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Which credit card is best for me?

Narrow the choices by considering your financial needs, habits and goals.

There’s no one-size-fits-all credit card. The ideal card for you is going to be one that meets your financial needs, spending habits and reward goals. Whether you prioritize cash back, travel miles, a signup bonus or saving money on fees and interest, you can start comparing credit cards and narrowing down your options.

Factors to consider when choosing the ideal credit card for you

Choosing the right credit card is often a compromise — you get one set of perks, but you give up others. To help you decide what the ideal credit card is for you, consider the following:

Do you want to earn rewards?
  • You can earn cash back on everyday purchases, travel miles or points from a specific rewards program. With most cards, your redemption options will include a variety of rewards or the ability to transfer points between partner programs, such as hotels and airlines.
  • Rewards cards typically come with a high APR. Try to pay your balance in full by the due date to avoid paying interest.
Do you want to save money on interest?
  • This type of card often comes with a long 0% intro APR period on balance transfers and purchases, and a low APR after that.
  • Often you’ll have to give up on rewards to save money on interest. But some rewards cards, such as the cashback cards, come with a 0% intro APR period.
Do you want to pay an annual fee?
  • This can get you the highest rewards rates and benefits. Depending on your card, these benefits could include companion flights, free checked bags, free hotel stays, dedicated concierge, complimentary airport lounge access and more.
  • If you don’t use the additional perks as often as you would like, a no-annual-fee card may be a better option.
Do you want to save money on fees?
  • Depending on the card you choose, you can save money on foreign transactions, balance transfers and cash advances.
  • Most travel cards waive only the foreign transaction fees. The only type of cards that avoids all these fees are cards issued by credit unions. This is a drawback as you may not be eligible to join the credit union and apply for such a card.

Understand credit card rates and fees

Read all the fine print a few times to be sure you understand everything the card offers. Read up on what all the terms mean, such as APR and grace period. Sometimes they are explained on the credit card agreement, but you can also contact the credit card provider to learn more.

Annual fee

The ideal card for you may not be one without an annual fee. But if you are going to be carrying over a balance for a month or two, consider a card with a lower ongoing APR.

Interest rates

If you often carry a balance, a low-APR card may be the way to go. But know that unless you’re getting a credit union card — which often has fewer fees and lower APR — you’ll be giving up the option to earn generous rewards on your purchases.

Cash advances

Cash advances can be draining on a credit card since the fees and interest rates are high. Don’t count on using your credit card to get money out of the ATM every time you need it. Have a debit card at your disposal to withdraw cash at these times. Alternatively, you could get a credit card with no cash advance fees, but you will still incur an APR from the moment you make the transaction.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase, every day
15.99% to 23.99% variable
$95
Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
$0
One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

There is a credit card out there for everyone, but following the suggestions above can help you determine which card is ideal for you. Pay attention to your financial needs, spending habits and what you’d like to get out of the rewards.

Just don’t get overwhelmed comparing your many credit card options. Narrow down the perks you prioritize and you’ll be on your way to finding the right card.

Image: Shutterstock

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