BEST CREDIT CARDS OF JULY 2024

Best Credit Cards of July 2024

Updated: Jul 19, 2024
Paul Soucy
Written by
Lead Assigning Editor
Sara Rathner
Reviewed by
Senior Writer
Kenley Young
Edited by
Fact Checked
Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
Paul Soucy
Written by
Lead Assigning Editor
Sara Rathner
Reviewed by
Senior Writer
Kenley Young
Edited by
Fact Checked
Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
Many or all of the products on this page are from partners who compensate us when you click to or take an action on their website, but this does not influence our evaluations or ratings. Our opinions are our own.
  • 250+ credit cards reviewed and rated by our team of experts

  • 80+ years of combined experience covering credit cards and personal finance

  • 100+ categories of best credit card selections (See our top picks)

  • Objective comprehensive ratings rubrics (Methodology)

NerdWallet's credit cards content, including ratings and recommendations, is overseen by a team of writers and editors who specialize in credit cards. Their work has appeared in The Associated Press, USA Today, The New York Times, MarketWatch, MSN, NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America" and many other national, regional and local media outlets. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet's strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

Best Credit Cards of 2024: Best Offers

Best Offers

Credit card
NerdWallet rating
Annual feeIntro offerRewards rateApply now
Chase Freedom Unlimited® ImageChase Freedom Unlimited®
Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website

$0

Up to $300

1.5%-5%

Cashback
Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card ImageWells Fargo Active Cash® Card

$0

$200

2%

Cashback
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card ImageCapital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

$0

$200

1%-10%

Cashback
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ImageChase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website

$95

60,000

points

1x-5x

Points
Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card ImageCapital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

$95

75,000

miles

2x-5x

Miles
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ImageBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

$250

1%-6%

Cashback
Citi Double Cash® Card ImageCiti Double Cash® Card

$0

$200

1%-5%

Cashback
save money

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Best Credit Cards of 2024 For

Best Offers

Best Offers of 2024

Best for: Cash back for travel bookings
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
1.5%-5%
Cashback
Intro offer
Up to $300
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR
20.49%-29.24% Variable APR
Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
1.5%-5%
Cashback
Intro offer
Up to $300
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR
20.49%-29.24% Variable APR
5%
Cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠.
3%
Cash back on drugstore purchases.
3%
Cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
1.5%
Cash back on all other purchases.
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.
  • Member FDIC
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • High rewards rate

  • No minimum redemption amount

Cons
  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review
Best for: Flat-rate cash back
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
2%
Cashback
Intro offer
$200
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months from account opening
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
2%
Cashback
Intro offer
$200
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months from account opening
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR
2%
Unlimited Cash rewards on purchases.
  • Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • No categories to track or remember and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
  • Find tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations and more with your complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge.
  • Up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • View Rates & Fees
Pros
  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

Cons
  • No bonus categories

Read full review
Best for: Going out & staying in
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
1%-10%
Cashback
Intro offer
$200
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months; balance transfer fee applies
Regular APR
19.99%-29.99% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
1%-10%
Cashback
Intro offer
$200
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months; balance transfer fee applies
Regular APR
19.99%-29.99% Variable APR
10%
Cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats.
8%
Cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases.
5%
Cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.
3%
Cash back on dining.
3%
Cash back on entertainment.
3%
Cash back on popular streaming services.
3%
Cash back at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
1%
Cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
  • View Rates & Fees
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • Bonus categories

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review
Best for: Flexible redemption + big sign-up bonus
Annual fee
$95
Rewards rate
1x-5x
Points
Intro offer
60,000
points
Regular APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
Recommended credit score
Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
Annual fee
$95
Rewards rate
1x-5x
Points
Intro offer
60,000
points
Recommended credit score
Regular APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
5x
Points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠.
3x
Points on dining.
3x
Points on select streaming services.
3x
Points on online groceries.
2x
Points on all other travel purchases.
1x
Point on all other purchases.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC
Pros
  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Bonus categories

  • Primary rental car coverage

  • Flexible rewards redemption

  • Transfer partners

Cons
  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Complicated rewards

Read full review
Best for: Flat-rate travel rewards
Annual fee
$95
Rewards rate
2x-5x
Miles
Intro offer
75,000
miles
Regular APR
19.99%-29.99% Variable APR
Recommended credit score
Annual fee
$95
Rewards rate
2x-5x
Miles
Intro offer
75,000
miles
Recommended credit score
Regular APR
19.99%-29.99% Variable APR
5x
Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.
2x
Miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Enjoy $250 to use on Capital One Travel in your first cardholder year, plus earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening - that’s equal to $1,000 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • View Rates & Fees
Pros
  • High rewards rate

