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Best Travel Credit Cards August 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer 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 which travel rewards credit card to apply for can be a difficult decision. Consider these four factors before you hit that “apply now” button:

  • No foreign transaction fees. While up to 3% in foreign transaction fees may not sound like much, it can add more than 30 cents to every $10 you spend abroad. If you plan on traveling abroad, choose a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • Good rewards for spending. For every dollar you spend, you should be able to earn rewards that 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. The sign-up bonus should offer a substantial award that justifies the spending needed to get it.
  • Annual fee. Although most travel cards come with an annual fee, the perks, along with 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®

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

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99%-23.99% Variable
Annual fee
$550
Rewards Rate
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

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 ($550 annual fee minus up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases). Additionally, if you renew your card membership from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, your annual fee will be reduced to $450.

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 three 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. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a generous amount of 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:

  • High annual fee. One of the biggest cons of this card is the $550 annual fee, due immediately in the first year. However, if you renew your card membership from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, your annual fee will be reduced to $450.
  • Points limit. You won’t earn higher Chase points for travel until you spend the card’s $300 annual travel credit before the end of your cardmember anniversary.
  • 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® from American Express

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
See Pay Over Time APR
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 prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.

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 18 airline and two hotel loyalty programs, 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:

  • High annual fees. While the card may offer the most status and immediate benefits, it also comes with an expensive annual 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.

To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

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

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.

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.
  • New points transfer. You can now transfer the miles you earn to 15 travel loyalty programs.
  • 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.

Cons:

  • Annual fee. The card is slightly expensive for earning two miles per dollar toward travel, currently $95. 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.
  • Fewer points. There are other cards on the market that offer more miles for travel-related spending.

 

Best travel card for millennials

Uber Visa Card

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been independently 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% - 27.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% back in Uber Cash on Uber, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% back in Uber Cash on dining, hotels, and airfare and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases

Why we like it: The Uber Visa Card offers high cash back rewards at some of the places millennials spend the most — including restaurants, Uber and UberEATS — along with up to $600 in mobile phone protection and a $0 annual fee.

Rewards program
The card offers 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% back in Uber Cash on dining, hotels, and airfare and 1% back in Uber Cash 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. The Uber Visa Card offers a generous rewards rate on Uber, UberEats, dining, travel and other purchases. Using this card as your primary option for restaurants and Uber purchases 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 Card 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.
  • 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

Why we like it: The details make this card a real winner. Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get. 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 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.
  • 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

Odyssey™ Rewards World Elite MasterCard® from First Tech FCU

First Tech Odyssey Rewards™ World Elite Mastercard®

First Tech Odyssey Rewards™ World Elite Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
6.99% to 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$75
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 Reward Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases

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 First Tech Odyssey Rewards™ World Elite Mastercard® offers competitive bonus categories (Earn 3 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 Reward Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases), but comes with a lower interest rate than its competitors. The annual fee is $75.

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 First Tech Odyssey Rewards™ World Elite Mastercard® are comparable to other major rewards cards. Earn 3 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel; 2 Rewards Points for every $1 spent on dining; 1 Reward Point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. This gives it strong value with better terms for the cardholder.
  • Flexible rewards options. Like other programs, points earned on the First Tech Odyssey Rewards™ World Elite Mastercard® 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, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit August 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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If you’re someone with a good credit score you should be able to qualify for a variety of credit cards. A “good” credit score falls between the range of 670 to 739, according to credit bureau Equifax.

There are cards for earning cash back, travel rewards or for completing a balance transfer. MagnifyMoney reviewed its database of over 2,000 credit cards to find the ones you can qualify for with good credit rating. 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 offset the cost of your shopping. 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.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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The information related to Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • High flat-rate cash back You earn one of the highest flat-rate cash back amounts of any card on the market. This allows you to enjoy high rewards on all your purchases.
  • Simple cash back rewards Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. No need to deal with changing categories or activation.
  • First late fee waived You won’t have to pay your first late fee. Instead, if you are tardy, use it as a reminder to sign up for autopay.

