The best credit cards for 2018 are …
OK, OK. So finding out our picks for the top five credit cards of 2018 might not be as exciting to you as finding out who won league MVP or who's taking home a statue at the Golden Globes or the Oscars.
But we think it's a big deal, especially if you're a fan of deeper pockets.
And deep down, we know you do, too—after all, there are around 200 million consumer and business credit cardholders in our country.
In fact, according to the 2016 U.S. Consumer Payment Study by TSYS, credit cards are the preferred choice of payment by Americans (40%), followed by debit cards (35%) and cash (11%).
Those cards are getting their use, too: Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Fed show that the average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt to the tune of $1 trillion total as a country.
We sure hope that there are travel and cashback rewards point programs involved. And if not, there should be.
After all, you work hard for your money—it's important to have a credit card that gives you something back for all the spending you do.
But with so many credit cards out there—of which most tout big sign-up bonuses and rewards—how do you choose the right one?
Focus on your spending habits and your financial goals
Maybe you relish the idea of racking up points for a dream vacation. Perhaps you have simpler tastes, like an inkling for a low APR and no annual fee.
The key here is to focus on what matters most to you and your wallet.
Whether you want cashback rewards, hotel and airline points, or no-interest balance transfers, choose the card that works for you and your financial goals.
Lucky for you, we've done the legwork to help you find a credit card option that makes sense for you and your budget.
Rewards, low fees, and easy point redemption, oh my!
We didn't use some crazy formula to come up with our top five list. Instead, we chose cards that made the most sense for spending and paying it all off. Here's what we focused on:
Big rewards. We like a big sign-up bonus, but we also prefer to be treated like a rockstar, too.
So we were sure to check out cards that are worth keeping in your wallet worth long past those shiny new rewards point bonuses have been redeemed.
Low or no fees. We know it takes some spending to get rewards, but we certainly don't want to spend more than we get back.
That's why we searched for credit cards with no fees wherever possible, and low fees when we feel the rewards far outweigh the costs.
Easy redemption process. What's the use of having a boatload of points to redeem for a yacht trip around the world when you can't even access the points in the first place?
We hear ya—and we looked for rewards credit cards that make the points redemption process a breeze.
1. The American Express Blue Cash Preferred credit card
You will want to use this card for everyday purchases
Sometimes you've got to give a little to get a little —or to get a lot, in the case of the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred card.
That's why we recommend this card even though it carries an annual fee over its no-fee sister card, the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday.
The annual fee for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is $95, which is comparable to other cashback credit cards of this class and a downright bargain in the AMEX world (oh hi, $550 annual fee for the AMEX Platinum card!).
We rate it at the top because of its big rewards, which absolutely offset the fee.
Get more green at the grocery store. As in 6% cashback. That's a lot of bread! (See what we did there?)
Fuel up the car and fill up your closet. You'll earn 3% on gas and at certain department stores.
Get rewards for everyday spending. Snag 1% on everything else. This cashback credit card keeps proving its worth a spot in your wallet.
Indeed, membership has its privileges
Aside from great spending rewards, this card carries other perks:
Pay down debt faster. Transfer a balance from another card and skip the interest for 12 months.
Protect your cell phone. In the case of damage or theft, you're covered.
Still wondering if it's worth the upgrade to the annual fee? You would have to spend up $3000 on groceries to make it worth the while, and – let's be totally honest here – that isn't a large sum to spend on groceries.
If you think your wallet would be upgraded by this card, head over to the American Express website to apply.
2. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card
For travel purchases, this is your best bet
There are lots of cards that offer shiny sign-up bonuses, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred takes the cake.
When you open the card and spend $4,000 within three months, you'll get 50,000 bonus points.
You could trade those in for $500 cash, which is nice. But if you book a hotel or airfare through Ultimate Rewards, it's worth $625.
That's a 25% bonus. Sweet!
Double points on travel and restaurants. Eat, drink, and be merry, and you'll get 2 points per every dollar spent.
Earn points on everyday spending, and redeem them just as easily. Every dollar you spend is one point closer to a sweet travel reward or cashback bonus.
And, whether you want to cash them in for a spending spree or use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, redeeming rewards program points with your Sapphire Preferred card is a cinch.
1st-year annual fee waived. That's a nice incentive indeed. After the first year, it'll cost you $95 annually to keep this card in your wallet.
A traveler's dream
There is no foreign transaction fee on this one, so pack this travel credit card with your passport, and shop anywhere in the world. That's not to mention these other jet-setter perks:
Book flights easily. You don't need to be a mathematician to book travel, as your Chase points go head to head with those of most frequent flyer programs.
You're covered if you cancel. We hate to bring this up, but in the event you have to stay home, you're covered.
Even if you don't travel often, every dollar you spend adds up to get you a ton of miles.
If the Chase Sapphire Preferred card sounds like a worthy travel companion, head over to the Chase website to apply.
3. The Discover it credit card
Are you looking for extensive cashback rewards? You found them.
This card had us at hello thanks to its incredible sign-up rewards program bonus:
You'll get your cashback rewards matched for the first year.
As in doubled.
Just to reiterate: If your spending nets you $250 in cashback that first year, Discover will wave its magic wand and make it $500.
Depending on what you use this cash rewards card for (might we suggest everything?), that could add up to some serious change.
And Discover gives you plenty of reasons to stick around with this card long after.
Bump that bonus with qualifying purchases. You'll a 5% cashback bonus when you buy gas, dine out, shop at Amazon.com, and more. Categories change quarterly, so plan your shopping to get the most bang for your buck.
