dcsimg

Best credit cards of October 2019

Last Updated, October 16, 2019

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.

Best credit cards of 2019

The "best credit card" for you may not be the best credit card for your best friend. Since there's no one-size-fits-all credit card out there, CardRatings experts have put together a list featuring the top picks from our partners in a wide range of categories including travel rewards, cash back, small business, balance transfers and more.

We want to help you find the best credit card for your unique needs and lifestyle as we un-muddy the murky waters that make it tough to see clear choices. Don't settle for the wrong credit card 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'll help you do it! Read our methodology

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR TRAVEL REWARDS

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Why It's the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card: In a word: flexibility. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be redeemed through the Chase travel portal or transferred directly to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points (worth up to $750 in travel) when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. And, since you can transfer Ultimate Rewards® points to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs, you might find that bonus to be worth a lot more when converted to rewards under one of your existing loyalty accounts.

Annual Fee: $95

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn two points per $1 spent on travel and dining worldwide. Earn one point per $1 on all your other purchases. In addition, your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, meaning that each point is worth 1.25 cents. Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Runner Up: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: This is an uncomplicated card with solid rewards-earning and redemption structures. You can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime and not have to worry about blackout dates. Plus, you can transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs. As if that weren't enough, cardholders can receive a reimbursement for their Global Entry or TSA Pre?® application fee, a perk worth up to $100.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles (worth up to $500 in travel) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases, meaning you don't have to keep up with tiered categories or wonder whether you've pulled the right card out of your wallet when you go to pay. BUT, thanks to a special promotion, cardholders who pay for hotel or resort bookings via Hotels.com/Venture will earn 10 times the miles for each $1 spent. That's in addition to the regular Hotels.com rewards program in which you earn a free night for every 10 nights booked through the site. Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

For even more options, explore our full list of best travel credit cards.

BEST TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD WITHOUT AN ANNUAL FEE

Winner: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Why It's the Best No-Annual-Fee Travel Rewards Credit Card: This redesigned card came back with a bang that includes features and rewards-earning opportunities normally resolved for travel rewards credit cards with higher-than-typical annual fees – and this one doesn't have an annual fee at all!

The Bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months; that's worth up to $300 in cash redemption. 

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: You earn three points per $1 spent on dining (eating out and ordering in) as well as on your gas station, rideshare and transit purchases. You also rake in three points per $1 on your travel purchases, which includes flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals, as well as on popular streaming services. Earn one point per $1 on everything else. Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card review.

Cellular Phone Protection: Wells Fargo cardholders who pay their cellular bill with their card are eligible for up to $600 in cell phone protection against covered damage and theft (terms and a $25 deductible apply). It's a perk that could save you a nice chunk of change if you're currently paying for insurance out-of-pocket and could save you even more should you have to file a claim.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: Like its big brother above, this card offers a simple way to earn rewards, but you won't pay the annual fee to carry it. Plus, you can transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs.

The Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles (worth $200 in travel) after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.25 miles on every $1 spent. When it comes time to redeem your miles, you simply pay for your travel purchase on your card and then request your miles redemption as a statement credit. Read our full Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Interested in more options, including more travel cards without annual fees? Journey over to our full list of best travel credit cards.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR FLAT-RATE CASH-BACK REWARDS

We've broken down the cash-back credit cards into four earning groups: tiered, rotating, customer-choice and flat-rate categories. Each type of cash-back rewards card has its pros and cons and which is right for you will depend largely on your goals for your credit card as well as your willingness to use different credit cards for different types of purchases. Take a look at our Cash-Back Credit Cards 101 article for more information about how these cards work as well as the type of credit card user we recommend consider each type of card.

Winner: Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Why It's the Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back Credit Card: This card rewards you both for making a purchase AND for paying your credit card bill. We always appreciate a card that encourages financial responsibility. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: There's no traditional rewards bonus, but this card does feature an introductory 18-month, 0% interest period for balance transfers (then, 15.74%– 25.74% (Variable)). That "bonus" could save you a bunch of money if you're currently paying interest on a large balance carried on another card.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction.

