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Originally Published: Jul 02, 2024
Originally Published: Jul 02, 2024 Last Updated: Jul 19, 2024 52 min read

Best Credit Cards Main Takeaways

  • Credit cards can provide numerous benefits, including cash back, miles, points, insurance policies and extended warranties.
  • Money has evaluated hundreds of cards to find the best of the best in each category.
  • Our top picks include cards with no or low annual fees that can reward your everyday purchases whether it's on groceries, gas or travel.

Why Trust Us?

Our editorial team has spent well over a thousand hours analyzing, evaluating and comparing the top credit card offers in the market. We carefully vet each card’s fine print in order to understand their features, limitations and potential benefits for consumers.

We review cards independently, ensuring our content is accurate and guided by editorial integrity. Read our full methodology to learn more.

  • 100+ credit cards evaluated
  • 10+ data points used, including ongoing fees, reward programs and welcome offers
  • 200+ sources reviewed
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Our Pick for Groceries and GasBest No-Annual-Fee Credit Card for Dining and TravelingBest No-Annual-Fee Credit Card for Insurance Coverage and Bonus CategoriesBest Low-Annual-Fee Credit Card for Business ExpensesUnlimited 1.5% Cash Back on Business PurchasesBest Credit Card for Luxury Perks
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Logo
Capital One Savor One Cash Rewards Credit Card Logo
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card Logo
Chase Ink Business Preferred<sup>&reg;</sup> Credit Card Logo
Chase Ink Business Unlimited<sup>SM</sup>  Credit Card Logo
The Platinum Card® from American Express Logo
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressCapital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardChase Freedom Unlimited®Ink Business Preferred® Credit CardInk Business Unlimited® Credit CardThe Platinum Card® from American Express
Our PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur Partner Our PartnerOur Partner
Annual Feeannual_fees (See here for rates and fees) annual_feesannual_feesannual_feesannual_feesannual_fees (See here for rates and fees)
Rewardsbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_full

bonus_miles_fullbonus_miles_full
Our Pick for Groceries and Gas
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Our Partner
Learn More
Annual Fee
annual_fees (See here for rates and fees)
Rewards
bonus_miles_full
Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Card for Dining and Traveling
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our Partner
Learn More
Annual Fee
annual_fees
Rewards
bonus_miles_full
Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Card for Insurance Coverage and Bonus Categories
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Our Partner
Learn More
Annual Fee
annual_fees
Rewards
bonus_miles_full
Best Low-Annual-Fee Credit Card for Business Expenses
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Our Partner
Learn More
Annual Fee
annual_fees
Rewards
bonus_miles_full

Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on Business Purchases
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Our Partner
Learn More
Annual Fee
annual_fees
Rewards
bonus_miles_full
Best Credit Card for Luxury Perks
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Our Partner
Learn More
Annual Fee
annual_fees (See here for rates and fees)
Rewards
bonus_miles_full

Money.com has partnered with CardRatings.com for our coverage of credit card products. Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Our top picks are listed in alphabetical order.

Our Top Picks for the Best Credit Cards of July 2024

Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Best Low-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Best Premium Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Beginners

Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Cards

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Best Credit Cards Reviews

Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Pros
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to the first $6,000 spent each year on eligible purchases, then 1%
  • Purchase protection* included
  • 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations up to the first $6,000 spent each year on eligible purchases, then 1%
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • No travel insurance
  • $6,000 threshold for the highest reward rate could be too low for some
HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Purchase protection

Terms apply. Click here for applicable rates and fees.

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration and balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type Annual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express from American Express offers high cash back rates at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, two of the largest household expenses.

This no-annual-fee card by American Express® is a great option if you’re looking to save on groceries, gas and everyday purchases. It offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and online purchases from U.S. retailers up to the first $6,000 in each of the categories, 1% thereafter. (Terms apply.)

Not only does it offer high cash back in these popular categories, but it also offers statement credits for the Disney+ Bundle on up to $84 a year as 12 statement credits (if you’re paying over $9.99 a month for the bundle with your card) and Home Chef ($15 a month for up to $180 a year in statement credits). Terms apply, both subscriptions are subject to auto-renewal.

Its biggest drawbacks are the lack of insurance coverage beyond purchase protection, and the 2.7% foreign transaction fee, which makes it a poor choice for anybody looking for travel benefits.

Pros
  • 3% back on dining and entertainment
  • Up to 8% cash back on entertainment when buying through Capital One Entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fee
Cons
  • Not as much insurance coverage as some direct competitors
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Extended warranty and travel accident insurance

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration and balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type Annual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers high rates of cash back on dining and entertainment, along with travel accident insurance and no foreign transaction fees.

While its 3% cash-back rewards on dining is about equal to some competitors, its 3% back on theaters, concerts and sporting events make the Capital One SavorOne the perfect card for a night out.

