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Best credit cards of October 2021

CardRatings' best credit card list showcases the top offers for cash back, travel rewards, balance transfer, small business and more card categories from among our database of hundreds of cards.
Best cash-back credit cards of 2021
authorBrooklyn Lowery
20+ years
finding the best card for you
1,500+ cards
in our database
3,500+ cardholders
polled about their cards
243 reviews
from our experts
Learn about our methodology  

List of Winners

CardRatings has analyzed and reviewed credit cards for more than 20 years and, for more than 10 years, we've brought you a curated list of the Best Credit Cards of the Year based on our analysis of the fine print, the fees, the perks and comparisons to similar cards. In many cases, the winners are cards that partner with CardRatings, but in some cases, they are not, and you won't be able to apply for the card directly from this site.

We surveyed more than 1,700 cardholders across 77 individual cards to obtain customer feedback on the most popular cards on our site – a tradition we started for our 2020 editor’s picks. That means that readers get the expert analysis they need as well as scores from actual cardholders. Wondering about the customer service offered with a particular card? Check out the Customer Service score under the "User Scores" tabs below. What about real-world satisfaction with the rewards program? Take a look at the "Rewards Satisfaction" score under that tab. 

Don't settle for a credit card that isn't right for you or for the one that you've always had! Find the best credit card for your current lifestyle, credit card rewards dreams and spending habits. We, and more than 1,700 cardholders like you, can help you do it! Read our methodology.

 
 
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
Lucrative signup bonus, excellent ongoing rewards and flexibility with redemptions make for an excellent card. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be redeemed through the Chase travel portal or transferred directly to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Excellent, Good
Welcome Bonus
100,000 bonus points*
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

*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 five points per $1 for travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards® portal; three points per $1 on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery), online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs) and select streaming services; two points per $1 on travel; and one point per $1 on 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.

Additionally, each year receive a points bonus equal to 10% of your total purchases from the previous year.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Save with an annual $50 hotel credit for a stay booked through the Ultimate Rewards® portal.
  • 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. It's a solid bonus, especially for a card with a modest annual fee.
  • This card is an excellent complement to other Ultimate Rewards®-earning cards, such as 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 only earn bonus rewards in select categories. If these categories aren't among your regular spending categories, you'd likely be better off with a different card.
  • There is the $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.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 82.3 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.3 8.3
Customer Service 8.4 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.4

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

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Winner

5
 
None $550
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 TSA Pre✓® application fee, a perk worth up to $100.
Excellent, Good
Welcome Bonus
60,000 bonus miles*
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

*The Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.

Annual Fee: $95

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 review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.6 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.2
Customer Service 8.3 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.6

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

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
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.
Excellent, Good
Intro 0% APR
18 months on balance transfers
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

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.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 88.2 88.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 8.9
Customer Service 8.9 8.6
Website/App Usability 8.7 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.4 9.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.7 8.9

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

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
If you're looking for an introductory 0% period to pay off a transferred balance, but want an easy way to earn rewards once you've paid off your balance, this might be a good option for you. With this card, cardholders earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases, and the card has no annual fee.
Excellent, Good
Welcome Bonus
$200 cash rewards*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99%-24.99% Variable APR
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

*The Bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases. Plus, earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases within your first three months as a cardholder.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Some balance transfer credit cards don't offer ongoing rewards, so earning unlimited 2% cash back on eligible purchases, and no annual fee, is a great offering.
  • Similarly, a 0% intro period on eligible balance transfers is generally the "bonus" with balance transfer credit cards. This card, however, takes things a step further with a cash-back bonus for new cardholders.
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible and terms) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your card.

CONS:

  • If you regularly travel internationally this might not be the best card to travel with as it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
With up to 5% rewards earning in a number of everyday spending categories, a solid signup bonus opportunity and rewards that accumulate as sought-after Ultimate Rewards® points, Chase Freedom Unlimited® could very well deserve a spot in your wallet.
Excellent, Good
Welcome Bonus
$200 cash back (20,000 Ultimate Rewards® points)*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

*The Bonus: New cardholders can earn $200 cash back after spending $500 within three months of opening an account. Plus, earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent on grocery store purchases during your first year (excludes Target and Walmart purchases).

