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Best Credit Card

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

If American Airlines can be your go-to airline when you travel for business, this card is for you. Frequent flyers will earn valuable miles (they are worth an average of 2.32 cents each, based on our data) on not just flights, but business expenses such as telephone and cable services, car rentals and gas bills. They’ll also get travel perks like preferred boarding and free checked bags. What’s more, the 65,000-mile bonus for new cardholders—earned after spending $4,000 within four months of opening an account—is worth about $1,500, according to our estimates.

Pros

  • American Airlines miles are worth more than most airline miles, according to The Balance’s valuations
  • Great bonus for an airline-branded business card
  • Free checked bag perk (for you and four travel companions) can easily make annual fee worth it
  • Several travel and business expenses earn double miles

Cons

  • No travel insurance benefits
  • No airport lounge passes, travel credits or card perks like cellphone insurance

HIGHLIGHTS

  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions.
  • Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights so you can save time and be more productive.
  • 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi purchases when you use your card.
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when you use your card.
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Best Credit Card

Citi Simplicity

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

This card gives you 18 months to pay off balance transfers, which is one of the longest 0% balance transfer APR offers on the market right now. Long 0% APR periods spread out the financial burden of debt repayment while cutting interest costs. Plus, you’ll have four months after opening an account to take advantage of the balance transfer promotion, which is longer than some similar cards offer. That gives you time to strategize your debt repayment plan.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Offers 18 months to pay off balance transfers at 0% APR
  • No fees or penalty APR for late payments

Cons

  • Ongoing APR may be quite high compared to the competition
  • Foreign transaction fee makes using the card abroad more costly

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No late fees.
  • No penalty rate.
  • No annual fee.
  • Plus, get a low intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers and purchases.
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Best Credit Card

United℠ Explorer Card

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

We found United miles to be the most valuable of those offered by a major U.S. airline rewards program, which makes this card our top pick for frequent flyers. Not only are they worth an average 2.28 cents each, according to our research, but you’ll get 60,000 extra miles if you spend $3,000 within your first three months with the card. It’s a bonus that we value at $1,368. What’s more, restaurant, hotel, and United charges all earn 2 miles per $1 spent. It doesn’t hurt that the annual fee is waived for the first year, either.

Pros

  • Miles are worth more than most other major U.S. airline’s, according to our calculations
  • Lots of great travel perks, such as lounge passes and free checked bags
  • Extra miles can be earned on more than just flight purchases

Cons

  • Annual fee is waived the first year, but it’s still a notable cost

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No late fees.
  • No penalty rate.
  • No annual fee.
  • Plus, get a low intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers and purchases.
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Best Credit Card

Discover it® Secured

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

If you’re a first-time borrower or rebuilding a bad credit profile, finding a top-notch secured card can be tough. Thankfully, this is it. You’ll earn some decent cash back on routine purchases, and at the end of your first year, your earnings will be doubled. You won’t pay an annual fee (many secured cards charge one), and Discover will even waive your first late fee. Plus, after eight months, Discover will begin reviewing your account for a possible upgrade to an unsecured card.

Pros

  • Ability to earn cash-back rewards while building credit
  • Responsible use can lead to automatic unsecured card upgrade
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Cash-back match as a first year bonus

Cons

  • Low cap on highest rewards earning rate
  • Mediocre maximum credit limit compared to other secured cards

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It’s a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can’t help you build a credit history.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO Credit Score.
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Best Credit Card

Wells Fargo Cash Back College

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

Busy students need a card that makes using credit worthwhile and educational, and that’s why this one shines. For your first six months with the card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on as much as $2,500 that you spend on gas, groceries and drugstore items. During that introductory period, you’ll also pay no interest on purchases. Access to resources like free FICO credit scores and Wells Fargo’s credit education hub make this a valuable learning tool as well. Just note that you need to be an existing Wells Fargo customer to apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Offers rewards on everyday purchases, unlike many other student cards
  • 0% APR promotional offers that are rare for a student card

Cons

  • Must have a Wells Fargo account to apply
  • Rewards earning rate drops after six months
  • Foreign transaction fee means using this card overseas costs extra

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Build credit history while you’re in college.
  • 3% cash rewards earned for up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months. Enjoy 1% cash rewards for other purchases.
  • Access your FICO Credit Score.
  • Existing Wells Fargo relationship needed to apply online.
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Best Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

This card has a sky-high annual fee, but its rich rewards-earning rates on travel and restaurant purchases, a $300 annual credit toward travel, and superior travel perks (who doesn’t want unlimited access to participating airport lounges?) make it more than worthwhile for the frequent traveler. Plus, you’ll get some terrific flexibility when it comes time to redeem your reward points. You can use them to book your choice of airline or hotel through the Chase online portal, or you can transfer them (usually at a 1-to-1 ratio!) to any eligible airline or hotel rewards programs.

Pros

  • Earn extra points for travel and dining purchases
  • Many different purchases count as travel spending, which makes earning rewards easier
  • Several valuable ways to use points, including transfers to partner loyalty programs
  • Jam-packed with valuable travel credit and travel insurance benefits

Cons

  • Massive annual fee
  • High ongoing APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Receive 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Get an annual $300 travel credit for eligible purchases charged to your card each anniversary year.
  • Earn 3 points on travel (excluding purchases eligible for the travel credit), restaurants, and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.
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Best Credit Card

Discover it® Miles

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

Despite its branding, Discover it Miles essentially functions as a cash-back card with superb flexibility. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend and can redeem those miles for statement credits on prior travel purchases or as cash back directly deposited in your bank account. (Miles are always worth 1 cent each.) You can even use them right at checkout on Amazon.com. What’s more, this card offers 0% APR on purchases for 14 months, and Discover will match all rewards earned your first year as a cardholder. This bonus is worth about $365, based on average U.S. household spending.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Miles can be redeemed as travel statement credits or cash back
  • Generous, unconventional bonus doubles your first year earnings
  • Competitive 0% purchase APR offer

Cons

  • Miles can’t be transferred to airline loyalty programs
  • No travel insurance benefits
  • Card acceptance may vary compared to Visa or Mastercard

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Only Discover automatically matches all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, rideshares, and more with no blackout dates. Then easily redeem miles as a statement credit for travel or get cash.
  • No annual fee.
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Best Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

This well-rounded card deserves our top honor and a place in your wallet. Earning cash back is super simple, since there are no categories or limitations to worry about. You’ll get a respectable 1.5% cash back on every dollar you spend, everyday, plus a $150 bonus if you charge $500 in your first three months with the card. If you have a big purchase to make, you’ll get 15 months interest-free on new purchases thanks to its introductory offer. All this makes for an excellent card without an annual fee.

Pros

  • Solid cash-back rate on every dollar you spend
  • Simple, no-fuss cash back is easy to earn and redeem
  • Competitive welcome bonus

Cons

  • No interest-free promotion on balance transfers

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Every purchase earns 1.5% cash back, and the total cash back you can earn is unlimited.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.