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Best credit cards of 2020

Brooklyn Lowery, CardRatings Senior Manager Last Updated, April 3, 2020

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.

LIST OF WINNERS

For more than 20 years, CardRatings experts have been helping readers find the best credit card for their situation based on our analysis of the fine print, best rewards-earning practices, fees, rates and more, but for the best credit cards of 2020 we did something different. We still have expert best credit card picks, but we also reached out to more than 1,500 actual cardholders across 65 of the most popular credit cards out there to find out what actual cardholders think of the cards they're using. The list below showcases where experts and actual cardholders agreed and, yes, where we differed. 

What hasn't changed this year is that the "best credit card" for you may not be the best credit card for your best friend, so we still feature multiple categories including travel rewards (the expert pick is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card); cash back (one of our picks is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, small business (we like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) for small business travel rewards); balance transfers (check out Discover it® Balance Transfer (This card is not currently available on CardRatings)) and more.

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, and more than 1,500 cardholders like you, can help you do it! Read our methodology.

See More

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR FLAT-RATE CASH-BACK REWARDS

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card: This card rewards you both for making a purchase AND for paying your credit card bill. What's not to like about a card that encourages financial responsibility with cold-hard cash back. 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, 13.99% – 23.99% (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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This card encourages responsible use and paying off your balance each month since you’ll earn 1% when you buy and another 1% cash back when you pay for your purchases.
  • Speaking of financial responsibility, if you do have a balance on another card that you’re working to pay off, you could save on interest with this cards intro 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months (then, 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)).
  • Effectively earning 2% cash back (assuming you’re paying off the purchases you make) on a card that doesn’t card an annual fee is certainly a night rewards rate.

CONS:

  • While this card doesn’t charge an annual fee, a plus, it does charge foreign transaction fees and balance transfer fees – just something to be aware of if those things will impact you.
  • Earning up to 2% cash back on every purchase is a great rate for a flat-rate cash-back card, but if you are a willing to be more strategic with your credit card use and purchases, a rotating categories or tiered cash-back rewards card could stand to earn you more rewards.
  • There’s not a traditional signup bonus with this card, so you can’t look forward to a big chunk of cash back or a statement credit soon after getting the card.

Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.

Expert Runner Up:

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

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 solid signup bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® helps to change that.

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The Bonus: New cardholders can earn $150 cash back after 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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • If you’re looking for simple rewards, earning 1.5% cash back on every purchase is hard to beat. Plus, you can earn a nice $150 bonus after spending just $500 on purchases within the first three months.
  • While this card is marketed as a cash-back card, your cash back technically accumulates as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, a powerful travel rewards currency. You can combine the points you earn with this card with the points you earn using one of Chase’s other cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and possibly make those points worth even more.
  • You can take advantage of an introductory 0% APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers (then, 17.49% - 22.49% Variable).

CONS:

  • While earning 1.5% cash back on all your purchases is a nice rewards rate, it’s far from the most lucrative. There are cards out there that offer higher rewards, paticularly if you’re willing to think about rotating or tiered categories.
  • This isn’t the best card for you to take along on a trip abroad; it charges foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware that there is a balance transfer fee of 3% when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5. Then, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Read our full review of Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

You might have noticed that we broke down the cash-back credit cards into four rewards groups: tiered, customer-choice, flat-rate and rotating 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.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR TIERED CASH-BACK REWARDS

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Tiered Rewards Cash-Back Card: This tiered cash-back card rewards foodies (finally!) whether your food adventures have you dining out or experimenting in your kitchen at home. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about (hello, global cuisine!) and the annual fee is reasonable (and waived the first year).

The Bonus: Earn $300 bonus cash back 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 4% back on all your dining and entertainment purchases as well as 2% back at grocery stores. You'll earn 1% back on all your other purchases.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • In our opinion, it took WAY too long for a credit card to hit the market with such a high rewards focused put on dining out and entertainment. There are a lot of people out there that stand to earn some serious cash back with this card.
  • There's a sweet (or spicy, if that's your thing) welcome offer of $300 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
  • Whether you're dining out and earning 4% cash back or shopping at grocery stores and earning 3% cash back, this card could be perfect for families or single foodies alike.
  • Feel free to take this card on your next global food tour – you won't pay foreign transaction fees, which is somewhat rare among cash-back rewards cards.

CONS:

  • There is an annual fee to consider, so make sure the categories fit your spending and you'll earn enough rewards to more than offset the fee.
  • While cash-back rewards are always welcome, there isn't a lot of redemption flexibility or opportunity to, so-called, maximize rewards as you can with cards that offer points.
  • There isn't a 0% intro period for purchases or balance transfers with this card, so you'll want to look elsewhere if that's on your list of needs.

Read our full Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This is the little brother of another card that made our best of list, but this one doesn't come with an annual fee making it ideal for people who spend in the bonus categories, but not necessarily enough to offset an annual fee.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months. Eligible Cards are U.S. Consumer and Business Cards issued by American Express National Bank to a Basic Card Member.

The Welcome Offer: Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 in your first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0

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

Rewards Rate: Earn 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent each year, then 1%), earn 2% back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and earn 1% back on everything else.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • No annual fee and high ongoing rewards in popular spending categories (3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases) make this card an excellent option for many people.
  • A solid introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (then, 12.99% - 23.99% Variable) could certainly save you some money.
  • Rack up $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months.

