Credit cards reviewed on The Simple Dollar go through a thorough vetting process where each benefit, fee, and feature is assessed independently. Reviewers consider these factors individually and as a whole to determine the value proposition and greatest strength each card offers consumers. Editors oversee the rating process as well, ensuring individual reviewers are held to the highest standards when it comes to the quality and integrity of their assessment.
The Simple Dollar may assign different values to individual card features based on the category the card falls in. For example, a travel credit card will ultimately be scrutinized more on its travel benefits and rewards program than on its other features. A balance transfer credit card, on the other hand, will be scored more heavily on its balance transfer offer and terms.
At The Simple Dollar, we strive to offer information that is honest and helpful for consumers. Read below for more information on how we rank credit cards based on their audience and objective:
Balance Transfer: When it comes to 0% APR balance transfer cards, we consider the length of the introductory offer, applicable fees such as a balance transfer fee, and cardholder perks. We also consider how each offer stacks up to its competition; for example, we give preference to cards that offer longer 0% introductory offers than others, or lower transfer fees. Ongoing variable APRs are also considered, since balance transfer offers are extended on a temporary basis.
Travel: Travel credit cards are vetted based on earning categories, introductory offers, and any travel perks they offer, such as airport lounge access, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, or baggage delay coverage. Preference is always given to cards that offer the option to transfer points or to redeem them in more than one way. Annual fees are also considered in respect to each card’s value proposition. We do not consider interest rates when evaluating travel credit cards since consumers should not carry a balance if they’re pursuing travel rewards.
Hotel and Airline: Hotel and airline credit cards are evaluated much like travel credit cards with earnings categories, introductory offers, and travel perks holding the most weight. Perks such as elite status, room upgrades, or free checked bags also help hotel and airline cards score well. Cards with low annual fees or fees waived the first year also tend to score well when compared to cards with high fees. We do not consider interest rates when evaluating hotel and airline credit cards since consumers should not carry a balance if they’re pursuing travel rewards.
Cash-Back: Cash-back cards are compared based on the rate of return they offer, whether it’s fixed, tiered with bonus categories, or variable with categories that rotate each quarter. Cards that offer more than one way to redeem rewards are typically rated better than cards that only let you redeem for statement credits. Most cash-back credit cards come without any annual fees, but fees are still considered if applicable. We typically do not consider ongoing interest rates when evaluating cash-back credit cards, although cards offering introductory 0% APR periods can score higher than those that do not.
Low Interest: Low-interest credit cards are evaluated based on their interest rates, including both introductory offers and ongoing APRs. Fees and cardholder perks are also considered and compared. The best low-interest credit cards come with no annual fee.
Fair or Bad Credit: Credit cards for fair or poor credit are compared based on their fees, ongoing APRs, and availability to consumers with low credit scores. The best credit cards for consumers with bad credit should be easy to qualify for, come without an annual fee, and report to the three credit reporting agencies.
Secured: Secured credit cards are considered based on their collateral requirements, ongoing APRs, fees, and cardholder perks. Cards without an annual fee tend to rank highly since secured cards tend to come with more fees overall.
Business: Business credit cards are reviewed based on how well they serve the specific audience they’re aimed at. For example, business rewards cards may be assessed more on their rewards programs and earning categories, while low-interest business credit cards meant to provide working capital are evaluated based on interest rates and fees.