Finding the best credit cards is both an art and science. To some extent it’s about the numbers. You look for cards with the lowest interest rates or fees, or the highest rewards. But it’s also about matching the best credit card with your specific financial needs.
As a result, the top card will vary from one person to the next. You should consider what your financial goals are, such as earning rewards, paying down debt with a 0% offer, or just having an everyday card you can use. You also need to consider your credit score.
With those caveats in mind, we’ve assembled a list of the three Best Credit Cards for 2016 by category as selected by the editors of allcards.com. There are, of course, other options. With each category we’ve included a link to a larger list of credit cards. And following this list, you’ll find more details about these offers and information about our ranking methodology.
*I’ve marked with an asterisks those cards that I currently carry and use.
Best Cash Back Cards
There are two approaches to cash back cards. Either you carry one card with excellent rewards, or you carry multiple cards to get the most out of every purchase. The one card approach is simple, but doesn’t maximize your rewards. The multiple card approach is a bit of a hassle, but you get the most cash back.
I opt for the simple approach. And for that reason, the Citi® Double Cash Card is my card of choice. It pays a total of 2% cash back once you’ve paid for your purchases. And that’s why it makes the top of our list for 2016. If you want to maximize your cash, the Chase Freedom and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express are excellent options.
Here is a side-by-side comparison:
|Card Name||Cash Back Details||Signup Bonus|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||1% on every purchase + 1% as you pay for those purchase||N/A||$0|
|Chase Freedom*||Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate; 1% on all other purchases||Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening||$0|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||6% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases||Get $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months||$75|
Best Balance Transfer Cards
Finding the best 0% card for balance transfers is primarily about the numbers. You want a 0% offer that lasts as long as possible. And to the extent available, you’d prefer not to pay a transfer fee. The Chase Slate card is the only offer currently available with no balance transfer fee, and the 0% introductory rate lasts a respectable 15 months.
There are offers that have longer 0% introductory rates, but they all come with a 3% balance transfer fee.
|Card Name||Balance Transfer Period||Balance Transfer Fee|
|Chase Slate||15 months||$0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days||$0|
|BankAmericard® Credit Card||18 billing cycles||3% (min. $10)||$0|
|Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer||18 months||3%||$0|
See also: A longer list of 0% credit cards
Best Travel Rewards Card
Travel cards represent a diverse universe of rewards. These include general travel rewards that are independent of a specific company, airline miles cards, hotel rewards cards, and even specialty cards. As such, it’s difficult to pick the “best” travel card. A lot will depend on how you use the card and how you travel.
With that said, our top pick goes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s 2x points and 50,000 bonus points make it hard to beat.
|Card Name||Travel Rewards||Bonus Rewards|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card*||2X miles per dollar on every purchases||Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel||$0 intro for first year; $59 after that|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases||Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®||Intro Annual Fee $0 the first year, then $95|
|BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card||Earn 1.5 points per $1||20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days – that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases||$0|