CONS:

  • While the rewards categories are nice, they are specific. If you aren't a supermarket shopper or perhaps don't spend much on gas, there's likely a better card for you out there.
  • Earning 3% back at U.S. supermarkets could yield some hefty cash back, but if you spend much over the $6,000 annual threshold, you could be missing out on higher rewards with another card.
  • This is not a card you'll want to take with you when traveling abroad as it does charge foreign transaction fees.

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR CUSTOMER-CHOICE CASH-BACK REWARDS

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Customer-Choice Cash-Back Credit Card: Cardholders have the power here. You 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 possibly 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.

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

PROS:

  • The freedom to choose the category in which you'll earn the highest rewards makes this customizable card an excellent option for many people's spending habits.
  • If you're already a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you'll earn even more: 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase.
  • Enjoy the welcome bonus of $200 online cash back after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of card membership.

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.
  • You can only adjust your 3% cash-back earning category once per calendar month. If an unexpected expense comes up in a different category after you've already made your choice, you're out of luck for the 3% on that item until the following month rolls around.

Read our full Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review.

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Having the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back in a wide variety of categories from which you can 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.

Credit Needed: Good,Excellent

PROS:

  • A customizable cash-back credit card – especially one with this many category choices – means this card could be a lucrative no-annual-fee choice for many different people.
  • The "everyday category" options in which you’ll earn 2% cash back are common to many household’s regular spending.
  • You could save money on an existing balance on another card with an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles (then, 13.99% - 23.99%* Variable).

CONS:

  • Keep the quarterly spending threshold in mind. You’ll earn 5% cash back on your choice category up to $2,000 spent in a quarter. After that, it drops to 1% cash back.
  • You can only change your 5% and 2% categories once per quarter, so it’s less flexible than the once-a-month-change option offered by the Bank of America card above.
  • If you fail to enroll in a category in a quarter, you’ll earn 1% back on all your purchases, so this is certainly a card that will require a hands-on approach to earning rewards.

Read our full U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card review.

 

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

Expert Winner:

Discover it® Cash Back

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Rotating Categories Cash-Back Card: You can 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.

PROS:

  • Discover will MATCH all the cash back new cardholders earn during their first year as a member. That means that earning $200 in cash back will automatically become $400 at the end of your first year.
  • Who doesn't want to earn 5% cash back on purchases? This is an excellent no-annual-fee card for people who want to put a little thought into their purchases and maximize the 5% spending categories each quarter.

CONS:

  • This card requires a fair amount of planning in order to maximize the rewards. You'll need to keep up with the bonus categories as well as your spending in those categories so that you meet the spending threshold, but don't overdo it and miss out on rewards.
  • Remember that you'll only earn 1% cash back on non-bonus category spending, which isn't a high earn rate. If you aren't going to maximize the bonus categories, you'd be better off with another card that earns a higher ongoing rate.

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 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.

Expert Runner Up:

Chase Freedom®

About Our Ratings

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 making this cash-back card the ultimate in rewards flexibility.

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • A HUGE perk of this card is that your cash back accumulates as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which means your cash back can actually be redeemed as travel rewards or even combined with the Ultimate Rewards® points you earn with other Chase cards to make your rewards worth even more.
  • This could be a good option for you if you have an existing balance on another card or a big purchase coming up since new cardholders can take advantage of an intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then, 16.49% - 25.24% Variable).
  • The 5% categories on this card often differ from those offered by the Discover it® Cash Back, which having both of these no-annual-fee cards in your wallet could be beneficial.

CONS:

  • Plan to have a different card in your wallet when you travel abroad; this one charges foreign transaction fees.
  • As with the Discover card above, Chase Freedom® does require planning and a hands-on approach to maximize rewards. If you want a simple credit card, consider one of the flat-rate or even tiered options here.
  • If you choose to take advantage of the balance transfer offer, keep in mind you will pay a balance transfer fee of 3% when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5. Then, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater..

Read our full Chase Freedom® review.

 

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 TRAVEL REWARDS

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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. Plus, an upgrade to the long-standing bonus offer solidified this card as our best travel rewards card pick for yet another year.

The Bonus: 60,000 bonus points (worth up to $750 in travel) when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards® 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: $95

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn two points per $1 spent on travel and dining worldwide and one point per $1 on all your other purchases. Plus earn five points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's three points in addition to the two points you already earn on travel. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, so each point is worth 1.25 cents in that case.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Or they are transferable to a number of hotel and airline loyalty programs, which might make them worth even more.
  • That bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months is worth $750 when you redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal. That's a stellar signup bonus, especially for a card with a modest annual fee.
  • This card is an excellent complement to other Ultimate Rewards®-earning cards, such as Chase Freedom® or even business cards like Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Combine all your points into a single pot and, depending on which card group them under, they may be worth even more.

CONS:

  • This card's rewards earning works well for a certain type of spender, but not everyone. Remember you'll earn two points per $1 spent only on travel and dining out. If those aren't among your regular spending categories, you'd be better off with a different card.
  • There is the $95 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.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

About Our Ratings

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 multiple leading travel loyalty programs. As if that weren't enough, cardholders can receive a reimbursement for their Global Entry or 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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Talk about easy to use. Earning two miles per $1 on all your purchases just doesn't get any easier to understand. That's why we like this card for the travel rewards-seeker who wants to spend more time traveling than thinking about which credit card to use.
  • The Purchase Eraser option with your miles is still spectacular: just make your travel purchase then redeem your miles to "erase" that purchase from your statement. That said, Capital One has now introduced the ability to transfer your miles to one of several travel loyalty programs, which offers you even more options and value.
  • The miles you earn with the Venture card can be combined with miles you can earn with a Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business or Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business, so if you have a small business, you might consider having both this card and one of the Spark cards then combining your miles to help them add up faster.

