Best Credit Cards of August 2023

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Information in this piece is accurate as of August 2023.

The best credit cards provide you with cash back rewards, points you can redeem for purchases at your favorite stores, travel miles and much more. Each credit card is fine-tuned with specific perks and benefits, and you’ll find plenty here that will fulfill your needs.

We’ve reviewed 25 credit cards from our partners that not only provide great rewards, but we’ve found the best credit cards for people with no credit, bad credit and fair credit. We’ve also provided a complete guide to help you better understand how credit cards work, as well as some tips to assist you in choosing the right one.

Table of Contents:

Best Overall Cards From Our Partners

The best credit cards bring in new customers by providing various perks, bonuses and benefits. The following credit cards have some of the best sign-up offers that come in the form of cash back rewards and travel miles.

Best for: Repairing credit

Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

Apply Now

on Chime’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Low APR

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Apply Now

on Upgrade’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Balance Transfer

Balance transfer credit cards allow you to transfer debt from one account to another, and the best ones come with little to no fees.

Best for: Bonus categories and balance transfers

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™

Apply Now

on OneUnited Bank’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

No Interest

Low interest is great, but having 0% interest is even better. These cards have their advantages and disadvantages, such as the advantage of not needing a good credit score, but their usage may be limited.

Best for: No interest

Merit Platinum Card

Apply Now

on Merit Platinum’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: No interest

Net First Platinum

Apply Now

on NetFirst Platinum’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: No APR

Freedom Gold Card

Apply Now

on Freedom Gold’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Lowest Interest

One of the primary factors people look for in a credit card is a low annual percentage rate (APR). This is the interest you pay on purchases after the introductory rate.

Best for: Bonus categories and balance transfers

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™

Apply Now

on OneUnited Bank’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Secured credit

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card

Apply Now

on Applied Bank’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Cash Back

Cash back credit cards put money back in your pocket based on your spending. This can be either a flat rate or for specific categories like dining, entertainment or retail shopping.

Best for: Auto, home and health spending

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®

Apply Now

on Upgrade’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Travel

For those who travel, travel cards with top-tier rewards may be the right choice for you. You can get free airline miles along with other perks like points for rental cards and hotel stays.

Best for: Travel

Mastercard® Black Card™

Apply Now

on Luxury Card’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Low APR and travel

Mastercard® Titanium Card™

Apply Now

on Luxury Card’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Low APR and travel

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Apply Now

on Luxury Card’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Bad Credit 

In order to build credit, you need a history of good credit—these are our top picks for credit cards if you’re working on improving your mid- to low-range credit score by adding more positive payments to your credit report.

Best for: Groceries and gas

Aspire® Cash Back Reward Card

Apply Now

on Aspire’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Fair Credit

If your credit score falls within the 630 to 689 range, while not an excellent credit score, there are still plenty of cards you can apply for.

Best for: Building credit

Avant Credit Card

Apply Now

on Avant’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Low APR

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Apply Now

on Upgrade’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards are a great option for those with no credit or bad credit. They work by providing you a credit line that uses your own money. You simply make a deposit, which becomes your credit limit, and you raise your score as you use your card and make your monthly payments.

Best for: Repairing credit

Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

Apply Now

on Chime’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Secured credit

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card

Apply Now

on Applied Bank’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

Best for: Secured credit

The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

Apply Now

on First Latitude’s secure website


Annual fee

Rewards

Intro APR

Recommended credit score

*FICO scores and credit scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any credit offer.

The Top Cards

The best credit cards depend on what you need. Whether you’re looking for a card that has low interest, one with the most rewards or one that gives you points for traveling, we broke down the top cards into nine categories.

Using similar criteria to our overall methodology, we’ve chosen the top card from each category.

Category Winner Why’s it the best?
Best overall card  Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card Great for individuals with bad credit, and it has 0% APR
Best for balance transfers UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™ Low 9.95% APR on balance transfers for 6 months
Best for no interest Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card 0% interest as well as no minimum security deposit
Best for low interest UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™ 17.99% fixed interest after intro period
Best for cash back Petal® 2 Card Earn up to 10% cash back at certain stores
Best for travel Mastercard® Gold Card™ Earn rewards as well as a wide range of bonus perks while traveling
Best for bad credit Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card Unlike some other cards, this one doesn’t come with any additional fees.
Best for fair credit Avant Credit Card Receive approval for this card with a score as low as 580 points.

