Best Credit Cards

How to choose the right credit card

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Credit cards play an important role in how people make purchases and manage their finances. They are used for everyday purchases as well as big-ticket items. It has become common practice for customers to seek cards with extra benefits that meet lifestyle demands.

The best credit cards can earn rewards, offer protection on your purchases, provide interest-free financing, and other benefits that are valuable to you. When used with intention, credit cards can also help build your credit. However, with so many credit cards to choose from, it can be hard to find the right card for your situation.

Best Credit Cards for May 2021: Find the Right Card for You

Best Overall, Best for Cash Back : Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Overall Rating
5.0
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.49% - 25.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that we may offer you. None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is our best overall credit card and best for cash back because of its combination of low fees, low interest, and high rewards earning rate. With no annual fee, you don't need to worry about making sure you're extracting maximum value from the card every year to make it worth it. The absence of a foreign transaction fee makes this a rare cash back credit card that’s worth bringing on a trip abroad and helps make a compelling case that if you're only going to carry one card, this should be it.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Simple rewards program with a solid return

  • Decent introductory offers on purchases

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • No bonus rewards rates

  • One-time bonus is relatively modest

  • APR can be comparatively high

Overall Runner-Up : Capital One SavorOne

Overall Rating
5.0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.49% - 25.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back on dining, 3% on entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that we may offer you. None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Capital One SavorOne credit card is a strong contender for the best overall credit card. It earns an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment and 2% at grocery stores, so you're earning extra rewards whether you're out with friends or enjoying a quiet night at home. New cardmembers receive a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 within the first three months. Plus, there is no annual fee, so all of the cash back that you earn is yours to keep. Travelers will love that there are no foreign transaction fees, which means that there are no surprises when making international purchases.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earns up to 3% cash back on purchases

  • 0% APR purchase promo for 15 months

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • Welcome bonus is on the smaller side

  • Bonus cash back excludes Walmart and Target

  • No balance transfer promotion

Best Airline : United℠ Explorer Card

Overall Rating
4.4
United℠ Explorer Card
Current Offer

40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 23.49% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Based on our analysis, the United Explorer Card offers the highest value per mile earned of any airline credit card, and miles can be redeemed in multiple ways, including for flights on member participating airlines in its Star Alliance, one of the largest global airline partnerships. You'll need to be committed to United as the airline you'll primarily fly with in order to extract the maximum benefit from the card. The card's compelling introductory bonus really adds to the value of the card because of the high value placed on redeeming those points with United. The $95 annual fee is in line with its competitors and is waived the first year. The card does not charge foreign transaction fees, which helps make it a good choice for international travel. United recently announced that they have permanently eliminated reservation change fees, which should greatly reduce any traveler anxiety around booking future award travel with earned miles and make the introductory bonus on this card that much more appealing.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Annual fee is waived the first year

  • Earn 2x miles on United, dining, and hotels

  • Exclusive perks with United, like early boarding and free checked bags

Cons
  • Fewer free checked bags than some competing airline cards

  • Welcome bonus earned in two stages

  • Balance transfer fee of 5% (min $5)

Airline Runner-Up : Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

Overall Rating
4.0
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Plus 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Travelers looking to get away can earn 50,000 American Airlines miles when they sign up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and spend $2,500 within three months. You'll also earn an unlimited 2x miles for every dollar that you spend with American Airlines and at restaurants and gas stations. When you fly with American Airlines, you and up to four travel companions will get your first checked bag for free. With checked bag fees of $30 each way for domestic flights, that's a savings of $240 on a round-trip flight for a family of four. International travelers can save up to 3% on their purchases with no foreign transaction fees. This card has a $99 annual fee, but it is waived the first year so you can try its benefits free for 12 months.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Annual fee is waived the first year

  • Flight benefits when traveling on American Airlines

  • Spending helps to earn elite status

Cons
  • Maximizing rewards value requires savvy—and probably an international destination

  • No purchase or transfer offers

  • Max late fee of $40

Best for Travel : Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Overall Rating
4.2
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 total travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is our best credit card for travel because of its competitive one-time point bonus, annual travel credit, and high rewards earning rate. Add to that the fact that points are worth 50% more if you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and the ability to transfer points on a 1:1 basis to eligible hotel and airline partners, and this card's value is clear. While the annual fee is high, if you're an avid traveler, the annual travel credit can help justify it and it has numerous other travel-related benefits that make this the best card for travel if you're not ready to commit yourself to a single airline or hotel.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent points rewards rate for travel and dining

