Finding the right credit card can be tough. This guide will help you choose the best credit card by category and credit score.

There are plenty of articles and guides offering advice on the best credit cards in different categories.

You might find one for the best credit cards for travelcash backbalance transfers, and other categories. You may also find articles listing the best credit cards for different credit levels.

But in this guide, we’re covering ALL of them.

We’ve listed what we believe to be the best credit cards in seven different categories, for each of four different credit profiles – excellent, good, fair/average, and poor.

For ease of use, we’ve got a great table for you here; be sure to scroll right to view the entire table!

Overview: Best credit cards of 2021

 
Travel
Cash Back
Balance Transfer
Sign-Up Bonus
General Rewards
Students
Business
Excellent
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Discover It® Cash Back
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardCapital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
See Below For Alternatives
Good
Capital One Venture or Capital One VentureOne
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Wells Fargo Platinum card Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardWells Fargo Propel American Express®See Below For Alternatives
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Fair/Average
Journey Student Rewards from Capital OneCapital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
See Below For AlternativesSee Below For AlternativesCapital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Poor
See Below For Alternatives
See Below For AlternativesSee Below For Alternatives
Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital OneSee Below For Alternatives

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sets the standard for travel rewards by offering an excellent 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases. And points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That means that the killer 60,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 towards travel.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • A monster of an up-front bonus; 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

Apply Now >>

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Learn More On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is a great student rewards credit card focused on making on-time payments. One benefit of paying on time is a boost from 1% cash back to 1.25% cash back another is that Capital One will automatically review your credit limit in as little as six months.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases and pay on time to get a boost to 1.25% cash back

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

Learn More >>

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Learn More On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

If you don’t have the excellent credit needed to score some of the bonuses other Capital One credit cards offer, consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. It’s a terrific card for average credit and you can still earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with a modest $39 annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

  • No foreign transaction fees and a modest $39 annual fee

Learn More >>

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now On the Citi Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer includes one of the best everyday cash back rewards rates available for cardholders.  2% cash back is earned on all purchases; unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (regular APR of 13.99% – 23.99% Variable)

  • 2% cash back on every purchase

  • No annual fee

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers , 18 months

Apply Now >>

Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One

Learn More On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

Owning a secured credit card can be a necessary step in bring your credit profile out of the gutter and the Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One is one of the strongest secured credit cards on the market today. It’s rare to find one that doesn’t charge an annual fee and Capital One will automatically review your credit limit in as little as six months.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Start off with an initial credit line of $200 w/ a minimum deposit of $49, $99 or $200

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

Learn More >>

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card blows you away with a 100,000 point bonus after you spend $15,000 in the first three months and keeps you coming back with 3 points per dollar spent on travel and select business categories for the first $150,000 spent each account anniversary year.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months (Worth $1,250 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®)

  • 3 points earned per $1 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99%-20.99% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

Apply Now >>

In-Depth Look At The Best Credit Cards On The Market

If you want to get into the nitty gritty details of the credit cards we recommend, we get into it here:

Best credit cards for travel

Excellent credit

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card®

Apply Now

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the top travel cards available.

Not only does it offer one of the best travel reward bonuses around ($750 towards Travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or $600 in cash after spending $4,000 in the first three months), but it also provides 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2x points on other travel purchases, and has no foreign transaction fees.

Though it doesn’t offer a 0% introductory APR, it does provide a low rate for the first year, for both purchases and balance transfers.

  • Introductory APRN/A.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater..
  • Regular APR15.99%-22.99% Variable on both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee$95.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent (750+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 bonus points (worth $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or $1,000 in cash) after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
  • Rewards: 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Unique Features: No foreign transaction fees; get 10,000 bonus points for each referral.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Good Credit

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now

Another one of the top travel credit cards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides a generous bonus of 60,000 miles (equal to $600 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Plus you can also earn 2X miles per dollar on every purchase – every single day.

  • Balance Transfer Fee$0 at this Transfer APR.
  • Regular APR15.99% - 23.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: $95.
  • Credit Needed: Excellent (750+, No late payments over 60 days, no bankruptcy or loan defaults).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Rewards: 2X miles earned for $1 spent on all purchases.
  • Unique Features: Receive up to a $100 credit on Global TSA Pre✓.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

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A variant of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers similar terms and benefits.

But the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers a sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles (equal to $200 in travel) after spending $500 on purchases the first three months from account opening.

