Credit cards are as ubiquitous as cash at this point — the average American has around 4 cards in their name, so you’re in good company if you’re in the market for a new card. Used responsibly, credit cards are a useful tool to have in your financial utility belt, bridging the gap when you’re cash-strapped.
With credit card companies loading up their cards with heavy incentives like cash back and rewards, choosing which card is best for you is no easy feat. Benzinga’s list puts you ahead of the game and narrows your choices down to the cream of the crop.
Quick Look: The Best Credit Cards
- Capital One QuickSilverOne Rewards Credit Card
- Luxury Card
- Firstcard® Credit Builder Card with Cashback for College Students
- Citi® Secured Mastercard®
- Indigo Platinum Mastercard®
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard®
- Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card
- Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card
- BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card
1. Capital One QuickSilverOne Rewards Credit Card
2. Luxury Card
- Regular APR
For Titanium, Black and Gold Cards: Ongoing Purchase APR 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24%; Balance transfers 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24% based on your creditworthiness (posted within 45 days of account opening) (APR varies with Prime Rate); Cash Advance 30.49% (variable based on Prime Rate)securely through Luxury Card's website
Terms and Conditions apply*
3. Firstcard® Credit Builder Card with Cashback for College Students
4. Citi® Secured Mastercard®
5. Indigo Platinum Mastercard®
6. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
7. First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard®
8. Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card
9. Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card
10. BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Credit Card
- Best For:Bitcoin rewardssecurely through BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Visa Credit Card's website
How to Compare Credit Cards
When deciding which credit card you should apply for, there are several ways you can assess how useful a card will be to you. Before all else, research which cards you are likely to qualify for. Look for cards you can prequalify for or use a comparison service like Credible to compare cards you are likely to qualify for side-by-side.
The most common type of credit card fee is the annual fee. While this may seem like something you want to avoid, keep in mind that cards with annual fees often have worthwhile rewards and bonuses. If you know you’ll use your card heavily, what you reap in kickbacks like miles or cash back may offset the annual cost.
Don’t worry if you’re more of the fee-free type — many lenders, including some of our partners, offer cards with no annual fees, so you’ll have no trouble finding one that meets your specifications.
With many cards, you have the opportunity to earn cash back or points for travel when you spend. If you travel frequently or have your eye on a big trip down the road, a card that earns miles could be beneficial. But if you use your card frequently for smaller purchases at places like grocery stores and gas stations, getting cash back in your pocket for everyday expenses may be the sweeter deal.
Rewards cards sometimes come with higher fees or annual percentage rates (APRs), the amount of interest you’re charged to use credit. If you’ll spend enough to earn sufficient rewards and quickly pay off your balance, these cards may offer you higher returns than you’ll pay in interest. It's best to carefully weigh the costs versus the rewards (literally, in this case) when selecting a credit card.
Perks and Bonuses
In addition to rewards, credit cards can come with a ton of perks and bonuses. Your card may offer priority boarding on flights or discounts at your favorite merchants. Many cards offer protections and insurance on travel, lost or stolen goods and purchases, including refunds if something you ordered somehow never makes it to your doorstep.
If you’re a college student, you can look for cards that offer special perks for your school. Or if you’re a high roller who is always on the move, a credit card with a concierge service can act as your in-wallet butler, ready to fulfill your every whim.
A huge factor in choosing a credit card is comparing annual percentage rates. If a card has a really high APR, your purchases could end up costing you way more than the ticket price in interest if you let your balances get out of control. Some cards offering hefty rewards or perks can come with equally hefty APR rates — just be sure you can afford to pay down your balances monthly to ensure you’re not spending more in interest than you’re getting back.
Using Credit Cards Responsibly
The rush of having a shiny new credit card is real, but don’t let it go to your head. Using credit is a serious responsibility. We’re not saying don’t make a little celebration purchase, but make sure you pay it off quickly and keep your monthly balance low. This will keep you from getting trapped under a mounting pile of interest. And it’ll keep your credit score intact — high card balances can impact your credit negatively by raising your credit utilization.
If you haven’t had a chance to build credit or need to repair bruised credit, a credit card can help boost your score if used correctly. We recommend getting a secured card to start out with. You’ll secure your balance with a deposit or a linked bank account, so you can only spend what you actually have. Making regular monthly payments and keeping a low balance on a secured card can boost your credit.
You could also consolidate debt at a lower interest rate by transferring your credit card balances to one low APR credit card, although a personal loan may be a better option for this depending on your circumstances.
How to Apply for a Credit Card
Anyone over 18 can apply for a credit card (and people younger than 18 may be able to become an authorized user on someone else’s account).
Once you’ve decided on a credit card, see if you can prequalify. This will give you a solid idea of if you’re eligible for the card without hurting your credit score with a hard credit pull.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and apply for a card, follow the direction on a lender’s website to apply or give them a call if applicable. Usually, you’ll have to provide some basic identifying information and undergo a credit check, although this varies between cards.
Maximize Your Credit Use With the Right Card
Anybody can feel indecisive when trying to choose from an endless list of equally impressive sounding credit cards. Once you know what matters most to you about a card, whether it’s low fees or hefty rewards, you’re on the right path. Benzinga’s list of the best credit cards is a great place to go from there — we’ve selected an all-star roster to make your decision easier.
Once you’ve chosen a card, see if you are able to prequalify to assess your eligibility risk-free. Use a credit card comparison service to shop around for credit cards without hurting your credit score.