The best credit cards are generally the cards that offer the most rewards and benefits as well as the lowest Annual Percentage Rates (APRs). However, with many different types of cards, certain factors become more or less important. Since there are thousands of credit cards flooding the market, it’s no surprise that matching the right card with the right person is close to impossible. When analyzing the top options, it’s wise to focus on a specific type of card and then determine what features of those cards are important for each person.
The best rewards credit cards are the ones that offer the highest rewards in the form of points, bonuses, air miles, or cash back. They tend to offer a variety of ways to earn rewards and are often the most versatile cards in terms of redeeming rewards. General rewards credit cards offer the ability to earn additional rewards for entertainment purchases, dining, travel, airfare, and more. Overall, the rewards cards that score highest on our reviews will excel in categories like Rewards, Reward Redemption, and Benefits. The Rewards category helps define how many rewards a cardholder can earn and the different bonuses available, as well as information about expiration or any blackout dates. Reward Redemption is centered around how a cardholder can redeem rewards. Cards that score high in this category will allow the cardholder to redeem points in all kinds of ways, including statement credit, airfare, gift cards, merchandise, and access to exclusive events. Beyond looking at rewards, many cards will also offer benefits, which focus on some of the extra perks a cardholder will receive, like purchase protection and 24/7 customer support.
In order to get the most out of a rewards credit card, a potential cardholder should try to match the types of rewards the card offers to their lifestyle and purchasing decisions. In addition to general rewards cards that cater to a more well-rounded consumer, there are four other types of rewards credit cards: airline, cash back, travel, and gas. Someone who flies a lot on a specific airline will benefit greatly from using the card associated with that airline. Some of the best options fall into the cash back category because they give cardholders the piece of mind that their rewards may always be redeemed. A frequent traveler who doesn’t use a specific airline, but might use certain hotels often will certainly want to target one of the top hotel travel cards. Road warriors who often find themselves behind the wheel should focus on finding a card that offers high points or cash back rewards for gas purchases.
Airline credit cards are a specialized type of card offered by specific airlines that generally allow the cardholder to earn rewards in the form of air miles. In some cases, airlines offer rewards with points that translate into miles and airfare. The best airline cards have significant signup bonuses and cardholders can earn some of the highest rewards with an airline card as compared to other rewards credit cards. Choosing an airline card can come at a cost, however, because most customers have to stick with a specific airline and its partners to earn and redeem rewards. Frequent flyers who don’t stick to one airline may find that a travel card is the best fit for them.
The best cash back credit cards will primarily be the cards that offer the most cash back on purchases. Many of the top cash back cards will offer up to 5% cash back per dollar spent, but the 5% cash back earning potential is usually capped at a specific dollar amount for categories that rotate every few months. Cash back rewards can normally be redeemed via statement credit and some cards will pay by check. Those who are looking for a cash back card will also want to find a card with a 0% introductory APR because most cash back cards don’t provide new cardmembers with a signup bonus.
There are a number of different factors to consider when trying to find the best credit card for travel. Depending on the travel card, someone can earn rewards via air miles, points, and hotel membership points. With rewards earnings that come in so many ways, choosing the top credit card for travel ultimately comes down to what each person intends to use it for. More targeted hotel rewards cards offer some of the highest points per dollar spent, but the rewards can normally only be redeemed at one of their participating hotels. Some travel cards are even offered by online travel companies, like Priceline and Orbitz, but reward earnings are again limited by making purchases on those websites. The general cards that don’t have connections to hotels or travel companies are more well-rounded, but earnings are less than with the specialized cards.
A gas credit card is a type of rewards card that offers the most significant rewards for gas purchases. Keep in mind that these are not designed specifically for gas purchases, but qualify as the top credit cards in this category due to their high rewards for buying gasoline. The best cards for gas purchases will usually offer rewards in the form of cash back, but some of the top cards also have a point rewards system. Similar to any other rewards cards, the points can be redeemed for a variety of things, like gift cards, merchandise, and travel. It’s not uncommon for gas cards to limit the amount of money a cardholder can earn high rewards on, but many of the top cards have no limit and allow you to keep earning the high cash back or points per dollar spent on gas purchases.
