Updated March 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Sapphire Preferred® Card
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Best First Travel Card
Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our top pick because of its flexible ways to earn and redeem awards. Its' an excellent choice for frequent travelers.


Offers 60,000 bonus points for members that spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of new accounts. Travel purchases earn 2X points and dining purchases earn 3X points. Points are worth 25% more when used for purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. No foreign transaction fees. APR is 20.49% - 27.49% variable.


Annual membership fee is $95. Applicants with less than excellent credit aren't likely to be accepted.

Best Bang for the Buck
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Freedom Unlimited®
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Good Rates, High Rewards
Bottom Line

If you plan to use your new credit card frequently within the first year, the initial cash back rewards on the Freedom Unlimited make it worth considering.


Introduction period allows card holders to earn additional 1.5% cash back on the first $20,000 you spend in the first year. On top of the 1.5% unlimited cash back, that's 3% total. You also get 6.5% cash back on travel and 4.5% back at drugstores. Long intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. Intro period is for 15 months and regular APR 19.49% - 28.24% variable. No annual membership fee.


Foreign transaction fees (3%) apply. Very good to excellent credit is needed for approval.

Citi Premier® Card
Premier® Card
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Best Limited Time Offer
Bottom Line

The Citi Premier offers tremendous value with its intro bonus worth $800 and the ability to earn significant points across multiple spending categories.


Great intro bonus worth $800. Earn 3 points per dollar across dining, groceries, gas, hotels and travel, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. Points can be redeemed for gift cards to everything from Amazon, Best Buy, restaurants, Jetblue flights, hotels, cruises and more. No foreign transaction fees. APR is 20.49% - 28.49% variable.


Points program is slightly less versatile than Chase or Amex rewards. $95 annual fee.

Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
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Excellent Rewards Rates
Bottom Line

With an excellent rewards program that includes bonus points and impressive travel perks, this is an excellent choice for business owners who rely on travel.


Healthy 5% and 2% cash back on the first $25k spent at office supply stores and on internet and phone services, gas stations and restaurants. 1% cash back on all other purchases. Employee cards at no additional cost. Introductory 0% APR for 12 months with no annual fee. APR is 17.74% - 23.74% variable.


Some complaints over lack of perks. Some card holders gripe about receiving a low credit line that didn't fit their business spending needs.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One
Venture Rewards Credit Card
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Great Miles Return
Bottom Line

The Venture offers incredible points returns and a great intro bonus. Great all-around card for travelers and those looking for rewards and travel benefits.


Earn a flat 2 miles per dollar spent and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Nice intro offer of 75k bonus miles after spending $4k in the first 3 months of account opening. Lounge credits, Hertz 5-star status and TSA Pre-check/Global Entry credit are great bonuses.


$95 annual fee. Its points are not quite as versatile as Chase or Amex. Excellent credit required.

Buying guide for Best credit cards

Getting rewarded is nice. And with the right credit card, you can enjoy some great rewards just by making everyday purchases. These rewards could be considered “free” as long as you make your required monthly payments on time. Essentially, you get rewarded for spending money you would have spent anyway. This gives credit cards an upper hand over debit cards.

What’s more, when used correctly, a credit card can boost your credit score, making it easier to get approved for loans. 

Most credit cards use a points system to reward card users for making specific purchases. For example, a card might offer a couple points for groceries and gas station purchases. Or, it might give you points for travel purchases.

The best credit cards can make your life easier by allowing you to redeem points for groceries, flights, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, cash credits and more. Others have low interest rates, and some offer substantial welcome bonuses.

We evaluated the five best credit cards major financial institutions offer, each with unique perks and conditions. Whether you want a low-interest credit card or one that offers travel rewards, we think you’ll find something to love in our top five recommendations.

Credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is hands-down our favorite credit card. It has an annual fee of $95, but we think it’s worth it. You’ll get 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in your first three months, and the variable APR rate fluctuates between 20.24% and 27.24%.

