The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

6 Pros and Cons of a Credit Card

Pros And Cons Of A Credit Card

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.

Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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With a history that stretches back over 200 years, the versatile pro-con list has long been used to simplify the decision-making process. And while the pro-con list is not without its controversies — as described by this pro-con list about pro-con lists — it remains a popular practice for analyzing both parts of a problem to aid decision-making.

Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of a credit card. If you’re on the fence about whether to get a new credit card, a pro-con list may be the perfect way to compare the ups and downs to help come to a decision. To help get you started, we’ve put together six pros and cons of using a credit card, with tips for how to maximize your pros, as well as how to avoid cons that can ruin your credit card experience.

The Pros | The Cons

The Pros of Using a Credit Card

Given that we have over a billion credit cards being used in the U.S. alone, it’s pretty safe to say the Pros of credit card usage outweigh the Cons for the majority of people. But who wants to do something simply because everyone else is doing it? Instead, investigate the Pros below to get an idea of the perks and benefits you can receive from using a credit card to make your purchases.

1. Pro: Convenient & Secure Shopping

The first Pro on the list is likely why credit cards took off as a payment method to begin with: the convenience and security of paying with plastic. Compared to cash or even paper checks, credit cards are significantly less bulky — no stacks of paper or heavy, jangling coins to carry — as well as generally being a faster (and often easier) way to pay.

For one, rather than counting out change or scrawling names and totals on a check, credit card payments can sometimes be as easy as swiping, tapping, or inserting your card into the reader before you’re on your way. Even those that require further verification often take less than 30 seconds to process, then you simply sign and go.

Purchases made by credit card also provide an extra level of security versus cash or check purchases, as you typically have the option to dispute a charge with your issuer if your product or experience wasn’t as promised and the merchant won’t settle up.

Additionally, while a thief can easily spend the cash they pilfer from your pocket, the law limits your liability for fraudulent credit card purchases. What’s more, most major credit card issuers take fraud protection to the next level by eliminating that liability altogether. In fact, all of the following issuers have $0 fraud liability policies in place.

Discover | Capital One | Chase | Bank of America | Wells Fargo

Best “Discover” Credit Cards

Scoring second only to American Express in customer service, Discover is also a top pick for many cardholders looking to maximize their cash back rewards — without being weighed down by unnecessary fees. Discover’s entire line of credit cards offer cash back rewards or miles on every purchase.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • NEW Intro APR: Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average
Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
0% Intro APR for 18 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of 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.
  • 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.
  • New Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Discover Credit Cards

Best “Capital One” Credit Cards

Most famous for its long-standing “What’s in your wallet?” advertising slogan, Capital One has made its mark on the credit card industry by offering blackout-free travel rewards and a range of cash back card options. Many of Capital One’s credit cards come without an annual fee, and all can be used to score a discount on drinks at your local Capital One Café.

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • 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 a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
EXPERT'S 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
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 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 and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
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
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Capital One Credit Cards

Best “Chase” Credit Cards

Chase has a long banking history stretching back to 1799 and a New York City that, even then, was a bustling destination. Today’s Chase is one of the largest credit card issuers in the world, with a credit card selection sure to appeal to just about any cardholder, including lucrative rewards cards and popular balance transfer cards.

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.74% - 23.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

+See More Chase Credit Cards

Best “Bank of America” Credit Cards

Not only can Bank of America trace its banking legacy back over 200 years, but the company also pioneered the mass-market consumer credit card in 1958 with its first BankAmericard. The modern Bank of America still maintains a strong foothold in the consumer credit card industry, issuing a number of its own credit cards in addition to several co-branded options.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • Enjoy a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Introductory 0% APR for your first 15 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
  • $0 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 billing cycles
0% for 15 billing cycles
14.24% - 24.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 50,000 online bonus points (a $500 value) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Flexibility to choose how you redeem your points – redeem for cash back as a deposit into Bank of America® checking or savings accounts, for credit to eligible Merrill® accounts including 529 accounts, as a statement credit to your balance, or for gift cards and purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to a $100 Airline Incidental Statement Credit annually for qualifying purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees - automatically applied to your card statement. Also get up to $100 in Airport Security Statement Credits towards TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry Application fees, every four years.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time, and no expiration on points
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees while earning points to use for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Introductory 0% APR offer on purchases, then a variable APR applies
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% APR for 15 billing cycles
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Bank of America Credit Cards

Best “Wells Fargo” Credit Cards

The bank today known as Wells Fargo was originally founded by William Fargo and Henry Wells, two prominent figures in the financial industry of their time who also had a hand in the creation of other industry mainstays, including American Express. These days, Wells Fargo is a prominent consumer bank issuing a range of credit cards for consumers of all types.

+See More Wells Fargo Credit Cards

2. Pro: You Can Earn Rewards

Imagine you had a magic universal rebate that was good on everything you bought and could be redeemed for things like cash, gift cards, or travel expenses. Welcome to the joys of credit card rewards. With any of the hundreds of rewards credit cards available on the market, you can earn valuable rewards on every card purchase.

The three types of credit card rewards you’ll run into when exploring cards are cash back, points, and travel or airline miles. Cash back is what it sounds like: you receive cash back for your purchases, typically in the form of a statement credit. Travel or airline miles can generally be redeemed toward travel-related expenses, like airline tickets or hotel stays. Most points programs offer both cash back and travel redemption options.

The actual amount of rewards you earn per $1 spent will vary based on the card you use, but the rewards structure will likely follow one of two systems: a) unlimited flat-rate rewards on every purchase or, b) scaling rewards that vary based on the category of the purchases. The key to maximizing your credit card rewards is to choose a rewards card that provides the highest earnings rates on the purchases you make most often.

For example, if you dine out frequently, a card that offers bonus rewards for restaurant purchases can be quite lucrative. However, if you cook most of your meals, a credit card offering bonus rewards for grocery purchases may prove a better value. In the case that the bulk of your spending doesn’t fall into any common categories, you may find a flat-rate card ends up providing the best rates.

Air Miles | Cash Back | Points

Best “Air Miles” Cards

Perfect for the frequent flyer or hotel hound, a travel rewards card can be a profitable investment if you travel regularly (or would like to start). Many of the most popular travel rewards programs are those with a large number of partners to whom you can transfer your travel rewards, transforming them into branded loyalty points or frequent flyer miles.

Some of the most flexible programs allow you to easily redeem travel rewards for a statement credit to cover travel-related card purchases. The exact list of travel-related expenses that your travel rewards can be redeemed for will depend on the particular issuer and program, though any travel card should include either airfare, hotel stays, or both.

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • 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 a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of 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.
  • 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.
  • New Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good
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
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Air Miles Credit Cards

Best “Cash Back” Cards

Despite the stories of churners flying around the world with travel rewards, cash back reigns supreme as America’s favorite type of credit card rewards — and with good reason. Not only are cash back rewards the most straightforward to redeem, but with the wide variety of cards offering up to 5% cash back for bonus category purchases, you could potentially maximize your cash back earnings with just a handful of cards.

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • 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 Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • 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.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% Intro APR Period 18 months on Balance Transfers
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

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
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 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 and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Cash Back Credit Cards

Best “Points” Cards

Often providing the best of both rewards world, credit cards that offer points tend to have the most versatile redemption options. Rewards points can typically be redeemed for any combination of cash back, gift cards, travel expense credits, and merchandise.

Points are a favorite of churners and other credit card rewards aficionados thanks to the ability to transfer earned points to travel partners to maximize the per-point value. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transformed into Marriott Rewards points or British Airways frequent flyer miles, among others.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.74% - 23.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed 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 Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.74% - 21.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • New Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

+See More Points Credit Cards

3. Pro: You Can Build Credit

The biggest catch-22 of the consumer credit world is probably the fact that you need credit to build credit. Without some sort of credit product reporting to at least one (but preferably all) of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, TransUnion — you won’t establish a credit report and future creditors won’t be able to gauge your credit risk.

And about the only thing worse than having no credit history is having a bad credit history. A history rife with delinquent payments, defaulted accounts, or other negative items will result in a low credit score — and lenders that don’t want to lend to you.

When used responsibly, credit cards can be a great way to build (or rebuild) a positive credit history and, thus, a good credit score. What’s more, a variety of credit card companies, including a number of major issuers, have credit card products specifically designed for consumers in the various stages of the credit-building process.

Fair Credit | Bad Credit | No/Limited Credit

Best “Fair Credit” Cards

Consumers with a FICO credit score between 580 and 669 are typically considered to have “Fair” credit, which is the just on the right side of the line between prime and subprime credit cards. If you’re worried about your chances of being approved, the best way to test the waters for a particular issuer is to check for pre-approval offers. This can be done easily online and won’t impact your credit score.

Depending on where you fall on the range of Fair credit scores, you may qualify for a prime card from a major issuer — but don’t expect the juiciest rewards or a completely fee-free experience. On the bright side, responsibly using your new card can help boost your credit score into the Good range within six months or so, broadening your card options tremendously.

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or limits to how much you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account. It's that simple
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited
Fortiva® Mastercard® Credit Card Review

at Fortiva'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
  • With the Fortiva® Mastercard® Credit Card, you earn up to a 3% cash back reward
  • Make contactless payments through Mobile Wallet
  • Periodic Credit Increase Reviews
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Equifax†
  • † Your credit score will be available in your online account 60 days after your account is opened. (Registration required) The free VantageScore 3.0 credit score provided by Equifax is for educational purposes only and may not be used by The Bank of Missouri (the issuer of this card) or other creditors to make credit decisions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
29.99% Variable
As low as $85
Fair

+See More Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Best “Bad Credit” Cards

When your FICO credit score falls below 580, your credit is officially “Bad.” This means most prime credit card issuers won’t feel comfortable offering you unsecured credit, so your credit card options will likely be limited to secured credit cards or subprime unsecured credit cards.

The main difference between secured and unsecured credit cards is that secured credit cards require a security deposit to open the account, and that deposit determines your credit limit. Unsecured cards won’t require a deposit, but most subprime unsecured credit cards will require a program or processing fee to open your account, in addition to an annual or maintenance fee.

PREMIER Bankcard® Mastercard® Credit Card Review

at PREMIER Bankcard®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • Don’t let a low FICO score stop you from applying – we approve applications others may not.
  • You don’t need good credit to apply.
  • Just complete the short application and find out in 60 seconds if you’re approved.
  • When you need assistance our award-winning US-based Customer Service agents are there to help.
  • FICO scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any PREMIER Bankcard® product.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuer Website
See Issuer Website
Fair/Poor
PREMIER Bankcard® Grey Credit Card Review

at PREMIER Bankcard®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • You don’t need good credit to apply.
  • We help people with bad credit, every day.
  • Just complete the short application and find out in 60 seconds if you’re approved.
  • You can build* or rebuild your credit: apply for a PREMIER Bankcard credit card, keep your balance low, and pay all your monthly bills on time.
  • Don’t let a low FICO score stop you from applying – we approve applications others may not.
  • FICO scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any PREMIER Bankcard® product.
  • *Build credit by keeping your balance low and paying all your bills on time every month.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuer Website
See Issuer Website
Fair/Poor
BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • 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

+See More Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Best “No/Limited Credit” Cards

With no credit history — or even a very limited one — credit card issuers won’t have a way to gauge your potential risk, which means they’ll typically assume the worst. That said, a number of cards are designed specifically for those establishing credit for the first time, including credit cards aimed directly at students (though you don’t always need to be a student to qualify for student credit cards).