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons
  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review
Best for: Families & households
Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards rate
1%-6%
Cashback
Intro offer
$250
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR on on balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening
APR
19.24%-29.99% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards rate
1%-6%
Cashback
Intro offer
$250
Recommended credit score
Purchase Intro APR
0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR on on balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening
APR
19.24%-29.99% Variable APR
6%
Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6%
Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3%
Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
1%
Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 intro plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months from the date of account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each eligible purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening. After that, your APR will be a variable APR of 19.24% - 29.99%.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3% Cash Back on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit or at Amazon.com checkout.
  • $84 Disney Bundle Credit: With your enrolled Blue Cash Preferred Card, spend $9.99 or more each month on an auto-renewing Disney Bundle subscription, to receive a monthly statement credit of $7. Valid only at Disney Plus.com, Hulu.com or Plus.espn.com in the U.S.
  • Terms Apply.
  • View Rates & Fees
Pros
  • High rewards rate

  • Bonus categories

  • Intro APR period

  • Cash rewards

Cons
  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Spending caps on bonus rewards

Read full review
Best for: Long intro period + 2% cash back
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
1%-5%
Cashback
Intro offer
$200
Recommended credit score
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Regular APR
19.24%-29.24% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0
Rewards rate
1%-5%
Cashback
Intro offer
$200
Recommended credit score
Balance transfer intro APR
0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Regular APR
19.24%-29.24% Variable APR
2%
Cash back on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • View Rates & Fees
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • High rewards rate

  • Intro balance transfer fee

Cons
  • No intro APR period on purchases

Read full review
[back to top]

• • • • •

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO CREDIT CARDS

The idea behind credit cards is simple: When you use a credit card, you are borrowing money to pay for something. Later on, you must repay what your borrowed. If you take time to pay it back (rather than pay it in full when your credit card statement comes), you'll be charged interest. The whole credit cards industry rests on this basic premise.

How credit cards work

A basic credit card transaction works like this:

  1. You use your card. When it comes time to pay for something, you use your card at the cash register by running it through a card reader (or, if you're online, you enter your card information on the checkout page).

  2. The purchase is authorized. The card reader contacts your credit card company to make sure the card is valid for the purchase amount. Assuming everything is OK, the transaction is authorized.

  3. The merchant gets paid. The bank that issued your credit card sends money for the purchase to the merchant where the transaction took place.

  4. You pay. The transaction shows up on your credit card statement, and you repay the bank for the purchase.

How credit card rewards work

Many of the best credit cards of 2024 give you rewards for your spending. Rewards come in two basic flavors:

  • Cash back. You can use cash back to directly reduce your balance. In some cases, you can have your cash back deposited in a bank account or sent to you as a check.

  • Points or miles. Points and miles can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise or other things. You may also have the option of redeeming points for credit on your statement, just like cash back.

The card issuer sets the rewards rate that applies on your card. There are two basic kinds of rewards structures:

  • Flat rate. You get the same rewards rate on all spending done with the card, regardless of what you spend money on. You might get 2 points per dollar on all purchases, or 1.5% cash back on everything.

  • Bonus rewards. You earn a base rate on all spending (typically 1 point per dollar or 1% cash back) and then higher rates in certain categories — 5% cash back at gas stations, for example, or 3 points per dollar spent on travel.

How credit card interest works

When you borrow money from a bank, you usually have to pay interest, which is the cost of using the bank's money. Credit cards are unusual in that there is a way to avoid interest entirely. Most cards offer a "grace period": If you pay your balance in full on each statement — meaning you don't roll over any debt from one month to the next — you won't be charged interest. If you carry debt, though, you'll be charged interest.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF CREDIT CARDS

Credit card companies in 2024 offer different kinds of cards to meet different consumer needs. Some people put a lot of money on their cards every month and then pay them off immediately; those people benefit from a card that returns a portion of their spending in the form of rewards. Others tend to carry a balance from month to month; they're better served with a card that offers a low ongoing interest rate. Still others are working to improve their credit; issuers have cards designed for those people, too.

Here are the major types of credit cards.

Rewards credit cards

These cards "pay you back" for a portion of your spending by giving you cash, points or miles. See our roundup of the best rewards credit cards of 2024 for a range of options for different types of users. Or look into specific types of rewards cards:

Interest-saving credit cards

Credit cards for building credit

The credit cards with the richest rewards, plushest perks, lowest interest rates and longest 0% periods are available only to those with good to excellent credit. If you're still building your credit (or rebuilding it after a misstep), you'll want to hold off on applying for these cards until your score improves. However, banks have designed cards specifically for people working to improve their credit.

