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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit December 2017

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

If you’re someone with good credit you should be able to qualify for a variety of credit cards. There are cards if you want to earn cash back, earn travel rewards or complete a balance transfer. MagnifyMoney has reviewed our database of over 2,000 credit cards to find cards you can qualify for with good credit. Here are our favorite cards for people with good credit.

Best cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards can be great tools to boost your financial position. They basically make your life just a few percentage points cheaper — who wouldn’t want that?

Watch out for the pitfalls with these rewards cards, though. Don’t talk yourself into spending more because you’ll receive cash back. If you opt for a cash back card that offers you up to 5X more points on certain categories, make sure you understand that you often have to activate the bonus categories and set up reminders for yourself if necessary.

Best flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0*
Cashback Rate
1% when you buy, 1% when you pay
APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Best 5% cash back

Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® - Cashback MatchTM

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit
Good / Excellent

Also Consider

Platinum Rewards Card from Nusenda CU

Nusenda Credit Union Platinum Rewards

This card is a great choice for forgetful people who want cash back rewards. It’s one of the only cards offering revolving categories each quarter that you don’t have to opt in for; you will get these rewards automatically. This card would also be a great choice for those who want cash back rewards and don’t mind working with a credit union.

Best for big spenders in gas

Commuting can be a huge cost, especially if you live far away from your work and don’t use public transportation. If you spend a lot of money on gas each month, consider getting a cash back rewards card that gives you higher rates of return for these purchases. It’s like having an instant coupon for gas with you all the time.

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases
APR
10.25%-15.25%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for big spenders in groceries

Groceries can be one of your biggest budget-busters, especially if you have a large family, a specialized diet, or live in certain parts of the country. The good news is there are certain credit cards that offer great rewards for grocery purchases. Here’s our top pick for a credit card to maximize your grocery cash back rewards.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express Bank, FSB.’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Annual fee
$95
Cashback Rate
6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% on other purchases
APR
13.99%-24.99%

Variable

Best travel rewards credit card

Travel can seem like a pipe dream to a lot of people. Even if you do have the cash, it still stings to see that much hard-won money leaving your bank account. But with a travel rewards credit card, you can have a sort of de facto savings account specifically for travel. And with a sign-on bonus like the one for our top pick, you can be jet-setting somewhere fun and interesting as soon as a few months from now.

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Rewards
2 points on travel and dining, 1 point on all other spending
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Best airline credit cards

One of the biggest travel expenses is airfare. Even if you don’t have specific goals to travel regularly, surprises like cross-country family emergencies or get-togethers can take a big bite out of your budget.

Before signing up for an airline-specific card, it’s helpful to know what airline options you have near you. Different airlines tend to congregate more in different parts of the country; you won’t see any Alaska Airlines planes if you live in Maine, for example.

The information related to the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Plus Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best for Southwest frequent flyers

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual fee
$69 For First Year
$69 Ongoing
Rewards
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchase
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

The information related to the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best for United frequent flyers

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card from Chase Bank

Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
Rewards
2X miles on tickets purchase from United, 1 mile on everything else
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for American Airlines frequent flyers

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

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on Citibank’s secure website

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Annual fee
$95, waived for first 12 Months*
Rewards
2 AAdvantage® miles on American Airlines purchases, 1 AAdvantage® mile on everything else
APR
16.74%-24.74%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for Delta frequent flyers

 Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express

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on American Express Bank, FSB.’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express

Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards
2 miles on Delta purchases, 1 mile on everything else
APR
16.74%-25.74%

Variable

Best luxury credit card

Even though traveling is fun, it can still be a stressful experience. In between fighting throngs of crowds and cramming into airline seats, it can be enough to drive even the most ardent travel-lover insane sometimes.

The good news is you can avoid all of that with a luxury credit card. These credit cards will give you an across-the-board better travel experience, from the moment you arrive at the airport until you make it back home. Here is our top pick for a luxury credit card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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on American Express Bank, FSB.’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee
$550
Rewards
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com
APR
-
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

0% APR credit cards

If you really need to buy something moderately expensive but don’t have the cash for it yet, 0% APR purchase cards can be a great way to go. They’re basically like free short-term loans. These cards are similar to 0% balance transfer cards, but not all of them also offer you the ability to make new purchases with the free promo rates.

It’s recommended to only use these cards to buy things that you absolutely need rather than a new big-screen TV. For example, I used a 0% APR card to purchase the very computer I’m typing this on. I didn’t have $800 to spend at the time, but within a couple of months I had made enough money to pay it off in full — without having to pay a penny of interest. These cards offer great opportunities to better your life, without the extra cost — if you can pay off the card before the promo period is over.

21 months, 0% intro APR, 3% BT fee

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.99%-24.99%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

15 months, 0% intro APR, $0 intro BT fee

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

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on Chase’s secure website

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Chase Slate®

Intro BT APR
0%

Introductory rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open. After 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5.
APR
15.99%-24.74%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

14 months, 0% intro APR, 3% BT fee

Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® - Cashback MatchTM

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Duration
14 months
Credit required
good-credit
Good / Excellent

Learn more

You don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify for the best financial products. You’ll still get access to virtually all of the things an 850 credit score would unlock as long as you have a credit score of at least 760.

Good credit scores don’t happen by accident. Whether you deliberately aimed for your score or not, you have good financial management skills. However, this isn’t enough to guarantee your approval for a large number of financial products.

It’s actually possible to have a good credit score yet still be a high financial risk. For example, your credit score doesn’t take your salary into account. You could have a perfect credit score yet be unemployed with no income, in some cases.

When you apply for financial products, banks will look at your entire situation beyond just your credit score. Each bank will have their own approval criteria, and you might not pass one of them even if you have a good credit score.

Take heart, however; in general, you will be approved for most good financial products and services if you have a good credit score. But if the bank is very picky or something uncommon has happened to you (such as a recent job loss), it’s not surprising to be rejected.

Potential creditors don’t like to see a string of recent credit inquiries on your report because it might be a sign that you’re going on an out-of-control credit binge. Your score will be docked a few points per credit inquiry. This is a relatively small cut compared to more major transgressions like late payments and foreclosures, however.

When you have a poor credit score (600-648), you need every point you can get. The difference between a poor and a fair credit score is just 48 points; you need to do everything you can to gain those points and move up into the next bracket. Having a hard credit pull on your credit report will set you back even longer.