Annual Fee: $0

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

Rewards Rate: On an ongoing basis, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3% back at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), 3% back at drugstores and 1.5% cash back on your other purchases.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Earning at least 1.5% cash back on every purchase is hard to beat, but when you throw in the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back on a number of other categories of purchases, well, this card just gets even more impressive.
  • 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 (then, 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).

CONS:

  • There's a lot of rewards categories to keep up with here. It's potentially quite a lucrative set up, but it's going to require you to put some thought into where you use your card.
  • This isn’t the best card for you to take along on a trip abroad; it charges foreign transaction fees.

Read our full review of Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 82.8 86.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.6
Customer Service 8.5 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 8.4

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

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card Winner

None $550
Why We Like It:
A combination of a strong introductory balance transfer offer along with the opportunity to earn solid rewards is always a winner in our book.
Good, Excellent
Welcome Bonus
20,000 bonus points*
Annual Fee
$0*
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.99%* Variable
Credit Score
Good, Excellent

*The Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first 90 days. Points can be redeemed for $200-worth of cash back, gift cards, travel and more.

Annual Fee: $0*

Foreign Transaction Fees: n/a

Rewards Rate: Earn 4x points on takeout, food delivery and dining as well as 2x the points at grocery stores (including grocery delivery), gas stations and on streaming services. Earn 1 point per $1 on your other purchases.

Credit Needed: good, excellent

PROS:

  • This no annual fee card gives its users a lengthy 12 billing cycles to pay off balance transfers without the worry of interest charges.
  • Take advantage of an annual statement credit of $15 for streaming services purchases like Netflix and Spotify.
  • With no foreign transaction fees, you can take this card abroad and save.

CONS:

  • The top rewards go to cardholders who dine out – if that isn't you, take a look at a different card with rewards that better fit your spending habits.
  • Redeeming rewards has some restrictions, particularly when it comes to cash back. In that case, there's a minimum redemption requirement of $25 (that's 2,500 points) and you can only redeem for true cash back if you do so into a U.S. Bank checking or savings account. Otherwise, cash back is going to be in the form of a statement credit.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater, but this is common fee to most credit cards.

Read our full review of the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 84.7 n/a
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 n/a
Customer Service 8.6 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.5 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.9 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.3 n/a

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

Discover it® Cash Back Winner

None $550
Why We Like It:
You can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate quarterly (activation required), 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.
Excellent, Good
Welcome Bonus
Cashback Match®*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
Credit Score
Excellent, Good
*
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor's Business Daily.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
See More

PROS:

  • Discover will MATCH all the cash back new cardholders earn during their first year as a member. That means that earning $100 in cash back will automatically become $200 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. Remember, you have to activate the bonus categories each quarter and you'll only earn 5% on the first $1,500 you spend in those categories.
  • You can also take advantage of an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months (then, 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR).

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.
  • While ever-increasing its network, Discover cards remain not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard, particularly overseas. It's maybe not a make or break point, but it is something to keep in mind.

Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.7 88.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 9.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.6 8.8

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

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

You might have noticed that we broke down the cash-back credit cards into rewards groups: tiered, 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 the FAQ section in our Best Cash-Back Credit Cards article for more details on these card types as well as the type of credit card user we recommend consider each type of card.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
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!) card for families.
Excellent/Good
Welcome Bonus
$200 online cash rewards $200 online cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Score
Excellent/Good

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.

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

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 a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you'll earn even more: 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase.
  • Take advantage of an intro 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and on balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable).

