What’s the Best Credit Card for You?
With so many new credit cards being released, the decision on which to choose almost always depends on two things: the issuer and reward. However, some customers do not even care about the issuer if a feature or cash back reward is good enough. For example, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express’ feature is that it has no annual fee. Any credit card user who hates paying $99 a year to own a credit card will probably sign up for one with this feature.
Financial products and services got a big upgrade in the past year, with new features and mobile app tools. Most of the major credit card companies now allow you to “turn off” a card if it gets lost temporarily. This can come in handy if you ever leave your card at a restaurant.
There are other features that make some cards better than others, and in this roundup, we’ll look at the credit cards with the most cash back rewards, travel advantages, digital tools and no annual fees.
The Greatest Features of the Latest Credit Cards
If we had to create the perfect credit card profile, it would have to have at least two to three of the following features.
Do you love to spend but hate the interest you have to pay on purchases? If you use a low rate credit card, then you can manage large balances a bit easier. These credit cards are best for people who carry balances from one month to the next, inevitably leading to interest payments each month. Low interest cards typically have an annual fee and high fees on cash withdrawals, however. You may also need to have a higher credit score that is above 700 to get a card with a low interest rate.
The great thing about travel rewards cards comes with the bonus offers. These range from earning additional points when you hit purchase thresholds to other perks like access to exclusive sky clubs and lounges like the Mercedes Lounge at Marriott or Delta SkyClub. You may also earn reduced airline fees, waived baggage fees and other travel credits.
Travel rewards cards provide the most perks for people who travel often. If you are constantly in the air, then you will definitely get the most out of travel credits and enjoy a little bit of the exclusive extras. However, if you only travel a few times per year, you may want to look at cash back cards instead. This also depends on how travel rewards cards let you earn points: If you earn travel miles for purchases at specific restaurants and stores in addition to airlines, then you may be well on your way to saving toward a big trip sometime.
Do you want a card that rewards you by giving you a cash refund on each purchase? Then you want a cash-back reward card. These are the most popular cards because of their perks to shoppers. If you have a cash back card, you likely earn with each purchase. However, before you sign up, it’s important to learn how a particular card rewards your purchases so you get the right card for you. The industry-leading rate right now is with Citi Double Cash Card, which allows you to earn cash back twice on every purchase, with 1% cash back when you make any purchase.
Other cards have specific places where you can earn purchase refunds such as at the gas station or grocery store. You may earn a higher percentage by buying certain brands, or using the card at certain retail chains or restaurants, as well. These cards should also include another percentage cash back on all other purchases, since this is the standard for credit card issuers as of 2018.
There are also cash incentives with certain credit cards. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card allows you to earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, and allows unlimited percentage cash rewards on other purchases.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa Signature card is also popular, as it combines no annual fee with percentage cash back rewards and a $150 cash bonus.
If you have a high dollar balance on one card and spot a low interest rate card elsewhere, then it may pay to switch cards. Many credit card issuers provide special terms for balance transfers. While cash rewards and travel bonuses may not apply to a balance transfer credit card, you can find special terms that include 0% APR on balance transfers. However, be warned that most credit card issuers want you to transfer the balance immediately and will only provide an introductory offer of 60 days. After that, the variable APR rate may go up to 14% or more on balance transfers.
Digital On/Off Switch
Mobile apps are so necessary for the financial future. Major credit card companies allow you to manage everything from the mobile app, while others just have payment options. One of the best new features is a simple on/off switch that lets you turn off a card if you suddenly realize that you left it at a restaurant or dropped your wallet in a store.
Other credit card mobile apps are sophisticated and allow you to track spending and make fast payments to your credit card balance.
There are some cards that allow you to travel in style and may upgrade your room or give you access to specialty areas like the Delta Sky Club or American Express Lounge. These areas typically have free coffee and snacks, WiFi access and entertainment.
Want to protect your trip? You should look for a travel rewards card that also has built-in insurance features. Some insurance protection includes trip cancellation, trip delay, baggage delay and rental auto collision.
No Annual Fee
This is a big one for modern credit card users. No one wants to pay an annual fee on top of paying an interest rate. While some cards have bigger rewards that make the annual fee worth it, other cards try to hide their fees which can be a most unwelcome surprise. Most annual fee cards come with higher APR and really only work for people who are trying to build credit as they are willing to settle for any credit card.