If you’ve got good credit, though, you don’t need to worry as much. You have 150 points between 700 and the maximum score of 850. That’s plenty of room to pay for small dings on your credit. You can have a hard inquiry on your credit report and still have a good credit score, unless you’re starting with a borderline good score of 700-705.

You’ve worked hard getting your score to this point, now how do you keep it there? Luckily, it’s not hard; basically, continue doing the good things you’re already doing.

Paying all of your statements on time and in full is one of the best things you can do to maintain your high credit score. A single late payment on your mortgage could set you back 60 points or more, downgrading you from good credit to average. Make sure all of your debt accounts are set up on autopay to avoid this potentially costly error.

Credit utilization (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is also one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. The less available credit you’re using, the better. In general, a credit utilization ratio of 10% or less will boost your score the most. This means that you’ll have a credit card balance of $1,000 or less for each $10,000 of credit you have available to you.

A few minor factors will also boost your credit score, but not as much as having a good payment history and a low credit utilization ratio. Keep credit inquiries to a minimum. In order to avoid a slew of inquiries that will be reflected in your credit score, make sure companies use soft pulls if you need to shop around for the best interest rates.

Also consider keeping your oldest credit cards open and closing any newer ones you’re not using. This will increase your average credit age. In general, an average credit age of five years or more is considered best and will boost your credit score.

You don’t want to be juggling around a ton of cards you’re not using. Closing old cards sounds like a good idea until you consider one factor: It may ding your credit score.

Creditors like to see that you can effectively handle credit accounts over long periods of time. That’s why average credit age is one factor included in credit scoring models.
If you close out an old card, your average credit age might drop. This would cause a corresponding dip in your score. The effect wouldn’t be huge (not as large as a late payment, for example), but it could be there nonetheless, especially if your average credit age is five years or less (over five years is the optimal average credit age).

That’s why most experts recommend keeping your oldest credit card open. If you want to juggle fewer accounts, close any newer ones that you’re not using. Of course, if your oldest credit card charges an annual fee and you’re not using it, then go ahead and close it anyway. Paying an annual fee for a card you’re not using likely outweighs any benefits from keeping the card open for the sake of boosting your average credit age.

Furthermore, if you close your old credit card before you apply for a new card, it’s possible that your credit score will drop enough that your application will be rejected, especially if you have a borderline good credit score. In this case, it’s better to wait until after you’ve applied and been approved for the new credit card before closing your old card, if you decide to do so.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards of 2017

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

As you look for a new credit card, remember the golden rule of credit cards:

Choose a rewards card for your spending bonuses. Choose a low-rate card for your borrowing and paying off debt. Don’t confuse the two types of cards!

We examined each card type’s fine print to understand fees, rewards rates, interest rates, and more. After digging into the cards, we determined that these are the best credit cards to have in your wallet.

Credit cards offer more than unparalleled consumer protections and an easy way to track your spending. They can offer 2% cash back, 6% category bonuses, and travel miles. Credit card issuers spent more than $22.6 billion on rewards in 2016 alone. That’s 23% more than they spent in 2015. If you haven’t changed your rewards credit card in the last two years, you’re leaving money on the table.

Even if you carry credit card debt from time to time, credit cards can be a tool to help you plow out of debt. No matter what your situation, MagnifyMoney can help you find the credit card that will put money back in your pocket.

Best Cash Back Rewards Cards

Citi Double Cash®

The Citi Double Cash® credit card offers straightforward rewards. You earn 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay off your bill. This is a great card for people who don’t want to worry about difficult reward redemptions. It’s also one of the first credit cards that encourages you to pay off your bill in full each month. After all, you don’t get the second half of your reward until you pay off your credit card.

Best Cash Back Credit Card of 2017

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0*
Cashback Rate
1% when you buy, 1% when you pay
APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Alliant Cash Back Visa® Signature

With 3% cash back in the first year, and 2.5% all other years, this card offers some of the best pure cash back rates on the market. The $59 annual fee means that you have to spend at least $1,000 per month to come out ahead relative to a 2% earnings rate. Not everyone feels comfortable putting that much on a credit card each month. But if you regularly spend that much (and pay off your debt), this is the right credit card for you.

First Year 3% Back

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

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on Alliant Credit Union’s secure website

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Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$59 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
Unlimited 3% cash back during the first year; 2.5% cash back afterwards
APR
11.24%-24.24%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Capital One® BuyPower CardTM

This credit card isn’t for everyone, but it offers compelling rewards for GMC devotees. Since GMC doesn’t want to earn money from this credit card, they offer premium rewards and perks to all cardholders. Perks include 5% back on the first $5,000 you spend on the card. If you plan to buy a new GMC vehicle, make this your new favorite credit card.

Up to 5% Toward Your Next Vehicle

Capital One® BuyPower Card®

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® BuyPower Card®

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% on your first $5,000 in purchases, 2% after that
APR
13.90%-23.90%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
excellent-credit

Excellent/Good

QuicksilverOne Rewards® from Capital One

If you struggled with credit in the past, but you’re back on track, the QuicksilverOne® Rewards card from Capital One® offers the right rewards at the right price. If you spend at least $225 per month on credit cards, you’ll earn more than you pay in annual fees. Normally, we don’t recommend cards with annual fees and low earning rates. However, this card is an exception if you have fair credit. Once your credit improves, you can call Capital One and ask for a no-fee card with better rewards.

OK for Fair Credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

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Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$39
Cashback Rate
Unlimited 1.5%
APR
24.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Best Cash Back for the Way You Spend

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Everyone needs to eat, but grocery spending can eat into your budget. By using the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you can save 6% at U.S. supermarkets without clipping a coupon. You’ll pay a $95 annual fee, but big grocery spenders will earn that much and more from their annual supermarket spend.

6% Supermarket Bonus

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express Bank, FSB.’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Annual fee
$95
Cashback Rate
6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% on other purchases
APR
13.99%-24.99%

Variable

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

With an unlimited 5% cash back on fuel purchases, this is one credit card that can lower your pain at the pump. Unlike other credit cards, rewards get applied to your statement balance. This means you don’t have to fiddle around with awards programs. You’ll simply pay less each month.

5% Gas Bonus Cash

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases
APR
10.25%-15.25%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card

If you’re constantly in the air, the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards card offers one of the market-leading rates for purchasing airfare. If you want to redeem your rewards for more airfare, you can find rates as high as 4.5%, but if you want cash, the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards card offers the best rate. You’ll earn an effective 4.25% cash back rate whenever you buy tickets directly from an airline.

