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Credit Cards

Best Cashback Sign-Up Bonus Offers of May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication.

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You’re always looking for the best deals when it comes to credit card bonuses. A popular lure credit cards are using to bring in new customers is cashback sign-up bonuses.

In a recent study, we found that the average introductory bonus in the travel rewards credit card category in 2018 is now 40,556 points, more than double the average bonus in 2008 (16,050 points) and up from 34,327 points five years ago. But these bonuses also come at a steep cost to consumers, with the average annual fee on a card with a bonus offer is $120, up 62% from $74 in 2008, according to the report.

After looking at the available cards, we found three we felt offered the best benefits for those looking specifically for ones with cashback sign-up bonuses. All three cards offer the cashback bonus without having to spend large amounts of money to get it. And they all offer ongoing cashback options and perks once the cashback intro bonus is gone, all with no annual fees.

Cards with the best sign-up bonuses

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Quicksilver<sup>®</sup> Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

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Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card starts with One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, the highest among the three cards highlighted in this review. Once you spend $500 in three months to get the cashback bonus, it’s applied to your rewards balance within two billing cycles.

Cardmembers get a flat 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day, and you don’t have to register every quarter to get it. You’re also not limited to select categories to get the cash back and there’s a None foreign transaction fee.

Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on the card. At unlimited 1.5% cash back, you’ll get $360 at the end of the year. Your rewards don’t expire during the life of the account, and you can redeem cash back for any amount.

The perks with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card are pretty good considering it’s a no-fee credit card. There’s the usual benefits that come with Visa Signature®, including free upgrades and special savings at hotels, resorts and spas, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and fine wine and food events, free 24-hour concierge service, shopping and savings and special offers from retailers. There are also popular benefits like purchase security, roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement and travel accident insurance.

Other cards may offer more bonus points or miles — for a higher spend — than the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. They may also more in cashback awards, especially in targeted categories like travel and dining, than what’s offered with this card.

Uber Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.49%-25.24%

variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else
Rewards
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else
New Uber Visa Card members can earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days. The cashback bonus is applied to your card as soon as you make the required purchases within the first 90 days after you open your account. You don’t pay foreign transaction fees on the card.

If you spend around $800 a month on dining, you’ll earn $384 a year in cash back. The cash back in the travel category includes airfare, hotels and home share services like Airbnb. Spend $1,500 a month with the Uber Visa Card on these categories and get $540 back after a year.

After your bonus is credited, there are more perks that come with the Uber Visa Card. Music lovers who spend at least $5,000 a year on it can get up to a $50 credit for online digital subscription services. You get up to $600 for mobile phone damage or theft when you pay your mobile phone bill with your card. The card also gives you access to invitations to exclusive events and offers in select U.S. cities.

You can redeem your Uber Visa Card points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back, all via the Uber app once your balance hits $5 or 500 points. You must add your Uber Visa Card to your Uber account to take advantage of this feature. As long as the account is active and in good standing, your points never expire.

There are other cards that offer higher cash back for popular categories like airfares, hotels and dining. The cashback balance on your Uber Visa Card must reach $25 before you can use it for gift cards, statement credit or direct deposit. Your cash back redemption is capped at $500 a day. And the card doesn’t have an intro balance transfer rate.

The information related to the Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

TruWest Visa<sup>®</sup> Signature Card

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on TruWest Credit Union’s secure website

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TruWest Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
9.40%-10.40%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
With the TruWest Visa Signature Card, you get a $100 introductory bonus when you spend $100 in the first 90 days after being approved. It’s not the most lucrative bonus out there, but we like it for a different reason: This is by far the lowest spend requirement among the three cards in this review.

The best feature of the TruWest Visa Signature Card is that it starts with a generous 0% intro APR for 18 months on all purchases and balance transfers. After 18 months, there’s a very reasonable variable APR.

You automatically earn 1.5% cash back under the card’s TruRewards program, plus you get up to 1 point for every $1 spent. If you spend $1,000 a month on the card, you’ll get $180 back after a year of spending.

The fine print: You must be a member of the TruWest Credit Union, with a minimum deposit of $5 to qualify, before you can apply for the TruWest Visa Signature Card. To become a member, you must either: live, work or own a business in Maricopa, Pinal, Pima or Yavapai counties in Arizona, or Travis or Williamson counties in Texas; attend school in Travis or Williamson, Texas; or be related to a member or be the surviving spouse of a deceased member.

How to use points

You can earn 5,000 bonus points when you add a cardholder to your account, which gives you more ways to boost your point totals. You also earn up to 10 extra points per $1 spent when you use them to make qualifying purchases on the TruRewards website.

You can use your points and cash back in the Get Extra Points program, where you can apply your cash back to your credit card account, buy gift cards from TruWest or retailers, book a flight, hotel or cruise, buy more than 300 different items ranging from electronics to jewelry and donate points to your favorite charities. You can choose the split-pay option, where you can redeem points and pay for items using your TruWest Visa Signature Card.

Like the, Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, the TruWest Visa Signature Card gives you access to all the benefits of the Visa Signature program.

Alternatives to these cards

If these cashback bonus offers aren’t quite showing you the money, you may want to consider cards that offer double cashback benefits — with no annual fee, but also no cashback sign-up bonus — as an alternative.

Citi<sup>®</sup> 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

Regular Purchase APR
14.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$0*
Rewards Rate
1% cash back when you buy and 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent, Good

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t force you to register in order to get cash back. Unlike cards with higher cashback options, almost all of your purchases are covered.

There are no caps on the total amount of cash back you can earn. So if you spend $1,000 a month on the card, that means you’ll get $120 in cashback rewards in a year. And you can get another $30 a year back if you make payments of $250 a month.

Once your cash rewards balance hits $25 or more, you can redeem your cash rewards as a check, a statement credit to your account, a gift card or as credit to a linked Citi savings or checking account or to a checking account where you have paid a Citi credit card bill at least twice.

Benefits that come with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer aren’t as robust as other cards in this category. And don’t use this card when you travel outside the U.S., since it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

If your account is closed, you won’t be able to earn or redeem your cash rewards, and you forfeit any accumulated cash rewards. Your cash rewards balance will expire if you have not earned any cash back from purchases or payments for 12 months.

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

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

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Discover it® - Cashback MatchTM

Regular APR
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 14 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good Credit

The great thing with the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ is that it matches all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year. So if you earned $1,200 in cash back in your first year, Discover will match that to $2,400 after your first 12 consecutive billing periods. The cash back is then applied to your account in the following one or two billing periods.

Each quarter, you can earn 5% cash on specific categories up to the quarterly maximum. It’s stand-alone grocery stores in the second quarter, restaurants in the third quarter and Amazon.com and wholesale clubs in the fourth quarter.

You must register for the categories each quarter in order to get the cashback reward. The cashback quarterly maximum is $1,500 for the Discover it® - Cashback Match™, but there’s no limit on the overall amount of cash back you can earn.

If you do a balance transfer, you can save money if you pay off the balance before the end of the card’s 14-month term. But you will pay a 3% balance transfer fee.

The Discover it® - Cashback Match™ gives you free access to your FICO® Score on monthly statements, online and on the mobile app, and allows you to use the Freeze it® on/off switch feature that stops purchases, cash advances and balance transfers if you misplace your card.

If you want to spend some of your Discover it® - Cashback Match™ cashback rewards or go shopping, you can do it on the Discover Deals website. Here you can earn more cashback bonuses when you shop for deals from top brands or get discounts at the Discover Travel Deals site for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises.

After the first year, the Discover it® - Cashback Match™’s cashback match rewards goes away, and you don’t get the more robust travel and purchase benefits of other cards.

The bottom line

The introductory cashback bonuses for these credit cards can seem appealing when you first sign up. But you need to ask which benefits remain once you spend that initial bonus. And you need to balance whether the card is just as appealing once the more attractive intro purchase and balance transfer rates expire.

Since you don’t have to worry about annual fees, focus on a card with benefits that go beyond the initial intro cashback bonus. You want to get unlimited rewards with at least 1% cash back at a bare minimum.

It’s even better if you get a card that goes above the usual 1% on items in selected categories. You also want to have access to a website that will let you maximize your cashback rewards and get discounts for shopping. And you want a card that offers secondary perks like travel discounts, purchase and travel insurance and car rental collision coverage.

Keep your balances low and pay your card on time because you may end up paying your credit card company for the privilege of getting cashback rewards.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Benét J. Wilson
Benét J. Wilson |

Benét J. Wilson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Benét J. at benet@magnifymoney.com

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Credit Cards

Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus For May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication.

As the credit card market gets increasingly more crowded, issuers are trying to gain customers with enticing sign-up bonuses. Typical sign-up bonuses require you to spend a given amount (usually ranging from $500 – $5,000) within the first few months of account opening (on average the first 3 months) before you can reap your reward. The type of bonus you earn can differ by issuer and come in the form of points, miles, cash back, and statement credit.

In this post, we list the best sign-up bonuses that you can earn from new credit cards, organized by credit cards for personal or business use and by category (travel, airline, cash back, and more).

Personal

Best travel rewards sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$95 Ongoing

Rewards

2 points on travel and dining, 1 point on all other spending

Regular Purchase APR

17.49%-24.49%

Variable

The bonus offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

What the points are really worth: 1 point is worth $.01, and when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1 point is worth $.0125.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 25% more in redemption: When you redeem points for travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards® your points get 25% more value. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer: Points can be transferred at a 1:1 rate to participating frequent travel programs currently including: British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® and World of Hyatt.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good fit for people who frequently travel and would like an increased redemption value for their points with the 25% more value you receive when redeeming for travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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

Best hotel credit card sign-up bonus: Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

Marriott Rewards<sup>®</sup> Premier Plus Credit Card

Annual fee

$95 For First Year

$95 Ongoing

Rewards

Earn 6 points for every $1 spent at over 6,500 participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels and 2 points everywhere else.

Regular Purchase APR

17.49%-24.49%

Variable

The bonus offer: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

What the points are really worth: The value of Marriott rewards points vary by redemption method, and there is no set monetary value.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • Free Night Award: Benefit from a Free Night Award each year after your account anniversary — valid for a one night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points. Other terms apply.
  • Elite status: Coming in 2019, receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year. Restrictions apply.
  • Flexible redemption options: Redeem points for hotel stays, room upgrades, experiences, car rentals, TSA Precheck, gift cards, and more.

Bottom Line: The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card is ideal for people who stay at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, as the rewards program is structured around those purchases and you can receive a free night stay each account anniversary.

The information related to the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best airline credit card sign-up bonus: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

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

Annual fee

$99, waived for first 12 months*

Rewards Rate

2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*

Regular Purchase APR

17.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)

APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

The bonus offer: For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening* .

What the points are really worth: The value of AAdvantage® miles vary by redemption method, and there is no set monetary value.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 10% miles back: You can earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back, with a maximum of 10,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles per calendar year*.
  • Preferred boarding: You can board the plane faster when flying with American Airlines*.
  • First checked bag free: On domestic American Airlines flights, your first checked bag is free for you and up to four companions.
  • 25% inflight savings: Receive a 25% savings on eligible inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*.

Bottom Line: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is a great choice for American Airlines flyers who want to enjoy extra perks on their flights such as preferred boarding and inflight savings.

Best cash back sign-up bonus: Discover it® - Cashback Match™

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

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

The bonus offer: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • Conveniently redeem cash back: Your cash back can be redeemed at any time and for any amount. This is great since other cards often impose a $20-$25 minimum redemption amount.
  • No late fee on your first late payment: Discover will give you a pass on your first late payment, a good reminder to set up autopay or calendar alerts.

Bottom Line: The Discover it® - Cashback Match™ is a great option for people looking to earn additional cash back with the Cashback Match™ feature — all without a minimum spending requirement.

Best luxury card sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve<sup>SM</sup>

Annual fee

$450 For First Year

$450 Ongoing

Rewards

3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Regular Purchase APR

17.49%-24.49%

Variable

The bonus offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

What the points are really worth: 1 point is worth $.01, and when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 1 point is worth $.0150.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 50% more in redemption: Points redeemed for travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards earn 50% more in redemption value. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer: Easily transfer points at a 1:1 rate to participating frequent travel programs currently including: British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® and World of Hyatt.
  • Airport lounge access: You can access over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with a complimentary, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a fantastic sign-up bonus that can benefit from the 50% more value points earn when redeemed for travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards — great for travelers looking to maximize their points.

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

Best student credit card sign-up bonus: Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Citi ThankYou<sup>®</sup> Preferred Card for College Students

Annual fee

$0*

Rewards Rate

Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment and Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases

Regular Purchase APR

15.99% - 25.99%* (Variable)

APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

The bonus offer: Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

What the points are really worth when redeemed for…

  • Travel with Citi’s travel portal: 1 point is worth $.01
  • Gift cards: 1 point is worth $.01
  • For purchases / statement credit: 1 point is worth $.0075
  • Shop with points, merchandise: 1 point is worth less than $.01
  • Cash back: 1 point is worth $.0005

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 0% Intro period: There is an intro 0% for 7 months on Purchases* on purchases which is a decent intro period for a student card. After the intro period, standard APR is 15.99% - 25.99%* (Variable).
  • Citi Price Rewind: When you register an item you paid for with your card, Citi will search for a lower price. If a lower price is found within 60 days, you may receive the difference between the price you paid and the lower price.

Bottom Line: The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students is a good card for students looking to maximize points on dining and entertainment purchases, while also potentially benefiting from money saving features like Citi Price Rewind.

Business

Best cash back sign-up bonus for businesses: Ink Business CashSM Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

Earn 5% cash back in select business categories

Regular Purchase APR

14.74%-20.74%

Variable

The bonus offer: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 0% Intro period: This card offers an intro 0% for 12 Months on purchases allowing your business time to pay off any large purchases made during this period. There is also 0% for 12 Months on balance transfers. After the intro period ends, a 14.74% – 20.74% Variable APR applies.
  • Higher rewards rate for select business purchases: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. This is helpful for business that typically spend in these categories.

Bottom Line: The Ink Business CashSM Credit Card is great for businesses that want a flexible cash back card that allows them to choose select business categories to earn the higher cash back rate.

