Updated on Jun 28, 2018

Best Credit Cards for 2018

What is the best credit card for you? We can help you decide.
Advertiser Disclosure

Independently researched content by us. Free financial advice for you. To do that, we may get compensation when you click on our partners’ products. View our full advertiser disclosure to learn more.

When it comes to credit cards, you have many different kinds to choose from. That’s why we put together this rundown of the best credit cards for 2018. Our top picks range from credit cards that help you book trips to ones that reward your everyday spending. The one thing they all have in common is that they can each help you achieve your financial goals. Check out our reviews and, if you see something you like, apply online in minutes.

Google-X's top picks for the best credit cards

  • Best for rewards Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
    On Capital One's secure website
  • Best for travel Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
    On Chase's secure website
  • See Rates & Fees
    Best for cash back Discover it® Cash Back
    On Discover's secure website
  • See Rates & Fees
    Best for balance transfers Discover it® Balance Transfer
    On Discover's secure website
  • Partner Offer
    Best for groceries & gas Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
    On American Express's secure website
  • Partner Offer
    Best for families Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
    On American Express's secure website
  • Honorable mention - travel Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
    On Bank of America's secure website
  • Honorable mention - cash back Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
    On Bank of America's secure website
On Capital One's secure website

Best for rewards

Current Offer 50,000 miles
Rewards overview Unlimited 2X miles per dollar

Redeem for... Travel statement credit; travel booked through CapitalOne.com; gift cards; and more
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 50000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.74% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Cardholders looking for a fast way to earn miles will get the most out of the . It makes our top credit cards list for the simple fact that you can earn 2x miles per every dollar you spend on purchases. The makes it easy.

How to use it
  • Spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months to earn 50,000 bonus miles.
  • Take this card anywhere and earn 2x miles for every dollar spent.
  • Travel abroad and use this card without worrying about foreign transaction fees.
Consider this

If you like earning miles on everyday purchases but don’t like annual fees, then the might not be for you. (It’s waived for the first year, but $95 annually afterward.) The has a rewards rate of 1.25X miles per dollar spent and a smaller signup bonus, but there’s no annual fee to worry about.

Why you'll love it

The stands among the best credit cards on our list for everyday travel rewards. Being able to earn unlimited 2x miles for every dollar you spend makes saving up for a vacation fast and simple. Also, taking advantage of the signup bonus nets you 50,000 bonus miles (after spending $3,000 within first 3 months), which translates to $500 toward travel.

Back to top
On Chase's secure website

Best for travel

Current Offer 50,000 points
Rewards overview 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Terms Apply.

Redeem for... Travel, eDeposit, statement credit, gift card, cash
Annual Fee $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • Current Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.49% - 24.49% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Overall, the is one of the best credit cards available today. Customers who want a generous signup bonus will appreciate the 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The also features a wide array of redemption options for travel, gift cards, and more.

How to use it
  • Spend $4,000 within the first 3 months to earn 50,000 bonus points
  • Redeem bonus points for airfare, hotels, and more
  • Use card on travel expenses and dining worldwide to earn 2x points
  • Add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months to earn 5,000 bonus points
Consider this

The cardholders who are going to be able to make the most of the are the ones who do a lot of traveling and dining out. For an alternative, we recommend the card, which lets cardholders earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, not just travel and dining.

Why you'll love it

If you find yourself traveling and dining out more often than not, you will enjoy earning rewards with the . In addition to the generous signup bonus, you’ll also love getting 25% more value when you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. (Just to give you an idea of what that looks like: 50,000 bonus points are worth $625 toward travel.)

Back to top
See Rates & Fees On Discover's secure website

Best for cash back

Current Offer First year cash back match
Rewards overview 5% cash back at different places each quarter; 1% on all other purchases

Redeem for... eDeposit, statement credit, charitable donation, or Amazon purchases
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts—Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

Casual card users who like a little variety in their rewards categories as well as a great rewards match program will appreciate the card. Among the best credit cards on this list, the card features great perks including 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

How to use it
  • New cardmembers get a dollar-for-dollar match on cash back earned in your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases –automatically.
  • Redeem cash back for any amount, any time (cash rewards don’t expire).
Consider this

A year can be a long time to wait for that dollar-for-dollar match offered by the card. If you would rather have your reward sooner, you could go with the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® (currently unavailable). With this card, you can get a $200 bonus just by spending $1,000 within the first 3 months.

