Methodology for rating credit cards


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With so many credit cards on the market, it can be overwhelming to search for a new one. Because of that, we’ve created a ranking system to help you compare credit cards and see which ones shine.

Our editors objectively compare cards and rank them on several benefits and features to give you an overall rating of how useful each card might be.

Our ratings

We rate credit cards using a system of one to five stars.

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

How we rank credit cards

We compare each card to other cards of its type — travel, cash back, business and so on — and rank them on distinct factors that are most important to that card type.

Travel credit cards

We compare travel credit cards based on their rewards rates — or how much you can earn — along with the flexibility of where you can redeem your rewards. We also consider the signup bonus for each card, weighing the bonus amount against the spending required to get it. We factor in fees and APRs, heavily considering annual fees. Of course, we also look at the travel perks and features each card offers.

Cashback cards

When ranking cashback cards, we look at each card’s rewards rate and how useful each bonus category might be to the average cardholder. We also compare fees and APRs. Finally, we rank the signup bonus of each card.

Rewards cards

We look at each card’s rewards rate, as well as how useful bonus categories might be for the average cardholder. We consider signup bonuses, looking at both the bonus amount and the spending required to earn it. We also compare APRs and fees.

Balance transfer cards

The most important aspects of a quality balance transfer card are the length of the balance transfer intro period and the cost of any balance transfer fees. We compare these factors, as well as the APRs and fees of each card.

Credit-building cards and secured cards

To compare cards for building credit, we consider the required minimum deposit and APRs. We factor in fees, focusing on annual fees. And we look at credit-building features, like whether the card allows for credit limit increases or upgrades to unsecured cards with responsible spending.

Business cards

We rank business card on characteristics that tend to be important to business owners. Specifically, we rank each card’s rewards rate and bonus categories. We look at fees, with a focus on annual fees, and we focus on intro APR offers for purchases and balance transfers. We also consider the perks of each card.

Student cards

When considering cards designed for students, we rank each card’s rewards and APRs. We analyze and compare features, such as access to a higher credit line or stronger rewards for good grades. We also look at fees — most important, the annual fee.

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