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Credit Cards

Live Richer Challenge: The MagnifyMoney Guide to Secured Credit Cards

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

 

guide-to-secured-credit-cards

If you have a low credit score or no credit history, it can be difficult to get approved for a line of credit. One of the best ways to build up your credit score is to sign up for a secured credit card. Secured cards are a way to prove to a lender you can be responsible with credit.

How Secured Credit Cards Work

With a secured card, you have to put down a deposit with your own money. When you give the bank your deposit, they’ll issue you a line of credit that will most likely be equal to the amount you deposited. Sometimes, however, your secured card limit may be a bit higher than your deposit. Think of that deposit as collateral. If you stop making payments on your card, the bank will simply keep your deposit.

How Should I Use a Secured Card?

Your goal with the secured card is to demonstrate how responsible you can be. This will in turn improve your credit score. You should focus on (1) keeping your credit utilization low and (2) making full, on-time payments each month. Those two factors alone make up 60% of your credit score.

  • Use the secured card. If you don’t use the card, it won’t improve your score by much. Charge a small amount to the card each month and pay it off in full. Aim to carry a balance that is no more than 20% of your available credit limit. That keeps your utilization low and will in turn help your score.
  • Pay your balance in full each month. You can make sure you do this by signing up for automatic monthly payments. This also helps you avoid accruing interest by carrying a balance each month.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service such as Credit Karma, Discover’s credit scorecard, or another service that lets you check your report monthly, for free. You can also get a free annual credit report from all three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Check your credit report monthly to make sure the bank is reporting your secured card behavior to the credit bureaus. If the bank doesn’t report your behavior to the bureaus, you’re missing out on the main benefit of having a secured card.
use secured card

How Long Until I See Results?

No matter what your reason for using a secured card, you should understand that the credit-building process will be slow. It may take a year or longer to lift your score by 100 points.

Choosing the Right Secured Card

The secured card you choose will ultimately depend on a personal assessment of your fiscal habits and a careful review of the card’s terms. Your best bet will be to look for a card with no annual fee, a low minimum deposit, and the lowest annual percentage rate (APR).

What to Watch Out For

The Interest Rate

Interest rates on secured credit cards tend to be much higher than standard credit card rates. So long as you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month, the interest rate doesn’t matter. Your goal with a secured card is to build your score over time with responsible behavior, so the interest rate shouldn’t matter.

The Deposit

Find out how much you have to put down to get the limit that you want. Sometimes the deposit is only a fraction of the card’s credit limit. If you get a card with a limit that is higher than your deposit, have a heart-to-heart with yourself to be certain that you can manage the limit responsibly.

You’d also want to know how long the bank will keep your deposit after you close the secured card as it might not give it back to you right away. Some banks will keep the deposit to cover any charges to the card for a couple of months after you close the account.

Fees and Charges

Like credit cards, secured cards can also come loaded with hidden fees and other charges. These can eat away at your security deposit and your card limit if you’re not careful. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a great example of a credit card agreement that highlights what you should look out for. A couple of the most important items to check are if the card has an annual fee and if it has a period after which the interest rate you’re paying will increase.

Perks

Most secured credit cards don’t offer any rewards, but a few, like the Discover it® Secured – $0 Annual Fee, let you earn rewards for your purchases. You shouldn’t focus solely on the perks when choosing a card, but they are nice to have.

There are a few reasons Discover is our top recommendation. First, there is a $0 annual fee. Second, you get to see your credit score for free. And (most importantly), Discover starts automated monthly reviews of your account after 8 months to see if you can be transitioned to an account with no security deposit. Also, if you have previously filed bankruptcy, Discover will still consider your application.

MagnifyMoney Recommends

Our top three secured card recommendations are the

Discover it® Secured

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Secured

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
25.24% Variable

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$49, $99, or $200
Regular Purchase APR
26.99% (Variable)

Citi® Secured MasterCard®

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on Citi’s secure website

Citi® Secured MasterCard®

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular Purchase APR
24.74%* (Variable)

Use our comparison tool to find the best secured credit cards.

Transitioning from Secured Card to Credit Card

After you demonstrate dependability by making full, consistent, on-time payments for a given amount of time — usually about a year or so — your credit score should have improved greatly.
Once you are ready to move on from the secured card, you can close your account and you will be given back your security deposit.

You’ll likely be in a position at that time to apply for a regular credit card. You can apply for a regular card with the same bank that issued your secured card, but you don’t have to.