In many ways, consumers with no/limited credit histories have the easiest credit-building journey ahead of them, as they don’t need to wait for old negative items to age off their reports or pay down outstanding debts to see credit score improvements. With just six months or so of responsible credit card use, you can go from no credit to Fair or even Good credit, expanding your credit card options in the process.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), with 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • 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
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • 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
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • 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
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • 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
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

+See More Credit Cards for No/Limited Credit

The Cons of Using a Credit Card

Of course, few things in life are entirely positive, even in the eyes of the most optimistic of consumers — credit cards included. In fact, the Cons of credit card use can be just as numerous as the Pros — particularly when they are misused. That said, many of the Cons of credit card use can be avoided by selecting the right card (and using it responsibly).

4. Con: The Potential Fees

Perhaps the first thing that most people think of when considering the Cons of credit cards are the associated fees. Between the annual fees, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, interest fees, foreign transaction fees, and late fees, it can feel as though you can’t even look at a credit card without having to pay a fee.

And those fees can certainly add up. The typical late fee is $30 or more a pop, annual fees can range into the hundreds of dollars, and balance transfer fees can be as much as 5% of the total amount transferred. On the bright side, most of the fees associated with credit card use can be easily avoided through responsible card use and understanding the fee structures.

For example, late fees are among the easiest to avoid simply by ensuring you pay on time each billing cycle. You don’t need to pay your balance in full to avoid a late fee, just make at least your minimum payment by (or, preferably, before) the due date. And since nearly every bank allows automatic payments these days, you can even automate your bills to avoid paying late due to forgetting a date, going out of town, or other events.

Additionally, a number of card fees, such as annual fees, balance transfer fees, and foreign transaction fees, can all be avoided through careful card selection. While you may end up trading rewards or other perks for a card with fewer fees, you may come out ahead, depending on your card use.

Annual Fees | Balance Transfer Fees | Foreign Transaction Fees

How to Avoid Annual Fees

A factor for a great many cards, regardless of credit score demographic, annual fees are often charged as a way for the issuer to cover the cost of certain credit card benefits, such as purchase rewards or travel perks. In most cases, the more benefits a card offers, the higher the annual fee it charges, with fees north of $400 not unheard of for the most exclusive cards.

While it can sometimes be worthwhile to pay an annual fee for more valuable benefits, you don’t need to shell out big bucks on annual fees to obtain a quality rewards credit card. A great many cards are available that provide cash back, points, or miles at a solid rate without charging you an annual fee.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • NEW Intro APR: Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average
BEST OVERALL 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
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 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 and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

How to Avoid Balance Transfer Fees

When done properly, a successful balance transfer can lower your interest rates and make it easier to pay down your credit card debt. Unfortunately, the vast majority of credit cards will charge a balance transfer fee for the service, and the card to which you transfer your balance will likely charge between 3% and 5% of the total transferred amount as a balance transfer fee.

The best (read: only) way to avoid a balance transfer fee — other than avoiding balance transfers — is to transfer your balance to a card that doesn’t charge a fee. While these cards can be found more frequently in small community banks or credit unions, only two cards from major credit card issuers currently offer fee-free balance transfer deals; be sure to transfer your balance within the first 60 days to avoid a fee.

BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then a variable APR will apply
  • An optional overdraft protection service is available to help prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
12.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Credit Cards with No Balance Transfer Fee

How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

Although coalitions like the European Union (EU) have tried to minimize the need to change currencies at the border, in most cases, each time you enter a new country you’ll be dealing with an entirely new currency. While this can be very complicated with paper money, credit cards have made purchasing abroad simpler by doing the currency conversion for you in many cases.

The downside to all this convenience is that many cards will charge you foreign transaction fees for the service of converting your purchase into the proper currency, typically 2% to 4% of your purchase total. As with balance transfers, the only real way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to select a card without them. Happily, a variety of cards, including many travel rewards cards, are foreign-transaction-fee-free.

