Best Credit Cards for 2019

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Chase Freedom Reviews

Best for Cash Back Rewards

Chase Freedom

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Highlights

  • No annual fee to pay
  • 3% cash back rewards up to $20,000 spent
  • 1.5% cash back after that
  • No minimum to redeem cashback rewards
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on either new purchases or balance transfers
  • Free weekly credit score monitoring through Credit Journey
  • Zero liability protection for unauthorized transactions

Card Details

  • Annual Fee:
    $0
  • Rewards Rate:
    3% on purchases up to $20,000; 1.5% after that
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% for first 15 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee:
    Greater of $5 or 3% of each transfer
  • APR After Intro Period:
    17.24% to 25.99%
  • Cash Advance Fee:
    Greater of $10 or 5% of each transaction amount

Editor's Take

The Chase Freedom Card is an excellent choice for a low-cost card that actually comes with a strong cash back rewards program. There’s no annual fee, even after the first year. Another stand out feature is that you can get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on both balance transfers and new purchases.

There is a fee when you transfer other balances, which amounts to the greater of either $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. A $1,000 balance transfer would then cost you $30 but on the plus side, you wouldn’t need to pay interest for over a year. Chase Freedom is designed for applicants with a “good” or better credit score.

User Reviews

Company reviews by real customers like you

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BankAmericard  Reviews

Best for Balance Transfers

BankAmericard

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on Bank of America's secure website

Highlights

  • No annual fee to pay
  • 0% APR balance transfer available for 15 billing cycles
  • No balance transfer fee during first 60 days of opening your account
  • Future balance transfers cost 3% with a $10 minimum
  • Free FICO score updated every month via online account or mobile app
  • No penalty APR if you make a late payment
  • $0 liability guarantee to protect your account from fraudulent transactions

Card Details

  • Annual Fee:
    $0
  • Rewards Rate:
    None
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% for first 15 billing cycles
  • Balance Transfer Fee:
    $0 during first 60 days; then 3% of transfer amount ($10 min.)
  • APR After Intro Period:
    15.24% to 25.24%
  • Cash Advance Fee:
    Greater of $10 or 3% of each transaction amount

Editor's Take

The BankAmericard from Bank of America has no annual fee. On top of that, there’s a 0% APR for balance transfers that lasts 15 months and with no balance transfer fee when the transaction is completed in the first 60 days of opening your new card.

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Capital One Platinum Reviews

Best for Building Credit

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on Capital One's secure website

Highlights

  • No annual fee
  • Average credit applicants ok
  • Get a higher credit line after 5 months of on-time payments
  • Minimum credit line for approved applicants is $300
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise
  • Balance transfer offers vary
  • Fraud coverage provided for lost or stolen credit cards

Card Details

  • Annual Fee:
    $0
  • Rewards Rate:
    N/A
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee:
    N/A
  • APR After Intro Period:
    26.99%
  • Cash Advance Fee:
    Greater of $10 or 3%

Editor's Take

For applicants with an average credit score, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card lets you build your credit over time. Once you’ve made on-time payments for five months, you can get an extended line of credit. Plus, there’s no annual fee so it’s a cost-effective way to improve your credit score.

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Pick the Type of Credit Card You Need

When choosing the right credit card, you should first start to think about your financial goals. For a lot of people, a credit card helps you purchase large ticket items before you have the cash available in your bank account. Other people may want to build their credit score in order to qualify for more sophisticated types of financing in the future.

Here are three common scenarios for picking a credit card based on specific financial goals.

Cards for No Credit History

If you have no credit history at all, or even if you have bad credit, there are a couple of options for you that can help you create a better financial foundation. If you’re in college with not much of a financial background, try a student credit card. You’ll likely have a low limit, but it’s a great way to start earning more trust from creditors.

Secured credit cards can help if you have a negative credit history. You’ll need some type of collateral, usually cash in a savings account, but your on-time payments will be reported to one or more credit bureaus. Interest rates might be higher, so try to pay off your balance each month. Since you probably already have the cash in an account, a secured credit card is more about rebuilding that history rather than borrowing money.

Balance Transfer Cards

A balance transfer card is an effective way to consolidate one or more credit cards taking advantage of a lower APR. Many credit card companies offer an introductory period where you can pay either low interest rate or even a 0% APR for a set period of time.