CONS:

  • Don't overlook the annual fee. Make sure you'll spend enough to more than offset it.
  • While you can transfer miles to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs, the ones currently in the program aren't, perhaps, the most common. Your best value might very well turn out to be the Purchase Eraser tool.
  • Earning two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases is a decent earning rate, but it's far from sky-high. If you're willing to use a couple of different cards strategically, you could likely earn more using different cards for different purchases.

Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

 

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

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Travel Rewards Card Without an Annual Fee: 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. And, thanks to Capital One introducing travel partners in 2019, you can now move your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs. It was enough to move this card into our winner's position for 2020.

The Bonus: The 20,000 bonus miles you can earn after spending $1,000 in the first three months are worth $200 if you redeem them to erase a travel expense from your statement. You can also transfer the miles to one of more than a dozen airline or hotel loyalty programs, which might make those miles worth even more.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: All your purchases earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent. That means miles could rack up quickly with this no-annual-fee card. And, remember, those miles are among the most flexible in the travel rewards landscape since they can be redeemed to offset any travel expense on your statement.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • For a no-annual-fee card, this one offers a lot of flexibility, solid rewards earning, a nice bonus opportunity and simple-to-understand rewards redemption options.
  • Once again you can combine miles you earn with this card with miles you earn using a Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card or Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business card.
  • This is the rare travel rewards card that offers an introductory 0% APR period on purchases for 12 months (then, 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)).

CONS:

  • While earning 1.25 miles per $1 spent is an easy-to-understand situation, it's far from the most lucrative one out there. If you're willing to use a couple of cards strategically or even pay a modest annual fee, you stand to earn more rewards overall.
  • Speaking of a paying a small annual fee, if you know you'll use the Global Entry or Pre✓® reimbursement and that you'll certainly spend more than about $1,000 per month on your card, you'll likely be better off with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • As with the Venture® card above, the travel loyalty partners to which you can transfer your miles aren't necessarily the most popular ones out there. It's nice that this is an option, but the general Purchase Eraser option is likely to be your best use of rewards.

Read our full Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card review.

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: 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 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months; that's worth up to $200 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.

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

PROS:

  • For a no-annual-fee card, this one features the kind of rewards earning opportunities normally reserved for cards with much higher annual fees, such as earning three points per $1 spent eating out, on travel, on gas station and rideshare purchases and popular streaming services.
  • Wells Fargo's Go Far® Rewards program is an innovative program that allows cardholders to share and utilize rewards in a variety of ways. Take a look at the Guide to Go Far® Rewards for more details.
  • Pay your cellular bill with your card and you'll enjoy cellular phone insurance against covered damage and theft for the primary line and up to three additional phones on the account.
CONS:
  • The same innovation that makes the Go Far® Rewards program a pro could make it a con for some people. It isn't necessarily straightforward and, for some people, too many options just complicates the matter.
  • This card earns a nice three points per $1 spent in a number of everyday categories, but just one point per $1 in all others. If the three-point categories aren't part of your regular spending, this won't be the right card for you.
  • There are plenty of reward redemption options, but transferring your rewards to travel loyalty partners isn't currently one of them. That can be a lucrative option with other travel rewards cards, but isn't one this card offers at this time.

Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card review.

BEST CASH-BACK CREDIT CARD FOR FAMILIES

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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 every family uses with some regularity: supermarkets.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months. Eligible Cards are U.S. Consumer and Business Cards issued by American Express National Bank to a Basic Card Member.

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

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.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

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.
  • It offers a healthy $250 statement credit bonus offer with a relatively low spending threshold of just $1,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • 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 every-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.

Read our full Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: It has a simple rewards structure, but this card also comes with some nice ancillary perks AND your cash back accumulates 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 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.

  • Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
See More

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.

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

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR GAS REWARDS

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Gas Rewards Card: 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. In this case, travel, restaurants, mega-sized ketchup and more make this card a winner.

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.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • This card offers solid cash back in some popular categories (4% cash back on gas up to $7,000 spent annually!) and doesn't charge an annual fee.
  • The only earning rate with a spending cap is gas (that $7,000 spent annually mentioned above), but all the other categories feature unlimited earning at the higher earn rates: 3% on restaurants and travel, 2% on Costco and Costco.com purchases and 1% elsewhere.
  • Since Costco only accepts Visa credit cards, it's possible the other cards in your wallet won't even be accepted at the warehouse. If you're a Costco shopper, but don't carry a Visa rewards card, you could be missing out on a bunch of rewards.

CONS:

  • While the card doesn't charge an annual fee, you do have to be a Costco member and, hence, pay the annual club membership fee to be eligible for this card.
  • There isn't a traditional signup bonus with this card.
  • If your spending fits the rewards categories well, you stand to earn a lot of rewards; however, rewards are doled out once a year in the form of an annual credit card rewards certificate that you can redeem for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses. This isn't the card for instant gratification, but that once-a-year certificate could be a nice annual surprise.

