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Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards: Broken Down by Category

Updated Feb 15, 2024   |   15-min read

Comparing multiple credit cards to try and find the best one for your needs can seem tiresome and even leave you unsure of your decision. But finding the best credit card doesn’t need to be complicated. Our editorial team reviewed many credit cards to determine the best in their respective categories.

Everyone’s spending habits are different. With this in mind, we’re giving you the opportunity to choose which credit card category you’re most interested in, and we’ll show you our top choices within that category. All you need to do is select a category from the list below, and you’ll jump to a section where you can compare these selections.

In general, the cards you’ll find below offer top-of-the-line rewards programs, large welcome offers, affordable annual fees, and more.

Top Cards by Category:

Cash back

Here are our picks for the best credit cards for earning cash back. Click on the name of a card you want to learn more about to drop down to its review.

Card NameRewardsAnnual feeBest for
Chase Freedom Unlimited®1.5% – 5%$0Best overall for earning cash back
Chase Freedom Flex1% – 5%$0Best for rotating categories
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express1% – 6%$0 year 1, then $95Best for groceries and gas
American Express Cash Magnet1.5%$0Best AmEx card for earning cash back on all purchases
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express1% – 3%$0Best for groceries and gas with no annual fee

>>Read more: Best credit card perks offered today

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

LendEDU Rating: 4.9/5

Rewards rate: 1.5% – 5%

Annual fee: $0

Where it excels: This card offers a terrific introductory bonus, a high cash-back rate on bonus categories and other purchases, and no annual fee

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is our top-rated option for earning cash back. New cardholders earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they purchase (up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

Here is the rewards rate breakdown after your first year or $20,000 spent:

  • 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • 3% on dining
  • 3% on drugstores
  • 1.5% on all other purchases

Pros

  • Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open

  • No limitations on how you redeem your cash back

  • The non-category-specific reward rate is higher than most cash back cards

  • A welcome bonus with a low spending requirement

  • Contactless payment

  • No annual fee

  • Added benefits from partners such as DoorDash and Lyft

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Chase Freedom Flex

LendEDU Rating: 4.9/5

Rewards rate: 1% – 5%

Annual fee: $0

Where it excels: This card offers a solid introductory bonus, a high cash-back rate on bonus categories, and has no annual fee

The Chase Freedom Flex card is our top-rated card for earning cash back on rotating categories. New cardholders can earn $200 after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®
  • 5% on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • 3% on dining
  • 3% on drugstores
  • 1% on all other purchases

Pros

  • Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open

  • No limitations on how you redeem your cash back

  • A welcome bonus with a low spending requirement

  • No annual fee

  • Added benefits from partners such as DoorDash and Lyft

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

  • You must activate the rewards rate on rotating categories each quarter

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.8/5
  • Rewards rate: 1% – 6%
  • Annual fee: $0 year one; then $95
  • Where it excels: This card offers one of the larger welcome bonuses and has one of the highest cash-back rates on bonus category spending

Rates and Fees. Terms Apply.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is our top-rated card for earning cash back on groceries and gas. New cardholders can earn $250 back in statement credits after they spend $3,000 in purchases with the card in the first six months.

The annual fee of $95 shouldn’t deter those who pay monthly subscriptions for streaming services or spend $6,000 a year at supermarkets. The value of that spending, plus spending on other bonus categories, will provide more than enough to cover the annual cost of card ownership.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 6% on groceries up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets
  • 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% on transit
  • 3% at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% on other purchases

Pros

  • Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open

  • A large welcome bonus for new cardmembers that meet the minimum spending requirement

  • Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and members-only events

    Contactless payment

Cons

  • Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


American Express Cash Magnet

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.6/5
  • Rewards rate: 1.5%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card offers a generous welcome bonus, has one of the higher cash back rates for all purchases, and does not have an annual fee

Terms Apply.

The American Express Cash Magnet card is one of American Express’s newer cards. It’s excellent for those who prefer to earn more on all purchases than on specific bonus categories. New cardholders can earn $150 after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 1.5% on all purchases

Pros

  • Cash back doesn’t expire as long as your account is open

  • A welcome bonus with a lower-than-average spending requirement

  • No annual fee

  • Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and members-only events

  • Contactless payment

Cons

  • Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.7/5
  • Rewards rate: 1% – 3%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card offers a generous welcome bonus, has competitive bonus category rewards rates, and does not have an annual fee

Rates and Fees. Terms Apply.

