The Best Credit Card for Each Type of Spender

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While some rewards and travel credit cards rank as perennial favorites, the truth is that best credit card for your family really depends on how you spend and your ultimate credit goals.

If you just want to earn rewards, choosing a card that lets you maximize your points is probably your best bet. But if you want to build credit or get out of debt, a different type of card will likely leave you better off. And if you don’t put a lot of your purchases on credit, paying an annual fee won’t be worth it, no matter how good the rewards are.

With that in mind, here are some of the best credit cards out there for people with different spending styles and habits:

Best credit card for people who spend a lot on travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is consistently named the top travel credit card on the market, and for good reason. With this card, you’ll earn double points on travel and dining, plus one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The points you’ll earn are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which means you can use them to book travel directly through Chase for 25% more value, or transfer them at a one-to-one rate to popular loyalty programs like Southwest Airlines, United MileagePlus Explorer, Marriott Rewards, and Hyatt Gold Passport.

You can read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to get all the details on each transfer partner, but suffice it to say that being able to transfer points into these programs can be extremely useful if you travel often and know how to maximize them.

In short, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best card for people who spend a lot on travel since it offers double points on all travel and restaurant spending. Meanwhile, it’s also considered the top travel credit card on the redemption side as well. With plenty of transfer partners and some of the most valuable points out there, it’s a smart choice if you use it enough (and earn enough rewards) to justify paying the annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

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 "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 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

Best credit card for people who can maximize 5% categories: Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® card has received numerous mentions for its rewards program, including a nod as the “Best 5% Credit Card” from Money Magazine. What makes this card stand out is the fact that it offers 5% cash back on your first $1,500 spent in bonus categories that rotate every quarter. Other cards offer similar perks, but the Chase Freedom® tends to use categories that are slightly more appealing and mainstream than the competition — making it easier to take advantage of the bonus rewards.

For 2018, 5% categories include gas stations (January through March). Another feature that helps this card stand out is the fact that you can pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (or the Ink Plus Business Credit Card), combine your points, and use them for travel.

*Ink Plus Business Credit Card is currently unavailable

Plus, the Chase Freedom® card lets you redeem your points in several ways on its own – for gift cards, cash back, or purchases made through Amazon.com. Best of all, you’ll never pay an annual fee, so it doesn’t matter if you only use it for the bonus categories or simply don’t use it that often.

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

Best credit card for people who spend on groceries and gas: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you mostly whip out your credit card to pay for groceries and other essentials, it makes sense to get a card that really helps you maximize these categories. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express really stands out in this respect due to its generous bonus categories. Once you sign up, you’ll earn a whopping 6% cash back on your first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This card does charge a $95 annual fee, but it offers a welcome bonus good for twice that amount. And since the bonus categories are so lucrative for people who spend a lot on gas and groceries, we’ll call that a wash at worst.

At the end of the day, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers the best rewards for people who spend a lot on these essentials. If you maximize the U.S. supermarket benefit each year, that’s $360 in cash back alone. It’s hard to beat that with any other cash-back card on the market.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Partner Offer
Apply Now on American Express's secure website

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. 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • 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

Best credit card for students who don’t spend a lot: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Because students are generally trying to build their credit and have less discretionary income, card issuers have come up with specific products just for them. The best student credit cards usually come with lower spending limits but make it easier for young people with limited credit histories to qualify.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is usually considered the best student credit card for a few reasons. First, it allows cardholders to see their FICO® credit score for free on statements and online, which is a huge perk for young people trying to build credit from scratch.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply Now on Discover's secure website

Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.

Best credit card for cautious spenders building credit: Discover it® Secured

When someone can’t get approved for a traditional, unsecured credit card, signing up for a secured credit card can make a lot of sense. With a secured credit card, you’ll have to put down a cash deposit as collateral, which usually acts as your credit limit. However, using your secured card judiciously and cautiously and always paying the bill on time can help your credit score surge over time.

The best secured credit card for people who are actively using credit in an effort to improve their credit score is the Discover it® Secured, and it’s not even close.

Unlike other secured credit cards, the Discover it® Secured doesn’t charge any miscellaneous fees – not even an annual fee. That’s unheard of among secured cards and makes this option a much better deal than anything else on the market.

Discover it® Secured

Apply Now on Discover's secure website

Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It’s a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • We automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.

Best credit card for a large purchase or balance transfer: Chase Slate®

If you don’t want to use credit regularly and are only getting a new credit card to fund a large purchase, it makes sense to get a card with 0% introductory APR. On the flip side, if you have credit card debt at a high interest rate and want to pay it all off, a balance transfer credit card can be a really smart choice.

No matter which category you fall in, the Chase Slate® card should be at the top of your list. With this card, you’ll get 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months — plus no balance transfer fees for the first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future transactions is 5% of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5.

That combination of perks makes this card perfect for people who have a big purchase they want to pay off over time or need to transfer high-interest balances from other cards. And like many of the other top credit cards for different types of spenders, the Chase Slate® card doesn’t charge an annual fee at all.

Please note: The Chase Slate® offer is currently unavailable through this site.

The Bottom Line

The right credit card for each type of spender can vary quite a bit. If you truly want to find the perfect card for your needs, it’s crucial to look beyond the cards on this page and do a little research on your own. The credit card directory below can help you research the different cards available and compare them side by side.

Credit Card Directory

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