The information related to the Ink Business CashSM Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best travel points sign-up bonus for businesses: Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Annual fee

$95 For First Year

$95 Ongoing

Rewards

Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories

Regular Purchase APR

17.49%-22.49%

Variable

The bonus offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

What the points are really worth: 1 point is worth $.01, and when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 1 point is worth $.0125.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 25% more in redemption: When you redeem points for travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards, they are worth 25% more. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 towards travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer: If you’re a part of participating frequent travel programs, you can transfer points at a 1:1 rate. Partners currently include: British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® and World of Hyatt.
  • Higher rewards rate for select business purchases: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. This is a great way for you to earn points on purchases your business spends a lot in.

Bottom Line: The Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card is a great card for businesses that travel since you can earn 25% more value in point redemptions with Chase Ultimate Rewards. Also, if your business wants to choose which categories they want to earn the higher rewards rate in, this card has several options with something for all businesses.

The information related to the Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Learn More

How to maximize your sign-up bonus

Below we list some helpful tips for you to select the best sign-up bonus for your spending and how to make sure you actually earn the bonus. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Understand how the minimum spend requirement and time period works. Nearly all sign-up bonuses require a minimum spend for you to earn the bonus. For example, a card may require you to spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening to earn 5,000 bonus points. If you open your card January 1, then you have until March 30 to spend $1,000. Each sign-up bonus differs, so make sure to check the terms and conditions.
  • What qualifies as spending on purchases? Sign-up bonuses have clear terms that require you to spend a certain amount, that means certain transactions don’t count for the spending requirement. Transactions that aren’t often eligible often include: balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers, interest, and fees of any kind.
  • Make a large purchase upfront to secure the bonus. If you plan on making a large purchase like a laptop or television, try and make it as soon as possible so you can meet the required spending for the bonus. But only do this if it’s feasible to pay it off soon after. If you make a large purchase upfront and are unable to pay it off before your statement is due, you will be stuck paying interest — unless your card has a 0% intro APR period. Still, you don’t want to fall into debt just to get the sign-up bonus.
  • Check other terms and conditions. A good rule of thumb is to look at the terms and conditions before you apply for any card. This allows you to see if the points / cash back expire or are only redeemable in certain ways. Reviewing the T&C can prevent you from missing out on your sign-up bonus.
  • Don’t be too greedy. To thwart people from nabbing sign-up bonuses and closing cards repeatedly, issuers may have rules that prevent customers from signing up for several cards from the same issuer over the course of a specific time period.
  • Take note: offers are time sensitive. Sign-up bonuses can change at any time, meaning an offer you click on may not be there later if you refresh or close the window.

How we picked the best sign-up bonus offers

The way we formulated this list was by looking at cards from all major issuers as well as some credit unions. From there we divided cards into two categories — travel points and cash back. When comparing cards in the travel category, we made sure to compare points worth, spending requirements, and rewards bonuses for redeeming via the issuer’s portal. For cash back cards, we simply looked at the size of the bonus and spending requirements. If there were cards with similar sign-up bonuses, we considered other features such as 0% intro period, APR and annual fees.

Let’s take an example, where 2 rewards cards both require you to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership:

  • Card A earn you 50,000 points
  • Card B earns you 60,000 points

Now someone may only look at the sign-up bonus for the Card B offer and think, “Wow, I earn 10,000 more points compared to Card A, I want Card B.”

But a closer look at the terms and conditions reveal that the points’ value differs for each card:

  • Card A’s points are worth $.0125 each when redeemed through the issuer’s portal
  • Card B’s points are worth $.01 each

Here’s the monetary value of the sign-up bonus for each card:

  • Card A: $625
  • Card B: $600

So the sign-up bonus that would be better is Card A, when considering points worth and redemption methods. Therefore, it’s always important to look at various aspects of a card, not solely the sign-up bonus.

Now let’s look at a cash back example:

  • Card A requires you to spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of card opening to earn $150 cash back
  • Card B requires you to spend $500 within the first 3 months of card opening to earn $150 cash back
  • Card C matches your cash back at the end of 12 months, and doesn’t require a minimum spending amount

It’s pretty clear that Card A is the worst value. Card B is better since you have to spend half the amount to earn the same sign-up bonus as Card A. However, if you spend over $15,000 in the first 12 months of card opening, Card C is the best option with unlimited cash back matching and no required spend.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at alexandria@magnifymoney.com

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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards of 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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 2018

Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0*
Cashback Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-24.99%

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<sup>®</sup> Signature Card

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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
Regular Purchase APR
11.74%-14.74%

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<sup>®</sup>

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Capital One® BuyPower Card®

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% on your first $5,000 in purchases, 2% after that
Regular Purchase APR
14.40%-24.40%

Variable

Credit required
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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Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$39
Cashback Rate
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Regular Purchase 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 (up to $6,000 per year) 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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Rates & Fees

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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
Regular Purchase APR
14.49%-25.49%

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<sup>®</sup> Platinum Card

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Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
10.75%-18.00%

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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PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card

Annual fee
$0
Regular Purchase APR
9.74%-17.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

The SavorSM card From Capital One

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.

3% Dining Bonus (And More)

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Savor<sup>®</sup> Cash Rewards Credit Card

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Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
3% on dining, 2% on groceries, 1% on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
15.99%-24.74%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

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<sup>®</sup> Signature Card

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Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, 1% back on other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
15.74%-23.74%

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
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Also Consider Also Consider

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<sup>®</sup> Miles

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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.*
Regular APR
13.49%-24.49%

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<sup>®</sup> Card form Barclays

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Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card form Barclays

Annual fee
$0
Rewards
5 points on eligible priceline.com purchases, 1 point on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
16.24%-26.24%

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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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
Regular Purchase APR
16.74%-20.74%

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
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-24.49%

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<sup>®</sup> 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

18 Months Without Interest

Citi Simplicity<sup>®</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 5% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
Regular Purchase APR
15.49%-25.49%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Also Consider Also Consider

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa<sup>®</sup> Card

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card has an intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers and purchase (after, 16.40%-26.24% variable). However, you will pay late fees on any late payments. As long as you make on-time payments, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card makes an excellent 0% intro APR credit card.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

BankAmericard® Credit Card

The BankAmericard® Credit Card provides cardholders a hard-to-find $0 intro balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10). This is a great way to save money on the 2-5% fee most other cards charge. For example, transferring a balance of $1,000 to another card with a 3% BT fee will incur a $30 fee. While you won’t be charged a fee on balances transferred within 60 days from account opening to the BankAmericard® Credit Card.

15 Months, $0 Intro BT Fee

BankAmericard<sup>®</sup> Credit Card

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BankAmericard® Credit Card

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
Introductory $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
Regular Purchase APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

 

Also Consider Also Consider

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

Chase Slate®

Like Barclays, 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 (16.24%-24.99%), 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

An intro 0% balance transfer, intro 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 and live in CT, DC, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, or VT.

Longest Balance Transfer

Sphere<sup>®</sup> Credit Card from Santander

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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
Regular Purchase APR
13.99%-23.99%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Also Consider Also Consider

Citi Simplicity<sup>®</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citi® Simplicity® Cardrewards, and modest interest rates

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<sup>®</sup> 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
Regular Purchase APR
10.49%

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<sup>®</sup> Platinum Card from Trustmark Bank

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Visa® Platinum Card from Trustmark Bank

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Regular Purchase APR
7.65%-12.65%

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

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Tinker Federal Credit Union Visa® Classic

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Regular Purchase 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<sup>®</sup> Secured Card - No Annual Fee

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Rates & Fees

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Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
24.49%

Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Also Consider Also Consider

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Secured Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

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<sup>®</sup> for Students

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Rates & Fees

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Discover it® for Students

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
Regular APR
14.49%-23.49%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

Also Consider Also Consider

Journey<sup>®</sup> Student Rewards from Capital One<sup>®</sup>

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

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Annual fee
$95
Rewards
Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-22.49%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Also Consider Also Consider

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Spark<sup>®</sup> 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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah here

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Credit Cards

Best Travel Credit Cards May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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Looking over the sheer number of travel credit cards available is enough to overwhelm anyone. With so many cards offering points, miles or cash back, what should you look for in a new travel rewards credit card?

While having options is a good thing, trying to decide on the best travel rewards credit cards available can give you a difficult decision. When considering a new card, there are four factors you should consider before you hit the “apply now” button:

  • No foreign transaction fees. While up to 3% in foreign transaction fees may not sound like much, it can add over a quarter to every $10 you spend abroad. The best travel credit cards may not have foreign transaction fees.
  • Good rewards for spending. For every dollar you spend, you should earn rewards you can apply directly to your next trip: either flights, hotel rooms or other experiences.
  • Sign-up bonuses. Most cards offer a sign-up bonus after a required minimum spend to encourage people to apply for their card. The sign-up bonus should offer a substantial award that justifies the spending.
  • Annual fee. Although most cards come with an annual fee, the points or cash back you could earn should outweigh the cost.

Instead of getting lost looking for the perfect travel rewards card, start with this guide. We found the best travel cards for every lifestyle, each of which offer you some of the best rewards now and over time. If you want good travel rewards for the money you spend, consider adding these credit cards to your wallet.

Best premium travel cards

Premium travel cards come with the highest annual fees but also offer the highest level of rewards. From flexible points that can be transferred to travel partners, to elite hotel and lounge offers, your annual fee can be recovered through the luxury benefits on these cards. If you travel frequently and want to get the best experiences, these are the cards you’ll want.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve<sup>SM</sup>

Annual fee

$450 For First Year

$450 Ongoing

Rewards

3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Regular Purchase APR

17.49%-24.49%

Variable

Why we like it: Because you automatically receive up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers solid rewards for what effectively turns into a $150 annual fee ($450 annual fee minus up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases). Cardholders also receive up to a $100 application fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. In addition, you will earn three Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide, and one point per dollar spent everywhere else. If you make this your primary card, you could earn rewards which value more than the annual fee every year.

Rewards program: Purchases earn points in Chase Ultimate Rewards®, a flexible point program that can be used for travel rewards. One point has a value of 1 cent, but when redeeming for travel through the Chase travel portal, points have a fixed value of 1.5 cents. You can get an even greater value by transferring points to one of Ultimate Rewards® nine airline partners or four hotel partners.

Pros:

  • Flexible points that offer good value. Chase Ultimate Rewards® are among the most flexible in the travel space, with nine airline and four hotel rewards transfer partners – giving you many different ways to use your points. You can also use points through the Chase travel portal at a fixed rate of 1.5 cents each towards airfare and hotels of your choice.
  • Exceptional rewards for travel and dining. Of all the premium credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the most points per dollar spent for both travel and dining. If you primarily use this card when you travel, you would earn unlimited triple points on most of your big expenses.
  • Great travel insurance options. In addition to points earning opportunities and flexible points, this card also offers one of the best travel insurance plans available. When you use your card or Ultimate Rewards® points to pay for your trip, you are automatically covered with baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation insurance and roadside assistance.

Cons:

  • $450 annual fee. One of the biggest cons of this card is the $450 annual fee, due immediately in the first year. Even though $300 can be recovered from the annual travel credit, you still pay the $450 out of pocket. If you do not travel often, this card may not be right for you.
  • Limited travel lounge access. For the high price tag, this card only offers lounge benefits through Priority Pass, a network of lounges around the world. It does not allow entry into any carrier’s lounges and comes with some surprising rules, including limited accommodation during busy times.
  • No elite status with travel partners. Unlike its nearest competitor, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does not come with any elite status with partner brands. If you get accepted for this card, don’t expect to get to the front of the line at any hotels or car rental locations.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express

Annual fee

$550

Rewards Rate

5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.

Regular Purchase APR

N/A

APPLY NOW Secured

on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Why we like it: Considered one of the oldest and most prestigious awards cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers the most elite status, luxury experiences and credits for your spending. When you book trips directly with airlines or American Express Travel, you can also earn five Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent, allowing your rewards to rack up quickly. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. If you value luxury experiences and airline lounge access, this card could be a better choice.

Rewards program: Your purchases will earn Membership Rewards® points, which can be used with American Express or transferred to their travel partners. When using Membership Rewards® points at American Express Travel, your points are valued at 1 cent each, so your best use of points is through transferring to their airline or hotel partners. Points transfer to 16 airlines and three hotels, offering the most choices for award travel.

Pros:

  • Best lounge access programs. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers you the most ways to get into lounges when you travel around the world. In addition to Priority Pass, you can also enter Centurion Lounges and the International American Express lounges on arrival or departure at select airports, as well as Delta Sky Clubs when you are flying on Delta.
  • Elite status for holding the card. The Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with elite status at three car rental and two hotel loyalty programs: Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, National Car Emerald Club, Hilton Honors Gold Elite and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
  • Credits for Boingo Wi-Fi, Global Entry, Shoprunner and Uber. Even with the high annual fee, this premium card also comes with several credits and free services for frequent travelers. Cardholders get free Boingo Preferred Plan membership, free Shoprunner two-day delivery, along with monthly credits for Uber rides and one Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee waiver every five years.

Cons:

  • Highest annual fees. While the card may offer the most status and immediate benefits, it also comes with the highest fee. At $550 for the annual fee, you will be pay for all your benefits in the first month, before you can get any value from them.
  • Only one bonus category. Another major downside of this card is that there is only one bonus category: five points per dollar spent directly with airlines or travel booked through Amex Travel. If you do not spend much on prepaid hotel reservations or airfare, you can’t maximize this bonus category effectively.
  • Limited airline fee credit. For years, The Platinum Card® from American Express was the only card to offer an airline fee credit. Today, it is one of the most limited: $200 only usable towards airline fees, available for only one airline you choose at the beginning of the year.

 

Best travel cards for simple rewards

While earning points and miles can be rewarding, some of the best programs are simple and straightforward. When we looked for the best simple rewards credit cards, we looked for those that not only offered cash back, but also bonuses for spending and redeeming, along with a low annual fee. After considering all our options, these are the best travel rewards cards for simple rewards.

Best cashback travel rewards card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Rewards Rate

2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Regular Purchase APR

14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Why we like it: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has a simple rewards program earning you the same amount of miles for all your spending. So, no need to worry about bonus categories — simply use your card on all purchases to rack up miles. Plus, there’s a current promo where you can earn 10 miles per dollar when you pay with your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card at hotels.com/venture through January 31, 2020.