  • Premium travel features

  • Points are worth 50% more for travel bought through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Cons
  • $550 annual fee

  • Limited high-rewards categories

  • Strong credit is recommended

Travel Runner-Up : The Platinum Card from American Express

Overall Rating
3.5
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Current Offer

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 6 months.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Platinum Card from American Express is a premium travel credit card that offers many attractive benefits. When you open the card, you'll receive 100,000 bonus points when you spend at least $5,000 within the first six months. Additionally, you'll earn 10x points on your first $15,000 spent at grocery stores and gas stations during the first six months. Booking flights and prepaid hotels with Amex Travel earns 5x points per dollar. Cardholders receive automatic Hilton and Marriott Gold status and get complimentary access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges. This card does have a $550 annual fee, but the net cost is less after factoring in the $200 airline fee credit to their preferred airline, $200 in Uber credits, and $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous welcome bonus promotions

  • $500 in combined annual credits for airlines, Uber, and Saks Fifth Avenue

  • Complimentary airport lounge access

Cons
  • $550 annual fee

  • Higher spending requirements to earn bonus

  • Limited bonus points opportunities

Best Student Credit Card : Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

Overall Rating
4.6
Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students
Current Offer

25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students is our pick for the best student credit card because of the high earning rate on its rewards program that you can then redeem for all sorts of travel expenses. It also has a long introductory APR on purchases and no annual fee, which adds to the card's strong rating. Plus, the lack of foreign transaction fees makes this an ideal card for student travel outside the U.S. Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students also offers excellent credit education and monitoring services.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Unlimited 1.5x rewards on all purchases

  • Pay off purchases for 12 months with no interest

  • Friendly to foreign travel

Cons
  • Rewards aren't transferable

  • No 0% APR balance transfer offer

  • Relatively high spending ($1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening) required for 25,000-point introductory one-time bonus

Student Credit Card Runner-Up : Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Overall Rating
4.5
Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students
Current Offer

$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back in the eligible category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined categories each quarter, then 1%.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Statement Closing Dates
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Statement Closing Dates
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Students can earn excellent rewards on their spending with the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students credit card. You'll earn 3% cash back on the eligible category of your choice, plus 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% everywhere else. The bonus cash back is on the first $2,500 spent in combined categories each quarter. If you need more time to pay off some of your purchases, new cardholders receive a 0% APR promotion on purchases for 15 months. There is no annual fee for this card, and students who want to learn more about their finances can utilize the excellent financial education tools that are available online.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn up to 3% cash back on the eligible category of your choice

  • No annual fee

  • Establish good credit habits with free FICO score and financial education tools

Cons
  • Bonus cash back is limited to $2,500 in purchases each quarter

  • Relatively high spending for students to earn welcome bonus

  • Foreign transaction fee of 3%

Best for Hotels : World of Hyatt Credit Card

Overall Rating
3.5
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 Bonus Point up to $15,000 in the first 6 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4X points for Hyatt stays, 2x for eligible transit, restaurants, gym memberships, and airfare purchased directly from the airline. 1x on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card is our best for hotels because it consistently offers the highest point redemption value of any hotel program we have analyzed, though the points tend to be more challenging to accumulate compared to other hotel programs. The World of Hyatt Credit Card also offers a competitive one-time bonus—a complimentary night at a category 1-4 Hyatt hotel on each cardmember anniversary—and a very high earning rate on spend at Hyatt hotels. These benefits could quickly justify the card’s annual fee.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Competitive one-time offer

  • Earn up to two award nights per year

  • High reward earning rate at Hyatt

Cons
  • Small brand footprint

  • Annual fee isn’t waived the first year

  • Free night limited to mid-tier properties and below

Best One-Time Bonus : Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Overall Rating
4.2
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Offer

Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year after account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services. 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a bonus (potentially worth up to $750) as large or larger than the bonuses with many ultra-premium travel cards, with an annual fee that is substantially less than cards with competitive one-time bonuses. It also has flexible redemption options and generous rewards, making it one of the most valuable travel rewards cards on the market. It pays 2 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurant purchases, with each point worth a cent for cash back, but worth 1.25 cents if redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The $95 annual fee can easily be justified by the travel and dining rewards you could earn over the course of a year.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous rewards for travel and dining

