The team at TPG has done a lot of the research for you, compiling our top picks of the best credit cards from our partners available on the market today.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card — Best new premium travel credit card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — New Platinum exclusive offer
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — Best for beginners
- Citi Premier® Card — Best for Citi ThankYou Rewards
- American Express® Gold Card — Best for dining and takeout at restaurants
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — Best for U.S. supermarkets
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — Best travel perks
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card — Best for non-bonus spending
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® — Best for flexible cash rewards
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card — Best for cash back
- Citi Custom Cash℠ Card — Best for intro APR and balance transfers
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card — Best for travel rewards with no annual fee
- American Express® Business Gold Card — Best for business spending
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — Best low-cost card for Hilton
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card — Best for entertainment
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — BEST FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
- 10X Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
- 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
Why we chose it
If you can maximize the up to $300 statement credit toward Capital One Travel, the Venture X’s annual fee effectively comes down to $95, the same annual fee pegged to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Add in a 10,000-mile bonus every account anniversary (worth $185, according to TPG valuations) and lounge access, and the card may become the strongest option out there for a lot of travelers. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
- 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Why we chose it
The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full review of the Platinum Card from American Express.
- 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3x 3x on dining.
- 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Why we chose it
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
- 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
- 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Why we chose it
The Citi Premier Card is one of the best starter travel rewards cards due to its gracious amount of bonus spend categories. You’ll not only earn triple points on air travel and hotel, but also on restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations — offering plenty of opportunities to earn on your everyday purchases. Best of all, your points are flexible and can transfer to a variety of frequent flyer programs in every airline alliance. Finally, enjoy an annual $100 hotel savings benefit through Citi on a single hotel stay booking of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees). Read our full review of the Citi Premier Card.
- 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
- 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
- 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Why we chose it
This isn’t just a card that’s nice to look at. It packs a real punch, offering 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar). There’s also an up to $120 annual dining credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations, plus it added an up to $120 annually ($10 per month) in Uber Cash, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. All this make it a very strong contender for all food purchases, which has become a popular spending category. Enrollment required for select benefits. Read our full review of the American Express Gold Card.
- 6% 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
- 6% 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
- 3% 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
- 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
- 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases
Why we chose it
The Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. You’ll get a great return across a wide range of bonus categories, a solid welcome bonus and a low annual fee that’s waived the first year. Read our full review of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
- 5X Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
- 1.5X Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
- 1X 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
Why we chose it
The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more. Read our full review on The Business Platinum Card from American Express.
- 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Why we chose it
When it comes to simplicity and strong rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice for most travelers. You’ll earn earns 2 miles per dollar on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
- 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
- 3% 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
- 1.5% 1.5% on all other purchases
Why we chose it
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a surprisingly powerful card that earns at least 1.5% back on everything. However, it becomes a standout card if you pair it with a card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, doubling their potential value. Read our full review on the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Why we chose it
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a decent option for those in need of a straightforward cash back card. However, there are other options that offer more flexibility to redeem your rewards. Read our full review of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.
- 5% Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
- 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
The Citi Custom Cash card is one of the most flexible cash-back cards on the market, offering the ability to reduce your debt with an enticing intro APR offer and earn valuable cash-back rewards at the same time. Read our full review on the Citi Custom Cash Card.
- 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Why we chose it
If you feel like paying an annual fee negates your will to learn about travel rewards, the Capital One VentureOne is the perfect place to begin. With no annual fee and a simple 1.25x rate on all purchases, you’ll earn miles that can be used for travel purchases or transferred to Capital One’s 14 airline or three hotel partners. Read our full review of the Captial One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
- 4X Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month.
- 1X 1X is earned for other purchases. **
- 25% Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
Why we chose it
The Amex Business Gold card is a solid choice for high-spending small businesses with the flexibility to earn 4 points per dollar in the two categories where you spend the most. The card is ideal for businesses who value simplicity above all. Read our full review of the American Express Business Gold Card.