How We Chose the Best Credit Cards

To rank the best credit cards, we reviewed over 25 credit cards from our partners. The primary criteria we looked at takes into consideration aspects cardholders look at during their decision-making process and includes:

  • Intro APR (10 points)
  • Regular APR (20 points)
  • Fees (15 points)
  • Works with low credit scores (15 points)
  • Cash back rewards (20 points)
  • Bonus offers (15 points)
  • Additional perks (5 points)

The best credit cards depend on your specific wants, needs and circumstances based on your specific credit score. Below, we discuss more about how to choose the right credit card for your situation.

More About Credit.com’s Best Credit Cards

There’s a lot of information about each specific card, so we listed the top cards with each of their primary benefits below to give you an overview at a glance.

Best Overall Cards From Our Partners

Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card: This is a card that is for individuals with bad credit or no credit, and it also has 0% interest on purchases. There’s no minimum security deposit as well.

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®: For every purchases, you make with this card, you’ll receive 1.5% cash back, and it also comes with a $200 signup bonus.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™: 9.95% on balance transfers for the first six months and then 17.99% fixed APR after.

Best Credit Cards for No Interest

Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card: This secured credit card helps those looking to repair or build credit and comes with 0% interest. There’s also no minimum security deposit.

Merit Platinum Card, Net First Platinum and Freedom Gold Card: Each of these cards comes with the same benefit of 0% interest as well as member benefits for their $177.24 annual fee. Although the card is limited to shopping at Horizon Outlet, 0% interest is hard to beat.

Best Credit Cards for Low Interest

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™: 9.95% on balance transfers for the first six months and then 17.99% fixed APR after.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card: This card gives cardholders a credit limit of up to $5,000, and there’s no minimum credit score required. It also has a low 9.99% fixed interest rate and is great for anyone looking to build their credit score.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®: Ongoing APR as low as 14.99% on all purchases along with 3% cash back on home, auto and health purchases.

Petal® 2 Card: The Petal® 2 has one of the highest cash back percentages at 10% when you shop at select merchants, and you’ll receive 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Best Travel Credit Cards

Mastercard® Titanium Card™: 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles and 2% rewards on airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

Mastercard® Gold Card™: 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles and 2% rewards on airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

Mastercard® Black Card™: 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles and 2% rewards on airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card: Secured credit card you can open with a $200 deposit or more along with a checking account.

Aspire® Cash Back Reward Card: A secured credit card option that also gives you 1% cash back on all of your purchases. You can also earn up to 3% cash back on groceries and gas.

Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Avant Credit Card: Can qualify with a credit score between 580 and 669.

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®: Ongoing APR as low as 14.99% and 1.5% flat-rate cash back on purchases.

Best Secured Credit Cards

Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card: Secured credit card you can open with a $200 deposit or more along with a checking account.

PREMIER Bankcard® Secured Credit Card: Secured credit card with a spending limit of up to $5,000.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card: Requires a $200 deposit and can go up to $5,000.

The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card: Secured credit card with a limit of between $100 and $2,000.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Credit Cards

Whether you’re new to credit and credit cards or are experienced and just looking for the best options, this brief guide will provide you with additional information before choosing your new card.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Credit cards are like taking out small loans, allowing you to buy something now and pay for it later on. You’ll need to pay back the money you borrowed on your credit card, and this comes with interest.

Some cards offer 0% interest for a certain amount of time, which means you’ll only pay back the same amount charged on the credit card. 

Here’s what a basic credit card transaction looks like:

  • The purchase: Make a purchase with your credit card.
  • The authorization: The card reader used to run your card contacts your credit card company to ensure the funds are available based on your max limit.
  • The merchant payment: Your credit card company pays the merchant for the product or service you purchased.
  • The credit card payment: Each month, you’ll have a statement that shows how much you owed based on all of the purchases you made.

Learn more: How do credit cards work?

How Do Credit Card Rewards Work?

Credit cards with the best rewards will give you a high percentage of cash back or points that you can use at places you make purchases. The following are the two main types of rewards:

  • Cash back: Cash back rewards pay down your balance. For example, if you’re getting five percent cash back on $5,000 worth of purchases, those purchases would technically cost $250 less.
  • Points and miles: Rather than cash back, some cards offer points or miles. You can use points to redeem gift cards and other merchandise. With travel cards, your earned miles give you discounted or free travel, depending on how much you have saved.

The rate of the rewards come in two different forms as well:

  • Flat rate: Cards that offer flat rate rewards give you the same percentage on all purchases. While this is more consistent, they’re lower than tiered rewards.
  • Tiered rewards: The most common rewards cards offer tiered rewards, which means you receive different rates based on where you use your card. For example, you may receive five percent cash back on groceries, travel and fuel but one percent for everything else.

Which type of reward structure you choose should be based on how you spend. If a card has tiered rewards with a high percentage cash back on purchases you make regularly, that type of card may be a better option. And if you travel a lot, you may benefit more from a travel card rather than a cash back rewards card.