There’s a decent chance that the bank will want to keep you as a customer and may offer to upgrade your secured card to a regular credit card. But in some cases you’ll have to ask for an upgrade.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be 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 financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Credit Cards

Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Unsecured cards are the most popular type of credit cards available — they are simply regular credit cards. The term “unsecured” means that you don’t need to deposit money or use any other collateral in order to receive a line of credit — credit card issuers extend credit based on your credit history and various other factors.

That’s why, if you have bad credit, it can be difficult to qualify for most good credit card deals. Poor credit is considered at or below a 579 credit score, and it signals to lenders that you’re a high-risk borrower.

Poor credit doesn’t make it impossible to access credit cards, however, but the key is to use credit responsibly so your credit score will improve and you’ll have a chance at qualifying for better deals.

We’ve put together this guide to help you understand the best options for people with bad credit.

Our top picks

Unsecured card: Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

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on Credit One Bank’s secure website

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Regular Purchase APR
20.24% - 26.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0-$99
Rewards Rate
1% cash back on purchases for qualified applicants, terms apply

Credit One is hardly the best credit card out there, with a host of potential fees that make it expensive to carry. On the plus side, however, it is accessible to those with poor credit. It offers several cards that carry the potential for 1% cash back on purchases for qualified applicants, terms apply. People with bad credit will find it hard to qualify for credit cards and harder to qualify for cards with rewards. Therefore, the cashback feature is a good perk of Credit One cards. But remember — not everyone will qualify for a cashback card.

Terms

  • Regular purchase APR: 20.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Cash advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Annual membership fee: $0-$99
    Depending on your account, the annual membership fee will be divided into 12 equal portions and billed monthly or it will be billed yearly for the second and each following year your account is open
  • Authorized user participation fee: $19 annually (if applicable)
  • Cash advance fee: Either $5 or 8% of the amount of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater, or $10 or 3% of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater.
  • Late payment fee: Up to $39
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $39

What to watch out for

The annual fee will hit your account right away — eating into your total available limit. The fine print of the terms and conditions explains:

NOTICE: If your Account has an Annual Membership Fee, it will be billed to your Account when it is opened and will reduce the amount of your initial available credit. For example, if your Account is established with a credit line of $300 and your First year Annual Membership Fee is $75, your initial available credit will be $225.

This is key to realize if you are charged an annual membership fee. You can quickly see your credit limit decrease when opening your account; especially if you are charged the highest annual fee.

Another term to be aware of is the authorized user participation fee at $19 annually. Most personal credit cards do not charge a fee for authorized users so this is an added fee Credit One charges if you decide to add an authorized user.

Secured card: Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured

Regular APR
25.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Minimum Deposit
$200
Credit required
bad-credit
Poor/New

The Discover it® Secured is our top pick for secured cards for numerous reasons — from the automatic monthly account reviews starting at 8 months to the cashback program, this card provides exceptional benefits for cardholders.

Pros:

  • Automatic monthly account reviews: Starting at 8 months, Discover will review your account to see if you qualify for receiving your security deposit back. If you have responsible credit management across all your credit products, you may be graduated to an unsecured card and recieve your security deposit back.
  • Cashback program: This card has a unique feature that’s uncharacteristic of secured cards — a cashback program where you can earn 2% cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cashback on all your other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score: You receive your free FICO® Credit Score with Discover Credit Scorecard as well as other credit information, like recent inquiries and revolving utilization. This is a great way to track your credit progress and checking your score doesn’t affect hurt your credit.

Cons:

  • High APR: Most secured cards have high APRs, and this one does, too. But, if you pay your balance in full each month, you won’t be charged interest.

Read our review of the Discover it® Secured. 

The risks of unsecured cards for bad credit

The majority of unsecured cards that accept people with bad credit have numerous fees that can have you questioning if the card is really helping you.

Here are several drawbacks you may see with unsecured cards for bad credit:

  • High APRs: Typical cards have APR ranges that max out around 25%, but unsecured cards for bad credit can have APRs near 30%. Also, since you have bad credit, you most often will receive the highest APR listed in the terms and conditions.
  • Annual fee: Many credit cards in general have annual fees, but this can often be outweighed by the added benefits provided. However, unsecured cards for bad credit often lack the added benefits that cards for good credit offer.
  • Processing fee: Unsecured cards for bad credit often charge a processing fee that serves to open your account and lets you access your credit. This is something you won’t find with unsecured cards from major banks and credit card issuers.
  • Monthly service fee: This fee is characteristic of some unsecured cards and is another cost you have to keep in mind before applying since it can effectively lower your line of credit.

