Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards points

CONS:

  • This card's rewards earning works well for a certain type of spender, but not everyone. Remember you'll only earn bonus rewards in select categories. If these categories aren't among your regular spending categories, you'd likely be better off with a different card.
  • There is the AnnualFees annual fee to consider, so make sure you'll earn (and redeem!) enough rewards to more than offset the fee.
  • There isn't an introductory 0% APR offer with this card.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.3 86.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 8.6
Customer Service 8.0 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.3 8.8
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.7
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

Cardholder Favorite
editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This card marks Capital One's entrance to the premium travel rewards card market – and it doesn't disappoint. With an excellent welcome offer, solid ongoing rewards, a lower-than-typical annual fee for this level of card and an array of useful additional perks, this card is definitely one worth checking out.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
75,000 miles Earn 75,000 miles – worth $750 in travel – after spending $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. Redeemed for statement credit to cover travel, those miles are worth $750. You can also transfer the miles to a number of hotel and airline loyalty programs for possibly more value.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate: Earn 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel; and an unlimited two-times miles on all other purchases.

Is Venture X worth the annual fee?: The annual fee for this card is already lower than most in the premium/luxury category, so that's a good start. Add in perks like a complimentary access to Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network, up to $100 statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, $300 credit annually for travel booked through Capital One Travel as well as 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 in travel) each year after your account anniversary and it's easy to see how you can almost completely offset that annual fee before you even discuss the day-to-day rewards earning.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • It's nice to be appreciated – with this card, your loyalty is rewarded each anniversary year with 10,000 bonus miles.
  • That bonus of 75,000 miles (earned after spending $4,000 in the first three months) will more than offset your annual fee for the first year.
  • This card offers stellar flexibility when it comes to redeeming your miles. Just cash them in to cover travel purchases charged to your card. The list of loyalty program partners is also growing, so you can explore whether there's good value for you in that redemption path as well. Learn more in our Guide to Capital One miles

CONS:

  • While the $300 annual travel credit is generous, it is only available for purchases made through Capital One Travel, so it's a bit restrictive.
  • It's lower than other cards in its class, but there is a AnnualFees annual fee to consider. Ensure you'll earn and redeem enough rewards to make the fee worth your while.
  • Capital One's travel loyalty partners aren't the most popular or wide-reaching out there. It's nice to have the options, but they may not be be the most useful to you depending on your travel habits.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.2 71.9
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.7 7.1
Customer Service 7.9 7.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 7.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.5 6.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.2 7.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

Cardholder Favorite
editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This card offers 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and it comes with a $120 dining credit— a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with your card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
60,000 points Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within your first six months as a cardholder
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within your first six months as a cardholder.

Ongoing APR: RegAPR

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fee: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate: Earn 4X the Membership Rewards points at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases at supermarkets, then one point per $1); 3X the Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; and 1X point per $1 on your other eligible purchases.

Credit Score Needed:  CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card is tailor made for folks who prefer to let others do the cooking. Cardholders can earn 4X points for every dollar spent on dining.
  • Another tasty perk comes in the form of an annual $120 ($10 a month) dining credit. Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with your card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations (enrollment required)
  • If you do happen to like cooking for yourself, you can also earn 4X points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per year.

CONS:

  • Membership has its privileges but they come with a price tag. The annual fee is substantial if you don't plan to make regular use of the card.
  • As you may know, American Express encourages its members to pay off their balance every month. You do also have the option of "paying over time."
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.9 83.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.0 8.4
Customer Service 8.4 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.2 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This is the only card we know of that offers 6% back (up to $6,000 spent annually) in a category that just about every family spends in with some regularity: U.S. supermarkets.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Offer
$250 Earn $250 in statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first six months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Welcome Offer: Earn $250 in statement credit after you spend $3,000 within the first six months.