Rewards program
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. You can redeem miles in several ways: as a statement credit for travel purchases via Purchase Eraser®, for new travel purchases made with the Rewards Center, for a check, account credit, gift card and more. Travel purchases eligible for Purchase Eraser® include: airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and timeshares. Keep in mind that these redemptions must be made within 90 days from the date your travel purchase posts to your account.

Pros:

  • Easy to use rewards. You can easily redeem your points in a variety of ways and Purchase Eraser® makes is simple to get a statement credit for travel purchases made within the past 90 days.
  • Visa Signature® benefits. As a Visa Signature® card, you can benefit from travel perks including lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, the Visa Signature® Luxury Hotel Collection with over 900 properties and more when you use your card. Certain restrictions, limitations, and exclusions apply.
  • 10x miles at hotels.com/venture. This offer allows you to earn a fantastic rate on eligible purchases made at hotels.com/venture when you use your card. Valid through January 31, 2020.

Cons:

  • Annual fee for a cashback card. The card is rather expensive for earning two miles per dollar toward travel, currently $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. If you don’t travel abroad often, there are other cards that offer the same cash back with no annual fee, though they may lack some of the travel perks this card offers.
  • No points transfer. Unlike other travel rewards cards, you can’t transfer points to frequent flyer programs. You have to redeem them in one of the ways mentioned in the ‘Rewards program’ section above.

 

Best travel card for millennials

Uber Visa Card

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else

Regular Purchase APR

16.49%-25.24%

variable

Why we like it: The Uber Visa Card offers high cash back rewards at the places millennials spend the most — all restaurants (including UberEATS), travel, online shopping and streaming services — along with no foreign transaction fees and up to $600 in mobile phone protection with no annual fee. Plus, some of the bonus categories are the biggest in their category: no other credit card offers 4% cash back on all dining purchases. Conditions apply.

Rewards program
The card offers cash back rewards for spending in four different categories:

  • 4% cash back on restaurants, takeout, and bars, including UberEATS
  • 3% cash back on airfare, hotels and vacation home rentals
  • 2% cash back on online purchases including Uber, online shopping, video and music streaming services
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Cash back can be used as statement credits, credits towards Uber rides, redeemed for gift cards or transferred to a bank account with a limit of $500 in transfers per day. Conditions apply.

Pros:

  • Big cash back categories. Of all the cash back cards we have reviewed, the Uber Visa Card has the biggest rewards for both dining and online purchases. Using this card as your primary option for restaurants and digital shopping could help your rewards add up quickly.
  • Up to $600 in mobile phone protection. While many cards offer travel insurance, not many offer cellphone insurance. If you pay your cellphone bill with your Uber Visa Card, you could qualify for $600 in protection for accidental damage or theft. Conditions apply.
  • $50 online subscription service credit. Who doesn’t have at least one online subscription service anymore? If you spend at least $5,000 in your cardmembership year, you automatically get a $50 credit for an online subscription you pay with your card.

Cons:

  • Limited transfer options. While the cash back is good, The Uber Visa only has one transfer partner for their points right now: Uber. You can’t turn over your points into any other loyalty program, limiting their overall usage.
  • Limited definition of “online purchases.” The Uber Visa Card also comes with a very narrow definition of “online purchase” that qualifies for 2% cash back. You’ll have to check your credit card statements to see what counts as an online purchase, though Barclays announced in December that payments through third-party platforms like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay would count toward the 2% category.
  • No travel insurance. Although you may get up to $600 in mobile phone protection, you won’t get any travel insurance benefits when paying for your next trip with this card. If your flight gets delayed or your luggage gets lost, your card won’t reimburse any of your expenses.

Read our review of the Uber Visa Card

 

Best travel card with no annual fee

Discover it® Miles

Discover it<sup>®</sup> Miles

Annual fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Why we like it: While the Discover it® Miles compares closely to other cards with a $0 annual fee, the details make this card a real winner. At the end of your first year, Discover automatically matches all of your earned miles, giving you double the travel purchasing power. The card also comes with strong back-end features, including free Social Security number alerts and FICO® score checks.

Rewards program
The Discover it® Miles offers miles that can be used as cash back to pay for travel experiences. When you book trips using the Discover it® Miles card, you can redeem your miles towards statement credits on the trips, with no blackout dates. Your miles never expire as long as your card is active.

Pros:

  • Good credit security tools and customer service. In addition to having call centers based in the United States, this card also comes with solid credit security tools. These include free FICO® credit scores, Social Security number alerts, Experian® credit report monitoring and the ability to freeze your credit card from the Discover mobile app or website.
  • Wide acceptance in China and Japan. If you travel to Asia often, the Discover it® Miles may be your best bet for secure spending. Discover is accepted by China’s largest credit card network, UnionPay, and one of Japan’s largest payment processors, JCB.
  • Matched miles in the first year. Currently, no other company offers matched points or miles for your first cardholding year, effectively doubling your rewards. If you use this as your primary spending card, you could earn a lot of cash back towards travel.

Cons:

  • No transfer partners. Although doubled miles in the first cardholding year and unlimited rewards are great, you may not get to fly first class with them. Miles do not transfer to any airline partners – they can only be applied as cash back for travel expenses.
  • No bonus categories for earning miles. While other Discover cards offer rotating 5% cashback bonus categories quarterly, the Discover it® Miles offers no bonus categories. This means no matter where you use your card, you will always earn 1.5 points per dollar.
  • Low miles earning after first year. With no bonus categories, this means you may not earn very many miles after the first year.

Best credit union travel card

First Tech FCU Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard®

Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$75 Ongoing

Rewards

3 points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Regular Purchase APR

12.24%-18.00%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on First Technology Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Why we like it: We searched over 50 credit unions with few membership restrictions for the best travel rewards credit cards, and found it at First Tech Federal Credit Union. The Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® offers competitive bonus categories (three Rewards Points for every dollar spent on travel; two Rewards Points for every dollar spent on dining; one Reward Point for every dollar spent on all other purchases), but comes with a lower annual fee and interest rate than its competitors.

How to Qualify: To apply for the card, you must be a member of First Tech Federal Credit Union, which requires you to work for a sponsor company, live in Lane County, Ore., or become a member of the Financial Fitness Association or the Computer History Museum. A membership share in the credit union is $5 (held in a membership savings account), a membership in the Financial Fitness Association is $8, and a membership to the Computer History Museum is $15.

Rewards program
Points earned with the card go towards the Scorecard Rewards program, which fulfills rewards. Your points can be used towards travel experiences including cruises, hotels, or car rental certificates, merchandise available in their catalog, or can be redeemed for cash back. While your points value may vary for awards, cash back rewards are valued at one cent per point.

Pros:

  • Strong bonus categories. The bonus categories offered by the Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® are comparable to other major rewards cards, because it offers three points per dollar spent on travel and two points pers dollar spent on dining. This gives it strong value with better terms for the cardholder.
  • Flexible rewards options. Like other programs, points earned on the Odyssey™ Rewards card can be used toward several different awards. Airfare, cruises, hotel certificates and car rental certificates are all available when you use your points and miles.
  • Lower annual fee and APR than other cards. Credit unions often offer better terms to cardholders than banks, and this card is no exception. The APR may be lower on balances held on the card, and the annual fee is at least $20 less than other comparable cards.

Cons:

  • Points vary in value. The two downsides about Odyssey™ Rewards points are that points vary in value, and they can’t be transferred to other airline partners. Because of this, using them for non-travel rewards may value them under one cent per point.
  • Credit union membership required. While the card is a good deal, you must be a member of the credit union to get the card. If you decide to take your money out of the credit union, your card could be canceled as well.
  • Upfront membership fees. This card is subject to membership in the credit union and an associated organization. Before you can apply for this card, you have to pay $13 in fees.

 

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Best of, College Students and Recent Grads, Credit Cards

Best Student Credit Cards May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication.

Getting a credit card while you’re in college might seem dangerous or confusing. But if you are able to use a student credit card responsibly, you do not need to be afraid, and you can set yourself up for financial success after you leave school.

Fortunately, learning how to choose and use the right student credit card is relatively simple. Make sure you avoid annual fees and go with a bank or credit union you can trust. When you get the card, make sure you use it responsibly and pay the balance in full and on time every month. If you do these things consistently over time, you can leave school with an excellent credit score. And if you want to rent an apartment or buy a car, having a good credit score is very important.

Our Top Pick

Discover it<sup>®</sup> for Students

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® for Students

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
Regular APR
14.49%-23.49%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

Best for Commuter Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
Regular Purchase APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Best Flat-Rate Card

Journey<sup>®</sup> Student Rewards from Capital One<sup>®</sup>

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on Capital One’s secure website

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Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month.
Regular Purchase APR
24.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Average

Best Intro Bonus

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
up to 3%
Regular Purchase APR
12.65%-22.65%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair Credit

Best Credit Union Card

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa

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on Altra’s secure website

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Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
1 point per dollar spent
Regular Purchase APR
15.15%

Fixed

Credit required
zero-credit
New to Credit

Best for Studying Abroad

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
1.5 points per dollar spent
Regular Purchase APR
16.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair Credit, Limited Credit history

Best Secured Card

Discover it<sup>®</sup> 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
Regular APR
24.49%

Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Best for No Credit History

Deserve Edu Mastercard

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on Deserve’s secure website

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
1% on all purchases
Regular Purchase APR
20.24%

Variable

Credit required
zero-credit
New to Credit

Also ConsiderAlso Consider

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards for Students

Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards for Students:

This credit card offers a snazzy rewards program: rather than accumulate points, you’ll get a cash rebate instead. All you have to do is make a purchase. At the end of the month, you’ll get a rebate of 3% of gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, and 1% of all other purchases deposited back into your Golden 1 savings account at the end of the month. You can join Golden 1 by joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8 per year and keeping at least $5 in a savings account.

What should I look for in a student credit card?

The most important thing to consider when looking for a student credit card is that it charges no annual fee. You should never have to pay to build your credit score. Fortunately, most student cards don’t charge you an annual fee, but it’s still something to watch out for.

The second most important thing you should keep an eye out for are tools that help you learn about credit or even promote good credit-building habits. For example, some student credit cards will give you a free monthly FICO score update. You can use this freebie to see in real time how your credit score changes as you build credit history by keeping the card open, or paying down your credit card balance, for example.

The last thing you should be considering when picking out a student credit card is the rewards program. I know, I know, it seems counterintuitive. But stick with me — I’ll show you why in the next question.

Why shouldn’t I be concerned about maximizing my rewards while in college?

Rewards cards are nice to have. But if you’re a college student, here’s the truth: you probably won’t spend enough to earn meaningful rewards.

Why? With a good rewards program, you can earn points or cash back. A small percentage of your monthly spending can add up quickly. However, given the tight budget that most college students live on, it will probably take a while to earn meaningful rewards. For example, if you earn 1.25% cash back and spend $300 a month on your card, you would earn $45 of cash back during the year.

College students are very good at making good use of $45. And our favorite card offers a great cash back rewards program. Just don’t expect to earn a lot of cash back, given the tight budget of a college student.

Why should I get a credit card as a college student?

There are a lot of great reasons why you should get a credit card, as long as you can commit to using it responsibly.

The single biggest reason why you should get a credit card as a college student is because you can start establishing a credit history now. When you graduate from college, you will need a good credit score to get an apartment. And your future employer will likely check your credit report. Building a good credit history while still in college will help prepare you for life after graduation.

Getting a credit card while in college can also train you to develop good credit habits now. But you need to be honest with yourself. If you find that you can’t avoid the temptation of maxing out your credit card, you might want to switch to a debit card or cash.

Finally, getting a credit card now can be the motivation you need to start learning about credit. These skills aren’t hard to learn, and they could save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars later in life (when you want a mortgage, for example).

What is the CARD Act and why should I care about it?

Many years ago, credit card companies would market on college campuses. You could get a free beer mug or t-shirt in exchange for a credit card application. And you would be able to qualify for a credit card without having any income. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act was signed into law in May 2009 to change a number of practices.

How did the CARD Act change student credit cards?

The CARD Act made a lot of changes in how credit card issuers do business with students. One of the biggest changes was requiring students to be able to demonstrate an ability to pay. If you are under 21 and do not have sufficient income (a campus job, for example), you would need to get a co-signer.

In addition, colleges must now limit the amount of credit card marketing on campus. The days of free t-shirts and pizzas in exchange for credit card applications are gone. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible for a college student to get a credit card. Some highly reputable banks and credit unions still offer student cards. And building a good credit score while still in college is still highly recommended.

How can I protect myself from racking up debt?

When used properly, credit cards are a very convenient method of repayment. However, when not used properly, you can end up deep in credit card debt. It is important to establish a healthy relationship to credit now, with your first credit card.

You should try to ensure that you pay off your credit card bill in full and on time every month. Ideally, you should set up an automatic monthly payment. And to keep yourself on track, take advantage of alerts offered by most credit card companies. You can even get daily text messages reminding you of your balance.

How can I automate my credit card usage?

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. There’s actually a way you can automate your payments so you never even have to bother with the hassle of using a credit card. All it takes is a few minutes of upfront work.

First, you’ll need at least one recurring monthly bill of the same amount, such as Netflix or Spotify. Log in to your account and set up an automatic payment each month using your credit card. Make a note of how much your monthly bill costs.

Next, log in to your bank account. Set up a second automatic payment to go to your credit card each month for the same amount as the bill. If your bank doesn’t offer the option to set up automatic payments, you may also be able to set up your credit card to automatically withdraw the amount of the bill from your bank.

Because you know this bill will be for the same amount each month (barring any price increases), you can literally just leave this running in the background each month on autopilot. You don’t even have to carry your credit card in your wallet if you don’t want to. Then, when you graduate, you’ll automatically have an improved credit score!

What happens to my student credit card when I graduate?

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the finish line. But what about your student credit card? You will have a few options once you graduate and we detail them here.

