Updated on Sep 22, 2017

Best Credit Cards for 2017

Not sure which type of credit card you need? We're here to help.
Andy Bowen
By
Advertiser Disclosure

This page includes analysis of our favorite cards from The Simple Dollar’s advertisers and the marketplace. Visit our advertiser disclosure to learn more.

Whether you want to transfer a balance, remodel your kitchen, or earn travel rewards, there’s a credit card that can help you maximize your spending — and cash in on some cool perks too! We’ve unearthed this year’s best credit cards across categories to help you find the best credit card for your lifestyle. Explore this year’s top picks and sign up in minutes.

The best credit cards for 2017

Best overall

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Signup bonus 50,000 points
Rewards overview Travel, eDeposit, statement credit, gift card, cash

Redeem for... Travel, eDeposit, statement credit, gift card, cash
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 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®
  • 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 airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises 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
  • Sign Up Bonus: 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: Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% 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: 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an exceptionally good choice for jetsetters thanks to unlimited rewards for travel and dining purchases worldwide. Prolific card users will also benefit because it has an exceptionally wide array of redemption options — including discounted travel rewards via Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

How to use it
  • Spend $4,000 in your first 3 months to earn the 50,000-point signup bonus.
  • Use for travel or dining out to earn 2X points.
  • Redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards® for a 25% redemption bonus.
  • Transfer points to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 rate.
Consider this

This card is ideal for folks who already travel frequently because it earns double points on travel (including several types of travel you don’t normally see on other cards) and dining worldwide. If you don’t travel or eat out often, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a cash back card that lets you redeem points toward travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards® — just like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — but you’ll earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make; not just on travel and dining.

Why you'll love it

If you travel often and want to earn free trips, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is pretty much a no-brainer. In addition to the 25% redemption bonus, you’ll enjoy a massive signup bonus, 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs, and travel booking without blackout dates or restrictions when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Your vacation, your way.

Start your application now

Best for balance transfers

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
Signup bonus First year cash back match
Rewards overview 5% in rotating categories; 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:
  • New! Free Social Security Number alerts, we’ll monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.*
  • You could turn $150 into $300 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 6 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 18 months
  • Ongoing APR: 11.99% – 23.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer has one of the longest zero-interest periods for balance transfers out there, so it’s a great choice if you’re paying wads of interest on another, high-APR card. You’ll also earn a dollar-for-dollar match of your first-year cash back earnings thanks to Discover Cashback Match.

How to use it
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 every quarter.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of your first-year earnings thanks to Discover Cashback Match.
  • Avoid paying any interest for 18 months by transferring your credit card balance.
Consider this

If you’re interested in transferring a balance and financing a new purchase at 0% intro APR, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® might be a great consideration for your balance transfer. You’ll only get a 15-month 0% intro APR period for balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the account (three months less than the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer), but it offers much longer 0% intro APR period for purchases (15 months compared to six months).

Why you'll love it

The Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer has one of the most generous zero-interest balance transfer periods on the market (just remember that there’s a 3% fee for each balance transfer). The high-reward, rotating 5% cash back categories aren’t anything to sneeze at either. Finally, it also has a 6-month 0% intro APR for purchases, which is great for large purchases like a new washing machine or HVAC.

Start your application now

Best for families

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Signup bonus $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Rewards Summary 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.

Redeem for... Reward Dollars (redeemed as a statement credit)
Annual Fee $95 See Details
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 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • 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%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • Annual Fee: $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% 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: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re an everyday card user, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a perfect fit because it offers some of the highest rewards rates around: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for the first $6,000, then 1%) and 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.

How to use it
  • Use at U.S. supermarkets and earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
  • Earn 3% cash back at U.S gas stations and select U.S. department stores, then 1% on everything else.
  • Redeem Rewards Dollars for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months to get the $200 statement credit that can be applied toward your balance.
Consider this

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has some of the highest rates available, but your earnings can only be redeemed as a statement credit. If you’d like to rack up points that you can redeem for a wide variety of rewards, like cash back and discounted travel, take a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — it has some of the most flexible redemption options available. Plus, if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, you’ll earn a 50,000-point signup bonus worth $625 toward travel when booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Why you'll love it

High-rate everyday rewards. A nice signup bonus. And rewards points you can redeem as a statement credit to reimburse yourself for any purchase. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express makes earning rewards on the purchases you’re making anyway quick and easy.