- 12X Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
- 6X Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
- 3X Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
Why we chose it
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card stands out in the crowded mid-tier category of cobranded hotel credit cards. It comes with elite-like perks at a reasonable annual fee. New cardholders can earn up to a generous 180,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. Read our full review of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.
- 8% Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
- 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
- 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
The Capital One SavorOne is a great cash back credit card for beginners looking for a solid rewards structure and no annual fee. Dining, entertainment and groceries are high-value bonus categories, and it’s rare for a card to hit all three. Read our full review of the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
- 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
Why we chose it
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees. Read our full review of the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
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|Card||Best for||Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus||Earning Rate||Annual Fee|
|Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card||Best for new premium credit card||100,000 miles||
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Welcome bonus||100,000 points||
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Best for beginners||60,000 points||
|Citi Premier® Card||Best for Citi ThankYou Rewards||60,000 points||
|American Express® Gold Card||Dining and takeout at restaurants||60,000 points||
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Supermarkets||$300||
||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Travel perks||120,000 points||
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Non-bonus spending||60,000 miles||
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Best for flexible cash rewards||Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back||
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Cash back||$200||
|Citi Custom Cash℠ Card||Best for intro APR and balance transfers||$200||
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||Best for travel rewards with no annual fee||20,000 miles||
|American Express® Business Gold Card||Business spending||70,000 points||
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||Best low-cost card for Hilton||Up to 180,000 Points||
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Entertainment||$200||
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Best for business travelers||100,000 points||
|Aeroplan® Credit Card||Best flexible airline card||Up to 100,000 total points||
This page includes information about the Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Cash Back that is not currently available on The Points Guy and may be out of date.
Best credit card offers
Why it’s the best card for new premium credit card: While most card issuers are raising annual fees, Capital One has debuted its first new premium credit card — and for a lower $395 annual fee. There’s a terrific sign-up bonus of 100,000 miles after you spend $10,000 or more within the first six months of account opening. For a limited time, you can also get up to a $200 vacation rental statement credit within the first year of account opening.
Pros: Cardholders can access the new Capital One lounges and Priority Pass lounges and bring up to two guests for free (then $45 per guest). You can even add up to four authorized users for no additional cost — and they’ll get their own lounge access! The earning rate will help you continue to rack up Capital One miles, with 10x on hotels and car rentals booked through the Capital One travel portal, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through the Capital One travel portal and 2 miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Finally, there’s a $300 annual travel statement credit for bookings made through Capital One and a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus — helping you justify that $395 annual fee.
Cons: You’re limited to earning those great bonus multipliers when booking travel through the Capital One travel portal, so this may not be the best card if you prefer to book directly with an airline, hotel or rental car company. Similarly, the $300 travel credit only applies through reservations made through Capital One travel. Finally, there’s only one Capital One lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), though there are more coming in the pipeline.
Related: Capital One Venture X review
Why it’s the best card for welcome bonus: Right now, you’ll earn 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership. But as part of this welcome bonus. Not to mention that some cardholders are targeted for an even higher offer through CardMatch (offers subject to change at any time).
Pros: The Amex Platinum is one of the best cards on the market, with unparalleled lounge access, an assortment of travel and shopping credits, elite status with two hotel chains, and much more. If you travel frequently and value a luxury experience on the road, the Amex Platinum is certainly worth the high annual fee.
Cons: If you don’t travel enough to take advantage of the card’s full suite of benefits, you may be better off with a less-expensive card. Plus, outside of the temporary spending bonuses for new cardholders, you’ll only earn your bonus on certain travel purchases, which makes the card less-than-ideal for everyday spending.
Related: Amex Platinum review
Why it’s the best credit card for dining and takeout: If you eat out or order in on a regular basis, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more powerful credit card than the American Express Gold. With 4 points per dollar at dining at restaurants and up to $120 in dining credits each and every calendar year, the Amex Gold is designed specifically to maximize dining purchases and should be in every foodie’s purse or wallet. Plus, cardholders will receive up to $120 in annual U.S. Uber Cash (which can be used for Uber Eats) (in $10 monthly credits) per calendar year. The Gold Card must be added in the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Pros: The American Express Gold has you covered across the board when it comes to food, whether you’re eating in or dining out. Not only does the card earn 4x at dining at restaurants, but you’ll get that same 4 points per dollar at supermarkets in the U.S., up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1x). On top of that, you’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on all flights purchased directly with airlines or via Amex Travel.