Here is a summary of our favorite cards:

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

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

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Credit Cards

Best Small Business Credit Cards in May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Small business credit cards not only make it easier to separate personal and business finances, they offer business owners advantages they may not need or be able to get with a personal credit card. You might find the number of business credit card options overwhelming, so identifying your priorities will help you choose. Do you want rewards? Or do you merely need a card for short-term financing? The best small business credit card for you will depend entirely on your needs and goals.

Best small business credit cards for financing

0% APR financing

When to consider business cards with intro 0% financing: A business card with an intro 0% APR period can save you hundreds of dollars on interest compared to cards without 0% APR introductory periods. During the intro period, new purchases won’t accrue interest, and you can take your time paying off large purchases such as laptops and desks for your business.

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
12.74% - 20.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 15 Months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The information related to The Blue BusinessSM Plus Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Why we like it: The Blue BusinessSM Plus Credit Card from American Express offers small business owners the chance to finance new purchases with the longest intro period for purchases of any business card at intro 0% APR for the first 15 months; 12.74% – 20.74% variable APR after. Plus, you can earn rewards, receive purchase protection and get extended warranties — all with a $0 annual fee.

What to watch out for: You can lose the intro APR if a penalty APR applies to your account for any reason. To avoid this, always pay your minimum amount due.

Low interest rate

When to consider business cards with low interest rates: If you find your business has to carry a balance from time to time, it can be beneficial to have a low interest credit card that won’t cause you to rack up as much interest as other cards. But as a rule of thumb, try to pay your balance in full every month to avoid interest charges.

Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Platinum Visa<sup>®</sup> Business Credit Card

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Platinum Visa® Business Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
10.74%-21.74%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
No rewards
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Bank of America® Platinum Visa® Business Credit Card has the lowest APR at 10.49% to 21.49% variable. If you qualify for the lowest rate and end up carrying a balance, you’ll be charged substantially less interest than other cards with high APRs. Although there are no rewards, new accounts can earn an online exclusive $200 statement credit bonus after making at least $500 in net purchases in the first 60 days of your account opening. That’s the lowest spending requirement to get a bonus on a business card.

What to watch out for: You may not qualify for the lowest rate because the APR varies based on your personal or business’ credit worthiness.

Cash flow management

When to consider a business card for cash flow management: Some small businesses may not have a consistent cash flow, and that’s where a card with a flexible payment option comes in handy. You may be allowed to carry a balance interest free until your next statement if you make the minimum payment.

The Plum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express OPEN

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250.
Rewards Rate
Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The information related to The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Why we like it: The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN has an uncommon payment option where as long as you pay your minimum due, you can pay your balance in up to 60 days without accruing interest (terms apply). This ‘grace period’ is uncharacteristic of business cards (and all cards in general), providing you with twice as much time as other cards do to pay off your statement without incurring interest charges. There are no rewards, but you can get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.

What to watch out for: To benefit from the extra-days-to-pay feature, make sure you pay your minimum due, or else you’ll miss out on the offer. Also, make sure this card is the best choice for your business because there’s a $0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250.

Imperfect credit

When to consider a business card for imperfect credit: If you or your business has less-than-good credit, odds are you’ll not only have trouble qualifying for a credit card, but the terms you do qualify for won’t be ideal. However, you’re not out of luck — we found a card that considers small businesses with imperfect credit, and it has decent terms plus the foundation for you to improve your credit with responsible behavior.

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Spark<sup>®</sup> Classic for Business

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Regular Purchase APR
24.49% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
bad-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is for business owners with Average/Fair/Limited credit. Capital One considers Average/Fair/Limited credit as someone who’s defaulted on a loan in the past five years or has limited credit history (holding credit for less than three years). So, if you or your business has less-than-perfect credit, you may have better odds qualifying for this card compared to the majority of business cards, which require good or excellent credit.

What to watch out for: Although this card states it’s for business owners with Average/Fair/Limited credit, that does not guarantee you will be approved. As with any credit application, lenders look at a variety of credit factors.

Available for service members

When to consider business cards for service members: The following business credit cards are provided by credit unions for service members and have added perks, such as low interest rates, rewards, special offers and discounts. These cards require credit union membership, but you can typically qualify depending on where you live or work.

Navy Federal Credit Union Visa<sup>®</sup> Business Card

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on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Navy Federal Credit Union Visa® Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
10.15%-18.00%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
3 points on restaurants, 2 points on gas and 1 point on everything else
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa® Business Card has no annual fee and provides an up to 15% discount on qualifying business purchases with Visa SavingsEdge®. You can receive discounts at restaurants, travel and shipping services, IT solutions and more at no additional cost. As a member of NFCU, you can also receive a discount on Geico auto insurance and access an Auto Buying Program where you can save on new and used cars — great if your business requires you and your employees to drive. Terms & limitations apply.

What to watch out for: The interest rate you receive depends on your creditworthiness, so you may not receive the lowest APR. Because membership is restricted, check here to see if you qualify for membership with Navy Federal Credit Union.

Navy Federal Credit Union Mastercard<sup>®</sup> Business Card

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on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Navy Federal Credit Union Mastercard® Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
10.15%-18.00%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
3 points on restaurants, 2 points on gas and 1 point on everything else
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Navy Federal Credit Union Mastercard® Business Card has the Mastercard Easy Savings® Program, which provides you with an up to 10% discount on a wide range of purchases including car rentals, gas purchases, products and services like Bing Ads and Monster, and more. This can simply save your business money on everyday purchases and the program is free. NFCU members have access to perks that suit businesses that require driving for work, like the ability to save on Geico auto insurance and access to an Auto Buying Program where you can receive savings on new and used vehicles. Terms & limitations apply.

What to watch out for: The APR varies based on your creditworthiness, so you may not qualify for the lowest rate. Because membership is restricted, check here to see if you qualify for membership with Navy Federal Credit Union.

RBFCU Business Select Mastercard<sup>®</sup> credit card

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on Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union’s secure website

RBFCU Business Select Mastercard® credit card

Regular Purchase APR
11.15%-18.00%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
2% cash back on all purchases
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The RBFCU Business Select Mastercard® credit card has a great cashback program with unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. This flat rate is rare among business cards that tend to favor high rates only on select purchase categories. In addition to a cashback program, members of RBFCU can benefit from members-only pricing at select merchants like TurboTax® and Sprint® to save your business additional money. Terms apply.

What to watch out for: Not everyone will qualify for membership with RBFCU, so fill out this online form to check.

Best small business rewards credit cards

Travel perks

When to consider travel business cards: If you or your employees travel often, a travel card can be more valuable than typical credit cards because many offer travel insurance, airline fee credits, free Wi-Fi access and other travel-related perks.

The Business Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express OPEN

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$450
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 Membership Rewards® points on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The information related to The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 & an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 8/8/18.†

Why we like it: We looked at business cards that offered travel perks, and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN emerged as the best overall business travel card because of its extensive benefits for business owners, including rewards potential, Welcome Offer, and added perks. You can take advantage of standout perks like access to over 1,000 airport lounges, credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck and a $200 airline fee credit. Terms apply. These benefits can save your business a substantial amount of money and make travel less of a hassle.

What to watch out for: There is a steep $450 annual fee for this card. However, considering the value you receive with this card, the annual fee may be worth it. For example, the airline fee credit and Global Entry fee credit are valued at $300, decreasing the effective annual fee for this card.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-22.49%

Variable

Annual fee
$95 For First Year
$95 Ongoing
Rewards
Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

The information related to the Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card as been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Why we like it: The Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card allows you to increase the value of your points by 25% when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is a great way to increase the effective value of your points. Additional travel benefits include trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and travel and emergency assistance services.

What to watch out for: The higher rewards rate only applies to select categories, so if you primarily spend outside the select categories, you’ll earn a subpar cashback rate. Consider other travel business cards that suit your spending more.

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Spark<sup>®</sup> Miles for Business

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Regular Purchase APR
18.49% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business offers a hard-to-find flat-rate rewards program at 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, every day. This rate allows you and your employees to earn the same amount of miles on any purchase with no bonus categories or caps. You can easily redeem miles for travel, and there is no minimum redemption amount.

What to watch out for: This card comes with an annual fee at $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, and although it’s lower than most travel business cards, it may not be ideal for everyone. Keep in mind you will need to spend $4,750 a year (after year one) to recoup the fee.

Big intro bonuses

When to consider business cards with big intro bonuses: A large intro bonus can be a simple way for business owners to earn extra rewards within the first few months of account opening — as long as you fulfill the requirements. You can use the rewards you earn in a variety of ways, from travel to statement credits that can lower your business’ expenses. Many cards that have big intro bonuses also have good rewards and perks, providing long-term value in addition to the short-term reward.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-22.49%

Variable

Annual fee
$95 For First Year
$95 Ongoing
Rewards
Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

The information related to the Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card as been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Intro bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

What to watch out for: There are requirements that you need to follow in order to receive the intro bonus, so make sure you spend the required amount in the stated time period. Also, you miss out on added value by redeeming points outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards®, so try to use the portal to receive the 25% bonus on travel.

The Business Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express OPEN

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$450
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 Membership Rewards® points on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The information related to The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases on the Business Platinum Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

What to watch out for: You need to satisfy two spending requirements to earn the full Welcome Offer — earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

CitiBusiness<sup>®</sup>/ AAdvantage<sup>®</sup> Platinum Select<sup>®</sup> World Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

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on Citibank’s secure website

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 25.24%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$95, waived for first 12 months*
Rewards Rate
2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases* and for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants and at gas stations*, 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Limited-time offer: Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.

Why we like it: The CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is one of few airline-specific business cards. This card has the largest limited-time offer compared to competitors and a typical spending requirement. In addition, there are great perks when you fly on American Airlines, such as in-flight discounts, first checked bag free and preferred boarding.

What to watch out for: This is an airline-specific card — if you don’t fly with American Airlines, you’ll miss out on some of the best perks.

Cashback rewards

When to consider cashback business cards: Cash back is a simple and straightforward way for your business to be rewarded for purchases. You can easily redeem your cash back as a statement credit, which is a great way to reduce your bill (just remember that redemptions can’t be applied to minimum payments).

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Spark<sup>®</sup> Cash for Business

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Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Regular Purchase APR
18.49% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
2% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: We looked at business credit cards offering cashback rewards and analyzed their rewards rates, fees and APRs, and among the group, The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business rose to the top. It has a standout cashback program earning you 2% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. There are no bonus categories or caps — you’ll earn the same rate on every purchase. You can even make redeeming your rewards simple by setting up automatic redemption, great for businesses that don’t want to fuss with rewards.

What to watch out for: The annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $95 after that — so after year one, you will need to spend $4,750 a year to break even.

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Spark<sup>®</sup> Cash Select for Business

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Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Regular Purchase APR
14.49% - 22.49% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business has a decent rewards rate for business owners who want to avoid an annual fee at 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. This card is a good alternative to the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, offering all the same perks plus a $0 annual fee.

What to watch out for: The cash back rate is below the ideal 2%, and you can do better with a higher flat-rate card or with bonus category cards. But be aware they may have an annual fee.

Hotel rewards

When to consider business cards with hotel rewards: Traveling for business can get costly, but hotel rewards cards can help you save money on hotel stays and other expenses you may incur like meals. Whether you favor a specific hotel or often choose the best priced hotel, there are business cards for you that can earn you rewards and other money-saving discounts. Because hotel loyalty varies, we’re highlighting two cards with exceptional hotel rewards.

Starwood Preferred Guest<sup>®</sup> Business Credit Card from American Express

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Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
16.74%-20.74%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$95 Ongoing
Rewards
Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The information related to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Why we like it: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is our top pick for businesses looking to earn rewards and perks on hotel stays. SPG has numerous participating hotels where you and your employees can stay, and there are flexible redemption options for your points. For example, you have the ability to transfer points on a mostly one-to-one basis to over 30 airline frequent flyer programs. Additional benefits include credits towards SPG elite status, travel accident insurance and free Wi-Fi with Boingo and at SPG participating hotels (terms apply).

What to watch out for: The rate you earn on purchases outside of SPG and Marriott Rewards® hotels is lower than other hotel rewards cards, like the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card mentioned below. So, if you’re looking to earn a high rate on all purchases, check out other hotel rewards cards.

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.24%-26.24%

Variable

Annual fee
$95 For First Year
$95 Ongoing
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Why we like it: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers great benefits for business travelers who frequent hotels in the Hilton portfolio with a wide range of perks including complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status. This gives you a 25% bonus on Base Points, space-available room upgrades and more benefits that may make your stays more comfortable. Other Hilton perks include a rewards program that allows you to earn Hilton Honors Bonus Points at a fast rate and Weekend Night Rewards (terms apply). In addition, you receive baggage and travel accident insurance, 10 free visits to over 1,000 Priority Pass airport lounges every year and the ability to connect your credit card transactions to Quickbooks®, among other things.

What to watch out for: You don’t want to carry a balance with this card because there is a 17.24% – 26.24% variable APR. Although this is a typical range, it’s still high and can lead to large interest charges if you don’t pay your bill in full. But, if you pay in full and on time, this won’t be an issue.

Best category bonuses

When to consider business cards with category bonuses: If you spent a lot in particular categories, credit cards with category bonuses may be a great way for you to earn rewards for that spending. For example, if you drive a lot for business, a card with gas rewards may be ideal. Below we list the business cards that offer the highest reward rates on dining, gas and office-supply spending

Dining & gas

Sam's Club<sup>®</sup> Business Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

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Sam's Club® Business Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
16.15%-24.15%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
5% cash back on gas (on first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% cash back on dining and travel, and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Credit required
good-credit
Good

Why we like it: The Sam’s Club® Business Mastercard® offers a high 5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% cash back on dining and travel, and 1% cash back on other purchases. This rate is ideal for businesses that primarily spend on gas because you earn the highest rate on those purchases compared to other cards. Business owners who often take out clients for meals may want to consider this card because of its cashback rate on dining purchases.

What to watch out for: You need to be a member of Sam’s Club to open this card, and as a business owner you may not have a need for a Sam’s Club membership. However, membership starts as low as $45 a year, and considering there’s no annual fee for this credit card, that’s a small amount.