Start your application now

Best for everyday travel rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Signup bonus 40,000 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; $59 after that
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • 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; $59 after that
  • Get a metal Venture Card when you apply today
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 40000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $59 after that
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.99% (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: 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Strong rewards potential on everyday purchases makes the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card ideal for frugal spenders looking to earn rewards toward their next vacation. With 2X miles on every purchase, every day, there’s no need to track your spending in particular categories. And since miles are redeemable for a travel statement credit, you can stretch your miles even further by booking through a discount travel site or during a sale. Eligible purchases like airfare and hotels are covered, no matter how you book.

How to use it
  • Spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months to earn 40,000 bonus miles.
  • Make the most of your miles by redeeming for travel statement credit or for travel booked through CapitalOne.com. Eligible purchases include airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more.
  • Traveling abroad? Use this card while you’re traveling to avoid foreign transaction fees.
  • Take advantage of complimentary, 24-hour concierge service through Visa Signature Concierge.
Consider this

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has incredibly flexible travel rewards and a hefty signup bonus, but they come at the expense of an annual fee. If you’re looking for an everyday travel card without a fee, this card’s little brother is a comparable option. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card has a lower rewards rate (1.25 miles per dollar spent on purchases) and the signup bonus is cut in half (from 40,000 points to 20,000 points), but it does come with the same redemption flexibility without the annual fee.

Why you'll love it

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase that you can redeem for a variety of travel related rewards. (Each mile has a dollar value of one cent, which is higher than most.) The signup bonus is also attractive: 40,000 mile signup bonus worth $400 in travel if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Start your application now

Best for everyday cash back

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Signup bonus $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.
  • No annual fee.
  • 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 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • 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%).
  • Annual Fee: $0 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% 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: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a strong choice for anyone who wants to earn cash back on everyday purchases without having to keep up with rotating categories or activation periods. Its high rewards make it a solid option for regular shoppers: 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 2% cash back at select U.S. department stores and U.S. gas stations.

How to use it
  • Focus your spending on U.S supermarkets to earn 3% cash back (on the first $6,000) and U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores to earn unlimited 2% cash back. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Use the 15-month 0% intro APR to pay off balance transfers or large purchases without incurring interest.
  • Redeem your rewards as statement credits to lower your monthly bill.
Consider this

If you aren’t an everyday card user (meaning you don’t regularly use your card for things like groceries and gas), a high-rate rewards card like the Chase Freedom®, which earns 5% cash back on rotating categories on up to $1,500 each quarter, could be a good fit. And if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening your account, you’ll get a $150 signup bonus that you can redeem for a variety of rewards, including travel booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. (If you do use it for travel, your points will be worth 25% more!)

Why you'll love it

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a straightforward, convenient approach to cash back. Its categories align with most people’s monthly spending. And because there are no rotating categories to watch or sign up for, earning rewards is as simple as using the card.

Start your application now

Best no-fee travel card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Signup bonus 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 - 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 15.99% - 23.99% 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: 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account. 1.5 points on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
  • 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: 15.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

Bank of America account holders have the most to gain from the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card because they get an extra 10% points bonus on every purchase. It’s also a great choice if you want flexible travel options (your travel statement credit can be applied to all sorts of travel expenses) without an annual fee.

How to use it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5X points per dollar.
  • Spend $1,000 in your first 90 days to earn the signup bonus.
  • Book travel during sales or on discount travel sites to make the most of your bonus points.
  • Redeem points for a travel statement credit. Eligible purchases include flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.
Consider this

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card isn’t the only travel rewards card without a fee. The Discover it® Miles also has no fee and earns similar 1.5X miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. The difference is, instead of a signup bonus, the Discover it® Miles includes a mile-for-mile match of your first-year earnings, which could wind up being much more valuable than the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card‘s $200 statement credit toward travel purchases if you use your card a lot — plus there’s no minimum spending requirement to earn it.

Why you'll love it

With the ability to earn unlimited 1.5X points per dollar and no annual fee, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card gives you the flexibility to book your vacation your way. For extra savings, you can purchase via your favorite discount travel site or during a sale, then reimburse yourself with a travel statement credit. And the deal is even sweeter for current Bank of America customers, who will get a 10% customer points bonus on every purchase. (Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%!)

Start your application now

Best hotel credit card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Signup bonus 25,000 Starpoints®
Rewards overview 2 Starpoints® per dollar at SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels; 1 Starpoint for all other purchases. Terms apply.