Why you'll love it

There’s a lot to love about a credit card like the . It lets you redeem your cash back rewards without any fear of those rewards expiring. Plus, the dollar-for-dollar match at the end of the first year can be a real boon. Say you’ve earned $500 cash back within the first year. Suddenly you’re looking at $1,000 thanks to the cash back match.

Back to top
See Rates & Fees On Discover's secure website

Best for balance transfers

Current Offer First year cash back match
Rewards overview 5% cash back at different places each quarter; 1% on all other purchases Terms Apply.

Redeem for... eDeposit, statement credit, charitable donation, or Amazon purchases
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 6 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 18 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

Anyone looking to chip away at mounting credit card debt will find what they’re looking for in the card. You’ll get 18 months of interest-free bliss to pay off an outstanding card debt for balance transfers (then ongoing 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR). The card also comes with a dollar-for-dollar Cashback Match™ at end of the first year.

How to use it
  • Transfer an outstanding credit card balance and pay it off without accruing interest for 18 months and then a ongoing APR of 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases –automatically.
  • New cardmembers get an automatic dollar-for-dollar match on cash back at end of your first year.
Consider this

The intro APR of the is one of the best credit card offers of its kind. However, if you’re trying to finance a new purchase instead of transferring a balance, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® (currently unavailable) might be a better choice. Its 15-month 0% intro APR for purchases is significantly longer than that of the Discover it® Balance Transfer (6 months).

Why you'll love it

The is one of our top credit cards because of its generous window of 0% for 18 months intro APR on balance transfers. So, you can finally have the wiggle room to pay off an outstanding balance with ample time to avoid accruing interest. In addition, many cardholders will appreciate the 6 months of 0% intro APR on purchases (then ongoing 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR for transfers and purchases).

Back to top
Partner Offer On American Express's secure website

Best for groceries & gas

See Rates & Fees
Current Offer $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Rewards overview 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms apply.

Redeem for... Reward Dollars (redeemed as a statement credit)
Annual Fee $95
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 25.74% Variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

Anyone who wants rewards for everyday spending, families in particular, should look into the . With this card, you can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets for up to $6,000 in purchases (per year; drops to 1% after). The also offers 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.

How to use it
  • Pay for your groceries at U.S. supermarkets and earn 6% cash back (up to $6,000 per year; 1% after).
  • Fill up at a U.S. gas station and earn 3% cash back on your purchase.
  • Spend $1,000 in purchases within first 3 months and earn $200 statement credit.
Consider this

The can be a little restricting as your earnings can generally be redeemed just as statement credits. For more flexible redemption options, the is a great alternative. This card lets you rack up the points and redeem them for cash back, discounted travel, and more.

Why you'll love it

Imagine a card with a rewards program that lines up with the regular spending habits of a typical family. The is one such card, allowing you to earn high-rate rewards at many stops on your daily journey. It’s a credit card that makes earning cash back both fast and easy.

Back to top
Partner Offer On American Express's secure website

Best for families

See Rates & Fees
Current Offer $150
Rewards overview 3% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); 2% at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; 1% on other purchases. Terms apply.

Redeem for... Reward Dollars (redeemed as a statement credit)
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 25.74% Variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The is a leading choice for anyone who wants to earn cash back on their everyday spending. Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (drops to 1% after). You can also earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.

How to use it
  • Use on everyday purchases and spend $1,000 within the first 3 months for a $150 bonus.
  • Earn cash back at the grocery store, gas pump, and more with this everyday spending card.
  • Lower your monthly bill when you redeem your rewards as statement credits.
Consider this

If you don’t use your credit card on everyday purchases (groceries, gas, etc.), then you might not get the most out of the . In that case, you might benefit from a card with high-rate rewards in rotating categories. The can offer you 5% cash back on rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases, quarterly when you activate).

Why you'll love it

What’s not to love about a credit card that features a straightforward cash back rewards program? The comes with a rewards plan that falls in line with everyday spending habits. No rotating categories, no elaborate spending strategies – just use the card and start earning cash back.

Back to top
On Bank of America's secure website

Honorable mention - travel

Current Offer 20,000 bonus points
Rewards overview Unlimited 1.5 points per dollar

Redeem for... Travel statement credit
Annual Fee $0.00
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire. 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account.
  • Annual Fee: $0.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

The is among the best credit card offers if you’re a Bank of America customer. Bank of America customers can enjoy an extra 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when they use this card. Additionally, the comes with a signup bonus of 20,000 online bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days.