CONS:

  • The cash-back opportunities are good, but they're great for Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients. If that's not you, you might want to look elsewhere for higher cash back earning.
  • Be aware that this card charges foreign transaction fees, so you'll want to carry another option along when you travel abroad or when you shop in foreign currency from home.
  • You can only adjust your 3% cash-back earning category once per calendar month. If an unexpected expense 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 review of the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 88.1 84.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.9 8.5
Customer Service 8.9 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.8 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 8.2

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

American Express® Gold Card Winner

Why We Like It:
This card offers stellar ongoing rewards earning opportunities, but it's the highest-ever bonus offer right now (60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first six months) that truly sets it apart at the moment. Membership Rewards® points are coveted in the travel rewards world for their value as well as the collection of travel partners to which you can transfer your points. Plus, notice you have six months to meet the minimum spend and earn the bonus – that's twice the typical timeframe of three months.
Good, Excellent
Welcome Bonus
60,000 bonus*
Annual Fee
$250
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Credit Score
Good, Excellent

*The Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $250. It's a higher-than-typical annual fee, but notice all the credit opportunities discussed below under "Additional Info"; take advantage of those credits and you could more than offset the annual fee just with the credits alone.

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards Rate: Earn 4x Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent in a calendar year); 4x points on restaurant purchases, including takeout and delivery; 3x points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com; and one point per $1 spent on other eligible purchases.

Additional Info: Cardholders earn up to $120 annually in dining credits. Earn $10 monthly in statement credit when you pay with your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. Plus, add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year. Plus get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21. Want even more credits? How about a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities, plus a room upgrade upon arrival (if available) when you book your stay of at least two consecutive nights with American Express Travel at more than 600 properties (qualifying activities vary by property). Enrollment required for select benefits. 

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Membership Rewards® points are highly coveted in the travel rewards world and could open doors to more family vacations while paying less.
  • Those dining, hotel and Uber credits go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee (see "Additional Info" under the Card Details tab), so be sure to take full advantage.
  • No foreign transaction fees means you can take a family trip abroad and not pay extra in fees when you use your card or you can shop with foreign merchants or websites without worrying about those fees.

CONS:

  • You can't ignore the annual fee here. That said, remember the dining credits can go a long way toward offsetting that and the strong everyday rewards categories should also help you work your way toward rewards that more than offset the fee.
  • While the card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees – a definite pro – it is an American Express card, and those aren't as widely accepted abroad as Visa and Mastercard. American Express is, however, always expanding its network.

Read our full review of the American Express® Gold Card.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 88.9 84.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.3
Customer Service 9.1 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.9 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.7 8.4

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

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Winner

Why We Like It:
This is the only card we know of that offers 6% back (up to $6,000 spent annually) in a category that just about every family uses with some regularity: supermarkets.
Good, Excellent
Welcome Bonus
$350 cash back*
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable>
Credit Score
Good, Excellent

*The Welcome Offer: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases made on the card within the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 within the same time frame. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $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.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable.
  • 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.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.0 86.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.6 8.3
Customer Service 8.7 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.8 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.9 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.8 8.6

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

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
Great gas rewards are nice, but it's also good to find a high gas rewards rate in a card that offers useful other rewards as well. In this case, travel, restaurants, mega-sized ketchup and more make this card a winner.
Excellent
Gas Rewards
4%*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% (Variable)
Credit Score
Excellent

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 ($7,000 spent annually), 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.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 85.7 85.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.6 8.5
Customer Service 8.4 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.3 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.6 8.6

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

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Winner

5
 
None $550
Why We Like It:
The categories in which you can earn the highest amounts of cash back run the gamut from fairly typical to pretty unusual and the spending cap is high enough to make this a reasonable card choice for many small businesses. Plus, mobile phone protection is a nice added perk that could save just about any business some money.
Excellent, Good
Welcome Offer
100,000 bonus points*
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99%-20.99% Variable
Credit Score
Excellent, Good
*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.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 83.4 81.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.5 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.0
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 7.9

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

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

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

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Winner

5
 
None $550
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.
Excellent, Good
Intro 0% APR
18 months on balance transfers and purchases*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.74% - 23.74% Variable
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

*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: Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This card has one of the longest intro 0% APR offers that we know of. Enjoy 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months (when made in the first four months) and on purchases for 12 months, then 13.74% - 23.74% Variable.
  • This card keeps membership fun with Citi Entertainment®, which gives cardholders special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Keep track of your credit with free access to your FICO® score online.