Redeem for... Hotel and resort stays, airfare
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% 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: 16.24% - 20.24% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is great for avid explorers thanks to its high earning potential (2 Starpoints® per dollar) at SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels across the world, including Aloft, Sheraton, and Courtyard Marriott. The card also includes a couple of really useful perks for business travelers: unlimited in-flight WiFi from Boingo and premium on-property internet access.

How to use it
  • Earn 2X Starpoints® per dollar of eligible purchases when you stay at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties and 1X Starpoints® on all other purchases.
  • Spend $3,000 in the first three months to get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® — that’s enough for two free nights at any Category 4 hotel.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at participating hotels and resorts, or flights when booked through SPG® Flights.
Consider this

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has a wide network of hotels to choose from, but if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is worth a look. It has one of the smallest annual fees out there ($49), and it’s waived for year one. The card also comes with a huge 80,000-point signup bonus (if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months) and a solid rewards rate of 5X points per dollar spent at IGH Hotels, including Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites.

Why you'll love it

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a great option for the traveler with a preference for the properties within the SPG®/Marriott Rewards® umbrella. Redeem your rewards at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in 100 countries—and flights on more than 150 airlines—with no blackout dates. And use this card when you travel abroad; it has no foreign transaction fees.

Start your application now

Best rewards matching

Discover it® - Cashback Match™
Signup bonus First year cash back match
Rewards overview 5% in rotating categories; 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:
  • New! Free Social Security Number alerts, we’ll monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.*
  • You could turn $150 into $300 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 11.99% – 23.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ is a great entry level cash back card that’s perfect if you’re a casual card user who wants to earn cash back — as long as you’re OK with keeping up with high-reward bonus categories that change each quarter, that is. (The categories are focused on everyday spending and have included online retailers, wholesale clubs, and gas stations in the past.) There’s also a pretty great signup bonus: Discover will match your first-year cash back earnings dollar for dollar.

How to use it
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories and an unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of cash back earned at the end of your first year with Cashback Match.
  • Use the 14-month 0% intro APR period to pay off balance transfer and big purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back in a variety of options, including eDeposit, statement credits, and Amazon purchases.
Consider this

With the Discover it® Cashback Match™, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar match of all your cash back earnings at the end of the year — which could be pretty valuable, depending on how much you use your card. If you don’t want to wait that long for a bonus, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® has one of higher cash back signup bonuses out there ($200), and you can earn it within the first three months by spending at least $1,000 on purchases (which is a relatively affordable spending requirement).

Why you'll love it

This card works a lot like the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer: great cash back rates in rotating categories; free FICO® Credit Score; award-winning customer service; no annual fee. Here’s the difference: the Discover it® Cashback Match™ offers longer 0% intro APR for purchases, while the balance transfer offer offers longer intro APR for balance transfers. Both are solid cash back cards if your spending falls in line with Discover’s rotating categories.

Start your application now

Best cash back redemption bonus

Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard®
Signup bonus $200
Rewards overview Unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase

Redeem for... Statement credit, bank deposit, or gift card
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Barclaycard Show Highlights
  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase. Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
  • Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50
  • Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases.
  • Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months for each balance transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that a variable APR will apply, 15.99%, 20.99% or 25.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • Issuer: Barclaycard
  • Rewards Details: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase. Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of each balance transfer; not less than $5
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
  • Ongoing APR: 15.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® is great for prolific card users thanks to a unique reward: You get 5% of your rewards back every time you redeem. And if you’re looking for a great signup bonus, it has a slightly better offer ($200) compared to other no-fee cash back cards, which usually peak out at $150.

How to use it
  • Spend $1000 in your first 90 days after account opening to earn the signup bonus.
  • Earn 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase you make on the card.
  • Pay off balance transfers during the 15 month 0% APR intro period.
  • Redeem cash rewards for statement credits, bank deposits, or gift cards for a 5% bonus toward your next redemption.
Consider this

The Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. That’s great, but depending on your spending habits, you might be able to earn more with a higher-rate cash back card like the Chase Freedom®. It gets 5% cash back in rotating categories, and there’s no minimum requirement to redeem. It’s also a good alternative if you were interested in the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® 0% intro interest period: The Chase Freedom® has the same 15-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers.

Why you'll love it

The Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® gives you unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase you make. You won’t have to track or sign up for rotating bonus categories to earn your rewards. For straightforward cash back and a card that’s accepted almost everywhere, you could definitely do worse.

Start your application now

Best airline credit card

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Signup bonus 30,000 bonus miles
Rewards overview 2 Miles/dollar on purchases made directly with Delta; 1 mile/dollar on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.

