The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, April 18, 2024

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. 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 journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Below are our staff picks for 2024's best credit cards for good credit, which is generally considered a FICO score of 700 to 750. Get 0% APR, cash back, and more as a reward for your good credit score.

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Review Breakdown: Cards for Good Credit

If you're looking for a new credit card and have a good credit history, you'll have no problem finding a great offer to fit your needs. Below we've summarized all the top offers for applicants with good credit, along with the best features of each. Simply click on the card name to visit the issuer's secure online application.

Here are 2024's best credit cards for good credit:

Best Credit Cards Good Credit
Rank Card Name Feature Regular APR Expert Rating
1 Discover it® Cash Back Good Credit 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR ★★★★★ 4.9 See our review See rates & fees
2 Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Good Credit 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable) ★★★★★ 4.9 See our review See rates & fees
3 Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card 1.5% cash back 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable) ★★★★★ 4.9 See our review See rates & fees
4 Chase Freedom Unlimited® 1.5% cash back 20.49% - 29.24% Variable ★★★★★ 4.9 See our review
5 Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Good Credit 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable) ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
6 Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Good Credit 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable) ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
7 Discover it® Miles 1.5x Miles on every dollar 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
8 Discover it® Balance Transfer Good Credit 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
9 Discover it® Chrome Good Credit 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
10 Citi Custom Cash® Card Good Credit 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable) ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
11 Citi Double Cash® Card Good Credit 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable) ★★★★★ 4.8 See our review See rates & fees
12 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Good Credit 21.49%-28.49% Variable ★★★★★ 4.7 See our review

17 FAQs About Credit Cards for Good Credit

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Finance Expert
17 FAQs About Credit Cards for Good Credit Guide: Good Credit

The best credit cards for good credit share several characteristics. They offer ample rewards and many benefits that often include introductory promotions, no annual fee, and relatively low APRs.

What may surprise you is that the average American consumer has a good credit score. That makes the cards in this review available to a broad cross-section of consumers. Whether you have good credit or simply aspire to it, we’ve got the answers to the 17 questions that keep you awake at night.

1. What is a Good Credit Score?

The FICO credit scoring system, with a numerical range of 300 to 850, dominates the U.S. market. A good credit score lies between 670 and 739, while scores from 740 to 799 are considered very good.

FICO Score® RangesAn Experian survey found that the average U.S. credit score was 711 in 2020. That’s an increase of 8 points from 2019.

This improvement stems, in part, from the explosion of websites advertising “free credit scores,” although this often refers to a non-FICO alternative. Consumers now watch their scores more closely than ever.

“Since 2019, consumers have seen record improvement in utilization rates, debt amounts and number of delinquencies. The most significant changes between 2019 and October 2020:

  • Average credit card utilization decreased by 12%.
  • The average number of consumer accounts ever delinquent dropped by 10%.

These changes are not only positive for consumers’ credit health, but they are unprecedented in recent years,” according to Experian.

2. What Kind of Unsecured Credit Card Can I Get with a Good Credit Score?

Cards aimed at consumers with good and very good credit scores offer plenty of rewards and perks. Look for unsecured credit card interest rates below 20%, moderately high credit limits, and generous cash, point, or mileage rewards.

With a good credit score, you needn’t bother with a secured credit card or prepaid card.

A secured credit card requires a cash security deposit to collateralize your line of credit. The security deposit is refundable when you close the account. A prepaid card can be used as a credit card, but you must load funds onto the card as you would fund a debit card with a bank account — the prepaid issuer is not extending you a line of credit.

Most of the good cards in this group offer a signup bonus — sometimes referred to as a welcome bonus — and an introductory 0% APR period of a year or more. Moreover, you can get all this from many cards that charge no annual or foreign transaction fees.

Card benefits for good-credit consumers can have a generalized or narrow focus. If you want a good general card, look for one offering elevated (i.e., greater than 1%) cash back rewards on all purchases. On the other hand, if you have specific preferences, you can select a rewards card that offers extra rewards for various types of purchases, including travel, groceries, meals, gasoline, among other shopping categories.

3. What is the Best Unsecured Card for Good Credit?

Our top overall pick for consumers with good credit is the Discover it® Cash Back. We like that it charges no annual fee and provides 0% APR for a promotional period after account opening.

Just one tick behind in our overall ratings is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This mileage card offers a generous welcome bonus and double miles on all purchases.

The card also provides an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®. The only mark against it is that it charges an annual fee, although there are no foreign transaction fees.

