Do you love reading the fine print? Do you enjoy figuring out how many penalties and fees your credit card can impose? Probably not, yet many credit cards come with pages-long terms and conditions that many consumers struggle to understand.
But at the same time, the credit card industry is nothing if not intensely competitive, so card issuers eventually decided that there was a market for simple credit cards. These are cards that have the fewest fees and penalties.
Who Needs a Simple Credit Card?
There are many types of credit card users who would want a card that is as simple as possible. First, there are those who are new to credit cards, and don’t want to have the potential of incurring extra expenses. In addition, there are those who are experienced credit card users who have learned the hard way about all the fees and penalties that can be incurred. Finally, there are those who hold a credit card for just occasional use. These infrequent cardholders have no need for all the rewards, perks and benefits offered by high-end credit cards, and their corresponding cost and complexity.
How to Choose a Simple Credit Card
Before you apply for a credit card, it’s important to know where your credit scores stand so you don’t apply for a card that you won’t get. This year’s winners, for example, require a good or excellent credit score. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
Regardless of what type of credit card you are shopping for, the key terms will always be found in a standardized format often called the Schumer Box. Credit card issuers are required to present this table to new applicants showing all the interest rates and fees that will apply to account holders. Key rates and fees to look for include the standard interest rate, the annual fee, and fees for foreign transactions, balance transfers and late payments. The fewer the fees, the simpler the card.
USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card
- Enjoy USAA's lowest rate card
- No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR
- USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
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Why It We’re Mentioning It: This card boasts the lowest APR of any major bank on the U.S. market. It has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees so as far as simplicity goes, this is about as basic as it gets. However, in order to qualify for a card with USAA, you have to be a USAA member. USAA membership is available to active and former military personnel and their eligible family members.
Rates and Fees: 9.15% - 26.15% Variable for ongoing APR and no annual fees.
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®
- Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 14.24% APR will apply
- Low 14.24% variable APR on purchases and cash advances
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- International Chip and PIN
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Why We’re Mentioning It: The Barclaycard Ring is a unique product that allows cardholders to help shape its terms, conditions, and rewards. As a result, it has a very simplified fee structure in accordance with its philosophy of “Clear, Simple Value.”
Rates and Fees: There is just one go-to APR for all cardholders that applies to purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. Currently, this go-to rate is a 14.24% Variable. For balances transfers there in an Intro: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 14.24% APR will apply. This card has an annual fee of $0, and no foreign transaction fees, and cash advances are a flat $3 rather than a percentage of the amount advanced. However, it does have a late payment fee of up to $27 (this can vary by state).
Petal Visa Credit Card
- No fees whatsoever. No late fee, international fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee, fee.
- $500 - $10,000 credit limits
- No credit history necessary for approval
- Build credit by using responsibly.
- Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
- Petal's mobile app makes it effortless to manage your money, track your spending, and build credit without thinking much about it.
- See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.
- No deposits required.
- Card issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
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Why We’re Mentioning It: The Petal Visa credit card is a unique offering that’s designed for accessibility. If you don’t have a credit history, potential approval isn’t a problem because, no credit history is needed for approval. Instead Petal looks at your financial habits and income to decide if you get a card. It’s a great way to build a credit history when you don’t have one now. It’s also a great way to build credit because the Petal Visa credit card reports to all three credit bureaus, giving it the advantage of a secured card in an unsecure card that doesn’t require a deposit.
Rates and Fees: This card has no fees—nada, zilch. There’s no late fee, no international fee, annual fee no fee of any other kind. The ongoing APR varies from 15.24% - 26.24% Variable
[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned here.]
At publishing time, the USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum, Barclaycard Ring Mastercard, and the Petal Visa credit card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
This article was last updated September 21, 2017, and has since been updated by another author.