Credit card options when you have bad credit

Store credit cards

Odds are you’ve been asked to apply for a credit card while checking out at a store or online. The card offers often entices you with a rewards program or discount on your current purchase, and gets you thinking if you should apply. The card that you’re being offered is a store credit card and these cards can only be used at the issuing store. Since they are more likely to approve you compared with regular credit cards, they may seem like an easy way to establish credit, but there are some pitfalls to keep in mind.

Pros:

  • Good approval odds: Store cards are more likely to extend you credit than regular credit cards.
  • Rewards and discounts: Store cards often give you rewards for each purchase you make and send you card member discounts. This can be a great way to save money at stores where you frequently shop.

Cons:

  • Limited use: You most likely can only use your card in the issuing store. For example, a Target REDcardTM Credit Card can only be used for Target purchases.
  • High interest rates: Store cards tend to have higher interest rates than regular cards, so make sure you pay your statements in full and on time to avoid interest charges.

Store card options

Walmart Credit Card®

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on Walmart’s secure website

Walmart Credit Card®

Regular Purchase APR
19.15% - 25.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Save 3% on Walmart.com purchases including Grocery Pickup, 2% on Murphy USA & Walmart gas, and 1% at Walmart & anywhere your card is accepted.

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

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on Target’s secure website

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
25.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com

Lowe’s Advantage Card

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on Lowe’s secure website

Lowe’s Advantage Card

Regular Purchase APR
26.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Get 5% off your eligible purchase or order charged to your Lowe’s Advantage Card.

Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

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on Home Depot’s secure website

Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.99%-26.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0

Secured credit cards

A secured credit card requires you to deposit money upfront, which acts as collateral in case your account defaults. The amount you deposit typically becomes your line of credit. For example, if you put down a $200 security deposit, that means you likely have a $200 credit limit; deposit more and your credit limit will increase. Typical security deposits are $200, but you can be asked to deposit more or less depending on the card.

Pros:

  • Less chance of overspending: Since your credit limit is equal to the amount you deposit, it’s unlikely you will have a high credit limit. This can prevent you from charging large amounts and falling into debt.
  • Great way to build or improve: Secured cards are our favorite way to build or improve credit since you are more likely to be approved for a secured card with bad credit, and you can see your score rise with proper credit behavior and spending as little at $10 a month.

Cons:

  • Security deposit required: You may not have the money available for the required security deposit, therefore possibly ruling out your chances of a secured card.
  • Low credit limit: Your line of credit is equal to your security deposit and most people don’t have the money available to deposit hundreds or thousands of dollars, making your available line of credit lower than unsecured cards.

Secured card options

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
26.99% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$49, $99, or $200

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good option for people who may not be able to afford a $200 security deposit since they also offer a $49 or $99 deposit — but take caution that you don’t choose your deposit, Capital One® does. So you may not receive the lower deposit.

Pros:

  • Potentially low security deposit: You may qualify for a $49 or $99 deposit instead of the $200 deposit depending on your creditworthiness. If you qualify for one of the lower deposits, you will still receive a $200 line of credit.
  • Access to a higher credit line: When you make your first 5 monthly payments on time, you receive a higher credit line.
  • Account reviews: Capital One® reviews your account to see if you can be transitioned to an unsecured card and receive your deposit back. However, there is no set time frame for when your account will be reviewed.

Cons:

  • High APR: Similar to other secured cards, this card has a high APR that can be an issue if you carry a balance. A good rule of thumb is to pay each bill in full and on time to avoid interest charges.

Read our review of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.

Credit builder loans

A credit builder loan is when a lender (typically a credit union) puts funds into a savings account or CD and a borrower makes monthly payments until the amount is paid off. Typically, the borrower cannot access the funds until the balance is paid in full. Your savings act as collateral for the lender, so if you don’t make payments they know they won’t lose money.

The monthly payments you make include interest fees and often occur over a 12-, 18- or 24-month term. Credit builder loans can be a good way for you to improve your credit score and act as a forced savings since you can’t withdraw funds until you repay the amount you borrowed.

Pros:

  • Report to the credit bureaus: Credit builder loans report to the major credit bureaus, allowing you to rebuild or establish credit history — as long as you follow the terms of your loan and make timely payments.
  • Source of savings: Since the funds are placed in a savings account or CD, you have a forced savings that is accessible at the end of the loan term.

Cons:

  • Funds are locked: You can’t withdraw money borrowed until your loan is paid off. So if you need money upfront, a credit builder loan isn’t a good option.