The remainder of the 10 best cards for good credit also earn high ratings. These cards include entries from Chase, Capital One, American Express, and Citi, all good choices.

4. What Types of Rewards Can I Earn with Good Credit?

If you have good credit, then you have options. You can choose the form of card rewards (cash back, miles, or points) and how you earn them (with a flat, tiered, or rotating rewards card). The available reward schemes are:

  • Flat: You earn a fixed percentage of your purchases in rewards. The percentage applies to all eligible purchases, with none worth more than others.
  • Tiered: In the tiered setup, different types of purchases earn different reward percentages. The percentages are fixed over time.
  • Rotating: This is the most complicated rewards scheme. It employs quarterly rotating categories that earn bonus rewards. You must activate the new category each quarter.

Most cards for consumers with good credit also offer one or more of the following perks:

  • Better terms: These cards offer lower APRs and higher credit limits than do cards for consumers with fair credit or worse.
  • Signup bonus: New cardmembers can earn bonus rewards by spending a set amount on purchases during the first three months (or other introductory period) after opening the account. Cards that offer very generous signup bonuses tend to have annual fees.
  • 0% APR: During an introductory period (typically six to 18 months), new cardmembers can carry balances on purchases without incurring credit card interest. Cards may also offer 0% APR on balance transfers for the same or a different period.
  • Annual fees: Some of the best cards charge no annual fee and/or foreign transaction fee.
  • Travel rewards: Travel-oriented cards may offer various extra travel rewards, including travel and/or baggage insurance, reimbursement of travel-related fees, and transfers of rewards to partnering travel loyalty programs.
  • Business perks: Business credit cards for good credit cardmembers offer business-related perks, including high rewards on office supplies, communications expenses, and expense management tools and reports.

We take all of these factors into consideration when we assign an overall rating to each reviewed card. Accordingly, we gave a rating of 4.7 or higher on a 5-point scale to our top 20 reviewed cards for good-credit consumers.

5. Which is Best: Cash Back, Points, or Miles?

Each type of reward has its own charms:

  • Cash back: For many, cash is the ultimate reward. Indeed, cash back is the easiest reward to manage. You simply redeem your accumulated cash when you choose, either as a statement credit, a check or direct deposit, or to pay for selected purchases. Consumers may prefer cash back if they aren’t frequent travelers, or if they appreciate a little extra cash each month to pay bills. Some cards let you apply cash rewards toward online purchases at merchants such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart, among others.
  • Miles: Travelers often prefer their rewards in the form of frequent flyer miles because miles may be more valuable than cash when applied to an upcoming travel purchase. Mileage cards offer higher rewards for travel and hotel purchases. In addition, these cards may offer special deals when you redeem your miles for travel accommodations and hotel stays. The best mileage cards offer miles that you can use without blackout dates. Also, look for cards that provide 1:1 mileage transfers to partner rewards programs. You can always cash out your miles, although this may not be their most valuable use. Some travel reward cards, like the Discover it® Miles, let you apply your earned miles toward a previous eligible travel purchase, effectively crediting you the purchase price.
  • Points: If you can’t decide between cash back or miles, points may be your best choice. You can convert points to cash or miles, or save them for future purchases. Some cards enhance point redemptions when you apply them in specified ways. For example, the points you earn from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel-related purchases at the Chase Ultimate Reward website.

In virtually all cases, your rewards don’t expire unless you close the account. However, always check the fine print lest you find some of your rewards evaporating after a year or two.

Miles and points require some additional work because you need to know how many are required to get a free airplane flight or hotel stay. On the other hand, by keeping your rewards in mile or point form, you may find it easier to build your balance relative to easily spent cash.

Credit Card Rewards Comparison Chart

Bottom line: The best type of reward is the one that is best for you.

6. What Kind of Fees are Associated with Cards for Good Credit?

By law, all credit cards must provide a uniformly formatted pricing box (the Schumer Box) that discloses interest charges and fees. Look for the following kinds of fees:

  • Annual membership fee: Many cards in this category offer an annual fee between $0 and $95, with nearly 70% charging $0. If you select a card with an annual fee (the average fee is $110), verify that the rewards you’ll receive justify the extra expense.
  • Transaction fees: Cards for good-credit consumers usually charge fees for balance transfers and cash advances. Typically, these fees are the greater of a fixed amount and a percentage of the transaction amount. Foreign transaction fees may be waived.
  • Penalty fees: Let’s face it, card issuers are not known for their sense of humor. Expect to pay penalty fees if you mess up. Issuers may charge fees for late payments, exceeding your credit limit, returned payments, and returned checks. The best cards may waive some of these penalty fees.