  • Outstanding one-time bonus for new cardholders

  • Enhanced, 25% points redemption value on travel booked through Chase

Cons
  • $95 annual fee

  • No introductory 0% APR offer

  • Fewer travel benefits than some competing cards

Best Business Credit Card : Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Overall Rating
3.6
Marriott Bonvoy Business™American Express® Card
Current Offer

Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/12/21.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $125
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2X points everywhere else.
Cash Advance APR (%) 25.24%
Cash Advance Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Business owners can turn their expenses into rewards with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. It provides a welcome bonus of 75,000 points when you make $3,000 in purchases within three months. The card earns 6x points at Marriott and 4x points on U.S. dining, U.S. gas, wireless phones, and shipping from U.S. providers. Plus, all other purchases earn 2x points. You'll receive an annual free night certificate (up to 35,000 points) and can earn a second when you spend at least $60,000 on your card each calendar year. It has an annual fee of $125, but it includes complimentary Silver elite status and there are no foreign transaction fees.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous welcome bonus offer

  • Earn up to 6x points per dollar spent

  • Get up to two free night awards each year based on spending

Cons
  • Free nights are limited to rooms worth 35,000 points

  • Higher annual fee than comparable small business cards

  • No opportunity to earn higher elite status based on spending

Best for Balance Transfer : Citi Simplicity®

Overall Rating
3.8
Citi Simplicity®
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 18 Months
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 18 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

We chose the Citi Simplicity as the best balance transfer card primarily due to its exceptionally long 18-month 0% APR introductory period along with consumer-friendly terms like no annual fee and no late fees or penalty rates. While Simplicity offers no rewards, we don't consider that a negative in the case of a balance transfer card, as rewards can tempt counterproductive additional spending when trying to dig out from debt. Citi does charge a 3% balance transfer fee, but the length of the introductory period justifies the extra cost in terms of savings potential.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Outstanding 0% APR offer for 18 months from account opening on balance transfers

  • 0% introductory APR offer on new purchases for 18 months from account opening

  • No late fees, penalty rates, or annual fees

Cons
  • High fee for balance transfers

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

  • No rewards program or one-time bonus offer

Balance Transfer Runner-Up : Citi Diamond Preferred

Overall Rating
3.7
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 18 Months
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 18 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Citi Diamond Preferred is an excellent choice for transferring a balance. It offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months. Balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening and incur a 3% fee (min $5) of the amount transferred. After the promotion expires, the interest rate reverts to a variable APR ranging from 14.74% to 24.74%, depending on your creditworthiness. The card does not charge an annual fee.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Balance transfers have 18 months of no interest

  • Purchases during the first 18 months are not charged interest

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • Penalty APR of up to 29.99% with a late or returned payment

  • Does not offer a welcome bonus or earn rewards

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Best Secured Credit Card : Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Overall Rating
3.3
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 26.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $49
Pay deposit in installments Yes
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Secured Mastercard from Capital One is Investopedia's choice for best secured card due to its lack of an annual fee and its security deposit flexibility, allowing customers to make installment deposits over time rather than all upfront. Capital One also provides automatic credit line increases over time with responsible card use and offers an array of non-secured card options that customers can consider once they have built up their credit scores. No annual fee makes the Secured Mastercard from Capital One an affordable on-ramp to establishing a positive credit history.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Credit limits can be larger than the required security deposit

  • Security deposit can be paid in installments

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • Requires a bank account

  • Relatively low initial credit limits

  • No bonus offers or rewards program

Secured Credit Card Runner-Up : SKYPASS Visa Secured

Overall Rating
2.4
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.24% variable
Annual Fee $50
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend in eligible net purchases.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Most secured credit cards do not earn rewards, so the SKYPASS Visa Secured is the perfect option for travelers who want to earn miles while building their credit. New cardholders earn 5,000 bonus miles after their first purchase, plus another 1,000 miles every year that they renew their card and pay the $50 annual fee. This card earns an unlimited 1 mile for every dollar spent, and purchases count toward earning and maintaining the Morning Calm Club Membership. Your credit limit is based on your deposit (from $300 to $5,000), so larger deposits will receive a higher credit limit.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn miles while building your credit