Cardholders can also earn 5% on hotels and rental cars when booking through Capital One Travel. On top of that, it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee and includes travel accident insurance. This makes it a good no-annual-fee option for international travel.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t include rental car insurance or any coverage for flights and baggage.

Pros
  • 5% on travel purchases made through Chase Travel℠
  • No cap on rewards
  • Wide array of protection and insurance policies
Cons
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Purchase protection, extended warranty, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration and balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type Annual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: Among no-annual-fee credit cards, the card_name offers some of the highest cash back rates and the most insurance coverage.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® provides unlimited 1.5% on purchases, plus 5% on travel through Chase Travel℠, 3% on dining and 3% on drugstore purchases. Cardholders also receive frequent offers through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, such as increased cash back at specific retailers, all the way up to 20% sometimes.

The card also offers a significant amount of insurance coverage, which includes purchase protection and extended warranty for eligible purchases. For travel, the card includes trip cancellation or interruption insurance as well as an auto collision damage waiver for rental cars.

Although it’s a great credit card for domestic travel, it does charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, making it less than ideal for use during international trips.

Pros
  • 5% back on select business categories on the first $25,000 spent each year, 1% thereafter
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty on qualifying purchases
Cons
  • Cap on 5% and 2% categories could be too low for some businesses
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Purchase protection, extended warranty and auto rental collision damage waiver

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type Annual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card takes its business name seriously, offering rewards on important categories such as office supplies and internet services.

For small businesses, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers arguably the most value of any card in the market with 5% cash back on certain business-related expenses, including office supplies, as well as internet and phone services (up to the first $25,000 combined, 1% thereafter). It also offers 2% on restaurants and gas up to the first $25,000 too, 1% after that.

The card includes solid insurance coverage as well, including purchase protection, extended warranty and secondary rental insurance.

Unfortunately, it does charge a foreign transaction fee, so if your business takes you out of the U.S., it might not be the best option.

Best Low-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Pros
  • 6% back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year, 1% thereafter
  • 3% back on gas at U.S. gas stations and eligible transit expenses
  • Secondary rental insurance**, purchase protection and extended warranty*
Cons
  • annual_fees
  • A $6,000 max on highest reward rates might be too low for some

Terms apply. Click here for rates and fees.

HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection
Return protection, rental car insurance, extended warranty and purchase protection*

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration and balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_typeAnnual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The card_name is an excellent option for families trying to get the most out of everyday spending, thanks to excellent cash-back rewards on food and transportation.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express gives back an unmatched 6% — more than double what most cards offer — on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to the first $6,000 spent, 1% thereafter) and eligible streaming subscriptions, including Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. (Terms apply. Streaming services require enrollment and are subject to auto-renewal.)

The card also offers 3% cash back on gas purchases in the U.S. and other expenses in the transit category, such as tolls, parking, taxis, trains and more. Essentially, whatever your means of transportation, you’re going to earn rewards. On other purchases, cardholders will get 1% cash back. (Terms apply.)

While it does have an annual fee, this card’s cash-back rate is high enough to make up for it. Of course, it’s important to make sure the $95 annual fee is worth it for your particular situation. For example, if you’re a single person who rarely buys groceries, then you probably won’t get as much value from this card as a prolific cook or a family of four.

Pros
  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance and trip delay reimbursement
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • Auto rental collision waiver is primary coverage
Cons
  • No statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection and extended warranty

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_typeAnnual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers excellent insurance coverage and a wide variety of travel rewards categories for a low annual fee of $95.

When it comes to travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card covers a lot of bases. First, it offers 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Travel, and when those points are redeemed for travel through the same portal, they’re worth 25% more. This means that if you have $1,000 in points for a flight ticket, you technically have $1,250.

Cardholders can also earn up to $50 in statement credits for hotel purchases made through Chase Travel and, on each account anniversary, a point bonus equaling 10% of what you spent throughout the year.

One of the card’s main highlights is the insurance coverage it offers travelers. There’s flight cancellation and interruption insurance, as well as trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance. Even more noteworthy, it offers primary rental insurance, which covers up to the cash value of the car.

When it comes to day-to-day spending, you can earn 3x points on dining, online grocery stores (excluding Target®, Walmart® and wholesale clubs) and select streaming services, which makes it much easier to rack up points to use for travel.

Pros
  • 3x points on eligible business-related purchases on the first combined $150,000 spent each year (1x point thereafter)
  • 25% additional point value when redeeming for travel through Chase Travel
  • Low annual_fees annual fee
Cons
  • No annual statement credits
  • $150,000 cap is low for large businesses
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, rental collision waiver, cell phone protection, purchase protection and extended warranty

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_typeAnnual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card has a low annual fee but offers high rewards in business-related categories, making it a perfect choice for small businesses.

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card provides a great way for business owners to get something back for those operating expenses. It has a low annual fee of $95, yet it delivers a long list of bonus rewards.

