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I enjoy using credit unions because they are a little more personal than dealing with a big bank. I decided to go with Alliant Credit Union at first because I heard great things about them from friends that lived in Chicagoland and used them. One of the things I had going for me is that I am paid by direct deposit, so I didn't get charged any of the fees that sometimes come along with using a credit union. I was really impressed with the interest rate that they were offering in comparison to some of the banks in the area, especially on the savings account. If you are fine with the idea of using a bank that doesn't have a B&M location to go to, I would go with these guys. They've been in Chicago for a long time and I have nothing but great things to say.
I really like the Capital One Venture Card, as it has a few additional perks over the VentureOne card which I feel make it worth it. While this card has an annual fee of $59, it's still kind of low compared to other cards that offer higher rewards. You get 2% back on all your purchases. No categories to activate like with Chase Freedom, no limits to what you can earn. There is also a $100 sign up bonus which you can redeem towards travel when you $1,000 on purchases within the first three months. It's a little harder to obtain with other cards, but I would argue that to take advantage of the bigger cash back bonus you need to be putting all your purchases on this card so it shouldn't be an issue.
The Target RED Card is one of the best store cards out there. Mainly because Target has so many things at great prices, and they offer 5% back just by using their card. There are other perks too such as 30 extra days for returns, and free shipping at Target.com too. But the main way this card shines is the 5% back on all purchases. You can also get an additional 5% back for a total of 10% back at the Target Pharmacy. Every little bit helps, and with the Target RED Card you'll be seeing some additional savings at Target that you can't get with any other card.
The Old Navy Credit Card is pretty good for a store card. You can get 5% back not only at Old Navy, but the other stores within their chain such as Gap, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta. Rewards start at $5 coupons for every $100 spent, so the rewards are easy to obtain too. They also have a $10 bonus when you decide to go paperless with your statements which is really nice, most credit card companies don't give you any benefit for doing something that saves them money. You can also use this card anywhere which is nice too. It only gives 1% back on your every day purchases, but it can help get you to one of those rewards by reaching 500 points if you are close.
The Chase Freedom card have some perks that make it stand out from other credit cards out there. They have a nice sign up bonus of $100 for simply spending $500 within the first three months. This is relatively easy to obtain just by making every day purchases. Where this card shines is the rotating categories every quarter that you have to sign up for online. For example, 5% back at Amazon during the holiday season of October, November and December! You really can't beat those type of deals when they come up, so it's worth having in your wallet so you are ready when a good one comes up.
I honestly don't see any benefit to using the Sears Credit Card. They do not offer any rewards on any purchases, either at Sears or elsewhere. They promote having special financing options and monthly sales events, but without any specifics it's hard to know if they are worth holding out for to make your purchase at Sears. You can also take advantage of similar deals at Kmart, Sears.com, Kmart.com, Lands End, The Great Indoors. I think you are better off using any type of reward based credit card. Most give out at least 1% cash back on all purchases, which is a lot better than nothing.
The Wells Fargo Rewards Card is not that great compared to the other credit cards out there. While companies like Capital One are offering 1.25% back on all purchases with a no annual fee card, Wells Fargo is offering 1% back on all purchases. The big difference is that the introductory promotion is 5% back on gas, grocery, and drugstore within the first 6 months, but there are other cards that have much better introductory offers that don't require spending in certain categories. For example, the Chase Freedom card has a $100 sign up bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months. You're better off going with either of the other two cards I mentioned.
The Shell Credit Card is not that great when you compare it to other rewards cards out there. If you spend $500 in a single month they will give you 10 cents off per gallon on up to 100 gallons of gas on your next billing cycle. If you were to spend exactly $500 on the card to get the benefit, you would get at most $10 off your gas. That's the equivalent of 2% back. And with every dollar you spend over $500, your savings goes down as the rewards are worth worse. There is also a really high interest rate at 23.99% which means you ideally want to be paying it off every single month.
The Home Depot Store Card is really lacking any benefits that their competitors have. All you can really do with a Home Depot card is 6 months of no interest financing if you pay off your bill within 6 months. For comparison, the Lowes Credit Card offers the same deal or 5% back on every purchase. Even the Menards card offers a 2% end of year rebate on all purchases. I really wish they would have offered some sort of rewards for using their card, as I tend to pay off all my purchases immediately to avoid finance charges. I would highly consider the Lowes card instead if you are making a big purchase and paying it off immediately.
The JCPenny Store Card is a phenomenal store card compared to what else is out there. Most store cards give 5% tops, but JCPenny gives 10% back which is amazing. Cash Outs happen in the form of a gift card which you can only spend at their store, but the rewards you get are much higher than what you'd get with any other credit card out there. They also offer special financing on some items such as jewelry or mattresses for example, but not all items like clothing. If you shop at JCPenny this card is a no brainer. Plus, you'll save a ton of money just by shopping at JCPenny.