Never sign up for a card without first understanding all the fees you may encounter. If you frequently travel internationally, look for cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees.

7. What is the Difference between Good and Excellent Credit?

You should be proud of achieving good, very good, or excellent credit. The main differences between good and excellent credit are the credit card offers with generous perks, the APR on your open balance, and the size of the credit limit.

You have excellent credit when your FICO score is in the 800-850 range. When you join this exalted cohort, you can usually qualify for a credit limit of $10,000 or more, sometimes way more. In addition, look for juicy perks like free access to airport lounges, special concierge service, and VIP tickets to exclusive events and venues.

A very good or excellent credit score may allow you to get a high-limit card, such as the Amex Platinum Card or the Visa® Black Card. The Visa Black Card provides an initial credit limit of $20,000 to $25,000, assuming you meet the requirements for income. You also get 24-hour concierge service, VIP airport lounge access, periodic luxury gifts, and top-level travel insurance, eligible purchase protections, and warranty extensions.

8. How Can I Raise My Credit Score from Good to Excellent?

If you’ve achieved a good credit score, you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting necessary to earn an excellent credit score of 800 or higher. The path to excellence requires a commitment to use your credit cards in ways that positively impact your credit score.

FICO Credit Score FactorsYour fundamental strategy should be to continue paying all your bills on time, as this accounts for 35% of your credit score. This shouldn’t be too hard for you since you’ve already earned a good or very good score. You also will want to maintain a low credit utilization ratio (i.e., equal to credit used divided by credit available, comprising 30% of your score), preferably below 20%.

A long credit history length is helpful, so don’t cancel credit cards that you no longer use. Instead, use them at least once a year so that each credit bureau doesn’t treat them as dormant. This factor comprises 15% of your credit score.

The two remaining factors, credit mix and new credit, each comprise 10% of your credit score. A wide credit mix includes revolving credit accounts, personal loans, auto loans, mortgages, loans from financial companies, and student loans. Refrain from opening new credit accounts while trying to improve your credit, since it can hurt your credit score.

Don’t think of attaining an excellent score as a goal, but rather more as a lifestyle. Good financial habits generate positive momentum the longer they continue uninterrupted. The payoffs far exceed that of just owning the best credit cards, for you’ll benefit from excellent credit all the days of your life.

9. What is the Best Balance Transfer Card for Good Credit?

Balance transfers

are a way to consolidate your unsecured credit card debt. It’s advantageous in a couple of ways:

  • You may be able to reduce your interest rate on the transferred amount, especially when you take advantage of a 0% introductory APR offer. These offers typically run for six to 18 months after account opening.
  • You replace multiple payments per month with a single one, which is easier to schedule and reduces your monthly minimum payment totals. This way, you can concentrate on paying down a single card balance.

You can arrange balance transfers by contacting a customer representative as soon as you receive your new card. Give the rep a list of accounts from which you want to transfer balances to the new card under the 0% APR promotion. The rep will walk you through the process and arrange the transfers.

The process can take up to three weeks to complete. Remember to make at least the minimum payments to your old cards until you receive confirmation that their balances have been transferred out. Failure to do so can result in late fees and damage to your credit score.

You should be prepared to pay a fee for each balance transfer. The new card’s information disclosure lists the fee, which is usually around 3% to 5% of the transferred amount with a minimum fee of $5 or $10.

It’s important to refrain from using your old cards until you pay off your consolidated balance on the new card. If you run up new balances on your old cards, you’ll be in an even deeper hole for debt, raise your credit utilization ratio, and hurt your credit score. Do not cancel the old cards, even if you no longer plan to use them because it may hurt your credit score by truncating your credit history.

The total amount you can transfer to the new card depends on your credit limit, your current balance, and the transfer fee. Some issuers may impose a limit on how much you can transfer within a specified period. For example, if your new card’s credit limit is $7,000 and the fee is 5% (which works out to $350), then the most you can transfer is $7,000 minus $350, or $6,650, assuming your starting balance is $0.

We like the Citi Simplicity® Card for balance transfers. It offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for new cardmembers, but be aware of a few caveats:

  • After the introductory period ends, a standard variable APR will be applied.
  • A balance transfer fee applies.
  • Balance transfers are not eligible for cash back.