Rewards Rate: Earn 1% cash back on every $1 spent. Then, earn another 1% when you pay your bill, whether all at once or spread out over a few billing cycles (though, you will pay interest on those purchases if you don't pay them off in full each billing cycle, which will largely negate any rewards you'd earn). Still, you can effectively earn 2% cash back on every purchase. Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Runner Up: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why We Like It: Flat-rate cash-back rewards cards are a great way to easily rack up rewards without a lot of thought and planning, but they usually aren't the best way to earn the highest rewards out there. Thanks to a signup bonus which gives new cardholders $150 for spending $500 within the first three months of account membership, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® helps to change that.

The Bonus: New cardholders can earn $150 cash back once spending $500 within three months of opening an account. 

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Looking for opportunities to put even more green in your pocket? Check out our expanded "best cards for cash-back rewards" list.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR ROTATING CATEGORIES CASH-BACK REWARDS

Winner: Discover it® Cash Back

Why We Like It: This card allows you to earn 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, plus Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder, effectively meaning those 5% category purchases earn 10% back. What's more, Discover announces its full year of 5% bonus categories at the start of the year, so you can plan ahead.

The Bonus: Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder. That means earning $200 cash back will be worth $400 cash back at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (enrollment is required). The 2019 calendar is as follows: January-March: grocery stores; April-June: gas stations, Uber and Lyft; July-September: restaurants and PayPal; October-December: Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com. Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.

REMINDER

If you don't sign in and enroll in the 5% earning each quarter, you will only earn 1% for those purchases. So, while you could stand to earn a LOT of cash back with this card, it will require a "hands-on" person to maximize the earning; if you prefer a less involved rewards earning process, you'll likely want to consider another card.

Runner Up: Chase Freedom®

Why We Like It: This is, in fact, a cash-back rewards credit card; however, it also happens to work on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® system. That means that you can choose to redeem your rewards for cash back OR you can redeem them for travel or even transfer them to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs.

The Bonus: Earn a $150 bonus after you spend just $500 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% back on the first $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly categories each time you activate; earn 1% back on all your other purchases and once you've met that quarterly spending cap. Check out the current quarterly categories. Read our full review of Chase Freedom®.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Don't miss out on finding the perfect cash rewards card for you. Check out our expanded list of the best cards for cash back.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR CUSTOMER-CHOICE CASH-BACK REWARDS

Winner: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why It's the Best Tiered Rewards Cash-Back Credit Card: Cardholders have the power here. This card gives you the opportunity to choose where you'll earn the most cash back from among a list of six popular categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. That makes this an incredibly flexible (and potentially lucrative!) customer-choice rewards card. 

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. 

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

Rewards Rate: Earn 3% cash back in a category of your choosing from a list of six: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. Earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The 2% and 3% earning is capped at $2,500 in combined spending in your choice category, at grocery stores and at wholesale clubs each quarter. You'll earn 1% back on all your other purchases as well as on purchases in the bonus categories after you reach the quarterly cap. Read our full review of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card.

Additional Info: Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase depending on their tier.

Runner Up: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Why We Like It: Having the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back in categories that you choose make this card a great option for racking up serious rewards with your everyday spending.

The Welcome Offer: New card members can earn a $150 cash-back bonus after spending $500 in purchases on your new card within the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0*

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on the first $2,000 in combined spending each quarter in two categories of your choosing; earn an unlimited 2% cash back on one "everyday" category of your choice (such as gas or groceries); and earn 1% cash back on everything else. Read our full review of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Credit Needed: Good,Excellent

EDITOR'S NOTE

You want more options and we have plenty. Check out our full list of CardRatings' editor's picks for the best cash-back credit cards.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR TIERED CASH-BACK REWARDS

Winner: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why It's the Best Tiered Rewards Cash-Back Credit Card: This tiered cash-back card rewards foodies (finally!) whether your food adventures have you dining out or experimenting in your kitchen at home. And there's a $300 bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months, there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about and the annual fee is reasonable and waived the first year. Given all of this, we just couldn't decide between this and the Bank of America card above with its new customer choice options. Both of these cards offer excellent value – it's up to you to assess your spending habits and determine which is best for you.