  • Welcome bonus and renewal bonus

  • Spending can help achieve or maintain elite status

Cons
  • Annual fee of $50

  • Does not offer bonus spending categories

  • No automatic credit limit increases or conversion to an unsecured card

Best for Bad Credit : Discover it Secured

Overall Rating
4.0
Discover it® Secured
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 10.99% for 6 Months
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

People who have no credit history or bad credit and want to rebuild it should consider the Discover it Secured. This credit card earns 2% cash back at gas stations (up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter) and an unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Plus, at the end of the first year, all of the cash back you've earned is automatically doubled with no cap on this bonus. There is no annual fee, and you'll receive a free FICO score each month on your statements, online, and in the mobile app. Your security deposit is refundable, and Discover performs automatic reviews starting after eight months for consideration of a non-secured upgrade.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn up to 2% cash back

  • All cash back is doubled automatically after the first year

  • No annual fee, and waived fee for first late payment

Cons
  • No immediate welcome bonus

  • Credit line is based on security deposit

  • Bonus cash back is limited to $1,000 in purchases per quarter

Bad Credit Runner-Up : Capital One Platinum

Overall Rating
3.4
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
Balance Transfer Fee There is no standard balance transfer fee for this card.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Capital One Platinum is the highest-scoring non-secured credit card for people with less-than-perfect credit. It does not offer rewards for spending, so cardholders aren't tempted to spend just to earn rewards. To save time and make shopping more secure, it offers tap-to-pay for contactless payments. The card has no annual fee and there are no foreign transaction fees, so you can bring the Capital One Platinum card with you while traveling. Capital One performs automatic credit line reviews starting as early as six months after opening your account.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Automatic credit line reviews

  • Unlimited access to your free credit score

Cons
  • Does not earn rewards

  • No welcome bonus

  • Late fees of up to $40

Best for Dining : Capital One SavorOne

Overall Rating
5.0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.49% - 25.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back on dining, 3% on entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that we may offer you. None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Capital One SavorOne is the best card for dining out and eating at home. It earns an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back on groceries, and 1% on everything else. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. It also includes a 0% APR introductory rate on purchases for the first 15 months. New cardholders will earn a one-time $200 cash bonus when they spend at least $500 within the first three months.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn up to 3% cash back on purchases

  • Receive a $200 welcome bonus

  • 0% APR purchase promo for 15 months

Cons
  • Bonus cash back excluded at Target and Walmart

  • Requires excellent credit

  • No balance transfer promotion

Dining Runner-Up : Bank of America Cash Rewards

Overall Rating
4.4
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Statement Closing Dates
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Statement Closing Dates
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Diners can make their restaurant experiences more enjoyable with the Bank of America Cash Rewards. It earns 3% cash back on the category of your choice (dining is one of the options) and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The bonus cash back is limited to the first $2,500 combined spending in bonus categories, then all of your purchases will earn an unlimited 1%. The card has no annual fee, and new cardholders can earn a $200 welcome bonus after spending $500 within 90 days.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn up to 3% cash in the category of your choice

  • 0% APR promotion on purchases for 12 months

  • Get up to 75% more cash back based on banking relationship

Cons
  • Must select one 3% cash back category out of six

  • Bonus cash back is limited to the first $2,500 spent each quarter

  • Relatively small welcome bonus

Best for Groceries : Blue Cash Preferred

Overall Rating
4.3
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Current Offer

Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6% back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on eligible transit and US gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Grocery shopping is more rewarding with the Blue Cash Preferred. Shoppers earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 in groceries each year. Plus, they'll earn 6% cash back on streaming, 3% on transit and at U.S. gas stations, and 1% on everything else. Plus, you'll earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 within six months. New cardholders can also use the 0% APR introductory offer on purchases for 12 months. There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived the first year so you can try this card free for one year before paying a fee.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn up to 6% cash back on groceries and streaming services