Cons Cons

  • Must pay in full to earn the full reward The only way to enjoy the 2% cash back is to pay your bill in full. This is a great incentive to pay your bill on time so you earn rewards faster.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee This is one card to leave home if you travel abroad a lot — but it’s great as long as you stay within the United States. The foreign transaction fee will negate any cash back you earn from purchases made abroad.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This is one of the highest flat-rate cash back rewards credit cards on the market. It’s a great choice for those who want peace of mind that they’re getting good rewards without fussing with variable rewards categories.

Read our full review of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Discover it® Cash Back

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Up to 5% cash back in rotating categories You will earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. All other purchases will earn unlimited 1% cash back automatically.
  • Cash back match your first year Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. This is a great additional bonus for new cardholders that will significantly increase your cash back.
  • No foreign transaction fee Bring your card with you on your adventures abroad. It won’t cost you anything extra.
  • Free FICO® score Your FICO® score is the most common credit score used by creditors, and getting your official score helps you keep tabs on your good credit. Monitoring your score can also help alert you of any fraudulent activity on your card.

Cons Cons

  • You need to opt in for bonus categories Bonus rewards aren’t automatic; you’ll need to remember to log in and manually activate them each quarter. Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
  • $1,500 quarterly cap on spending eligible for 5% cash back rewards After you hit the quarterly spend, purchases in the 5% category will earn 1% cash back.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Discover it® Cash Back offers great rewards-earning potential making this card a good way to earn rewards. Just remember to opt in to the quarterly-changing cash back programs.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Cash Back

Also ConsiderAlso Consider

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

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.

Platinum Visa® from Abound Credit Union

Platinum Visa® from Abound Credit Union

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 5% cash rewards for gas and 1% cash rewards for other eligible purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
10.75% - 18.00% Variable
Credit required
good-credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 5% cash back rewards on gas This is one of the best cash back rewards rates we’ve seen on any card. It does not change quarterly like with most cash back rewards — you will always earn cash back rewards at this rate.
  • Fair APR If you need to carry a balance from month to month, rest assured: This card comes with a fair interest rate. Although we recommend paying each statement in full, this card can be a good option if you qualify for the lowest APR.
  • No annual fee All these great rewards come with no annual fee. If you pay off your bill in full each month to avoid interest charges.

Cons Cons

  • 1% foreign transaction fee This is a great card to have on hand for road trips, but be aware that if you cross the border, your net cash back rewards will be reduced.
  • Credit union membership required You don’t need to be a member to apply for the card; however, if you are approved, you’ll need to open and fund a savings account with a minimum of $5.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers great value for big spenders in gas. If you frequent the pump, this card can earn you a nice cash back rate. This card offers other great features such as no annual fee and a fair interest rate. If you don’t mind working with a credit union, this card can benefit your needs.

Best for big spenders at U.S. supermarkets

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 at supermarkets. Here’s our top pick for a credit card to maximize your cash back rewards at U.S. supermarkets.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
13.99%-23.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% on purchases for 12 months
Intro BT APR
N/A
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Intro 0% on purchases for 12 months (after that, a 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR applies) This can come in handy if you make a purchase and can’t pay it off immediately.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets You’ll earn a whopping 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases — the highest level of cash back rewards we’ve heard of. Sadly, you’ll only earn this much on the first $6,000 worth of purchases each year. Remaining purchases will still earn 1% cash back.
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit There’s no limit to the amount of cash back rewards you can earn at U.S. gas stations and on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, and buses. That means you can enjoy the higher cash back rate all year long.