When you research the best balance transfer credit card for good credit, consider these factors:

  • The length of the introductory 0% APR promotion for balance transfers.
  • The deadline for transferring balances under the 0% APR promotion.
  • The regular APR once the introductory offer expires.
  • The balance transfer fees.
  • Credit limit and balance transfer caps.

Do not confuse a 0% APR balance transfer offer with deferred interest. When you do use the balance transfer offer, the interest on your transferred amount is waived until the offer expires, at which time the card begins to charge interest on any remaining balance.

By contrast, a deferred interest offer requires you to pay off the entire balance before the promotional period expires, or you’ll be retroactively charged all the interest that accrued during the promotion period.

10. How Can I Increase My Credit Limit?

Increasing your credit limit

isn’t intrinsically good or bad — it depends on your unique circumstances. If you’ve exhibited responsible financial habits for at least half a year and you can afford to repay a higher balance, then a higher limit can help improve your lifestyle. But if you’ve been late making payments or have maxed out your current cards, a new credit limit may make a bad situation worse.

Increasing your credit limit offers several benefits, including:

  • A lower credit utilization ratio if you don’t use all of the new credit limit. A lower CUR can help boost your credit score.
  • A safety cushion to handle financial emergencies.
  • Access to more rewards from your card.
  • Ability to charge larger purchases.
  • A credit increase is like a favorable reference — it may help you secure lower rates on new loans.

Perhaps the simplest option is to apply for a new credit card. The new card’s credit limit will increase your total credit available. A nifty trick is to apply for a new card from your current card issuer and then ask the issuer to reallocate some of your new credit line to your old card.

If you’d rather not apply for a new card, you can ask one of your current card issuers to increase the limit on an existing card. Doing so will require the issuer to pull your credit report from a credit bureau, which may reduce your credit score by five to 10 points for up to a year.

In the process, the issuer will see if you’ve already made several attempts to increase your score or have recently applied for new cards. That may weigh against you if the issuer concludes that you’re in a desperate financial situation. You can counter that conclusion by explaining why you deserve, rather than need, a higher limit.

Some reasons to justify your request for a higher limit may include:

  • You have a good to excellent credit score.
  • You have an exemplary record of on-time payments that always exceeds the minimum amount due.
  • You pay off your balance each month.
  • Your earnings have increased since you opened the account.
  • You recently graduated from college, now have income, and want to upgrade from your student credit card. It may be difficult to increase your credit limit on a student credit card.
  • You have a low credit utilization ratio. Try to get your CUR below 10% to 20% before requesting a higher limit.
  • You’re a long-time customer and have never missed a payment.
  • You plan to use the higher limit, in part, to finance balance transfers from other cards.

When you chitchat with the customer rep, be respectful and friendly. Sounding like you’re at your wits’ end will almost certainly send the rep running in the opposite direction. Also, ask for a reasonable increase — say 10% to 25% — so that you don’t come off as a shopaholic chomping at the bit to spend, spend, spend.

One of the favorite cards for higher credit limits is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. A few cardholders report a six-figure credit limit, but a more reasonable amount is $10,000 to $20,000. In addition, the card has a generous signup bonus, good rewards, and plenty of perks.

11. How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

The ideal number of credit cards is really a personal question, depending on your income, spending habits, and the size of your wallet. Are two enough? Are 40 too many? The answer hinges on a few practical considerations.

The average American consumer owns four credit cards, and most consumers can benefit from having at least one card. It’s an easy way to establish your credit profile, something you’ll need if you ever apply for loans, including mortgages and auto loans. Beyond loans and credit, having a good credit profile helps with renting an apartment, landing a job, surviving a background check, and opening a utility or cellphone account.

You’ll need at least six months of credit card usage to establish your credit score. Continuing to use your credit card will help your credit score by increasing the age of your credit history. Naturally, a good score also depends on paying your bills on time and controlling your debt levels.

The chief reason to own multiple credit cards is to maximize rewards. Cards may target various types of rewards, such as travel, business expenses, dining out, grocery shopping, purchasing gasoline at the pump, etc. By carefully diversifying your credit card portfolio, you can use the right card to get the biggest reward for every purchase.

How to Maximize Credit Card Rewards

For example, your first card may offer 5% cash back on grocery purchases and 1% on all other purchases. If you plan to take a vacation, you would do well to obtain a travel card with high rewards for flights and hotel stays, as well as various forms of travel insurance.

Perhaps you drive a lot and could benefit from a gas card. Or you own a small business and want a business credit card to benefit from your purchases of office supplies and communications services. From these examples, you can see how easy it is to work your way up to three or four cards that amply reward all your credit card purchases.