Redeem for... Travel with Delta and 15+ travel partners
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% 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: 16.74% - 25.74% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you fly often and Delta is your airline of choice, bring this card in for a landing. Regular Delta customers will revel in the solid rewards and perks that come along with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. We’re talking about discounts on snacks and beverages during your flight, free bag checks, Priority Boarding, private restrooms, and more.

How to use it
  • Earn 2X miles per dollar you spend on Delta travel purchases and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months to earn 30,000 bonus miles. (Plus a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your card during the same timeframe.)
  • Redeem your miles for travel at Delta and 15+ travel partners.
Consider this

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is ideal for Delta customers — as long as you don’t mind a $95 annual fee (the fee is waived for year one). If you fly Southwest, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earns unlimited 2X points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and rental car purchases. It also offers a great signup bonus right now: 60,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months after your account is open. Note: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has a 3% foreign transaction fee (in U.S. dollars), while the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express does not.

Why you'll love it

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express has a lot to offer a frequent flyer. There’s the generous signup bonus. And perks like free priority boarding and $0 foreign transaction fees that will be super-convenient each time you travel. Oh yeah—and that free checked back offers a savings of $200 per round trip for a family of four! (If you travel alone with one checked bag, the savings on baggage fees will cover the cost of your annual fee in just two flights.) Altogether, if you’re a Delta fan, this card is a great travel companion.

Start your application now

Best Credit Cards of 2017: summed up

How should I choose the right credit card?

Picking the right credit card is dependent on two key things: your spending style and personal credit goals. Are you trying to build credit? Perhaps you fly a lot for work and could start taking advantage of your purchases by earning travel rewards? Maybe you don’t know what you want at all. That’s OK! Here are a few scenarios to help you figure out where you fit in the equation and find the right card.

“I want free travel and perks.”

If you’re a jetsetter, a travel card is the way to go. Not only will you earn points and miles on a huge variety of travel purchases (anything from airfare to buses to parking garages), many travel cards include great perks and benefits that make your trip a much more pleasant experience. Take The Platinum Card® from American Express, for example. Just by owning the card, you get free access to over 1,000 Amex Centurion lounges worldwide, plus perks like complimentary WiFi at locations worldwide and an automatic upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold Status.

Pro tip

Many travel cards also give you the option to transfer your points to travel loyalty programs like Delta Skymiles or United MileagePlus. Remember: only do this if you’re getting a good value for your points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best: it offers a 1:1 points value transfer to its partners. But not all cards have an equally generous transfer value. If you’re already invested in a travel loyalty program, research the transfer value before signing up for a new card.

What to look for

If travel is your number one goal, you’ll want a credit card that earns at least 2X points on travel and has tons of flexibility, including allowing you to transfer points to hotel and airline loyalty programs. Also, many of the best travel credit cards offer additional travel benefits like trip cancellation coverage, primary and secondary auto rental coverage, and emergency travel assistance.

Consider this

Most travel cards have annual fees, which are well worth the price if you earn enough points each year to justify the fee. You will also need excellent credit for most top travel cards.

“I’m looking for the best sign-up bonus right now.”

While it’s smart to think about the ongoing rewards you can earn, scoring a huge sign-up bonus doesn’t hurt, either. Fortunately, a ton of credit cards offer huge bonuses to people who are able to meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months. While these sign-up bonuses can come in the form of cash back, you can also earn gift cards, airline miles, free hotel stays, and hotel points as well.

What to look for

Credit card sign-up bonuses are often cyclical with a peak season generally in the summer months, although some top travel cards offer healthy bonuses all year round. Sign-up bonuses are highest on rewards cards and travel cards, but make sure the one-time bonus is worth it. Often the largest point bonuses are on hotel cards, which offer little long-term value unless you travel frequently or only stay at one hotel chain. If you only travel one to two times per year, you will probably not earn enough points to justify the annual fee.

Consider this

Since most cards with big bonuses come with a minimum spending requirement, you’ll need to make sure you can hit that requirement without hurting your finances. Also, make sure the “bonus” you earn is something you can actually use. For example, a sign-up bonus made up of airline miles will only be useful if you plan to travel and can actually fly that airline.

“I want to earn cash back on my spending.”

If you’re new to credit cards, cash back cards are a great way to cut your teeth and build credit, because they generally don’t require a perfect credit score for approval. Here’s how they work: you’ll earn cash back on all purchases that you make. Some of those purchases will fall into bonus categories (like restaurants, gas stations, or supermarkets), which offer extremely high rewards rates — we’ve seen cards hit as much as 6% cash back. The rest of your purchases will usually earn between 1% and 2% cash back.