The Bonus: Earn a $300 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 in your first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn an unlimited 4% back on all your dining and entertainment purchases as well as an unlimited 2% back at grocery stores. You'll also earn 1% back on all your other purchases. Plus, receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through December 2019 with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Read our full Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

NO ANNUAL FEE, STILL REWARDING

If you don't want to pay an annual fee, you might consider the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card . With this no-annual-fee card, you can still earn a respectable 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else. Once again, there's no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, but you can earn a one-time $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months.

BEST CASH-BACK CREDIT CARD FOR FAMILIES

Winner: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Why It's the Best Credit Card for Families: This is the only card we know of that offers you up to 6% back in a category that just about everyone uses at one time or another: supermarketsTerms apply.

The Welcome Offer: Enjoy a $250 statement credit bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.

Annual Fee: $95.

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Rewards Rate: Earn 6% cash back for every $1 spent 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 all your other purchases. Terms apply. 

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Runner Up: Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Why We Like It: It has a simple rewards structure, but this card also comes with some nice ancillary perks AND your cash back will accumulate as GoFar Rewards, which can be combined with rewards you're earning with other Wells Fargo cards. The primary reason we like it for families, though, is that you can receive cell phone protection for the primary line as well as other lines on the same account just by paying your bill on the card – anyone who's ever handed a teenager a cell phone knows just how much of a savings that particular perk could turn out to be.

The Bonus: Receive a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months of card membership. And, for the first 12 months, all your qualified digital wallet purchases (think, Apple Pay® and Google Pay™) will earn you 1.8% back per $1 spent.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent. Read our full Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card review.

Additional Info: Pay your monthly cellular bill on your card and the primary line as well as up to the three more phones on the account will be protected against covered damage and theft up to $600 per claim. Terms and a deductible apply.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST CREDIT CARD FOR GAS REWARDS

Winner: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why It's the Best Gas Rewards Credit Card: If you're looking for gas rewards, the 5% earning rate offered with this card is hard to beat. Plus, there are a nice slate of other perks that go along with those gas rewards to make this a well-rounded card. Once again, you must qualify to be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union in order to get this card. You can read more about how to do that here.

The Bonus: Earn a $100 bonus after you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn five points per $1 spent at gas stations and three points per $1 spent at supermarkets. All your other purchases earn one point per $1 spent. Read our full PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Runner Up: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Why We Like It: Great gas rewards are nice, but it's also good to find a high gas rewards rate in a card that offers useful other rewards as well. p

The Bonus: There's no bonus with this card.

Annual Fee: $0*

*No annual fee with your paid Costco Membership.

Foreign Transaction Fees: 0%

Rewards Rate: Earn 4% back on the first $7,000 you spend at the pump annually; earn 3% back at restaurants and on travel; earn 2% on your Costco and Costco.com purchases; and earn 1% on all your other purchases. Read our full Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review.

Credit Needed: Excellent

EDITOR'S NOTE

Don't drive all over the internet looking for more options; just check out our "best gas rewards" article for more.

BEST BUSINESS CREDIT CARD FOR TRAVEL REWARDS

Winner: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Why It's the Best Business Credit Card for Travel Rewards: 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.

The Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points – worth $1,000 in travel – after you spend $5,000 within the first three months.

Annual Fee: $95

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

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. Read our full Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card review.

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: Excellent, Good

PRO TIP

Your rewards are doled out as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points and they're worth 25% more if you redeem them for travel. Furthermore, you can transfer the points to a number of airline and hotel loyalty partners. One more thing, this card is complemented by Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card, 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 Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card for all your purchases that don't earn at a higher rate with the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.

Runner Up: Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Why We Like It: Busy business owners whose work takes them frequently on the road rarely have time to deal with complicated credit card rewards systems. This one is simple, but still quite lucrative.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles – the equivalent of $500 in travel – after you spend $4,500 on your new card within the first three months from opening your account.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases. There are no categories or spending caps to keep up with; and your rewards won't expire for the life of the account. Read our full  review of Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Shop around for other top business cards on our "best small business credit cards" list.

BEST BUSINESS CREDIT CARD FOR CASH-BACK REWARDS

Winner: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Why It's the Best Business Credit Card for Cash-Back Rewards: Like the travel version above, this card provides simple rewards earning opportunities for the busy business owners.