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • 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 a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.74% - 23.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of 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.
  • 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.
  • New Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fee

5. Con: Paying Interest Charges

One of the main sources of profit for credit card issuers — and pain for credit cardholders — is the interest charged on balances carried from month to month. With an average interest rate around 16%, this can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars a year if you carry large balances.

Overall, the high interest rates charged by credit cards are a reflection of the fact that credit cards were not designed to carry long-term debt. Anything that you need several years to pay off should be financed through loans — or savings — not credit cards.

Instead, credit cards are designed to provide short-term financing, so the rates they charge are higher than those for longer-term loans. While these interest rates can be costly to those who misuse credit cards, there’s a simple and easy way for responsible cardholders to avoid interest fees entirely: the grace period.

The period of time between when a purchase is made and when the bill for that purchase is due is called the grace period. If you pay off your purchase before the end of the grace period, you won’t be charged interest on that purchase. Simple.

Of course, the grace period doesn’t solve all interest fee woes. The grace period doesn’t apply to balance transfers, for example, nor does it help those who simply need to carry a balance from time to time. But that doesn’t mean those consumers are out of luck. With a little research — and good to excellent credit — you’ll often find that great interest rate deals are plentiful.

New Purchases | Balance Transfers | Low Ongoing APR

How to Avoid Interest on New Purchases

One of the many ways in which credit card companies compete for the best applicants is through introductory offers. Similar to a signup bonus, intro-APR offers provide an initial incentive to new applicants by providing a low — or, often, zero — APR on new purchases for some set period of time after you open your account (typically 12 months or more, but some of the best offers can be over 18-months long).

If you know you have a large purchase on the horizon and you may need a few months — or a year and a half — to pay it off, a credit card with an intro-APR offer can save you a lot of money in interest charges. What’s more, if the card offers rewards, you’ll earn cash back, points, or miles for those purchases, too. Select a card with no annual fee to really stack the savings.

0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Start off strong with 0% Intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. A variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49% on balance transfers and purchases after the introductory period ends.
  • Lower your interest rate by 2% each year. Automatically be considered for an APR reduction when you pay on time, and spend at least $1000 on your card by your next account anniversary.
  • Raise your credit limit. Get an automatic, one-time review for a higher credit limit when you pay on time, and spend $500 in your first six months.
  • All for no annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Slate Edge℠ card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health - Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 18 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 18 months
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.7
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
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 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 and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Intro-APR New Purchases Credit Cards

How to Avoid Interest on Balance Transfers

For those who are already struggling with high-interest credit card debt, transferring the balance to a lower-interest card can make all the difference in getting that debt paid off. Many of the best introductory balance transfer offers provide a 0% APR on transferred balances for 12 months or more, with offers often extending up to 18 months.

Be sure to check if your intro-APR balance transfer offer includes a break on the balance transfer fee; most offers don’t, so you’ll still be on the line for 3% to 5% of your balance (depending on the card). Often, despite the balance transfer fee, going from the average 16% APR down to a 0% APR can save you thousands. Choose a balance transfer card that doesn’t charge an annual fee to save even more.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
0% Intro APR for 18 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average
0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR Period 12 months on Purchases
0% Intro APR Period 21 months on Balance Transfers
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 15.24% - 25.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.24% - 25.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 12 months on Purchases
0% 21 months on Balance Transfers
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

+See More Intro-APR Balance Transfers Credit Cards

How to Avoid High Ongoing Interest Rates

If introductory-APR offers have one particular flaw, it’s likely that they are introductory; once the offer terms expire, that pretty little interest rate turns back into a regular two-digit APR like Cinderella’s coach turning back into a pumpkin. If your need to sometimes carry a balance stretches farther than an intro-APR offer will get you, the solution may be a card with a low ongoing APR.