Cardholders get 3X points for every dollar (on up to the first $150,000 spent each anniversary year) on combined purchases related to shipping, online advertising, internet and phone bills and travel. Also, when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠, points are worth 1.25X, meaning 100 points are actually $1.25 instead of just $1.

Other than the rewards and redemption bonuses, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers many great travel perks. There are no foreign transaction fees, and it includes trip cancellation insurance and rental car collision insurance.

While this Chase card is not the most jam-packed with bonus rewards and perks, its straightforward points system and an annual fee that’s much lower than competitors make it an excellent choice for small business owners.

Best Premium Credit Cards

Pros
  • 4X Membership Rewards® Points at restaurants worldwide, plus eligible takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com
  • No foreign transaction fee
Cons
  • annual_fees annual fee
  • Supermarkets category doesn't include superstores or warehouses

Terms apply. Click here for rates and fees.

HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection
Trip delay insurance, baggage insurance, rental car insurance, extended warranty and purchase protection*

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_typeAnnual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: If you want to be rewarded for eating, this is the card. The American Express® Gold Card offers generous rewards on dining purchases in all categories, from restaurants to groceries and even Uber Eats. (Terms apply.)

When it comes to food, few cards cover all the bases. However, the American Express® Gold Card has high rewards for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets and delivery services: whether you go out or stay in, you’ll get 4x Membership Rewards® Points on just about every food-related purchase you make. Although the special rewards for delivery and takeout services are limited to the U.S., the benefit applies to sit-in restaurants worldwide. (Terms apply).

You can also qualify for monthly statement credits of up to $10 after dining at specific restaurants that partner with American Express®, including Shake Shack and The Cheesecake Factory (enrollment is required), as well as up to $120 a year in Uber Cash to spend on Uber and UberEats, split into $10 monthly statement credits, once you add the card to your Uber account.

Other than these dining rewards, the American Express® Gold Card gives you 3X Membership Rewards® Points on airline tickets booked through Amex Travel and 1X on other eligible purchases, along with classic American Express® benefits, such as baggage and rental car insurance, purchase protection and access to pre-sales on select events and preferred seating when applicable.

Pros
  • $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases charged to your card each year
  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars booked through Chase Travel℠ (after the initial $300 spent on travel each year, which qualify for the annual statement credit)
  • 5x points on flights purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 50% additional point redemption value when redeeming for travel on Chase Travel℠
Cons
  • High annual_fees annual fee
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, rental collision waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_typeAnnual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers high rewards for most traveling expenses, and it goes a few steps further with travel-related coverage while charging a lower annual fee than its main competitor.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® can ultimately make your travels much more comfortable and less expensive. Once you spend $300 in travel in a year (which qualifies for a statement credit), you'll get 5x points on airfare and a staggering 10x points on hotels and rental cars when booked through Chase Travel. You also get 3x on all restaurants, including eligible delivery services and takeout.

Points have 50% more value when redeemed through Chase Travel. So, if you’ve accrued 1,000 points (worth $10 in cash back), you’ll actually have the equivalent of 1,500 points ($15) if you use them to book flights through Chase.

Chase also offers a credit worth up to $100 every four years to reimburse you for TSA PreCheck®, NEXUS or Global Entry fees, a Priority Pass membership for airport lounge access and discounts on hotel stays in the IHG group, which includes Crowne Plaza and InterContinental properties.

There are a few limited-time memberships and perks with Chase partners as well, such as Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash. While this card offers a lot of benefits, its steep annual fee can be a deal-breaker for some. If that's the case, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which provides plenty of rewards for a very affordable annual fee.

Pros
  • Generous luxury perks and insurance policies
  • 5x Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • Hundreds of dollars in annual statement credits
Cons
  • annual_fees annual fee is one of the highest in the market
  • No 0% introductory APR period

Terms apply. Click here for rates and fees.

HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection
Cell-phone protection, return protection, trip cancellation and delay insurance, baggage insurance, rental car insurance, extended warranty and purchase protection*

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_typeAnnual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The card’s long list of rewards and benefits is nearly unmatched, making its high annual fee a worthwhile investment for people who travel often and spend enough to get the most out of it.

In addition to giving 1X Membership Rewards® Point per dollar on regular purchases and 5X for every $1 spent on travel and hotels booked through American Express Travel, this metal card stands out for its wide array of statement credits and additional perks.

The Platinum Card® from American Express gives users a huge variety of statement credits. For example:

  • Up to $20 back per month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock and The Wall Street Journal. (Enrollment required.)
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit, if you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card®. (The statement credit will cover the $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.)
  • Up to $189 CLEAR® Plus membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. (Learn more.)
  • $100 Global Entry credit every 4 years for your Global Entry application fee or up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, if you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • Terms apply

This is just to start as, in total, Platinum Card® cardholders could earn over $1,700 in statement credits alone. (Terms apply.)