The Bonus: Earn a one-time cash bonus of $500 after you spend $4,500 on your new card within the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn 2% cash back on every purchase. There's no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn. Read our full Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Runner Up: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Why We Like It: The rewards categories are typical business-needs categories, but they're broad. That means you can earn a nice chunk of cash back on a variety of needs and the welcome offer is pretty sweet, too.

The Bonus: Earn a $500 bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Rewards Rate: Rack up 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular, landline, internet and cable television services. Earn 2% back on the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year and earn 1% back on all your other purchases. Read our full Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Browse CardRatings' editor's picks for more of the best business credit cards.

BEST SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD WITHOUT AN ANNUAL FEE

Winner: Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Why It's the Best Small Business Credit Card Without an Annual Fee: You're a busy small business owner who doesn't have time to think about whether you're earning the most cash back you can; instead of worrying, enjoy a card that earns you a nice and easy 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make for your business. Plus, those rewards accumulate as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which means you can redeem them for cash back, travel and more as well as combine them with points you earn using other Chase Ultimate Rewards® points cards (we mentioned this above).

The Bonus: Earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Rewards Rate: Earn an easy-to-remember 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, take advantage of an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months (then, 15.24% - 21.24% Variable). Read our full Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Runner Up: American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Why We Like It: There's opportunity here for healthy cash back without that pesky annual fee to eat into your rewards or categories to confuse your spending.

The Welcome Offer: Enjoy an intro period of 12 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers (then, 14.99% - 20.99% Variable). Terms apply

Annual Fee: No annual fee.

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Rewards Rate: Earn a flat 2% cash back on all eligible purchases up to $50,000 spent in a calendar year, then earn 1%. Your cash back is automatically credited to your statement. Terms apply. Read our full American Express® Blue Business Cash Card review.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

EDITOR'S NOTE

We have more business credit card options for you to see. Explore your options in our"best business credit cards" article.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR A 0% APR PERIOD

Winner: Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why It's the Best Credit Card for a 0% APR Period: A lengthy 0% APR period combined with solid rewards opportunities and no foreign transaction fees make this a favorite for us.

The Bonus: Earn a $150 cash back bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months from account opening. As for the intro period, enjoy an introductory 15 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfer (3% fee applies to all transfers made during the first 15 months). After the intro period ends, your APR becomes 15.74% - 25.74% (Variable).

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn an easy-to-understand 1.5% cash back on every purchase – no caps or categories to worry about. Read our full Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Runner Up: BankAmericard® credit card

Why We Like It: This was a choice related to nothing more than the length of the 0% APR introductory offer for both purchases and balance transfers. At 18 months, this can certainly go the distance.

The Bonus: The "bonus" here is the lengthy introductory period of time during which you can pay off your purchases and balance transfers interest-free. Enjoy 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers will apply.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%

Rewards Rate: There are no ongoing rewards to take advantage of with this card. Again, the big reward here is its really lengthy 0% intro APR period. Read our full BankAmericard® credit card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Take a look at other 0% APR offer credit cards.

BEST BALANCE TRANSFER CREDIT CARD

Winner: Discover it® Balance Transfer

Why It's the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card: A combination of a strong introductory zero-interest period along with the opportunity to earn mega rewards is always a winner in our book.

The Bonus: It isn't a traditional bonus, but it's still excellent. Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder. That means earning $200 in cash back is effectively worth $400 in cash back during your first year. That's hard to beat.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter, then 1% (quarterly enrollment is required). Earn 1% cash back on all your other purchases. Read our full review of Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Balance Transfer Details: You can take advantage of an intro period of 18 months no interest on balance transfers (and six months no interest on purchases as well). After the intro period, the APR goes to 13.74% - 24.74% Variable).

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Runner Up: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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 there's zero interest collecting on it.

The Bonus: There isn't a traditional bonus, but you could consider the bonus the fact that paying late won't land you a penalty rate nor will you pay a late fee; however, the real winning feature with this card is its lengthy 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, 16.49% - 26.49%* (Variable)).

Annual Fee: $0*

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

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 no APR period on purchases and qualifying transfers, as a reward. Read our full review of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever.

Balance Transfer Details: Enjoy an introductory 0% APR for 21 months from the date of your first transfer (all transfers must be completed within four months) as well as on your purchases for the first 12 months. The APR jumps to 16.49% - 26.49%* (Variable) after the intro period ends.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

Here are some other balance transfer credit card options for you.

