Just remember: It’s not finding the absolute best credit card that matters, but rather choosing the best credit card for your particular needs. And that starts with selecting an offer you can get approved for. So make sure to check your latest credit score, too.
Here are 2017’s best credit cards:
|Best Credit Card For...||Card Name||Annual Fee||Minimum Credit Required||Editors' Rating|
|Initial Bonus||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||$0 Intro for the First Year, $95 after||Excellent||4.5 Stars|
|Travel Rewards||Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®||$0 the first year ($89 after)||Excellent||5 Stars|
|Cash Back||Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer||$0||Good||5 Stars|
|Balance Transfers||Barclaycard Ring Mastercard||$0||Excellent||4.7 Stars|
|Big-Ticket Purchases||Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||$0||Good||5 Stars|
|Students||Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®||$0||Limited||5 Stars|
|Rebuilding Credit||Discover it® Secured Credit Card||$0||Bad||5 Stars|
Finding the right credit card for your needs can be difficult, even with more than 1,000 offers distilled into the short list above. With that in mind, we’ve put together some credit card comparison tips that should always help lead you to the proper plastic.
6 Credit Card Comparison Tips
- Check Your Credit Score. Knowing exactly where you stand will enable you to focus your credit card comparison efforts on a particular tier of offers. This makes the process more manageable and minimizes your risk of getting rejected.
- Figure Out Whether Interest Is an Issue. The basic rule of thumb is that you should focus on rewards if you always pay your bill in full and 0% intro rates if you don’t. Trying to earn rewards while carrying a balance on the same card isn’t wise, as interest will eat away at what you earn.
That’s why we recommend using the Island Approach to satisfy multiple needs. For example, using a rewards card for everyday expenses that you can pay for in full by the end of the month and a 0% balance transfer card to reduce the cost of existing debt.
- Decide Which Features Are Most Important. There is no such thing as a perfect credit card. In other words, you won’t find a single offer with the best rewards, the lowest interest rates and the cheapest fees. That means you’ll have to choose. So make a list of the features you want most. Then compare cards based on that list. This will help you avoid getting distracted by flashy features you might never even use.
- Make Sure You Have the Latest Terms. Credit card offers change on a regular basis. So it’s important to confirm that you have the correct fees, APRs, rewards rates, etc., when you do your credit card comparison.
- Don’t Apply For Multiple Cards at Once. Numerous credit card applications within a short period of time can lead to credit score damage. So this strategy is likely to work against you, rather than ensuring approval for at least one card.
Instead, apply for a card that’s suitable for your credit standing. And if you don’t get approved, adjust your sights a bit lower. If you have limited or bad credit, you may just want to place a deposit on a secured credit card at this point.
- Be Realistic. Don’t apply for an offer you have little chance of getting given your credit standing. Don’t apply for a travel rewards card if you haven’t taken a trip in years. And don’t put too much stock in rewards bonuses if you’re unlikely to satisfy their requirements (e.g. spending a certain amount within the first few months of account opening or signing up for bonus earning rates each quarter).
These are just a few examples of how being realistic now can wind up saving you big time later.
You can easily monitor your progress by signing up for a free WalletHub account. This will give you free credit scores and reports, updated daily, as well as 24/7 credit monitoring and personalized money-saving advice.