It’s an excellent card for frequent flyers who will earn two times the points on travel purchases. On top of that, they will get a yearly $50 Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit and five times the points on travel-related purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Even if you’re not a frequent flier, this card is great for saving on your next vacation, and you’ll enjoy perks such as earning three times the points on eating out, certain streaming services and online grocery purchases. You’ll also get 5X bonus Lyft ride points through March 31, 2025.

Other cool perks include six months of complimentary Instacart+, a one-year DashPass membership, $0 foreign transaction fees and trip-cancellation insurance.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is an excellent first credit card that offers significant cash back rewards in the first 12 months. It’s a great choice if you plan on spending a lot within your first year.

Despite having a 3% foreign transaction fee, it doesn’t have an annual fee, which automatically makes it a top pick in our book. The interest rate is standard at 19.24% to 27.99%. The 0% APR lasts for the first 15 months of card ownership.

You’ll earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy during the first year (up to $20,000). You will also get 6.5% back on travel-related buys through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% on dining and drugstores and 3% on other buys.

Other perks and conditions include purchase protection, zero liability protection, fraud monitoring, emergency services during travel, identity restoration and credit score services and trip-cancellation insurance.

Citi Premier Card

In some ways, the Citi Premier card is comparable to our top pick, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card because they both have a $95 annual fee. Although the rewards program isn’t as extensive as the one offered by Chase, it’s still a worthy pick, especially for frequent flyers.

The welcome bonus includes 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in your first three months. This is worth up to $800 in travel rewards or gift cards. You’ll earn three times the points on restaurant, grocery and gas station spending. You can also save big on your next trip and earn three times the points on travel and hotel purchases.

Other perks include an annual $100 hotel credit for stays of $500 or more and no foreign transaction fees. You can transfer your points at no extra cost to your preferred airline loyalty programs, such as TrueBlue, with the only caveat being a minimum transfer of 1,000 points.

Chase Ink Business Cash

This card isn’t ideal for casual everyday shopping and spending, but it’s perfect for business owners who travel often. You pay no annual fee, and if you want cards for your employees, you can get them for free. That way, your business can rack up points faster, and you can save on company costs.

Some customers complain about low credit limits, but it’s a great card for small business owners. It offers a flexible redemption program where you can spend your accumulated points on travel, gift cards and more.

You’ll earn a $900 cash back bonus after spending $6,000 in your first three months and 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on telecommunication services.

You’ll get 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants and 1% on all other purchases. There’s also an introductory 12-month 0% APR period. After it expires, the APR is variable at 17.49% to 23.49%.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card is another excellent option for frequent travelers. It has a $95 annual fee, but the perks are well worth it for those who take to the road often. 

Unlike other credit cards we recommended, the variable APR depends on your credit score and can be fixed at 20.24%, 25.24% or 28.24%. It offers two miles on every purchase, five miles on hotel stays and rental cars you obtain through Capital One Travel and five miles when you book through Turo, one of the world’s largest car-sharing marketplaces.

The welcome bonus includes 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in your first three months. The number of miles you can earn is not capped there, either. There’s no limit. Plus, they never expire as long as the account is open. You’ll also receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which gets you through airport security quicker, and two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or more than 100 Plaza Premium Lounges.

What to know before you choose a credit card

Is it a secured credit card?

Those who struggle to obtain a credit card because of no credit history or poor credit history might consider getting a secured credit card. This type of card requires you to deposit a certain amount of money before receiving the card to guarantee a level of credit.

Think of a secured credit card like a prepaid phone card. Some secured cards also provide rewards, such as cash back, like other cards do. Most importantly, this type of card can help you improve your credit score, perhaps enabling you to apply successfully for other cards in the future.

What is the credit limit?

If you’re interested in a secured credit card, you might consider a student card or a card with a low credit limit. These cards cap the amount you can spend, but having one can boost your credit score if you use it correctly.

What rewards are offered?

Those with an average or good credit score might consider a credit card based on its rewards. The best rewards credit card for you depends on the things you like to do. Some cards give you extra perks for the first few months you have the card to encourage you to charge more purchases on the new card. As with any credit card, be wary that you shouldn’t spend more than you can afford just to receive the rewards. You could end up with a high balance and monthly interest payments.