  • Regular APR14.99% - 24.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: $0.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent (700+, No late payments over 60 days, no bankruptcy or loan defaults).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase.
  • Unique Features: Use your Venture miles on hotels and flights and even transfer miles to 15+ travel partners.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Fair Credit

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

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The Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One is perfect for students and non-students alike.

You don’t need excellent credit, and you can even earn rewards. You’ll start with 1% back on all your purchases, but if you pay your bill on time, you’ll jump to 1.25% cash back.

You’ll also get travel benefits like 24-hour assistance in case of an emergency.

  • Introductory APR.
  • Balance Transfer Fee$0 at this Transfer APR.
  • Regular APR26.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Credit Needed: Fair (640+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A.
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month.
  • Unique Features: 24-hour assistance including emergency card replacement in case your credit card is lost or stolen while you’re traveling; for every month that you pay on time, you’ll receive an additional 0.25% in rewards for every dollar.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Travel cards for poor credit

The best travel cards by far are for those with excellent or at least good credit. These cards come with the most generous bonuses and rewards. But if you have poor credit, options are extremely limited.

One alternative is the Discover it® Secured card. This is basically a credit builder card, that will require a deposit to support your credit limit. But it will give you a credit card you can use for travel.

There is no annual fee, and you can earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined quarterly purchases at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% on all other purchases. Discover will also match all your cash back at the end of your first year.

It’s not a dedicated travel card, but it will provide you with cash back rewards, while helping to rebuild your credit.

Best credit cards for cash back

Excellent credit

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back offers very generous cash back rewards, including 5% on select categories each quarter, like groceries, restaurants, and gas stations.  Activation is required and the max spend per quarter is $1,500.

They also offer 1% cash back on all other purchases. But rather than giving you an upfront bonus, instead they match 100% of your rewards within the first year.

They also provide a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 14 months.

  • Introductory APR0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 14 months.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*.
  • Regular APR13.49% - 24.49% Variable.
  • Annual Fee: $0.
  • Credit Needed: Good to Excellent (700+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: Your cash back will be 100% matched at the end of the first year.
  • Rewards: 5% cash back on quarterly merchants, like gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1% cash back on all other purchases.  Max spend is $1,500 per quarter and activation is required.
  • Unique Features: Redeem rewards for cash at any time; no late fee on your first late payment and paying late won’t raise your APR; no foreign transaction fee; free FICO credit score.

Apply now or read our full review for the Discover it® Cash Back credit card.

Good credit

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card doesn’t offer the biggest upfront bonus, but it’s by far the easiest to qualify for. They offer a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending just $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card also offers unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all other purchases—and 1.8% when you pay with a qualified digital wallet.

The card comes with a 0% for 15 months APR introductory offer for purchases and qualifying balance transfers. And they also throw in $0 liability on unauthorized transactions and auto rental collision damage waiver. Plus you get cell phone protection—up to $600 when you pay your monthly phone bill using the card.

Card rewards:

  • $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases.
  • 1.8% cash rewards when you make purchases using a qualified digital wallet, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, within the first 12 months of opening your account.
  • Cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
  • Cash rewards can be redeemed in $20 increments at Wells Fargo ATM’s, or direct deposited into your Wells Fargo savings or checking account.

Card highlights:

  • Introductory APR: 0% for 15 months.
  • Introductory term15 months.
  • Regular APR: 13.99%-25.99% (Variable).
  • Annual fee$0.
  • Credit needed: Good to Excellent (700+).

See card details/apply or read our full Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card review.

Fair credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Learn More

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the very best for both cash back and general rewards. It provides unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which can be redeemed for cash at any time.

It’s designed specifically for consumers with average credit, even if you’ve defaulted on a loan within the past few years. The weak spot on this card is the APR. The regular rate is high among credit cards, and there is no introductory APR offer.

  • Introductory APR: N/A.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0 at this Transfer APR.
  • Regular APR26.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee$39.
  • Credit Needed: Average (640+; You have limited credit or you’ve defaulted on a loan in the past 5 years).
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Unique Features: Redeem rewards for cash at any time.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Poor credit

N/A

Best credit cards for balance transfers

Excellent credit

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 

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The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is an outstanding card for balance transfers.

The card has a unique reward system. Instead of paying a flat percentage on purchases, they pay 1% on purchases, and 1% on the payments you make on the card.