Cons: The only travel bonus category is flights booked directly or through Amex, which makes this a mediocre card to handle travel purchases.
Related: Amex Gold review
Why it’s the best credit card for non-bonus spending: You’re earning at least 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, which is great for a low-annual-fee credit card like the Venture. While there are certainly cards out there with higher bonus multipliers for specific purchases, the Venture is a great option to use for everyday spending that may not fit into another bonus category.
Pros: There aren’t many cards that get great value for both direct redemptions and transfers to partners, but the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card pulls it off. You can use Capital One miles to offset a number of travel (and temporarily some non-travel) purchases at a fixed value, or transfer them to any of Capital One’s 18 airline and hotel total loyalty partners, making the miles you’ll earn with this card infinitely flexible. And because you’re earning at least 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, you know you’re getting value no matter the spending category. With a bonus of 60,000 miles, this offer is worth $1,110 according to TPG valuations.
Cons: Compared to some of the other transferable currencies, Capital One’s transfer rates aren’t consistent across the board. While Capital One recently added a 1:1 transfer tier, only a few partners transfer at a 2:1.5 rate while some transfer at a 2:1 rate.
Related: Capital One Venture review
Why it’s the best credit card for total value: We’ve long suggested the Chase Sapphire Preferred as a great option for those who are new to earning travel points, because it lets you earn valuable, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with strong bonus categories and a reasonable $95 annual fee.
Pros: This card is a great beginner travel credit card, but it can still be valuable as part of a more seasoned award traveler’s wallet. It comes with an easy-to-manage annual fee, a great sign-up bonus worth $1,200 based on TPG valuations, a solid earning structure and some top-notch travel protections for a mid-tier credit card.
Cons: Because this is a mid-tier credit card, you aren’t getting benefits such as lounge access or travel credits.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred review
Best business credit card offers
Why it’s the best card for travel perks: The Business Platinum card is a perfect fit for business owners looking for luxury perks both when they’re on the road and at home conducting business. The card has numerous travel perks including airport lounge access, airline credits and travel protections, but also features business-friendly benefits such as credits when buying from Dell and extra points on large business purchases.
Pros: Your business can start out with buckets of points if you get the Business Platinum card now, since the card is offering a welcome offer of 120,000 points after meeting minimum spend requirements. Those bonus points are worth $2,400 in value based on TPG’s valuations, meaning your business will quickly find itself with more than enough points to start redeeming for travel. And with the card’s 35% Pay With Points rebate (up to 1 million points back per calendar year), you don’t even have to search for award availability when redeeming points for first or business class to get great value for your earnings.
Cons: While the card does come with an extensive list of perks, most of those perks only pertain to travelers looking to upgrade their experience. Additionally, keep in mind that this card has limited bonus categories, which means it’s not a great option for everyday business spending.
Related: Amex Business Platinum Review
Why it’s the best card for business spending: The Amex Business Gold has a great earnings structure. You’ll get 4 points per dollar on the top two categories your business spends the most in each month — the earnings are given automatically based on your spending habits each month.
Pros: The card is the perfect bridge between mid-tier business cards that offer limited perks but better spending categories and the higher-tier business credit cards that offer a laundry list of benefits but with limited spending categories. You’ll get a 25% points rebate on award travel booked with Amex Travel (up to 250k points back each calendar year), access to The Hotel Collection and an array of travel protections.
Cons: For high-budget businesses, the $150,000 annual spending cap on 4x rewards could hinder your earning potential. On the other hand, lower-budget businesses may have a hard time justifying the $295 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Related: Amex Business Gold Review
Why it’s the best credit card for small businesses: The Ink Business Preferred is a great mid-tier small business credit card that offers a lot of value to business owners. The card has a great bonus right now, and you’re getting 3 points per dollar across multiple business categories. All in all, it’s a great card any business owner should consider having in his or her wallet.