  • Annual fee is waived the first year

  • 0% APR promotion on purchases for 12 months

Cons
  • 6% grocery cash back is limited to $6,000 in purchases per year

  • High penalty APR for late and returned payments

  • Foreign transaction fee of 2.7%

Groceries Runner-Up : American Express Gold Card

Overall Rating
3.6
American Express® Gold Card
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards(R) points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $250
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4X Membership Rewards(R) Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too. Earn 4X Membership Rewards(R) points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The American Express Gold Card earns 4x points per dollar on groceries (up to $25,000 per year) and comes with a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months. You'll also earn unlimited 4x points on dining, 3x on flights (booked with airlines or via Amex Travel), and 1% on everything else. There is a $250 annual fee, but it is mostly offset by annual Uber credits of $120 and yearly dining credits of $120.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months

  • Earn unlimited 4x on dining and 3x on flights

  • Annual credits of $120 on Uber and $120 for dining

Cons
  • Annual fee of $250

  • High penalty APR of 29.24%

  • Uber and dining credits are monthly and expire if not used

Best for Gas : Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

Overall Rating
4.0
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Plus 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

Turn your weekly commute into a free flight with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select. It earns 2x miles per dollar on gas purchases, dining, and spending with American Airlines. New cardholders earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 within three months to get you closer to your next flight. There is a $99 annual fee, but the savings from its free checked bags benefit can quickly recoup that cost.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Unlimited 2x miles on gasoline purchases

  • Travel benefits that save time and money

  • Welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 within three months

Cons
  • Annual fee of $99 (waived first year)

  • Value of miles varies based on how they're redeemed

  • Higher spending levels required to earn additional perks

Gas Runner-Up : Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card

Overall Rating
3.6
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card
Current Offer

Earn 45,000 bonus points, enough for up to 6 free nights at participating properties after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $75
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham as well as on qualifying gas purchases. Earn 4 points per $1 spent on eligible dining and grocery purchases (excluding Target® and Walmart®). Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases (excluding Wyndham Timeshare resorts down payments). That means paying bills, buying home office supplies, car repairs, and more are earning you your next great vacation!
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card earns an unlimited 6 points per dollar on purchases at gas stations and Wyndham resorts. Plus, it receives 4x points on dining and groceries and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. There's a bonus of 45,000 points after spending $1,000 within 90 days, which is enough points for up to six free nights at Wyndham hotels. Cardholders receive automatic Platinum status, discounts on booking rooms, and an annual 7,500 bonus when renewing the card. There is a $75 annual fee, but there are no foreign transaction fees.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Earn unlimited 6x points at gas stations

  • Welcome bonus of 45,000 points after spending $1,000 within 90 days

  • Annual bonus of 7,500 points when renewing card

Cons
  • Annual fee of $75

  • No 0% APR promotion on purchases

  • Late and returned payment fees of up to $40

Final Verdict

Credit cards have a wide variety of fees, interest rates, benefits, promotions, welcome offers, and more. Because each credit card is different, finding the right one depends on your budget, how much you spend and where, and what benefits are important to you. While some people avoid paying annual fees, many readers are willing to do so if the benefits far exceed what they pay each year.

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards is our top choice for the best credit card because it offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. It has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and a $200 welcome bonus that is earned after spending just $500 within three months.

Compare the Best Credit Cards

Credit Card Annual Fee Top Feature
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Best Overall, Best for Cash Back $0 Unlimited 1.5% cash back
Capital One SavorOne Overall Runner-Up $0 3% cash back on dining & entertainment
United℠ Explorer Card Best Airline $95 2x miles on United, dining, and hotels
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Airline Runner-Up $99 2x miles on American, dining, and gas
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Best for Travel $550 $300 annual travel credit
The Platinum Card from American Express Travel Runner-Up $550 Airport lounge access
Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students Best Student Credit Card $0 Unlimited 1.5x points on all spending
Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students Student Credit Card Runner-Up $0 Up to 3% cash back on spending
World of Hyatt Credit Card Best for Hotels $95 Earn up to 2 free award nights per year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Best One-Time Bonus $95 Welcome bonus worth up to $750
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Best Business Credit Card $125 4x points on dining, gas, wireless, and shipping
Citi Simplicity® Best for Balance Transfer $0 0% APR on purchases and transfers for 18 months
Citi Diamond Preferred Balance Transfer Runner-Up $0 0% APR on purchases and transfers for 18 months
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One Best Secured Credit Card $0 Pay deposit over time
SKYPASS Visa Secured Secured Credit Card Runner-Up $50 Earn miles from a secured credit card
Discover it Secured Best for Bad Credit $0 Cash back from a secured credit card
Capital One Platinum Bad Credit Runner-Up $0 Automatic credit line reviews as soon as 6 months
Capital One SavorOne Best for Dining $0 Unlimited 3% cash back on dining
Bank of America Cash Rewards Dining Runner-Up $0 Up to 3% cash back on dining
Blue Cash Preferred Best for Groceries $95 Up to 6% cash back on groceries
American Express Gold Card Groceries Runner-Up $250 Up to 4x points on groceries
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Best for Gas $99 Unlimited 2x miles on gas
Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card Gas Runner-Up $75 Unlimited 4x points on gas

