[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
We’re going to tell this to you straight: Credit cards can be super confusing. They can be great money tools, but they can make a disaster of your finances, too. On top of that, there are dozens of cards (and credit card offers) to choose from. How do you know which ones are the best credit cards? And is it possible to be sure you’re making the right decision when you apply for one?
There are lots of ways to answer those questions, depending on what you’re looking for in a credit card and what your individual financial situation looks like. To narrow the field a bit, let’s talk about top credit cards that offer good deals to cardholders — that is, these credit cards are good deals because consumers can reap their benefits without paying extra for them.
How to Get a Credit Card
Federal Reserve. In that same report, 26% of people who applied for credit in the previous 12 months were denied, with 35% of those applications for credit cards.
To increase your odds of a creditor approving your credit card application, it’s a good idea to see where your credit scores stand. With that information, you can research cards designed for people with credit like yours. (You can get a free snapshot of your credit report, including two credit scores, on Credit.com.)
Credit Cards With Great Deals
Once you have an idea where your credit stands, you’ll want to start thinking about what kind of credit card you’d like. With that in mind, here are a few of the best credit cards of 2018.
If You Want to Earn Cash Rewards: Chase Freedom
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee
Card Details +
Why We Picked It: Chase Freedom’s 5% cash back in rotating categories makes it a very popular choice for people who use their credit cards for everyday expenses. The rewards categories change every quarter.
Additional Details: New cardholders can earn a $150 signup bonus for spending $500 in the first three months.
If You Need to Build Credit: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Why We Picked It: This secured card has no annual fee, which can be hard to come by when you’re looking into secured credit cards, which are designed for people with little, no or bad credit.
Additional Details: The Capital One Secured Mastercard gives you a credit line of $200 deposit with a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 depending on your credit—your deposit serves as your credit line—and if you fail to make your credit card payments, Capital One can take your deposit to cover those expenses. The card reports your responsible use to all three major credit bureaus to help you build your credit up.
If You Need to Pay Down Debt: Chase Slate
Why We Picked It: Many balance transfer cards attach a fee to the transaction, generally about 3% to 5% of the balance you’re transferring. Chase Slate is one of the few no-fee balance transfer credit cards out there. As long as you make the balance transfer within 60 days of the account opening, you will not have to pay a fee.
If You Need to Finance a Large Purchase: Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever
Why We Picked It: Citi Simplicity has the longest 0% introductory offer for balance transfers, however, there is a $5 or 5% balance transfer fee, whichever is greater. This fee is still lower than most credit cards, who usually charge a 5% fee for balance transfers. This also means that you won’t be charged interest for almost two years when you transfer balances to pay off a purchase. Another bonus? Cardholders get to pick their payment due date, so card payments will never occur at an inconvenient time.
Additional Details: The card touts a no-fee trifecta: no late fees, no penalty APR and no annual fee.
At publishing time, the Discover it Secured, Chase Slate, Citi Simplicity, and Chase Freedom cards 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.
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 January 4, 2019.