The Chase Sapphire Card is great for spending money on your groceries and restaurants, as they offer 2% back every single day which is great. The card has no annual fee either, so you don't need to worry about spending enough to justify an annual fee which is really nice. On top of that they have a $100 sign up bonus when you spend $500 within the first 3 months which is a nice perk. Personally I think that the 1% back on every day purchases is kind of low when Capital One VentureOne offers 1.25% back on all purchases. You'll need to look at your purchases and determine how much you spend on food and if this card is worth having.
You really can't go wrong with the Lowes Store Card if you have a big home improvement project coming up. They give you 5% back on everything in the store, or special financing to pay it off over time. Currently the deal is 6 months of no interest on purchases over $299. You do get the option of one or the other, not both, so keep that in mind before you take any financing offers if you can afford to pay it off immediately. This is a really great deal because competing stores like Menards don't offer anything close to the 5% back that Lowes is offering.
I personally love the Best Buy Credit Card because I do a lot of shopping in their store. The reward program works by giving you 2.5 points for every dollar spent. It equals 5%, and for every $100 you spend in store you'll get a $5 gift card to use at Best Buy. They also have special financing options if you are purchasing a lot of stuff there like a home theater setup, so that is something to keep in mind if you don't have the cash immediately to pay off your credit card. The only thing about this card which is not great is that you must have excellent credit to get it, and if you apply for it and don't qualify they'll give you the lesser card that doesn't have as great of benefits.
The Express Store Card is really great if you love shopping at Express. The way their reward system breaks down is that you get a $10 reward for every $166 you spend at the store. It comes out to about 6% back which is huge! For comparison, most store cards top out at 5% back, like the Target RED card for example. 6% back is just a nice bonus, and the cash out threshold is not that bad either. I would recommend this card if you shop there a lot, as you can't spend it outside of Express to earn points to get to cash out on your rewards.
The Walmart Discover Card is for people with good credit, and they promise up to 1% back by using it. The problem I have is that almost every other credit card offers you 1% back by default making this cards reward program substandard. You are better off going with the Capital One VentureOne card which gives 1.25% back on every single purchase every day. While the Walmart card has some nice gas perks at 15 cents off per gallon, you have to buy the gas at the Walmart gas store and I personally haven't seen a ton of them where it would be convenient to use it.
The American Express Prepaid Card is great if you need a prepaid card but DON'T have direct deposit. The alternative American Express cards like Serve and Bluebird can be completely free if you have direct deposit, but costly if you don't. This card will only charge you a fee if you make more than one ATM withdrawal a month. The nice thing about this card is that if you use it enough you might get invited to sign up for a normal AMEX card which you can use to start building up your credit. They don't report your activity to the 3 major credit agencies, but for a card with very few charges this is a good first step towards that.
The Belk Store Card is pretty decent for a store card. They offer $10 back for every 400 points earned, which if you do the math is 2.5% back on all purchases, or 5% back if you take advantage of double point days. Typically you see the best store cards top out at 5%, so it's nice that they do this, but I wish they'd offer 5% back all year round. Other than that there is no annual fee, but a really high APR. I would only advise using this card if you plan on paying it off every month.
If you shop at Amazon then this card is a no brainer. The Amazon Credit Card offers 3% back at all purchases made on Amazon.com which is huge. None of the other cards I've seen give this much back at Amazon. You also can get 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores, and 1% everywhere else. There is a small sign up bonus of $30, but where this card shines is being able to redeem at checkout with Amazon. No more ordering a gift card, waiting for it to arrive, and remembering to spend it. You can use your rewards immediately.
My wife has the Victoria Secret Credit card, which believe me I have no problems with, because she loves the perks that come with this card. She's always getting coupons and stuff like which encourages her to spend money at the store and get the most savings possible. While I personally wish that you would get the savings in the form of a statement credit or gift card elsewhere, this card is great if you do a lot of shopping at Victoria Secret. That said, there is no better way to save money at Victoria Secret than signing up with their card. Even basic credit cards give 1-2% back TOPS at a store like this, but with the card you get back much more in the form of coupons and discounts.
I really like the Gap Credit Card because of the amount you get back in store. I guess you can only really take advantage of it if you shop there a lot like me, but they give you back 5% at at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta. On top of that there is a 15% off sign up bonus, opportunities to get more bonus points, and special promotions that only card holders get for in store sales. It's worth it for shopping at the Gap and their other stores, but the standard 1% back everywhere else means it's not going to be used for every day purchases.
The First Premiere Bank Credit Card is designed for people that have really bad credit, as they will report your payment history to the major credit agencies to help build it up. There are significant fees as a part of having this card though. A $95 processing fee simply to open the account, and a $75 annual fee. On top of that, there is only a $400 limit. You are paying a lot just to have a credit card, when the Capital One Secured Mastercard gives you the same credit reporting benefits but with a lot less fees. I would go with that one instead.
I like the Kaiku Prepaid Card for one reason only, you can deposit checks with your phone! It's a feature I love having and could never go back to going to the bank to cash a check after having this feature. It's well worth the $1.95 monthly fee IMO. On top of all that, there are a ton of cool benefits that come along with this card such as free in network ATMs and online bill pay. The Amex Serve card is another viable alternative, but they don't have the futuristic check cashing features this card has. But if you don't have a smart phone, get Serve or Bluebird.
The Valero Gas Card has a lot of fine print in it which you need to read to understand the limitations of this card. They claim to offer 30 cents off per gallon, there are two big catches. The first is that it is only for the first 30 months, and the second is that it's only on your first 100 gallons of gas. I don't know about you, but I would go through that within the first month. It's a nice little perk for opening a card with them. The only reason I can see getting this card is that it only works at Valero gas stations, so I would get it for my kid if I want them to have money for gas in their car but are worried they would use a normal credit card for other things.
I would avoid the Mango Prepaid Card at all costs and instead get something like the Amex Serve card which has a lot fewer fees. This card might promise 6% APY on the money you are putting into savings with them, but you'll see any interest you earn go away in the form of fees. For example, a simply ATM withdrawal is $2. If you have $4,000 in savings with them and do one ATM withdrawal a month, all your interest is going to go towards those ATM fees. I would get another card that doesn't have so many fees if you can do it.
The Chase Ink Bold Card has some nice perks if you own a business or simply spend a lot of money. This card has one of the biggest introductory bonuses I've ever seen. If you spend $5,000 in the first three months they'll give you $625 worth of rewards. That's just insane... this card is almost worth it for the sign up bonus alone if you have the high credit score to get it and spend almost $1,700 a month on your credit card. They also offer 5% back on office supplies, cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. Keep in mind that this card does have a $95 annual fee which is very high, so you might want to take a closer look at your credit card bills and see if it's worth it.
The American Express Green Card is another travel related card from American Express that has subpar benefits. For a whopping $95 annual fee you get 2% on travel. It's ridiculously low compared to what other credit cards offer on travel. You can only redeem the points on travel related purchases, and if you transfer your points to other rewards programs you're going to get less than 1% back after the conversion. You have to pay off your balance every single month too, so it's not really a credit card. And on top of all that, this travel focused rewards card charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee! Stay clear of this one.
The Blue American Express Credit Card is a good card to have if you like to spend your rewards on travel, but nothing else. With no annual fee you can keep this card in your wallet and use it for anything and get the standard 1% back or 2% back on travel, but keep in mind there are other cards that will get you much more than 2% back on travel. The nice thing about this card rather than other AMEX travel cards is that you don't have to use your points on travel, you can spend them on gift cards too. Sometimes it's nice to have an AMEX card for those places that only take AMEX, and with no annual fee I can justify keeping it around for that reason only.
The PenFed Platinum Rewards Credit Card has some really great spending categories with bonus rewards which I love. 5% back on gas is pretty huge, you don't usually see other cards offer this much back on gasoline purchases, even gas stations store cards. 3% back on grocery stores is also huge, which is better than other grocery store cards like those from Kroger. And with 1% back on everything else it's still pretty decent and in line with what other cards offer. Use this card for your groceries and gas, and something else like the VentureOne card for everything else to get a little extra cash back.
One of the things I always make sure I have in a travel rewards credit card is for it to have no foreign transaction fees, and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card definitely has this perk! The other benefits this card has is on travel purchase. You get 3 points per dollar on all your travel related purchases, though there is a cap on how much you can earn. I personally don't spend that much on travel, but others might. It also has the smart chip technology with it which is great if you are traveling overseas and want the extra security. This card is great if you travel a lot, but obviously avoid it if you don't.
The Tire Kingdom Store Card is great if you need special financing with your tire purchase. Tire purchases are not always planned, so most likely you don't have the money. If that's a case they offer no interest 12 month financing with a $800 purchase, or 6 months of no financing if the price is over $200. On top of that they'll give you a Visa gift card worth either $25 or $50 depending on how big your purchase is. It's pretty great they they offer a reward like that instead of points which you get in cash back, because you'll probably never use this card anywhere else.
