Unfortunately, there’s no one best credit card out there for everyone, so we’ve put together a list of the top 10 credit cards based on different criteria to help you narrow down the selection.
The top 10 credit cards
As you read through this list, understand that you may not qualify for all of them. In general, the best credit cards for rewards require that you have at least good or excellent credit, while other cards may be more accessible to people with fair, bad, or no credit.
Best credit cards for travel rewards
Travel credit cards can help you cover the cost of your next vacation, giving you an opportunity to travel where you might not otherwise be able to afford it.
The Capital One Venture Rewards card is the best general travel card out there. It offers a flat 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, which you can use to book travel anywhere.
In other words, you’re not restricted to one airline or hotel chain. The card also comes with a huge sign-up bonus that can give you a head start on your next trip.
The card does charge an annual fee. But the good news is that it’s waived the first year, so you’ll have some time to rack up some rewards before you have to worry about paying a fee. There’s also no foreign transaction fee, so you can use the card overseas without penalty.
If you want the luxury of free travel, but don’t want the stress of an annual fee, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card is the best in the business. You’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on every purchase, with no limits.
You’ll also get a decent sign-up bonus, although it’s not nearly as exciting as the Capital One Venture’s. But with no annual or foreign transaction fees, plus a 0% APR promotion on new purchases, this card is still perfect for people who don’t spend a lot.
Best credit cards for cash back
Cash-back rewards are popular because they offer a lot of flexibility. After all, you can do anything with cash. That said, cash-back credit cards don’t typically offer super high sign-up bonuses — or big annual fees — as you’ll see with travel credit cards. As a result, you’ll want a cash-back card if you like flexible rewards and don’t want to worry about an annual fee.
The Citi Double Cash card offers one of the highest rewards rates on the market. You’ll earn 1% cash back on every purchase you make and another 1% back when you pay them off.
There are no bonus categories to remember, making it easy to use. That said, the card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus.
The card also comes with a balance transfer promotion in case you need to pay off high-interest debt. However, there is a balance transfer fee.
If you’re a rewards maximizer, you’ll want to check out the Chase Freedom. The card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in everyday spending categories that change every three months.
They can differ from year to year, but historically they’ve included categories like gas stations, groceries, restaurants, movie theaters, and holiday shopping. You also get 1% cash back on non-bonus spending.
The card also comes with a sign-up bonus and a 0% APR promotion on both new purchases and balance transfers. So, if you need to finance a big-ticket item or pay down some debt, this is a great card with which to do it.
Best credit cards for 0% APR promotions
The Citi Simplicity card offers the longest combination promotion for new purchases and balance transfers. You’ll get almost two full years to pay down your debt either way. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a balance transfer fee if you use the card for that purpose.
Also, the card has no rewards program, so it might not provide a lot of value after the promotion is over. But if you save a lot on interest by using it, it’s well worth the inconvenience.
If you’re looking only to do a balance transfer, the Chase Slate card offers the perfect combination of a 0% APR promotion and no upfront balance transfer fee. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee, but it also doesn’t offer rewards.
Again, because of that reason, it might not be a good card to keep after the promotional period. But it’s a great get-out-of-debt-free card.
Best credit cards for college students
College students who are just starting to build credit don’t have many credit card options, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some solid ones out there.
Much like the Chase Freedom card, the Discover it for Students card offers 5% cash back on categories that change every three months, plus 1% back everywhere else. That’s about as high a rewards rate you’ll get as a student.
The card also matches all the cash back you earn during the first year, so you’re essentially earning 10% back on bonus categories and 2% back everywhere else during that time. That’s hard to beat. You won’t pay an annual fee on this card, either.
Getting a credit card can be hard for international students, and the new Deserve Edu card solves that problem. International students aren’t required to have a Social Security number when they apply for the card. U.S. students can also get the card.
The card offers 1% cash back on all purchases, a year’s worth of Amazon Prime Student, and no annual fee.
These cards function the same as conventional credit cards with just one exception: You have to put up a security deposit, usually equal to your desired credit limit when you open the account.
Hands down the best-secured card out there, the Discover it Secured card does things differently. For starters, it offers rewards — 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back everywhere else. Discover will also match all your cash back earned the first year.
Second, you can get your deposit back before you close your account if you use the card responsibly. The vast majority of secured cards don’t offer either of these features.
If your credit is bad and you’re afraid you might not get approved, the OpenSky Secured Visa is a great option. The card doesn’t require a credit check, so you don’t have to worry about your past coming back to haunt you.
That said, it doesn’t offer any rewards, and you’ll pay an annual fee. But depending on where your credit is, that might be worth it.
How to pick the right card
“If you have a great credit score, you would have many card options, and you should look at the interest rate,” says Kelly. She adds, “Rewards are key, and which rewards you choose depends on your lifestyle.”
So, to find out which credit card is best for you, consider your:
- Spending habits
- Personal preferences
- Credit score
With these three things in mind, it’ll be easier to understand what works best for you, even if it doesn’t work best for the people around you.
Compare several credit cards side by side to find one that offers the best combination of features. And if these factors change, you can always apply for a better card in the future.