BEST LUXURY CREDIT CARD

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Why It's the Best Luxury Credit Card: This card offers the perks and features you'd expect from a luxury card. Plus, it's a metal card, which is just really fun to have in your wallet.

The Bonus: Receive 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® bonus points – worth up to $750 in travel – after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $450; an additional $75 for each authorized user.

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn three points per $1 spent on dining and on travel that isn't eligible for the annual $300 travel statement credit reimbursement and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Annual Fee Worth It?: In a word, yes. Beyond the excellent bonus, the everyday rewards earning and that 50% more value when redeeming your points for travel through Ultimate Rewards®, cardholders have complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide as well special benefits at the Luxury Hotel and Resort CollectionSM. You'll also be eligible for up to $300 in statement credit to cover travel purchases each account anniversary year and statement credit to cover your Global Entry or TSAPre?® application fees every five years. The lounge access and the travel reimbursement alone should be enough to offset the annual fee and that's before you even take the rewards into consideration.

Editor's Note: Your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel and are transferable at a 1:1 rate to a number of airport and hotel loyalty programs. Also nice: This card was named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Runner Up: The Platinum Card® from American Express

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. 

The Welcome Offer: You'll get 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Terms apply

Annual Fee: $550

Foreign Transaction Fees: None 

Rewards Rate: Earn five Membership Rewards® points for every $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. Earn one point per $1 spent elsewhere. Terms apply. Read our full The Platinum Card® from American Express review.

Is The Platinum Card® from American Express 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 airline as well as either $100 or $85 in credit every five years to cover your Global Entry or TSA?® application fees, respectively. If you are someone who would have purchased an annual airport lounge membership, that alone probably 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.Terms apply.

Editor's Note: This is not a credit card, it's a charge card. That means that you'll be expected to pay your statement balance in full each billing cycle. If you anticipate needing or wanting to carry a balance from month to month, this isn't the card for you. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

EDITOR'S NOTE

Need more luxury credit card options? We've got you covered with our "best luxury credit cards" list.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR AIRLINE REWARDS

Winner: United℠ Explorer Card

Why It's the Best Airline Rewards Credit Card: We like a card that offers you all the perks you'd expect from an airline-branded card, but also gives you a solid opportunity to earn rewards beyond your airline purchases PLUS offers a travel-friendly reimbursement.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within your first three months as a cardholder.

Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and hotels as well as on your United Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile per $1 on everything else. Read our full review of the United℠ Explorer Card.

Airline-specific Features: Your first checked bag is free when you use your card to book your trip and you'll enjoy preferred boarding on United flights. Additionally, cardholders receive two one-time United ClubSM passes each year after your cardholder anniversary. As for that "travel-friendly reimbursement" mentioned above, that's up to $100 in statement credit to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre?® application fee.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

When it comes to airline-specific cards, it's important to note that these cards are most definitely not the best option for everyone. If you fly once or twice a year and you prefer to shop for the lowest fares rather than spend a little more for a particular airline, than these likely aren't for you. You're probably better off with a more general travel rewards card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, both of which allow you to redeem your rewards for flights with any airline or even transfer your points to one of a number of travel partners.

Runner Up: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Why We Like It: Sure, Southwest is an airline with somewhat limited (though ever-increasing) areas served, but that doesn't mean it's not worth racking up some rewards with the airline if you find yourself on Southwest flights often. Plus, this card will help you work toward that oh-so-important (and valuable!) Southwest Companion Pass.

The Bonus: Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

Annual Fee: $149

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn two points per $1 spent directly with Southwest Airlines and with Rapid Rewards airline and car rental partners. Given that rate of earning, you could be on your way to a Companion Pass quite quickly, which is really what makes this card such a popular choice.

In case you're unfamiliar with the Southwest Companion Pass, here's the deal: with a Companion Pass, you'll be able to choose one person to fly with you, paying only taxes and fees, for the remainder of the year in which you earn your pass as well as for the entire following year. That could mean HUGE savings. Earning the pass requires you to fly 100 one-way flights in a calendar year or – and this is where carrying this card can help tremendously – simply earn 110,000 qualifying points in the year. That means the bonus alone will get you more than one-third of the way to the Companion Pass for that year. Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review.