The best credit cards for students will offer solid cash back rewards or a variety of ways to earn and redeem points. In addition to the rewards, students will want to focus on the costs of being a cardholder. Most of the top cards for students will not charge an annual fee. One thing to keep an eye on is the APR, since some students might be enticed into carrying a balance on a card from time to time. For most students, the best cards will offer a 0% introductory APR for at least six months. If a card doesn’t have an introductory offer, make sure that it offers substantial ways to earn points or cash back rewards to make up for it.
Student credit cards serve a completely different purpose than most of the other types of cards because the cards are made for a specific group of people who are often right around the same age. As many people know, getting approved for a credit card with no credit history is pretty much impossible. That is precisely what makes student credit cards so important. These cards provide students with the opportunity to establish a solid credit history. They also serve the purpose of teaching students about the credit process, rates, and fees. Students under the age of 21 will likely need to have a cosigner or proof that they have an income to make payments.
Business credit cards share a lot of similarities with the rewards cards listed above because business owners are generally looking for the same type of rewards and benefits as consumers. Some of the best business credit cards will allow an organization to maximize their rewards by getting the most points or cash back for the things they purchase the most. Depending on what type of rewards the business is looking to earn, there are a number of solid options to choose from. Business cards can earn rewards in the form of air miles, cash back, and points, which can be redeemed for a variety of things. One clear difference between business and personal cards is that the business cards try to offer rewards for purchases that are closely associated with a business, like extra cash back or points rewards for office supply purchases. Another key advantage to using a business card as opposed to a personal card is to keep personal and business expenses separate to avoid any accounting nightmares during tax season.
While it’s best to look at all the business credit cards together, there are a few different ways to classify the cards. One way is by matching the card with the size of the organization. The best card for a small business will not necessarily be the best for a corporation. Most small business owners will prefer a card that offers solid rewards without the additional fees. Since many small businesses are trying to keep costs down, saving in every way possible is important. Corporations are generally seeking a different type of card than small businesses; they will likely be spending more money than the small business, which means the larger organization will also need a bigger credit line. Corporations also have more people involved and might need to issue a higher number of cards to management. Another way to differentiate business cards is to look at credit cards versus charge cards. Credit cards allow a business to carry over a balance while charge cards force a business to pay off the balance each month. Some of the top cards for business offer two forms of the same card, one of which is a charge card and the other is a credit card.
Secured credit cards are typically for people who have bad credit and want to establish or reestablish their credit. The way a secured credit card works is to have the cardholder put down a security deposit on the card and the deposit ensures the credit limit on the card. Secured cards have minimum and maximum credit lines, but ultimately, the deposit amount determines how much the person can spend on the card. The major benefit for most people who are interested in a secured card is that the cards automatically report to credit agencies. Steadily making payments on time will boost the credit rating of the cardholder with the end goal of eventually obtaining an unsecured card.
Unlike standard unsecured credit cards, even the best cards for those who have bad credit won’t offer rewards. The reward for using a secured credit card is to eventually build good credit. The benefits are also different from rewards cards. Most rewards cards offer insurance on things like travel, luggage, and car rentals, while secured cards focus on monitoring and reporting credit automatically. Anyone interested in a secured card should also know that all of the cards charge an annual fee.
The main purpose of finding the best credit card for balance transfers is to consolidate credit debt all in one place. Balance transfers are allowed by most credit cards in order to get new customers. The top cards for transferring a balance will often give the new cardmember a 0% introductory APR for more than a year. This is often referred to as a “teaser rate,” which is used to draw in new cardmembers. Once the teaser rate expires, the cardholder will then be charged the standard APR on their balance or the balance transfer APR that is designated by the card. When considering a balance transfer to a new credit card, also keep in mind that many cards charge a transaction fee for each transfer.
The most common type of balance transfer is when a balance is transferred from one credit card account to another, but that’s not the only type of balance transfer. Several cards offer the option to transfer a loan balance to a card as well as a checking or savings account balance. When looking for the best balance transfer cards, keep in mind that there is more to look at than just the balance transfer rates and fees. There are long-term features to consider with a new card and it’s unlikely that the card will only be used for the initial balance transfer. The rewards earning potential and benefits of the top cards for balance transfers should also factor into selecting a well-rounded balance transfer card.