Costco Anywhere Visa<sup>®</sup> Business Card from Citi

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Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card from Citi

Regular Purchase APR
16.74%

Variable

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
4% on eligible gas worldwide, including Costco (for the first $7,000 per year and then 1%), 3% on restaurant and eligible travel worldwide, 2% on all other purchases at Costco and Costco.com and 1% on everything else
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offers a tiered cashback program with 4% on eligible gas worldwide, including Costco (for the first $7,000 per year and then 1%), 3% on restaurant and eligible travel worldwide, 2% on all other purchases at Costco and Costco.com and 1% on everything else. This is a good rewards program for business owners with Costco memberships if you want to earn cash back in a wide range of categories.

What to watch out for: You need to be a Costco member to open this card, and membership starts at $60 per year. This is higher than Sam’s Club and definitely something to consider if you’re deciding between the two cards. Another important note is that you won’t earn as much cash back with this card as you would with the Sam’s Club® Business Mastercard®.

Gas & office supply stores

Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard<sup>®</sup>  credit card

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Regular Purchase APR
12.74% - 22.74% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (up to $250,000 each calendar year, 1% after that), 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants, 1% cash back on all other purchases
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card doesn’t require membership with a warehouse club like other gas cards and has a $0 annual fee. Business owners can earn a decent cash back rate at both gas stations and office supply stores, making this card ideal if you often spend in these categories.

What to watch out for: The gas cashback rate is lower than other business cards with gas as a category bonus and won’t earn you as much rewards.

Risks of using small business credit cards

While small business credit cards can provide a wide range of benefits for your company, they have drawbacks.

Here are some of the major risks:

Personal liability. As a business owner, you are solely responsible for all charges made on your account. That means if there are any unpaid balances on your account, whether from your spending or employee spending, you are liable.

Negative impact on you credit. If your account is in poor standing as a result of late payments, overdue balances, bankruptcy or other issues, the credit card issuer may report this information to the credit bureaus. As a result, your personal credit score may take a hit.

Not protected by the CARD Act. Business cards don’t receive the same consumer protections that personal credit cards receive with the CARD Act. The CARD Act requires credit card issuers to provide transparent terms as well as lower fees and interest rates for consumers. But, issuers of business cards don’t have to comply with those requirements. Therefore, a business card may have higher interest rates, more fees and confusing terms.

How to minimize the risks of business credit cards

Monitor employee spending. The ability to open employee cards is a great feature, but if you don’t stay on top of their charges, it can become risky. Some good practices include keeping records of all employees with card access, setting employee spending limits when available and monitoring your credit card statements. This way you can keep track of all spending made on your account and add limits when needed.

Avoid charging personal expenses. Use your business card the way it is intended to be used — exclusively for business purchases. Charging personal expenses makes managing your finances harder and complicates the use of your card.

Do not take out a cash advance. Cash advances are one of the most costly features of credit cards and are rarely a good choice because you’ll be hit with higher than normal interest rates and can rack up debt fast. As an alternative, check out small business loans.

Look at loans for long-term financing. Your business may need to borrow money for purchases like cars or other big-ticket items, and small business loans can be a great way to finance those purchases. Often with straightforward terms, loans can be a good alternative to charging purchases on your credit card. Compare small business loans here.

Do not try to bail out a failing business. If your business isn’t doing well, don’t take out a small business credit card with the hopes of bailing it out. Odds are you’ll only get into more debt and make the situation worse.

Best way to use credit cards for your business

Earn rewards. Almost all of the cards mentioned in this roundup provide rewards, allowing business owners to be benefit from typical business spending. You can use the rewards you earn in a variety of ways, like booking travel, applying cash back as statement credit to cover bills or redeeming them for gift cards for business expenses or employee incentives.

Manage cash flow. Business cards may provide expense-management tools so you can monitor spending and simplify everyday business transactions. You can use your card to automate business expenses like monthly phone bills or regular office-supply purchases.

Build business credit. Opening a small business credit card has the potential to build and improve your business credit. If you make on-time payments and use a relatively small amount of your available credit, your business’ credit can benefit greatly. Having a good business credit score can help you down the line if you plan on taking out a loan or other credit products.

Short-term borrowing. If your business plans on making purchases that can’t be paid immediately, some business credit cards offer 0% intro periods that are ideal for short-term borrowing and can be a better choice than a personal loan — when used responsibly. During the 0% intro period, you can carry a balance without incurring interest, and if you pay it off before the intro period ends, you can save on the interest that you would’ve incurred if you had taken out a loan.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at alexandria@magnifymoney.com

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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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 for good credit

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<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0*
Cashback Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-24.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Best 5% cash back

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

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Rates & Fees

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Discover it® - Cashback MatchTM

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else
Regular APR
13.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit
Good / Excellent

Also Consider

Visa<sup>®</sup> Platinum Rewards credit card from Nusenda Credit Union

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<sup>®</sup> Platinum Card

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Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
10.75%-18.00%

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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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
Regular Purchase APR
14.49%-25.49%

Variable

Best travel rewards credit card for good credit

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
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Best airline credit cards for good credit

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
Rewards
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-24.49%

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

Annual fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
Rewards
2X miles on tickets purchase from United, 1 mile on everything else
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for American Airlines frequent flyers

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

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on Citibank’s secure website

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

Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months*
Rewards
2 AAdvantage® miles on American Airlines purchases, 1 AAdvantage® mile on everything else
Regular Purchase APR
17.49%-25.49%

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’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
Regular Purchase APR
17.24%-26.24%

Variable

Best luxury credit card for good credit

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<sup>®</sup> from American Express

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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 and on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com
Regular Purchase APR
-
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Best 0% APR credit cards for good credit

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.

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

Citi Simplicity<sup>®</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 5% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
Regular Purchase APR
15.49%-25.49%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

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

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

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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.
Regular Purchase APR
16.49%-25.24%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

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

Discover it<sup>®</sup> - 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
Regular APR
13.49%-24.49%

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

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 for Fair Credit May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication.

Having fair credit doesn’t mean you’re ineligible for great credit cards. We’ve rounded up the top credit cards with the best offers in a range of different categories that you’re still likely to be approved for, even with fair credit. These credit cards can help you build credit as long as you use them wisely. In this guide, we’ll show you the best credit cards for fair credit scores as well as how to use them to boost your credit score even higher.

Here are some of the products we will be discussing today:

Check If You’re Pre-qualified

Before applying for any credit card it’s helpful to check if you’re pre-qualified from a variety of institutions. The soft credit check the institutions perform does not harm your credit score and allows you to compare credit options. Sites such as CreditCards.com provide good tools that can match you to offers from multiple credit card companies without impacting your credit score. You can read our complete guide to getting pre-qualified for a credit card here.

Build Credit with Secured Cards

A great approach to rebuilding credit is to get a secured credit card. In order to get the card, you will have to deposit money that will be your line of credit. To effectively rebuild your credit, you must use the card, and we recommend not charging more than 20% of your credit line. For example, if you have a $500 credit line, you should not charge more than $100. Then, pay off your balance in full every single month. You can even build credit with $10 a month on a secured card and see your credit score rise.

After you’ve consistently managed your secured card well over a period of time, you may be able to increase your credit line beyond your initial deposit or migrate to an unsecured credit card.

We’ve reviewed the best secured cards in the market and found our top pick — the Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee. This card has a $0 annual fee, a reasonable security deposit and offers an easy transition to an unsecured card. In addition, Discover offers a rewards program and free access to your FICO score.

Discover it<sup>®</sup> Secured Card - No Annual Fee

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Rates & Fees

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Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
24.49%

Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Best for Cash Back

If you have fair credit and want a cash back card the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Rewards credit card is a good option. As a consumer with fair credit you may not qualify for all cash back cards, but you may qualify for the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Rewards credit card since it is made for those with fair credit. With this card you will earn unlimited cash back, with no changing categories, and the rewards never expire.

However, this card comes with a high APR and annual fee. To earn enough cash back rewards to pay for the card itself each year you’ll need to spend $2,600 annually ($217 per month). To net a cash back of $50 you need to spend $5,933 in a year ($494 per month). This card may be an option for you if you want to earn more than 1% cash back.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$39
Cashback Rate
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Regular Purchase APR
24.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Average

 

Best Low Ongoing APR

No one wants to carry a balance on their credit cards, but if you must, it’s best to get a card with a low ongoing APR. Many lenders charge high APRs around 25%, but you can potentially qualify for a variable APR as low as 8.90%. This card will charge you less money on your debt than the typical credit card, which can save you big dollars in the long run.

Platinum Mastercard<sup>®</sup> from Aspire FCU

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on Aspire Federal Credit Union’s secure website

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Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 2% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
Regular Purchase APR
9.65%-18.00%

Variable

Duration
6 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Best for Small Business Owners

Running a business is hard. Small business credit cards can make it a bit easier for you by giving you rewards for everyday purchases. Nevertheless, be aware: Business credit cards forego certain protections that personal credit cards have under the Credit CARD Act. For example, card issuers can change the payment due date or interest rate without giving you prior notice.

Still, small business cards can be a great option for you to build your credit and save money, even if you don’t have a traditional brick-and-mortar business. You can apply for these cards with just a DBA or even your own name, if you’re a freelancer.

Capital One<sup>®</sup> Spark<sup>®</sup> Classic for Business

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on Capital One’s secure website

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Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your business
Regular Purchase APR
24.49%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Average

Best for Students

You may have a fair credit score because you are a student. Student cards provide a great way for you to build your credit score and establish good credit history. The Discover it® for Students card is made with students in mind and offers ways to help you build credit and also earn rewards.

Discover it<sup>®</sup> 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
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
Regular APR
14.49%-23.49%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

FAQ

There’s a lot of math that goes into computing your credit scores, but at the end of the day, a fair credit score is defined as being between 649 and 699. Here’s how a fair credit score sits in relation to other credit scoring classes:

  • Excellent: Above 760
  • Good: 700-759
  • Fair/Average: 649-699
  • Poor: 600-648
  • Very Poor: Under 599

You can check your credit score for free on sites like Credit Karma, Chase Credit Journey, or AnnualCreditReport.com.

Having a good or excellent credit score unlocks a lot of advantages, such as lower interest rates and better approval odds for high-value credit cards and other financial products. These advantages will result in more dollars in your wallet at the end of the day. For example, having a high credit score can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments over your lifetime, especially for big-ticket loans like a home mortgage.

But if you have a fair credit score, don’t fret! There is a reason that your score is less than optimal, and thus there are real, concrete steps you can take to boost your credit score into the good and excellent range.

If you play your cards right, you can even join the exclusive 800+ credit score club (unfortunately, it’s not an official club, and you don’t get a shower of balloons and confetti once you reach it — but you will get access to some of the most exclusive financial products).

There can be many reasons why your credit score is below 700. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • You have late payments on your credit report. Having even just one late payment on your credit report can seriously harm it because payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. Unfortunately, unless it’s an error, you’ll just need to wait for it to drop off of your credit report in seven years. To prevent this from happening, make sure all of your debt payments are set up on autopay. That way, you won’t have to worry about it.
  • You have a lot of credit card debt. Credit utilization ratio is one of the biggest factors in calculating your credit score — it affects 30% of the final score. It’s simply how much you owe relative to how much you are allowed to spend. For example, let’s say you have two credit cards with a $5,000 limit each, and you owe $2,000. Your credit utilization ratio is 20% because you owe $2,000 out of a possible $10,000. Luckily, this is one of the easiest factors to correct that will boost your credit score big time in the short run: Pay off your balance, and your score will bump up immediately.
  • You don’t have a long credit history. Although credit history doesn’t factor into the calculation of your credit score as much as the credit utilization ratio and payment history, it still makes up a sizable chunk at 15%. There’s not much you can do about this one: Simply wait for your accounts to age.
  • You have a lot of credit inquiries. Banks don’t like to see you applying for credit like an out-of-control spender in Las Vegas. Each time you apply for credit or a loan, it’s recorded on your credit report as a credit inquiry, and it stays there for two years. To minimize the number of credit inquiries you have, always shop around and make sure creditors use a soft pull credit check unless you’re absolutely ready to apply for the line of credit. This factor makes up just 10% of your credit score, but it’s an easy one you can affect as long as you’re careful about applying for credit.
  • You don’t have a wide variety of account types. You may be an ace at handling your student loans, but creditors also want to know you can handle other types of credit like mortgages and credit card debt, too. The more types of credit accounts you have on file, the better. However, we don’t recommend taking out a loan just for the sake of boosting your credit score — that costs money, and you’ll only receive a modest benefit from it because credit mix only makes up 10% of your credit score.

As you can see, you do have a lot of options when it comes to fine-tuning your credit score into the good or excellent category. We recommend the helpful credit score simulator at Chase Credit Journey to check your current score and see how these adjustments can potentially change your credit level. It’s available whether you’re a Chase customer or not. Give it a try!

Applying for a credit card is easy. You’ll need some basic information like name, address, and Social Security number. You’ll also need employment and income information. Simply enter it into the online form on the credit card company’s website, visit a branch of the bank (if they have one), or call the credit card company directly. You’ll usually receive instant notification if you’ve been approved or not.

There are many ways for you to increase your credit score. Ultimately practicing responsible credit behavior is the best way to see your score rise. Here are a few ways you can increase your credit score:

  • Have someone add you as an authorized user: If you have a willing (and very trusting) friend or family member with better credit, you can ask them to add you as an authorized user onto one or more of their credit cards. Their credit will not be harmed by this (as long as you don’t rack up charges or missed payments), and the credit card will show up on your credit report just as if you had applied for it — boosting your credit utilization ratio, number of accounts, and account age if you keep it for a long time.
  • Increase your credit history length: Unfortunately, you can’t go back in time, but you can still affect your credit history length. Your credit score is partially based off of average credit history length, and the more old accounts you have, the better. If you already have credit cards open, consider keeping them open so your average credit history won’t decrease and ding your credit. Each new credit card you get will drop your average account age, and it’ll take longer to boost this portion of your score.
  • Maintain a low credit utilization: Credit utilization (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is one of the biggest factors in calculating your credit score. The lower, the better. To decrease your utilization ratio, simply pay off your credit card. You can also request a credit limit increase from your credit card issuer to lower your credit utilization ratio — just make sure not to rack up a balance again with that extra credit or you’ll be back to square one.