Airline-specific Features: Cardholders will receive a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year, which goes a long way toward offsetting your annual fee on its own. You'll also be eligible for four upgraded boardings per year, as available, and you'll save money with 20% back on your in-flight drinks, Wi-Fi, messaging and movies. Lastly, each year after you account anniversary you'll receive 7,500 bonus points.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

There are more excellent airline rewards cards out there. Check out our full list of best airline credit cards.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR HOTEL REWARDS

Winner: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Why It's the Best Hotel Rewards Card: American Express went above and beyond when it launched this new Hilton card in early 2018. So far above and beyond that cardholders get all the great hotel benefits you'd expect with a branded card plus extra points on everyday purchases and some complimentary airport lounge access. Terms apply; American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Welcome Offer: Earn 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. Also, earn a weekend night stay reward after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year. Terms apply.

Annual Fee: $95.

Foreign Transaction Fees: None 

Rewards Rate: Earn 12 points per $1 spent at participating properties within the Hilton portfolio. Earn six points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and earn three points per $1 on all your other purchases (Terms apply). Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review.

Additional Perks: As a cardholder, you're entitled to 10 complimentary airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time signup with Priority Pass™ Select. That's an unheard of perk on a card with this low of an annual fee. Plus, the annual opportunity to earn a weekend night stay reward after spending at least $15,000 on your card in a calendar year should more than offset the annual fee. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

EDITOR'S NOTE

As with the airline-branded cards category above, these hotel-branded cards aren't for everyone. For a branded product to be best for you, you need to be the kind of traveler who is willing to sacrifice price and/or convenience for the sake of sticking within a brand. If that's you, great! The hotel-branded cards (and their airline-branded cousins above) are probably a good fit for your wallet. If, however, you're looking for flexibility when it comes to where you lay your head when away from home, then you might consider a general travel rewards card instead. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, for instance, offers you 10 miles per $1 spent when you book your stay at hotels.com/venture.

Runner Up: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Why We Like It: This card was recently revamped and reintroduced by Chase and the changes are solid. From a free night after each account anniversary AND a free night each time you redeem rewards for a four-night or more stay to a reasonable annual fee and high earning potential, this card has a lot to offer.

The Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. 

Annual Fee: $89

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Read our full IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

EDITOR'S NOTE

If you're looking for more hotel credit card options, take a look at our expanded list of best hotel credit cards.

BEST STUDENT CREDIT CARD

Winner: Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Why It's the Best Student Credit Card: Student credit cards don't typically come with many bonus offers (if any at all), but the Citi Rewards+ Student Card offers several. Not only is this card the only student credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase (a $2 coffee earns 10 points, a $22 dinner earns 30 points, etc.) but it also offers new users 2,500 bonus points once spending $500 with the card within the first three months of card membership, as well as an intro period of seven months of 0% APR.

The Bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 with the card within the first three months of card membership, plus enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for the first seven months (then 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)).

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

Rewards Rate: Earn two times the points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year (and one point per dollar spent thereafter), and one point on all other purchases.

Also Worth Noting: Earn 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem each year. That means if you redeem 20,000 points, you'll get 2,000 back.

Credit Needed: Good

Runner Up: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Why We Like It: This level of rewards-earning opportunity is rare with a student card. Plus, because of the need to enroll in the bonus category earning each quarter and track whether you've hit the spending cap, you'll need to actually pay attention to your account, which is a good lesson to learn.

The Bonus: Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year as a cardholder. That means you can effectively earn 10% cash back in those 5% bonus categories during your first year.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (enrollment is required). Earn 1% cash back on your purchases in those categories after you meet the quarterly cap as well as on all your non-bonus category purchases. Read our full Discover it® Student Cash Back review.

Credit Needed: Fair, New to Credit

EDITOR'S NOTE

Here's an expanded list of the best student credit cards, according to CardRatings.

BEST LOW INTEREST CREDIT CARD

Winner: Simmons Visa®

Why It's the Best Low Interest Credit Card: If you're looking for low ongoing interest, this card is nearly impossible to beat AND it's consistently been so.