Read our full Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review.

Expert Runner Up:

Discover it® chrome

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If you're looking for a simple card to use for your gas (and restaurant purchases, actually), this is it. There's very little to keep up with in terms of categories and earning rates; plus, there's no annual fee to think about.

PROS:

  • Discover will match all the cash back your earn during your first year as a cardholder. That means if you earn $200 in cash back, Discover will make that $400 cash back at the end of your first year.
  • Unlike many cash back cards, this one doesn't charge foreign transaction fees

CONS:

  • The quarterly spending cap to earn 2% back at gas stations and restaurants is fairly low at $1,000. If you're going to spend more than about $330 each month on gas and dining out, you might earn more with a card that offers a higher cap.
  • Discover isn't as widely accepted as Mastercard and Visa, but the network is every-growing and already accepted at millions of merchants nationwide.

Read our full review of Discover it® chrome.

 

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

Expert Winner:

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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. Plus, mobile phone protection is a nice added perk that could save just about any business some money.

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards® points – worth $1,250 in travel – after you spend $15,000 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.

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

PROS:

  • This is the highest signup bonus of any Ultimate Rewards®-earning card – 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 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.
  • This is designed as a travel rewards card, so if that isn't a big part of your business' spending, look elsewhere for your small business credit card.

Read our full Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review.

 

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 (This card is not currently available on CardRatings), 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.


About Our Ratings

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

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 in 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 and five miles per $1 spent on hotels and car rentals through Capital One TravelSM. There are no spending caps to keep up with and your rewards won't expire for the life of the account.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • With a simple rewards earning structure, this small business travel rewards card is perfect for the busy business owner.
  • Your Spark® miles can be combined with miles you earn with your Venture® or VentureOne® card, getting you closer to your travel goals more quickly.
  • The two miles per $1 you earn on all your purchases can be redeemed to cover travel purchases you've put on your card, making it amazingly flexible; however, you can also transfer your miles to one of multiple travel loyalty partners.

CONS:

  • While flat-rate earning is easy, it isn't necessarily the most lucrative. If you know you spend disproportionately in particularly categories, you might be better off with a tiered rewards small business card.
  • There is an annual fee to think about, so ensure you'll spend enough to offset that fee.
  • Again, this is a travel card so, while it's simple to understand, it isn't going to be for every business. Assess your spending before deciding to apply.

Read our full review of Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business.

 

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

Expert Winner:

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Business Credit Card for Cash-Back Rewards: 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. Additionally, the cash back you accumulate comes in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, making them flexible for a variety of redemption options ranging from cash back to travel.

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The Bonus: Earn a $500 cash back 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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • The new cardholder welcome bonus is above average, especially for a card with no annual fee. After making just $3,000 in purchases with the card in three months, which shouldn't be difficult for most business owners, you could pocket $500 cash. What a great way to get card membership started.
  • Whether you're buying office supplies or paying for internet, cable and phone services, you'll benefit big with 5% cash back earned, up to $25,000 annually. Outside of these categories you'll earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year, and unlimited 1% on everything else.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (then 14.74% - 20.74% Variable), a nice perk for a business owner with some start-up costs or a major purchase on the horizon.

CONS:

  • The $25,000 annual cap on bonus category spend could be limiting depending on what type of spender you are. If you know you'll be spending far above $25,000 annually on your business needs, you might want to consider a card with a higher spending cap. A card like this might have an annual fee, but if you're using it often enough, you'll likely offset it with ease.
  • Earning 5% cash back on select business categories is great, but only if you regularly spend within those categories. If your business expenses are all over the place, you might be better off with a card that offers bonus rewards on all purchases instead of just in select categories. With this card, you'll only earn 1% on all "other" purchases.
  • If business frequently takes you abroad, this might not be the card for you as it charges foreign transaction fees.

Read our full review of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Like the travel version mentioned above, this card provides simple rewards earning opportunities for the busy business owners.

The Bonus: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within three months from account opening.

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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This card is designed for busy business owners who don't have time to think about how they earn rewards, and instead, just want to earn them. With unlimited 2% cash back earned on all purchases made, this card makes that simple.
  • Spend $4,500 on purchases within the first three months of card membership and you'll earn a one-time $500 cash bonus.
  • Thanks to no foreign transaction fees, travel and emergency assistance services, and auto rental collision damage coverage, this is a great card to travel with, especially as you'll earn 2% on every single travel purchase you make.

CONS:

  • Though it's waived for the first year, there is an annual fee to think about moving forward.
  • While this is a great option for those looking for a simple and flexible rewards credit card, it might not be best for those who truly spend a lot in specific categories. If you only plan to use your business credit card for internet, phone, and cable services, or for travel purchases, for example, you might fare better with a card that offers a high percentage rewards rate in those specific categories instead.

Read our full review of the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business.

 

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

Expert Winner:

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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 along with a strategy for maximizing those rewards).

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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, 14.74% - 20.74% Variable).

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Again, a $500 cash back welcome bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership is a great offer for a card with no annual fee.
  • With this card, it doesn't matter what you're buying. You'll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, from office supplies to airfare.
  • Help your business get off the ground with 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (then 14.74% - 20.74% Variable).