5x Airfare Bonus

PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card

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on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

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PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card

Annual fee
$0
APR
9.74%-17.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Capital One® Premier Dining Rewards

Offer is no longer available. It’s easy for restaurant spending to dominate your credit card spending. If you eat out a few times a week or more, the 3% cash back on dining will help you enjoy more rewards after you enjoy your meal. Plus, this no-annual-fee card comes with travel protections that usually require at least a $59 annual fee. Foodies can feel good about having a card that rewards them for the way they spend.

Also Consider Also Consider

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM

If you’re a traveling foodie, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire ReserveSM Credit Card. The card allows you to earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining or travel and 1 point for every other dollar you spend. When you redeem the points for more travel, you get a 50% bonus, which brings the rewards rate up to 4.5 cents for every dollar you spend on dining or travel.

The card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee, but it also comes with a $300 annual statement credit for travel purchases and superior travel protections. Plus, you’ll earn a 50,000 point bonus if you spend $4,000 in three months.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

If you’re already an Amazon Prime customer, you can enjoy an additional 5% off with every purchase. Anyone who is addicted to Amazon’s convenience will love saving even more on their everyday spending. Of course, some people worry they spend too much online. This credit card doesn’t have to make your problem worse. If you choose to remove “instant purchase” from your Amazon account, you’ll force yourself to think before you check out

5% Online Retail

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

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on Amazon’s secure website

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
5% back on all Amazon purchases, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, 1% back on other purchases
APR
15.24%-23.24%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Also Consider Also Consider

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Target REDCardTM

If you’re not already an Amazon Prime member, the Amazon card isn’t a good fit for you. Instead, consider the Target REDCard™. As a REDCard holder, you’ll get 5% off all Target and Target.com purchases, free shipping, and an extra 30 days for returns. When it comes to everyday shopping needs, you can’t find a better rate than 5% off. Just don’t carry a balance on this card: REDCard™ credit cards carry a 23.65% APR. If you want the same discount without another credit card, you can also get a REDCard™ debit card.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card

Kiplinger named the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card their 2016 “Easiest for flight redemption” credit card. We can see why. Customers can use points

directly with airlines, redeem through the Chase rewards portal, or choose a statement credit. With a huge intro bonus and great perks, this makes a great card for airline travelers.

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best Overall

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Rewards
2 points on travel and dining, 1 point on all other spending
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Also Consider Also Consider

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® card offers 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in your first 90 days. On top of that, users will earn two miles for every dollar they spend and a 5% bonus on every mile they redeem. Each point is worth one penny and can be redeemed for a statement credit on all travel-related purchases. The Arrival Plus® card requires an $89 annual fee that is waived in the first year.

Unfortunately, Barclaycard’s perks are not quite as good as Chase’s. They have trip accident and trip cancellation insurance, but you don’t get auto rental collision coverage, baggage protection, or other important perks. From a points-earning perspective, Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® is a long-term winner, but lack of perks puts it behind Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Card

Capital One® Venture® Card allows you to earn a 50,000 point bonus when you spend $3,000 in your first three months. You’ll also earn an unlimited two miles for every dollar you spend. With just a $95 annual fee, waived the first year, this is one of the few travel rewards cards that might be worthwhile to lower spenders. The card also comes with all Visa Signature® benefits. Those benefits include secondary auto rental collision damage waivers, hotel upgrade options, and free extended warranties. If you can’t justify a high annual fee, consider this Venture® card for your travel credit card needs.

Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card

The Discover it® Miles card offers one of the best rewards rates for travel credit cards without an annual fee. You’ll earn unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar, and Discover will match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Points are worth 1 cent each, so your first year you earn an effective rate of 3% on all your spending. You can redeem your rewards at any time for any type of travel.

3x Rewards Your First Year (With No Annual Fee)

Discover it® Miles

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Miles

Annual fee
$0
Rewards
Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee. We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.*
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit
Good / Excellent

Also Consider Also Consider

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card

The standard rewards rate for this fee-free credit card is 1.5 miles per dollar spent. However, you’ll also earn a 20,000 point bonus if you spend $1,000 or more in your first 90 days. High net worth individuals also have an opportunity to boost their rewards. If you have at least $20,000 in assets at Bank of America or Merrill Edge, you’ll earn 25% more rewards. At $50,000 in assets, you’ll boost your earnings by 50%. With $100,000 in assets, you’ll get 75% more rewards. That’s the equivalent of 2.63 miles for every dollar spent. For high net worth individuals, this card offers higher earning potential than some of the best cards with fees.

Priceline RewardsTM Visa® Card

When traveling abroad, you need a credit card with Chip + PIN technology and no foreign transaction fees. Many international merchants, hotels, and restaurants can accept the more common Chip + Signature technology featured on U.S. credit cards, but automated kiosks at train stations and other travel hubs require the PIN technology. Thankfully, the Priceline RewardsTM Visa® Card has the required technology, and it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Plus, you’ll earn a few rewards when you spend with this card. It’s not the best credit card for earning rewards, but it’ll save your money and your sanity when you’re abroad.

No Fee for International Travel

Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card form Barclaycard

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on Barclaycard’s secure website

Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card form Barclaycard

Annual fee
$0
Rewards
5 points on eligible priceline.com purchases, 1 point on all other purchases
APR
15.99%-25.99%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express®

Starwood points are among the most valuable points on the market. They are transferable to many airlines, and you can even trade 1 Starwood point for 3 Marriott points. Thanks to flexibility in transferring and redeeming points, this is our favorite card for earning free hotel stays. Many users can get at least 2.5 cents per point in value on their redemption.

Triple Your Hotel Rewards

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express®

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on American Express Bank, FSB.’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express®

Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards
up to 5x points
APR
16.24%-20.24%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best Sign-Up Bonuses

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card

Earn $500 cash or $625 in travel credits when you spend $4,000 in your first three months. This isn’t the largest sign-up bonus available today. However, the flexible points redemption options and great travel protections make this our top choice for travel sign-up bonuses.

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best Travel Bonus - $625

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Rewards
2 points on travel and dining, 1 point on all other spending
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Also Consider Also Consider

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank customers with good credit and high spending may qualify for the lucrative $750 travel sign-up bonus with the Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card. You need to spend $4,500 in 90 days to earn the 50,000 point bonus. When redeemed for qualified travel, 50,000 points translates to $750 in travel. The Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® comes with a hefty $400 annual fee, but most people will make that up easily. The card offers a $325 annual statement credit for travel purchases, complimentary access to airport lounges, and other high-end perks. In addition to offering the best sign-up bonus on the market, it offers some of the most exciting travel perks. This card failed to become first place because of the high annual fee, but for frequent travelers, this is the best card on the market.