Learn more: 5 ways to maximize credit card rewards without overspending

How Do You Track Credit Card Rewards?

The majority of credit cards have a separate account that stores your rewards, which you can access through your credit card’s website or mobile app. Depending on the card and card issuer, you may see your rewards instantly after purchases, or they may not appear until the following billing cycle.

Here’s how the reward process looks:

  1. You make a purchase
  2. Your rewards are calculated based on a flat rate or tiered rewards
  3. Your rewards are credited to your account
  4. You redeem your rewards through the card issuer’s website or mobile app

Learn more: Ways to redeem your credit card reward points

How Does APR Work?

APR stands for annual percentage rate, which is the interest you’ll pay on your purchases. Simply put, this is what the card issuer charges you for borrowing money through your line of credit. Depending on the credit card, the APR may be fixed or changed based on the current economic conditions.

Below, we’ve listed some more helpful information about interest:

  • Your interest rate is generally based on your credit score, and you’ll get approved for lower rates when you have a better credit score.
  • While interest is shown as an annual rate, you’re charged, daily. For example, a 20 percent APR divided by 365 days in the year means you pay roughly .055 percent per day.
  • Your monthly statement shows how much interest you’re being charged.
  • Interest is not compounded, so you’ll pay your full interest cost each month.

Learn more: Help! I really don’t understand my credit card APR

How Does the Credit Card Application Process Work?

In the early days, credit card applications were done on paper, but now, you mainly do them online. When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer is evaluating your level of risk and trustworthiness based on your credit score. A good credit score indicates that you’ll pay back the money you borrow from your line of credit.

Here’s what the application process looks like:

  • Step 1: Fill out the application. You’ll need some personal information like your name, address and Social Security number. The card issuer may request other items. 
  • Step 2: The card issuer runs your credit, which will check your score as well as your actual credit report. The credit score is just a number, but the report gives additional details such as how many cards you recently applied for or any additional details they may need.
  • Step 3: You’ll receive an approval or denial. These days, many online applications approve or deny you within just a few minutes.

If you’re approved for the credit card, you’ll typically receive the card by mail within 10 business days. Once you receive it, you can activate it and begin spending.

Learn more: How to apply for a credit card online

How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

How many credit cards you have is really dependent on your situation and your preferences. There’s no optimal number of credit cards. Rather than the number of credit cards you have, you should take into consideration your credit utilization as well as how often you’re applying for new cards. 

For example, if you have 10 credit cards but have a 20 percent credit utilization ratio, you’re doing great. But if you have three cards with a 70 percent utilization ratio, that can hurt your score. If you were to have that high of a utilization ratio with 10 cards as well, that would hurt your score. If you apply for new cards too often, this can also harm your score.

Learn more: How many credit cards is too many?

Types of Credit Cards Explained

When choosing a credit card, it’s helpful to know the various types. Different cards are beneficial for different lifestyles, purchasing decisions and personal preferences. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common types along with a brief summary of what they do.

  • Rewards cards: These cards pay you back via cash that you can use to pay down your credit card debt or points that you can redeem at stores or in the form of airline miles. You earn rewards by using your card. 
  • Balance transfer cards: All credit cards have interest that you need to pay, but some have lower rates than others. Balance transfer cards allow you to move debt and give you a year or more to pay it back with no interest. This often comes with a fee, but the fee is usually less than the interest. 
  • Low and no interest cards: These cards are some of the most popular because interest payments make purchases cost more than the original price. For those who plan on carrying their balance over to the following month, these are the ideal cards.
  • College student cards: Young people are just starting out with credit building, so these cards get marketed towards college students and can help with the process. They’re easier to get approved for, but you’ll still need to meet qualifications beyond being a student to receive an approval.
  • Small business cards: Business owners and entrepreneurs often need to make purchases with credit, and these cards offer perks that are specifically geared towards business categories. 
  • Cards for building credit: Whether you have no credit or bad credit, these cards can help you repair or build your credit score when you use them responsibly and make payments on time. They’re easier to receive an approval for, but they sometimes come with high interest rates or deposits.

How Credit Card Companies Work

In order to understand how credit card companies work, it’s helpful to know that they’re more than just companies. Each card company works within a network, and, sometimes, they’re partnered with another brand.

  • Credit card issuers: A credit card company is the card issuer. This can be a bank or financial institution that maintains your account. For example, Wells Fargo, Chase and Capital One are all card issuers.
  • The network: On every credit card, you’ll see names like Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover. These are basically the go-between companies that manage the transaction.
  • Co-brand partners: In some cases, cards have branded partners. An example would be an airline, hotel or store credit card. 