Intro APR Offer:Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening. Balance transfer fee applies: BalanceTransferFees

Ongoing APR: RegAPR

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit like parking, tolls, taxis, bus fares and more; and earn 1% back on your other purchases.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This is among the highest reward rates out there for U.S. supermarket purchases, meaning it could be a very lucrative card for someone who regularly spends there.
  • Low intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening. then RegAPR. Balance transfer fee applies: BalanceTransferFees
  • We love this card for families since it rewards purchases with U.S. supermarkets (6% cash back up to $6,000 spent in a year, then 1%), on select U.S. streaming subscriptions (6% cash back), at U.S. gas stations (3% cash back), and on transit (3% cash back), all categories that many families find themselves spending in with some frequency.

CONS:

  • As an American Express card, it isn't as widely accepted as cards issued by Visa or Mastercard, but the American Express network is ever-expanding both in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Speaking of using this card while abroad, that's not the best idea as it charges foreign transaction fees, something you can avoid with many cards.
  • There's also the annual fee to consider; you'll want to go through your budget carefully to determine whether you'll earn enough rewards to more than offset the annual fee.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 78.5 78.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.6 7.8
Customer Service 7.7 8.0
Website/App Usability 8.1 7.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.2 7.5

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This card offers 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (1% cash back thereafter). As gas is an eligible spending category, that means you can earn up to $25 each billing cycle on bonus rewards alone. More (at that 1% rate) if you spend over $500 each billing cycle. This is one of the best rates earned on gas purchases we've seen!

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
20,000 points Spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months of opening an account and you’ll receive 20,000 ThankYou® Points - worth $200
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months of opening an account and you’ll receive 20,000 ThankYou® Points, worth $200.

Ongoing APR: RegAPR

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fee: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (1% cash back thereafter) - there are no category enrollments to worry about or no need to juggle reward tiers. On everything else you purchase, you’ll get 1% cash back. Eligible 5% categories include: restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, fitness clubs, live entertainment, drugstores, and home improvement stores. As a special travel offer, earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This is a good card if you have a large purchase on the horizon, or if you need some time to pay off an existing balance interest free, thanks to intro 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months (then RegAPR applies).
  • This card is a nice option if you don't want to worry about rotating categories or category enrollments as it automatically earns you bonus rewards in the eligible category where you spend the most, whether that's on gas or in one of the other eligible bonus categories.

CONS:

  • If you're willing to keep up with rotating categories or a tiered-rewards structure, you may stand to earn more rewards with another card. That said, this card could complement other cards very nicely.
  • This isn't a good card to travel internationally with as it charges a fee on foreign transactions.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.3 87.8
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.8
Customer Service 7.7 8.8
Website/App Usability 7.8 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 8.5

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: The categories in which you can earn the highest amounts of cash back run the gamut from fairly typical to pretty unusual and the spending cap is high enough to make this a reasonable card choice for many small businesses. Plus, mobile phone protection is a nice added perk that could save just about any business some money.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Offer
100,000 points Earn 100,000 bonus points – worth $1,250 in travel – when you spend $8,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points – worth $1,250 in travel – after you spend $8,000 within the first three months.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate: Receive three points per $1 spent on up to $150,000 combined spending annually on travel expenses; shipping costs; Internet, cable, and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. You'll earn one point per $1 in those categories once you reach the spending cap and on all your other purchases.

Additional Perks: Pay your mobile phone bill on your card and you'll enjoy protection for the primary phone on the account as well as all the other phones on the account (yes, that includes employee phones) for covered damage and theft.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This is the highest signup bonus of any Ultimate Rewards-earning card – 100,000 bonus points after spending $8,000 on purchases within the first three months. That bonus is worth $1,250 when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • The spending cap in the bonus categories is high at $150,000, so it can meet the needs of a just-getting-started business as well as an already-on-the-move business.
  • Pay your cellular bill on your card and you'll receive cellular phone insurance for the primary line as well as other phones on the account.