How to use it
  • Spend with this card and earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar.
  • Add value to your points when you book travel during sales or on discount travel sites.
  • Redeem your points for travel statement credit — flights, hotels, cruises, and much more.
Consider this

A big draw for the is how it offers an extra 10% customer points bonus on purchases to Bank of America customers. At the same time, there are other top cards on our list that offer great rewards regardless of where you do your banking. One such alternative is the card which offers 1.5x miles per dollar spent and has no annual fee.

Why you'll love it

Cardholders will appreciate the freedom and flexibility of the when it comes to booking vacations and earning points. All purchases can yield 1.5 points per dollar spent and you can redeem these points at discount travel sites. Furthermore, Bank of America customers can get even more points with the extra 10% customer points bonus.

Back to top
On Bank of America's secure website

Honorable mention - cash back

Current Offer $150
Rewards overview 3% cash back on gas; 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs; 1% on every purchase

Redeem for... Cash Back
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: 3% cash back on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. 1% cash back on every purchase. 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • Current Offer: $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Annual Fee: $0.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Introductory APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

The is great for families who regularly spend around $600 on groceries every month. It earns 3% cash back on fuel purchases too, so commuters will also benefit. On top of that, it has an incredibly easy-to-earn signup bonus: $150 when least $500 in purchases is made in the first 90 days of account opening.

How to use it
  • Fill up your tank to earn 3% cash back at gas stations.
  • Shop for groceries and earn 2% cash back for every dollar spent for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • Spend at least $500 on any type of purchase to earn the $150 signup bonus in the first 90 days of account opening.
Consider this

If you’re a big family, or you spend more than average on gas and groceries, the might be a better choice. It earns higher rewards (6%) at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year, then 1%. Plus, it earns unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations.

Why you'll love it

The has a simple rewards structure, easy-to-earn $150 signup bonus, and no annual fee. And if you have a Bank of America® account or a qualifying Merrill Lynch Cash Management Account®, you can earn additional customer points bonuses.

Back to top

Best Credit Cards of 2018: summed up

Best for... Credit Card
Rewards
Travel
Cash Back
Balance Transfers
Groceries & Gas
Partner Offer
Families
Partner Offer
Honorable Mention - Travel
Honorable Mention - Cash Back

Additional credit card research

How do you know what card to apply for? If you’re looking for any easy way to compare the best credit cards, check out our search tool below:

Sort By
Card Name
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Perks Tier Level
Common Filters
Great Signup Bonus
Great Perks
No Annual Fee
No APR for 12+ Months
Search
Credit Card
Annual Fee
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Perks Tier Level
Apply Online
Credit Card
Annual Fee
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Perks Tier Level
Apply Online
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent
* (?)
Excellent
$0
Below Average
* (?)
None
* (?)
$0
None
None
* (?)
$95
Below Average
Below Average
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Average
None
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Average
* (?)
None

When should I pay off my credit card bill?

Always strive to pay your credit card balance in full by your statement due date. There’s no better way to build a solid credit history and healthy credit score.

Credit is a powerful tool when seasoned with self control, but left unbridled, it can wreak havoc on your financial future. Case in point: The average American household has $16,000 of credit card debt. If your card has an 18% APR and you’re only making the minimum payment (usually around 3% of the total balance) you’ll rack up over $2,000 in interest charges every month and continue to lose ground.

Paying your credit card off in full also helps to keep your credit utilization ratio low. Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of your available credit that you have used. Credit bureaus use this metric to gauge how responsible you are.

When it comes to credit utilization ratio, low is best. Credit cards can negatively affect your credit utilization if you continuously run large balances.

We recommend keeping your credit utilization for each credit card below 30%. You can track your credit utilization on your credit card with some simple math — (balance ÷ credit limit = ratio).

The exact date you pay your bill matters

Most card issuers report your balance and activity to the credit bureaus once per month. The problem is that the report might be issued before your monthly statement is due. So even if you pay your card in full each month, it will appear to credit bureaus that your utilization ratio is higher than it actually is.

If you’re committed to keeping your credit utilization ratio low, call your credit card helpline, ask when your credit activity is reported, and make sure to pay your balance before that date.

Can you ask for a lower rate on your credit card?

