By ProudMoney.com Staff
This is the cut-to-the-chase list of our Top 10 credit cards (actually 13, oops), based on overall quality, which could mean any combination of rewards, low interest rates, or other features that we choose. Which is the best credit card? We’ll give you our #1 choice, but you’ll be proud to go into financial battle with any of the others, too:
#1 PayPal Cashback Mastercard – You get 2% cash back on every purchase with this card, which is accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard, both online and offline. Your cash rebates are deposited straight to your PayPal account (you’ll need to establish a PayPal account if you don’t already have one), where you can use that cash toward online purchases or have it moved to your bank account. No annual fee and a generous, easy-to-understand rebate formula puts this newer credit card right up at the top as the everyday cash-back choice in today’s market. No foreign transaction fees, either. (The only downside is high interest rates over 20%, so don’t carry a balance!)
#2 Citi Double Cash Card – Citi unnecessarily complicates this offer, which fools some into not realizing how good it is. Bottom line: You get 2% cash back on all your purchases, provided you eventually pay them off. What that means: You get 1% cash back on the purchase as soon as you make it, then you get 1% cash back on your card balance payments. 1% + 1% = 2%. No annual fee.
#3. Wells Fargo Propel American Express – Get 3 points per dollar in a multitude of categories, including travel, restaurants, gas, streaming services, ride-sharing, etc., and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. You can redeem those for cash, so it’s basically a 3%/1% equivalent in cash back. No annual fee. The best card Wells Fargo has developed in a long… well, ever, really.
#4. Blue Cash Preferred – If you have a big grocery bill every month, this American Express credit card is for you. The card has a $95 annual fee, but it very well could be worth it. You’ll earn a 6% rebate on your supermarket purchases (on up to $6000 per year on groceries), 6% back on streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations, 3% on transit (taxis, tolls, trains, Uber/Lyft), and 1% on any other purchases. If you’re spending over $3000 per year on groceries, this is a great rebate on those purchases even with the annual fee. (If you’re not spending that much on groceries, you may want to look at the no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday, which gives you 3% back on those groceries as well as 2% cash back on gas.)
#5 Tie Discover It and Chase Freedom – Both of these credit cards allow you to earn 5% cash back in certain spending categories that change each calendar quarter. Categories may include gas, groceries, restaurants, home improvement stores, Internet services, etc. On the downside, you’ll only earn 1% on any purchases outside of those 5% categories, so it’s best to pair this card up with another good cash back card instead of making it your go-to card for all purchases.
#6 Chase Sapphire Reserve – It’s got a hefty annual fee at $550, so it’s not for everyone, but this is our top choice in the luxury travel space of today’s credit card market. The biggest reason is that the points you earn with this card are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate rewards portal. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on travel and most dining purchases, 1 point everywhere else, and you can get a quick 50,000 points (worth $750 toward travel through the Chase rewards portal) if you spend at least $4000 with the card in the first three months. A yearly $300 travel credit softens the blow of the big annual fee. Travelers will also appreciate airport lounge access through the Priority Pass Select program. Again, a good card for the frequent traveler who regularly charges a lot to his or her card, but not for the everyday person who spends modestly.
#7 Amex EveryDay Card – This card has mediocre rewards, but it ranks highly here due to its 0% introductory offers, in particular its 0% interest rate on balances you transfer from other cards — with no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. It is rare to see a balance transfer offer that does not include a balance transfer fee of at least 3% (and sometimes as high as 5%). It also gives you a 0% interest rate on new purchases for the first 15 months. In terms of rewards, you get American Express Membership Rewards points on all purchases — 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. As a modest bonus, if you use the card at least 20 times in a month, you’ll get a 20% boost on the points you earned in that month. No annual fee.
#8. U.S. Bank Cash Plus Visa – Cash back card with interesting choices to make: you get 5% cash back on two purchase categories (out of 12 categories that include cell phone service, utilities, department stores, etc.) and 2% in two other categories (pick 2 out of these 3: gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants) and 1% everywhere else. The 5% categories are somewhat unique with this card, making it a good go-to card or a complement to other cash-back cards if you really want to maximize your rewards.
9. American Express Gold Card – With its $250 annual fee, this card is not for everyone, but it’s a good card to earn American Express Membership Rewards points toward travel rewards if you are someone who doesn’t otherwise do a lot of travel. You get 4 points per dollar at supermarkets, 4 points per dollar at restaurants, 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Potential credits that help offset that annual fee include a credit of up to $100 on incidentals from a single airline (for example, checked bags or in-flight refreshments) and a credit of up $120 on dining purchases using Grubhub or at certain other restaurant chains.
#10 Discover It Miles Card – Discover’s travel card offers 1.5 “miles” per dollar charged to the card, with each mile being worth a penny. You can use your miles to offset travel expenses or take them as cash back, making this essentially a 1.5% cash back credit card. That formula is just “meh” when compared to many competitors, but what puts this card on the list is the first-year bonus offer: After the first year, the “miles” you earned in that year are doubled, becoming 3 miles per dollar — or 3% cash back on all your first-year purchases. And with no annual fee.
#11 Tie Target REDcard and Lowe’s Credit Card – Both of these credit cards give you 5% off all the purchases you make with them at the respective stores. Sure, they don’t offer a whole lot more than that, and their interest rates are nothing to be happy about, but as long as you pay off your complete balance each month, it would be ridiculous not to get the Target and/or Lowe’s cards if you shop at those stores regularly.