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Which credit card is best for me?

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

Updated

Fact checked

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.

Our pick for credit card offers

CardMatch™ from creditcards.com

  • Find card offers you are more likely to qualify for without impacting your credit score.
  • Save time by comparing matched offers from multiple partner banks.
  • You may be matched to special offers based on your credit profile.
  • See your matched offers in less than 60 seconds.
  • Get matched to the card feature that's right for you. Find cards with low interest, cash back, balance transfers, and travel rewards.
  • Users may not be matched with all offers or banks. Matches are based on a user's credit profile. See the CardMatch terms and conditions for more details.
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See Rates & Fees

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Earn a huge signup bonus for a no annual fee card with rewards of up to 5% cash back on popular everyday categories.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
Long 18 months intro APR periods on purchases and balance transfers. Plus Citi Entertainment℠ for deals on dining and going out.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $1,000. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
This no-annual-fee cashback card is one of the most valuable on the market. It boasts a huge signup bonus and up to 5% cashback in multiple purchase categories.
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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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