Some types of rewards cards include the following:

Cash back: A cash back credit card pays you back a percentage of what you spend. This is like a rebate, and it is usually between 1% and 5%. Some cards provide varying rates based on where you use the card. When using the cash back balance, you might be able to make a discounted purchase on a partner merchant’s website, enhancing the value of the cash back balance.

Travel: With a travel card, you receive points or miles you can use toward hotel rooms, airline travel or travel packages. Points accrue based on the amount you charge to the card.

Products: Some rewards cards give you points to claim special prizes or products when you hit a certain threshold of spending within a specific timeframe. These types of cards were more popular a decade or so ago than they are now.

Does it offer a low introductory interest rate?

Some cards offer a low interest rate or even a 0% interest rate for a few months to a year. If you plan to buy something expensive in the near future, you might benefit from using a 0% interest rate card for this purchase.

Is it a standard credit card or a retail credit card?

While you can use a standard credit card such as a Visa or MasterCard almost anywhere, a retail credit card only works in the store or business that issued it. Retail cards may also give you cash back or access to occasional discounts on your purchases at the affiliated store. If you have a poor credit score or have not established credit at all yet, it can be easier to obtain a retail card than a standard credit card. You can then increase your credit score and eventually apply for another type of card. Note, however, that not all retail cards appear on your credit card. Make sure any retail card you’re considering reports your payments to credit reporting bureaus.

Common mistakes to avoid

When completing a credit card application, some of the questions on the online form might surprise you, or you may not be prepared to answer them. Whether unintentional or on purpose, mistakes on a credit card application could create significant problems when it comes to approval.

Here are some common mistakes people make when applying for a credit card:

Mistyping personal information

You will almost certainly be denied if you misspell your name or incorrectly enter your Social Security number. In the worst-case scenario, you could be charged with identity theft if law enforcement believes the error was intentional.

Entering inaccurate financial information

The application may ask for bank account balances, investment holdings and other loan balances. Providing incorrect information could result in accusations of fraud. No card issuer expects you to have these numbers down to the penny, but you should be within a reasonable range of a few hundred dollars.

Entering inaccurate employment information

Credit card issuers expect you to provide accurate information about your current employment and salary. Deliberate errors could result in denial or an accusation of fraud.


One reason young people use credit cards is to establish a credit history. If you use the credit card responsibly, you may raise your credit score – an important step toward getting approved for a larger loan in the future, like a mortgage.

  • Don’t apply for too many credit cards. Every time you apply for a credit card, a hard inquiry is placed with a credit reporting agency, thereby reducing your score by a few points. That hard inquiry remains part of your score for several months after the application.
  • Don’t charge up to the credit limit. Your credit card has a spending limit. Avoid carrying a balance higher than 30% of your credit limit to keep your credit score in check. You can boost your score if the balance is lower than 5% of the total limit.
  • Keep older credit cards. The longer you have a particular credit card, the better it is for your credit score. The formula gives you extra points for keeping an account in good standing for an extended period. You shouldn’t keep cards open if you’re not using them and they have a high annual fee. However, keeping an account open is helpful if the card doesn’t cost you anything.
  • Have a mix of credits. A few different types of credit, such as a car loan, mortgage, and credit card can also help your credit score.
  • Make payments on time. Using the credit card responsibly includes making at least the minimum payment on time each month. Consistently late payments generate extra fees and possibly a higher interest rate. They can also hurt your credit score quite a bit. On the plus side, if you only miss your due date by a couple of days occasionally, the card issuer probably won’t report it to the credit reporting agency.


Q. How do I know if my information is protected and secure on the application?

A. Only submit your personal information on a secure website where you see “https” at the start of the URL and a lock icon near the address bar. Be wary of clicking on a link in an email message to start the application process because spammers create fake sites to steal personal data.

Q. When will I find out if I’m approved for the credit card?

A. You can expect a response within a few minutes to a few hours.

Q. How does a credit card differ from a debit card?

A. The two cards may look the same, but they operate differently. A debit card is linked to your checking account. When you use it, the money comes from there to pay for your purchases. But when you use a credit card, the lender pays the bill upfront. You pay it back later, when you pay the credit card company. 

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. BestReviews has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. BestReviews and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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