NerdWallet’s Top 10 Credit Card Deals of 2013
The nerds have the top 10 credit cards for everyone – whether you’re a jetsetter or family man, student or average Joe, you’ll find rewards and savings. There’s no one-size-fits all credit card. Instead, the best credit card for you depends on how debt you have, how you spend, and your travel habits. It can get a little confusing, but never fear: the nerds have crunched the numbers to find the right cards for any lifestyle!
Best No-Fee Cash Back Card: Chase Freedom
The Chase Freedom earns a full 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that change every quarter. These categories can include gas (for a full two quarters in 2013), department stores, Amazon.com, restaurants and more. And that’s not all: The Chase Freedom - $100 Cash Back has a signup bonus of $100 cash back when you spend $500 in first 3 months. We’ve found the Freedom to be great for people with long or short credit histories – no matter how long you’ve been in the banking world, there’s no beating 5% rewards and no beating free.
Best Airline Miles Card: Capital One® Venture℠ Rewards Credit Card
Frequent flyers and hotel-goers, road-trippers and backpacking-through-Europers, take note: the Capital One® Venture℠ Rewards Credit Card offers incredible rewards and versatility. It gives a full 2 No Hassle Miles per $1 spent, which can be redeemed against any travel expense, from airfare to baggage fees to dinner at your hotel. They never expire, and Capital One even suggests categories to use on your monthly statement. The $59 annual fee is waived the first year, and offset by the signup bonus of 10,000 Capital One No Hassle Miles℠ signup bonus. Perhaps most importantly, it has no foreign transaction fee. This charge usually sets you back 3% of all the money you spent overseas. If you spend $2,000 abroad, you’ve made up for the card’s annual fee in foreign transaction savings alone.
Best Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another excellent travel card, offering no foreign transaction fee and a decent rewards rate. But while the Venture is great for the long haul, the Sapphire Preferred is a summer romance – a great opportunity to take the bonus and run. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a signup bonus of 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.. Your points are also multiplied by 25% if you redeem for travel booked through Chase. Not bad, eh? As for ongoing rewards, it’ll give you one Ultimate Rewards Point per $1 spent, and 2 per $1 spent on travel and dining. The $95 annual fee is waived in the first year, so you don’t have to worry about shelling out. Just meet the spending threshold, and walk away with your bonus in hand.
Best Card for Gas and Groceries: American Express Blue Cash
If you buy groceries and drive a car, look no further. The AmEx Blue Cash Everyday earns sky-high rewards on places where you spend the most spending: 3% cash back on up to $6k spent on groceries a year, unlimited 2% at department stores and gas stations, and 1% elsewhere. This opens the door to all sorts of hacks – Amazon.com counts as a department store, and you can purchase gift cards at Safeway to earn 6% cash back on Starbucks, iTunes, Best Buy or wherever else you spend (just keep in mind the $6k spending cap). The card’s comes with a $100 signup bonus to seal the deal. For those of us who prefer home and hearth over travel, the Blue Cash is the way to go.
Best Card for Debt Relief: Discover it
The Discover it offers a full 18 months of zero interest on balance transfers, plus 6 months of zero interest on purchases. Don’t think, though, that a good balance transfer offer means sacrificing rewards: The Discover It offers 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories and has no annual fee. Plus, it has no foreign transaction fee, and your first late payment fee is waived. This card does it all.
Best No-Fee Travel Card: Capital One® Cash Rewards - $100 Cash Back Bonus
The Capital One® Cash Rewards - $100 Cash Back Bonus earns a full 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make – that means no bonus categories or enrollment to contend with, and no hassling with unwieldy rewards programs. You get 1% cash back on your purchases regularly, plus a 50% points dividend on your cardholder anniversary. It’s kind of like your regular anniversary, only, you know, Capital One doesn’t forget. The card also comes with a $100 signup bonus, which is one of the best out there for cash back, no-fee cards. If you’re looking for simplicity and solid rewards, look no further.
Best Bad Credit Card: Capital One Secured
Have you tried to make your credit go to rehab, but the banks say no, no, no? A secured card might be just the thing, and Capital One is one of the more flexible lenders in the business. A secured card works like this: You put a deposit (usually equal to your credit limit) into a bank account. You don’t touch that money again – not to pay down your debt, not to spend – until you close the account. You use the credit card normally, putting money on the card and paying it off every month. Those payments raise your credit score, and when you’ve built up enough credit, you can close the account, get your deposit back and “graduate” to a regular, unsecured credit card. As for the Capital One Secured, it’s one of the best out there, with a low $29 annual fee and a minimum security deposit of $200 that you can pay for in installments if you can’t make it all at once. Especially compared to the other bad credit cards out there, the Capital One Secured is remarkably light on fees.
Best Card for Average Credit: Capital One® Cash Rewards
If your credit falls in that in-between space of neither poor nor good, the Capital One® Cash Rewards could help you out.It has a pretty basic purchase APR and annual fee at $39, but the rewards are what set it apart. You earn 1% back on all purchases (pretty simple), but your rewards don’t expire and there are no rewards caps. As the name implies, it pays out in cash, so you don’t need to worry about gimmicks or tricks that lower your actual rewards rate. If your credit is so-so, this card could be what takes you to the next level.
Best Business Credit Card: Chase Ink
Whether you’re looking to earn rewards, get a revolving line of credit or just make your everyday transactions easier, the Chase Ink Cash offers a great deal for small business owners. To start off, it has a 6-month introductory period of 0% APR on purchases and transfers, allowing you to make a big purchase and pay it off interest-free for a year. It stands out in rewards, too. The Cash gives 5% cash back on office supplies; wireless, landline and communication services; and cable, up to $25,000 spent per year. It also offers 2% back on gas and restaurants, again up to $25,000 annually. Finally, the card comes with a lovely $200 to kick things off, earned by spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Best Student Credit Card: Discover® it for Students
The Discover It Student is rather like its adult counterpart, earning 5% cash back on categories that change every quarter. It’s nice and simple: it has no annual fee, the first late payment fee waived (we’ve all been there) and you don’t have to deal with point programs whose raison d’etre is making your life difficult. You’ve got enough on your plate without having to worry about jumping through hoops or paying fees.