Options

Self Lender

Credit builder loans at Self Lender offer 12 or 24 month loans where you pay back a loan from $525 to $1,700. Funds are deposited into a CD that’s FDIC-insured and earns interest. However, you cannot access the funds until the loan is paid off. There is a $5 non-refundable administration fee that you pay when you open your account. After that, you pay equal monthly payments for the term of your account (these payments include interest charges). Once you pay off the amount borrowed, you can access your funds plus interest earned.

Republic Bank

At Republic Bank, you can take out a credit builder loan for 12, 18 or 24 months with loan amounts of $500, $1,000 or $1,500. Your funds are placed in a CD that earns interest and is only accessible once the loan is paid. There is a $10 processing fee when you open your account. When you complete your monthly payments (which include interest), you can either withdraw your funds or leave them in a CD.

Unsecured credit card options for bad credit

An unsecured credit card is simply a regular credit card. Unlike secured cards, there is no minimum security deposit required to access a line of credit. These cards often provide higher credit limits than secured cards and can help you build credit when used responsibly.

Pros:

  • You won’t need to make a deposit to access your line of credit.
  • Unsecured cards typically have higher credit limits than secured cards. And, the two cards mentioned below both have credit limits starting at $300.

Cons:

  • Many secured cards for bad credit come with annual fees, so you’ll have to make sure the fee is worth it. If the unsecured card has an annual fee but no rewards, look for alternatives.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$39
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Regular Purchase APR
26.96% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a good unsecured card for those looking to earn cash back while building credit — just watch out for the $39 annual fee.

Pros:

  • You can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. This is a decent rate considering this is a card for those with average/fair/limited credit.
  • When you make your first five monthly payments on time, you receive a higher credit line.

Cons:

  • This card comes with a $39 annual fee. Annual fees are common for cards aimed at people with poor credit, but you can find cards without annual fees like the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card mentioned below. With this card, if you spend $2,600 a year, you’ll earn enough cash back to recoup the fee.
  • This card comes with a high APR that can be an issue if you carry a balance. Try to always pay on time and in full so you don’t incur interest charges.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Non-rewards Card
Regular Purchase APR
26.96% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is a decent option if you want a no-frills, unsecured credit card that can allow you to build credit without the distraction of rewards.

Pros:

  • When you make your first five monthly payments on time, you receive a higher credit line.
  • This card is no-frills, but that may be the best option for you if you think you may be tempted to overspend with a rewards card. You can use this card to build credit and work toward a higher credit score.

Cons:

  • Similar to most cards for less-than-stellar credit, there is a high APR. However, if you pay your balance on time and in full each month, this won’t be an issue.

Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card

Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card

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on TOTAL’s secure website

Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
34.99% Fixed
Annual fee
$75 for first year, then $48 annually

The Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card is also accessible to those with poor credit, but it comes at a steep price —  a long list of fees. Apply with caution.

Terms

  • Regular purchase APR: 34.99% Fixed
  • Cash advance APR: 34.99%
  • Processing fee: If approved, just pay an $89.00 program fee to open your account and access your available credit.
  • Annual Fee: $75 for first year, then $48 annually
  • Monthly servicing fee: None for first year (introductory). After that, $75 annually ($6.25 per month).
  • Additional card fee: $29 annually (if applicable)
  • Cash advance fee: None for first year (introductory). After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Late payment fee: Up to $39
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $39

What to watch out for

The Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card has numerous fees that make this card quite expensive to use, and many fees are not typical of mainstream credit cards. The APR is one of the highest on the market at 34.99% Fixed, and typical credit cards have APRs that max out around 25%.

Similar to Credit One, the annual fee for the Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card is deducted from your initial credit line, lowering your available credit until the fee is paid off:

Notice: The Annual Fee will be assessed before you begin using your card and will reduce the amount of credit you initially have available. Based on your initial credit limit of $300.00, your initial available credit will only be $225.00 (only $196.00 if you choose to have an additional card).

There is a monthly servicing fee of $75 annually ($6.25 per month) associated with this card that is quite steep and characteristic of cards for bad credit. Also, if you take out additional cards, you will be charged $29 annually. Considering the processing fee, annual fee and monthly service fees, you’re looking at a jaw-dropping amount of fees with this card. In the first year, if you’re only considering the processing and annual fee, you would be charged $164 and subsequent years would incur $123 in fees from the annual fee and monthly servicing fees.

On the plus side, one fee it doesn’t have is a credit limit increase fee. This is a fee some cards for people with bad credit charge when your credit limit increases, but the Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card does not charge this fee. So, going from a credit limit of $400 to $500 will not incur a fee.