Cons Cons

  • $95 annual fee This card charges an annual fee, but it will still be worth the fee if you spend at least $1,583 at U.S. supermarkets or $3,166 in gas each year.
  • Foreign transaction fee of 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars. If you use your card outside of the country, it’ll cost you unless you’re buying gas or groceries — then you’ll either be just about breaking even or earning 3.3% cash back rewards on groceries. It’s best to leave this card at home if you travel abroad.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers a fantastic cash back rewards program for grocery spenders. By using this card for grocery purchases, you will see the most rewards. Although it carries a $95 annual fee, this card will easily pay for itself with big spenders in groceries.

To see rates & fees for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

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-earned 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.

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Regular Purchase APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Rewards are worth more when redeemed for travel You will receive 25% more value on points that are redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This raises the effective rate of rewards to 1.25 and 2.5 points.
  • Higher rewards for dining and travel You’ll earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. This is great for travelers and foodies.
  • 1:1 point transfer to frequent flyer programs You can transfer points to partner frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great way to accumulate points faster at your favorite airline.
  • Travel protections This card comes with trip cancellation/interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, auto rental collision damage waiver and more. These features add a layer of protection when traveling abroad.

Cons Cons

  • Points are worth slightly less when transferred to partners You’ll miss out on 25% more value if you transfer points to travel partners like airlines and hotels. The points will still transfer on a 1-to-1 basis, but they won’t be worth as much as using the Chase Rewards portal.
  • Annual fee There is a $95 annual fee, which is typical of travel rewards cards. However, if you spend enough on this card, you will come out ahead.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card is the gold standard for frequent travelers. The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal helps you maximize your rewards even further and get you closer to covering the cost of a flight or hotel stay using rewards. If you’re a frequent traveler, this card will earn you a great rate.

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.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual fee
$69
Rewards Rate
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Flexible points redemption options You can use your points to book hotel stays and car rentals and to buy gift cards or merchandise.
  • 3,000 bonus points every year You’ll get a bonus 3,000 points tacked onto your account each year on your card’s anniversary. This is a great added bonus that makes this card exceptional.
  • Travel protections This card comes with lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and more. These features add a layer of protection when traveling abroad.

Cons Cons

  • $69 annual fee Many travel credit cards will waive their annual fee for the first year — but not this one. Otherwise, the $69 annual fee is typical and if this is your go-to card, the rewards you earn can likely outweigh the fee.
  • Foreign transaction fee This card charges 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars for purchases made abroad. It’s ironic that a travel card would include this fee. If you can, leave this one at home if you travel outside of the country. Also consider other airline cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
Bottom line

Bottom line

We recommend this card for people who frequently fly on Southwest Airlines and want to earn a higher rewards rate on those purchases. This card will allow you to earn more points on Southwest flights that will allow you to maximize your rewards. If you don’t fly Southwest and often fly abroad, this card isn’t for you.

Best for United frequent flyers

UnitedSM Explorer Card

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

UnitedSM Explorer Card

Annual fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Priority boarding Snag your seat before everyone else and avoid the rush to get on the plane.
  • Free checked bag You and one companion traveling on the same reservation will each receive their first standard checked bag free.
  • Hotel benefits This card comes with luxury hotel and resort collection privileges including room upgrades, complimentary daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • Travel protections This card comes with lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and more. These features add peace of mind when traveling.

Cons Cons

  • Annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95 Many travel credit cards will waive their annual fee for the first year — including this one. After that first year, the annual fee kicks in. However, the annual fee amount is typical and the rewards you earn can outweigh the annual fee.
  • Limited Star Alliance partners You can only use your points to book travel on United Airlines or their partners in the Star Alliance, including such airlines as Lufthansa and Air China. This is a negative if you don’t travel on any of these airlines.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers a good rewards program for United Airlines flyers. You will enjoy more miles on United purchases and will also get nice perks that make flying less stressful. We recommend this card if you’re a frequent United Airlines traveler.

