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SmartAsset's Best Credit Cards of 2017

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by Eric Rosenberg | Updated May. 5, 2017
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Overview

As with other consumer and financial products, there are credit cards designed specifically to meet a variety of needs. Those who need to rebuild their credit need a secured credit card, while those who have existing debt can benefit from a balance transfer card that offers 0% APR promotional financing. And if you're concerned about interest charges on your future purchases, you can apply for a card with a 0% APR financing on new purchases. Alternatively, you can use a reward card to earn travel rewards, or a small business card to earn rewards from your company's purchases. Here are the best cards for each of these categories. See More

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Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

More Details

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" four years in a row by Money Magazine
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won’t raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Regular APR

15.74%-24.49% Variable

Benefits

Chase Slate® is one of the only credit cards that offers interest-free promotional financing on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. New accounts receive 15 months of 0% intro APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with no fee for transfers completed within 60 days of account opening. After 60 days, the balance transfer fee will be either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Other benefits include a free monthly FICO® score, as well as activity alerts and fraud protection. There's no annual fee for this card, and the standard interest rate is a 15.74%-24.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness at the time you apply. This card also has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Things to consider

A balance transfer offer like this is a great way to save money on interest charges while you pay off your debt. But if you use these offers to postpone repayment, you could find yourself with even more debt in the future.

Our verdict

Nearly all other credit cards that offer 0% APR balance transfers will impose a balance transfer fee of either 3% or 5%, which could cost you hundreds of dollars.

Best Credit Card for Long 0% APR Period

More Details

  • The only card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... ever.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day - just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% APR for 21 Months

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0% APR for 21 Months

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

Benefits

New cardholders receive 21 months of 0% APR promotional financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. This card also lives up to its name by having no late fees and no penalty interest rate.

Other benefits include extended warranty coverage and Citi's Price Rewind service which can automatically offer you a refund when the price drops on an eligible purchase. You also get worldwide car rental insurance and 24/7 travel and emergency assistance. The standard interest rate for purchases is 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable) APR, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply. There's no annual fee for this card but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Things to consider

Even when you have no late fees and no penalty interest rate, you still need to make sure you make all of your monthly payments on time. Missing payments will still cost you additional interest charges and can hurt your credit score.

Our verdict

This is one of the longest interest-free financing offers available from any credit card, and it's always nice to see a card with no late fee and no penalty interest rate.

Best Rewards Credit Card

More Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Annual Fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.74% - 23.74% Variable

Benefits

If you love to travel and want flexible rewards you can use with any hotel or airline, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a top choice. With 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months you have the card, you’ll be on your way to a free trip in no time! Plus, earn 2x points per dollar when spending on travel or dining at restaurants worldwide. You can redeem points with no restrictions or blackout dates through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal or transfer 1:1 to partners like United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Marriott. This card can take you anywhere in the world, and you can use it anywhere thanks to no foreign exchange fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card includes travel and purchase benefits like rental car insurance and purchase protection so you can confidently use this card for all your spending needs.

Things to Consider

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges a $95 annual fee, $0 introductory for the first year. The card charges 16.74% - 23.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers based on your credit history and market rates. Balance transfers incur a 5% or $5 fee (whichever is greater) and cash advances incur a 5% or $10 fee (whichever is greater). Late payments and returned payments cost up to $37.

Our Verdict

With easy-to-earn rewards you can use to fly or stay almost anywhere, this is our favorite rewards credit card. At the Ultimate Rewards® portal get 25% bonus points on redemptions or transfer your miles to get even more value on reward redemptions. With great customer service, valuable rewards, and extensive benefits, this is an amazing card for travel enthusiasts.

Best Cash Back Credit Card

More Details

  • Exclusively for Costco Members: Go Big with Cash Back Rewards
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% APR for 7 Months

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.74% variable

Benefits

If you’re looking to earn cash back, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is a great option. Earn 4% cash back on gas purchases, including at Costco, up to $7,000 in purchases per year. Earn 3% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases. Get 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% everywhere else. This is a powerhouse cash back credit card! And for Costco members, there’s no annual fee. Plus enjoy purchase and travel protection at no extra charge. Enjoy 0% APR on all purchases for 7 months after opening a new account.