Annual fee: $95
Pros: You’ll earn 3x in the first combined $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and advertising on search engines and social media sites each account anniversary year. The points earned can be used for 1.25 cents each on the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, or you can potentially get even more value by transferring to one of Chase’s partners. The card also comes with some great travel protections and cell phone protection. You’ll earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $15,000 in the first three months from account opening, worth $2,000 according to TPG valuations.
Cons: The bonus does require a high spending threshold, which may not be possible for all small businesses—especially those that have smaller budgets in this current economic climate. The card also doesn’t come with perks such as lounge access, annual credits or other top-tier benefits. If those are important to you and your business, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Related: Ink Business Preferred review
Best cash-back credit card offers
Why it’s the best credit card for supermarkets: The Blue Cash Preferred offers an impressive 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets (in addition to a number of other great bonus categories). If you’re spending more on grocery runs, then you know how those bills can add up. The Blue Cash Preferred offers an easy way to maximize those purchases with a low annual fee.
Pros: The Blue Cash Preferred is one of the best cash-back credit cards out there, and for good reason. You’re getting 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services and the first $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), 3% on transit and U.S. gas stations and 1% on other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits. Plus, it also comes with a solid intro APR offer on new purchases and a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees).
Cons: Unlike Chase’s cash-back cards, you cannot pair the Blue Cash Preferred with Membership Rewards cards and turn your earnings into points. If you’re looking to save money on everyday expenses, cash back is a great option. But travelers may prefer points since you can get a higher value depending on your redemption.
Related: Amex Blue Cash Preferred review
Why it’s the best credit card for entertainment: With the Capital One SavorOne, you’ll earn 3% back on all entertainment purchases, dining, popular streaming services, and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Entertainment is an increasingly rare bonus category, and 3% back is a solid return for a no-annual-fee credit card.
Pros: For no annual fee, you’re earning 3% back on all dining entertainment purchases, and 1% on everything else.
Cons: If you’re spending a significant amount on dining and entertainment, you may be better off with the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers an even more impressive return on the same bonus categories, but with a $95 annual fee.
Related: Capital One SavorOne review
The information for the Capital One Savor card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why it’s the best credit card for cash back: The Citi Double Cash earns one of the highest flat-rates for any no-annual-fee cash back card. If you want a straight-forward way to earn cash back, this is a great option.
Pros: You’ll earn 2% back on every purchase (1% when you buy; 1% when you pay your bill), no matter the spending category. Beginners can use it as your primary spending card so that you don’t have to juggle bonus categories or spending caps, but more advanced cardholders can also pair it with other cards to round out a more robust card strategy. Citi also recently added the ability to convert Double Cash rewards into ThankYou points when you also have an eligible Citi ThankYou credit card.
Cons: The Citi Double Cash doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus. The card’s reward structure is enough of a draw for many people, but it’s currently the only card on our best credit cards list to not offer a new cardholder bonus to incentivize sign-ups.
Related: Citi Double Cash review
Best travel credit card offers
Why it’s the best credit card for travel insurance: The Chase Sapphire Reserve is unmatched in the travel credit card space in the protections it offers cardholders, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, roadside assistance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance, emergency medical and dental benefit and more.
Pros: Whether you’re traveling locally or internationally, you should be able to find a place in your purse or wallet for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card comes with a solid earning structure of 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining, hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining, a $300 travel credit every year, access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass airport lounges and restaurants and more.
Cons: While the card does come with unmatched protections, keep in mind that a pandemic (including COVID-19) isn’t covered by the card’s trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay insurance and other protections. Something else to consider is that this card doesn’t have a ton of luxury travel benefits for such a high annual fee.
Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve review
Best 0% APR and balance transfer credit card offers
Why it’s the best for 0% APR and balance transfers: While the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card may not earn points of cash back, it has one of the longest available introductory balance transfer offers available. It has a 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening, then a variable APR of 13.74% – 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
Pros: This card has no annual fee in addition to an APR rate that is tough to beat. While we never recommend carrying a balance on a card when you don’t have to, this card is a solid option if you’re looking for low interest and want a no-annual-fee card long-term.