So if you charge $1,000 on the card for the month, you’ll receive $10 cash back. But if you pay the balance in full, you’ll receive another $10. It’s a good incentive to get you to pay back what you purchase while intending to take advantage of the rewards.

But the bigger story with this card is they offer a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for a full 18 months.

  • Introductory APR: 0% on balance transfers for 18 months.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: An intro balance transfer fee of 3% applies per transfer (minimum $5) when completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, the fee will be 5% per transfer ($5 min.).
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: $0.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent.
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A.
  • Rewards: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Unique Features: Rewards can be redeemed for statement credits or checks; free monthly credit score.

See card details/apply.

Good credit

Wells Fargo Platinum card

*This offer is expired or no longer available.

The Wells Fargo Platinum card is a great credit card for balance transfers and it also has no annual fee, but it requires good credit. You’ll also get a great introductory APR on purchases.

The downside to this card is the lack of either a sign-up bonus or ongoing rewards. Its primary strength is as a balance transfer card.

  • Introductory APR: 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases.
  • Balance Transfer FeeEither $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater..
  • Regular APR16.49% - 24.49% Variable.
  • Annual Fee: $0.
  • Credit Needed: Good (700+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A.
  • Rewards: N/A.
  • Unique Features: Access to My Money Map, a tool to help you manage your finances.

See card details/apply.

Balance transfer cards for average/fair/poor credit

There aren’t any obvious alternatives here, because balance transfers are primarily reserved for excellent and good credit profiles.

If you have average/fair credit, you can consider using a card specifically for that credit profile, such as the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

The card doesn’t offer a balance transfer option, but you can use each card to pay expenses, while dedicating income to paying off high interest credit cards.

Unfortunately, there really aren’t any options for lower credit profiles.

Best credit cards for sign-up bonus

Excellent credit

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card hits our list of the top credit cards, again.

It offers what we believe is the top travel reward bonuses around ($750 towards travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or $1,000 in cash after spending $4,000 in the first three months). Couple that with 3x points on dining and 2x on other travel, and no foreign transaction fees.

  • Introductory APRN/A.
  • Balance Transfer FeeEither $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater..
  • Regular APR15.99%-22.99% Variable on both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee$95.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent (750+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 100,000 bonus points (worth $1,250 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or $1,000 in cash) after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
  • Rewards: 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Unique Features: No foreign transaction fees; get 10,000 bonus points for each referral.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Good credit

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Another amazing sign-up bonus credit card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides a generous bonus of 60,000 miles (equal to $600 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Plus you can also earn 2X miles per dollar on every purchase – every single day.

  • Balance Transfer Fee$0 at this Transfer APR.
  • Regular APR15.99% - 23.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: $95.
  • Credit Needed: Excellent (750+, No late payments over 60 days, no bankruptcy or loan defaults).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Rewards: 2X miles earned for $1 spent on all purchases.
  • Unique Features: Receive up to a $100 credit on Global TSA Pre✓.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Average/fair/poor credit

This is another category where options are few and far between. The best option for students with no credit history is the Chase Freedom® Student credit card, which issues 1% cash back for every dollar you spend. In addition to accepting applicants with no credit, this card also lets you check your credit score every day.

Aside from the Chase Freedom® Student credit card, the best option will be to work to improve your credit, including using credit builder credit cards.

Best credit cards for general rewards

Excellent credit

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards card is one of the top rewards cards available. You’ll get an incredible bonus of $300 cash when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months,

You also get 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, which includes a diverse range of merchants, including cafes, bars, fast food chains and even bakeries.

Entertainment includes record stores and video rentals, dance clubs, pool halls, bowling alleys. Cash back rewards never expire and can be redeemed at any time.

  • Introductory APR: N/A.
  • Balance Transfer Fee$0.
  • Regular APR15.99% - 24.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee$0 intro for first year; $95 after that.
  • Credit Needed: Excellent (750+; No late payments over 60 days, no bankruptcy or loan defaults).
  • Sign-up Bonus: $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months
  • Rewards: Unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, 1% on all other purchases.
  • Unique Features: Redeem cash back for any amount; no foreign transaction fees.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Good credit

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card covers a host of different rewards.

It offers 3x rewards points on travel (including flights, hotels, car rentals, homestays), gas stations, rideshares and transit, eating out & ordering in, and popular streaming services. Plus you’ll get 1x rewards points on everything else.