If you have a solid plan for paying off that debt within that timeframe, you could save a lot of money compared to the older card’s rate. There are, however, a few details to be aware of before choosing a balance transfer card.

First, check to see if there’s a balance transfer fee. Oftentimes, this is charged as a percentage of the debt you’re transferring from other cards. For example, if there’s a 2% transfer fee and you’re bringing over $10,000 in debt, you’ll have to pay $200. Run the numbers to make sure you’re not paying more than you’re likely to save.

Secondly, find out what happens after the introductory period is over. Credit card companies sometimes impose penalties if you have a balance after that beginning period. Also, if you miss a payment at any time, you may be retroactively charged interest at the higher rate.

Rewards Program Cards

If you have relatively strong credit, you could qualify for a credit card with a rewards program. These come in different categories; for instance, you can find cash back rewards, travel rewards, or retail-specific rewards programs.

Before you apply, find out how points are accumulated and if there’s any distribution amount minimum. Usually, you need to actually pay your balance off before earning points. Different programs also vary in whether one dollar equals one point. For cash back programs, you’ll definitely want to check the conversion ratio to get an idea of how much you’ll earn.

You may also have to wait until you earn a certain amount of points before you can exchange them for your rewards. Finally, some credit card companies require you to cash in your points on their own shopping or travel platform. At the very least, you’ll get a better conversion ratio when you do.

How to Compare Credit Cards

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of credit card you want, you can then compare your offers based on a few different features.

  • APR: The annual percentage rate tells you how much interest you’ll be charged over the course of a year.
  • Annual fee: Think twice if you have to pay an annual fee on your card. An exception is a rewards card that earns you more than you spend on the fee each year.
  • Purchase protections: Many credit cards offer perks like retail purchase protection (if something is damaged or goes on sale with a certain timeframe)
  • Travel protections: You may also get trip cancellation protections, lost baggage protection, and rental car insurance. For frequent travels, these benefits offer a lot of value.
  • Miscellaneous fees: Check your card’s policy on things like late payment fees, foreign transaction fees, and cash advance fees.

After you’ve collected these details, prioritize what’s most important to you. APR definitely matters if you intend to carry a balance.

If you don’t travel a lot, you probably shouldn’t care about travel protection benefits. If, on the other hand, you’re more concerned about late payments or other potential fees, compare your card offers based on those factors.

Understand Impact of Credit

Throughout the credit card selection process, remember that your credit score is the primary determining criteria in whether or not your application is approved and what kind of APR you can expect. Not all credit cards are created equally, so even though you get denied for one doesn’t mean you’ll get denied for every single one.

If your application does get turned down, request a copy of your credit score from the credit card company. By law, they’re required to give you a copy as well as a reason why you were denied.

Don’t be shy when it comes to finding out why your credit card application was turned down. Instead, figure out the problem so you can come up with a solution.

If you want to focus on qualifying for a specific type of card that requires a better credit score, you’ll know exactly what steps to take. Whether it’s paying off existing debt or establishing a better repayment history, you can start taking action to reach that goal.

In the meantime, you can consider applying for a different card that fits your actual credit profile since you’ll know exactly what the creditor sees when you apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is interest charged on a credit card?

When you don’t pay your balance in full by the due date, you’ll start to be charged interest on the remaining balance. The way it’s calculated depends on your card agreement, so read that carefully to know what to expect. In most cases, credit card companies charge interest daily, so you’re constantly being charged more when you have an outstanding balance.

Do credit cards affect your credit score?

Yes, credit cards impact your credit score in several ways. When you make your payments on time each month, you’ll contribute to a stronger credit score. But if you have frequent late payments, your score will drop. Similarly, too much credit card debt can also hurt your score, especially if your cards are maxed out or close to it.

Can applying for multiple cards hurt your score?

Every time you apply for a credit card, a separate inquiry is listed on your credit report. Each one drops your credit score by about 5 to 10 points for a full year. After that, that score impact goes away, but the inquiry itself is still listed for another year.

Should you pay your credit card in full?

Paying off your balance in full each month saves you money because you won’t accrue any interest on your account. If you participate in a rewards program, you can accumulate points without being charged interest, making it a win-win if you’re simply charging things you’d pay cash for in the first place.
Chase Freedom Reviews

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