Best for American Airlines frequent flyers

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

The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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

Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases
Regular Purchase APR
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Credit required
excellent-credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Cheaper mile redemptions You’ll pay up to 7,500 fewer miles to fly to certain destinations with American Airlines. This can help you maximize your miles.
  • First checked bag free You won’t have to leave the things you really want to bring at home in order to save money. First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation.
  • Discount on in-flight purchases You can save money when dining on American Airlines flights. Receive a 25% savings on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount You can earn this discount by spending $20,000 or more on purchases using this card each card membership year.

Cons Cons

  • Limited “oneworld” partner airlines You can only book travel on American Airlines or their partner airlines in the “oneworld alliance.” Other member airlines include British Airways and Qantas, for example.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers solid benefits and ways to maximize your mile earnings. It’s an important card in any traveler’s wallet and can be a great benefit to frequent American Airlines flyers. Take advantage of the cheaper miles redemption to maximize your miles.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply |  Rates & Fees

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
Rewards Rate
Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Free checked bag Save money and hassle by bringing all the stuff you need with you on your travels in a free checked bag.
  • Priority boarding Be the first on the plane so you don’t have to worry about luggage space or a long line.
  • No foreign transaction fee This card does not charge a fee for purchases made abroad. That means you can fly outside of the U.S. and not be charged additional fees like most other cards.
  • Discounts on Delta purchases You will enjoy several discounts when flying Delta. Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Travel protections This card comes with Global Assist Hotline, car rental loss and damage insurance, and more. These features are a great way to have an added layer of safety when traveling.

Cons Cons

  • Limited SkyTeam partner airlines You can also use your Delta miles to book travel within the SkyTeam Alliance, a relatively limited network with other members like Air France and Aeroméxico.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card offers great benefits for those who fly Delta. You will enjoy a wide selection of benefits from priority boarding to in-flight savings that make traveling more comfortable and cheaper. We recommend this card for frequent Delta flyers who want added discounts when they travel.

To see rates & fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here.

Best luxury credit card for good credit

Even though traveling is fun, it can still be a stressful experience. 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 may avoid all of that with a luxury credit card. These credit cards could give you an across-the-board better travel experience, from the moment you arrive at the airport until you make it back home. Here is our top pick for a luxury credit card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply |  Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® 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 prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Free access to over 1,200 airport lounges Get away from the crowds in premium airport lounges all over the globe. This is a great feature that will allow you time to decompress before or after flights.
  • $200 toward airline fees and incidental purchases each year Amex will refund you up to $200 in the form of a statement credit per year on purchases from a qualifying airline you select ahead of time. This includes things like meals, checked bag fees, and more.
  • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck : Amex will refund you every four-and-a-half years for TSA Precheck ($85) or every four years for Global Entry ($100) fees. If you were thinking of using these services, it’s a great idea to take advantage of this rebate and enjoy a quicker check-in when flying.
  • Great rewards program Earn a fantastic rewards rate of 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. It’s more than double what many other travel cards offer.

Cons Cons

  • High $550 annual fee Luxury doesn’t come cheap. If you spend a lot on travel, though, this card can still pay for itself. Make sure this card is right for your needs.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card is a stand-out favorite for globetrotting jet-setters who prefer a bit of comfort while traveling. Watch out for the $550 annual fee, though. If you spend a lot on travel each year, however, this card might actually save you money and will allow you to travel in luxury.

To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Best 0% Intro 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% Intro APR purchase cards can be a great way to go. They’re basically like free short-term loans. These cards are similar to 0% Intro balance transfer cards, but not all balance transfer cards also offer you the ability to make new purchases with the introductory APRs.

It’s recommended to only use these cards to buy things that you absolutely need rather than using them for a big splurge. 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.

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Intro 0% APR for 15 months If you need to make a big purchase, you’ll appreciate the purchase APR offer of 0% intro on purchases for 15 months. After, a 15.49% - 25.49% (variable) APR applies. The card also offers N/A. After, a 15.49% - 25.49% (variable) APR applies. The balance transfer fee is a reasonable $0.
  • Good flat-rate rewards Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
  • Sign-up bonus One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee The annual fee for this card is $0, so as long as you don’t carry a balance and incur interest charges, all the rewards you earn are net cash back in your wallet. And you can travel abroad knowing that the foreign transaction fee is none, so you won’t be charged an extra fee for each transaction you make.