CONS:

  • Flat-rate cash-back cards are great options for business owners who spend regularly in a wide variety of categories, but if a big chunk of your spending is in a particular category you stand to earn more rewards with a card that offers bonus rewards in those categories.
  • Paying no annual fee is great, but if you plan to use your card often, choosing an annual fee card that offers higher rewards might be worth it. With regular use, offsetting the fee shouldn't be too difficult.
  • This card charges fees on all foreign transactions, so if you travel abroad frequently, it might not be the card for you.

Read our full Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card review.

Expert Runner Up:

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

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, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable).

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.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. A $50,000 annual spend cap on bonus rewards is quite good for a card with no annual fee.
  • Your business needs are always changing, and therefore, your spending habits might often change too. This card offers Expanded Buying Power, which allows you to spend beyond your credit limit. Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the card, your payment history, and credit record.
  • Take advantage of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable.

CONS:

  • If you're looking for a wowing welcome bonus, you won't find it with this card. However, though not a traditional rewards bonus, the 0% intro APR period is a nice welcome bonus of sorts, and could be more beneficial in the long run.
  • The $50,000 annual spend cap on bonus rewards is quite high, but if you see yourself spending beyond this each year, a card with no spending cap might be a better fit. Even if it has an annual fee, if you're using the card often enough, offsetting the fee likely won't be too hard.
  • If you're looking for a good card to pack on your trip abroad, this might not be the best option for you as it charges a 2.7% fee on all foreign transactions.

Read our full review of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card.

 

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

About Our Ratings

Why It's the Best Credit Card for a 0% APR Period: A lengthy intro 0% APR period on both purchases and balance transfers 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, but your intro bonus could help offset that). After the intro period ends, your APR becomes 15.49% - 25.49% (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.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases is a solid offer for a card with no annual fee.
  • This card offers intro 0% APR for 15 months on both new purchases as well as balance transfers. This is a great perk for anyone looking to make a large purchase or for a little extra time to pay off a balance. Once the intro period expires, a rate of 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) will apply.
  • This is a great card to take along on international trips as there's no fee charged on foreign transactions. This is somewhat rare for cash-back cards, especially ones that don't charge an annual fee.

CONS

  • If a big chunk of your spending is in a particular category, you stand to earn more rewards with a card that offers bonus rewards in those categories. If that's you, you might want to consider a rotating or tiered category rewards credit card instead.
  • Paying no annual fee is great, but if you plan to use your card often, choosing an annual fee card that offers higher rewards might be worth it. With regular use, offsetting the fee shouldn't be too difficult.

Read our full review of the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Expert Runner Up:

BankAmericard® credit card

About Our Ratings

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, See Terms 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.

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

PROS:

  • The main selling point of this card is the length of its intro 0% APR offer. For a whopping 18 billing cycles you can enjoy no interest on new purchases, and any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro period, See Terms applies.
  • Not only does this card offer a lengthy 0% APR period, but it also doesn't charge any annual fees, so this perk comes free to you. Just be sure to pay off any balances before the intro period expires.
  • Enjoy no penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate.

CONS:

  • This is a no-frills card that does not offer a welcome bonus or ongoing rewards. Really this card is designed for anyone looking for some extra time to pay off a large purchase or a balance transfer.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.. This isn't unusual for a balance transfer-focused card though.

Read our full review of the BankAmericard® credit card>

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

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


BEST BALANCE TRANSFER CREDIT CARD

Expert Winner:

Discover it® Balance Transfer

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card: A combination of a strong introductory balance transfer offer along with the opportunity to earn mega rewards is always a winner in our book.

PROS:

  • Because Discover matches all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder, and because there are no caps on the amount that you can earn, you have the potential to earn big with this card.
  • There’s also a great opportunity to earn big on an ongoing basis as well thanks to 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (quarterly enrollment required), then 1%, plus 1% cash back on your other purchases.

CONS:

  • Though the first-year match offer is a great deal, it won’t benefit you much if you need bonus rewards right away. Sure, you’ll still earn rewards on everyday spending, but you won’t receive the bonus until the end of your first year.
  • Earning 5% cash back on everyday purchases is a nice incentive, but that 5% rate caps out at $1,500 each quarter. Also, this offer won’t benefit you much if you’re not regularly spending in these categories or if you're someone who is unwilling to coordinate your spending with the categories.

Read our full Discover it® Balance Transfer review.

About Our Ratings

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.

Balance Transfer 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, 13.74% – 23.74% 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.

Balance Transfer Fees: 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • At nearly two years long, 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 purchases for 12 months, then 13.74% – 23.74% Variable.
  • This card keeps membership fun with Citi EntertainmentSM, 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% offer AND rewards you might want to consider another option, such as our “Best Balance Transfer Credit Card” winner above.
  • 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.

Read our full review of the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

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


BEST LUXURY CREDIT CARD

Expert Winner:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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: $550; 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.

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 Pre✓® application fees every four years. You'll also receive a complimentary Lyft Pink membership, a value of at least $199. 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

PROS:

  • This card offers so many outstanding benefits that it’s hard to even know where to start! Perhaps one of the best things about this card is that when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, points are worth a whopping 50% more. That means that the signup bonus alone (50,000 points earned once spending $4,000 in the first three months) is worth $750 when redeemed for travel.
  • The travel rewards with this card are numerous. Some of the best include: a $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchase charged to your card each account anniversary year; 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs; access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select; no foreign transaction fees; and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or Pre✓®.
  • The ongoing rewards for this card are great, especially for anyone who likes to travel. Earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1X point per dollar on everything else.