A second card can act as a backup if you max out or lose your primary card. In addition, diversifying your credit card portfolio with cards from different card networks helps when a merchant doesn’t accept all cards. For example, American Express cards are accepted at fewer U.S. locations than are cards from Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.

12. Do You Need Good Credit to Get Store Credit Cards?

Store credit cards

are among the easiest of the unsecured cards (rather than secured cards) to get. They are available to consumers with bad credit, although the credit limits may be tight. Some store cards are closed-loop (i.e., can be used only at the issuing store), while others are open-loop and can be used as general credit cards.

Store credit cards may be co-branded with a card network and associated with an issuing bank or credit union. For many consumers, an open-loop card is generally more versatile and rewarding than a closed-loop one. However, if you have fair credit or poor credit, you may have better luck being approved for a closed-loop card.

Among the closed-loop store cards, we give the Target REDcard high marks. You get a 5% discount for online or in-store Target purchases and access to exclusive deals while paying no annual fee. Like many store cards, this one has a relatively high APR, so you want to avoid carrying a balance over multiple billing cycles.

If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you very likely own or have considered owning the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Although there is a version available for non-Prime consumers, you’ll only get full benefits if you are a Prime member.

The Fingerhut Credit Account is easy to obtain if you have bad credit and is a good way to start building credit with responsible use. The account can be used for purchases at the Fingerhut online store. The initial modest credit limit may be automatically increased over time if you pay your bill when due.

If a store card rather than a secured card is your first credit card, keep in mind that it isn’t the store shopping that builds your credit. Rather, you can build your credit by paying the associated issuing bank on time each month. For example, WebBank issues the Fingerhut Credit Account and reports payment activity to the three major credit bureaus.

13. What Kind of Interest Fees Can I Expect to Pay?

The primary interest fee for credit cards is known as the annual percentage rate or APR. If you have a good credit score, you can expect an average APR of around 20%, give or take a few percentage points. However, if you pay your full balance every month, then your APR is 0% (and the credit card companies will be less than thrilled with you).

Average APR by Credit Score

Although the APR is an annual rate, you actually are billed in monthly billing cycles. The payment due date is typically 21 to 25 days after the last day of the billing cycle, known as the grace period. For purchases, you only pay interest on balances remaining after the grace period expires.

However, cash advances incur interest daily — there is no grace period. The cash advance APR need not match the purchase APR nor the balance transfer APR, all of which will be disclosed in the standard Schumer Box required by the federal Truth in Lending Act. In fact, the Schumer Box discloses all interest rates and fees your card can charge.

Credit card companies calculate your interest charges by applying a daily percentage rate (DPR), which is your APR divided by 365. It then applies the DPR to the average daily carried balance for the cycle times the number of days in the cycle. If you don’t carry a balance from previous cycles, then you won’t incur any interest.

In addition to the purchase, cash advance, and balance transfer APRs, you also may encounter a penalty APR that can replace the standard APR when you commit an infraction such as:

  • Making a late payment.
  • Making a payment that is returned, such as when you pay by check and the check bounces.
  • Exceeding your credit limit.

A penalty APR can remain in effect indefinitely. One other interest-related disclosure you’ll find in the Schumer Box is the minimum interest charge if you are charged any interest. Typically, the minimum interest charge is well under $5.00.

14. What is a Good Credit Card APR?

If you peruse the information in this review article for good credit cards, you’ll see an approximate APR range of 13.99% to 25.49%. This is a variable APR, meaning the range adjusts to changes in the Prime Rate.

The APR you will be offered depends on your creditworthiness. Within the score range for good credit, a 670 score will probably pay the maximum APR, whereas you may receive the minimum APR with a 799 credit score.

Typically, credit cards for good credit offer introductory 0% APR promotions to new cardmembers. The offer allows you to avoid interest payments on carried balances for purchases or balance transfers during the introductory period (typically six to 18 months). These promotions do not apply to cash advances.

The 0% APR promotion, coupled with a signup bonus, can help you finance big-ticket purchases. A signup bonus gives you extra rewards (bonus points, cash back, or miles) when you spend a specified amount on purchases during the bonus period (usually three months). The trick is to obtain a new card with the highest signup bonus and the longest promotional period, and then use the card to make your expensive purchase(s).