Editorial Picks for Best Credit Cards

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Best Overall, Best for Cash Back

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase without needing to remember categories or registering for rewards. It has no annual fee, offers a good welcome bonus, and has no foreign transaction fees.

Read the full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Review.

Capital One SavorOne

Overall Runner-Up

This card is our runner-up for the best credit card because it earns 3% on dining and entertainment, 2% on groceries, and 1% on everything else without an annual fee. Plus, there's a welcome bonus of $200 after spending $500 within three months.

Read the full Capital One SavorOne Review.

United℠ Explorer Card

Best Airline

The United Explorer offers the highest value per mile earned of any airline credit card and miles can be redeemed in multiple ways. Cardholders receive free checked bags, early boarding, and two one-time United Club passes each year.

Read the full United Explorer Card Review.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

Airline Runner-Up

Cardholders earn 2x miles per dollar on American, gas, and restaurant purchases and qualify for a 50,000-point welcome bonus. They receive early boarding, free checked bags, and a 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Read the full Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Review.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best for Travel

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns a high rewards rate on spending, has a $300 annual travel credit, and offers a competitive welcome bonus. The points are worth 50% more when booking travel and can be transferred to many airline and hotel partners on a 1:1 basis.

Read the full Chase Sapphire Reserve Review.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Travel Runner-Up

Travelers enjoy the premium travel benefits from The Platinum Card from American Express, such as a $200 airline fee credit, $200 in Uber credits, automatic Hilton and Marriott Gold status, and complimentary airport lounge access. The 10x promotion for U.S. gas stations and grocery stores during the first six months is a quick way to boost your points balance.

Read the full The Platinum Card from American Express Review.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

Best Student Credit Card

This card offers a high earning rate on all travel expenses that can be redeemed for travel expenses. It includes a long introductory APR on purchases, no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fees.

Read the full Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students Review.

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Student Credit Card Runner-Up

Students can earn up to 3% cash back on their purchases with the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students. There is no annual fee, and they'll earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $1,000 within 90 days.

Read the full Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students Review.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Best for Hotels

Hyatt offers the highest point redemption value of any hotel program, and this card earns bonus points at Hyatt and on transit, dining, gym, and airfare. It also includes automatic mid-level elite status, one free night each year, and the opportunity to earn a second free night based on spending.

Read the full World of Hyatt Credit Card Review.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best One-Time Bonus

The 60,000-point welcome bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is worth up to $750 when used to book travel or redeemed through Pay Yourself Back. Points may be worth even more value when transferring to one of its airline or hotel partners.

Read the full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Review.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Best Business Credit Card

Small business owners can maximize rewards by earning bonus points on dining, gas, wireless phone charges, and shipping. The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card offers free employee cards, no foreign transaction fees, and the ability to earn up to two free night awards each year.

Read the full Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Review.

Citi Simplicity®

Best for Balance Transfer

The Citi Simplicity card offers one of the best balance transfer and purchase offers available at 0% APR for 18 months. It has no late fees, penalty rates, or annual fees, so cardholders can focus on paying off their balance before the promotion expires.

Read the full Citi Simplicity Review.

Citi Diamond Preferred

Balance Transfer Runner-Up

Customers will enjoy 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases with the Citi Diamond Preferred. There is no annual fee, but balance transfers are subject to a 3% fee.

Read the full Citi Diamond Preferred Review.

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Best Secured Credit Card

Customers looking for a secured credit card will like the security deposit flexibility of the Secured Mastercard from Capital One, which allows them to pay their security deposit over time instead of all at once. It also provides automatic credit line increases with responsible use of the card.