Cons: The Citi Diamond Preferred Card does not provide any of the perks or points that other cards on this list may provide.
Related: Citi Diamond Preferred review
Best no-annual-fee credit card offers
Why it’s the best credit card for flexible cash rewards: The Chase Freedom Unlimited boasts an impressive rewards rate for a no-annual-fee cash-back card. No matter what the purchase is, you’re earning at least 1.5% back on all purchases outside of bonus categories, which are 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. You can then turn those hard-earned cash-back rewards into dollars in your pocket, or turn them into Ultimate Rewards points for travel if you own the more premium Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. For those reasons, the Freedom Unlimited is one of the most flexible cash rewards cards on the market.
Pros: For those who don’t want to introduce more fees in their lives, the Freedom Unlimited is a no-annual-fee card that will fit any budget. The rewards rate is among the best we’ve seen, well-suited for the average spender.
Cons: If you travel internationally often, don’t use this card abroad as there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee on every purchase you make. Furthermore, don’t expect any top-notch perks and benefits with this card — the sacrifice you’ll pay for no annual fee.
Related: Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Why it’s the best credit card for customized earning: The Bank of America Cash Rewards card allows you to choose the category in which you earn 3% cash back each month (up to a quarterly maximum), which means you have more control of your rewards structure. If your spending needs change throughout the year, this card can accommodate that.
Annual fee: $0
Current sign-up bonus: $200 back after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
Pros: You’ll be able to choose which category you earn 3% back in each month from the following list: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. The card also earns 2% on groceries and wholesale clubs. It’s capped at up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter; then 1%. That’s a solid earning structure on its own, but those who qualify for the Preferred Rewards program with Bank of America can earn up to 5.25% back on the category of your choice and up to 3.5% on groceries and wholesale clubs. The sign-up bonus lets you earn $200 back after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
Cons: The card does come with a $2,500 spending cap in combined bonus spending each quarter. Additionally, you’ll have to have a pretty penny saved with Bank of America in order to take advantage of the Preferred Rewards program (at least $20,000 in combined, eligible Bank of America accounts).
Related: Bank of America Cash Rewards review
Why it’s the best no-annual-fee credit card for travel rewards: The Capital One VentureOne is the little sister card to the Capital One Venture Rewards Card — but with no annual fee. You’ll still earn miles that are also transferable to Capital One’s 15+ airline and hotel transfer partners. Other benefits include no foreign transaction fees, travel accident insurance, secondary rental car coverage and extended warranty. Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.
Pros: No annual fee means that you can focus on your earnings, and thankfully there’s a simplistic 1.25 miles per dollar rewards rate on all purchases. Unlock Capital One’s transfer program to discover the world of travel rewards.
Cons: The sign-up bonus is lackluster compared to other credit cards, and you may be missing out on opportunities to earn bonus rewards on top purchases like restaurants, groceries or gas.
Related: Capital One VentureOne review
Best low interest credit card offers
Why it’s the best credit card for select U.S. department stores: The Blue Cash Everyday is one of the only cards that offers points for select U.S. department store purchases year-round, and you’re getting a decent 2% return.
Pros: You’ll earn 3% back on U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1%), 2% back on U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
Cons: All in all, the earning structure isn’t as impressive as other cash back credit cards on this list, including the card’s sibling, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred.
Related: Blue Cash Everyday review
Why it’s the best credit card for low interest: The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transferes for the first 15 months; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that along with no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and a solid flat-rate cash back earning rate.
Pros: This card is great for those who want a solid cash back credit card with a flat-rate earning structure and no bonus or rotating categories. The current one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of account opening is also an easy sign-up bonus to hit.
Cons: The Quicksilver rewards aren’t quite as flexible as its competitors, so if you plan to expand your portfolio at some point then you may want to consider a different card.
Related: Capital One Quicksilver review
Best secured credit card offers
Why it’s the best credit card for students: The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card is designed for those focusing on building (or rebuilding) their credit from the ground up. While there are no rewards, sometimes you need to start from the basics to move on to bigger and better credit cards. There’s a low annual fee of $35 per year.