Yes, you can. In fact, a survey of 952 American cardholders found that 69% of people who asked their credit card issuer for a lower interest rate were successful. What’s equally as interesting is that only 25% of people ever take the time to try.

Your interest rate isn’t the only thing you can haggle over. Late payments, annual fees, and credit limits are fair game too. Of all the survey participants who asked:

  • 87% got a late payment fee waiver
  • 69% got a lower interest rate
  • 89% got a higher credit limit
  • 82% had their annual fee waived or reduced

Here’s how to lower your interest rate

Negotiating better rates doesn’t have to be scary. Follow these three primary tactics to improve your chance of success:

  1. Leverage your loyalty. It’s simple: Companies are more willing to work with longtime customers. Your best play is with the company you’ve been doing business with the longest.

  2. Do your homework. Find a better deal and use it to your advantage. Credit card companies need your business. Remember: Over half of the people in the survey scored a better rate simply because they called and asked.

  3. Be persistent. You probably shouldn’t call day after day, but there’s nothing wrong with a little persistence. If at first you’re told “no,” ask to speak to a manager.

Is it better to have a zero balance on a credit card or close it?

It’s not always best to close credit card accounts with a zero balance. Before you take action, consider that closing your account might have an impact on your credit score

How credit utilization affects your credit score

There are five factors that influence your credit score: payment history, age, mix of credit, inquiries, and your credit utilization — which can impact up to 30% of your score. Credit utilization (sometimes referred to as your credit utilization ratio) represents the percentage of your available credit that is currently active.

Imagine you have two credit cards with a total credit limit of $20,000; one with a $5,000 limit and another with a $15,000 limit. On the first card, you have a $3,200 balance, and on the second you have a $0 balance because you just paid it off.

Right now, your credit utilization is at a healthy 16%. If you cancel the second card, your total credit limit will drop to $5,000 and your credit utilization will rise to a whopping 64%. That’s important, because experts say that once your utilization ratio exceeds 30% your credit score may be at risk.

Should I close my card?

It all boils down to how comfortable you are weathering a drop in your credit score. Canceling a card won’t necessarily sabotage your credit report, but we recommend avoiding any scenario that puts your credit at risk before applying for a mortgage, car loan, or apartment. Otherwise, you might not score the best interest rate possible.

Which credit card is best for first-time users?

If you’re new to credit, you might not have enough of a credit history to qualify for some of the best credit cards available. That’s where secured credit cards come into play.

Unlike unsecured credit cards (regular credit cards), secured cards require a down payment. That makes them less risky for lenders, and easier to apply for. Here are a couple of the best secured credit cards for building or repairing your credit history:

  • Best for low fees –

    The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has a minimum security deposit of as little as $49. And if you use your card responsibly for the first five months, you might qualify for a credit limit upgrade with no additional deposit.
  • Best for military members and their families –

    The USAA Secured Card Visa Platinum® Card offers military members and their families an incredibly low APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment and PCS with no foreign transactions fees. Plus, your security deposit will earn interest as a two-year CD (certificate of deposit).

How long does it take to rebuild your credit history?

There is no quick fix for improving a bad credit score — it usually takes a year or two at minimum. The length of time it takes to rebuild your credit history depends on the negative information on your report.

Hard inquiries have the most minimal effect on your credit report and remain on your credit report for only two years. On the other hand, delinquencies (the number of times you’ve fallen behind on credit card payments) can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. Some public record items, like bankruptcy, can impact your report for a whopping 10 years

Can credit cards get wet and still work?

Accidents happen and you may have wondered if your credit card will still work after it gets wet. If you have dropped your credit card in some water or jumped into a pool with it in your pocket, you’re in luck. In most cases, you should be able to dry off the credit card by wiping it off with a towel. However, if you have put your credit card through the washer and/or dryer, there may be complications from it getting bent or creased.

Can credit cards be recycled?

Perhaps you’ve cut up an old credit card and wondered if the plastic could be recycled. Most credit cards are comprised of PVC (number 3 plastic), which is often considered a recycling plastic. However, there are other factors that can complicate the recycling process. Contamination problems from embedded chips and holograms may throw a wrench into the situation. However, we must also stress the importance of protecting your identity. In this case, it might just be better to cut up your card and dispose of it properly.

Google-X’s best credit cards:

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Discover it® Balance Transfer
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
  • Discover it® Cash Back

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our rankings and recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.