Read the full Secured Mastercard from Capital One Review.

SKYPASS Visa Secured

Secured Credit Card Runner-Up

People who are looking to build their credit can earn miles while doing it with the SKYPASS Visa Secured. It offers a welcome bonus of 5,000 miles, and you'll earn another 1,000 miles each year that you renew the card.

Read the full SKYPASS Visa Secured Review.

Discover it Secured

Best for Bad Credit

The Discover it Secured card helps build your credit history and rewards responsible use with a refundable deposit. Cardholders earn up to 2% cash back on purchases, and all rewards earned the first year are doubled automatically.

Read the full Discover it Secured Review.

Capital One Platinum

Bad Credit Runner-Up

The Capital One Platinum offers the credit you need with no annual fee. Accounts are reviewed for credit limit increases in as little as six months.

Read the full Capital One Platinum Review.

Capital One SavorOne

Best for Dining

Earn an unlimited 3% on dining and entertainment and 2% on groceries with the Capital One SavorOne. It has no annual fee and a one-time cash back award of $200 once you spend $500 within three months.

Read the full Capital One SavorOne Review.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Dining Runner-Up

Earn up to 3% cash back on your purchases with the Bank of America Cash Rewards. The card has no annual fee, features a 12-month 0% APR on purchases, and offers a $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 within 90 days.

Read the full Bank of America Cash Rewards Review.

Blue Cash Preferred

Best for Groceries

Grocery shoppers can earn up to 6% cash back on all of their grocery purchases each year. The Blue Cash Preferred also includes a 12-month 0% APR purchase promotion, a $300 welcome bonus after spending $3,000 within six months, and waives the annual fee the first year.

Read the full Blue Cash Preferred Review.

American Express Gold Card

Groceries Runner-Up

The American Express Gold Card earns 4x points on the first $25,000 you spend on groceries each year. It offers up to $240 per year in Uber and dining credits, which offsets the high annual fee.

Read the full American Express Gold Card Review.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

Best for Gas

You'll earn 2x miles for every dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select. It also includes travel benefits that offer preferred boarding and free checked bags when flying on American Airlines.

Read the full Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Review.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card

Gas Runner-Up

This hotel credit card earns an unlimited 6x points on gas station and Wyndham purchases. It includes automatic Platinum status and an annual bonus of 7,500 points each anniversary year.

Read the full Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card Review.

FAQs

What Is the Best Credit Card?

The best credit card for you depends on your goals, budget, and spending habits. As your money story evolves, the best credit card for you may also change. While credit card rewards can be valuable, if you’re focused on paying off debt, they may not be the best choice for you at this time. A card that offers a 0% APR promotion for balance transfers may be the better option until you can pay off your debt.

The most appealing credit cards may not, however, be the best one you can actually get right now. People with low credit scores may be able to qualify only for cards that carry higher interest rates and fewer rewards. Those consumers should focus on building their credit until they are eligible for the credit card they desire.

People with excellent credit generally have their choice of travel and other rewards credit cards. Credit cards focused on those with the best credit scores typically provide the most attractive benefits. These benefits can include lucrative one-time bonuses, significant ongoing rewards on your spending, and additional benefits like elite status, free checked bags, yearly free hotel nights, and airport lounge access.

What Credit Card Is Best for Me?

Finding the best credit card entails both self-consideration and research. You must document your creditworthiness and spending habits, along with reflecting on how you may use the card, whether to build credit, temporarily borrow, or simply employ it as a purchasing convenience and a way to earn rewards.

If you are new to credit or have impaired credit, a secured credit card can be a great option. This type of card requires a security deposit but has the advantage that activity with the card is reported to all three credit bureaus, which helps the cardholder build credit over time. Many secured cards offer an option to graduate to a non-secured card after a period of on-time payments.

Those who are carrying a card balance should consider shifting the debt to a balance transfer card with much lower interest, or even no interest rate at all for a period. These cards provide relief in the form of an extended period of a 0% APR on the transfer, which allows you to pay down the balance more easily. While some balance transfer cards offer rewards as well, it’s best to not add to your balance on the card (or, preferably, any other card) until you have paid off the amount you’ve transferred.

If you frequently carry a credit card balance, you should avoid cards with high fees and interest regardless of attractive rewards and one-time bonuses. Your priority should be paying down your debt and avoiding accumulating more, not trying to earn rewards.