TruWest Visa® Signature Card

TruWest Visa® Signature

If you don’t spend much money on credit cards, you can still earn lucrative sign-up bonuses. The TruWest Visa® Signature Card offers a $100 sign-up bonus when you spend just $100 in your first 90 days. You’ll also get a competitive interest rate and no annual fee. The card also comes with secondary auto rental collision damage waivers that can save you money when renting a vehicle. Cardholders only earn 1 point for every dollar that they spend, and points can be redeemed for a penny (or for more when redeemed through the TruWest redemption portal).

Best 0% APR Purchase Credit Cards

21 Months Without Interest

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.99%-24.99%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Also Consider Also Consider

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® offers 21 months of interest-free financing. However, Diamond Preferred customers will pay late fees if they make late payments. As long as you make on-time payments, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® makes an excellent 0% intro APR credit card.

When the promo period ends, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® has somewhat lower interest rates than the Simplicity card, but you still don’t want to carry a balance on this card.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Barclaycard RingTM MasterCard®

In an effort to give big bank customers a community feel, Barclaycard created Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®. All members get the same interest rate for borrowing, and members can transfer in with no balance transfer fee. For someone paying off substantial debt, this can be a huge savings. Plus, all members get to voice their opinions on product changes. The Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard® accepts customers with average credit, so many people who don’t qualify for other balance transfer cards will qualify for this one. Even better, if you qualify, your everyday borrowing rate is 13.99%. It’s not the best rate on the market, but it’s lower than most leading balance transfer cards.

15 Months, No Fee

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard<sup>®</sup>

LEARN MORE Secured

on Barclaycard’s secure website

Read Full Review

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
0%
APR
13.99%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent Credit

Also Consider Also Consider

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

Chase Slate®

Like Barclaycard, Chase Slate® offers an 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening. However, the card has a higher regular variable interest rate (15.99%-24.74%), 3% foreign transactions fees, and just a 21-day grace period before interest begins to accrue. Other than the fine print, Chase Slate® is a solid balance transfer credit card.

Santander Sphere® Credit Card

A 0% balance transfer, 0% APR for purchases, rewards, and modest interest rates. The Santander Sphere® Credit Card has it all. But the real reason to use this credit card is the 24-month balance transfer period. Even if you have substantial credit card debt, you could pay it all off by the end of the 24-month 0% balance transfer period. The card charges a 4% balance transfer fee, so this shouldn’t be your first choice card (it’s better to use two 15-month credit cards with 0% balance transfer fees). Despite the fee, you should consider this card if you’re committed to paying off all your credit card debt in under two years.

Longest Balance Transfer

Sphere® Credit Card from Santander

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on Santander’s secure website

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Sphere® Credit Card from Santander

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$10 or 4% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
13.49%-23.49%

Variable

Duration
24 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Also Consider Also Consider

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citi® Simplicity® Card

Citi® Simplicity® offers just a 21-month balance transfer period, but this card is much friendlier than the Santander Sphere® Credit Card. You’ll never pay late fees with Citi® Simplicity®, and the balance transfer fee is 3% instead of 4%. Citi® Simplicity® has some gotcha fees (like foreign transaction fees and cash advance fees), but it’s designed for ease of use. Take a look if you want a simpler balance transfer credit card.

Best Low Interest (Not 0%) Credit Cards

Elements Financial Platinum Visa® Credit Card

Elements Financial Platinum Visa® Credit Card is close to the perfect credit card. It offers a low everyday borrowing rate, a significant sign-up bonus, and no balance transfer fees. This card is straightforward and easy to use. You have to become a member of Elements Financial Credit Union, but you can easily join online. When it comes to low interest rates for people with average credit, this is our top choice.

No Gimmicks, 9.99% Interest Rate

Elements Financial Platinum Visa® Credit Card

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on ELFCU’s secure website

Elements Financial Platinum Visa® Credit Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
APR
9.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Visa® Platinum Card from Trustmark Bank

People with excellent credit can see rates as low as 7.15% with the Visa® Platinum Card from Trustmark Bank. Even if you have fair credit, your rate is only as high as 12.15%. The card isn’t perfect. It comes with a host of late fees, and other problematic fees that could lead to financial trouble. However, the low borrowing rate makes it worth considering, especially for people who don’t qualify for great rates elsewhere.

Great Rates for All

Visa® Platinum Card from Trustmark Bank

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on Trustmark Bank’s secure website

Visa® Platinum Card from Trustmark Bank

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
APR
7.15%-12.15%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Fair

Tinker Federal Credit Union Visa® Classic

Even people with fair credit can qualify for the Tinker Federal Credit Union Visa® Classic credit card. It’s a straightforward credit card with interest rates between 9.50% and 11.50%, depending on your credit score. The card doesn’t come with special perks or bonuses, but for people with fair credit, this is an excellent unsecured credit card option.

OK for Fair Credit

Tinker Federal Credit Union Visa® Classic

APPLY NOW Secured

on Tinker Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Tinker Federal Credit Union Visa® Classic

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
APR
9.50%-11.50%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Fair

Best Credit Cards for Building Your Credit Score

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

If you’re building or rebuilding your credit score, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers your best opportunity to build credit without unreasonable fees. You won’t pay an annual fee, the deposit is reasonable, and the path to a deposit return is automatic. Other secured credit cards have lower interest rates or smaller required deposits. However, the Discover it® offers the tools and insights that you need to increase your credit score.

Best Secured Card for Bad Credit

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
APR
23.99% APR

Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Also Consider Also Consider

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® offers deposits as low as $49, and you won’t pay an annual fee. Plus you’ll have access to the CreditWise tools that can help you build your credit. Unfortunately, Capital One doesn’t automatically review your credit use to return your security deposit. This means you will have to call the bank after a year to ask for a credit card upgrade.

The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® offers better benefits than other secured credit cards. For example, you’ll get price protection, free extended warranties, and secondary auto rental insurance. However, your credit limit will likely be so low that you can’t take advantage of these protections at first.