Let’s look at an example using one of the top cards from our Travel category, the Citi Premier® Card. Citi Bank is the card issuer, using the Mastercard network and doesn’t have a co-brand partner. Then, there are cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Card, where American Express is the card issuer and the network, and Hilton Hotels is the co-brand partner.

Top Credit Card Companies 

There are quite a few credit card companies out there, but which one is the best? J.D. Power does a regular study to see which one is the best. 

Here are the rankings of the top 10 companies from the 2022 J.D Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study based on a 1,000-point scale:

  1. American Express (848 points)
  2. Discover (841 points)
  3. Bank of America (818 points)
  4. Segment Average (814 points)
  5. Chase (813 points)
  6. Capital One (812)
  7. Citi (808)
  8. Barclays (797)
  9. Wells Fargo (797)
  10. U.S. Bank (791)

Remember, what’s considered “the best” is subjective, so you may want to do additional research to see which company is right for you. Some may have benefits that suit your needs and spending habits, or you may find it better to get a card through your current bank.

How to Choose the Card That’s Right for You

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right credit card, so we’ve listed some of the primary features of various cards to help you make the best for you. It’s also helpful to remember that by improving your credit score, you’ll have more options for which credit card companies will approve your application.

Annual Fees

Many cards come with no annual fee, but the ones that do often offer some additional perks and benefits. You’ll need to see if the fee makes sense based on what you’ll use the card for. 

A great example is when it comes to travel credit cards. These may come with a fee, but you might save more than enough due to the rewards you gain in comparison to the annual fee.

Other Fees

Different cards come with different fees, and they’re not always advertised front and center when you’re applying for a credit card. You’ll often need to go looking on the application page for additional information to find out which fees you’ll pay as you use your card.

Some of the most common fees include:

  • Balance transfer fee: A fee for transferring debt from one card to another, which is often a percentage of the amount transferred.
  • Foreign transaction fee: When you’re out of the country, many cards charge up to 3% for using your card while traveling abroad.
  • Cash advance fee: Some credit cards allow you to use them like an ATM card for a cash advance, but these come with high interest rates as well as a fee.
  • Late fees: Credit cards usually have a grace period for making your payments, but these may also come with a late fee.

Learn more: How much does one late payment affect credit scores?

Introductory Rates

Credit card companies make money by charging interest, but many have promotional offers where you’ll receive low interest on purchases for a certain amount of time. Some are as low as 0% interest.

Regular Rates

Regular rates, also called “ongoing rates,” are the interest rates you pay once the introductory period is over. You can find this rate in the terms and conditions on the application, so you can use it to compare it to other cards.

Rewards

We’ve gone over the various types of rewards, such as flat-rate, tiered and points. This is where comparing cards gets specific to your lifestyle. If you travel a lot, a card with travel rewards may be right for you, but if you don’t, you may want to look at cards that give you cash back at places where you shop. You may also get a sign-up bonus with some credit cards that come as cash back rewards or points.

Perks

In addition to rewards, there are sometimes additional perks like cell phone insurance, identity theft security, rental car coverage and more. 

How to Get a Credit Card in Six Steps

Now that you have all the knowledge you need to choose the right card, we’re going to put it all together in six simple steps: 

  • Step 1: Check your credit score to know what types of cards you can apply for.
  • Step 2: Research various cards that sound like they might be the right ones for you
  • Step 3: Narrow down your options so you don’t apply for too many cards. Remember, each application may trigger a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily drop your credit score.
  • Step 4: Apply for the card through the card issuer’s website.
  • Step 5: Wait for a decision.
  • Step 6: If you’re approved, you should receive your card within 10 business days, and then you can start using the card for purchases once the card is activated.

FAQ

The following are some additional questions people have about finding the best credit cards.

What’s the Best Credit Card?

There’s no single best credit card. The card that’s the “best” will vary from person to person based on their needs, credit score and lifestyle.

What’s the Best Credit Card Company?

According to J.D. Power’s 2022 survey, American Express is the best credit card company. This is based on criteria like customer satisfaction based on a specific sample size, so some people may prefer a different card issuer.

When is it Time to Get a New Credit Card?

Here are a few reasons you may want to get a new credit card:

  • To increase your credit limit
  • To increase your credit utilization ratio
  • To accommodate a lifestyle change like traveling more often

Improve Your Odds of Getting the Best Card

To get the best credit cards and have endless options, improving your credit score should be your top priority. The best credit cards with the most rewards and best perks typically look for applicants with a score of 690 or higher—falling within the “good” to “excellent” range.

Credit.com has a wide range of services like our ExtraCredit program, which can help you learn more about credit and may lead to better credit health. If you’re unsure of your credit score, get your credit score for free here.

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