Top Picks by Category
Wednesday, 14th September 2011 (By Joe Taylor Jr.)
If shopping for the best credit card deals was a sport, the offers you'll find on this page would make up the all-star team. Keeping an open mind about brands, bonuses and other rewards could lead you to some of the biggest money-saving opportunities in personal finance.
Our MVP credit card list features the very best deals in each of our most popular categories. Cash back rewards, zero percent APR, air miles, and low fees all rank highly on this chart. Deals change frequently, especially with competition heating up among banks. You may have to act quickly to snag one of today's best credit card offers.
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%
- Rated 4.8 out of 5 Stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
- No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee*.
- 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter--no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 12.99% - 21.99%.
- 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
- Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
- No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment - APR won't go up for us paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
- Earn 15,000 bonus ThankYou® points after you make $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of cardmembership -- redeemable for $150 in gift cards.
- 0% introductory APR on purchases for 6 months. After that, 13.24% variable*
- Earn 3 ThankYou® points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases in rotating business categories*
Disclaimer:*These quotes are from credit card issuers which have paid for a link to their website. Offers are subject to change without notice and may not be the same for all consumers.
Find the Best Credit Cards Across Categories - Top Recommended Cards
Cash back rewards
Recent research shows that American consumers respond very well to cash back rewards and signup bonuses. If you're disciplined about paying your balance at the end of your statement cycle, you could earn a few pennies back from every dollar you spend.
Cash back credit cards have become somewhat controversial, since they rely partly on the fees that merchants pay each time you pay with plastic at the checkout counter. Retailers claim they'd rather pay lower transaction costs and pass the savings along to you.
Until that happens, cash back credit cards are the next best way to stretch your budget. Look for special deals that double or triple your rewards on products and services you buy often. Even if you have to remind yourself to sign up for bonus offers, getting that rebate credit on your statement can feel like getting a raise.
0% APR credit cards
Zero percent interest credit cards appeal to two kinds of consumer: those who don't really need credit cards, and those who want to save money while paying off existing credit card debt. In past years, banks balked at luring either of those kinds of customer, preferring to recruit "revolvers" who didn't mind paying interest on their monthly balances. But the rules have changed. Lenders need to show government watchdogs that they've got access to quick cash, and that they're offering a broad array of services.
If you've got enough cash in your emergency fund and your checking account to cover your annual expenses, you'll enjoy the security features of zero percent interest credit cards. You can shop online and make major purchases without putting your cash balances at risk, while also floating reimbursable business expenses and other short-term charges. If you're recovering from emergency medical expenses or just trying to get your financial life back on track, a 0% balance transfer credit card can help you redirect your monthly payments toward principal instead of finance charges.
Air miles and bonus points
Whether you crave executive treatment at the airport or you're just trying to squeeze an extra vacation from your budget, airline affinity cards and other bonus programs can help. The best rewards credit cards let you earn points against your daily purchases, which can really rack up if you use your credit card for business travel or other work expenses.
You don't have to settle for discounted airfares or room stays, either. A growing number of credit card issuers now use special events and cardholder experiences to differentiate their brands from the competition. Racking up a significant number of loyalty reward points can earn you a trip down the red carpet at a movie premiere or a fashion show.
You can trade your points to play golf or tennis with the stars, or to score hot tickets to the biggest games and concerts. Most Americans admit they use their rewards credit cards for goods and experiences they wouldn't ordinarily budget for, so don't be afraid to find the loyalty program that really can help you achieve some of your dreams.