Pros: No bank account or credit check is required, opening up the eligibility requirements for virtually every applicant. Since this is a secured card, you set your own credit limit — defined by the amount you put down as a refundable security deposit. You can choose an amount anywhere from $200 to $3,000.
Cons: There’s a $35 annual fee with the OpenSky, so this secured card is not exactly fee-free. The credit limit does not go above $3,000, so this may not be a great choice for someone who needs a higher spending threshold.
Best student credit card offers
Why it’s the best credit card for students: The Discover it Student Cash Back is a no-annual-fee student card that comes with pretty much identical benefits as the standard version, but it’s easier to be approved for if you are a college student with little to no credit.
Pros: The Discover it Student Cash Back earns 5% on the first $1,500 spent each quarter on rotating categories each quarter you enroll. During Q1 2022, you’ll earn 5% back on grocery stores, fitness clubs and gym memberships (on the first $1,500 each quarter you activate; then 1%.) Students can potentially earn up to $300 in bonus rewards each year, and Discover will even match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year with the card. That means you could get up to $600 in rewards your first year on bonus spending alone. Additionally, students get a $20 statement credit each year your GPA is a 3.0 is higher (up to the next five years). And if you want to keep the Discover it Cash Back after college, you can always convert it over to the standard card when the time comes.
Cons: Like any rotating category card, you’re only earning 5% in select categories each quarter (on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate). This means if you want to be able to capitalize on restaurants and PayPal year-round, you’ll want another card that earns bonus points on those purchases all the time. Additionally, keep in mind that you have to enroll in bonus categories every quarter, which can be an extra headache for students already juggling a full plate of class assignments and exams.
The information for the Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Finding the best credit card for you can be a stressful and overwhelming process, especially for beginners. The TPG team has spent hours researching the best offers and compiling our top options — some from our partners and some not — to help you compare.
We looked at sign-up bonus offers, earning structures and bonus categories, annual fees, redemption options and more to pick the best credit card offers available to you.
Choosing a credit card
Credit cards offer a convenient way to pay for purchases while building credit and earning points. There are hundreds of credit cards available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, you might find a card with a strong balance transfer offer but no rewards, or the best travel card that has an annual fee. The key is to understand your individual needs and what cards you can qualify for based on your credit profile — then pick the best credit card that meets those requirements.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right credit card for you. The top ones to keep in mind are:
Credit cards are available to people with a wide range of credit profiles, from those with excellent credit scores to folks that are rebuilding their credit or starting from scratch. There are credit cards you may be eligible for even if you don’t have a top-notch credit profile, but you should know before applying which cards you’re most likely able to get. That way you won’t waste time and a hard inquiry trying to get a card you won’t get approved for.
You might not be able to get a premium credit card without a strong credit profile, but by getting other cards and using them responsibly, you can build up your credit score over time and improve the likelihood that you’ll eventually be eligible for the very best credit cards.
The biggest advantage of most credit cards is how much you earn in rewards based on your spending. This means it’s important to pay attention to each card’s bonus categories, which are the types of purchases that earn extra value. Some of the most popular bonus earning categories include travel and dining purchases, but there are many other earning categories, from groceries to entertainment to streaming services to even fitness club memberships.
When choosing a credit card, you’ll want to match the card that best matches your personal spending patterns so you can maximize how many bonus categories you earn on a regular basis.
Interest and fees
Credit cards are notorious for having high interest rates, so it’s vital that you either avoid paying any interest at all by paying your bill in full each and every month or choose a card with a low interest rate. However, when it comes to fees, the calculation is a bit different, as it can sometimes make sense to pay an annual fee — even a substantial one — if the benefits you get from the card are worth the cost.
When choosing the right card for you, you’ll want to calculate how much value you think you’ll get from the card and then compare that amount to the card’s annual fee. If you’re getting more in value than it’s costing you, then the card may be a good choice for you. You’ll also want to consider other fees that might apply to using the card, such as whether it charges foreign transaction fees when you use it on international purchases.