People who tend to pay off their card balance each month should consider getting a rewards card that offers cash back or points rewards. These cards allow you to leverage your everyday spending to earn hundreds of dollars worth of rewards, usually with no annual fee.

For frequent travelers, a general travel card or one issued in partnership with airlines or hotels can make the most sense. These allow you to leverage spending on travel and in other categories to earn rewards that can be used to obtain further travel.

Entrepreneurs and small-business owners can choose among a host of business credit cards designed for their needs. These cards may reward business spending in certain categories, like shipping, or with specific business-related merchants, such as office supply stores.

College students generally don’t have a credit history, but they do represent a good long-term customer for card issuers. Cards designed for students can provide online resources to instruct new cardmembers on the responsible use of credit and other tips to guide personal finances.

What Credit Scores Are Required?

The higher your credit score, the more credit cards you potentially have available to you, and the better those cards will tend to be in terms of interest rates, credit lines, and rewards programs. To understand your card choices, it’s important to know the broad range into which your credit score fits. Card issuers classify scores as “Excellent” (800+), “Very Good” (740-799), “Good” (670-739), “Fair” (580-669), or “Poor” (below 580). It’s best to only apply for cards that best match the credit recommended by the issuer to reduce the chances of being declined. 

If you don’t know your current credit score, it’s available in a number of ways, and at no cost. There are two main credit score types, FICO and VantageScore, both of which have their own distinct scoring algorithms and score ranges that are used by various lenders.

Other factors beyond credit score are considered by card issuers in evaluating creditworthiness, including employment status, income, and other credit and deposit accounts you own.

Is It Possible to Qualify for a Credit Card With Bad Credit?

There are credit cards designed for those whose credit is fair, poor, and even very poor or bad. In particular, a secured credit card allows those with bad credit or no credit history to build or rebuild their score. Until they’ve completed that process, they must retain the use of the card through a security deposit that usually serves as the maximum credit line for the account.

What Types of Rewards Do Credit Cards Offer?

Credit card rewards come in a variety of forms, allowing cardholders to earn cash back, points, or miles for each dollar of spending. The earnings rates for rewards often vary by purchase type, with higher rewards available for certain categories of purchases.

Cash back rewards are the most straightforward type and usually rebate a percentage of spending in the form of a check or statement credit. Rewards based on points or miles offer greater flexibility in how they are redeemed, whether as travel, gift cards, merchandise, or more.

Travel rewards credit cards may be general in type, earning points that can be redeemed for travel on any airline or hotel, or partner-specific and co-branded with a particular airline or hotel. Co-branded cards provide less flexibility in redeeming rewards but potentially more value, provided you’re comfortable favoring a particular brand of airline or hotel chain.

What Are Common Credit Card Benefits?

While issuers may prominently tout certain features of their cards, other benefits tend to be buried in cards’ fine print—including some you might not realize the card even offers. 

Here’s a quick list of benefits that are commonly offered with a range of card types:

Common Rewards Card Benefits:

  • $0 fraud liability
  • Primary or secondary auto-rental collision damage waiver coverage
  • Roadside assistance hotline
  • Price match
  • Purchase coverage if items are stolen or damaged
  • Extended warranties
  • Refunds in cases of merchant dispute

Common Travel Rewards Card Benefits:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption/delay coverage
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Lost/delayed luggage coverage

Premium Card Benefits:

  • Airport lounge access
  • TSA precheck/Global Reentry Fee Reimbursement every four years
  • Cell phone insurance coverage
  • Concierge service

Methodology

We constantly monitor credit card offers from card-issuer websites and publicly available sources to find the best credit cards for our readers. Each credit card is evaluated based on its fees, rewards, welcome bonuses, introductory offers, features, and benefits so that we can determine a winner for each category. Card issuers update their cards on a regular basis, and, when that happens, we update our card listings, reviews, and recommendations so our readers have the most reliable information and advice.

MEET OUR CREDIT CARDS EXPERT

Ben Woolsey is Investopedia's Senior Editor for Credit Cards. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, including marketing for banking and financial institutions such as Associates First Capital and Bank One. Prior to Investopedia, he managed credit card content for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com.

To see the rates and fees for the featured American Express cards please see the following links: