2016’s Best Credit Cards – Editors’ Picks
|Best For…||Card Name||Editors’ Rating||Annual Fee||Minimum Credit Required|
|Initial Bonus||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||4.5 Stars||$0 Intro for the First Year, $95 after||Excellent|
|Cash Back||Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer||5 Stars||$0||Good|
|Travel Rewards||Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®||5 Stars||$0 the first year ($89 thereafter)||Good|
|Balance Transfers||Chase Slate®||5 Stars||$0||Good|
|Big-Ticket Purchases||Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||5 Stars||$0||Excellent|
|Students||Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®||5 Stars||$0||Limited|
|Rebuilding Credit||Discover it® Secured Credit Card||5 Stars||$0||Bad|
Finding the right credit card for your needs can be difficult, even with the 1,000+ available offers that 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.
Credit Card Comparison – 5 Tips
- Check Your Credit Score. Knowing exactly where you stand will enable you 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.
- Decide About Always Paying In Full. 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’ll be able to pay in full and a 0% balance transfer card to reduce the cost of existing debt.
- Prioritize Desired Features. There is no such thing as a perfect credit card, which means you won’t find a single offer with everything that you might ever want or need. And that, of course, means you’ll have to choose. So consider your current spending and payment habits as well as your day-to-day money-management preferences and 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 and ultimately make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- Don’t Apply En Masse. Numerous credit card applications within a short period of time can lead to credit score damage. As a result, this strategy is likely to work against you, instead of helping to ensure approval for at least one card. So figure out exactly what you want before you apply, and hopefully you won’t have to do so more than once.
- 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.