Hotel or airline loyalty
If you are someone who is particularly loyal to a hotel brand or airline, the best credit card for you might be one that comes with great travel perks like elite status, lounge access, room upgrades and complimentary breakfasts, among other things when you book with this card. Premium travel credit cards usually offer these fantastic benefits as well as travel insurance and payment protection. But if you don’t travel often or don’t have a preference on what hotel or airline you use, the sometimes hefty annual fee will not be worth it.
Will you carry a balance?
Ideally, you will pay off your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest. However, we realize, especially for big one-off purchases, this isn’t always possible. If you think that this might be the case, always lean towards a credit card with a low APR to avoid costly charges each month.
How do credit cards work?
The idea behind credit cards is simple — you’re borrowing money that you pay back later. If you take a while to pay it back, rather than pay it in full when your credit card statement comes, you’ll be charged interest. The amount is carried over to the next month and you pay interest on the whole balance (unless you’re on a special 0% deal). The entire credit cards industry exists on this basic premise.
Why not just borrow cash from a bank then? One of the biggest perks of using a credit card is the potential rewards you can earn from this type of payment for something – and that’s where TPG comes in, helping find the best credit card and reward program that’s right for you. These come in three main forms – cash back, points and miles and bonus earnings.
Different types of credit cards
Credit card companies offer different kinds of cards to meet different consumer needs. Some people put a lot of money on their cards every month and then pay them off immediately — those people benefit from a card that returns a portion of their spending in the form of rewards. Others tend to carry a balance from month to month — they’re better served with a card that offers a low ongoing interest rate. Still others are working to improve their credit — issuers have cards designed for those people, too.
Rewards credit cards
If you’re interested in frequent flyer miles, hotel points or a retailer’s rebate program, a rewards credit card could be right for you. Rewards credit cards offer proprietary points or miles that can be accumulated and redeemed for free goods, services or travel. In some cases, the rewards earned from certain credit cards can be transferred to a variety of other programs — these are known as flexible rewards.
The upside of rewards credit cards is that in some cases, you can leverage the points or miles to get more value from them than you would from cash. The downside is you must redeem the rewards within the issuer’s loyalty system.
Cash-back credit cards
There’s nothing more powerful than cold hard cash. If you’re just looking for money in your pocket, you’ll likely want a cash-back credit card. With a cash-back card, you’ll earn a percentage rebate on every purchase (i.e.: 1%, 2%, 2.5%) that adds up to cash in your account. Most cash-back cards provide the ability to redeem your earned cash back as either a statement credit against other charges on your card, as a check or direct deposit into your bank account, or in some cases for gift cards or at retail partners when making purchases.
No-annual-fee credit cards
Even though you can often get enough value from a credit card to offset the annual fee it charges, some people never want to pay an annual fee for a card. For those folks, there are plenty of no-annual-fee credit card choices on the market today. While you won’t find the top-end benefits, perks and earning rates of cards with annual fees on a free credit card, there are definitely worthwhile options that can earn you plenty of points or cash back.
There are also specific types of credit cards for businesses, for people looking to carry a balance at a low interest rate, for those loyal to a specific airline, hotel or retail brand and many other categories of cards.
Credit card FAQs
When is it time to get a new credit card?
To make sure you’re maximizing what a credit card can do for you, you should take time every 12 months to analyze your overall financial picture and determine if each of your current credit cards is serving your needs. If you aren’t racking up bonus earnings in the categories you spend in most often, or if you don’t have the travel benefits you need, or if you’re paying a high annual fee but aren’t taking advantage of a card’s features, it may be time to get a new credit card that better fits your requirements.
Keep in mind that circumstances change over time, and a credit card that was previously right for you may no longer be a good fit. With so many options on the market, there’s no reason to have the wrong credit card in your purse or wallet.
What should you know before applying for a credit card?
