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Best Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards

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There's no "one size fits all" credit card that's good for every user, but certain cards stand out among the competition. Our editors hand-picked a collection of credit cards that offer the best value in the categories below.

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Here are the CreditDonkey picks for "Best Credit Cards" in the following categories:

Low Interest Offer

Citi Simplicity offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months and 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. After that, a variable APR, currently 19.24% to 29.99% depending on your creditworthiness. There is an introductory balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater for balances transfers completed within 4 months of account opening. After that, balance transfer fee will be $5 or 5% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater. There are no late fees, no penalty rates and no annual fees.

Cashback Rewards

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Apply for Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited lets you earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. The cash back rewards will not expire as long as your card account remains open. There is also a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%. There is no annual fee.

Travel Rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

Points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has no foreign transaction fees. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is a $95 annual fee.

People with Bad Credit

Capital One Secured Card reports to the 3 major credit bureaus to help you build credit when used responsibly. This secured credit card's variable APR is 29.99%. You can receive an initial $200 credit line with a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your creditworthiness. There is no annual fee.

Need help rebuilding your credit? Read our guide on how to build credit with a credit card.

How to Choose a Credit Card

Although we highlighted cards above, it's always smart to do your own comparison as well. When you start shopping for a new credit card, the number of available choices can be startling. Thankfully, despite the array of choices, zeroing in on the right card for your wallet may be easier than you think. All it takes is a bit of time and consideration, as we go over below:

Consider your goals. This list should include everything from paying off debt, building your savings, and traveling more. As you read on, think about your goals and which type of card will best fit your need.

How to Choose the Right Credit Card for You

Taking the time to consider your spending habits will help you better determine the type of card that meets your needs. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you pay your statement balances in full each month?
    If you tend to carry a balance, then look for a card with the lowest interest rate. If you pay in full, then you have the freedom to look for a card that has other perks, like credit card rewards.

  • Do you have a steady income?
    If your monthly income changes by season, then you will likely want to look for a card that has a lower rate, so you can minimize interest in the months when your budget is tight.

  • Do you have an established credit history, and if so, how does it compare to others?
    If you are new to credit or have a troubled credit history, then you may want to consider a secured credit card. These cards are secured by a deposit, which reduces the card issuer's liability. If you default on your payments, they can take it out of your deposit. These cards also help you build credit by reporting to the credit bureaus.

  • Do you use your card only for emergencies, or is it your everyday payment method?
    If you're planning on using the card for everyday purchases, then look into reward cards that give you something back. But only if you are able to pay your balance in full each month. Otherwise, interest charges will wipe out any rewards you earn.

    If you just want a card for emergencies, then a traditional card without any rewards will do the job just fine. Just make sure to still charge a couple of small things here and there to avoid inactivity.

  • Do you need a card because you're planning on making some large purchases?
    A credit card could be a good way pay for a large purchase you don't have the cash for, but only if you're smart about it. Look for a card with a long 0% APR introductory offer. This gives you time to pay off your purchase interest-free. But make sure you have a plan to fully pay it off before the intro period ends.

Do you have a small business? Consider getting a separate business credit card.

While it can be tempting to use just one card for all expenses, especially if you're trying to accrue rewards points for an upcoming vacation, it's smart to keep your business and personal expenses separate. This distinction will help reduce accounting headaches.

Which Credit Card is Right For You

These days, credit cards can be classified into quite a few different categories. Now that you've evaluated your goals and spending behavior, you should be able to narrow your focus to the category that meets your needs:

  • Traditional: These are the "plain vanilla" cards. They may have a couple of perks, like rental car insurance or identity theft protection, but for the most part are devoid of fancy bells and whistles. This doesn't mean that you should automatically discount these cards - often, they don't have annual fees and they offer competitive rates.

  • Student: These cards are designed for part-time or full-time students. Many of these cards have rewards programs oriented toward the wants and needs of younger 20-somethings. Some even have rewards for GPA incentives. They also tend to have lower fees.

  • Cash Back: These cards offer a percentage back on purchases you charge to you card. This is a great option if you are looking to reduce your expenses or save toward a specific goal. Look for a cash back card that fits your spending pattern. For example, if you spend the most on groceries, look for a card that gives the most back at supermarkets.

  • Travel: If you like to travel, a travel credit card can help you earn flights and hotel stays. This can potentially be worth more than just cash back. This is great if you have vacation goals and would like to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. But you usually need very good credit to qualify for these kinds of cards.

  • Balance Transfer: These cards are great if you're trying to pay off credit card debt. A balance transfer card allows you to transfer over your existing debt to a new card. Often, these cards offer introductory programs that will give you anywhere from 6 to 18 months interest-free. This gives you time to pay down your debt without accruing more interest.

  • Business: Business credit cards have perks more geared towards business owners, such as employee cards and expense tracking apps. They also have rewards more relevant to business categories.

Don't Forget About the Costs

When you start to explore the cards that match your needs, don't forget to pay attention to the costs of the cards. Here are some fees to consider:

  • Annual fees: Cards with annual fees usually have better rewards. But you also need to be a bigger spender to earn enough rewards to justify the fee. If you are a casual spender, it's best to start out with a card with no annual fee.

  • APR: This is the interest rate. If you tend to carry a balance, you want a card with as low of an interest as possible. If you always pay in full, then you don't really need to worry about this.

    Many cards have special introductory offers that include 0% interest on new purchases and balance transfers during the first several months of the card. While these offers can help you start off on the right foot, you'll also want to know the fees and rates that you'll be charged once the introductory period ends.

  • Balance transfer fee: A smart balance transfer will help you save a lot in interest, but banks usually charge a fee for transferring your balance from one card to another. This is usually 3% - 5% of the amount transferred. To avoid this fee, look for credit cards with no balance transfer fee.

  • Foreign transaction fee: This is a fee charged for purchases made outside of the United States. Banks usually charge 3% of your purchase. If you travel abroad, you'd want a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

Just because a card has slightly higher fees or rates than another card doesn't mean you should eliminate it from the list. Instead, take the time to evaluate the benefits that come with the card. If you will truly take advantage of the deals, rewards, or other perks associated with the card, then those benefits may just outweigh the costs.

Bottom Line

Choosing a credit card is a very personal experience. You can't rely on someone else to tell you which card is best for you. But with the steps outlined above and your intimate knowledge of your needs, the decision doesn't have to be difficult. After a little bit of reflection and research, you'll have the right card in your wallet in no time.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citi.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Capital One. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Capital One.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Simplicity® Card and Capital One Platinum Secured has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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About CreditDonkey
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.

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