Best Credit Cards for Students

Discover it® for Students

The Discover it® for Students credit card offers reasonable rewards to students who might not qualify for better credit cards. With this card, you won’t pay an annual fee, you’ll have access to credit info, and you can earn up to 5% back in rotating categories. Plus, you’ll have a chance to double your rewards at the end of your first year and earn an extra $20 when you keep your grades up. This is an ideal card for college students who want to improve their credit score.

Discover it® for Students

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® for Students

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
up to 5%
APR
13.99%-22.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

Also Consider Also Consider

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One®

Students can earn up to 1.25% cash back when they use the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One®. The card also comes with no foreign transaction fees, travel perks, and more. As a customer, you’ll also have access to the CreditWise® portal from Capital One®. The portal offers free insights into your credit score and the steps you can take to improve it. The rewards aren’t as good as the Discover it® for Students credit card, but it’s worth a look, especially if you already have a bank account with Capital One.

Best Credit Cards for Business Spending

Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

The Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card offers a huge intro bonus and opportunities to earn triple points. Customers can use points directly with partner airlines, redeem through the Chase rewards portal, or choose a statement credit. With a huge intro bonus and great perks, this makes a great card for business owners who want to earn great rewards for their business spending.

Best Credit Card for Business Rewards

Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Annual fee
$95
Rewards
3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in select categories each account anniversary year, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
APR
16.99%-21.99%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Also Consider Also Consider

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

For business owners who want straightforward cash back rewards, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business may be the best option. It comes with unlimited 2% cash back. Plus, you can earn a $500 intro bonus when you spend at least $4,500 in your first three months. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business makes a lot of sense for business owners who want to give their employees credit cards because they don’t charge to make employees authorized users.

The card does have a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), but any business owner who spends more than $1,000 per month will outearn the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, which only earns 1.5% back.

Also Consider Also Consider

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Chase Ink Business CashSM Card

The Chase Ink Business CashSM Card offers 12 months of interest-free financing for business owners. It’s not as long as the intro borrowing period from the Blue BusinessSM Plus Credit Card from American Express, but it is another great option. Right now, you’ll earn a $300 intro bonus when you spend $3,000 in your first three months with the Chase Ink Business CashSM Card. Plus, you’ll enjoy Chase’s famous travel insurance protections on a card with no annual fee. The only drawback to this card is the high everyday borrowing rates and the fees (including a 3% foreign transaction fee and late payment and returned payment fees).

Learn More

A credit card allows you to build a credit score without paying interest or fees, but you shouldn’t open a credit card if you don’t understand how to use it. In our in-depth study of credit card debt, we found that 73.2% of U.S. adults have a credit card, and 58% of them had credit card debt in the last year. That means that a lot of people pay credit card interest each year.

We want everyone to enjoy the benefits of credit card use, but you cannot enjoy the benefits unless you understand the credit card risks. A credit card is a short-term loan. To avoid paying interest on your credit card, you need to pay back the credit card balance on time and in full every month. When you’re prepared to take on that responsibility, open up a credit card.

If you’ve struggled with debt, consider setting guardrails in place for your credit card use. You could use debit cards for all purchases except a small monthly bill (like internet service). This will help you increase your credit score without pushing you to overspend. Some people use services like Debitize to deduct credit card expenses from their checking account as they spend. Both strategies can prevent you from going into debt.

Over time, you may learn about opportunities to borrow money at 0% interest rates, or to earn cash back rewards. However, when you first open a credit card, your primary goal should be building your credit score.

The best type of credit card depends on your credit history and your goals. Many people love credit card rewards. You can earn big sign-up bonuses, or up to 2% cash back on all your purchases when you use credit cards.

Of course, the best credit cards aren’t always the cards that offer the biggest rewards. If you’re trying to pay off debt, you’ll want to look at 0% balance transfer credit cards. People who are new to credit or need to rebuild credit should consider secured credit cards.

Most credit cards have high interest rates. That makes them less attractive for borrowing money in the long term. These days, you can find 0% purchase offers for up to 21 months. Consider 0% purchase cards for times when you have a cash flow emergency or when you want to pay off a larger purchase over time.

The best way to maximize credit card rewards is to take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Credit cards offer bonus rewards worth 10%-30% cash back when you meet a spending threshold. But you need to be careful with this type of strategy.

Deal chasers can end up in serious credit card debt, and they pay more in interest and fees than they earn in rewards. You also may end up paying multiple annual fees on cards you never use.

Low-interest credit cards can be an important part of your financial plan, but you have to be careful when you use them. If you qualify for a 0% APR credit card, consider using that promotional interest rate strategically. Some people use 0% APR rates to even out cash flow for a big purchase. For example, if you need materials for a remodel or new appliances, a 0% loan makes sense. Whenever you borrow on credit cards (even at a 0% rate), you need a plan to pay off the debt before the end of the intro rate. Borrowing money at double-digit rates always hurts. Part of your plan to eliminate debt should involve making more than the minimum payments on your credit card debt, even when the interest rate is at 0%.

Many people keep low-interest credit cards around for emergencies. This is an effective strategy when you’re just getting started or if you have unpredictable income. However, a low-interest credit card does not replace an emergency fund. Everyone can work to save a $1,000 checking account buffer as soon as possible. In time, you may want to save as much as six months of income in cash.

Balance transfers are one of the more complex credit card features. If you have credit card debt or personal loans, you can transfer the balance of an existing debt onto a new credit card. Why would you want to do that? Some credit cards offer 0% introductory interest rates for balance transfers. This means that you can save money on interest payments while you pay down debt.

In our popular guide to becoming debt free, we outline specific ways you can use a balance transfer. Our guidelines help you save money and improve your financial peace of mind.

If you want to use a balance transfer to pay off debt faster, these are the things you should know:

  1. You need to transfer the balance immediately. Balance transfer offers last anywhere from 30 to 90 days after you open a credit card. Take advantage of the 0% interest right away.
  2. You may pay a balance transfer fee. In general, you will pay a 3%-4% balance transfer fee. That means you’ll pay $300-$400 to transfer $10,000 of credit card debt.
  3. You can transfer debt more than once. Most people spend years getting into credit card debt. That means it could take years to get out of debt. You don’t need to pay painfully high interest rates if you can’t eliminate all your debt by the end of the promo period. Instead, make a plan to transfer your debt at the end of the introductory offer. For example, you can use a 15-month balance transfer followed by a 21-month balance transfer to eliminate your credit card debt in less than four years.
  4. Use this calculator to compare personal loans to balance transfers to see which will save you more money.

Credit cards are the best tool for building (or rebuilding) a credit score. They are the only credit option that allows you to build a credit score without paying interest or fees. We’ve seen people build credit scores in the 700s range with just a single credit card.