Cons Cons

  • There are cards with higher rewards rates Though the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a solid cashback rate, there are flat-rate cards that offer up to 2% cash back, and cards that offer up to 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories.
Bottom line

Bottom line

With a strong 0% Intro APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers, as well as good ongoing rewards, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers cardholders an excellent value.

Read our full review of the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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The information related to Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Balance Transfer Fee
Balance transfer fee – either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Regular Purchase APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Intro 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers Enjoy no interest charges for nearly two years in a row — that’s one of the longest 0% BT APR intro periods in the business. After the intro period, the APR goes to 14.74% - 24.74% (variable). The card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 18 months on purchases. After the intro period ends, the regular purchase APR is 14.74% - 24.74% (variable).
  • No late fees Citi offers one of the most unique benefits in the credit card world — no late fees. Of course, it isn’t a free pass; you still need to pay your bill on time or risk a huge credit score drop from the negative mark on your credit report.
  • Choose your bill due date To make it as easy as possible on your finances, you can choose your own due date. Get paid in the middle of the month? No problem. Prefer to pay it right away? Pay it at the beginning of the month.

Cons Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee If you’ll be traveling abroad, leave this card at home — otherwise it’ll end up making your trip 3% more expensive.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This is one of the longest 0% BT APR intro periods in the credit card market for balance transfers and offers a fantastic opportunity for those who need to finance a large purchase — as long as you pay it off before the period expires. Use this card as a means to rid yourself of high interest charges while you pay off your bills.

Read our full review of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Learn more

You don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify for most 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.

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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit August 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Written By

If your credit score is between 580 and 669, you have fair credit, which is just one step above poor credit. But having fair credit doesn’t mean you’re ineligible for great credit cards. We’ve rounded up the top credit cards you still have a chance to be approved for, even with fair or average credit, in a variety of categories. These cards can help you build credit as long as you use them wisely. In this guide, we’ll show you our list of the best credit cards for fair credit scores and as how to use them to work toward a good credit score.

In this post:

Check If You’re Prequalified

Before applying for any credit card, it’s helpful to check if you’re prequalified 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. You can read our guide to getting prequalified for a credit card here.

Build Credit with Secured Cards

A great approach to rebuilding credit is to get a secured credit card. Secured cards require that you submit a security deposit to the issuer before you get the card. Typically, the deposit must match your credit limit — so if you want a credit limit of $500, you’ll have to submit a $500 deposit.

Most credit cards are unsecured, meaning they don’t require a deposit. But secured cards may be easier to get than unsecured cards for applicants with fair or average 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. This card has 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® Secured

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Bankruptcies may be OK If you have a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your credit report, it won’t automatically disqualify you from getting approved for the Discover it® Secured. However, there are no guaranteed approvals. This is a positive if you’ve had trouble getting a credit card in the past.
  • Helps you rebuild your credit This is a great way to improve your credit when you don’t qualify for other cards. Discover reports to the major credit bureaus, which means your good behavior will be rewarded.
  • Free FICO® score Each month you will receive your free FICO® Score. This is a great tool for you to monitor your credit score. If you practice proper credit behavior, you will see your score increase.
  • Offers a rewards program Not only can you improve your credit, but you’ll also earn rewards points as you do so. This is a great feature that many secured cards don’t offer and is a reason why we consider Discover number one. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. During your first year, you get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned, automatically (new cardmembers only).
  • Easy to transition to an unsecured card Some companies will make it difficult to transition from a secured to unsecured card. Not Discover. They start automated monthly reviews at month eight. This helps facilitate you from a secured to unsecured card.

