Methodology for rating credit cards

Here's how we come up with the stars that tell you how good a credit card is.

We review the vast majority of the credit cards available on the market.

Together with our experts’ commentary, star ratings are an essential part of those reviews: they help you figure out at a glance whether a card is good or not – and our expert reviews will give you the detail on why, what and how much.

So, how do we come up with those scores?

Finder score

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

★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor

How it works

Credit cards aren’t all the same and there is no best credit card that works for everyone. You may need a credit card for different reasons: paying off debt, making a big purchase, travelling, earning rewards and so on. To address this, we’ve come up with a different methodology for each type of credit card.

All our methodologies are based on how well a credit card fits its purpose compared to the rest of the market and on how much using it will cost you.

Balance transfer credit cards

You use these to pay off debt you’ve accumulated, so the main factors we look at are the length of the balance transfer deal and the cost of the balance transfer fee. Other fees, rewards, the interest rate or any deals on purchases also form part of the final score.

0% purchase credit cards

The length of the 0% deal, which tells you how much time you have to pay back a big purchase before it starts accruing interest, is the most important criteria here. But we also look at fees, at the revert rate (which is the card’s standard rate on purchases once the introductory deal expires) and at extras, such as balance transfer deals or rewards if the card offers any.

“Balanced” credit cards

These cards offer equally long 0% deals on both balance transfers and purchases. The length of the deal is thus obviously a main factor in rating them, but we also look at the balance transfer fee, at the revert rate for both balance transfers and purchases, and at any other significant fees or rewards.

Rewards credit cards

The rewards credit cards category encompasses cashback cards, frequent flyer cards and actual rewards cards (those that earn you rewards points). We score them looking at the earn rate, at the value of the rewards, at the intro bonus and at the card’s annual fee. Secondary criteria include other fees and any additional extras or perks.

Credit builder credit cards

When you start your journey with a credit builder credit card, you’re usually offered a high rate and your main goal is improving your credit score. So, in order to score these cards, we look at whether they allow you to review your rate after a while, give you access to your credit report or offer any other kind of credit management feature. Fees, rewards and purchase rate also form part of our scores.

Travel credit cards

For these, we mostly look at their foreign transaction fees: is it even a travel credit card if it doesn’t offer fee-free spending abroad, at least in Europe? The interest rate, any 0% deals, rewards or extra perks are also taken into account.

Student credit cards

The range of features we consider for rating student cards is pretty wide and goes from rates and fees to the presence of any budgeting or credit management features to rewards, perks and fees for using the card abroad.

Business credit cards

There are many types of business cards. For each type, we follow a methodology that’s similar to the one used for equivalent personal cards. However, we also take into account some features that are especially important for businesses, such as how much it costs to have additional cardholders and whether there is dedicated customer support available.

Customer score (survey)

In December 2021, we polled 2,155 credit card customers and 357 business credit card customers to get their opinion on their card provider. The data from this survey was then used as the basis for our customer satisfaction ratings.

Customer satisfaction ratings methodology

The survey asked respondents how satisfied they were with their credit card provider on a scale from one to five, and then if they would recommend that company to a friend.

Their answers would then turned into an overall star rating that takes into account:

  • How many people would recommend the company. If you say you’d recommend your credit card provider to a friend, it’s likely you think it’s very good. This measure therefore forms 50% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
  • The proportion of people who rated a provider five out of five. Wow, five out of five? This counts for 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
  • The average score each personal loan provider got. This tells us if a lender offers a solid service even though it doesn’t have loads of maximum ratings… or if it’s just not that great. This parameter forms the last 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.

Like with Finder’s expert ratings, the final rating was then rounded to the nearest half star, to give the following one to five customer satisfaction range:

★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor

More guides on Finder

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