However, the card also comes with some nice travel perks. You get access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries, special access to dinner reservations at high-end restaurants and premium benefits with select rental car companies such as complimentary enrollment in Avis Preferred Club.

Best Credit Cards for Beginners

Pros
  • 3% cash back on the category of your choice
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale clubs like Sam's and Costco
  • Users can deposit up to $5,000 to open initial credit line
Cons
  • Foreign transaction fees
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee
$0
Insurance and protection
Standard protection and coverage

Why we chose it: The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card offers more rewards and a higher spending limit than top competing secured cards, and its Visa network makes it more widely accepted as well.

You can get the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card with a minimum security deposit of $200. Your credit limit is established based on the amount you deposit along with your income and credit score, if applicable. If you want to ensure a higher credit line (and can afford it), you can deposit up to $5,000, a higher maximum than competitors.

What truly stands out, however, are the rewards. Cardholders choose a category that earns them 3% back, and it can be changed monthly — choices include online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, home improvement/furnishings, as well as gas and EV charging stations.

You also get 2% back on groceries and purchases at wholesale clubs such as Sam’s or Costco, and 1% on everything else.

Both the 3% and 2% spending categories have a combined $2,500 spending limit per quarter. After that, you’ll get 1% cash back. This is still more than other secured cards, which typically have limits below $1,000.

All information about the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Pros
  • Possible credit limit increase after six months
  • Includes trip cancellation insurance
  • 1.5% cash back on all qualifying purchases
Cons
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No bonus categories
HIGHLIGHTS
New cardmember offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Purchase protection, extended warranty, trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration │ Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type │Annual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: The Chase Freedom Rise® offers good rewards, great insurance and can help raise your credit score by increasing your credit limit.

Getting credit limit increases isn’t easy for people with little credit history. You’d typically need to increase your credit age, your income or have a record of frequent spending (and paying back in full).

Chase Freedom Rise® cardholders, however, could see their limit increase after six months of paying their monthly bill on time, which can lower their credit utilization ratio and boost their credit score. (Your credit utilization ratio measures how much credit you’re using compared to your available credit. The lower your utilization ratio, the higher your credit score.)

The card also offers 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, as well as significant insurance coverage, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty.

Pros
  • Low $200 deposit minimum
  • Cash back match doubles your first year rewards
  • 2% on gas and dining (on the first $1,000 spent each quarter)
Cons
  • $1,000 spending limit is low
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
$0
Insurance and protection:
Standard fraud protection

Why we chose it: The Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers some of the best rewards among secured cards, as well as the opportunity for upgrading only seven months after account opening.

One of the most recommended secured cards out there, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers an excellent credit-building experience, with only seven months to get evaluated and upgrade to a regular card.

It also has great rewards for a secured card, offering 2% at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% on all other eligible purchases. Like other Discover cards, it also has a cash back match for the first year, which means the rewards you earned during that first year will double.

Keep in mind that the card requires a minimum $200 deposit and the credit limit will be equal to that deposit. Of course, it’ll get refunded when you upgrade given you’ve paid all your monthly bills on time.

All information about the Discover it® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Cards

Pros
  • Outstanding 2.5% flat rate cash back for qualifying customers
  • No annual or foreign transaction fee
Cons
  • 2.5% cash back has strict requirements to qualify
  • No introductory offers
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
$0
Insurance and protection:
Personal identity theft protection, travel accident insurance, rental collision waiver, purchase security and extended warranty

Why we chose it: Alliant’s 2.5% cash back is one of the highest flat rates in the industry, which makes it one of the best all-around cash-back cards out there.

Alliant offers one of the highest cash-back rates around: 2.5% on every purchase up to the first $10,000 spent per billing cycle. After that, it’s 1.5%, which is still higher than many competitors.

The catch, however, is that you must qualify as a Tier One customer to get the 2.5%. To qualify, cardholders must:

  • Have an Alliant High-Rate Checking account
  • Sign up to receive eStatements
  • Receive at least one monthly electronic deposit
  • Have a minimum average daily balance of $1,000 in the account

While this can seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, that 2.5% is high enough to make it worth the effort.

The card also includes some protective perks, such as travel accident and rental car collision insurance, extended warranties and reimbursement for identity theft recovery costs.

All information about the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Pros
  • 2% cash back on all purchases
Cons
  • Cash back is paid separately — 1% when you buy, one when you pay back the card
  • Intro offers are rare
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
$0
Insurance and protection:
Standard fraud protection

Why we chose it: The Citi Double Cash® Card is a flat-rate cash back staple that offers 2% on qualifying purchases.

The Citi Double Cash® Card is a hugely popular cash rewards credit card offering 2% flat rate cash back. Although it now works with points, the value is the same (one point is one cent), and it’s still recommended by experts, influencers and most financial publications.

