The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, April 15, 2021

Compare Credit Cards: Comparison of the 18 Best Offers (2021)

Credit Card Comparison

credit card advice

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

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

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 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; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • 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; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
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.

Of course, if you can’t meet the required amount without carrying that debt for months (or, worse, years) afterward, then the signup bonus loses 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

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • New! Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$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 $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 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 10+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (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.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • For a limited time, get a special 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles, then a variable APR applies
  • Enjoy Cell Phone Protection Coverage when you pay your monthly cellular bill with your U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
  • View your credit score anytime, anywhere in the mobile app or online banking. It's easy to enroll, easy to use, and free to U.S. Bank customers.
  • Fraud Protections detects and notifies you of any unusual card activity to help prevent fraud
  • Choose your payment due date
  • $0 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 20 billing cycles
0% for 20 billing cycles
14.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Excellent Credit

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice! Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance Transfers do not earn cash back and will have a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • 24/7 access to customer service representatives
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Platinum Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Introductory 0% APR offers for 18 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
  • Account protection features such as Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions, alerts, and cell phone protection
  • My Money Map – tools to help you manage spending and create a budget with ease
  • Access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Overdraft Protection by linking your credit card to your Wells Fargo checking account, finance charges apply
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
16.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
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

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Purchase above your credit limit with no hassle and no over-limit fees
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn rewards faster with employee cards at no additional cost. Set individual spending limits for greater control.
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
13.24% - 19.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99% - 23.99% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% (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

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

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
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

+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

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% – 29.99% (Variable)
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit
Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® - Prior Bankruptcy is Okay Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit histories can qualify, even with prior bankruptcy!
  • Mobile friendly online access from anywhere
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$0 - $99
Fair/Good

+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.

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