The Bonus: This isn't a rewards card so you won't earn a traditional bonus with this card; however, paying a low ongoing interest rate on a balance could feel like a bonus to you. Read our full Simmons Visa® review.

Annual Fee: None

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2% of amount in US dollars

Ongoing Interest Rate: 10.00% variable

Credit Needed: Excellent

Runner Up: PenFed Gold Visa® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why We Like It: This card actually offers an even lower APR than our winner card for those that qualify. It's our runner up because you must qualify to be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union in order to get this card. You can read more about how to do that here.

The Bonus: Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Read our full PenFed Gold Visa® Card review.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Ongoing Interest Rate: 8.99% to 17.99% Variable

Credit Needed: Excellent

EDITOR'S NOTE

Still looking for the right card for you? Take a look at our best credit cards for low interest.

BEST SECURED CREDIT CARD

Winner: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Why It's the Best Secured Card: The security deposit to establish your initial $200 line of credit could be as low as $49 (more on this below).

The Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus with this card, but you will get the benefit of having your credit card use reported to the credit bureaus, which is what you need if you're working to rebuild your credit.

Annual Fee: $0. You will be required to make a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 in order to establish your initial credit line of $200.

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: There are no rewards offered with this card; however, make your first five payments on time and Capital One will evaluate your account for a possible credit line increase with no additional deposit required. Read our full Capital One® Secured Mastercard® review.

Runner Up: Discover it® Secured

Why We Like It: This is the rare secured 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. Plus, after eight months, Discover will automatically begin reviewing your account to determine whether you can be upgraded to a non-secured card.

The Bonus: Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn during your first year of card membership. Earn $200 cash back and you've effectively earned $400 back.

Annual Fee: $0. You will be required to make a security deposit of at least $200 in order to establish your line of credit. This deposit is fully refundable assuming your account remains in good standing and fully paid.

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn 2% cash back on the first $1,000 combined spending at restaurants and gas stations each quarter, then 1%. Earn 1% on all your other purchases. Read our full Discover it® Secured review.

EDITOR'S NOTE

If these choices aren't quite right for you, head over to our list of best secured credit cards for additional options.

HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE THE BEST CREDIT CARD FOR ME?

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? Well, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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% period could be a lucrative offer.

Interested in a visual of the process for how to choose the best credit card? We're here to please:

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.

Methodology: CardRatings editors have been rating and reviewing credit cards for nearly 20 years. We bring that two decades of experience to our review process as we consider the rewards, rates, fees, perks and features of each card and how those things relate to each award category. Sometimes the categories and their criteria are straightforward as in, for example, the “Best 0APR credit card.” In others we consider such features as the ease/flexibility of the rewards redemption process in addition to the earning of the rewards themselves. We’re constantly reviewing our list as credit card terms change often – if there’s a better card that rises to the top, we update our lists to reflect that change. Our goal is ensuring the consumer has the most up-to-date information so he/she can make the best possible credit card decision for their lifestyle and needs.

For rates and fees for American Express cards mentioned in this post, please see the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees); Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Blue Business Cash Card (See Rates and Fees); The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees)

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.

Comments
9 Comments

  1. PB
    July 26, 2018 - 3:14 pm
    Ducks Unlimited 5% cash back on gas and sporting goods.
      Reply »  
    1. Brooklyn Lowery
      July 26, 2018 - 6:00 pm
      Thanks for pointing out this card. It certainly is a good choice if sporting goods stores and gas purchases are where you spend the bulk of your money. Do be aware the the APR is relatively high, so you'll definitely want to pay your balance off in full each billing cycle.
        Reply »  
  2. Sam
    September 09, 2015 - 2:57 pm
    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 »  
  3. Rick Wise
    July 04, 2015 - 1:31 am
    Yeah...what Amber and especially what LULU said...till you know each circumstance it is silly or worse to make a blanket statement.
      Reply »  
  4. PIERRE LABBE
    May 30, 2015 - 11:54 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 - 9:19 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 - 4:02 pm
      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 »  
  5. Andrea Listening Deer
    May 10, 2015 - 4:50 am
    How does Wells Fargo secured credit card rate
      Reply »  
    1. Amber Stubbs
      June 16, 2015 - 9:55 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 »