If you’re looking to build or repair your credit score, you should use a secured card with no annual fee, as it will both save you money and help with spending. Any cards that have over $100 in annual fees should be avoided as there are plenty that can be found that have lower fees.
The best credit cards on our list have a combination of these features above. We rate cards based on their overall value to the consumer as well as reward amounts, interest rates, customer service and other features that are important, such as customer loyalty programs.
The Best Credit Cards Right Now
It cannot be stressed enough that anyone looking for a credit card should do some research before signing up for one. Basic research showed that the following cards easily have the lowest interest rates and best rewards for every kind of cardholder. Whether you love to travel or love to shop with cash-back options, these are some of our picks for the best overall credit cards.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card – Travel Rewards
Features We Love
- Unlimited Rewards
- 2x miles per dollar on every purchase
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles in first 3 months (must spend $3,000 on purchases)
- $0 annual fee for first year ($95 following year)
- No foreign transaction fees
- Rewards never expire
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card is one of the highest tier credit cards available right now if you like travel rewards and without high annual fees. The Venture credit card was made for travelers who book flights all the time and want to save money when they do.
You can also see how many miles each dollar you put on the card earns you. For example, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards slider tool shows if you spend $2,200 a month, then you will earn 52,800 miles per year. Not only does this provide an extra incentive for cardholders to spend, but it also gives customers a clear mileage balance for each purchase, which can be banked toward an upcoming trip.
This credit card also has some extra upgrades and savings, including complementary savings at hotels, resorts, and spas who are partners of Capital One® Venture® Rewards. You also receive complimentary concierge service with Visa Signature Concierge. This benefit provides you access to an account service representative 24 hours a day. Other discounts include retailer savings, extended warranty and auto rental collision damage waiver.
- Lots of extras and discounts are included with this card at partner retailers and hotels.
- Earn 10 miles per dollar at certain places when you pay with Venture®.
- New cardmember offer includes 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first month.
- Cardmembers can access 24-hour customer support through Visa Signature Concierge.
- Annual fee jumps up to $95 after first year.
- There are no cash back rewards with this card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Overall Rewards
Features We Love
- 55,000 points bonus (must spend $4,000 in first months)
- 2x Ultimate Rewards Points with merchants like Uber, city tours, airlines, street parking, rental cars, etc.
- $0 introductory annual fee, then $95 after
- 1:1 point transfer
- 25% more in travel redemption
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is really enticing for new cardmembers because of the $1,155 bonus offer for signing up. This includes up to 55,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first three months. In addition, you get 5,000 more points after you add an authorized user to the card.
You can also use this card to get points and save at several merchants and retailers, not just airlines. You can earn points at beer halls, street parking, cupcake shops, tolls, rental cars, city tours, train transportation, tram tickets, parking at airport, Postmates and many more.
The redemption options also set Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card apart from other card issuers. You can book travel directory through the Chase travel portal online to earn 1.25 cents apiece per point. This is a great benefit if you love to travel and want to spend your points exclusively on air miles. There are a ton of travel benefits including primary car rental insurance, no foreign transaction fees, trip delay insurance and trip cancellation insurance. You can also transfer points to many travel partners including big-name hotels like Hyatt, United and Marriott.
- Cash back rewards give a lot to the cardmember in the first 3 months.
- Cardmembers earn on every purchase.
- Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece if purchasing through Chase’s travel portal.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides lots of travel benefits for cardmembers, including travel protection and baggage delay insurance.
- Annual fee jumps to $95 after first year.
- Rewards are not unlimited.
- You won’t earn the same amount at some retailers. You have to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card value partner list.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® – Flat-Rate Rewards
Features We Love
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
- $150 bonus once you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months
- No annual fee
- 0% Low intro APR
- Cash back rewards never expire
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, cardmembers who want lower annual fees get them as well as access to the sophistication of Chase’s digital tools. Unlimited cash-back can be earned through Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and your cash-back rewards never expire as long as your account is open.