Missing a payment can single-handedly cause your credit score to drop by 100 points or more. To avoid this, simply set up your credit card on autopay for the minimum amount due — that way you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment.

You can always apply for a personal loan if you need some cash right now for something. You can use this tool to shop around for the best interest rates without hurting your credit score. It’s smart to avoid hard inquiries until you’re ready to actually apply for a personal loan so that your credit isn’t dinged with multiple inquiries.

Each credit card is different, so you’ll need to check the fine print. Usually, though, you’ll need to both charge a purchase and pay off your bill before you’re eligible for those cash back rewards. Then, they’ll tally up this amount and periodically either send you a check, or offer a statement credit.

If you’re running a small business, it’s often easy to mix your personal and business accounts, especially if you’re self-employed. This creates an accounting nightmare to sort through, so it’s recommended (but not required) that you have a separate business banking account and credit card, if you need one.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

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

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Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication.

If you have bad credit, it can be difficult to get approved for loans and credit cards. But it is not impossible. Even people with bad credit have options – which we will now explain.

What exactly is a bad credit score? When we’re talking about obtaining credit via credit cards, the magic number is somewhere between 620 and 650. If your credit score falls below 650, you’re going to have a difficult time obtaining credit from some of the larger lending institutions, and if it’s below 620, you’re going to have a difficult time obtaining credit from anyone — including smaller financial institutions like credit unions and independent marketplace lenders.

There are, however, some products for which you’ll have an easier time qualifying. Before you apply, make sure you’re prepared to be responsible with your new line of credit so you can boost your score and credit history rather than damaging it further. The best way to do this is to spend within your means by creating a budget and sticking to it. Here are some helpful tools to help you do just that. Remember to always pay your bill off in full on or before the due date each month to establish good credit.

Here are the products and topics we’ll be discussing today:

Check if You’re Pre-qualified

Before you apply for a credit card check if you’re pre-qualified from a variety of institutions. This does not hurt your credit score. Sites such as CreditCards.com provide good tools that can match you to offers from multiple credit card companies without impacting your credit score. This is a good first step when looking to apply for credit. You can read our complete guide to getting pre-qualified for a credit card here.

Build Credit with Secured Credit Cards

If you are trying to rebuild your credit, one of the best approaches is to get a secured credit card. In order to get the card, you will have to write a check to deposit with the credit card company. This money will be your line of credit.

In order to effectively rebuild your credit, you must actually use the card, and we recommend not charging more than 20% of your credit line. For example, if you have a $500 credit line, you should not charge more than $100. Then, pay off your balance in full every single month. You can even build credit with $10 a month on a secured card and see your credit score rise.

After you’ve consistently managed your secured card well over a period of time, you may be able to increase your credit line beyond your initial deposit or migrate to an unsecured credit card. With most companies, this is a tedious process that you’ll have to initiate. You also aren’t guaranteed to get results even after you’ve made a request.

Discover operates differently than most companies in this realm, making it our number one pick for secured cards.

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

If you’re looking for a secured credit card, look no further than Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee. On top of being great for people with a bad credit score, Discover will also accept applicants who have no credit history at all. Discover offers great ways for you to rebuild your credit and be on the way to an unsecured card.

Discover it<sup>®</sup> Secured Card - No Annual Fee

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
24.49%

Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Also Consider

OpenSky<sup>®</sup> Secured Visa<sup>®</sup> Credit Card from Capital Bank N.A.

OpenSky Secured Visa

This card does not do a credit check, and no bank account is needed to apply. This is beneficial for those with low credit scores or no access to a bank account. If you’ve filed for bankruptcy, you’re in luck because they don’t care to know, unlike other institutions. However, OpenSky charges a $35 annual fee, which Discover does not. This can be a deal breaker if you don’t want to pay a fee, since there are many secured cards without fees.

Read MagnifyMoney’s full Secured Credit Card Guide.

Our Credit Union Favorite

If you’re looking to open a credit card with bad credit, it can be hard to find a card you qualify for. That’s where credit unions come in. They are sometimes more accepting of your credit history and have cards especially designed for people with low credit scores — helping your approval chances.

Georgia’s Own Visa Classic

Georgia’s Own Credit Union offers a variety of credit cards all with low interest. Their Visa Classic unsecured card is positioned toward those who need to rebuild credit and boasts a low APR. When you apply for a credit card on Georgia’s Own website you are directed toward an application that is for all credit cards they offer. This means that depending on your creditworthiness, you may not be directed to the Visa Classic as an option. Therefore, if you want to apply directly for the card, the best bet is to speak with a loan officer who will tell you if you’re pre-approved for the Visa Classic card.

Visa<sup>®</sup> Classic from Georgia's Own Credit Union

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on Georgia's Own Credit Union’s secure website

Read Full Review

Visa® Classic from Georgia's Own Credit Union

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Regular Purchase APR
13.49%-18.49%

Fair Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Best for Cash: Personal Loans

If you’re looking to get some cash in your pocket, credit cards in general aren’t your best answer. Cash advances are not ideal, and putting a purchase you can’t currently afford onto a credit card with a high interest rate attributable to your not-so-great credit score is going to be an expensive venture.

Instead, you’ll want to consider personal loans. They’re admittedly a little more work up front with the application process, but the savings can be worth it. YOu can check to see if you are prequalified without impacting your credit score at most lenders. And LendingTree (the parent company of MagnifyMoney) has created a tool that lets you compare rates from dozens of lenders at once, without impacting your score.

LendingTree

LendingTree, our parent company, offers a one-stop tool that can help borrowers find numerous personal loan offers. After entering some basic information, you can receive offers from lenders in a matter of minutes. If you prefer to go directly to the lender’s site you can use one of the options listed below.

Apply Now Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree

Loan Amount
up to $35,000
Term
24 to 60 Months
APR Range
5.99%-35.99%
Origination Fee
Varies
Credit Required
Bad or Could be Better/Average/Good/Excellent
Soft Pull
You can get your rate without hurting your score.

Pros Pros

  • Check Multiple Offers at OnceYou can check personal loan offers from a wide range of lenders including Avant, LendingClub and Best Egg. The entire process happens online for free and is fast and easy.
  • Soft Pull on Your CreditLendingTree performs a soft pull on your credit in order to give you accurate loan offers. This does not affect your credit score and can give you a good picture of what to expect if you're approved for a loan.

Cons Cons

  • Need to Create and Account to View OffersThe only way to view your personal loan offers is to create and account at LendingTree. This is a minor step, but it does allow you the ease of saving your offers so you can review them later.
Bottom line

Bottom line

LendingTree offers a great tool that lets you easily check your rates for a variety of lenders, all in a matter of minutes. This is a great way for you to see what rates you may get and allows you to shop around for the best offer, without the hassle of going to multiple websites.

Avant

Avant offers personal loans even to those with less-than-desirable credit. Because there is no prepayment penalty, you can pay off your loan before the end of your term without consequence.

Apply Now Secured

on Avant’s secure website

Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

Avant

Loan Amount
$2,000 – $35,000
Term
24 to 60 Months
APR Range
9.95%-35.99%
Origination Fee
4.75%
Soft Pull
Checking your Loan Options will not affect your credit score.

Pros Pros

  • Apply Online The entire Avant application process happens online. This saves you the hassle of filling out paperwork and visiting a local branch.
  • Check Your Loan Options Before You Apply Avant allows you to check your Loan Options that you would be offered with a soft pull on your credit. This will not impact your credit score. This is helpful if you’re shopping around for different rates and gives you a realistic picture of what to expect should you choose Avant.
  • Could Save Money over Subprime Credit Cards Depending on the interest rate and upfront fee percentage you are offered, a personal loan from Avant could save you money over putting purchases on a subprime credit card. The ability to preview your interest rate can also help you compare between personal loans and other possible options.

Cons Cons

  • High Interest Rates Because you’re a subprime borrower, you’re not likely to qualify for the lowest interest rate offered. You’re more likely to be offered something closer to the 35.99% rate. This is a very high rate, and it’s important that you make all of your payments on time to avoid paying interest and damaging your credit score.
Bottom line

Bottom line

While there’s only one con for Avant’s personal loans, it’s a pretty big one. The interest rate can be extremely high, so do your math before deciding if this is a good product for you. And be sure to take advantage of the fact that they’ll let you check your interest rate before officially submitting your application. Use this feature to shop around for best offers and check if you qualify for a better loan

Advertiser Disclosure :

Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

OneMain Financial

Avant is easier to apply for as the application process will take place online, but if you’re willing to go somewhere in person, you can also apply with OneMain. Its application is also online, but in order to be approved, you’ll have to show up at a local branch with documentation backing the information you submitted at home.

Apply Now Secured

on OneMain Financial’s secure website

OneMain Financial

Loan Amount
$1,500 – $30,000
APR Range
16.05%-35.99%
Origination Fee
Varies

Pros Pros

  • Talk to a Loan Officer At OneMain you have the benefit of talking to a loan officer and explaining your personal situation. This is a positive experience that can help you explain anything that can’t be seen on an application.
  • Receive Money Same Day If you apply online before noon, you usually will receive the loan the same day. This is helpful if you need money quickly. After the loan is approved, you have 14 days to change your mind and return the loan proceeds. If you do that, you will not be responsible for any of the accrued interest.

Cons Cons

  • High Interest Rates Accrued Daily Even though the interest rates may be more reflective of your situation, they are still high. Interest accrues daily, which could add years to your loan if you don’t pay on time. Be sure to make your payments on time each month to avoid paying high interest rates.
  • Must Meet in Person You have to physically bring your paperwork into a OneMain branch after applying online. You will also have to complete an interview with a loan officer. This can be a tedious process if there is no OneMain branch located near you.
  • Must Borrow a Minimum of $1,500 Depending on how much cash you need, the $1,500 minimum may be too high if you only need a couple of hundred dollars. There is no maximum loan amount offered.
Bottom line

Bottom line

OneMain locations can be a good choice if you want to have your loan the day you apply. If you’re okay meeting someone in person and have the transportation to get to your closest branch, this may be an option worth exploring. Make sure you decide if this offer is right for you and if you need a loan over $1,500. Check to see if you’re pre-qualified for a better offer from other institutions.

Advertiser Disclosure :

Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our standard credit criteria (including credit history, income and debts) and the availability of collateral. Loan amounts subject to state specific minimum or maximum size restrictions. Collateral offered must meet our criteria. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered by the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral. CA minimum loan amount is $3,000. GA minimum loan amount is $1,500 for present customers and $3,100 for others.

Last Resort: Subprime Credit Cards

Subprime credit cards are those that lending institutions issue to those with “bad” credit. They are not a good solution to your credit woes. They almost always come with high interest rates and a litany of fees — both of which make it difficult to use this product responsibly.

For example, First Premier makes a business out of lending to subprime borrowers with bad credit. Most of their applicants are only awarded a $300 line of credit. That’s after they pay a $95 fee just to apply (which is not a common practice in the credit card industry) and a $75 annual fee. If you are approved for a higher credit limit, your annual fee for the first year may be higher ($79-$125). In the second year, the annual fee drops ($45-$49), but at this point you are charged a $6.25-$10.40 account servicing fee every single month.

The cherry on top? The card’s APR is 36%. Heaven forbid you are ever late on a payment — your balance will skyrocket with the insanely high interest rate. Don’t forget about the late payment fee — up to $38.

Another example is Credit One Bank — not to be confused with Capitol One Bank, though their logos do look eerily similar. Not every Credit One Bank credit card comes with outrageous fees. In fact, there are 26 separate possible card agreements. But if you are a subprime borrower, you’re likely to qualify for higher rates.

Your credit may not be great, but that doesn’t make subprime credit cards a “fair” product. You may qualify for other, better options that aren’t as laden with fees. That’s why we recommend you first check if you’re pre-qualified for offers then look at store cards and personal loans before choosing a subprime credit card.

Bad Credit FAQs

Store cards can be used as payment anywhere the credit card company, such as MasterCard or Visa, is accepted. Private label cards can only be used at the branded company’s store. For example, if you get a private label card for New York & Company, you can only use it for purchases at New York & Company. You would not be able to use it at any other store.

Your best bet is to ask. If you are applying online, pick up the phone and call or use the company’s online chat if available.

If you have a physical card in front of you, you’ll notice that store cards always have the associated credit card company shown on the front, whether that be Visa, American Express, MasterCard, or another.

Private label cards tend not to display this information, though a major financial institution that a lot of companies work with for their private label cards is Comenity. If you have a card associated with Comenity Bank, it is likely a private label card.

No. Most businesses have an online application for their store cards.

Personal loans are typically issued by more reputable lenders who aspire to more transparency than those in the payday loan space. Payday loans are often advertised as having interest rates somewhere between 10% and 30%, but that interest is charged over a short period of time, making their effective APR (annual percentage rate) much higher. Some payday loans have an effective APR of 400% or more.

The lender isn’t likely to tell you that, though. Many businesses in this space are predatory. Payday loans also tend to come with outrageous fees.

While rates and fees on personal loans for those with bad credit aren’t ideal, they’re more than substantially lower than those of payday loans. Make no mistake about it: despite enticing advertising promises of deceptive payday lenders, personal loans are an infinitely better option.

Borrowing cash from your credit card company often comes with a fee of 1%-5%. That may not seem terrible when you look at the upfront fees of many personal loans, but you also have to account for interest.

Unlike purchases you charge to your card, interest on cash advances starts accruing immediately. You do not get to wait for your next statement to be issued. The interest rate for cash advances is also often higher than that of regular purchases.

A personal loan is an installment loan with a balance that will go down if you pay the minimum payment each month. This makes it far easier to manage than debt accrued via a cash advance. If you only pay the minimum payment on a cash advance each month, your balance will go up at a quick pace, potentially spiraling out of control.

First of all, the less you charge, the easier it will be to pay back. Since you have a bad credit score, you may have had issues with charging too much in the past and being unable to pay it off.

Secondly, around 30% of your credit score is made up of your credit utilization ratio. You find this ratio by dividing the amount of credit extended to you by the amount you have borrowed. By borrowing only 20% of your available credit, you reduce the risk of having your current balance negatively impacting your credit score.

It can sometimes take a year or more to see your score improve by 100 points if you are doing everything correctly and responsibly.