But that’s not all, the sign-up bonus is hefty, at 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. And the cherry on top of all these rewards is the no annual fee!

  • Introductory APR: 0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers.
  • Balance Transfer Fee5%.
  • Regular APR: 13.99%-25.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: $0.
  • Credit Needed: Good (700+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
  • Rewards: 3x rewards points on travel, gas station purchases, eating out, and popular streaming services; 1x on all other purchases.
  • Unique Features: Wells Fargo offers cell phone protection up to $600 per claim (subject to a $25 deductible).

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Best credit cards for students

Student cards for good to excellent credit

This is the exact opposite of the situation with other card types and credit profiles in this section. If you’re a student looking for a credit card, and you have good or excellent credit, you may want to apply for any credit card that requires good or excellent credit.

The reason is those cards offer the most generous rewards and benefits. They’re not specifically designed for students, but the benefits they provide will do more than just get the job done.

For example, Chase Freedom Unlimited®  cardholders receive rewards, like 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, which is great for students who frequently travel back home. Plus, this card offers 3% cash back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 3% cash back on drug store purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.

For a no annual fee card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited®’s benefits are generous, especially for college students looking to save as much cash as possible.

Be aware however that even with excellent credit, the lender will be looking to determine that you have a stable income. You may qualify with just a part-time job, but you may need a cosigner if you have no income.

Fair credit

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is designed for students, including those with fair credit (and no credit at all). 

You’ll get 1% cash back on every dollar you spend using the card, as well as a $20 “Good Standing” reward each year for the first five years. As long as you make a purchase in the first three months you have the card, you’ll also get a $50 bonus.

Another great perk for students is that you can monitor your credit score through the app. You’ll be able to see how your on-time payments are impacting your score.

  • Introductory APR: N/A.
  • Balance Transfer FeeEither $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Regular APR: 14.99% Variable.
  • Annual Fee: $0 .
  • Credit Needed: No credit history required.
  • Sign-up Bonus: Earn $50 by making at least one purchase in the first three months.
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on every dollar spent.
  • Unique Features: Credit limit increase after five monthly on-time payments in the first 10 months; $20 annual bonus for accounts in good standing for the first five years; view your credit score at any time.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Poor credit

Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One

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The Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One can be an option for students with either poor or no credit. If fact, it’s an option for anyone who has bad credit. It’s designed specifically to help you rebuild your credit.

You start with a $200 credit line. You’ll need to make a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, based on your creditworthiness.

You can then use the card just as you would any other, and Capital One will report your payment history to all three major credit bureaus—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Cardholders will be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

  • Introductory APR: N/A.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0 at this Transfer APR.
  • Regular APR26.99% (Variable).
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Credit Needed: Poor (Less than 640; “Rebuilding” you’ve defaulted on a loan more than once or you’ve been declined for a credit card in the last three months).
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A.
  • Rewards: N/A.
  • Unique Features: Your payment history will be reported to all three major credit bureaus, helping you to rebuild your credit, or build it for the first time.

See card details/apply or read our full review.

Best credit cards for business

 

Good credit

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

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The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a great option for business owners and entrepreneurs looking for a robust rewards credit card with tons of business-related perks. 

The card starts with an impressive 100,000 bonus point welcome offer for new cardholders that spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months. This is equivalent to a whopping $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®!

As for rewards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is perfect for business owners that spend a lot on travel and general business expenses like advertisements and utilities. You’ll earn 3x points per $1 (on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases) on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. You’ll also earn 1x points per $1 on all other purchases.

  • Introductory APR: N/A.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater..
  • Regular APR: 15.99%-20.99% Variable.
  • Annual Fee: $95.
  • Credit Needed: Good (700+).
  • Sign-up Bonus: 100,000 points when you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Rewards: 3x points (on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases) on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines; 1x points on everything else.
  • Unique features: Free additional employee cards, fraud protection, purchase protection, and personalized account alerts.

See card details/apply.

 

Business cards for average/fair/poor credit

Dedicated business cards are another type of credit card that’s very difficult to get when you have average or below average credit.

The alternative may be to use a credit builder card, such as the  Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One, included on this list, as it’s tailor made for people trying to build up their  credit scores.