Cons Cons

  • Limited rewards The higher 2% reward tier is limited to the first $1,000 you spend at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. Regardless, that’s $20 back, which is a great reward when your goal is to increase your credit score.
  • Be careful not to overspend As with the other cards in this review, you have to be careful that the rewards program doesn’t entice you to overspend. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your credit score. Make sure that your primary goal to raise your credit score guides you rather than an urge to spend too much money in order to get rewards.
Bottom line

Bottom line

Discover it® Secured is a great product for those with fair credit. By practicing responsible credit behavior you will begin to see improvement in your credit score while also earning rewards. Make sure you don’t let the rewards program lure you into overspending. With proper practices, you’ll be on your way to an unsecured card and a better credit score.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Secured

Best for Cash Back

If you have fair credit and want a cashback card, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a good option. As a consumer with fair credit you may not qualify for all cashback cards, but you may qualify for the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card since it is marketed to those with fair/limited 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 26.99% (variable) APR and $39 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 amount 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

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day If you’ve got fair/limited credit, this is the highest cash back rate that you’ll see. By spending $225 per month on the credit card, you’ll earn more in rewards than you pay in annual fees.
  • Access to your credit score Free access to your credit score is great for those looking to rebuild their credit. You will be able to monitor your credit score using CreditWise as well as take advantage of tools to help you practice good credit behavior.

Cons Cons

  • Annual fee This card comes with a $39 annual fee, unlike other cash back rewards card we mentioned. This is important to consider when deciding what credit card is best for you. However, you may not be stuck with the fee forever. Capital One has shown willingness to upgrade users to fee-free accounts when their credit scores improve. You will need to call to ask for the upgrade though.
  • High interest rate This card has a high 26.99% (variable) APR that is similar to most credit cards for people with fair/limited credit. Make sure you pay your bills on time and in full every month to avoid high interest charges. By doing this you will be able to benefit from the cash back rewards.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This is an excellent rewards credit card option for someone with fair credit. The $39 annual fee isn’t our favorite, but it’s better than the nonsense fees that you see from other lenders. As long as you spend at least $225 per month on this card, you’ll come out ahead. Once you improve your credit, you can consider some of the better rewards credit cards.

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 of 8.15% - 18.00% Variable. 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.

Aspire Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 2% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Regular Purchase APR
8.15% - 18.00% Variable
Duration
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months. If you need to make a big purchase and can pay it off within the next 6 months, this card will save you a ton of money in interest charges. Your balance won’t accrue any interest, whether it’s from a purchase or a balance transfer during the 6-month introductory period.
  • Low ongoing APR With a purchase APR of 8.15% - 18.00% variable, this card rivals many personal loans for having the lowest interest rate, especially if you don’t have excellent credit. This is a major benefit if you can’t afford to pay your statement in full each month, as other cards charge high APRs around 25%.
  • $0 annual fee You won’t pay anything to keep this card in your back pocket, making it especially good to keep for emergencies. This card has an annual fee of $0 in addition to the low APR, increasing your benefit of having it for unexpected purchases. Even if you only use it on occasion, it is at no harm to you since it’s fee-free.
  • High credit limits Don’t worry if a big emergency pops up; you’ll likely be able to cover it with this card. Aspire boasts generous credit limits on their product information page, which is a benefit, especially if you have fair credit as you may struggle to be approved for a high credit limit from other cards.

Cons Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee of 1% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. This is a great card to have for emergencies — as long as you’re at home. The foreign transaction fee isn’t as high as other cards that charge 3%, but you can find cards with no fee.
  • No rewards program You might also take note that the Aspire Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU does not include any rewards program. This is what allows them to charge low fees.
Bottom line

Bottom line

With no annual fee, a low interest rate, and high credit limits, this card seems perfectly designed to have on hand in case of emergencies. You do have to join the Aspire credit union, but there is no fee — you only need to keep $5 in a savings account for your membership to stay active. Though Aspire charges a low APR, make it a goal to only spend what money you have to avoid paying interest and work toward raising your credit score.