Yes, but only if you use them responsibly, paying the balance off in full every month. Keep in mind your credit utilization ratio here, too.

Potentially. Ten percent of your credit score is made up of something called “credit mix.” You don’t need to have every single type of credit in your credit report, but you should have more than one type. Here are the five that count:

  • Credit cards
  • Installment loans
  • Retail accounts
  • Finance company accounts
  • Mortgage loans

Conceivably, if you have a mortgage or business debt tied to your Social Security number or EIN, you might be able to get away with rebuilding your score through a personal loan (which is an installment loan). The key is to manage all of those debts well — and to do so consistently — especially since you already have bad credit.

No. Transactions on prepaid debit cards do not get reported to the credit bureaus. Also, it’s important to remember than many prepaid cards come with a ton of fees.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, Credit Cards

Credit Cards: Find the Best Credit Card Offers & Deals – May 2018

Editorial Note: 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 prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Credit Cards: Find the Best Credit Card Offers & Deals
iStock

The best credit cards can help you earn $2 or more for every $100 you spend – an easy way to make $100s or even $1,000s a year. When done properly, low rate credit cards are also the cheapest way to borrow. You can get 0% interest for up to 2 years. And credit cards are the best way to build, rebuild or maintain an excellent credit score, without paying fees.

But if you get it wrong, you can easily end up buried under a pile of expensive debt. This is a step-by-step guide that will help you find the best credit cards while avoiding expensive traps.

 

Top Credit Card for 2018

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

APPLY NOW Secured

on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Annual fee

$0

Intro Purchase APR

0% for 15 Months

Intro BT APR

0% for 15 Months

Balance Transfer Fee

$0 balance transfer fee.

Regular Purchase APR

14.49%-25.49% Variable

Rewards Rate

2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases.

New for February 2018, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express ranks as our top credit card for 2018. This card offers a combination of benefits that are unmatched among other cards in the market, including 0% intro periods, rewards, and great cardholder perks — all at a $0 annual fee.

Cardholders can utilize the intro periods for both balance transfers and purchases by taking over a year to pay off debt without accruing interest. The balance transfer offer has a $0 balance transfer fee. The transfers must be requested within 60 days of account opening, which saves you the typical 3% transfer fee most other cards charge.

Beyond the intro periods, there is a rewards program where cardholders can earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. This rate is beneficial for people who spend $500 a month at U.S. supermarkets, since this spending allows you to maximize rewards at the higher rate.

The Membership Rewards® points you earn can be redeemed for a variety of options, and a great option for travelers is the ability to transfer points to participating frequent flyer programs including Delta SkyMiles, JetBlue True Blue, Virgin America Elevate, and British Airways Avios. Often these transfers are on a 1:1 rate, with some programs requiring more or less points. Additional redemption options include booking for travel, gift cards, merchandise, pay with points at checkout and statement credit. This card also has a wide range of additional perks that vary from shopping and entertainment benefits to travel and purchase protections.

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  • Simple Welcome Offer
  • The 2-point bonus on grocery store spending is capped
  • You need 20 transactions each month to get the the 20% bonus

Tip: Make any large purchases or balance transfers as soon as you can so you can benefit from the 0% intro period.

Read our full review of the The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express here.

How to Choose and Use a Rewards Card

It is now easy to earn great rewards when you use a credit card for your spending. You should earn at least 2% cash back, and can earn even more with a bit of work. The money can add up quickly. If you spend $1,000 a month, you can earn $240 a year. It is not very often you can get something for nothing. But if you make the right choice and follow the rules, you can earn significant rewards.

How to Choose

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash back credit cards are a great way for you to earn money back from everyday purchases. There are two types of cash back credit cards — flat-rate and category. Flat-rate cards offer the same cash back rate for all purchases, while category cards offer higher rates for certain purchases like gas, grocery, travel, and dining. Below we break down the best cash back credit cards.

Best Flat-Rate

These are the top cards offering a flat cash back rate.

Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

1% When You Buy + 1% When You Pay

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offer is the best overall cash back credit card. So long as you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month, you will earn 2% cash back. You earn 1% cash back when you buy and 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases. The bonus cash back can take up to two billing cycles to post.

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  • No caps on how much cash back you can earn.
  • Cash back earning formula is easy to understand
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until after you apply

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent, Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 14.99% - 24.99%* (Variable) APR

Annual Fee : $0*

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer : 0%* for 18 months on Balance Transfers*

BT Fee : 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Tip: Make sure you pay your statement balance in full and on time to maximize your cash back.

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on Citibank’s secure website

FULL REVIEW 

Fidelity<sup>®</sup> Rewards Visa Signature<sup>®</sup> Card

Unlimited 2% Cash Back on Every Purchase

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card

The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card offers Fidelity customers a generous 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limits or category restrictions. The cash back you earn must be deposited into a Fidelity account, but you don’t need to have a Fidelity account to apply for the card. If you do not have a Fidelity account, they will open a Fidelity Cash Management Account to deposit your cash back. It works like a checking account with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees.

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  • Simple cash back earning formula
  • No caps on how much cash back you can earn
  • You need to have a Fidelity account in order to redeem your cash back

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent Credit

Purchase Interest Rate : 15.49% Variable

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer : None

BT Fee : 3% or $5, whichever is greater

Tip: You don’t need to keep your retirement or stock accounts with Fidelity to qualify for this card. Anyone can apply.

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Best Category Bonuses

Here are the top cash back cards that pay much higher rates in certain bonus categories, which can be a great way to boost your returns.

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa<sup>®</sup> Platinum Card

Unlimited 5% Cash Back on Gas

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

If you spend a lot of money on gas, there is no better card than this. You can Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You must be a member of the credit union, but anyone can join. Pay $5 to join the American Consumer Council of Kentucky (you can do that here) and you will be eligible to join.

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  • No limit to the cash back you can earn, even in the bonus category
  • You have to be a member of the credit union to get the card

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 10.75% - 18.00% Variable

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : N/A

Intro Purchase APR : N/A

Intro Balance Transfer : N/A

BT Fee : $0

Tip: If you are not yet a member, you can use the non-member application process. Once approved, you can join with your $5 contribution to American Consumer Council.

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on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

Check out other gas credit cards.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

6% Cash Back at U.S. Supermarkets (Up to $6,000 of Spend, then 1%)

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The unparalleled 6% cash back rate at U.S. Supermarkets makes this one of the best cards on the market for heavy grocery shoppers. Even with the $95 annual fee, most grocery shoppers will come out ahead. You will also earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. You’ll earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

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  • Simple, easy to understand Welcome Offer
  • There is an Annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent/Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 14.49%-25.49% Variable

Annual Fee : $95

Welcome Offer : $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 12 months

Intro Balance Transfer : 0% for 12 months

BT Fee : Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Tip: If you spend less than $200 a month on groceries, you will earn less than 2% cash back (after taking into account the fee) and would be better with Citi Double Cash or Fidelity American Express. But, if you spend more each year, this is a great option.

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

FULL REVIEW 

Check out other grocery credit cards.

Uber Visa Card

4% for Dining Out

Uber Visa Card

This card appears to have millennials’ interests at heart, offering higher rewards rates for eating out and credits toward streaming subscriptions. The Uber Visa Card offers 4% back on dining purchases, from restaurant and bar purchases to takeout and UberEATS. Also offered: 3% back on hotel and airfare including vacation home rentals; 2% back for online purchases covering everything from Uber and online shopping to video and music streaming; and 1% on everything else.

As mentioned, dining purchases are defined as spending at restaurants, bars, on takeout or via the UberEATS service. Points can be redeemed for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back.

Another perk: There is no annual fee with this card. And there’s a terrific sign-up bonus that requires you to spend $500 within 90 days from account opening to earn $100. Also, you can earn up to a $50 credit for online subscription services after you spend $5,000 or more on your card per year.

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  • Good disclosure: they tell you what you need to know
  • Simple introductory bonus
  • Impossible to know your interest rate until you apply

Key Information

Purchase interest rate : 16.24% – 24.99% Variable

Annual fee : $0

Sign-on bonus : Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Intro purchase APR : None

Intro balance transfer : None

BT fee : $10 or 3%, whichever is greater

Tip: Use this card for all dining, hotel and airfare purchases to maximize your rewards at the higher rate.

FULL REVIEW 

Check out other dining cards.

Do you spend a lot of money in other categories? You can find the best cash back credit cards for every category here.

Best Travel Credit Cards

If you would like to earn free travel, there are a number of credit cards designed specifically to help you earn free flights quickly. Here are the best travel rewards credit cards.

Best Credit Cards for U.S. Travel

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Best No Annual Fee Travel Card – Miles Can Be Used Anywhere

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

With this card, you Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on purchases. There are no restrictions and no blackout dates. Every 100 points can be redeemed for $1 worth of travel. The rewards get even better if you have “Preferred Rewards” at Bank of America®. If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you could increase your points earned with a bonus of 25% – 75%.

There is a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. You can use your points for a wide range of travel options, including flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars and even pesky baggage fees.

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  • Simple introductory bonus
  • No limit to the points you can earn
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until after you apply

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent/Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Intro Purchase APR : 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : None

BT Fee : 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater.

Tip: The Preferred Rewards program offers excellent rewards. If you rollover your old 401(k) or IRA to Merrill Edge®, you can get up to a 75% credit card bonus and ATM fee reimbursement with a Bank of America® checking account.

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Best Credit Cards for International Travel

These are the best credit cards for use when traveling outside of the country. None of these cards have foreign transaction fees. And some of them even have chip and pin, helping to increase acceptance.

Platinum Rewards MasterCard® from First Tech FCU

No Annual or Foreign Transaction Fee + Chip and Pin Functionality

First Tech Credit Union Platinum Rewards MasterCard®

This card is a great companion for overseas travel with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Even better, the card offers chip and pin functionality. Most major credit card issuers in America have rolled out chip and signature, which can be problematic overseas. If you try to use your card at a ticket machine or with a waiter’s portable payment device, you have a good chance of being rejected.

It’s easy to join the credit union —membership is free if you work for a sponsor technology company, work for the state of Oregon or live in Lane County, Oregon. Otherwise, you just need to join the Financial Fitness Association with a one-time fee of $8. There is a sub-par rewards program: 1 point for every $1 you spend.

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  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • You have to be a member of the credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : as low as 11.24% Variable

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : $100 bonus cash back after you spend $2000 on purchases in the first 2 months from account opening.

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer APR : 0% for 12 months

BT Fee : None

Tip: Use this card for foreign travel, not for rewards since you earn a very low rate.

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on First Technology Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best Foreign Travel for Fair Credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is designed for people with Average/Fair/Limited credit. If you have defaulted on a loan in the past five years (but not more than once), or if you have had limited credit history (at least one account for less than three years), you would be considered “average.” With this card, you can earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. There is also no foreign transaction fee, but be aware of the $39 annual fee.

You can use this card to build your credit score by keeping your utilization low (ideally below 20%) and make your payments on time and in full every month. Capital One® provides free access to your FICO score so you can track your score and see when you are eligible for an upgrade to a no-fee card.

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  • No limit to the cash back you can earn
  • No confusing categories or limits
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Average/Fair/Limited

Purchase Interest Rate : 24.99% (Variable)

Annual Fee : $39

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : None

BT Fee : None

Tip: Use this credit card to build your score and avoid expensive foreign transaction fees.

 

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How to Use

In order to maximize your cash back, make sure you follow these suggestions:

  • Use your chosen cash back card for ALL of your spending. Your goal should be to replace cash, checks, automatic debits and debit cards completely. For example, you can automate bill payments (like your cell phone) to be debited from your credit card. This will make your life easier (only one payment to make each month) and it will make budgeting easier (you can set a target for spending and track it easily).
  • Set up automatic monthly payments for the statement balance, not the minimum due. If you set up automatic payments, you will ensure that your payment will be on time every month. And if you set up the automatic payment for the statement balance, you will ensure that you are never charged interest and only charge what you can afford to repay.
  • Avoid cash advances. If you use your credit card to take out cash, most companies will charge a cash advance fee that averages 3%. The interest rate on cash advances is usually above 20%. And there is no grace period, which means interest starts accruing right away.

Best Luxury Card

The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express

Airline perks, entertainment benefits, rewards and more

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best overall luxury card on the market, offering numerous benefits for cardholders. To name a few perks, you can receive: up to $200 in annual savings on Uber rides, Preferred Seating for select entertainment events, access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection with over 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries, a $200 Airline Fee Credit per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline, and numerous other benefits.

There is a rewards program great for frequent travelers — you get five Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and five Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.

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  • Good disclosure: they tell you what you need to know
  • Simple introductory bonus
  • High annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent/Good

Annual Fee : $550

Sign-on Bonus : 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Tip: To earn the most Membership Rewards® points, be sure to purchase flights directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and book hotel stays directly on amextravel.com.

 

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Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Best Low Rate Cards

If you’re someone who carries a balance month-to-month, a low rate credit card can be a great way for you to save money. Whether you want to complete a balance transfer, finance a large purchase, of simply have a low rate card in your wallet, there is a card for you. See below for our top picks.

How to Choose and Use a Low Rate Credit Card

When done properly, credit cards can be the cheapest way to borrow. Just make sure you choose the right credit card for your situation and automate a plan to pay off the debt as quickly as possible.

How to Choose

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

With a balance transfer credit card, you can transfer debt from a high interest rate credit card to a 0% introductory promotional rate. You can find no fee balance transfers for up to 15 months. If you are willing to pay a fee, you can find balance transfers for 18 or 21 months. The fee is usually worthwhile – if you want to do the calculation, you can use the calculator on our interactive tool.

Remember: You cannot transfer debt between two credit cards of the same bank.

Here are the best 0% balance transfer offers in the market today. All of these credit cards waive interest – which means there is no retroactive interest charge to worry about.

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

No Fee – introductory 0% on transfers for 15 months

Chase Slate®

With the Chase Slate® credit card you can enjoy an introductory balance transfer offer of 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months and pay an Intro $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. The intro $0 transfer fee is a great way to save money when completing your transfer. In addition to the balance transfer offer, you pay 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months — great for those who want to pay off a large purchase over time without accruing interest.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the balance transfer period, which means if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the promo period, you will not be charged the interest that would have accrued during the deferral period.
  • Interest rate is not known until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent/Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : No bonus

Intro Purchase APR : 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months; then 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months; then 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR

 

BT Fee : Intro $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater.