CONS:

  • There is an annual fee to consider, so make sure the rewards categories truly fit your businesses needs or else the fee might not be worth it.
  • Remember that there is a spending cap in the bonus categories, so if you spend well above a combined $150,000 a year on travel and the other select business categories, you'll only earn 1% back on the additional spending.
  • Frequent travelers are likely to get the most value out of this card, so if travel isn't a big part of your business' spending, you might want to consider another option as your small business credit card.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.0 74.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 7.4
Customer Service 8.0 7.6
Website/App Usability 8.3 7.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.9 7.6
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.3 7.3

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

Your rewards are doled out as Chase Ultimate Rewards points and they're worth 25% more if you redeem them for travel through the Chase portal. Furthermore, you can transfer the points to a number of airline and hotel loyalty partners. One more thing, this card is complemented by CardNamediscontinued, a no-annual-fee card that allows business owners to earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase. A smart strategy would be to use your CardName for all your purchases that don't earn at a higher rate with the CardName.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This is a solid card if you want to transfer existing debt thanks to a lengthy intro period – nearly two years – during which you can pay down the debt without paying interest.

Read our full CardName review.

Balance Transfer Intro Offer
0% APR for 21 months 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers made within the first four months (after the intro period, a RegAPR APR applies). BalanceTransferFees
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

Intro 0% Offer Details: Take advantage of an introductory 0% APR period of 21 months from date of your first transfer for balance transfers (all transfers must be completed within 4 months) and 12 months for purchases (then, RegAPR).

Balance Transfer Fees: BalanceTransferFees

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

Rewards Rate: There are no traditional rewards offered with this card, however, you could easily consider the extra money you'll save on interest charges thanks to that introductory 0% APR period on purchases and qualifying transfers, as a reward.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card has one of the longest intro 0% APR offers that we know of. Enjoy 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months (when made in the first four months) and on purchases for 12 months, then RegAPR.
  • This card keeps membership fun with Citi Entertainment®, which gives cardholders special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Keep track of your credit with free access to your FICO® score online.

CONS:

  • This card isn’t a rewards card so if you want a lengthy 0% intro offer AND rewards you might want to consider another option.
  • Intro 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers is one of the longest on the market, but don’t be blindsided by the APR after the intro offer. Depending on your creditworthiness the APR can shoot up significantly.
  • If you’re looking for a good credit card to take overseas with you, this card probably isn’t it as it charges foreign transaction fees.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 74.3 76.6
Features Satisfaction 7.3 7.4
Customer Service 7.4 7.8
Website/App Usability 7.7 7.9
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 7.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: If you're paying this much of an annual fee, it better be worth it. And, trust us, this card is worth it in perks alone – and that's before you even talk about the rewards.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Offer
80,000 points Earn 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee 

Rewards Rate: Earn 5X Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 spent on these purchases per calendar year); 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com; and one point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.

Is CardName Annual Fee Worth It? Again, the short answer is yes... for the right person. Cardholders receive complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection of airport lounges and are eligible for up $200 annually in statement credit to cover incidental airline charges like baggage fees or in-flight refreshments on one qualifying pre-selected airline, as well as either $100 or $85 in credit to cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees, respectively. If you are someone who would have purchased an annual airport lounge membership, that alone largely offsets the annual fee. Plus, the perks just mentioned are in addition to numerous other perks and features you'd want to see with a luxury card. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • As a luxury card, this is another good travel option packed with useful benefits. Some of our favorites include: a $200 airline fee credit (with one pre-selected airline); Uber VIP status and up to $15 each month, plus a bonus in December, in Uber Cash for your rides and Uber Eats orders in the U.S.; a credit of $100 or $85 for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, respectively, application fee; access to the Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounge locations around the world; no foreign transaction fees; and car rental loss and damage insurance.
  • This card also offers a hefty welcome bonus to get card membership started off on the right foot. New cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points once making $8,000 in purchase in the first six months of card membership.
  • With 5X Membership Rewards points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express travel, this card makes it easy to rack up rewards quickly.
  • Terms apply. Enrollment required for select benefits.