Read our full review of the Aspire Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

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® Spark® Classic for Business

Magnify Glass Pros

  • $0 annual fee You won’t pay anything for using this card — assuming you pay off your purchases each month to avoid interest charges, of course. This is a great feature since many other cards charge yearly fees.
  • Foreign transaction fee of none. This card is perfect for jet-setting business travelers because it won’t slap you with a foreign transaction fee (typically 3% of the purchase). Whether you travel frequently or on occasion, this card has you covered.
  • 1% cash back on every purchase Make your business essentially 1% cheaper to run. You earn unlimited cash back on all purchases with no expiration and no minimum to redeem. This is a great way for your business to save money while making everyday purchases.
  • Free cards for employees You won’t have to pay any fees to ensure your employees have the ability to buy the things needed to run your business. You don’t have to worry about reimbursing employees for purchases they’ve made on their personal card, since employee cards are convenient and free.

Cons Cons

  • High 26.99% (Variable) APR If you carry a balance from month to month, you’ll pay a hefty interest rate more commonly found among people with poor credit. This is very high and can rack up debt if you aren’t careful with your spending and payments. Be sure to create a budget to make sure you and your employees don’t spend more than you can pay off at the end of the month, which will help you avoid paying interest.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card has many benefits for small business owners who have fair credit and can act as a great way to earn rewards on purchases — all with a $0 annual fee. There really aren’t many downsides to the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business — as long as you’re able to pay your credit card bill in full each month. Otherwise, you’ll be slapped with a high interest charge.

Read our full review of the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

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® Student Cash Back is made with students in mind and offers ways to help you build credit and also earn rewards.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Free FICO® score Keep tabs on your FICO® score while you work to raise it. As a student, you’re new to credit and will want to start developing good credit history. Checking your FICO® score on a monthly basis will help you develop good habits to monitor your score.
  • High-earning cash back potential Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. Keep tabs on the cash back calendar to see what the categories are for a given quarter.
  • Cash back rewards match for your first year For new cardmembers, at the end of your first year, Discover will double the amount of cash back rewards you’ve earned. This is a great bonus that increases your cash back in year one. Make sure you don’t overspend and get into debt to get a greater reward, because you’ll damage your credit score.
  • Cash back for good grades Discover will give you a $20 statement credit at the end of each school year if you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You can earn the statement credit for up to five years by submitting the Good Grade Reward request at the end of the school year (September-August). This is a great added bonus for students with superb GPAs.

Cons Cons

  • Must opt in to 5% rewards categories Discover requires you to opt in for the quarterly rotating places in order to get the 5% cash back. Set a reminder for yourself at the beginning of each quarter to log in to your account and activate the rewards places. Otherwise, you’ll just earn a flat 1% cash back. This is key to remember in order for you to maximize the cash back you’ll receive.
Bottom line

Bottom line

With a free FICO® score and excellent opportunities to earn cash back, this is a great card designed with students in mind to help build credit while putting more money back in your pocket. Just be sure you don’t use it as an excuse to spend more money than you can pay off, otherwise it’ll have the opposite effect on your credit score.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best if You’re New to Credit

For those who are new to credit and want a basic card with which to build credit history, but don’t want to pay a deposit for a secured card, the AvantCard Credit Card may be a good choice.

AvantCard Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Avant's website

Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

AvantCard Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$39
Credit required
bad-credit
Fair/Limited/Bad/Poor

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Fast and easy application process
  • No deposit required
  • No hidden fees
  • Report to all three major credit bureaus
  • Zero fraud liability for unauthorized charges
  • Conveniently pay your card through our online portal, 24/7
  • All states except Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00. Cash Advance Fee 3%, Min: $10

Cons Cons

  • Annual fee of $39
  • High 25.99% variable APR

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:

  • Exceptional: 800 to 850
  • Very good: 740 to 799
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Poor: 300 to 579

Having a good, very good or exceptional 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 your 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.

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