Advertiser Disclosure

Editors’ Ratings Take the Guesswork Out of Choosing a Credit Card

Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
With so many websites offering free financial tools, it can be hard to know whom to trust. At NerdWallet, we spend literally 1,000s of hours researching partner offers and following strict editorial integrity to match you with the perfect choice. We even share how we make money so you can enjoy our expert advice and researched recommendations with total clarity and confidence.
Shot of a customer paying for their order with a debit machine in a cafe

So many credit cards, so many options, so much fine print. If only there were an easy way to compare them all with one rating.

Now there is.

Our editors’ ratings are designed to take the guesswork out of choosing a credit card by evaluating a handful of common cards against specific features that matter most to consumers. By splitting ratings into popular categories, we’ve made it easy to identify which cards are best based on your specific needs. So whether you’re looking to transfer a balance or score big on rewards, our editors’ ratings reflect the top choice for you.

Categories include travel, cash back, 0% APR, secured and student cards. Every card is run through our ranking grid that considers factors such as sign-up bonuses, annual fees, point redemption value and 0% APR length. Each variable is weighted uniquely based on the card category; cash back percentage, for example, is more important on a cash back card than on a secured card, so it carries more weight in the rating for those types of cards.

A full breakdown of each category is included below.

Travel cards

  • Sign-up bonus
  • Annual fee
  • Rewards rate for travel purchases
  • Redemption flexibility
  • Point value
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Acceptance
  • Notable extras

Cash back cards

  • Sign-up bonus
  • Annual fee
  • Annual value of cash back if you maximize all bonus categories
  • Cash-back program quality
  • 0% APR period
  • Simplicity of rewards
  • Notable extras

0% APR cards

  • Penalty APR
  • Ongoing APR (best offer)
  • Balance transfer fee
  • Access to financial literacy program
  • True interest cost
  • Notable extras

Secured cards

  • Annual fee
  • Cash back/rewards percentage
  • Minimum deposit amount
  • APR
  • Access to financial literacy program
  • Notable extras

Student cards

  • Annual fee
  • Cash back/rewards percentage
  • APR
  • Redemption flexibility
  • Access to financial literacy program
  • Ability to apply with a co-signer
  • Notable extras

Kevin Cash is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: kcash@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kevin_cash.


Image via iStock.