It’s important to remember that not all “cash back” cards actually give you cash back. Some of the more flexible cash back cards let you redeem cash back for gift cards, or have the money transferred directly to your bank account. Others allow you to redeem cash back for a statement credit, which essentially means you can use your rewards to wipe out debts on your bill. (Note: some cards only allow you to apply statement credits toward certain types of purchases, so make so you read up before committing to a card.)

What to look for

A cash back card is ideal when used as either your first credit card (they usually don’t require a great credit rating like some premium or travel rewards cards), or a complement to a higher-earning rewards card. Use cash back cards to maximize rewards on groceries, gas, and other categories where your rewards card might not earn bonus points.

Consider this

Cash back cards often rotate their bonus categories on a quarterly schedule. This means that you might earn 5% back on gas for the first three months of the year, and then groceries in the second quarter. Also, despite the allure of high earnings, cash back cards often cap the points you can earn in a given quarter.

“I need to reduce my interest rate.”

One way to avoid high-interest credit card payments is to transfer your balance to a new credit card. When you do this, make sure it’s a credit card that will either accept your balance without charging a fee or offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for over a year. This gives you time to pay off your large balance.

What to look for

If you’re carrying credit card debt at a high interest rate, look for a card with a low interest rate or 0% introductory APR for anywhere between 12 to 21 months. Depending on how much you owe and your current rate, the interest you save could add up quick. And when you’re not paying huge interest payments every month, you may be able to get out of debt faster.

Consider this

Most 0% introductory APR cards carry a fee for transferring your balance to the new card. This fee is usually between 3% and 5% of your total balance. The Chase Slate® card waives this fee if the balance is transferred within 60 days from a non-Chase credit card.

“I need to build credit.”

Building credit is an important step in your financial journey, and using a credit card responsibly is the quickest way to build credit. However, when you do not have credit history, it can be difficult to obtain a card. There are two types of credit cards for building credit: unsecured and secured. Most credit cards are unsecured and do not require a cash deposit to use. A secured credit card is needed in more extreme circumstances where you need to “secure” your line of credit by depositing a cash amount equal to what you want to borrow.

What to look for

If your goal is building credit, rewards should take a back seat for the time being. Instead of looking for the top rewards credit cards, you should home in on cards geared to people with poor or evolving credit. If you can, you’ll want to get an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require a deposit.

Consider this

You might have to apply for a secured credit card if your credit score is extremely low or if your credit history is limited. With a secured credit card, you would need to deposit $200-$500 with the credit card company in order to receive a $200-$500 line of credit. This sounds like a big barrier, but with a few months of on-time payments, you can reasonably expect to have the deposit requirement lifted.

Read our reviews for Best Credit Cards for Average Credit, Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit, and Best Student Credit Cards to find one that’s right for you.

“I don’t know what I need.”

If you’re still unsure which type of card would benefit you the most, browsing them all can help you compare and contrast. Take a look at our credit card database below.

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How to Make The Right Credit Card Work For You

When used correctly, credit cards are powerful tools to help manage cash flow, and “earn” on your everyday spending. However, used improperly, credit cards can wreak havoc on your finances. Below are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your credit card.

Research your rewards program

This is where it really pays to read the fine print. It takes a bit of digging, but it’s always worth it.

Take this for example: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express owners get their first checked bag free on every Delta flight. It’s a great perk that’s plastered at the front of the offer page. But without scrutinizing the fine print, you might not learn that cardholders also get up to $500 of checked baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, and discounts on eligible in-flight purchases. If you aren’t aware of all your perks, you probably won’t get the maximum benefit from your card.

Likewise, if you don’t understand all the rules surrounding your rewards, there’s a big chance you won’t get the wonderful experience you were hoping for.

Let’s say you’re an super frequent shopper and you love the idea of earning 5% cash back on bonus category purchases with the Chase Freedom®. You sign up for the card, and your first rotating 5% bonus category on the Chase cash back calendar is U.S. restaurants. So you eat out. A lot. And at the end of the quarter, you’re stunned to find that you only earned 1% cash back on all your dining, not 5%. Why? Because Chase requires you to activate bonus categories from your account at the start of each quarter, otherwise you don’t get the benefit. If you don’t read the rules and regulations, you mind wind up in a similar scenario.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Multiple Cards

A huge misconception in the world of credit cards is that it is bad for your credit to have more than one or two cards. Because a large percentage of your credit score is based on your balance-to-limit ratio, having a large credit limit spread over several cards and a zero balance can actually be better for your credit score than just one card. It’s not an exact science, but in order to maintain an above average credit score, experts recommend that your credit utilization ratio should never exceed 30%. In other words, the balance on each card you own should never exceed 30% of your available credit line. So if one of your cards has a maximum credit line of $10,000, try to keep the balance below $3,000. Carrying multiple cards also helps you leverage the different benefits and perks that different types of rewards cards have to offer. For example, you could get a hotel card for free hotel stays and a cash-back card to help you pay for the gas to get to your destination.