CONS:

  • The AnnualFees annual fee this card charges can’t be overlooked. It is a luxury card, however, and there are plenty of beneficial perks to help offset this cost.
  • With that said, many of the perks of this card are travel related; if you don’t travel often, you’ll likely have trouble offsetting the annual fee and making the most of the card’s rewards.
  • If you anticipate needing to carry a balance you’ll likely want to consider another option. Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 77.1 77.8
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 7.7
Customer Service 7.5 8.1
Website/App Usability 7.4 7.8
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.4 7.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

Cardholder Favorite
editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: College is already tough enough to navigate; students don't need another thing on their plate to worry about. This card makes earning simple with 1.5% cash back earned on all purchases made. No caps, no spend categories; just simple and easy-to-earn rewards.

Read our full card_name review.

Early Spend Bonus
$50 Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn an early spend bonus of $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Foreign Transaction Fees: foreign_fee

The Rewards: Earn a flat 1.5% cash back on purchases. Plus, earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, and complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card has no annual fee making it an excellent starter option for those just diving into the world of credit cards.
  • What college student doesn't want a little extra cash in their pocket? This card offers a nice welcome bonus that can be earned by new cardcholers; a perk not always found with student credit cards.

CONS:

  • The rewards earning is nice, but isn't sky high. There are student cards out there that offer higher rewards-earning opportunitie if you're willing to be strategic with your spending.
  • The high APR of RegAPR can be alarming if you don't stay on top of paying your balance in full and on time.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 77.2 n/a
Features Satisfaction 7.1 n/a
Customer Service 8.3 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.3 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

card_name discontinued_disclaimer 

editor_rating
 
foreign_transaction_fee annual_fees
Why We Like It: This is the rare secured credit card that offers cardholders the chance to earn rewards. Racking up some cash back while you rebuild your credit is a nice option to have, though it shouldn't be the primary goal if you're looking at secured credit cards; that should be building your credit score and a positive credit history. After seven months, Discover will automatically begin reviewing your account to determine whether you can be transitioned to a non-secured card.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Offer
Cashback Match Discover will match all the cash back a cardholder earns during their first year
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This is a unique secured credit card in that it offers cash-back rewards. Earn 2% back on the first $1,000 spent each quarter at gas stations and restaurants (then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases.
  • Not only is this a secured credit card that offers ongoing rewards, but it also offers a nice welcome bonus – another unique feature to secured credit cards. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder. So say you earn $100 cash back in your first year, you’ll actually pocket $200 that year.
  • After seven months, Discover will automatically review your account monthly to determine whether you’re eligible to be transitioned to an unsecured credit card.

CONS:

  • Though there’s no annual fee, the minimum security deposit amount could be a stretch for some people at $200. If you can’t see yourself coming up with that deposit, there are other secured credit cards with lower security deposit requirements.
  • Although the cash-back rewards associated with this card may entice potential users, the downside is that not every applicant will be approved. Approval depends on credit history and other financial variables. If you’re uncertain that you will be approved and don’t want a hard credit inquiry on your report, a different secured credit card might be a better fit for you.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 83.7 77.9
Features Satisfaction 8.6 7.7
Customer Service 8.1 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.4 7.8
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.1 8.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 7.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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FAQ

Credit cards work like loans in that there is a limit on how much you can spend in total, it must be paid back in full and, if you don't pay it back before the due date, there will be interest charges added to the amount you owe. In other words, credit cards are incremental loans that you, the cardholder, take from the issuing bank each time you use your card. 

Upon approval of the card, you'll usually be given a credit limit, which is the total amount the bank is willing to "loan" you via your credit card. In most cases, you cannot spend above that limit on the card and, if you do, you may be charged a penalty fee. The credit limit for purchases is likely different (and higher) than your credit limit for cash advances, a kind of transaction through which you can withdrawal cash using your credit card.

Credit cards are a form of "revolving debt," meaning the amount you owe rises and falls with your purchases and payments up to a total debt amount. This is different than a car loan or mortgage with which there is an amount of money borrowed and you cannot borrow more against that amount even as you pay it off. 