Comparison Summary of the best credit cards

Credit Card Credit Score Required⁺ Unique Features
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card750+ No foreign transaction fees; get 10,000 bonus points for each referral
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card750+ Receive up to a $100 credit on Global TSA Pre✓ and no foreign transaction fee
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card700+ Use your Venture miles on hotels and flights and even transfer miles to 15+ travel partners, and no foreign transaction fees
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One 640+24-hour assistance including emergency card replacement in case your credit card is lost or stolen while you're traveling; for every month that you pay on time, you’ll receive an additional 0.25 percent in rewards for every dollar
Discover It® Cash Back 700+ Redeem rewards for cash at any time; no late fee on your first late payment and paying late won’t raise your APR; no foreign transaction fee; free FICO credit score
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card 700+1.8% cash back on purchases made through qualifying digital wallets; 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card640+Redeem rewards for cash at any time
Citi Double Cash® Card - 18 month BT offer 700+ Rewards can be redeemed for statement credits or checks; free monthly credit score
Wells Fargo Platinum card700+Access to My Money Map, a tool to help you manage your finances.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card750+ Redeem cash back for any amount; no foreign transaction fees
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card700+ You can get up to $600 in cell phone protection
Chase Freedom® Student credit cardNo credit required$50 sign-up bonus; $20 annual bonus for accounts in good standing for first five years
Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital OneNot indicated, accepts poor credit Your payment history will be reported to all three major credit bureaus, helping you to rebuild your credit, or build it for the first time
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card700+ Earn a bonus of 100,000 points when you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months
⁺Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for.

How we came up with this list

When deciding on these credit cards we took in a number of factors, including:

  • Rewards offered
  • APR
  • Annual fee
  • Intro offers

We then divided the cards into categories and made a comparison by credit needed. Each factor above is weighed differently depending on your credit score.

For example, for the cards that you can get approved for with poor credit, APR and no annual fee are the big factors over rewards. That’s because most low score credit cards don’t offer rewards.

The opposite is true for credit cards that require excellent credit. Since those cards typically have low APRs and some have no annual fees, rewards are the biggest deciding factor.

Types of credit cards

All credit cards provide essentially the same service, which is to act as revolving lines of credit that you have immediate access to. But they’ve evolved to the point where there are specializations. Even though two credit cards may have similar features, each may have its own specialization.

The common credit card specializations include the following categories:

Travel

These are cards that have a specific orientation toward travel. They typically offer rewards in the form of either miles or points, rather than as cash back or statement credits.

Miles can be accumulated for airline travel, while points may be more specific to hotel stays.

They may also have extra perks that relate specifically to travel, such as the absence of foreign transaction fees, the ability to transfer miles or points to airlines or hotels, or a very specific limitation that requires you to redeem rewards specifically for travel.

Cash back

These are credit cards in which rewards benefits are more general in nature. For example, rather than providing rewards based on miles or points, which may be limited to redemption for travel related purchases, they’re more likely to be offered as actual cash back or the equivalent.

For example, a true cash back card will allow you to take rewards directly in cash. A credit card issued by a large bank may enable you to even withdraw your rewards balance through ATM machines. Some also make the rewards available in statement credits.

Balance transfer

Balance transfer credit cards act as something of a debt consolidation line. A typical offer will be a 0% APR for a limited period of time, which can be anywhere from six months to 18 months.

You can then transfer balances from high interest credit cards and even other loans to the balance transfer credit card.

Most credit cards making this offer will also impose an upfront balance transfer fee, ranging between 3% and 5% of the balance transferred. At the end of the 0% introductory offer term, any remaining balance will be subject to regular interest rates.

Students

These credit cards are designed specifically for students. For example, they may offer bonuses with lower qualifying thresholds, since college students typically aren’t able to rack up the kind of purchase activity that an employed person might.

A student credit card may also offer perks very specific to students. For example, they may offer bonuses or awards related to academic performance, or forgive the first late payment made. They may also have rewards specific to student related purchases, or redeemable through channels students are likely to frequent.

Business

These are cards designed specifically with small business owners in mind. Rewards may be tailored to business purchases, such as office supplies and communication services. They also frequently include employee cards, which the business owner can distribute at his or her discretion, and without requiring qualification by the employee.

They may also provide business specific reporting, such as year-end summaries, or the ability to export data to popular business software, like QuickBooks.

Sign-up bonus

There really aren’t any credit cards that are designed specifically as sign-up bonuses cards, given that it’s a temporary benefit. If there were, consumers would just be switching back and forth between cards within the category, to take advantage of the latest best offer.