If you want to build your credit score using just credit cards, follow this strategy. First, identify the type of credit card you should use. Most people open a student credit card or a secured credit card for their first credit account. Look to prequalify for a credit card if possible. Since you want to keep your first credit card open forever, you’ll want to avoid predatory lenders with high fees and unclear contracts. We explain the red flags below.

Once you have a credit card, you’ll want to keep your credit card utilization low. People with the best credit scores typically have utilization rates below 15%. What does that mean? If you have a $200 credit limit, then aim to spend less than $30 per month on your credit card. That doesn’t mean carry a $30 balance from month to month. It means never spend more than $30 on your credit card at one time.

You’ll also need to pay your credit card bill on time and in full every month. This is the easiest way to build your credit score. Keep tabs on your credit score using Credit Karma or a tool offered by your bank. Don’t apply for new credit cards until you have average or good credit.

If you have no credit history, or items in collections, banks will consider you a poor credit risk. That means you won’t get the best credit card perks, and you’ll have high interest. However, people with poor credit shouldn’t be subject to unclear contracts or high fees without merit.

When we read credit card contracts, we’ve noticed that even secured credit cards come with complex fine print that includes:

  • Annual fees automatically added to bills.
  • No opportunity to transfer to an unsecured credit card.
  • User fees.
  • Interest begins accruing immediately (no grace period).

If you’ve got bad credit or no credit, banks like Credit One, First Premier, First Progress, and Continental Finance will target you with fee traps. Most or all products offered by these banks failed MagnifyMoney’s transparency score. If you have a card by one of these banks, shut it down. You don’t need these fee traps. Instead, open a secured credit card from a reputable bank or credit union that is willing to work with you.

Please note: If you’ve undergone bankruptcy in the last year, you may not qualify for secured credit cards from reputable institutions. Rather than choosing a shady lender, wait for a year to open a new credit card.

If you have just a few derogatory marks on your credit, you will probably qualify for secured credit cards that will help you rebuild your credit score.

When you use a credit card responsibly, you’ll enjoy two major perks. First, credit cards help you build your credit. This means you’ll pay less for auto loans or mortgages. It means that landlords will be more likely to accept you as a tenant, and you won’t have to pay deposits for utility bills.

The second perk is protection against fraud. By law, you’ll never pay more than $50 for fraudulent charges on your credit card. However, most credit cards offer an even better perk. They offer $0 fraud liability. Plus, credit card companies monitor your credit card use to shut down fraudulent transactions as soon as they happen.

Debit cards don’t offer that kind of protection. According to the FTC, your bank can hold you responsible for 100% of the losses associated with your debit card if you fail to report the fraud within 60 days.

Debit card liability from FTC.gov.

Most rewards credit cards offer other protections and perks, too. Check your credit card’s guide to benefits to see if you have these amazing benefits:

Price protection – You bought a big ticket item and then found a cheaper price a week later. If your credit card offers price protection, you can get the price difference refunded to your card. Cards that offer this perk usually offer price protection that lasts 30-90 days.

Purchase protection – Protect your items from theft or accidental damage for up to 30-90 days. Credit cards that offer this insurance may require proof of loss or damage. The program also compensates loss only up to $1,000 in most cases. Still, this is a great asset that most people don’t understand.

Visibility to credit score – You need to know your credit score and how to improve your score. Most credit card companies now offer free credit-reporting tools to help you improve your credit health.

Free extended warranties – Never pay for an extended warranty again. Many credit cards will match manufacturer warranties.

Auto rental collision damage waiver – If you don’t have rental protection on your car insurance, you want to rent cars with a credit card that offers primary auto rental collision damage waivers. This benefit will easily save you $20 or more every day that you rent a vehicle.

Trip interruption/cancellation insurance – Was your trip interrupted or canceled due to events outside of your control? Your credit card may refund what your airline, train, or hotel will not.

Lost luggage insurance – Airlines won’t compensate you when they lose your luggage, but your credit card will. Credit cards that offer this perk usually limit loss to $3,000 per person.

Concierge level identity theft resolution services – If you become the victim of identity theft, the biggest cost to you is your time. Some credit cards will resolve all identity-theft-related issues for you.

Access to airport lounges – Some high-fee travel credit cards give you unlimited access to airport travel lounges.

Upgrades on hotel stays – Credit cards offer all kinds of hotel-related perks. You can get everything from free breakfast to discounted room upgrades to elite hotel membership status.

Free checked bags – Some airline cards offer free checked bags. Other cards will refund airline fees up to a set amount each year.

Concierge services – Need help booking tickets or hotels or reserving restaurants? Call the concierge service provided by your credit card. They will provide you with insights and the help you need to make your life easier.

The most common credit card fees are late payment fees. If you pay your bill late by even a day, most credit card companies will automatically assess a fine in excess of $20 (some are as high as $39).

The good news is if you have a history of on-time payments, most banks will waive the late payment fee if you call and ask them.

Other common fees you should consider include:

  • Foreign transaction fees: You’ll pay 1%-3% on every transaction that you make overseas.
  • Returned payment fees: If the check for your payment bounces, you’ll pay a hefty fee in most cases.
  • Cash advance fees: Unless you want to pay $5-$10 to get cash out of an ATM, avoid cash advances.
  • Balance transfer fees: When you transfer a balance, you’ll generally pay 3%-4% of the total balance.
  • Penalty APR: Your interest rate may increase if you make a late payment.

The minimum payment calculation differs by credit card issuer. The most common is 1% of the principal balance plus any interest or fees that accrued in the month (or a set amount, like $25, if the minimum due is very low).

If you look on the back of you bill, your credit card company will provide information on how to pay off your debt in three years or less.

It’s better to make no payment than to make a payment less than your required minimum. If you have multiple credit cards, try to make the minimum payments on the greatest number of credit cards. Don’t pay late on one credit card one month, and then a different card the next month. This will just get you into a game of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

If you truly cannot make the minimum payments, choose which card should go into default. Strategic default will trash your credit score, but it’s better than starving or going homeless.

In the long run, you will need to increase your income and decrease your expenses, so that you can pay off all your debt.

If you use your credit card at an ATM to take out cash, a few things will happen. First, you would be charged a cash advance fee, which is usually about 3%. Second, interest would start accruing immediately, because most issuers do not have a cash advance grace period. And the cash advance interest rate is usually much higher than the purchase rate. Don’t be surprised to see interest rates as high as 24% (or higher).