Its main caveat is that points are divided: one when you make a purchase, the other one when you pay your credit card bill. It also lacks significant insurance coverage when compared to similar cash-back cards.

All information about the Citi Double Cash® Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Pros
  • 2% cash back on all qualifying purchases
  • Extended warranty, cell phone protection and purchase security
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
Cons
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No introductory APR on purchases
  • In order to qualify, applicants must be residents of CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA or VT
HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome offer:
bonus_miles_full
Insurance and protection:
Extended warranty, purchase protection, cell phone protection, lost luggage reimbursement

Intro APR: balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_durationRegular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type Annual fee: annual_fees

Why we chose it: In addition to its high flat-rate cash back, the card_name offers great insurance coverage, making it a standout option.

The TD Double Up℠ Credit Card offers 2% on all eligible purchases without any limits, caps or hurdles. It also offers purchase security, extended warranty and cell phone protection when you use your card to pay your monthly bill. This puts it slightly above its main competitors in , which offer little to no insurance.

Unfortunately, the card isn’t available for all U.S. states and territories. Applicants need to be residents of one of the following states: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA or VT.

Pros
  • 2% on nearly every purchase without any caps or category limits
  • Tends to have great introductory offers
Cons
  • No special rewards
HIGHLIGHTS
Annual fee:
$0
Insurance and protection:
Cell phone protection

Why we chose it: The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers a very high 2% flat rate on qualifying purchases, along with a generous introductory offer and cell phone protection.

This cash rewards credit card gives you 2% back on almost everything you buy or pay (only excluding things like money orders) — meaning if this is your go-to card for purchases, you essentially have a 2% discount on, well, life.

It also offers cell phone protection when paying your monthly bill with the card. However, one of its direct competitors, the TD Double Up℠ Credit Card offers some additional benefits.

All information about the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card has been collected independently by Money.com.

Credit Cards Guide

Using credit cards wisely can help you better manage your finances, raise your credit score and even get you discounts and rewards on the things you buy. The flip side is that it’s easy to overspend with credit cards and wind up deep in debt. The terms and fees can be very confusing too, so it’s important to take the time to understand the fine print.

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards are revolving credit; lenders give you access to a credit line, you can borrow from it up to a pre-set limit, and pay it back monthly. As you pay down your balance, credit is once again available for purchases.

As with most loans, there’s an annual percentage rate (also known as variable APR), or interest rate, on the amount you owe. You can avoid paying credit card interest if you pay the balance in full every month, but if you don’t, you’ll face interest charges, which are high for credit cards. While rates on mortgage notes and personal loans can start around 3% or 4%, the lowest possible APR you can find on credit cards is around 10%. At the moment, most average between 18% to 30%.

These interest charges, as well as any fees cards may charge can pile up, even if you use the card sparingly. If you can’t pay the monthly bill in full, you must at least pay the required minimum each month; otherwise, the bank can raise your APR, charge you late fees and/or report you to the credit bureaus.

On the other hand, there are many advantages to using a credit card, such as protection. For instance, if you file a complaint about a fraudulent transaction, the card issuer can cancel the charge and you won’t actually lose money while this issue is fixed.

While you can dispute a fraudulent transaction on your debit card, you’re responsible for those charges until the bank sorts it out. Because your debit card is linked to your checking account, this could impact your day-to-day spending or any automatic payments that draw from that account.

The best credit cards can also offer so many rewards and perks that, when managed well, can actually save you money in the long run.

Types of credit cards

While all credit cards essentially work the same, there are different ways to categorize them depending on their terms, benefits and how they’re used. Confusing things further, some debit cards and prepaid cards can act and look like credit cards, with Visa or Mastercard logos included, but they don’t offer the same protections and rewards that credit cards do. Here are some of the different types of credit cards you’ll encounter:

Rewards credit cards

Rewards credit cards give cardholders cash back, points or miles for their spending.

Some cards offer a flat rewards rate across the board, like 1.5% cash back on all qualifying purchases. Others have bonus categories, such as 3x points at supermarkets or gas stations, that yield higher-than-average rewards. The best cash back credit cards, for instance, will usually offer a combination of the two as well as other benefits, like purchase protection, rental car insurance and more.

Balance transfer credit cards

Balance transfer cards let you transfer outstanding balances from one or more cards to a new one, usually with a lower interest rate.

These cards typically have long introductory 0% APR offers and lower balance transfer fees so that cardholders can transfer outstanding balances from other cards without incurring steep additional charges.

The best balance transfer credit cards offer 0% intro APR periods of around 15 to 21 months and a 3% balance transfer fee, which is lower than the industry standard 5%.

Travel rewards credit cards

Travel credit cards offer high rewards when you book plane tickets, rental cars, hotels and more.