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of the issuer’s most well-known cards and is our top-rated card for earning cash back on groceries and gas without an annual fee. A new cardholder can earn $200 in statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first six months.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 3% on groceries on up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets, then 1%
  • 3% on U.S. online retail purchases on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
  • 3% on gas at U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
  • 1% on other purchases

Pros

  • Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open

  • A welcome bonus with a lower-than-average spending requirement

  • No annual fee

  • Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and members-only events

Cons

  • Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Travel rewards

Here are our picks for the best credit cards for earning travel rewards. Click on the name of a card you want to learn more about to drop down to its review.

Card NameRewardsAnnual feeBest for
American Express® Gold card1x – 4x$250Best overall for travel rewards
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card1x – 2x$0 for the 1st year, then $99Best for flying Delta
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card2x$95Best for earning miles on all purchases

American Express® Gold Card

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.8/5
  • Rewards rate: 1x – 4x
  • Annual fee: $250
  • Where it excels: This card offers a generous welcome bonus, has some of the highest bonus category rewards rates, and comes with a variety of added benefits

Rates and Fees. Terms Apply.

The American Express® Gold Card is our top-rated card for earning travel rewards. New cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $4,000 within the first six months of account opening.

You can cover the $250 annual fee each year if you use this card for dining, groceries, and booking flights. You’ll also get credit as an added benefit for being a cardholder.

Here’s the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 4x points on restaurants
  • 4x points on groceries at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per year
  • 3x points on flights booked with airlines or on AmEx Travel
  • 1x points on other purchases

Pros

  • One of the highest rewards rates for restaurant purchases

  • A generous welcome bonus with a manageable spending requirement

  • Up to $10 in monthly statement credits when spending on select dining

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Travel benefits for hotel stays, travel assistance, insurance, and more

  • Contactless payment

Cons

  • Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

  • A large annual fee

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.7/5
  • Rewards rate: 1x –2x
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $150
  • Where it excels: This card offers a generous welcome bonus, plenty of rewards opportunities on food-related purchases, and comes with multiple Delta-specific benefits

Rates and Fees. Terms Apply.

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is our top-rated credit card for earning rewards with Delta. New cardholders can earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first six months of account opening.

Cover the $150 annual fee if you spend $10,000 on the card yearly: Cardholders who spend $10,000 in a calendar year will earn a $200 Delta flight credit. This benefit will give you more value than the card’s cost, even before factoring in the rewards rates and other benefits.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 2x miles at restaurants
  • 2x miles at U.S. supermarkets
  • 2x miles on direct purchases with Delta
  • 1x miles on other purchases

Pros

  • Frequent Delta flyers can earn 2x miles on direct purchases with the airline

  • A generous welcome bonus with a manageable spending requirement


  • Your first checked bag is free on Delta flights

  • A $200 Delta flight credit when you spend $10,000 on your card in a calendar year

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Several other travel benefits, insurance protections, and more

  • Contactless payment

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

  • Annual fee

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.8/5
  • Rewards rate: 2x
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Where it excels: This card offers a massive welcome bonus and a high rewards rate on all purchases made with the card

The Venture Rewards from Capital One is best for those interested in earning the most miles back on all purchases rather than specific bonus categories. New cardholders can earn a bonus of 75,000 miles by spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Cover the $95 annual fee can be covered if you make this your go-to card and use the rewards rate of 2x miles back on every dollar in purchases with the card.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 2x miles on all purchases

Pros

  • The highest all-purchase rewards rate of any travel card we reviewed

  • A large welcome bonus with two tiers of rewards for those who can’t meet the second spending requirement

  • Up to $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

  • Access to VIP tickets, five-star meals, and more

  • Enjoy two complimentary visits to Capital One Lounges or to over 100 Plaza Premium Lounges per year

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

  • Annual fee

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Building credit

Here are our picks for the best credit cards for building credit. Click on the name of a card you want to learn more about to drop down to its review.

