Skip to content

Why there’s no such thing as the ‘best’ credit card

Aug. 22, 2022
6 min read
wallet with credit cards
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Being a credit card reporter at The Points Guy, the question I get asked more often than any other from friends, family and readers alike is — what is the best credit card?

Spoiler: There isn’t such a thing as “the best credit card.”

Everyone and every situation is different and that means the right card varies for each person. We all have different spending habits, changing financial goals and priorities, varying budgets and disparate levels of access to credit as a whole. What works for one person likely won’t work for the next — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Want more credit card news and advice? Sign up for TPG’s daily newsletter!

I feel like sometimes people can get caught up in this idea that a select number of cards (typically high-fee cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve) are objectively better cards than their lower-annual-fee counterparts such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. But that’s not actually true.

The reality is that all of these are excellent cards — the difference is just who they are best suited for.

Different cards for different habits

Ultimately, “the best credit card” is subjective and largely based on your habits and priorities.

(Photo by JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images)
The card that’s best for you will depend on your needs and habits. There is no one-size-fits-all credit card. (Photo by JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images)

For example, a frequent traveler might normally recommend the Amex Platinum as the best credit card because of its unmatched lounge access and other travel benefits including elite status with Hilton and Marriott. But that same person might have changed their opinion during the pandemic when saving money on groceries (at U.S. supermarkets) and earning cash back on select streaming services in the U.S. became more important parts of their life. Then, they might argue that the Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express is the best credit card because it earns bonus points in those categories.

It all depends on your perspective and what your personal financial goals are for your card strategy.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you

Even when comparing people with similar hobbies and habits, people may be divided on what card is the best. One frequent traveler may argue that the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the best because of its benefits, but another frequent traveler may argue that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is actually the best because of its broader bonus categories and more flexible travel credit. Neither party is wrong; they just have different priorities and spending habits.

Find the ‘right’ card, not the ‘best’ card

Instead of looking for the best credit card, focus on finding the right credit card for you. How do you do that? Here are three questions I always initially ask when someone wants a credit card recommendation:

1. What’s your credit score?

This is a good base question because it will help establish what cards you’ll most likely be approved for. Especially during the current economic downturn, issuers are tightening approval criteria, so your credit score is an important factor in figuring out what kind of card is best suited for your situation.

Related: 6 things to do to improve your credit

2. What are your spending habits?

Your spending habits should inform which bonus categories you look for in your credit cards.

Do you spend a ton on groceries and dining at restaurants? If yes, then a card like the American Express® Gold Card, with its 4 point per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and the first $25,000 spent each calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1 points per $ spent after) could be the right card for you.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

3. What are you looking to get out of the card?

Do you want to earn rewards for free flights and hotel stays? If so, a card that earns transferable points from a rewards program such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One miles or Citi ThankYou Points is a great starting point.

Or is saving money on everyday expenses (and maybe an occasional vacation) a bigger priority? If that is the case, there are a ton of cash-back credit cards out there that can help you accomplish just that.

This may finally be the year you go on that long-planned road trip across the US. (Photo by Peter Amend/Getty Images)
The right card for someone who loves road-tripping will be different than the right card for someone who wants to save money with free luxury flights. (Photo by Peter Amend/Getty Images)

Once you have these three basic questions answered, you can start digging into things including which rewards program is best suited to your travel goals, what your annual fee budget is, which sign-up bonuses you want to hit and more.

Bottom line

Hunting for a credit card can be a stressful process, especially with all the pressure to find the “best” card. But the fact of the matter is that there’s no such thing.

At the end of the day, the right card for you will be one that earns rewards that you’ll actually use on the purchases you make regularly. Whether that’s one of the best travel credit cards with a benefits list a mile long, a no-annual-fee credit card that helps you put money into savings each month or something in between, it doesn’t matter — so long as it’s helping you hit your financial, life or travel goals.

Additional reporting by Matt Moffitt.

Featured image by (Photo by The Points Guy Staff)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023