The best travel credit cards also provide benefits like insurance for flight cancellations, lost baggage and rental cars. Taking it one step further, some of the best options also give statement credits for TSA PreCheck, grant access to airport lounges and more.

Some of the best airline credit cards also offer great rewards, as well as flight-specific perks such as free checked baggage, priority boarding and discounts for in-flight purchases.

Secured credit cards

Secured credit cards are often a great option for individuals searching for credit cards for bad credit. They’re also an ideal choice for those who have limited or no credit history.

These cards require a refundable security deposit that acts as collateral, reducing the issuer’s risk if you can’t pay back your outstanding balance. This deposit makes them easier to qualify for than traditional credit cards. Additionally, secured credit cards usually have much more lenient approval requirements.

However, because these cards are aimed at beginners or people with bad credit, they’ll often have very high APRs. Additionally, they have low credit limits that usually equals the amount of your security deposit. Most also don’t offer high-earning bonus categories, which means you won’t get much cash back or points from your spending.

For a deeper look into these cards and some recommendations, check out our list of the best credit cards to build credit.

Business credit cards

Business credit cards generally have higher spending limits than personal cards, and the benefits are tailored for business owners.

These can include, for instance, high rewards for advertising or shipping services. Also, you can get free employee cards for which you can set up personalized spending limits, track their spending and even earn rewards for their purchases.

To learn more about how business credit cards work and which options are best, look at our article on the best business credit cards.

Student credit cards

Student credit cards are made specifically for students enrolled in college at the time of applying. They’re easier to get approved with little to no credit history and can get eventually upgraded when cardholders graduate. They tend to have less benefits than regular credit cards, but the best student credit cards still provide more rewards and perks than other starter cards.

Charge cards

A charge card is a credit card without a pre-set spending limit. Though users can theoretically spend unlimited amounts with the card, each charge is approved individually based on your income, creditworthiness and payment history. In most cases, these cards need to be paid in full every month.

How to use a credit card

There’s more to using a credit card than just swiping away at the mall. When used correctly, a credit card can help you build credit, protect you from fraud and even reward the spending you already do.

  • Credit utilization. Credit utilization is how much of your available credit you’re using. This percentage is known as the credit utilization ratio, and it’s one of the most important factors in determining your credit score and overall creditworthiness.
  • Payments. Credit card payments are usually expected at the end of a monthly cycle. If you fail to pay, credit card companies can charge you a late fee, raise your APR or, at a certain point, report you to a credit agency.

You can pay a minimum amount (which will depend on your balance) to avoid penalties, or you can pay the full amount to avoid interest.

  • Best practices. If credit card debt is left unpaid, it can affect your credit and hurt your chance of getting approved for other cards or loans. Additionally, if you have a large balance and only pay the minimum each month, it can accrue significant amounts of interest. A good rule of thumb is to use credit cards as if it were your actual money; in other words, only buy what you could buy with cash.

A good rule of thumb is to use credit cards as if it were your actual money; in other words, if you can’t actually afford it, don’t buy it. While having a high credit limit is tempting, credit cards have some of the highest interest rates of any type of loan, and financing purchases this way is a surefire way to wind up paying far more than you intended.

If you’re able to pay the balance off completely at the end of the month, it may be smart to use credit cards to pay most of your expenses, especially with cards that provide purchase protection, rewards points and extended warranty periods on high-value items.

What is a good credit utilization ratio?

Generally, experts recommend that you use less than 30% of your overall credit card limit, and that new cardholders with little credit history keep it as low as 10%, if possible. A low utilization rate can help improve your credit score enormously, and is especially important if other factors (length of credit history, number of open accounts and payment history) are somewhat rocky.

Also, while your overall credit utilization might be low, keep in mind that having a high balance on one card could hurt your chances of getting additional cards or loans, especially with the same credit card issuer.

How to choose a credit card

Choosing the right credit card should not be limited to the offers you constantly get in the mail. If you want to get the most out of your credit card, it’s important to be deliberate about choosing and applying for the right one.

For a much more detailed guide, go to our article on How to Choose the Best Credit Card for You.

Credit card approval odds

To lessen the risk of rejection (and of adding an unnecessary extra inquiry to your credit report, which can impact your score negatively), look at each card’s credit requirements before you apply.

Some banks specify the kind of credit they will accept (fair, good or excellent, for example), but few disclose the exact minimum credit score you need for approval, partially because they take into account many factors other than just your FICO or Vantage Score. They’ll review your personal finances, including your debt-to-income ratio, credit utilization, income and length of credit history before determining approval.

Before you apply for a credit card, make sure to get a credit check with all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to at least have an idea of your overall approval odds.

APR

Each card has an APR range of, say from 12.24% to 24.24%. You’ll be offered a number within that card’s range depending on your creditworthiness.

Unfortunately, picking a card with a very low minimum APR doesn’t guarantee that rate for you. But if the overall range is lower, it might be a better choice for you. For example, a card with a maximum APR of 21.99% will probably give you a better rate than one that goes as high as 25.99%.