CONS:

  • This card isn’t a rewards card so if you want a lengthy 0% intro offer AND rewards you might want to consider another option
  • Intro 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers is one of the longest on the market, but don’t be blindsided by the APR after the intro offer. Depending on your creditworthiness the APR can shoot up significantly.
  • If you’re looking for a good credit card to take overseas with you, this card probably isn’t it as it charges foreign transaction fees.

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

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.5 Did not survey
Features Satisfaction 7.9 n/a
Customer Service 8.4 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.4 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.5 n/a

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

The Platinum Card® from American Express Winner

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.
Good, Excellent
Welcome Bonus
100,000 bonus points*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99%-24.99% (Variable)
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

*The Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $695

Foreign Transaction Fees: None 

Rewards Rate: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points for every $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 spent on these purchases per calendar year); 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com; 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first six months of card membership; and 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 pre-selected airline, as well as either $100 or $85 in credit to cover your Global Entry or Pre✓® application fees, respectively. In fact, the benefits in the first year of card membership are worth more than $1,400. If you are someone who would have purchased an annual airport lounge membership, that alone largely offsets the annual fee. Plus, the perks just mentioned are in addition to numerous other perks and features you'd want to see with a luxury card. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

Credit Needed: 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 up to $15 each month, plus a bonus in December, in Uber Cash for your rides and Uber Eats orders in the U.S.; a credit of $100 or $85 for your Global Entry or 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 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points once making $6,000 in purchase in the first six months of card membership.
  • With 5X Membership Rewards® points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express travel, this card makes it easy to rack up rewards quickly.
  • Terms apply. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

CONS:

  • The $695 annual fee this card charges can’t be overlooked. It is a luxury card, however, and there are plenty of beneficial perks to help offset this cost.
  • With that said, many of the perks of this card are travel related; if you don’t travel often, you’ll likely have trouble offsetting the annual fee and making the most of the card’s rewards.
  • If you anticipate needing to carry a balance you’ll likely want to consider another option. Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
  • Terms apply.

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

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.8 88.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 9.1
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 9.1 8.8

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

Discover it® Student Cash Back Winner

None $550
Why We Like It:
This level of rewards-earning opportunity is rare with a student card. Plus, because of the need to enroll in the bonus category earning each quarter and track whether you've hit the spending cap, you'll need to actually pay attention to your account, which is a good lesson to learn.
Fair, New to Credit
Welcome Bonus
Cashback Match®*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
Credit Score
Fair, New to Credit
*
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they're approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
See More

PROS:

  • This card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (activation required), 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 $100 in rewards, you’ll actually walk away with $200. 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 quarterly change and require enrollment. 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.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.7 88.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 9.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.6 8.8

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

Discover it® Secured Credit Card Winner

None $550
Why We Like It:
This is the rare secured credit card that offers cardholders the chance to earn rewards. Racking up some cash back while you rebuild your credit is a nice option to have, though it shouldn't be the primary goal if you're looking at secured credit cards; that should be building your credit score and a positive credit history. After eight months, Discover will automatically begin reviewing your account to determine whether you can be upgraded to a non-secured card.
New, Rebuilding
Welcome Offer
Cashback Match®*
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
22.99% Variable APR
Credit Score
New, Rebuilding
*
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can't do that.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
See More

PROS:

  • This is a unique secured credit card in that it offers cash-back rewards. Earn 2% back on the first $1,000 spent each quarter at gas stations and restaurants (then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases.
  • Not only is this a secured credit card that offers ongoing rewards, but it also offers a nice welcome bonus – another unique feature to secured credit cards. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder. So say you earn $100 cash back in your first year, you’ll actually pocket $200 that year.
  • After 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 other secured credit cards with lower security deposit requirements.
  • Although the cash-back rewards associated with this card may entice potential users, the downside is that not every applicant will be approved. Approval depends on credit history and other financial variables. If you’re uncertain that you will be approved and don’t want a hard credit inquiry on your report, a different secured credit card might be a better fit for you.