We do not recommend closing credit cards because it can reduce your credit score. Closing unused credit cards does two things. First, it reduces your total available credit. That increases your utilization, which is bad for your score. Second, the age of your open credit cards helps your score. If you close old accounts, you can hurt your score over time.

However, we recommend closing credit cards from time to time. You may wish to close a credit card that has an annual fee. Before you close a credit card, try to call the bank and ask about a no-fee option.

You might also need to close a secured credit card if your lender will not return your deposit despite your credit score growth.

If you choose to close a credit card, follow these guidelines: Don’t close a credit card if you need a new loan in the next six months. Open a new credit card before you close an existing credit card.

Every credit card application requires a bank to make a hard credit inquiry. A hard credit inquiry will reduce your credit score about 5-10 points in most cases. In general, you only want to apply for one credit card at a time. You should also wait at least three months between applications in most cases.

If you’ve got no credit, bad credit, or fair credit, you may struggle to get approved for a credit card. Instead of applying for tons of credit cards at once, look to prequalify for a credit card. This will keep your credit score up.

NO! Carrying a balance will not help your credit score. This nasty rumor keeps good people trapped in bad debt. You do not need to pay interest to grow your credit score.

Although carrying a balance will not help your credit score, using your credit card will help your score. If you don’t use your credit card, your bank will not report usage to the three major credit bureaus. This won’t help your credit score grow.

As a rule of thumb, you should use your credit card at least once every month. Once you make a charge, you can pay off your bill.

The law requires that any payment amount beyond the minimum due must be applied to the highest APR balance first. Most credit card companies apply the minimum payment to the lowest APR balance first. As a customer, you want to eliminate high APR debt. That means you should make payments as big as possible. The extra amount will always go to the most expensive debt first.

If a bank denies your credit card application, they must explain why they denied your application. However, answers can be frustratingly vague. These are the most common reasons that your credit card application was denied.

  • Bad credit history: If you have items in collections, late payments, auto repossession, foreclosure, or bankruptcy on your credit report, you may not qualify for certain credit cards. A history of defaulting on credit cards makes it particularly difficult to get a decent credit card. However, you can recover from bad credit. These six steps can help you improve your credit score over time.
  • No credit history: You may also struggle to get a credit card if you have no credit history. If you’ve never had a loan or credit card, consider a secured credit card first. You may also have some luck opening up a store or gas station credit card.
  • No evidence of income: Credit card companies need to know that you can pay your bill. If you’re unemployed or your income is sporadic, the company may not extend a line of credit to you.
  • You’re too young: If you’re under 18, you won’t qualify for a credit card without a co-signer. Young adults 18-21 years old may struggle to obtain a credit card, too. We recommend secured credit cards or student credit cards for young adults.
  • You applied for a bunch of credit cards: Applying for multiple credit cards at once sends negative signals to banks. They see someone who is desperate for credit. That means, you have a higher risk of default. Apply for one credit card at a time. Ideally, you should wait at least three months between credit card applications.
Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah at hannah@magnifymoney.com

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Best Checking Accounts With No Overdraft Fees

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Woman trying to protect her saving

Overdraft fees can be one of the worst bank fees to deal with. According to research by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, overdraft fees are typically triggered from smaller transactions – the median amount is $24 for debit cards.

When you factor in that the median overdraft fee is $34, you’re paying double what you intended!

If you’re tired of worrying about overdraft fees, we have five banks that offer a solution: they don’t charge overdraft fees, and many of them decline charges that would cause you to overdraft, so you’re not at risk for incurring a fee.

Bank of Internet USA: Rewards Checking

Bank of Internet USA

This rewards checking account from Bank of Internet has no overdraft fee or non-sufficient funds fee. Instead, charges are declined if you don’t have overdraft protection.

Overdraft protection is free to set up and use – it just requires you to link a checking account to an online savings or money market account.

In addition to having no overdraft fees, Bank of Internet is an excellent choice for a checking account because there are no maintenance fees, no minimum monthly balance requirement, unlimited ATM reimbursements, and free bill pay.

Fidelity Cash Management Account

Fidelity

The Fidelity Cash Management Account’s tagline is “all the features you need from a traditional checking account, without the bank fees.” Fidelity holds true to this with no overdraft fees and no charge to use overdraft protection. Fidelity declines charges if there’s no overdraft protection in place.

To enroll in overdraft protection, you can link a savings or brokerage account to your cash management account. Funds will automatically be transferred to cover a pending transaction if you don’t have enough in your account.

There’s no line of credit option.

Ally Bank – Interest Checking Account

 

Ally Bank

There is no overdraft fee when you have an Ally Interest Checking account if you have overdraft protection. You can enroll in overdraft protection by linking an Ally savings or money market account to your checking account. Funds are moved in increments of $100.

If you don’t have overdraft protection and go overdraft, you will get a once-a-day charge of $9. That means if you have more than one overdraft item in a single day, the most you’ll be charged is $9 – you won’t get charged a fee every time an overdraft occurs.

On the plus side, there aren’t any maintenance fees, there’s no minimum to open an account, and there are no fees incurred when transferring money to a non-Ally bank account.

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Capital One 360 Checking Account

Capital One

By opening an overdraft line of credit with Capital One 360, you can borrow money against a set interest rate (currently 12.25% variable APR), and pay it back over time, rather than paying a flat overdraft fee. The maximum line of credit is $1,000.

For example, if you overdraw your account by $50, and leave it overdrawn for 5 days, you’ll only be charged $0.08, versus the average overdraft fee of $27.

You’ll know you’re in overdraft as Capital One 360 displays the negative amount you owe on your checking account balance, and they also send you an email alert. Check out the FAQ here.

In addition to this, Capital One 360 checking has no fees and no minimums.

Simple

Simple mobile bank

Similar to Bank of Internet, Simple’s checking account doesn’t charge for overdraft fees or returned item fees. There are no minimums, no monthly fees, and you get access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs.

Be aware that Simple is extremely mobile friendly. You can access most features (except its photo check deposits) from the web, but Simple recommends having a smartphone to use its mobile app.

Overall, Simple offers a different kind of banking experience, as it provides tools to help you manage your money. With its “Safe-to-Spend” program, Simple takes into account any upcoming bills or scheduled transfers you have, and does the math and tell you what you can afford to spend. You can also track your financial goals within its mobile app.