If you have an excellent credit score and a high income, though, you are more likely to qualify for the lower end of a card’s APR range. Some cards offer APRs as low as 10%.

Credit card fees

Credit cards charge a few fees you should be aware of, especially since some might not be displayed prominently on promotional material.

  • Annual fee. Many credit cards charge annual fees, ranging from $95 to $795. Typically, credit cards that charge annual fees offer more generous rewards and better perks than those that don’t.
  • Foreign transaction fee. A foreign transaction fee is a percentage of a purchase made in non-U.S. currency. These can range from 1% to 5%, but the most common by far is 3%. Credit cards with a focus on travel tend to waive this fee.
  • Balance transfer fee. A fee will most likely be charged when you transfer a balance from one card to another, which can add an amount from 3% to 5% of the total transferred. Some cards do waive this fee, but it’s not very common.
  • Cash advance fee. Most, if not all, credit cards charge a cash advance fee if you use it to withdraw cash. It’ll usually be around $5 to $10 or a percentage from 3% to 5%, whichever is higher.
  • Late payment fee. While there are credit cards that don’t charge late payment fees, a late fee is still the norm. It can vary, but it is usually capped at around $40.

Cash back or points

Cash back rewards return a percentage of each purchase back to the cardholder. You’ll see that money in your account’s home page or mobile app, and from there you can use it as a statement credit or redeem it through the issuer’s portal for travel or other offers.

Some offer a set reward percentage across all purchases, such as 1.5% or 2%, while others have bonus categories, such as 3% at restaurants or 5% at an affiliated store (Amazon, for example).

Some cards work with a points system proprietary to the issuer. These points can be redeemed for gift cards, statement credit or for purchases through the issuer’s program, or transfer them to a partner program. Points can vary significantly in value depending how you redeem them.

Other benefits

There are other rewards aside from cash back and points. Many of the best rewards credit cards offer benefits in the form of statement credits, complimentary subscriptions, discounts and more. Statement credits for signing up for TSA PreCheck®, for example, is very common among travel credit cards.

Depending on your lifestyle and spending habits, these rewards can sometimes be more tempting (and valuable) than points or simple cash back. Partner hotels, for example, offer free nights, and some airlines offer free companion tickets after you spend a certain amount.

Welcome offers

Credit card bonus offers are a big selling point for new cardholders. Sign-up bonuses and intro APR offers can save you money both in the short and long term. If two cards are almost the same, but one offers a $200 bonus, it can be a major deciding factor.

Credit card insurance

In addition to cash back and plenty of perks, credit cards can offer insurance coverage for valuable items and travel, such as extended warranty or flight cancellation insurance.

You can always buy travel insurance separately (and you can check out our list of the best travel insurance if that’s what you’re looking for), but having it already included with your purchases is a great advantage.

In addition to travel-related protection, here are some other possible insurance policies found on credit cards:

  • Purchase protection. This type of insurance can reimburse the cardholder for a covered item that has been damaged or lost within a certain period of time.
  • Extended warranty. Extended warranty does just what its name promises, it extends the original manufacturer’s warranty of an eligible product. Keep in mind that the item does need to have an original manufacturer’s warranty, and the coverage from your card begins when that one ends.
  • Return protection. This means your credit card issuer can accept your return and refund you if the original seller doesn’t accept returns or if their return period is shorter than your issuer’s.
  • Flight insurance. This could have different names and cover different situations, but it typically refers to insurance for the airfare ticket or flight itself, and covers mainly long delays (over 12 hours, for example). Time and reimbursement amounts can vary from issuer to issuer.
  • Trip insurance. Different from flight insurance, trip insurance can cover or reimburse you if your trip is cut short due to unforeseeable circumstances such as injury or illness.
  • Baggage insurance. There are different types of baggage coverage: it could be reimbursement for lost baggage (up to a certain amount pre-determined by your issuer) or a stipend in the case your luggage is late.
  • Rental car insurance. Often, credit cards offer an “auto rental collision damage waiver,” which covers damage or theft to the car. This insurance can be primary or secondary, but on no-annual-fee cards, secondary is far more likely. With primary insurance, you don’t need to provide any other insurance besides the credit card. If the card offers secondary insurance, on the other hand, it will only cover anything the driver’s primary insurance doesn’t pay for.
  • Travel insurance. Travel insurance is different from flight or trip insurance, as it can cover medical costs in case of serious injury or disease, or, in some premium cards, even evacuations in case of emergencies. Some no-annual-fee cards have “travel accident insurance,” which covers some medical costs. This is not to be confused with travel and emergency assistance, which is simply assistance contacting the necessary authorities or services during travel.

How to get a credit card

There are a few ways to get a credit card. If this is your first time ever filling a credit card application, you might have to start with a secured card, giving an initial security deposit to ensure the bank approves a credit line.