|Product||The Good||The Bad||More|
|Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All Purchases||Competitive introductory rates||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 1x on All Purchases||Earn double miles on travel and dining||Higher balance transfer fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Comprehensive additional benefits||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Discover it®||Excellent introductory rates||No bonus incentives||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card||Easily accumulate large rewards||High annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Capital One® Venture℠ Rewards Credit Card||Double miles and no restrictions||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card||Benefits of a Visa Signature® Card||Annual membership fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|TrueBlue® by JetBlue||Highest airfare rewards||Limited flight selection||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card||Free bonus miles instantly||No early boarding or free bags||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Large sign-up bonus||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Chase Freedom® Visa||Rewards galore||Manual quarterly activation for the 5% cash back||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|American Express® Gold Card||Access to great benefits||Annual membership fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® - Excellent Credit||Great sign-up bonus offer||Card must remain active to keep rewards||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Capital One® VentureOne℠ Rewards Card||No annual membership fee||Few ways to earn bonus rewards on purchases||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Earn cash back with no limits||Interest rates can get high||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Premium travel benefits||High annual membership fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card||Considerable bonuses and extra discounts||Higher than average annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|US Airways Premier World MasterCard®||Very high signup bonus||Unspectacular rewards earnings||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Gold Delta SkyMiles® Card from American Express||Multiple Delta rewards||Annual membership fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card||High rewards for booking airfare||Must be a PenFed member||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Citi® ThankYou® Preferred Rewards Card||Great introductory interest rate||Limited opportunities for bonus rewards on purchases||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa® Card||Diverse reward redemption options||Limited additional benefits||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card||Large bonus for Hilton hotels||Relatively limited redemption options||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Virgin America Visa Signature® Card||Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus||High penalty APR||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Visa® Black Card™||24/7 concierge service and great benefits||High annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|United MileagePlus® Explorer Card||Significant bonuses||Higher annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Major signup bonus||High annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express||Multiple ways to earn bonus rewards||US stand-alone gas purchase bonuses are capped||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card||Diverse distribution options||Additional benefits are not as comprehensive||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Disney's Premier Visa® Card||Sign-up bonus gift card||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Sony Card from Capital One®||Competitive point offerings||Missing some additional benefits||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Product||The Good||The Bad||More|
|Discover it® for Students||Strong introductory rate||You have to sign up for rewards||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Citi Forward® Card for College Students||No cosigner required||Points can expire||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Journey℠ Student Rewards from Capital One®||Text and email alerts||No introductory interest rate||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card for College Students||5% cash back on rotating categories||Quarterly enrollment required||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Product||The Good||The Bad||More|
|The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN||Earn bonus points through common purchases||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|WorldPoints® Rewards for Business™ Visa® Card||Earn unlimited points||Short redemption window for transferred points||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Ink Plus® Business Card||Great point transfer possibilities||Sign-up bonus requires high spending||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Ink Cash® Business Card||No annual membership fee||Annual limits on rewards categories||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|CitiBusiness® ThankYou℠ Card||Multiple ways to earn bonus points||Fee for going over the credit limit||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN||Great hotel benefits||High annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express OPEN||No annual fee||Low limit on bonus rates||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|CitiBusiness® AAdvantage® World MasterCard®||Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus||Foreign currency transaction fees||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Capital One® Spark℠ Miles Business Credit Card||Two miles for every dollar spent||Missing some benefits and insurance coverage options||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN||5,000-point bonus||No bonus rewards for purchases||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Plum Card® from American Express OPEN||Early Pay Discount||Relatively high annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards Visa® Card||Annual cash back bonus||$25 disbursement limitation||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Gold Delta Skymiles® Business Credit Card from American Express||Easy to qualify for sign-up bonus||Limited ways to earn bonus miles||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card||Earn double points on business-related purchases||Several transaction fees||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Capital One® Spark℠ Cash for Business||Employee cards at no additional cost||Annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Product||The Good||The Bad||More|
|Capital One® Secured MasterCard®||Security deposit options||High standard APR and cash advance APR||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card||Credit monitoring||Slow balance refresh||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card||Low standard APR||High annual fee||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Card||Relatively low annual fee||High cash advance APR||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Secured Visa® from Merrick Bank||Zero Fraud Liability||High interest rates||Read Full Review Apply Here|
|Platinum Zero® Secured Visa® from Applied Bank||No interest accrued on purchases||High minimum deposit requirement||Read Full Review Apply Here|