CONS:

  • This card offers a lot of bang for your buck, but there’s no ignoring its sizable $550annual fee. If you are not someone who travels or eats out often, it may hard to justify its high cost.
  • There’s also a $75 annual fee for each authorized user, so if you’re thinking about adding others to your account, you’ll want to take this into consideration first.
  • Again, there’s a lot of value to having this card, but if you don’t travel much and don’t think you’ll utilize the numerous travel perks that membership gains you, you might be offer with a less expensive card.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

About Our Ratings

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. 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months. Eligible Cards are U.S. Consumer and Business Cards issued by American Express National Bank to a Basic Card Member.

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

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.

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 Pre✓® 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.

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.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

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, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline; Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus in December; a credit of $100 or $85 for your Global Entry or Pre✓®, 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 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points once making $5,000 in purchase in the first three 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.

CONS:

  • Like our winner above, the $550 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 want to look for a credit card as opposed to this charge card which requires the balance to be paid in full each billing cycle.

Read our full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express.

 

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

Expert Winner:

United℠ Explorer Card

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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: Limited-time offer! Earn 60,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual Fee: $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.

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 Pre✓® application fee.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • If you’re a frequent United Airlines traveler, it pays to have this card in your wallet. Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip); enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with two one-time passes each year for your account anniversary; earn up to a $100 Global Entry or Pre✓® fee credit; and earn 25% back on United inflight purchases.
  • Depending on your travel dates and destination, the LTO 60,000 bonus miles new cardholders can earn once spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening an account could be enough to cover multiple United one-way flight itineraries.
  • The ongoing bonus rewards this card earns aren’t limited to United Airlines purchases. Instead, you’ll also earn two miles per dollar spent at restaurants and at hotels as well.

CONS:

  • If you aren’t a frequent United Airlines flier, you’ll miss out on the great United-related perks this card has to offer. Sure, you can still earn two miles on hotel and restaurant purchases, but you could also do that with a more general travel rewards card which would offer more flexibility in how you redeem your rewards.
  • Though it’s waived for the first year, moving forward there is a $95 annual fee to consider. If you don’t travel with United often, you might have trouble offsetting this.
  • This card offers up to $100 in statement credit to cover your Global Entry or Pre✓® application fee, which more than offsets a year’s annual fee; however, if you’re a frequent traveler you may already be a part of one of these programs, making this perk irrelevant.

Read our full review of the United℠ Explorer Card.

 

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.


About Our Ratings

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 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Annual Fee: $149

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 2 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 125,000 qualifying points in the year.

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, WiFi, messaging and movies. Lastly, each year after your account anniversary you'll receive 7,500 bonus points.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This isn’t a perk of the card itself, but it’s still relevant: Once you fly 100 one-way Southwest flights or earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a year, you’ll qualify for the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to choose a companion to fly with you for just the cost of taxes and fees. In short, two-for-one flights! This is relevant because all points earned with the card (including the welcome bonus) are eligible towards Companion Pass status.
  • A welcome bonus is always nice, but ongoing bonuses are even better. Cardholders not only earn 40,000 points once spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account membership, but 7,500 points each card member anniversary as well.
  • Enjoy a $75 Southwest travel credit each year, four upgraded boarding, and 20% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi.

CONS:

  • This card earns two points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. This is good for frequent Southwest travelers, but it’s somewhat limiting for those who don’t travel Southwest regularly. Unlike the winner above, the bonus rewards don’t extend to other categories. Instead, all other purchases will only earn one point per dollar.
  • The annual fee is higher than similar tier airline rewards credit cards. You need to be sure you’ll put all the perks, features and benefits to good use in order to offset the fee.
  • Compared to other major airlines, Southwest is a bit limited in where they fly and to which airports they serve. Take United Airlines, for example, which operates more than 21,000 flights per day in more than 190 countries. Southwest, on the other hand, offers about 4,000 daily flights to around 100 destinations.

Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review.

 

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

About Our Ratings

Why It's the Best Hotel Rewards Card: Cardholders of this branded card 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.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months. Eligible Cards are U.S. Consumer and Business Cards issued by American Express National Bank to a Basic Card Member.

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.

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.

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.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • The welcome bonus opportunity of 125,000 points, earned once spending $2,000 in purchases in the first three months, could be worth several hundred dollars in rewards. Depending on your travel dates and destinations, this bonus alone could be good for multiple free hotel stays.
  • The opportunity to earn a weekend night stay reward after spending at least $15,000 in a calendar year gives you an ongoing option to more than offset the annual fee.
  • Earning 12X Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar spent directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio is huge, but what’s also nice is that there’s an opportunity to earn bonus rewards outside of Hilton purchases as well, making this card good for more than just hotel use. You’ll also earn big with 6X points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3X points on all other purchases.

CONS:

  • Because of the $95 annual fee, this isn’t really a card to just use occasionally if you happen to be staying at a Hilton property. The annual fee is manageable, but you’ll want to frequently stay at Hilton Hotels and regularly use the card to make it worth it.
  • This card offers the opportunity to easily earn Hilton Honors Diamond status, but the spending threshold of $40,000 in a calendar year may be difficult for some to reach.
  • If you don’t regularly travel or frequently stay at Hilton properties, you might want to consider a more general rewards credit card.