For example, let's assume you have a credit card with a $3,000 credit limit:

  • One billing cycle you put $1,800-worth of purchases on your card, meaning your amount of available credit drops to $1,200 ($3,000 credit limit - $1,800 in purchases = $1,200)
  • You pay $1,000 toward those purchases, so you now have $2,200 of available credit ($3,000 credit limit - $1,800 in purchases + $1,000 payment = $2,200)

Each time you make a purchase with your card, the payment goes through the following process:

  1. You use your card to make a purchase at the point-of-sale with a retailer
  2. That retailer sends your credit card information to its bank for approval
  3. The retailer's bank gets authorization for the purchase from the bank that issued your card
  4. If the purchase is authorized, the amount will be deducted from the available credit on your card and the retailer sends the transaction to its bank in a batch with other purchases made that day.

Thanks to the magic of computers, this all takes place in a matter of seconds while you see that "processing" note at the point of sale.

Whenever you make a purchase, the purchase amount is added to your credit card statement along with all the other purchases you made for that billing cycle, which can be 27 to 31 days of activity. All purchases added together, minus any returns that have processed or payments you've made against the balance mid-cycle, will be the statement balance come the end of the billing cycle. From there you have a couple of options:

  1. You can choose to pay the balance off in full by the due date, which usually allows you to avoid paying interest on those purchases. We say, "usually" because an interest-free grace period isn't required by law even though it's the norm for the vast majority of credit cards. Also, keep in mind that the any grace period likely does NOT apply to cash advances, which is why cash advances are almost never a good idea. The best way to get cash back with a credit card is with a cash-back rewards card.
  2. You can choose to pay at least the minimum amount due by the due date. That will keep you in good standing with the bank since you paid your bill on time, but it will likely also result in interest charges since you didn't pay the bill in full. Those interest charges will reduce your available credit along with any purchases that you make.

Learn more about how credit cards work, and see answers to some of the most commonly asked credit card questions.

Here are the general steps when applying for a credit card:

  1. Determine your credit profile and needs. What is your credit score and history like? What is your budget and where do you spend your money? Why do you want a credit card? Can you afford an annual fee? Do you need a 0% introductory period? These are the questions you want to ask before you even begin researching the card to apply for.
  2. Research your options. Based on your answers to the questions above, start using tools and resources like CardRatings to determine which card could be right for you. Don't accept the first offer that arrives in the mail and don't let a flashy celebrity endorsement draw you in. Match your existing budget, lifestyle, needs and goals to the card rather than trying to adjust your life to fit the card. Of course, also take a look at the card's welcome offer, rewards structure, fee structure and more before making your decision. 
  3. Gather your information. You'll need to supply personal information when applying for a card including:
    - Name and contact information
    - Social security number (or EIN if you're applying for a small business card)
    - Income info, including your source of income and annual income amount (if you're over the age of 21, you can include your spouse or partners income that you reasonably expect to have access to)
  4. Apply for the card. Fill out the application materials honestly and submit your application.

The bank will use the information you provide to assess your creditworthiness. First and foremost, companies look at your credit history, which includes your credit score and information such as the number of delinquent accounts you may have had. They will also look for other signs of being a high risk, such as having multiple hard inquiries, which indicates that you have applied for a lot of credit cards or loans; how much of your available credit you're already using (that's your credit utilization); and your income in comparison to your debt load.

You must be at least 18 years old to get a credit card and, if you're under 21, the law requires issuers verify your income as part of your application.

Learn more about how to apply for a credit card.

Gone are the days of credit cards existing only as a simple way to pay for your dinner out without laying out cash. Today, credit cards are truly tools in a financial portfolio, with features, perks, offers and, of course, rewards, that can contribute to your personal or business bottom line. If you're still shopping for, "Just any credit card is fine," you're likely missing out.

These days, credit cards still fulfill that simple role of reducing the need to carry large amounts of cash on your person in order to make everyday or even large purchases, but we often categorize them these days by the primary feature or factor that they offer. Here is a broad list of some popular credit card types:

  • Rewards credit cards - including cash-back and travel rewards cards
  • Co-branded credit cards
  • Balance transfer cards - as well as 0% intro APR on purchases cards
  • Business credit cards
  • Student credit cards
  • Retails/store credit cards
  • Secured/credit builder cards
  • Non-reward credit cards

Learn more about the different types of credit cards.

