The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Compare Credit Cards: Comparison of the 18 Best Offers (2019)

Compare Credit Cards: Comparison of the 18 Best Offers (2019)

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: October 2, 2019

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Credit card comparison these days is much easier than ever before thanks to handy websites (ahem) that aggregate card information and do a lot of the heavy lifting for consumers. Additionally, cash seems to be on its way out. According to a 2016 Gallup survey on the future of cash, a full 62% of those surveyed felt it was likely that they would see the end of cash within their lifetimes — including almost 60% of respondents 65 and older.

The modern American is relying less and less on cash, with only 46% of people using cash for half or more of their purchases, and 12% now abstaining from using cash altogether. And who can blame them? Between the convenience, security, and usage rewards that come with using alternative payment methods, like credit cards, using cash to make purchases can seem so yesterday.

Yes, instead of wondering where they can find change for a $20 bill, the average American seems to be wondering, “Which credit card should I get?” Which is, of course, an important question with so many quality credit cards available from which to choose. The best method is to compare your options side by side to see which options work best for you.

Cash Back | Travel Rewards | Balance Transfer | Business | Students | Bad Credit

Compare the Best “Cash Back” Card Offers

A good cash back program is like a coupon that’s valid everywhere your credit card is accepted, giving you a percentage of your purchases as a statement credit or gift card. When it comes to comparing cash back offers, the main factor to consider is the nature of the cash back program; you’ll need to decide whether you want your cash back to be an unlimited flat rate, or if you want to receive bonus cash back rewards for spending in specific categories.

In general, an unlimited flat-rate cash back program will offer a small percentage — 1.5% tends to be average — on any purchase made with your card. Some programs may offer a larger cash back rate in specific set categories, such as gas or restaurant purchases, while offering a smaller unlimited rate on other purchases. And another popular type of cash back program offers a large cash back rate in quarterly rotating categories, with a small unlimited flat rate on everything else.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

+Compare More Cash Back Cards

An additional factor to consider when comparing cash back offers is the signup bonus offered by the card. Many credit cards will give you a set bonus amount for reaching specific spending requirements within a certain time period, typically 90 days after account opening. Discover also has a unique program in which cardholders receive an amount equal to their total cash back rewards at the end of the first year, which can really add up.

Of course, the thing to remember about signup bonuses is the spending requirement. If you can’t meet the required amount without carrying that debt for months (or, worse, years) afterward, then the signup bonus may lose its value. It only takes six months to negate a $200 signup bonus when you’re paying 20% interest on a $2,000 balance.

Compare the Best “Travel Rewards” Card Offers

In many ways, travel rewards operate very similarly to cash back rewards, offering a certain number of rewards points or airline miles for every qualifying credit card purchase. These programs will generally offer a flat-rate point-per-dollar reward, with some programs also offering bonus rewards for spending in specific categories such as travel and dining.

Also like cash back cards, travel rewards cards will often come with signup bonuses, granting a lump sum of points or miles for hitting specified spending requirements, so be sure to take that into account when comparing offers. You’ll also want to look at any applicable annual fees, as these can take a significant bite out of your rewards.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+Compare More Travel Rewards Cards

While travel rewards will be most useful for those who frequently travel, they can be beneficial to those who don’t live in the proverbial saddle, as well. In fact, redeeming your rewards for travel — and, sometimes, travel-related purchases — can often present the greatest per-point value.

For instance, the Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card can be redeemed for cash back via a statement credit, giving a value of $0.01 per point back as cash back. This means every 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for $100 in cash back.

Graph of Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemption Value

This chart from ValuePenguin shows the relative dollar-per-point value for different redemption methods of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

On the other hand, when Ultimate Rewards points are redeemed via the Chase portal for airline travel, they can net $0.0125 per point, making those 10,000 points worth $125 in travel. Particularly travel-reward-savvy users can get even more bang for their buck (or pow for their point, as the case may be) by transferring rewards to one of the dozen or so airline and hotel partners, earning up to $0.04 per point with smart transfers.

Compare the Best “Balance Transfer” Card Offers

For many, the most impactful downside to credit cards is the interest fees they charge for carrying a balance. Often ranging from 12% up to 30% (or more), interest fees can turn even a small balance into a big burden over time. Thankfully, those who need a little relief from killer interest rates can often find it with a quality balance transfer credit card.