Card NameRewardsAnnual feeBest for
Petal 2 Visa CardUp to 1.5%$0Best overall for building credit
Capital One Platinum SecuredNone$0Best secured card

Petal 2 Visa Card

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.9/5
  • Rewards rate: 1% – 1.5%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card is designed to help cardholders build credit with the added benefit of earning cash back on purchases along the way

Petal credit cards are issued by WebBank, Member FDIC

The Petal 2 Visa Card is our top-rated credit card for building credit. If cardholders make on-time payments, the cash-back reward can increase from 1% to 1.5% on all purchases. The credit limit will be between $300 to $10,000.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • Up to 1.5% on all purchases when you pay on time
  • 2% to 10% at select merchants

Pros

  • One of the highest cash-back opportunities for a credit-building credit card

  • No annual, international, or late payment fees

  • Earn an increased cash-back rate for spending with select merchants

  • Your spending and on-time payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus

  • The ability to freeze your card to protect your account

  • Monitor your credit score for free with the Petal app

  • Manage popular subscriptions and learn how to cancel what you don’t use through the Petal app

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on purchases or balance transfers

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Capital One Platinum Secured

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.8/5
  • Rewards rate: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card offers all the features cardholders need to build their credit through a secured card

The Capital One Platinum Secured is our top-rated secured credit card. You’ll need a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200 to open an account. For a higher credit line, cardholders can deposit additional funds before the account opens. Cardholders can’t earn cash back or travel rewards with this card.

Pros

  • Be considered for an automatic higher credit line in as little as six months

  • Select your monthly due date and payment method

  • Spending and on-time payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus

  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on purchases or balance transfers

  • No rewards opportunities

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Students

Here are our picks for the best credit cards for students. Click on the name of a card you want to learn more about to drop down to its review.

Card NameRewardsAnnual feeBest for
Journey Student Rewards from Capital OneUp to 1.25%$0Best overall for students
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students1%$0Best for international students

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

  • LendEDU Rating: 5/5
  • Rewards rate: 1% – 5%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card is an excellent way for students to start building credit while in school and earn rewards along the way

The Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One is our top-rated student credit card. Most student cards avoid offering rewards to cardholders because they’re considered riskier than individuals with established credit histories. For Journey Student Credit Card cardholders, earning cash back on all purchases is possible. Better yet, those who pay on time can get 1.25% back on all purchases.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 1% on all purchases, boosted to 1.25% each month you make on-time payments.
  • 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Terms apply.

Pros

  • Gives cardholders the chance to boost their cash-back rate when making on-time payments

  • Unlimited access to your credit score and tools to help you monitor your credit profile with CreditWise from Capital One

  • Automatic credit line reviews

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Contactless payment

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on purchases or balance transfers

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.5/5
  • Rewards rate: 1%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card offers students the ability to build credit, earn cash back, and take advantage of additional benefits such as a year of Amazon Prime Student

The Deserve EDU is a fantastic card for students to earn cash back and get added benefits while building credit. Those interested can prequalify in seconds without affecting their credit score. The Deserve app makes managing your credit easy.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 1% on all purchases

Pros

  • International students don’t need a Social Security number to apply

  • Prequalify with no impact on your credit score

  • Get a free year of Amazon Prime Student

  • Cellphone protection up to $600

  • Deserve app makes managing your credit card easy

  • No annual or international fees

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on purchases or balance transfers

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Balance transfers

Here is our pick for the best credit card for balance transfers. Click on the name of the card to drop down to its review.

Card NameRewardsAnnual feeBest for
TD Cash Visa Credit Card1% – 3%$0Best for balance transfers and dining

TD Cash Visa Credit Card

  • LendEDU Rating: 4.6/5
  • Rewards rate: 1% – 3%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Where it excels: This card comes with a long promotional period for balance transfers, bonus category and all other purchase rewards, and no annual fee

The TD Cash Visa Credit Card is best for balance transfers and dining rewards. The 0% APR promotional period lasts for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers, and you enjoy no restrictions on how long you have to make that transfer to take advantage of the promotional APR. New card members can earn $150 when they spend $500 within 90 days after account opening.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 3% on dining
  • 2% at grocery stores
  • 1% on all other purchases

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer with a low spending requirement

  • Long introductory balance transfer APR

  • High cash-back rate on dining

  • Contactless payment

  • No annual or international fees

Cons

  • Balance transfer fee is not waived during the 0% promotional APR period

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


Business

Here is our pick for the best credit card for businesses. Click on the name of the card to drop down to its review.