Since the APR you’re offered is strongly influenced by your credit score, a “low” interest rate is somewhat relative, and will be based on your credit profile. Those with the highest scores will typically qualify for the lowest interest rates, but nearly any reduction in your current APR will likely save you money if you tend to a carry a balance.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • NEW Intro APR: Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average
Discover it® chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • 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. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn cash back on your next road trip with 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • NEW Intro APR: Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.74% to 23.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average
Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
0% Intro APR for 18 months
12.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good/Average

+See More Low Ongoing APR Credit Cards

6. Con: You Can Accumulate Debt

As with any other credit product, credit cards represent a line of credit that is extended to the consumer. When you make a purchase with your credit card, you are essentially borrowing that money from the card’s issuing bank — with the understanding that you’ll need to repay that debt.

If you use credit cards to make purchases you can’t really afford, you can easily start to accumulate credit card debt. If that debt goes unpaid from month to month, it will start to accumulate interest fees. For those who make only the minimum required payment, the addition of interest fees on top of debt can create an untenable (and sometimes inescapable) situation.

The easiest way to avoid the accumulation of credit card debt is to simply pay off your entire credit card balance each month. This can be accomplished easily by only using your credit cards to make purchases for which you already have the money saved. Not only does this responsible use help you avoid accumulating debt, but you’ll also avoid interest fees and likely improve your credit score. Using your credit card for routine purchases then paying it off each month to avoid interest is also a great way to take advantage of points and rewards programs offered by card issuers.

Even if you can’t pay off the entire balance each month, don’t get trapped in the cycle of paying only the necessary minimum. Required minimum payments are not designed to pay off your debt efficiently or quickly; rather, they’re intended to be somewhat affordable so you’ll continue to bring the company profit through interest charges.

In the event that your credit card debt has gotten out of hand, your best solution may be to consolidate and refinance through a personal installment loan. Because installment loans are specifically designed to finance longer-term debt, they often provide lower interest rates than revolving credit lines, like credit cards, and will typically have repayment periods extending as long as seven years.

Best Credit Card Consolidation Loans

When done right, credit card consolidation can not only help organize your debt by putting it all under one loan, but will also provide a lower APR and, thus, help lower your monthly payment. Consolidation loans can also help stem the accumulation of more debt, as you can’t add new purchases to a loan as you can a credit card with a balance.

As you compare personal loans, look at more than just the monthly payment; you should also investigate the APR and length of the loan, as these factors are what decide your monthly payment. While longer loans will give you the lowest monthly payments, they’ll also end up costing you the most overall thanks to interest charges. Balance the overall cost of your loan with an affordable monthly payment for the best results.

  • Loan amounts range from $500 to $35,000
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Lending partners in all 50 states
  • Loans can be used for any purpose
  • Fast online approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours
Overall Rating
★★★★
4.4
  • Loan amounts range from $500 to $10,000
  • Compare quotes from a network of lenders
  • Flexible credit requirements
  • Easy online application & 5-minute approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.6
  • Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $35,000
  • Flexible credit requirements
  • Loans can be used for anything
  • Five minute application
  • Funding possible in as few as 24 hours
  • Large lending network with multiple partners
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.8

+See More Credit Card Consolidation Loans

Only You Can Decide If the Pros Outweigh the Cons

According to Benjamin Franklin, to whom is given the credit for the pro-con list’s invention over 200 years ago, making the list is only the first step to coming to a decision. Once you have your pros and cons laid out, you should go through each item on your lists and look for pairs of pros and cons that effectively cancel each other out in your estimation. Once you’ve eliminated what you can, you’re left with the true balance of the problem.

For millions of cardholders around the world, the pros and cons of credit card use are easy to weigh, with the pros winning the battle — and the war. Of course, everyone’s financial situation, credit history, and financial goals are unique. The decision of whether to join the ranks of credit cardholders is entirely up to you. Only you can decide if the pros of using a credit card outweigh the cons. If you do conclude that having a credit card is the right step for you, the list above may come in handy for circumventing some of the legwork that comes with identifying potential cards that are a good fit for you.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.