The Expedia Credit Card is below average for what is essentially an online store card. You get 2% back on all Expedia.com purchases, and 1% back on everything else. While this might seem good, a lot of major credit cards have online portals that will get you much bigger rewards for booking your travel. For example, I got if you use your CapitalOne Venture card right now, you can get 3.25% back by booking with Expedia (1.25% with the card, 2% bonus by shopping through their portal). This is not worth it when you consider how many places you'll have to use your card at only 1% cash back just to get your rewards out of the rewards program.
The Open Sky Visa Card is very different from normal credit cards. This is the type of card you get when you have bad credit and not many other options. What I don't like about this card are the fees! You get an annual charge, and charges every time you deposit more money into your account to raise your credit limit. I would recommend the Capital One Secured Mastercard instead. It has the same annual fee, but that's it. You don't get charged every time you need to make a deposit or withdrawal to change your credit limit which is the main benefit over this one.
This Cit Secured Credit Card is different from normal credit cards. If you've never used a secured card before, your credit limit is based on how big of a cash deposit you make on the card. It's for people with bad or low credit that can't get a normal credit card. While this card does come with an annual fee, I've noticed it's lower than other secured cards out there which is good. This card will help you build up your credit which is good, but if you are not concerned about that you might want to get something like a Prepaid Card like American Express Serve which has very little fees associated with it.
I don't like the Capital One Standard Platinum Card at all. There are no rewards associated with this card, period! They charge a really high APR of 24.9% too. If you really need a credit card for low credit, I would suggest the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card instead. It has a slightly higher annual fee, but at least you're getting 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. You'll easily break even on the annual fee as long as you spend $225 a month with that card. If you spend LESS than $225 on your card every month, well then maybe consider this card because it will be cheaper in the long run.
The Kroger 1-2-3 Rewards Credit Card is a way to earn points that get redeemed for gift cards for money off your groceries. Unfortunately it is not a good deal. For Every $333 you spend in a Kroger store you get a $5 coupon towards your groceries. If you do that math, that's only 1.5% back when you shop at a Kroger store. While it's better than nothing and the 1% back most credit cards give, other cards give you a little less points and the option to cash out your points for more than just grocery store coupons. I would avoid this card unless you really want that extra .25%. For example. if you spend $400 a month in groceries at Kroger a year, you'll lose out on $12 in rewards if you used the CapitalOne VentureOne card instead which gives you 1.25% back. Not worth the hassle in my opinion.
This is my favorite credit card out of all the cards I have. The Capital One VentureOne card gives a standard cash back of 1.25% on all purchases every day with no annual fee. This is pretty good because you normally see cards give 1% back, and if it's anything more they require an annual fee. SInce I try to maximize my rewards I use multiple cards, and would never break even on the annual fee of the other Venture card w/ 2% back because I don't use it for all my purchases. This is just good card to use when I go to a store and don't know how to get the most cash back, because I always know I'll get 1.25% back with this card.
For a store card the Staples Store Card is pretty below average. By buying things with the card you get 5% back, but you can get that without needing a credit card so I can't honestly factor it into this cards rewards program. The only real benefit of this card are the perks you get in store. If you own a business you might need the itemized receipts, or the dedicated line of credit for Staples only. But I'm guessing that the average person does not need it. Use a regular credit card and get at least 1% back, and use your Staples Rewards card in store and get the 5% back as well to maximize your spending.
This card is not worth the hassle of signing up for it. Usually store cards offer 5% back on all your purchases, but the Menards Big Store card only offers 2% back and a pitiful $10 sign up bonus. The only reason to have this card is going to be to take advantage of their special financing offers when they have them, but that's it. If you have the cash to pay off your purchase, you are better off going to Lowes which offers 5% back when you use their store card in store. 2% back is just not acceptable when the competition has a much better offer.
The American Express Serve card is one of the best prepaid cards I've seen. Mainly because this is the only prepaid card I've seen that actually gives you a cash bonus for signing up! $50 is better than nothing, and if you have direct deposit there are no annual fees that are going to slowly take that $50 away from you. On top of that, you get all the perks of being an AMEX member, including being able to take advantage of Small Business Saturday which is another free $25 every year. If you need a prepaid card consider getting this card or something like Walmart's Bluebird card which also uses the American Express network with very little fees.
This is pretty decent for an American Express card. It's nice to have an AMEX card that doesn't come with an annual fee, but the rewards they offer are below average. This is because the rewards you earn can only be used toward a statement credit towards travel. I personally don't travel that much, so I haven't been able to redeem any rewards using my Blue Sky card. But it's good to have in your wallet because every once in awhile I'll come across a store that only accepts American Express, and I can at least start slowly building to that eventual $100 statement credit.