Read our full review of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

 

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, lets you redeem miles for any travel purchase from hotels to airfare to Airbnb stays. 


About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card is the rare branded card that doesn't charge an annual fee, but still offers solid rewards and free night opportunities. Plus, you can earn bonus rewards on more than just your money spent with IHG.

The Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Credit Needed: Good/Excellent

PROS:

  • Any card that doesn’t charge an annual fee yet still offers solid rewards AND a generous welcome bonus is a winner in our book!
  • The earning rate offered with this card is huge—earn a whopping 15 points per dollar spent when you stay at an IHG® hotel. Beyond that you’ll earn two points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and one point on everything else.
  • If you’re looking for a good card to take abroad, this could be a great option thanks to no foreign transaction fees.
  • Enjoy cell phone insurance, up to $600 per claim and $1,000 per year if your phone is damaged or stolen, as long as you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card.

CONS:

  • This is a great card for frequent travelers who prefer IHG properties, but it’s reserved for those with good to excellent credit. If your credit is fair, you might have difficulty getting approved for this card.
  • If you aren’t a fan of IHG® hotels or are loyal to a different brand of properties, you may not find the rewards from this card to be very valuable. If you want more flexibility with how you use your travel rewards, you might do better with a more general travel rewards credit card.

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

 

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

Expert Winner:

Discover it® Student Cash Back

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Student Credit Card: 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.

PROS:

  • This card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter, which is a great offer for a student credit card—especially one with no annual fee.
  • Thanks to Discover’s match offer, in a sense, you’ll actually earn 10% instead of 5% on bonus category purchases during your first year as a cardholder. Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, so if you rack up $200 in rewards, you’ll actually walk away with $400. This offer is hard to beat, especially for a student credit card!
  • Headed to an international destination for spring break? Thinking about brushing up on your French with a semester abroad? Don’t forget to pack this credit card! It charges no foreign transaction fees, meaning you can continue earning rewards no matter where you are, without worrying about fees.

CONS:

  • To maximize your cash-back rewards you’ll need to keep track of the rotating categories, which change, and require enrollment, each quarter. If you aren’t good keeping up with schedules, you could miss out on opportunities to maximize your rewards.
  • As is the case with all student credit cards, getting this card is not as easy as it used to be. Discover no longer allows co-signers, so you are on your own with the application. And the federal government has tightened its regulations on marketing and issuing cards, particularly to students.

Read our full Discover it® Student Cash Back review.

Expert Runner Up:

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: 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 14.49% - 24.49% (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

PROS:

  • This is the only student credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, with no cap; a $2 coffee earns 10 points, a $22 dinner earns 30 points, etc. Since student purchases are most often smaller purchases, this a great way to quickly boost rewards earning.
  • Besides books and school supplies, what are students most likely spending their money on? Food and gas are probably safe bets. With this card, the first $6,000 in purchases each year at supermarkets and gas stations earns two points per dollar spent. That alone will earn 12,000 reward points. Beyond that, all other purchases earn one point per dollar.
  • College is expensive; there’s no question about that. This card makes this truth a little easier to handle by offering 0% intro APR on purchases for seven months. After that, the APR is 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable), depending on credit worthiness. This is a great offer for students who need a little extra time to pay off a large book purchase or some other large school expense.

CONS:

  • This card is reserved for those with good credit. If you have no credit history or only have fair credit, it may be difficult to qualify for approval.
  • An intro 0% APR period can be a very beneficial thing, but it can also be risky, especially for new credit card users. If you take advantage of this offer, be sure to pay off your balance, or at least pay it down as much as possible, before the intro period expires. Otherwise, you could rack up some heavy interest charges quick.
  • Most of the features of this card are nice, however, the requirement to redeem points as a gift card is more of a restriction than a perk.

Read our full review of the Citi Rewards+ Student Card.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

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


BEST LOW INTEREST CREDIT CARD

Expert Winner:

Simmons Visa®

About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say 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.

Annual Fee: None

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2% of amount in US dollars

Ongoing Interest Rate: 9.25% variable

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • The main selling point of this card is its ongoing low 9.25% variable APR. There’s no bells and whistles offered with this card, but the low APR alone could be worth more than all of that.
  • There’s no balance transfer or annual fee with this card, so it’s great to have on hand for larger purchases you can’t pay down right away.

CONS:

  • Understandably, this card requires excellent credit to qualify. Therefore, it could be a difficult card for many people to get approved for.
  • There’s no welcome bonus or ongoing rewards to entice people to sign up for this card. If it is rewards that you’re looking for, you might be happier with something else.

Read our full Simmons Visa® review.

Expert Runner Up:

USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

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 USAA in order to get this card.

  • Enjoy USAA's lowest rate card
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
See More

The Bonus: There isn't a traditional bonus, but that possibly super-low interest rate could be bonus enough.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Ongoing Interest Rate: 8.40% - 25.40% Variable

Credit Needed: Good - 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

Expert Winner:

Discover it® Secured

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
About Our Ratings

Why Experts Say It's the Best Secured Card: 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, 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 eight months, Discover will automatically begin reviewing your account to determine whether you can be upgraded to a non-secured card.

PROS:

  • This is a unique secured 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 $200 cash back in your first year, you’ll actually pocket $400 that year.
  • After eight months of responsible use, 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 additional secured 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.

Read our full Discover it® Secured review.