Always treat your credit card like cash

In order to maximize rewards without getting in trouble, you need to treat your credit card like cash. This means only spending amounts you have incoming each month and not a penny more. (That’s where a budget comes in super handy.) The quickest way to enter the credit card downward spiral is to use a credit card to make a large purchase you cannot afford. If you don’t have the cash to pay for something, don’t use credit as an excuse to justify the purchase. Only charge what you can afford to pay off each month — period.

Further reading: The Simple Dollar’s guide to choosing a budget.

Cash In on Hidden Benefits

Although the best credit cards offer a slew of obvious benefits including cash back and travel rewards, many offer a handful of hidden perks that aren’t always advertised. You might have to dig deeper to find them, but these “extras” can truly come in handy. If used correctly, they can even help you save money, travel safer, and protect yourself from undue risk. Here are a few credit card benefits not everyone knows about, and some information on how each one works:

Benefit #1: Zero Liability

Although consumer liability for fraudulent purchases made on credit is limited to $50, the best cards take that protection a step further and offer zero liability for transactions you didn’t make. If your card is lost or stolen, or if a random charge appears on your bill, you won’t be liable if you report it immediately.

Benefit #2: No Foreign Transaction Fees

Many of the best credit cards on the market charge a foreign transaction fee equal to 3% of your purchase for charges made overseas. However, some waive this fee altogether — a feature that can help you save when you travel out of the country.

Pro Tip

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great choice if you’re worried about foreign transaction fees because not only does it feature 0% foreign transaction fee it earns 2X points on dining worldwide. The average international traveler spends about $30 per day at restaurants. If you’re a family of four, that could easily add up to over $400 during a week’s vacation. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll save on fees and earn rewards points when you dine overseas.

Benefit #3: Rental Car Coverage

If you rent cars frequently, you have probably already checked to make sure your personal auto policy provides this type of coverage. However, it’s also important to check with your credit card as well. While some cards only offer a secondary Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), others offer expensive primary auto rental coverage as a free perk to cardholders.

Benefit #4: A Free FICO Score

Although you can pay to get your FICO score at any time, several of the top rewards cards offer a free FICO score on your monthly statement or bill. This can save you the expense of paying to see your credit score, while also helping you monitor fluctuations in your score over time.

Benefit #5: Emergency Travel Assistance

If you find yourself in a bind, it is possible your card issuer could help. That’s because many of the best rewards cards offer emergency travel assistance for individuals traveling at least 100 miles from home. Perks include helping find lost luggage to booking alternative travel plans.

Benefit #6: Free Travel Insurance

Although benefits vary, several of the top rewards cards offer trip delay or trip cancellation insurance that will reimburse you if your itinerary is changed due to issues beyond your control. This type of insurance is most often used when a trip is canceled due to the unexpected death of a family member, an accident occurs, or a natural disaster puts travel plans on the back burner.

Benefit #7: Extended Warranties

Many of the top cards offer extended warranties that kick in if something goes wrong outside of a qualified item’s traditional one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Depending on the circumstances, this type of coverage usually reimburses you or sends you a replacement.

Benefit #8: Price Protection

Some cards offer price protection, which will pay you the difference on a large-ticket item if it goes on sale shortly after you purchase it. The most popular program is Citi’s Price Rewind. With Citi’s service, you will be automatically reimbursed for the price difference if any large item you buy and register is found at a lower price within 60 days.

Benefit #9: Roadside Assistance

If you have a credit card that offers roadside assistance and you experience a breakdown, all you need to do is call the number on the back of your card. You’ll be charged a flat fee depending on what type of service you require, but at least you won’t be left at the mercy of your local tow truck company.

Benefit #10 Access to Cash

While not common, some credit cards give you access to cash at the register similar to your debit card. For example, with Discover’s Cash Over program, you can request cash back at the register and avoid a trip to the ATM — and without paying any fees. This benefit is only available at participating stores.

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