Pretty much as it sounds, a balance transfer involves transferring the balance on one credit card to a second credit card with a lower interest rate. Thus, when comparing balance transfer cards, the main factor to consider will be the interest rate charged by the new credit card. Typically, balance transfer credit card offers will provide 0% APR on new balance transfers for a set period of time, often 12 to 18 months, so compare offers for the best introductory rate.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+Compare More Balance Transfer Cards

Another factor to consider when comparing balance transfer offers is the transfer fee charged by the credit card. Most credit cards will charge between 3% and 5% of the total balance being transferred, although the Chase Slate® credit card does not charge a balance transfer fee on transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening. The caveat with that deal, however, is that you cannot transfer the balance from one Chase credit card to another Chase card.

Compare the Best “Business” Card Offers

For the most part, comparing credit cards for your business is the same as comparing personal credit cards. Business have many of the same costs and credit cards come with many of the same perks as consumer cards, including cash back and travel rewards.

When looking at business cards, you’ll want to compare reward types and amounts, the size of (and requirements for) the signup bonus, and the annual fee you’ll need to pay. Additionally, be sure to check out the APR, especially if you know you’ll have to carry the occasional balance. If you have employees who will be using the company card to make purchases, you’ll also want to look into any fees for additional cards when comparing offers.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • 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 on travel and select business 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 22.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
14.99% - 20.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles – equal to $200 in travel – once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles Select card
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 14.74% - 22.74% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
14.74% - 22.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+Compare More Business Cards

Another major comparison point for business cards will be the qualification requirements. While your personal credit can influence your ability to obtain a business credit card, your company will also develop its own business credit score and history over time. New businesses without established business credit may have a more difficult time obtaining the best business credit cards than established companies with long credit histories.

Compare the Best “Student” Card Offers

Be it academic lessons in the classroom, interpersonal lessons in the dorm room, or life lessons in the common room, your job as a student is to learn. And, as a student, one of the most important skills you can learn is to properly use and manage credit. Thankfully, while some credit card issuers may blanch at your lack of credit history, others are more than happy to help you learn.

As you compare student credit cards, you’ll learn to weigh many of the same options as do other credit card users, like deciding between flat-rate or category-based cash back rewards. You’ll also face a few options that may not be as important to other cardholders, such as whether a card offers a statement credit for good grades — or whether the issuer reports to all three of the major credit bureaus, an important part of building your credit.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit 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 & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.49% - 23.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit
Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit 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 & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.49% - 23.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

+Compare More Student Cards

Credit cards that report to the major bureaus are a key comparison point for student credit cards. One of the most important reasons to get a student credit card in the first place is to use the one advantage you have as credit novice: time. The earlier you start building a positive credit history, the better off your credit will be in the long run. Specifically, it’s important to establish credit early because of the impacts of the age of your credit accounts on your overall credit score.

Credit History Length Graphic

In fact, the length of your credit history, also called the average age of accounts, represents a full 15% of your FICO credit score. This means that no matter how perfect the rest of your credit is, your credit score will never reach similar perfection without a long, well-established credit history — and the only thing that can truly increase the length of your credit history is time.

Compare the Best “Bad Credit” Card Offers

One of the many facts of life — perhaps the fact of life — is, simply, “stuff happens.” Sometimes, all the planning in the world can’t prevent or solve some problems, and the consequences can often have long-term effects. When those effects are to your finances, your credit can suffer, making it difficult — but not impossible — to obtain new credit through traditional methods — but not impossible.

When comparing credit cards for poor credit consumers, the main point of comparison will be unsecured versus secured cards. With bad credit, unsecured credit cards will be harder to obtain from prime issuers, so you will need to obtain a subprime credit card. These cards often have very high interest rates and may also have large fees. Secured cards, on the other hand, require a security deposit to open, and your credit limit will be restricted to the size of your deposit.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit
Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • *Dependent on credit worthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

+Compare More Bad Credit Cards

Another option for those with poor credit will be limited brand or store credit cards. While only usable for specific locations or brands, these credit cards are often easier to obtain than unsecured credit cards from major issuers. Look for cards that report to all three credit bureaus to ensure your new credit card is helping to grow and improve your credit score.

Shop Around to Find the Best Card for You

Not so long ago, the average American toted around pocketfuls of cash and coins with which to make his or her daily purchases, often literally weighed down by the currency needed to operate in the world. Today, more and more shoppers are using plastic, not paper, for their purchases, lured by the convenience, security, and rewards represented by alternative currency formats.

Finding the right credit card is simply a matter of a little research and some solid comparison shopping. Consider each aspect of your new card, including rewards, fees, and credit requirements, to make the best choice for you and your personal needs.