Card NameRewardsAnnual feeBest for
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card1.5%$0Best overall for businesses

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

LendEDU Rating: 4.8/5

Rewards rate: 1.5%

Annual fee: $0

Where it excels: This card comes with a valuable welcome bonus, a high cash-back rate on all purchases, and no annual fee

The Ink Business Unlimited card is our top-rated credit card for businesses. New businesses can earn $750 after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. Redeem your cash back with no restrictions on the amount or how you take it out.

Here is the rewards rate breakdown:

  • 1.5% on all business purchases

Pros

  • Sizable welcome offer with a manageable spending requirement

  • Solid cash-back rate on all purchases

  • Get employee cards at no additional cost

  • No annual fee

Cons

  • Limited benefits outside the cash back

To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here.


What are the best credit cards?

Here is a recap of the top-rated credit cards for each category.

Card nameCategoryWhat stands out
Chase Freedom UnlimitedCash back1.5% cash back on all purchases
American Express® Gold CardTravel4x points on restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets
Petal 2 Visa CardCredit buildingUp to 1.5% cash back
Journey Student Credit CardStudentsUp to 1.25% cash back on all purchases
TD Cash Visa Credit CardBalance transfers3% cash back on dining
Ink Business UnlimitedBusiness1.5% cash back on all purchases

How we chose the best credit cards

To find the best credit cards, our editorial team reviewed many cards by specific categories, including rewards rates, welcome bonuses, annual fees, and more. The weight assigned to each category depends on the type of credit card reviewed.

To learn more about our ratings and methodology, click here.

How to find the best credit card

When it comes to finding the best credit card, you must determine what you plan to use the card for. Since most credit cards are designed to target specific categories rather than offer everything in one, you won’t find one credit card that’s best for all purposes.

When looking for the best credit card, you should consider:

  • What you want to use your card for
  • What you want to get out of your card
  • Whether you can spend responsibly enough to make the card worth it

Who offers the best credit cards?

No single credit card company offers the best credit cards. Companies provide cards that target different categories. A company may claim to provide the best credit card for travel but provide a second-rate secured credit card.

As a cardholder, your views may differ on whether a company is the best. The best credit card company depends on whether the cardholder is satisfied with the product. However, it’s a good indicator when many customers agree a company offers solid products and services.

With that in mind, J.D. Power’s 2020 Credit Card Satisfaction Study reviewed all the eligible companies to provide a ranking of the top credit card companies in the eyes of the cardholders. Here are the top five national issuers:

The Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking was based on a 1,000-point scale. The industry average was 810.

How your credit score affects your options

Credit scores are a significant part of applying for a credit card. Credit card companies use your credit score to determine the risk they’ll take to provide you with credit. Your score helps them with the approval process and is a factor in determining your interest rate if approved. Credit scores break down like this:

  • Excellent (720 – 850)
  • Good (690 – 719)
  • Fair (630 – 689)
  • Poor (350 – 629)

Credit cards for good to excellent credit

If your credit score falls within the good to excellent range, you will likely be approved for the best credit cards. With a higher credit score, credit card companies consider you less risky and more likely to pay your bill on time. Here are some credit cards worth considering if you have good to excellent credit:

Credit cards for poor to fair credit

If your credit score falls in the poor to fair range, being approved for some of the best credit cards might be challenging. Credit card companies might see you as a risky candidate and decline you for most unsecured credit cards.

It’s normal for students to have little to no credit history. So companies offer student credit cards that allow you to build your credit history—some while earning rewards.

Borrowers with bad credit still have options. Credit cards for bad credit are available, but the terms will differ from typical unsecured cards. For example, these cards may require a security deposit and offer a lower credit limit. Here are credit cards worth considering if you have poor to fair credit:

How to use your credit card appropriately

It is essential to take your time when looking for the best credit card. Credit cards come with a lot of responsibility, so on-time payments will take you a long way in earning the rewards you signed up for.

Ensure you find a comfortable spending limit considering your income and monthly expenses. This allows you to spend within your range and reduce the chance of a missed payment.

Other credit card resources