Learn more

How to build credit

As someone with bad credit, it’s important to practice responsible credit behavior and follow several rules so you can improve your credit.

  1. Pay your bills on time: When you receive a bill, pay it as soon as possible and always before the due date. By paying on time, you won’t be charged a late payment fee and the lender won’t have to report your bad credit behavior to the credit bureaus. Use autopay features or set calendar alerts so you don’t forget.
  2. Pay your statement balance in full every month: Don’t carry a balance on your card because you’ll be charged interest on any overdue amounts and can fall into debt.
  3. Don’t max out your card: If you receive a $500 credit limit, don’t spend the full amount each month because that shows lenders you’re a risky client and negatively impacts your credit score. The amount of your available credit you use is known as utilization and the goal is to have a 20% or lower utilization rate — so spend $100 on a card with a $500 credit limit.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be 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 financial institutions or all products offered 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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Credit Cards

Best Cashback Sign-Up Bonus Offers of March 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have 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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Searching for the best cashback sign-up bonus deals? Look no further. MagnifyMoney has compiled the best cashback card deals right here.

If your reward card spending mirrored that of a millennial in the Department of Labor’s most recent survey, you could potentially charge around $1,800 per month over that two-year period, according to a CompareCards.com* study.  You would earn on average nearly $750 in cashback rewards over two years after taking into account any annual fees the cards assess.

After looking at the available cashback cards, we found five we felt offered the best sign-up bonuses. All five cards offer a cashback bonus without having to spend large amounts of money to get it. Plus, 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® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The sign-up bonus for this card is earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. It has solid rewards, where cardmembers can earn 4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020. The card comes with broader cash-back earning categories. Dining includes restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains and bakeries. Entertainment covers tickets for movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, pool halls and bowling alleys. It also covers purchases at record and video rental stores.You get your rewards without having to worry about rotating cashback bonuses or quarterly sign-ups. Cash back won’t expire as long as the card is active and there are no limits on how much cash back you can earn. The card comes with travel assistance services, a concierge, extended warranty and price protection. Plus, there is no foreign transaction fee.This card is best for those who want to earn more cash back for dining and groceries. Outside of that, there are other cashback cards that offer better rewards in top spending categories. Entertainment rewards don’t include digital streaming and subscription services. Just know, there is an annual fee — $0 intro for first year; $95 after that.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 26.24% (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

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

Uber Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
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.

TruWest Visa® Signature Card

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TruWest Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
10.15%-11.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
With the TruWest Visa® Signature Card, you earn $100 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% introductory APR for 18 months on all purchases and balance transfers. After 18 months, there’s a very reasonable 10.15%-11.15% Variable APR.

You automatically Earn up to 1.5% cash back with the 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.

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers new cardmembers $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, one of the highest in this category. Once you meet the spending requirement, the bonus will be applied to your rewards balance after eight to 10 weeks. This card has a flat 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase.As of Jan. 14, 2019, the $0 annual fee Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card comes with higher rewards in more rotating categories and more flexibility. Cardmembers can earn higher cash back for gas, dining, travel, online shopping, drug stores and home improvement and furnishings — the latter three are categories that usually aren’t included for higher cash back. You’re free to switch higher cashback categories once a month instead of quarterly, like other competing credit cards, remaining on the last category chosen if you forget or don’t choose to switch.But you still only earn higher cash back on spending of up to $2,500 per quarter. After that, the rewards drop to 1% cash back per dollar spent. The only perk with this card is a free FICO® credit score monthly. While it’s nice that cardmembers can change spending categories every month, there are competing cards that offer more points per dollar spent in popular categories, better perks and more ways to redeem your rewards.
The information related to Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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The information related to Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Regular Purchase APR
17.24 - 25.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 15 months
Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR for 15 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

New cardmembers earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Use that bonus for cash, gift cards, travel or pay with points. Earn a simple Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.Although the cashback rate on this $0 annual fee card is lower than others, you don’t have to worry about changing bonus reward categories every quarter. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, combine the cash back earned on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with points earned on the other two cards. Use them at the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website, where you can get between 25% and 50% more value when you redeem points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.If you use this card outside of the country, be prepared to pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. Other cards offer higher rewards in categories, such as travel or dining. The only perks that come with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are purchase protection and extended warranty.

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® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$0*
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
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® Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

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Discover it® Cash Back

Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% 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 and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The great thing with the Discover it® Cash Back 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® Cash Back, 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® Cash Back 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.

After the first year, the Discover it® Cash Back’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.

*CompareCards.com and MagnifyMoney.com are both owned by LendingTree.

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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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