Save on fees. With no annual fee, there's no doubt this card is "it" for you. You'll also get aone-time reprieve on a late payment. (Your credit score and APR can breathe a sigh of relief!)
About those "other reasons to stick around"
If you're a traveler this cash rewards card will let you "Discover" more of the world. With no foreign transaction fees, you'll see more and spend less! And then some:
Redeem points instantly at Amazon.com. You can pay with your cashback points upon checking out at Amazon.com.
Check your credit frequently. Discover updates your credit score with each monthly statement
One drawback to this card is that Discover is not always accepted by merchants. Still, it makes a great companion card to your more universally-accepted Mastercard or Visa.
Robinwl, a commenter on the Viewpoints blog, credits Discover for its outstanding customer service. "I can get a real person on the phone in a very short amount of time and I am always helped to my satisfaction with the first person I talk to."
If this sounds like a good match for your spending habits, head over to the Discover website to apply.
4. The Citi Simplicity credit card
In need of a balance transfer? Let Citi Simplicity help you
Even credit card companies know they can be a bit ridiculous when it comes to interest rates and APR.
That's why we take notice when there's a 0% balance transfer opportunity—and the Citi Simplicity Card offers a major opportunity for debt holders.
To be sure, there are other cards that also offer 0% balance transfer offers. But with a 24-month grace period for balance transfers, the Citi Simplicity card is simply unbeatable.
Forget the interest for two years. You read that right: That's two years of interest-free payments toward a balance that you transferred from a card with a higher APR. Keep in mind that you'll still pay a 3% fee for the balance transfer, but it's worth every penny.
Shop 'til you drop for one year. Don't have a balance to transfer? You can still take advantage of no interest for a full year on purchases.
Skip the annual fee. For a card that gives so much, it's remarkable that there is no annual fee. It's just one more thing that makes this credit card issuer so awesome.
More reasons to keep it simple with your credit
As the name suggests, there's nothing complex about this card—but there are plenty of other perks that make this card a winner.
Get the best price. With the Citi Rewind feature, there's no buyer's remorse. If you find a lower price for a past purchase within 60 days, Citi will refund you the difference.
Stay protected from theft. Credit card fraud is very much a thing, but Citi has your back with Citi Identity Theft Solutions. If your card is stolen, Citi will help you identify the fraudulent charges, file police reports, and help you re-establish your credit.
Cardholder Jaclyn Rinaldi posted this comment on the CompareCards.com blog about her great experience with the Citi Simplicity card. (Keep in mind that the balance transfer offer from the credit card issuer has gotten sweeter.)
"My most favorite card ever! 0% for 21 months no annual fee and if you miss a payment there is never a late fee. Pay what you can when you can but of course, try your best to pay it off before your promo ends."
If this sounds like a good deal to you, simply head over to the Citi website to apply.
Compare Top Credit Card Offers
- Find the best credit cards for you
- Low interest, no annual fees, and great signup bonuses
- Side-by-side comparisons quickly and easily
5. The Capital One Secured Mastercard
- Intro APRN/A
- Regular APR24.99% variable APR
- Annual feeSee Terms
- Credit levelRebuilding or higher
If it's time to rebuild credit then it's time to get the Capital One Secured Mastercard
A not-so-stellar credit score doesn't mean you should be locked out of the credit card universe.
In fact, the only way to build or restore credit is to use a credit card wisely — as you will with a secured credit card.
For your companion on the road back to good credit, we recommend the Capital One Secured Mastercard.
It's easy to use, and you'll see an improvement in your credit score and spending habits soon.
Open the secured card with a security deposit. Depending on your credit score, you'll need to make a deposit of $49, $99, or $200 to access your initial credit line of $200. Need more? Just deposit more cash.
Pay on time and get more credit. Send in your first five monthly payments by the due date, and you'll get your credit line increased without having to lay out more cash.
Skip the annual fee. It won't cost you anything extra to have this card.
Pay in full to avoid higher APR. The drawback to this card is the 24.99% variable APR. If you pay off your bill in full, you don't have to worry about it—and you'll build a good financial habit to boot.
Spend wisely and improve your credit score
It's smart to curtail spending with a secured credit card. When you improve your financial habits, your credit score also benefits—and Capital One lets you in on the progress.
Check your credit score. CreditWise by Capital One gives you unlimited access to your credit score as well as tools that will help you to boost your creditworthiness.
Indeed, many happy consumers found this card to be an excellent resource in the quest for a better credit score, including this one:
"My Capital One secured card is a good fit for me because it's helping build better and helping me manage my finances more accurately. It keeps me accountable for how and what I do with my credit and finances."
If you're secure in your decision to improve your credit score, go to the Capital One website to apply.
Giving Credit Where It's Due
So there you have it—the best of the best credit cards for 2018.
We think we've got a winning combination of credit cards to cover all spending habits and reward preferences.
Streamline your spending with the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred. Sign up for this card if you like to stick with one credit card for most purchases.
Vacation more with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Apply for this card if you like your travel rewards to be earned AND redeemed easily.
Get more cashback with the Discover It. Snag this card if you want to make the most of your cashback bonus rewards.
Pay down debt with the Citi Simplicity. Keep it simple and get this card if you've got a high-interest balance transfer that you want to pay off more quickly.
Rebuild your credit with the Capital One Secured Mastercard. Choose this card if you want to improve your spending habits and boost your credit score.