Before you sit down and fill out a credit card application, make sure you know your personal credit score (remember to check your score with all three major credit bureaus), as well as what features you want most in a credit card and the best options on the market with those features. It’s also important to know the application restrictions and rules for the specific financial institution that issues the card you want. You don’t want to waste time and a hard credit inquiry on a card you won’t be able to get.
How many credit cards should you get?
There is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your spending habits and financial goals. Some TPG staffers have upwards of 19 credit cards, while others (like myself) only hold five or six. A goal for many pros is to never earn just 1% on any given purchase. Generally, this means having cards that earn bonus rewards in the categories you spend the most in each month and at least once card that earns a decent rewards rate on non-bonus spending. Additionally, many keep cards for the perks they offer.
If a slim wallet of two or three cards helps you hit your goals, then that’s the number of cards you should have. If a wallet filled with 20 or more helps you maximize spending and travel plans, then that’s valid, too. It’s all about your specific needs, wants, and spending habits.
What is a credit card APR, and why should you care?
APR stands for annual percentage rate and is basically a percentage that helps you understand the cost of borrowing. In a nutshell, it’s the interest rate plus the additional charges of holding a balance on your credit card and as a rule of thumb the lower the APR the less interest you’ll pay over time.
Before you apply for a credit card, all lenders have to tell you the APR and it can help you make sure you’re getting the best deal if you are someone who typically holds a balance on a credit card.
APR can be a good way to compare different credit cards but it’s worth noting that what you actually pay in interest depends on how and when you pay off your debt.
Generally, APR rates on credit cards range from 15% to 25%. The higher your credit score, typically the lower the percentage. A good credit score makes it a lot easier to get a favourable APR, so improving your credit score is a good first step toward a better APR.
It’s worth noting that these rates are usually based on rates for making new purchases (e.g. buying something online or instore). Rates for other transactions, such as cash withdrawals or balance transfers, may be different.
What APR your credit card has affects how much you pay so it’s worth doing your research – some offer 0% APR for a promotional period on new purchases or balance transfers, but always check the terms and conditions carefully to make sure you’re aware of exactly what you’ll be paying.
Credit card issuers vs. payment networks vs. cobranded
Credit card terminology can be confusing for beginners. What’s the difference between an issuer, a card’s network and a cobranded company?
The issuing bank is the institution that provides the financial backing for a credit card. It will be the one that typically determines (and pays for) credit card rewards and benefits. Examples include Chase and Capital One. Payment networks, on the other hand, are the companies that process the transactions between a merchant and an issuer, such as Mastercard or Visa.
Some issuers also do their own payment processing, such as American Express or Discover. Cobranded credit cards pair a credit card issuer with a company to provide unique brand-specific earnings for a cardholder. As an example, let’s take the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. American Express is both the issuer and the payment network, while Hilton is the cobranded company.
Different credit card issuers
There are dozens of financial institutions that issue credit cards, from international banks to local credit unions. If you prefer individual attention and a one-on-one relationship with your issuer, you might want to look for a neighborhood bank that can offer you that level of attention.
As you search for the best credit card for your needs, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the different types of companies in the industry. Simply put, every credit card has an issuer and a network but many also have co-brand partners which can open up another level of perks.
Remember, the largest issuers tend to be able to offer the most generous perks thanks to being able to leverage their size. So, if your focus is on the best earning rates and benefits, you might prefer to apply with the largest issuers with the most robust credit card portfolios. These issuers include Chase, American Express, Citi, Capital One, Barclays, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
The issuer is the bank that maintains your credit card account and is most likely to be a major bank like Chase, Capital One or Wells Fargo or perhaps your local bank or credit union. The issuer sends your statement every month and collects your payments.
The network acts as a “go-between” for all your credit card transactions. For instance, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover are payment networks and they also determine where you can use your card. It’s worth noting too that American Express and Discover are special in that they are both issuers and networks.
The card partner is a store, airline, hotel or another brand whose name appears on the card and whose loyalty rewards program is tied to it. For instance, if you have an American Airlines credit card, you earn miles with your purchases. American operates the frequent-flyer program where you would use those miles. A branded card will also often offer other perks such as room upgrades for a hotel card or discounts for a store card.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Business Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, click here.