The cards listed here are our top picks in their respective categories, which means that we believe they are the top picks for a credit card customer who is looking for a card in that particular category, but how do you even go about choosing the best credit card for you? There are a handful of questions you can ask yourself that should help you reach a decision:

How is your credit history and what is your credit score?

Yes, this is technically two questions, but they're deeply connected. More importantly, they should be the first things you think about when considering a new credit card. That's because it's among the first things banks will look at when they are determining whether to grant you that new credit card.

In general, rewards cards are available to people with good to excellent credit; however, someone with a lower credit score who has a solid history of regular, consistent income is likely more attractive to an issuer than someone with a higher score who can't show regular income.

Learn more: Guide to understanding different credit score models

What kind of credit card user are you?

This is all about determining how much effort you want to put into using a credit card. Are you someone who just wants to have a card around for traveling abroad or emergencies? Or are you someone who wants to use a credit card (or even multiple credit cards strategically) for nearly every purchase and rack up the rewards that go along with it?

About those rewards – what kind will you use?

Consider the difference between cash-back rewards and travel rewards and points. What will you get the most use out of? This boils down to a question of lifestyle.

Learn more: Guide to credit card rewards: Points, miles, vs. cash back

Can you offset an annual fee?

Many rewards cards charge an annual fee, but you can possibly offset that with the rewards you earn or the other perks/features offered by the card. Make sure you won't be paying more than you'll be earning.

Learn more: Are credit cards with annual fees worth it?

Is there a bonus offer and can you meet the spending threshold right now to earn it?

The signup/welcome bonuses offered by many of the best credit cards are generous, but you have to meet a certain spending level in order to earn them. If you're in the middle of a season when you're trying to not spend much money, maybe now isn't the time to apply for a card. On the other hand, if you're headed into a season when you will be spending a fair amount of money, you may have no problem earning that signup/welcome bonus.

Learn more: Are limited-time credit card promo offers worth it?

Is there an introductory APR period?

This is particularly important if you are headed into a season when you plan to spend a lot of money. The best idea is always to pay off your card balance in full each billing cycle (no amount of rewards is worth paying interest on a credit card), but many cards offer introductory 0% APR periods on purchases and/or balance transfers. If you do need a little extra time to pay off a big purchase or existing credit card debt, a 0% intro APR credit card could be a lucrative option.

Choosing the right credit card for you is a matter of researching what experts have to say about various cards and taking an honest look at your unique financial situation in order to compare the card offers. Don't take the decision lightly, but do get excited about the rewards, security, features and more that the best credit cards have to offer.

Further reading: How to choose your first credit card

The best credit card is the one that fits comfortably into your lifestyle, budget, credit history and rewards goals. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all credit card, so the best card for you will be the one that works best for your circumstances.

That said, if we have to pick a single best credit card that is likely a good fit for just about anyone, it's going to be one of the cash-back credit cards discussed on this page. Why? Because not everyone travels or needs a 0% intro APR period, but everyone spends money and has expenses, so earning cash back can fit into just about anyone's personal budget.

If you're just beginning to build a credit history, a cash-back card might not be an option for you (though, there are a few rewards options for people with no/limited credit). In that case, you just want to find the card that charges the fewest fees for the greatest amount of perks. Work on using that card responsibly and building your credit and you could be on your way to a traditional rewards card in no time.

author
Jennifer Doss
CardRatings Executive Editor

Jennifer Doss is a credit card analyst and the executive editor of CardRatings.com. She has worked as both a print and online journalist and has over a decade of experience in the media industry. Her published work has covered a broad range of topics, from finance and technology to travel and dining. Through extensive travel experiences and her personal interest...Read more


Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September 2023 to conduct surveys among 1,869 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2023 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents’ scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to “How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?” was double weighted. “Current Scores” reflect scores from the most recent survey (2023); “Past Scores” reflect scores from the 2022 survey.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

For rates and fees for American Express cards mentioned in this post, please see the following links: CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees)

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.