Credit cards play an important role in the way people make purchases and manage their finances. They are used for daily purchases and large ticket items. It has become a common practice for customers to find cards with additional benefits that meet the demands of lifestyle.
The best credit cards can get an award, offer protection for your purchase, provide interest free financing, and other valuable benefits for you. When used correctly, credit cards can also help build your credit. However, with so many credit cards to choose from, it might be difficult to find the right card for your situation.
Best Credit Cards 2022: Find the Right Card for You
- Best Overall: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
- Overall Runner-Up: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards
- Best for Travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Travel Runner Up: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Cash Back: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Cash Back Runner Up: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best Airline: United℠ Explorer
- Airline Runner-Up: Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
- Best for Hotels: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless
- Hotels Runner Up: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Best for Balance Transfer: Citi Simplicity®
- Balance Transfer Runner-Up: Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card
- Best Student Credit Card: Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students
- Student Credit Card Runner-Up: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards for Students
- Best for Business: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Credit Card?
The best credit card for you depends on your goals, budget, and spending habits. As your financial picture evolves, the best credit card for you may also change. While credit card rewards can be valuable, if you’re focused on paying off debt, they may not be the best choice for you at this time. A card that offers a 0% APR promotion for balance transfers may be the better option until you can pay off your debt.
However, the most appealing credit cards may not be the best one you can actually get right now. People with low credit scores may be able to qualify only for cards that carry higher interest rates and fewer rewards. Those consumers should focus on building their credit until they are eligible for the credit card they desire.
People with excellent credit generally have their choice of travel and other rewards credit cards. Credit cards aimed at those with the best credit scores typically provide the most attractive benefits. These can include lucrative one-time bonuses, significant ongoing rewards on your spending, and additional benefits like elite status, free checked bags, yearly free hotel nights, and airport lounge access.
What Credit Card Is Best for Me?
Finding the best credit card entails both self-assessment and research. You must document your creditworthiness and spending habits, along with reflecting on how you may use the card, whether that’s to build credit, temporarily borrow, or simply employ it as a purchasing convenience and a way to earn rewards.
New to Credit: If you are new to credit or have impaired credit, a secured credit card can be a great option. This type of card requires a security deposit but has the advantage that activity with the card is reported to all three credit bureaus, which helps the cardholder build credit over time. Many secured cards offer an option to graduate to a non-secured card after a period of on-time payments.
Carrying a Balance: Those who are carrying a card balance should consider shifting the debt to a balance transfer card with much lower interest, or even no interest rate at all for a period. These cards provide relief in the form of an extended period of a 0% APR on the transfer, which allows you to pay down the balance more easily. While some balance transfer cards offer rewards as well, it’s best not to add to your balance on the card (or, preferably, any other card) until you have paid off the amount you’ve transferred.
If you frequently carry a credit card balance, avoid cards with high fees and interest regardless of attractive rewards and one-time bonuses. Your priority should be paying down your debt and avoiding accumulating more, not trying to earn rewards.
No Balance: People who tend to pay off their card balance each month should consider getting a rewards card that offers cash back or points rewards. These cards allow you to leverage your everyday spending to earn hundreds of dollars worth of rewards, usually with no annual fee.
Frequent travelers: For those who travel, a general travel card or one issued in partnership with airlines or hotels can make the most sense. These allow you to leverage spending on travel and in other categories to earn rewards that can be used to obtain further travel.
Entrepreneurs and small-business owners: These users can choose among a host of business credit cards designed for their needs. These cards may reward business spending in certain categories, like shipping, or with specific business-related merchants, such as office supply stores.
College students: People in school generally don’t have a credit history, but they do represent a good long-term customer for card issuers. Cards designed for students can provide online resources to instruct new cardmembers on the responsible use of credit and other tips to guide personal finances.
What Credit Scores Are Required?
The higher your credit score, the more credit cards you potentially have available to you, and the better those cards will tend to be in terms of interest rates, credit lines, and rewards programs. To understand your card choices, it’s important to know the broad range into which your credit score fits. Card issuers classify scores as “Excellent/Exceptional” (800+), “Very Good” (740-799), “Good” (670-739), “Fair” (580-669), or “Poor” (below 580). It’s best to only apply for cards that best match the credit recommended by the issuer to reduce the chances of being declined.
If you don’t know your current credit score, it’s available in a number of ways, and at no cost. There are two main credit score types, FICO and VantageScore, both of which have their own distinct scoring algorithms and score ranges that are used by various lenders.
Credit issues also assess other factors beyond credit score in evaluating creditworthiness, including employment status, income, and other credit and deposit accounts you own.
Is It Possible to Qualify for a Credit Card With Bad Credit?
There are credit cards designed for those whose credit is fair, poor, and even very poor or bad. In particular, a secured credit card allows those with bad credit or no credit history to build or rebuild their score. Until they’ve completed that process, they must retain the use of the card through a security deposit that usually serves as the maximum credit line for the account.
What Types of Rewards Do Credit Cards Offer?
Credit card rewards come in a variety of forms, allowing cardholders to earn cash back, points, or miles for each dollar of spending. The earnings rates for rewards often vary by purchase type, with higher rewards available for certain categories of purchases.
Cash back rewards are the most straightforward type and usually rebate a percentage of spending in the form of a check or statement credit. Rewards based on points or miles offer greater flexibility in how they are redeemed, whether as travel, gift cards, merchandise, or more.
Travel rewards credit cards may be general in type, earning points that can be redeemed for travel on any airline or hotel, or partner-specific and co-branded with a particular airline or hotel. Co-branded cards provide less flexibility in redeeming rewards but potentially more value, provided you’re comfortable favoring a particular brand of airline or hotel chain.
What Are Common Credit Card Benefits?
While issuers may prominently tout certain features of their cards, other benefits tend to be buried in cards’ fine print—including some you might not realize the card even offers.
Here’s a quick list of benefits that are commonly offered with a range of card types:
Common Rewards Card Benefits
- $0 fraud liability
- Primary or secondary auto-rental collision damage waiver coverage
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Price match
- Purchase coverage if items are stolen or damaged
- Extended warranties
- Refunds in cases of merchant dispute
Common Travel Rewards Card Benefits
- Trip cancellation/interruption/delay coverage
- Travel accident insurance
- Lost/delayed luggage coverage
Premium Card Benefits
- Airport lounge access
- TSA precheck/Global Reentry Fee Reimbursement every four years
- Cell phone insurance coverage
- Concierge service
We constantly monitor credit card offers from card-issuer websites and publicly available sources to find the best credit cards for our readers. Each credit card is evaluated based on its fees, rewards, welcome bonuses, introductory offers, features, and benefits so that we can determine a winner for each category. Card issuers update their cards on a regular basis, and when that happens, we update our card listings, reviews, and recommendations so our readers have the most reliable information and advice.