Instead, most popular credit cards today do offer some type of sign-up bonus. But the cards that offer the most generous packages can be loosely thought of as sign-up bonus cards.

They may offer other common credit card perks, like a 0% introductory offer, but also provide an outsized bonus compared to competing cards.

How to choose the best credit card

Though there may be a specific credit card feature you’re most interested in, you’re more likely to select card based on the combination of features and benefits it offers.

Introductory APR

Most popular credit cards offer some type of 0% introductory APR benefit. It can be as long as 18 months, and it can apply to either balance transfers, purchases, or both.

It can be a major advantage if you already have high interest credit cards that you’re looking to consolidate and—hopefully—pay off before the 0% offer ends.

For example, if you have $10,000 outstanding on several credit cards with an average interest rate of 20%, by transferring to a card with a 0% APR, you can save $2,000 per year.

However, the better option is always to pay off the balance within the 0% period, otherwise it will be subject to whatever the regular interest rate is on the card, and you will only have gained temporary interest rate relief.

Balance transfer fee

Introductory 0% APRs are the good news on balance transfers. The not so good news is balance transfer fees. Most credit cards have them, even those with very generous introductory offers.

The fees typically range between 3% and 5% of the balance transferred. In most cases, this won’t offset the benefits of the 0% introductory APR, but it will reduce it.

If you plan to pay off balance transfers within a few months, a high balance transfer fee could cost you more money than you’re saving in interest.

Regular APR

No matter how attractive the introductory APR is, it’s important to remember it’s only temporary. The regular APR is the rate you’ll pay once the introductory term is over. If you expect to carry a balance beyond the 0% term, the regular APR will be a major factor.

Even if you plan to pay off high interest credit cards with a 0% introductory APR, if the regular APR on the new card is higher than it is on the old ones, you could be putting yourself in a worse position if you fail to pay off the balance in full by the end of the initial term.

Annual fee

The presence or absence of an annual fee isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Though it can help you make a decision if you’re comparing two identical credit card offers, with the only difference being that one charges an annual fee and the other doesn’t, it’s actually just one piece of a larger puzzle.

If the card that charges an annual fee has better ongoing benefits than one that doesn’t, you may be better off accepting it. Except on premium cards, the annual fee is almost always less than $100, and some credit cards waive that for the first year.

Credit requirements

No matter how good a credit card offer is, it won’t matter if you don’t qualify for it. There’s no question, the most generous card offers are reserved for those with excellent credit. If you fall in the good credit range, you may get reduced benefits.

Unfortunately, when you fall into average or lower credit, credit card benefits drop substantially.

If you want to get credit cards with the very best rewards and features, it’ll be well worth your time and effort to work on improving your credit score. Scores of greater than 700, and especially 750, get the best credit card offers.

Sign-up bonus

There’s no doubt, some credit cards offer extremely generous sign-up bonuses. The better ones can be worth many hundreds of dollars.

But tread lightly in this category, since the benefit is only temporary. Once you’ve earned the sign-up bonus, you’ll be bound by all the other perks of the card. Carefully consider those against the competition, that may not have such generous sign-up bonuses.

You may find that a card with an inferior sign up bonus will have more generous ongoing rewards, that will more than offset a big upfront bonus.

Rewards

Since both introductory APRs and sign-up bonuses are temporary, ongoing rewards are generally the more important benefit provided by a credit card.

It’s not just the amount of the rewards either. You’ll want to apply for a credit card that offers the most generous rewards for the spending categories you’re most likely to use.

For example, if you spend a considerable amount of money each month on dining and entertainment, you should favor a card that provides enhanced rewards for these categories.

If you’re more frugal, you’ll want to favor a card that offers enhanced rewards for more ordinary purchases, such as groceries and gasoline.

Unique features

Most credit cards come with a variety of additional features. Since they’re not usually substantial in nature, they should seldom be considered as major factors in choosing a card. It mostly matters where you’re looking at two very similar cards.

Common unique features can include free access your credit score, late payment forgiveness, no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, or cell phone protection.

Advantages of using a credit card

Credit cards get a bad rap in the personal finance universe. The general assumption is life is better without them, and you need to pay them off and get rid of them as soon as possible.

That’s certainly good advice if you’ve gotten in over your head with high interest credit card debt. But there are several reasons why credit cards can work to your advantage.