The low intro APR, no annual fee and a balance-transfer bonus offer combine to make for a great offer overall. The low intro APR doesn’t get much lower than 0% rate for the first 15 months from account opening. This applies to purchases and balance transfers. However, like many similar low APR offers, the APR can jump to between 16.24 and 24.88% the following year. This could be bad for anyone who has a fluctuating credit score and high balances.
True, the bonus offer is relatively small compared to the other credit cards, but this is likely due to the missing annual fee, which is a huge plus. The bonus offer provides in $150 cash after you spend $500 on purchases. You also earn a $25 bonus if you add an authorized user and make your first purchase within the first three months.
- No annual fee and low intro APR make it a great card if you are just starting to build credit.
- Cardmembers earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- Cash back rewards are unlimited and never expire.
- The interest rate may jump sky high in the following year.
- The $150 bonus offer is relatively small compared to other offers we reviewed.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card – Everyday Spending
Features We Love
- Earn 1% cash back on every purchase
- Earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
- Earn 3% on gas for the first $2,500 per quarter
- No annual fee
- 0% introductory APR
- $150 bonus online cash rewards offer (when you spend $500 in first 90 days)
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card is a newly revamped offer from one of the biggest banks in the US. The rewards offered on this card are particularly beneficial to any cardholder who also has an account at Bank of America.
Cardmembers earn different levels of cash back, but you can expect to earn at least 1% cash back on all purchases. At most grocery stores and wholesale clubs, you can earn a higher 2% cash back. For those gas guzzlers, the 3% cash back is a nice benefit when the card is used at participating gas stations. However, keep in mind that there is a combined limit of $2,500 per quarter to these rewards.
Following the lead of other credit card issuers, Bank of America is also doing away with the annual fee and includes a 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles. You can use this for balance transfers as well. However, the 0% rate jumps up to 24.24% after the first year, in some cases.
Overall, this is a good card if you are already a customer of Bank of America and like the brand. Their customer service has had some complaints in the past, but you do get a lot of cash back if you use the card every day and like to shop at Bank of America partner retailers.
- There is no annual fee.
- Cardmembers get a 0% introductory APR.
- The bonus cash offer is rather small and does not include anything extra for adding an authorized user.
- Bonus cash rewards are quite limited compared to other card issuers.
- Cashback tiers are confusing and are limited to $2,500 per quarter.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card From American Express – No Annual Fee
Features We Love
- 3% cash back at US supermarkets (limited to $6,000 per year)
- 2% cash back gas stations and partner department stores
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- $150 bonus offer (must spend $1,000 in first 3 months)
- No annual fees
For those who have a big family and spend lots of time shopping, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express might be just the card for you. As an everyday spending card, you can earn a few bucks back with each purchase, but if you head to partner stores, you can earn up to 3% cash back on your purchases.
American Express typically offers low cash back rates and minimal bonus offers, so it was great to see a bonus offer. However, the cashback rewards do not include any travel points or rewards. There are some cards that will at least provide travel insurance and some extra cash back for air miles, but not this one, so make sure the other benefits on this particular credit card work for you.
Other American Express cards have travel rewards, which again illustrates why doing some research on individual cards pays off. If you look at other AmEx cards, definitely pay attention to their fantastic travel portal where you can save on hotels and flights.
- Cashback rewards never expire.
- You can redeem cash back at low amounts.
- You don’t have to pay an annual fee.
- You get a $6,000 limit on cash back.
- You cannot combine or transfer rewards if you have another card.
The Quick Hit On Our Research
All of the cards above were selected for their travel and cash reward benefits. While some throw in a few extras like no annual fee forever and low introductory APR, you have to read the terms of the bonus offers and cashback rewards to really understand how much value you will get from each card.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card offers a lot of value for travelers, and you earn with every purchase. But you also miss out on cashback rewards and no annual fees like you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Ultimately, the amount of rewards and value in the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card makes it a top choice for anyone who wants a solid credit card with good rewards and low fees. You also get a ton of travel bonuses and access to the travel portal, which will save you money whenever you purchase hotel rooms and flights.
For cashback reward cards, we also liked the Chase Freedom Unlimited® better than any of the other offers. With this card, the unlimited rewards and simple bonus offer make it a great choice for anyone who wants to earn no matter where they shop.