CHOOSING THE BEST CREDIT CARD FOR YOU IN 2024

If you're a beginner to credit cards, see our step-by-step guide to choosing a credit card. It starts by helping you figure out what cards you can qualify for, then walks you through deciding what kind of card best fits your needs. The process in short:

  1. Check your credit.

  2. Decide on a broad card type.

  3. Narrow your choices.

  4. Apply for a card that gives you the best overall value.

Comparing credit card features

Every credit card delivers value in its own way, through its own unique combination of features. And there are trade-offs involved. If you want rewards, for example, you'll probably have to accept a higher interest rate. If you want high-value perks, you'll likely pay an annual fee. If you want a low interest rate and no fees, you shouldn't expect much else from the card. In other words, you're unlikely to find a single card that offers a high rewards rate, a long 0% period, a rock-bottom ongoing interest rate, generous perks and no annual fee.

Here are the main points of comparison when looking at credit cards.

Annual fee

Some people are dead-set against paying a fee just for the privilege of carrying a credit card. But paying an annual fee is worth it in certain circumstances. With any annual fee, the math comes down to whether the value you get from the card exceeds the dollar amount you pay. Still determined not to pay? See our best credit cards with no annual fee of 2024.

Other fees

Depending on what you plan to do with the card, you'll want to take these other fees into account:

Introductory interest rate

Credit card companies drum up business by offering people with good credit a low introductory interest rate.

Ongoing interest rate

The ongoing rate is what you pay after any introductory rate expires. Some cards charge a single rate for all cardholders; others allow for a range of rates depending on your creditworthiness. In general, the better your credit, the more likely you are to qualify for a low rate. That said, if you pay your balance in full every month, your interest rate doesn't actually matter because you're never charged interest.

Rewards

Cash-back cards refund a certain percentage of the purchase price. Other cards give you a certain number of points or miles per dollar spent. Every card sets its own rewards structure, so apples-to-apples comparisons can be difficult. But when comparing rewards programs, think in terms of:

  • Earn rate. What do you get for every dollar spent?

  • Redemption value. How much do you get for your rewards when it comes time to use them?

  • Redemption options. How much flexibility do you have in using your rewards?

Sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus or welcome offer is a sum of cash (say, $150 or $200) or a batch of points or miles (say, 40,000 points or 50,000 miles) that you can earn by spending a certain amount of money in your first few months with a card. The purpose is to get you in the habit of using the card. The bonuses on many travel cards are often big enough to cover the card's annual fee for the first few years. See our best credit card sign-up bonuses of 2024.

Perks

Unlike rewards, which are what you receive for using a credit card, perks are benefits you get just for carrying a card. With some cards, particularly travel credit cards, it may be the perks that provide the bulk of the value. Premium credit cards, which have annual fees of $450 and up, tend to offer the cushiest perks. Airline credit cards and hotel credit cards can easily pay for their annual fee with their perks. A full list of potential perks would be too long to include here, but common examples include:

  • Airline/airport benefits. Lounge access. Free checked bags. Priority boarding. Elite status.

  • Hotel benefits. Free nights. Automatic room upgrades. Early check-in/late check-out. Free amenities. Elite status.

  • Statement credits. Automatic credit for such things as travel expenses, purchases from selected merchants or the application fee for trusted traveler programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

  • Purchase protections. Extended warranties. Protection in case of theft or damage. Price protection (which refunds the difference if you find the same item cheaper elsewhere). Return guarantees.

  • Rental car coverage. Supplemental coverage on top of your own auto insurance policy, or even primary coverage in place of your own policy. Learn about credit card rental coverage and see our best cards for rental car coverage.

  • Cell phone insurance. Coverage in case of loss or damage. You usually have to pay for your service with your card to qualify. See our best cards for cell phone insurance.

  • Credit tracking and security. Free credit score. Credit monitoring services. Ability to "lock" your card.

Credit-building help

When you're looking to build or restore credit, several features are more important for you than for people who already have good credit.

  • Reporting to credit bureaus. If you're using your card responsibly, you want your credit score to reflect that. Make sure that your card reports payment activity to all three credit bureaus, the companies that assemble credit reports.

  • Deposit requirements. If you're getting a secured credit card, you'll need money for a security deposit. Minimum deposits are usually in the $200 to $300 range.

  • Upgrade opportunities. As your credit improves, it's nice to be able to upgrade your account to a better card.

  • Incentives for responsible behavior. Some cards might boost your rewards rate if you pay on time, or give you access to a higher credit line.

How many credit cards should you have?

Just as there is no single best credit card for everyone, there is no perfect number of credit cards to have. It depends on your needs and how much effort you want to put into managing your credit cards.

  • There's no limit to how many cards you can have. Each lender evaluates your credit on its own term, but there's no hard limit where you have "too many cards."

  • You don't need to have multiple cards to maintain good credit score. Credit scoring formulas tend to reward you for having different types of accounts — credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc. — but it's not necessary to have multiple accounts of each type. One credit card, responsibly managed, is enough.