Things to Consider

While this card does not charge an annual fee, it does require a Costco membership which starts at $55 per year. After the 7-month 0% APR period ends, the card charges 15.74% variable rate APR on purchases. Your rate will adjust with Citi’s Prime Rate. Cash advances and balance transfers charge additional fees. Pay 3.0% when making foreign purchases (Costco fees waived). The card charges $37 for late payments and returned payments.

Our Verdict

This is our favorite card for cash back. If you are an existing Costco member, the card charges no additional annual fee and you can earn valuable cash back everywhere you shop. Whether you are buying gas, dinner, plane tickets, or anything else, you will get cash back every time you swipe your card. With benefits so valuable and no annual fee, signing up for the Costco Anywhere Visa® is an easy decision.

Best Cash Back Credit Card with No Annual Fee

More Details

  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

0% APR for 18 Months

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Benefits

Most cards offer you cash back rewards when you make your purchase, but Citi® Double Cash Card pays you twice! Earn 1% cash back every time you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay your bill. That gives you an effective 2% cash back on every purchase. Plus, enjoy an impressive 18-month 0% APR introductory period on balance transfers and pay the standard purchase APR thereafter. With no limits to what you can earn and standard benefits like travel insurance and purchase protection, this card is a great choice. All this with no annual fee!

Things to Consider

To qualify for 0% APR, balance transfers much be completed within four months of opening a new account. Purchase and balance transfer variable 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR based on your credit history and market interest rates. 25.74% cash advance APR and 29.99% penalty APRs may apply. Pay 3% ($5 minimum) for balance transfers and 5% ($10 minimum) for cash advances. Foreign purchases charge a 3% fee. No late payment fee for first late payment, $35 for second and subsequent late payments. $35 returned payment fee.

Our Verdict

With 2% cash back and no limit to what you can earn, the Citi® Double Cash Card is our favorite no annual fee card with cash back. Earning 2% everywhere you spend can add up fast. You’ll have enough for a big redemption before you know it! And with an 18-month 0% APR on balance transfers, you can save big on other outstanding balances while earning valuable cash back. With no annual fee, this is an amazing cash back credit card and tops our list!

Best Travel Credit Card

More Details

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Receive up to $300 in statement credits annually as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card
  • Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains
  • Earn 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check®
  • Access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide with complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership

Annual Fee

$450

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.74% - 23.74% Variable

Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ currently offers new applicants 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on new purchases within 3 months of account opening. These points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each toward reservations booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel center, or transferred to airline miles or hotel points.

You earn 3x rewards on travel and dining charges, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. Benefits include a $300 annual travel statement credit and a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership. There's a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

Things to consider

Obviously $450 is a lot to spend for a credit card, but you also have to take into account the $300 annual travel statement credit, which you can receive each calendar year, or twice in your first year as a cardmember.

Our verdict

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is the best premium travel rewards card as it offers superior rewards and benefits as compared to its competitors at this price point.

Best Airline Credit Card

More Details

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios.
  • Earn a further 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.

Annual Fee

$95

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.74%-23.74% Variable

Benefits

If you dream of taking off to exotic locations around the world, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card belongs in your wallet. With a massive 50,000-point Avios bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after opening a new account, you’ll be off to Europe, or anywhere else you want to visit, in no time! Earn 3 Avios (British Airways name for miles) per dollar spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar everywhere else. Plus enjoy no annual fee, travel and purchase coverage, and a free companion “travel together” ticket after spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Things to Consider

This card charges a $95 annual fee, not waived the first year. Variable purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from a 16.74%-23.74% Variable based on your credit and market factors. Cash advances charge 25.49% APR. Balance transfers and cash advances require a 5% fee ($5 minimum for balance transfers and $10 minimum for cash advance). Late and returned payments charge up to $37 depending on the payment amount.

Our Verdict

British Airways is a high-quality airline, and with a 50,000-point bonus this is our favorite airline credit card available today. Not only can you use your points to jet off to London and other destinations served by British Airways, you can use the points to book flights on Oneworld® partner airlines like American Airlines, Qantas, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and more. No matter where you want to fly, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card can get you there.