Multiple Fees in a Day

Overdraft fees aren’t just a simple one-time charge at many banks. In fact, you could end up racking up more than $100 in fees (perhaps even $140) in a single day. Depending on bank policy, each overdraft charge will result in a fee with a maximum cap being three or four fees per day. If each overdraft fee comes at $35 and you don’t max out until four charges, that’s $140!

Best practice is of course to keep tabs on when you’re dipping low in a checking account and could be going overdraft (or set up account alerts), but sometimes everything aligns against you and bills could be taken out of your account right when you’re making a few purchases resulting in overdraft fees.

So, You Think You’re “Protected”

Plenty of banks provide overdraft protection services to help provide support to customers who find themselves in an overdraft situation. The premise is simple: the customer links her checking account to her savings or money market account. If the checking account goes overdraft, then the bank automatically pulls money from savings to checking in order to cover the difference. Typically, the money is moved in increments of $50 or $100.

Sounds reasonable enough. Except what many banks charge for this protection isn’t reasonable. This transaction costs the bank pennies on the dollar and yet some of the biggest banks charge $10 or more. You’re still paying unreasonable fees, even with protection.

There are some banks and credit unions that offer a line of credit for overdraft charges, which provides a loan at a set interest rate instead of a flat fee. So, if you go overdraft you’ll just be borrowing against your line of credit instead of getting smacked with a flat fee.

Ditch Overdraft Fees Forever

Overdraft fees are extremely expensive. Think about it – buying an item that costs $5, and getting hit with a $27 fee, isn’t fun at all. Incurring bank fees means your money is being thrown out the window. If you’re particularly prone to overdrawing your account, plug that leak by signing up with one of these five no overdraft fee checking accounts.

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Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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Best of, Building Credit

Best Secured Credit Cards When You Don’t Have Any Credit History

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

storecard - lg

Updated: June 1, 2017

There is a difference between “no credit” and “poor credit.” No credit means you’ve never taken out a line of credit. It’s common with recent college graduates who didn’t take out student loans or 18 year olds leaving the nest and entering the workforce. Poor credit is typically the result of a slip up: missing a credit card payment, defaulting on a loan, a medical bill going to collections.

A secured card offers a solution to building credit from scratch. Because you don’t have any credit history, a lender isn’t inclined to trust you. A secured card is a way to prove to a lender you can be responsible while the lender minimizes risk.

[Make sure you understand HOW to use a secured card before you get one.]

In order to open a secured card, you put down a deposit and the lender gives you a line of credit – typically the same as the amount you put down. Not all secured cards operate the same way. Some secured cards charge an annual fee while others require steep deposits.

Before you start applying haphazardly, see if your local bank or credit union offers a competitive secured card. With no credit, you may have an easier time being approved with a financial institution you’ve already established a relationship with. If the fees and deposit required from your local bank or credit union seem to steep, be sure to check out the options below.

Below, we’ve outlined secured cards with a variety of conditions, but all of which tend to approve people with no credit history.

If you’re a current college student looking to build credit, then apply first for a student credit card instead of a secured card.

Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee
Discover has a market leading secured credit card and even if you don’t have any credit history at all, it is still possible to get approved. This card is best for people with no credit, or scores of 670 or less.

There is no annual fee, but you need to make a security deposit of $200 or more to establish your credit line. Our favorite feature is the automatic review process. Discover offers automatic monthly reviews starting at 8 months to see if you can be transitioned to an account with no security deposit.

You also get to earn earn cash back: 2% at restaurants and gas stations (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter). Plus, you get 1% cash back on all your other purchases. To avoid paying interest, pay your balance in full and on time every month.

State Department Federal Credit Union

Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card from State Department Federal
SDFCU’s EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card sounds elite, but you can be eligible for as little as $5, as long as you have the $250 for the deposit.

You are eligible to join the SDFCU if you’re an employee of the Department of State or one of the extensive organizations with ties to the credit union (all listed here under “who can join”). If you don’t work for the Department of State, you may also be eligible through the American Consumer Council. You can join the ACC for only $5 if you’ve used any major consumer product or service within the past 12 months – and you probably have.

USAA Secured Card

USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®
The comes with one big catch, you have to be a USAA member or have military affiliation personally or through family in order to become a member.

USAA’s secured card comes with a $35 annual fee and you must put a deposit of $250 – $5,000 into a CD in order to open the secured card. This deposit will be your credit limit. The APR can range from 9.9% to 19.90%, so never carry a balance on the card.

Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card

nRewards Secured Credit Card from Navy FCU
Navy Federal Credit Union also requires military affiliation to be eligible for it’s nRewards Secured Card. It also comes with the hefty deposit of $500. There is no annual fee and a variable APR starting at 8.99%.

While there is a rewards aspect of this card, we recommend ignoring it and focusing on building your credit score above 700 so you’re eligible for a truly competitive rewards credit card.

DCU Visa Platinum Secured Card

DCU Visa Platinum Secured from Digital FCU The Visa Platinum Secured Card comes with a hefty minimum deposit of $500, but doesn’t have an annual fee. However, you will need to pay to join this credit union if you aren’t already a member.

  • Cost to join – $5 to join DCU + membership costs to join eligible organization if you aren’t eligible
  • Minimum deposit – $500

Just like with USAA and Navy Federal, you must be a member to be eligible. Except with the DCU, it’s easy to become a member. You can be eligible to join DCU if a relative is already member, if your employer offers membership or your community is included within field of membership. If none of these apply, you can join an organization with member privileges. Joining these organizations range in membership cost from $25 to $120. Once you join DCU, you have a lifelong membership, so you could cancel a membership with the other organization after joining.

Capital One Secured Mastercard

If you can’t afford a hefty deposit of $110 – $500, consider the Capital One secured card.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard® Capital One offers a secured card with a $49 minimum deposit for a $200 line of credit.

Unfortunately, the $49 deposit isn’t a guarantee because it’s based on “creditworthiness.” It is possible Capital One will ask for a deposit of $99 or $200, especially if you have no credit history.

 

Harley Davidson Visa Secured Card from U.S. Bank

Harley-Davidson Visa Secured Card from US Bank
We know it seems a little strange, but the Harley Davidson Visa Secured Card from US Bank offers a good option for those not interested in paying to join a credit union and trying to avoid an annual fee (aren’t we all?).

Here are the details:

  • 22.99% APR – so don’t carry a balance
  • Minimum deposit – $300
  • No annual fee

View other options on our Secured Credit Card Comparison Table

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erin@magnifymoney.com

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