Tip: Compete your transfer within 60 days from account opening to take advantage of the intro $0 transfer fee.

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Citi Simplicity<sup>®</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever

0% intro APR on transfers and purchases for 18 months; 3% balance transfer fee

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citibank has a strong intro of 0%* for 18 months on Balance Transfers*. In addition, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has some added perks. There are no late fees, no penalty rate and no annual fee. Although you should always try to pay on time, it is nice that this card will not punish you for the occasional mistake. In addition to the balance transfer offer, you pay no interest on purchases for 18 months.

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  • No late fee, no penalty APR and a $0* annual fee
  • Interest is not deferred during the balance transfer period, which means if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the promo period, you will not be charged the interest that would have accrued during the deferral period.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent/Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)

Annual Fee : $0*

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : 0%* for 18 months on Purchases*

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 0%* for 18 months on Balance Transfers*

BT Fee : 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

Tip: Make sure you transfer your balance within 4 months of opening the card, otherwise you lose the promotional offer.

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on Citibank’s secure website

FULL REVIEW 

Paying off credit card debt sometimes requires more than one balance transfer credit card. If you want even more choices, check out our full guide to the best balance transfer cards, or use our balance transfer calculator to see which cards will save you most.

Best 0% Purchase Credit Cards

With a 0% introductory purchase offer, you will not be charged interest for purchases made on the credit card during the promotional period. This is a great way to finance a purchase. Even better, none of these top cards charge retroactive interest if you don’t pay off the balance during the promotional period. (A lot of store credit cards offer 0%, but then hit you with a big penalty. But don’t worry – these recommendations don’t do that).

Citi<sup>®</sup> Diamond Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer

0% intro on Purchases for 21 Months

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer

If you are looking to finance a purchase, Citibank offers the longest 0% intro purchase promotion of any credit card in the MagnifyMoney database. The intro APR on purchases will be 0%* for 12 months on Purchases* after opening the credit card. This is a fantastic length of time for you to pay off your balance. Additionally, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer has an intro 0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*. There is also a $0* annual fee and the ability to choose your payment due date from any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month. After the intro period ends, the APR is 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable).

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  • Interest is not deferred during the balance transfer period, which means if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the promo period, you will not be charged the interest that would have accrued during the deferral period.
  • Interest rate is not known until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required :Excellent/Good

Purchase Interest Rate : 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)

Annual Fee : $0*

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : 0%* for 12 months on Purchases*

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*

BT Fee : 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Tip: The 21 months starts from when you open the credit card, not when you make the purchase. So make sure you time your application with your planned purchase.

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TruWest Visa<sup>®</sup> Signature Card

0% Intro on Purchases for 18 Months – Credit Union Membership Required

TruWest Visa® Signature

TruWest is a credit union with restricted membership. Unfortunately, you need to live in certain regions of Texas or Arizona, or work for a few select employers to join. You can learn about membership eligibility here. If you are able to join, you will find a long 18-month 0% intro APR period. Even better, the credit card has reasonable credit union interest rates after the promotional period ends. There is no annual fee on the card.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the balance transfer period, which means if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the promo period, you will not be charged the interest that would have accrued during the deferral period.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 9.40% – 10.40%

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 18 months

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 0% for 18 months

BT Fee : 3%

Tip: Make sure you check your membership eligibility before you apply.

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on TruWest Credit Union’s secure website

Best Low Interest Credit Cards

Having a credit card with a rate that stays low is a good idea. In case of an emergency, you will always have access to a low cost way to borrow. Here are some great low interest rate options:

Langley Select Visa Platinum Card from Langley FCU

As Low as 8.00% APR from a Credit Union Anyone Can Join

Langley Select Visa® Platinum

Anyone can join Langley Federal Credit Union by joining an association during the signup process for $5. If you have excellent credit and just want a place for emergency spending with no rewards, consider keeping this card on hand. Although the rates start as low as 8.00% Variable, not everyone will get a rate that low. It’s more of a hassle than a regular bank card, but if you insist on the very lowest rate you may get it with this card.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the balance transfer period, which means if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the promo period, you will not be charged the interest that would have accrued during the deferral period.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.
  • You have to join the credit union.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : as low as 8.50% Variable

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : None

BT Fee : None

Tip: You need to have an excellent credit score in order to qualify for the lowest interest rate.

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on Langley Federal Credit Union’s secure website

You might get a lower rate from a credit union or bank near you that doesn’t accept nationwide applications, and you can check our full list of low interest credit cards to see if there is one that works for you.

How to Use

If you need to borrow money, credit cards can be an incredibly low cost way of borrowing. Just make sure you pay attention to the following tips:

  • Get that balance transfer done quickly! If you are transferring a balance, make sure you complete the transfer as soon as possible. The introductory offer starts from when you open the card, not when the transfer is completed. And you can lose the offer with most issuers if you wait more than 60 days to complete the transfer.
  • Automate your monthly payments. If you pay late, you can be charged a costly late fee. And, if your payment is 60 days late, you can lose the introductory offer entirely.
  • You cannot transfer debt between two cards of the same bank. For example, if you open a Citibank account you will only be able to transfer debt from credit cards other than Citibank.

Best Cards to Help Build or Rebuild Your Credit Score

If you’re someone who is new to credit or has poor credit history, there are credit cards designed for you. These cards are a great way to begin your credit journey, or to improve your credit score. See below for our top picks.

How to Choose and Use a Credit Card to Build or Rebuild Your Score

If you are looking to build or rebuild your credit score, a credit card can be the perfect tool.

How to Choose

If you have no credit, or your credit score is below 620, you should consider a secured credit card.

If you have limited credit history (less than three years) or you have only defaulted once on a credit card or loan (not multiple times), you should consider a credit card for fair credit.

Best Secured Credit Cards if You Have Bad or No Credit

Secured credit cards are the best option if you need to build or rebuild your credit score. The best secured credit cards have no annual fees. If you’re going to use a secured credit card, it will help you grow your score if you pay your balance on time every month, keep your credit utilization low, and you apply for an unsecured credit card after 12-18 months of regular use.

Need to know more? These are ways that you can build your credit without paying interest and spending just $10 a month, and these are tips for improving your credit score.

Discover it<sup>®</sup> Secured Card - No Annual Fee

No Annual Fee Secured Card with Free FICO Score; $200 Deposit Required

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

This is our favorite secured credit card. There is a $0 annual fee and you will get free access to your credit score. In order to open the card, you will need to deposit at least $200, depending upon your creditworthiness. If you have previously filed bankruptcy, you still have the chance to be approved. With this secured credit card, you will earn 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our favorite part of this card is the automatic monthly reviews starting at 8 months to see if you can be transitioned to an unsecured card. If you qualify, you will be graduated (and get your deposit back).

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  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO credit score

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Please refer to issuer's website

Purchase Interest Rate : 24.49% Variable APR

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically (new cardmembers only).

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 10.99% for 6 months

BT Fee : 3%

Tip: This product reports to all three credit bureaus. It is a great tool to build your score. But, if you miss payments, you can do damage to your score.

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Rates & Fees

FULL REVIEW 

Rate Advantage Secured Visa by Coastal FCU

No Fee Secured Card; Credit Union Membership and $100 Deposit Required

Rate Advantage Secured Visa

This card has no annual fee, and you only need to deposit $100 in a Collateral Savings Account to get started. If you’re not a member of Coastal Credit Union, you can join an organization for $18, which is deducted from your initial deposit, and become a member. So you’ll need $118 to get started. While the initial deposit is lower than the Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee, you lose out on the rewards. This card takes more work to open, since it involves joining a credit union, but anyone can apply.

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  • A single interest rate that you know up front, before you apply
  • You have to join a credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Anyone can apply

Purchase Interest Rate : as low as 16.50% Variable

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : None

BT Fee : 3% or $5, whichever is greater

Tip: It is easy to join the credit union. Join an organization for $18 and you will become eligible.

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on Coastal Federal Credit Union’s secure website

We also have a list of several other no annual fee secured credit cards from both banks and credit unions anyone can join. Or browse our list of hundreds of secured cards to compare rates, fees, and deposit requirements.

Best Credit Cards if You Have Fair Credit

If you have fair or average credit, you might be able to qualify for an unsecured credit card. If you have more than one default in the last five years, you will find it difficult to get approved. In addition, if you are currently delinquent on any of your accounts it will also be hard to get approved, and you should try a secured card instead.

Here are some good cards for people with fair credit:

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

1.5% Cash Back for People with Average Credit – with $39 Annual Fee

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® has created a credit card specifically for people with Average/Fair/Limited credit. If you have defaulted on a loan (but not more than one) in the last five years, or you have limited credit history (at least one account for less than three years), you would meet the definition of average credit. With this card, you will earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.

Transparency Score 30
Transparency Score
  • Interest is not deferred during the balance transfer period, which means if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the promo period, you will not be charged the interest that would have accrued during the deferral period.
  • There is an annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Average/Fair/Limited

Purchase Interest Rate : 24.99% (Variable)

Annual Fee : $39

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : None

BT Fee : None

Tip: Watch your credit score closely. As you pay down your debt, your score will improve. Once your score is above 700, you can find a lot of choices for credit cards with better rewards or no annual fee.

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

FULL REVIEW 

You may also want to try and see if you are pre-qualified for a credit card before applying. Banks can perform a ‘soft’ pull on your credit file to give you a sense of whether you might qualify for one of their products. It leaves no mark on your credit score, and you can see a full list of ways to check if you’re pre-qualified here.

How to Use It

In order to build your credit score with one of these cards, you should follow our tips. By doing this, you should see real improvement in your score.

  • Don’t use more than 10% – 20% of your available credit. For example, if you have a $500 credit limit, never spend more than $50. That keeps your utilization low.
  • Use your card every single month. You should make sure you have a transaction every month, so that positive data is reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Automate and pay your statement balance in full and on time every month. Even just one late payment could crush your score. And by paying the balance in full, you will avoid any interest expense.
  • Watch your score closely. Keep an eye on your credit score. After 12 months, you should really start to see a big improvement. Once your score is above 650, you should try to get your secured card converted or apply for an unsecured credit card.

A Special Note: Beware Predatory Companies

Many lenders target consumers with FICO credit scores of less than 650. If you have searched for “credit cards for bad credit,” you will probably find offers from companies like First Premier. In addition to high interest rates, these lenders often require application processing fees, maintenance fees and more. You could be given a $300 credit limit and see a big portion of it eaten up with fees.

Stay away from these specialist subprime lenders. Instead, consider the following:

  • If you need to borrow, consider a personal loan instead. You can find much better deals. Search for options here.
  • If you want to build your credit score, use a secured credit card instead.

Other Benefits of Using a Credit Card

Not only can you use a credit card to earn rewards, borrow at low rates or build your credit score for free – but there are many other benefits available. Here are some of the benefits that you can find:

Available on Most Credit Cards

  • $0 Liability on Fraudulent Activity: Credit cards are the best way to protect yourself from fraud. So long as you report the fraud to your credit card company, you will not be liable for any losses on any major credit card.
  • Car Rental Collision Insurance: If you waive collision coverage when renting a car, your credit card may provide secondary coverage of $50K or more.

Available on Some Credit Cards

  • Retail Purchase Protection: Protects you from loss, theft, fire or accidental damage for a limited period of time after your purchase has been made. Not all cards protect you from loss, so look it up in the Purchase Protection Coverage Description Document.
  • Price Protection: If you buy something in stores and you see an advertised price, you will receive the difference between the two prices.
  • Extended Warranties: Duplicates both manufacturers and store warranties for a limited length of time and for limited dollar values (varies by card).
  • Travel Accident Coverage: If you are injured during travel, and you purchased the tickets via credit card, your company fully insures you.
  • Lost Luggage Coverage: You can receive compensation for lost, stolen or damaged luggage if you purchased flight or travel tickets using your credit card.
  • Trip Interruption Cancellation Coverage: If travel delays keep you from completing a trip, and you purchased the tickets on your credit card, the full value of the tickets will be refunded
  • Concierge Services: Certain cards offer free access to local concierge services that can help you make dinner reservations, purchase event tickets, and locate items while you are abroad.

Should You Get a Credit Card?

Credit cards are like knives. Used well, they are great (even essential) tools. But if you start playing with them, you can get into trouble quickly.

There are two big risks associated with swiping plastic:

  • You spend more than you should, because it is just too easy
  • You pay higher interest rates than you should, adding years to your debt repayment

Before using a credit card, you need to answer the following question honestly:

Do I trust myself with plastic? Can I exhibit the necessary self-control to spend only what I can afford to pay in full every month?

If you have the discipline and self-control, keep reading and we will help you find the best credit card for your needs. But, if you don’t, it is possible to live a long and fulfilling life without plastic cards in your pocket.

Which type of card is best for you?

Why do you want a credit card? The answer to that question will determine which type of card is best for you.

Just remember this critical rule when selecting a credit card:

You should have a Rewards Card for your spending. You should have a Low Rate Card for your borrowing. But you should avoid mixing the two. The best Rewards Cards tend to have higher interest rates. And the best Low Rate Cards often have no (or bad) rewards.

FAQ

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 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).

While there is no over-limit fee, having a credit card with a balance that is greater than the credit limit can have a very negative impact on your credit score. In general, you want to keep your credit card balance below 20% (ideally below 10%) of your credit limit.

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.

The law requires that any payment amount beyond the minimum due must be applied to the highest APR balance first. The minimum due is at the discretion of the credit card companies. However, it is usually applied to the balance with the lowest APR first. Your goal is to eliminate high APR debt – so don’t be afraid to make much bigger payments on credit cards. The extra amount will always go to the most expensive debt first.

Each application for new credit can take 5-10 points off your credit score. If you are planning on applying for a mortgage or auto loan in the near future, you have to be very careful. Even just 5 points can be painful. However, if you are not going to be applying for a mortgage or auto loan in the next 6-12 months, you should not worry too much about your credit score. Instead, focus on getting out of debt quickly.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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