For example, imagine you need a new refrigerator that’s going to cost $1,500. After researching your options, you get a card that offers (1) a $200 cash back bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months and (2) a 15-month 0% APR on purchases by new cardmembers. By using the card to purchase your appliance, you save $200 and can finance the remaining $1,300 over 15 months (i.e., paying $86.67/month) interest-free.

15. Is Visa or Mastercard Better?

There really isn’t much difference between Visa and Mastercard except for size. Both process credit card transactions and facilitate payments from card issuers to merchants. Neither Visa nor Mastercard issues its own credit cards, in contrast to the American Express and Discover networks.

Visa is the largest card network, generating in 2019 $23 billion in total revenue with payment volume of $8.8 trillion. Mastercard is runner-up, with total revenue of $16.9 billion and payment volume of $6.5 trillion. Both are equally accepted in the U.S. by about 9 million merchants (as is Discover), but the situation may vary in other countries.

Merchants pay about the same processing fees for both networks. That fee per transaction is 1.43% to 2.4% for Visa and 1.55% to 2.6% for Mastercard.

Each credit card is associated with a card network. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ only comes as a Mastercard, so if you’d rather own a Visa card, you’ll need to make a different selection. We think most cardmembers don’t really care whether a card has a Mastercard logo or the Visa insignia.

If you travel internationally, you may prefer a card network that has greater acceptance at your destination. Also, although Visa and Mastercard share most of the same fringe benefits, either may offer a unique or better perk that sways your decision. For example, a World Elite Mastercard® offers superior concierge service, travel upgrades, and savings.

16. What is the Best Credit Card Company?

A reasonable way to pick the best credit card company is to assume that it’s the one preferred by most consumers. On that basis, Chase was Number One in 2019 with 16.6% of the market share. Citi was runner-up, having a market share of 11.6%.

Largest Card Issuers by Market Share

Chase is popular for several reasons, including:

  • A wide variety of cards.
  • Generous reward programs and signup bonuses.
  • Cards with rewards in the form of cash back, points, or miles.
  • Excellent cards for travel, business, and balance transfers.
  • In-person customer service at more than 5,100 branches.

Chase offers some of our highest-rated credit cards, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex℠, and Chase Sapphire Reserve®. But really, any Chase credit card is a good addition to your wallet, with some of the most lucrative rewards in the biz.

The Chase Sapphire twins are among our favorite travel reward cards, offering numerous perks that make travel more secure and enjoyable. Many Chase cards benefit from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program where redeemed rewards are worth more when applied to travel.

Citibank issues Citi cards, the Number Two card with 11.6% of the market share. Citibank is a huge financial institution with branches in 36 countries and operations in 140 nations. It has roots going back to Alexander Hamilton but now serves more than 2 million customers.

The Citi Double Cash® Card is our favorite card from this issuer. It is unique in that it pays you unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases when you buy and another 1% when you pay. The card charges no annual fee and provides enhanced card security, as well as eligible purchase protection.

17. Which Credit Cards Give You Instant Approval?

Most cards provide an instant approval decision. Just bear in mind that instant approval can also mean instant (or prolonged) disapproval — no issuer can guarantee approval.

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer does a hard inquiry on your credit report, a move that can lower your credit score by five to 10 points for up to a year. If that concerns you, know that most credit cards let you prequalify without damage to your credit score. Simply submit the online request form with information about your income and expenses to see whether your application can expect clear sailing.

In any event, if you have good credit, chances are that most credit cards will approve you right away — that is, in a few minutes at most. But some cards have erected barriers that don’t have anything to do with your credit score. Perhaps the most notorious of these is the Chase 5/24 Rule.

The rule limits your access to new Chase credit accounts when you’ve opened five or more credit or charge accounts in the last 24 months. We don’t mean five Chase accounts — it applies to any five credit accounts. We’re not sure how long you have to wait past the 24-month period before reapplying for a new Chase card.

Citi restricts new cards by requiring a waiting period of a certain number of days between when you can apply for additional Citi cards. The length of the waiting period is determined by the number of Citi cards already in possession as well as whether you are applying for a personal or business account.

Unlike the Chase Rule, the Citi Rule applies only to Citi accounts.

American Express has a 4/4 Rule in which you can own a maximum of four Amex credit cards and for Amex charge cards. Capital One has an even simpler limit: You can own no more than two Capital One credit cards. Some loopholes may exist — for example, co-branded Capital One cards may not count toward the limit.

Discover also limits you to two of its cards at any one time. You must have owned the first card for a year before getting the second card.

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About the Author

Eric Bank Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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