Read our full Discover it® Secured Credit Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 83.3 82.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.3 8.2
Customer Service 8.4 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 8.6
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.2 8.3

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

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FAQ

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

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

Using your card to make a purchase earns you, the cardholder, some form of reward as a percentage of your purchase price. Rewards cards come in a two main varieties: cash-back rewards and points/miles rewards, which are also known as travel rewards.

  • Cash-back rewards - A good cash-back rewards card can find a place in just about anyone's wallet. As the name implies, you earn cash back on all the purchases you make. You can generally redeem your cash-back rewards as a statement credit, check in the mail or a deposit directly to a linked account. There are several forms of cash-back rewards cards (as you may have noted from our award winners above), so you'll want to spend some time learning their ins and outs before choosing one. 
  • Travel rewards - These are the darlings of the credit card rewards industry. As with cash-back rewards cards, cardholders earn rewards for their purchases, but these rewards are often in the form of airline miles or hotel loyalty points (if we're talking about a credit card linked to a particular brand of airline or hotel) or they are a form of points, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points or American Express Membership Rewards® points, that can be redeemed for forms of travel or travel experiences. Sometimes those points can even be transferred to airline and hotel loyalty programs for additional value. If you want to learn more about travel rewards credit cards, you can check out our Frequently Asked Questions about travel rewards cards.

Many credit cards offer cardholders the option to transfer a balance from one card to another card, which is a worthwhile option to consider if you're paying higher interest on some outstanding debt on that first card; however, when people refer to "balance transfer credit cards" they are generally referring to a card that offers you an introductory 0% APR for a certain period of time when you apply for and are approved for that new card. Obviously, going from paying 16.99% interest (for instance) on an existing balance to paying 0% interest can save you a ton of money and allow you to take a little extra time paying off that debt interest-free. Keep in mind, these cards usually charge an initial fee to make the transfer (often 3% or 5% of the transfer amount), but you'll likely still save in the long term if you have a significant debt you need months to pay off. Here's where you can learn more about balance transfer credit cards.

These cards are often offered to you at the point-of-sale when you're shopping. They frequently come with a pitch that goes something like, "Would you like to save 10% on your purchase today by opening a [insert store brand here] credit card." Many, many retail brands offer a store credit card that you can use only when making a purchase at that store or within that store's brand. Be careful not to confuse these cards with branded credit cards, like the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi mentioned above. The Costco card is what's known as a co-branded card, so the rewards you earn are directly tied to the brand of the card BUT you can use the card anywhere that a credit card is normally accepted as opposed to only at Costco. Airline and hotel rewards credit cards are also co-brand cards, so you can use them anywhere, but you accumulate rewards within the branded loyalty program.

A secured credit card requires the cardholder to put down a security deposit, often anywhere from about $50 up to a few hundred dollars, in order to secure the line of credit on the card. These cards help people with limited/no/bad credit history qualify for a credit card, which can, with responsible use, help you build a better credit history. Some offer rewards and other features, but all require that initial deposit in order to establish your line of credit. Once your credit improves and you can qualify for a non-secured or traditional credit card or you decide to clse the account, the security deposit is fully refundable as long as your account is fully paid up. We have a FAQ about secured credit cards if you want to learn more.

Non-rewards cards - Yes, these still exist and they really are intended to simply offer someone a means of making purchases without cash or check. If you've been carrying the same card for 30 years, this is probably what you have. There's nothing inherently wrong with a non-rewards credit card, but if you're using a card at all, doesn't it make sense to earn some rewards?

It should be noted that some of the categories above overlap. For instance, a retail/store card often offers some form of rewards, so you could consider it a "rewards card." There are also instances in which a bank markets a card as a "cash-back rewards card," but that cash back accumulates as points that can be redeemed for cash back or as travel rewards. Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a good example of this in that you earn "cash back" according to the marketing materials, but the rewards accumulate as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that can be redeemed for travel (or any number of other purchases and merchandise, actually).

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.

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.

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% intro period could be a lucrative offer.

Interested in a visual of the process for how to choose a 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.

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.

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

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

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