Build credit

If you have no credit or bad credit, you may have difficulty navigating the modern world. It may be close to impossible to rent an apartment, buy a car, or apply for a mortgage. Credit cards are one of the best ways to either build or improve your credit, since you can start small.

For example, if you can qualify for a credit card with a credit limit of $1,000, borrowing small amounts and making regular monthly payments, you’ll be building good credit. You’ll need that either to build a strong credit score, or improve a poor one.

Convenience

It’s difficult to navigate the modern world without a credit card. You’ll absolutely need one to make secure online purchases, to rent a car, and to travel freely. What’s more, the number of establishments that no longer accept cash or checks is growing rapidly.

Debit cards and prepaid cards can serve as credit card substitutes, but they’re not always as efficient, and don’t offer similar consumer protections. Even if you don’t like the idea of credit cards, having at least one has become a modern necessity.

Budgeting

Credit cards can actually function as budgeting tools. For example, you can have a credit card specifically dedicated for business or travel expenses, and one for personal expenses.

Specific benefits

If you have a lot of high interest credit card debt, a 0% introductory APR will be a way to get immediate control of the situation. It may not be the entire solution, but it can give you time to at least pay down your balance before regular interest rates apply.

Another example is rewards. If you’re a frequent traveler, particularly for business, a card that offers generous travel rewards can lower your travel expenses.

The most important things to know about credit cards

  • Look for the best combination of features, even if you’re mostly concerned with just one. We discussed this earlier, but it’s worth repeating. No matter how attractive a single credit card benefit is, look at the total package. A very attractive 0% introductory APR or an exceedingly generous sign up bonus are only temporary. Look carefully at the longer-term features, especially the regular APR and ongoing rewards.
  • Pay your balance in full each month to get the biggest benefit. Rewards are a definite advantage, but they have a darker side. They can cause you to spend more money than you would otherwise, and even build up large credit card balances. The best way to get the pure benefit from any credit card features is the pay your balance in full each month.
  • Even if you do a balance transfer, keep your old credit cards open. Even if you transfer high interest balances to a card with a 0% introductory APR, don’t close out the old cards. If you do, you could end up with one maxed-out credit card, and no open credit lines. That will hurt your credit score almost as much as chronic late payments. Instead of closing them out, just put the cards someplace out of reach where you’re not likely to use them again.
  • Payoff transferred balances within the 0% introductory offer term. It shouldn’t be viewed as a form of getting out of debt, but rather getting a reprieve from high interest rates. Even if you can’t pay off the entire balance before the 0% APR ends, pay off as much is you can. That will leave a smaller balance subject to the regular APR.

FAQs on Best Credit Cards

Am I better off taking a card that offers cash back or miles or points?

Generally speaking, most people will be better served with a cash back card, only because it’s unrestricted.But if you’re a  frequent traveler, you may be better off with points or miles. You may have to do some number crunching to figure out which will work best for you.

I notice a lot of cards offer the 0% introductory APR for either purchases or balance transfers; is one better than the other?

It depends on your personal circumstances. If you already have high interest credit cards, the balance transfer will be the better option.It will enable you to consolidate those debts into an interest-free line, making you better able to either pay off or pay down the balance.But if you have no balances to transfer, the purchase option will make more sense.

The credit cards for poor credit seem restrictive. Are they really worth having?

In a word, yes! If you already have poor credit, these cards can offer you a way to improve your situation.To improve your credit score, you’ll need to add new good credit. Even though the cards for poor credit are admittedly restrictive, they’ll give you a chance to do just that. The secret is to properly manage them.  As long as you make your payments on time each month, your credit score will gradually begin to improve.

I’d like to do a balance transfer to a 0% introductory APR card, but I don’t like the idea of paying a balance transfer fee. How can I get around paying it?

Most credit cards do charge a balance transfer fee of either 3% or 5%. Naturally, you’ll want to favor those that charge 3%, particularly if the balance transfer is substantial.

Apart from separating business expenses from personal ones, what other reasons are there to have a business credit card?

Image counts when you’re in business. If you have a credit card for your business, it looks more professional than if you use a personal card.Another benefit is to begin building credit specifically related to your business. Even though you will still be personally liable for a business credit card, the fact that you have a dedicated business card could make it easier to apply for a business loan in the name of your company only.

Summary

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, including not only the various major credit card categories, but also offers available at the different credit levels for each.

Now it’s up to you to sift through the options, and find the card that best matches your preferences and credit profile.

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About the author

David Weliver
Total Articles: 308
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.