Best Secured Credit Card with Rewards

More Details

  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • A security deposit of $200 or more will establish your credit line (up to the amount we can approve). Automatic monthly reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an account with no security deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Tools to assist you; email alerts, text reminders and 24/7 customer service. Plus get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements and online.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't raise your APR.

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

10.99% APR for 6 Months

Regular APR

23.49% Variable

Benefits

This secured card is offered to applicants with nearly any credit profile. Once approved, you will need to submit a refundable security deposit of $200.0 or more, which becomes your credit limit. After that, it works just like any other unsecured credit card. You will receive a monthly statement and must make a payment before the due date. With on-time payments, you can expect your credit score to rise, and you can track your progress with free access to your FICO credit score.

At the same time, you also get all of the rewards and benefits you would expect from a Discover card. Rewards include 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on everything else. Discover will even match your rewards earned at the end of the first year of your account. There's no annual fee for this card and the standard interest rate for purchases is 23.49% APR.

Things to consider

The amount of your credit line will be determined by your security deposit. If you deposit $500, then you will have a credit line of $500. Nevertheless, you will still have to make monthly payments.

Our verdict

This is one of the few secured cards that offers rewards and has no annual fee. If you need to rebuild your credit, this is an excellent option.

Best Small Business Rewards Credit Card

More Details

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in select categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$95

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.74% - 21.74% Variable

Benefits

New applicants can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. You also earn 3 points on your first $150,000 spent each cardmember year on combined purchases in select categories such as travel, shipping, Internet service, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. You earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Points are earned in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program and can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards travel reservations, or transferred to airline miles or hotel points. This card also features numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies such as trip delay reimbursement, return protection and cell phone protection. There's a $95 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

Things to consider

This small business card has an impressive sign-up bonus, but it doesn't have any of the 5x categories that were featured on previous Chase Ink cards.

Our verdict

This is a fantastic small business card, especially for those with companies that have a lot of expenses that will qualify to earn 3 points.

Best Cash Back Credit Card for Students

More Details

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements & online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.49% - 22.49%.

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% APR for 6 Months

Balance Transfer Intro APR

10.99% APR for 6 Months

Regular APR

13.49% - 22.49% Variable

Benefits

As a college student, you are perpetually handed credit card offers while walking around campus. But knowing the right card to choose can be tough. Discover it® for Students is a great option for any student. With no annual fee, earn 5% cash back in popular rotating categories and 1% cash back everywhere else. If you are living on a college student budget, you know how much cash back is worth! Recent 5% bonus categories include restaurants, gas stations, wholesale clubs, and Amazon.com. Plus, pay 0% APR for purchases in the first 6 months after opening a new account.

Things to Consider

While 0% APR is a great starting offer, it doesn’t last forever. After the 6-month intro period, pay 13.49% - 22.49% Variable APR for purchases. This is a variable rate based on your credit history and market interest rates. Balance transfers charge 10% APR for the first 6 months. After 6 months, balance transfers charge the standard purchase APR of 13.49% - 22.49% Variable. Additional fees apply for cash advances, balance transfers, late payments, and returned payments.

Our Verdict

Going off to college means lots of firsts, including your first credit card. If you are looking for the best credit card for yourself or the college student in your life, Discover it® for Students is the best choice. With up to 5% cash back where students spend most, you will enjoy earning cash back every time you swipe your card.

Our Methodology

SmartAsset has developed a quantitative and independent system for evaluating the relative value of a credit card offer versus other offers in the marketplace. Our system evaluates cards based exclusively on their features, such as their rewards earning rate (if applicable), fees, perks, and rewards program redemption options. The annual rewards values on this page are calculated using annual spending assumptions in various categories such as, but not limited to, gas, restaurants, airfare, and US supermarkets. These spending assumptions are built on research that SmartAsset has conducted on existing 0% APR credit cardholders. Our promise with our credit card recommendations is that we will always strive to have the most comprehensive, accurate, and objective method of evaluating credit card offers. Any recommendations are solely determined by the result of this research and model, and is never influenced by any fees, commissions, or other forms of compensation that SmartAsset may receive from credit card issuers for leads generated on our website.

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