Advantages of carrying multiple cards

  • Maximizing rewards: One card may pay you a higher rewards rate on groceries. Another may reward you handsomely at restaurants, or on gas purchases, or for spending on travel. Having multiple cards allows you to maximize your total rewards.

  • Flexibility: Some cards are more widely accepted than others. It’s good to have a backup in situations where one card isn’t accepted. Additionally, if a card is lost, stolen or compromised, you'll have another option while you wait for a replacement.

  • More available credit: A key factor in your credit score is your credit utilization, or how much of your available credit you're using.

Risks of carrying multiple cards

  • Losing track of spending: The more cards you have, the harder it is to remember how much you’ve spent on which card.

  • Missing a payment: Multiple due dates increase the risk of missing a payment, which can trigger a late fee or (if it's late enough) even damage your credit.

• • •

METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet's Credit Cards content team selected the best credit cards of 2024 in each category based on overall consumer value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of consumers. This page includes selections across multiple categories, and a single card is eligible to be chosen as among the "best" in more than one category. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards. Factors in our evaluations include:

  • For cash back cards: Cash-back earning rates, rewards structures (such as flat-rate or tiered categories), annual fees, redemption options (including minimum redemption amounts), promotional APR periods for purchases, bonus offers for new cardholders, and noteworthy features such as loyalty bonuses or the ability to choose one's own rewards categories.

  • For travel rewards cards: Annual fees, foreign transaction fees, rewards earnings rates, ease of use, redemption options, domestic and international acceptance, promotional APR periods, bonus offers, and cardholder perks such as automatic statement credits and airport lounge access.

  • For balance transfer and 0% APR cards: Annual fees, balance transfer fees, the length of each card's 0% introductory APR period, ongoing APRs, credit-profile requirements, cardholders' access to credit scores, and other noteworthy features such as rewards or perks that give the card ongoing value beyond the promotional APR period.

  • For college student cards: Annual fees, rewards programs (both earning rates and redemption options), promotional and ongoing APRs, bonus offers for new cardholders, incentives for responsible behavior, free credit scores and other credit education, availability to applicants with thin or no credit history, and other noteworthy features such as a path to upgrade to a different product later on.

  • For credit-building cards (including bad credit or fair credit): Annual and other fees, deposit requirements for secured cards (both the minimum and maximum allowed), interest rates, upgrade options, the availability of free credit scores and other credit education and tools, reporting to credit bureaus, and other noteworthy features such as a rewards program or the ability to qualify without a credit check

  • For business cards: Annual and other fees, rewards rates, the earning structure (for example, flat-rate rewards versus bonus categories), redemption options, bonus offers for new cardholders, introductory and ongoing APRs, and other noteworthy features such as special financing arrangements, free cards for employees or tools for managing business expenses.

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Frequently asked questions

No single credit card is the best for everyone. It all depends on how you use credit and how strong your credit is.

A rewards credit card gives you a little something back with each purchase you make — usually cash back or travel points or airline miles. These cards are best for people who can pay their credit card bill in full each month. If you carry a balance from one month to the next, the interest you pay will eat up the value of your rewards.

A zero percent credit card is ideal if you're looking to finance a big purchase or pay down high-interest debt by way of a balance transfer. If you tend to carry a balance month to month, look for a card with low ongoing interest rate.

A credit-building card is designed for people who are just starting out with credit or are trying to bounce back from damaged credit. Rewards cards and zero-percent cards are available mostly to people with good to excellent credit; for those who aren't there yet, there are credit-building cards. There are options for bad credit, for fair or average credit and for people with no credit history.

Secured credit cards require you to provide a cash security deposit to open an account. Because that deposit protects the card company from risk, secured cards are much easier to qualify for than other cards. You're not guaranteed approval for a secured card, but the bar is much lower than for regular cards. Store credit cards are also generally easier to qualify for than bank cards.

Just as there is no single best card for everyone, consumers have widely different opinions about the best (and worst) credit card issuers. One person could get the runaround from customer service rep and rate a bank zero stars as a result, while another has nothing but positive experiences and gives it five stars across the board. Still, some trends emerge in customer satisfaction surveys.

J.D. Power conducts an annual study of satisfaction among major national and regional credit card issuers. It regularly rates Discover and American Express at the top among mass-market issuers. In the most recent study, USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union had the highest ratings of all, but keep in mind that only people affiliated with the military are eligible for USAA or Navy Federal products.

About the author

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Paul Soucy

Paul has been the lead editor for NerdWallet's credit cards team since 2015 and for the travel rewards team since 2023. Previously, he worked at USA Today and the Des Moines Register, then built a freelance writing and editing business focused on personal finance topics. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA. Read more
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