If you do have a lengthy credit history, make sure to get a copy of your credit report from all three bureaus, which will give you an idea of the types of cards you’ll be approved for and the APR rates you’ll be offered. People with high credit scores will be offered the best (e.g. the lowest) rates.

You can apply for a credit card in different places:

Online. You can apply for pretty much any credit card online by providing your personal information (including your Social Security number) and be either approved or denied in a matter of minutes.

Credit card offers. Sometimes, banks send offers directly to your mailbox. These offers can mention that you’re pre-selected or pre-approved for a certain card, and they often provide a code to get the offer.

Your bank. Most banks offer some sort of credit card. While it’s not guaranteed, having an account with the bank generally increases your chances of getting approved for one of its credit cards, and perhaps even being given special offers.

Apply at a store. Many stores have branded credit cards with special benefits for purchases made with the retailer; however, they often have higher than average APR rates.

For a more complete look at the process, you can go to our article How to Apply for a Credit Card.

How to get a credit card with no credit

If you have poor to fair credit, or no credit at all (not even a student loan), you might be wondering how to build credit. Here are some ways to do it.

Get added as an authorized user. A parent, family member or even a (very generous) friend can add you as an authorized user on a credit card. You can piggyback off their credit history to build your own and, depending on the agreement with the other person, even enjoy the card’s perks and rewards.

Just apply. While not the most recommended method, some issuers will just approve you if you have absolutely no credit history (having bad credit is a different story). This is more feasible for people who do have a steady income and the card you apply for has lenient credit requirements. Bear in mind though that applying for new credit involves a hard credit pull, which leaves a slight mark on your report.

Secured cards. A secured credit card is a credit card that requires collateral in the form of a security deposit. These are typically used to build or rebuild credit by people who can’t qualify for traditional credit cards.

How many credit cards should you have?

There isn’t a magical number for how many credit cards you should have. It all depends on your situation, lifestyle and your ability to pay your cards back on time. The more cards you have, the higher your credit line, which can reduce your utilization ratio. However, having more credit cards opens up the possibility of incurring higher debt and having lower approval odds due too much revolving credit.

Credit Cards FAQs

What is the best credit card?

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There is no one answer to what is the best credit card. While popular names like The Platinum Card® from American Express can come to mind due to its lengthy list of statement credits, insurance benefits and luxury perks, this card isn't for everyone, especially given its high annual fee. The best credit card will depend on the applicant or cardholder and how it fits into their daily lives and financial situation. Low-annual-fee cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® can offer plenty of rewards, insurance benefits and more without the astronomical yearly charge.

How does credit card interest work?

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Your credit card’s interest rate is shown by its annual percentage rate (APR). The issuer applies this rate to your outstanding balance. To do this, the APR is first divided by 365 to determine the daily interest rate. The daily interest rate is then multiplied by your average daily balance. You can calculate your average daily balance by adding up your daily balances during the billing period and dividing the total by the number of days in that period. The resulting interest amount is then added to your balance at the end of your billing cycle.

What is the best strategy to avoid paying interest on your credit cards?

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In order to avoid credit card interest, you have to pay off the full balance each billing cycle. To ensure this, it’s useful to have a clear budget and not spend more than what you can afford to pay back. Also, setting up automatic payments for the full balance can help you pay off the balance in time, provided you have the funds available.

What is a good APR for a credit card?

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Issuers will set the interest rate for each applicant after reviewing their credit history, and those with good to excellent credit scores will typically get the lowest rates. Most credit cards offer a variable APR range between 20.49% and 29.99%, so, an APR closer to 20% is optimal.

How We Chose the Best Credit Cards

In order to find the best credit cards for each situation and lifestyle, our methodology included looking at over 100 cards from a variety of issuers and considered several factors:

  • Transparency: We favored issuers that make documents easily accessible and communicate clearly about their rewards programs, interest rates and offers.
  • Credit card rewards: We looked at each card’s rewards, whether cash back, points or annual statement credits, and compared their value to the card’s annual fees.
  • Intro offers: Intro offers alone can sometimes be enough to offset a card’s annual fee, so we looked at issuers that offer high welcome bonuses and/or long-term 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Coverage: One of the main advantages of using a credit card is protecting your actual money. While all cards have methods of dealing with fraud, some have additional protections like extended warranties, rental car insurance and flight cancellation coverage, to name a few, that pushed certain cards to the top of our list.

Summary of Money’s Best Credit Cards of July 2024

Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Best Low-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Best Premium Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Beginners

Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Cards

Money.com has partnered with CardRatings.com for our coverage of credit card products. Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

To see rates and fees for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

To see rates and fees for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, visit this link. Terms apply.

* Insurance disclosures for American Express Cards on this page:

Trip Delay Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Global Assist Hotline: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.

Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, Baggage Insurance Plan: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.