About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: The security deposit to establish your initial $200 line of credit could be as low as $49 (more on this below), which is a key reason this one rises near the top for us.

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.

PROS:

  • Unlike a prepaid card, this card builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the three major credit bureaus, making it an excellent option for anyone looking to improve their credit score.
  • The security deposit required to establish your initial line of credit could be as low as $49—plus get access to a higher line of credit after making your first five monthly payments on time, with no additional deposit needed.
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with easy online access, by phone, or through a handy mobile app.

CONS:

  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your refundable security deposit.
  • The credit limit on this card caps out at $1,000, so if you anticipate wanting a high credit limit (creditworthiness depending, of course), you may want to consider applying for something else.
  • This card doesn’t have a points program so it won’t earn you any rewards. However, since this card is more about utility than perks, use it wisely to build your credit and then graduate to a rewards card when your credit history allows.

Read our full review of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.

 

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.


CARDHOLDERS PICK THE BEST CREDIT CARDS OF 2020

The best travel credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
American Express® Gold Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Overall Score
84.6
84.4
Customer Service
8.7
8.7
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.2
8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.8
9.0
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.4
8.4

The best no-annual-fee travel credit cards according to survey respondents:

 

Discover it® Miles

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
 
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Discover it® Miles
Overall Score
86.0
82.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.5
8.2
Customer Service
8.6
8.1
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.4
8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.4
8.4
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.8
8.0

The best flat-rate cash back cards according to survey respondents:

 
Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Overall Score
88.3
86.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.9
8.6
Customer Service
8.6
8.7
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.5
8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.2
9.0
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.9
8.4

The best rotating categories cash-back rewards credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
Discover it® Cash Back
Chase Freedom®
Overall Score
88.7
83.5
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.8
8.3
Customer Service
8.9
8.4
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.7
8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.3
8.8
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.8
8.2
Learn More

The best customer-choice cash-back rewards credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Overall Score
84.1
75.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.5
7.4
Customer Service
8.4
7.8
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.4
7.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.8
8.4
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.2
7.2

The best tiered cash-back rewards credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
Discover it® Cash Back
Chase Freedom®
Overall Score
88.7
83.5
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.8
8.3
Customer Service
8.9
8.4
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.7
8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.3
8.8
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.8
8.2
Learn More

The best customer-choice cash-back rewards credit cards according to survey respondents:

 

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

 
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Overall Score
87.6
86.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.6
8.7
Customer Service
8.9
8.4
Website/Mobile App Usability
9.0
8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.0
9.0
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.7
8.4

The best credit cards for families according to survey respondents:

 
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Overall Score
86.0
81.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.3
8.0
Customer Service
8.9
8.2
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.7
8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.0
8.6
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.6
7.9

The best business credit cards for travel rewards according to survey respondents:

 

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

American Express® Business Gold Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
 
U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards
American Express® Business Gold Card
Overall Score
83.5
83.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.3
8.3
Customer Service
8.5
8.6
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.3
8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.0
8.8
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.6
8.0

The best business credit cards for cash-back rewards according to survey respondents:

 

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

 
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Overall Score
83.5
83.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.3
8.3
Customer Service
8.5
8.6
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.5
8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.7
8.7
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.3
8.3

The best no-annual-fee business credit cards according to survey respondents:

 

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Overall Score
86.6
85.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction
8.6
8.4
Customer Service
8.8
8.5
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.5
8.8
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.0
8.9
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.7
8.7

The best intro 0% APR credit cards according to survey respondents:

 

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

 
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
BankAmericard® credit card
Overall Score
85.0
77.4
VALUE OF REWARDS AND/OR FEATURES
8.4
7.5
Customer Service
8.5
7.9
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.6
8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
9.1
8.5
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.4
7.6

The best balance transfer credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Citi Simplicity<sup>®</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever
Overall Score
85.2
85.1
VALUE OF REWARDS AND/OR FEATURES
8.5
8.4
Customer Service
8.7
8.6
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.6
8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.8
8.9
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.3
8.4

The best luxury credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Overall Score
88.1
85.6
VALUE OF REWARDS AND/OR FEATURES
8.8
8.5
Customer Service
9.0
8.7
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.2
8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.8
8.8
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.8
8.4

The best airline rewards credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
Citi<sup>®</sup> / AAdvantage<sup>®</sup> Platinum Select<sup>®</sup> World Elite<sup>™</sup> Mastercard<sup>®</sup>
Citi<sup>®</sup> / AAdvantage<sup>®</sup> Executive World Elite<sup>™</sup> Mastercard<sup>®</sup>
Overall Score
84.2
83.7
VALUE OF REWARDS AND/OR FEATURES
8.5
8.3
Customer Service
8.4
8.6
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.3
8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.8
8.6
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.3
8.1

The best hotel rewards credit cards according to survey respondents:

 
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
Overall Score
83.9
83.0
VALUE OF REWARDS AND/OR FEATURES
8.4
8.2
Customer Service
8.4
8.6
Website/Mobile App Usability
8.5
8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use
8.7
8.7
Willing to Recommend to a friend
8.2
8.0

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 commissioned Op4G in October 2019 to conduct surveys among 1,514 cardholders nationwide. At least 25 cardholders for each of 65 credit cards were polled. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2019 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to fill out categories. 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.

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 Blue Business® Plus Credit 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); Blue Cash Everyday® 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 »