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The best credit cards of January 2021

At a glance

Citi Simplicity® Card

Annual Fee
See Terms
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Credit Score
Good to Excellent
Editor's Rating
A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
4.85 out of 5 Stars

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99%–23.74% variable APR
Credit Score
Good to Excellent
Editor's Rating
A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
4.6 out of 5 Stars

Citi® Double Cash Card

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Credit Score
Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application. A tooltip
Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.
Excellent
Editor's Rating
Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed. A tooltip
Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed.
A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
5 out of 5 Stars

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

This page includes information about the Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Secured, which are currently not available on Business Insider and may be out of date.  

The best credit cards available now:

Given the wide range of benefits, rewards, and annual fees available, it's impossible to name one single best credit card. But if you're looking to find the best credit card for you, breaking it down by category is a good way to approach your search.

For example, if you're just getting started with credit, a student credit card or a card that doesn't require a high credit score is an ideal pick. If you're looking to earn travel rewards, on the other hand, you'll want to look at cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

The best credit cards in 2021

Best for balance transfers:

Annual Fee
See Terms
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Credit Score
Good to Excellent
A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
4.85 out of 5 Stars
Editor's Rating
Annual Fee
See Terms
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Credit Score
Good to Excellent
A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
4.85 out of 5 Stars
Editor's Rating
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • The information related to the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
    • One of the longest 0% APR periods on balance transfers (see terms for details)
    • No rewards program
    • Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
    • Purchase Protection
    • Automatic Account Alerts
    Pros
    • Offers the longest intro APR period for balance transfers (21 months)
    • No late fees or penalty APR for late payments
    Cons
    • Higher balance transfer fee than some other cards
    • Doesn't offer rewards, so you may want to upgrade to another card once you're done paying off your debt
    Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

     

    Pros: Long introductory APR period on balance transfers, 18-month intro APR period for purchases

    Cons: No rewards

    If you're looking to transfer your existing credit card balance to a new card that offers a long introductory APR period, you can't do better than the Citi Simplicity® Card. It offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the date of your first transfer. (You must complete your balance transfers in the first four months from your account-opening date.) After the 18-month intro APR period on balance transfers ends, there's a 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) rate.  There's a balance transfer fee of 3%, with a minimum charge of $5.

    To get the full benefit out of the Citi Simplicity® Card, you'll want to make sure you pay off your balance before the 18-month introductory period is over. The key to using credit cards responsibly is to avoid carrying any debt, so the Citi Simplicity® Card can be a useful tool in your strategy to get back on track with good financial habits.

    In addition to the stellar introductory offer for balance transfers, the Citi Simplicity® Card offers 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months from your account-opening date. After that, it will be a 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR

    Read more:

    Best for intro APR offer:

    Annual Fee
    $0
    Regular APR
    14.99%–23.74% variable APR
    Credit Score
    Good to Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    4.6 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
    Annual Fee
    $0
    Regular APR
    14.99%–23.74% variable APR
    Credit Score
    Good to Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    4.6 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Featured Reward
    $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
    • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
    • No annual fee
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
    • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    Pros
    • Solid flat cash-back rate
    • You can combine cash-back rewards with Ultimate Rewards points if you have an eligible card
    • No annual fee
    Cons
    • Some other cards offer a higher rate of cash back on certain types of purchases
    Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

     

    Pros: Long introductory APR period, earns 1.5% cash back on most purchases, pairs well with other Chase cards

    Cons: You can get more cash back on bonus categories with other cards 

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a long introductory 0% APR period of 15 months on purchases, after which there's a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR.

    Not only does this card help you pay down credit card debt with a generous introductory APR period, but it also offers solid ongoing rewards. You'll earn 1.5% cash back on most purchases, and if you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can combine your rewards balances and gain the option to redeem your earnings from the Freedom Unlimited as points that can be used to book travel. The Freedom Unlimited also recently started offering bonus cash back on eligible travel, grocery, and drugstore purchases.

    Read more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited:

    Best with no annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

    Pros: No foreign transaction fee, several bonus categories

    Cons: It's essentially a cash-back card, so you won't get higher-than-average value using rewards points for travel

    The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card packs in a lot of benefits for a card without an annual fee. We love that it doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee (that's relatively rare for no-annual-fee cards), and it offers several bonus categories for earning more points.

    You'll earn 3x points on eating out and ordering in, and on travel (including flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals), gas stations, rideshares, transit, and popular streaming services, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 

    You can redeem points from the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card for cash back or for travel through the Go Far Rewards program. Each point is worth 1 cent, so there's no opportunity to maximize your redemptions, like you can with rewards programs such as Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. But if simplicity and avoiding an annual fee are your priorities, this card is a great option.

    Read more about the Wells Fargo Propel card:

    Best for cash back:

    Annual Fee
    $0
    Regular APR
    13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
    Credit Score
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application. A tooltip
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.
    Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    5 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed. A tooltip
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed.
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
    Annual Fee
    $0
    Regular APR
    13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
    Credit Score
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application. A tooltip
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.
    Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    5 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed. A tooltip
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed.
    Featured Reward
    1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay A tooltip
    1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay
    2% cash back on all purchases
    Balance Transfer Fee
    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • 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.
    • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
    • 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 a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Simple earning structure
    Cons
    • Some cards earn higher rates of cash back on rotating categories
    Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

     

    Pros: Strong cash-back rate, solid intro APR offer, pairs well with other Citi cards

    Cons: Some cards with bonus categories can get you more cash back on select purchases

    Not only does the Citi Double cash card offer one of the longest introductory APR periods, but it's also a great option for earning cash back. In fact, it's one of our top picks for the best cash-back cards thanks to its straightforward earning structure — you get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% back when you pay your bill. 

    As a new cardholder, you get the first 18 months with 0% APR on balance transfers from the date of the first transfer (which must be completed in the first four months from account opening). After that, there's a 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable) APR. 

    While the Citi Double Cash is a cash-back card, if you also have a premium Citi card like the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card, you can combine your cash-back rewards with one of those accounts for the opportunity to redeem them as ThankYou points toward travel. 

    Best for travel rewards:

    Annual Fee
    $95
    Regular APR
    15.99%-22.99% Variable
    Credit Score
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application. A tooltip
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.
    Good to Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    4.8 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed. A tooltip
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed.
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
    Annual Fee
    $95
    Regular APR
    15.99%-22.99% Variable
    Credit Score
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application. A tooltip
    Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.
    Good to Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    4.8 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed. A tooltip
    Our editor's ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria - relative to other products we've reviewed.
    Featured Reward
    60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. A tooltip
    60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
    60,000 points
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
    • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
    Pros
    • High sign-up bonus starts you off with lots of points
    • Strong travel coverage
    Cons
    • Doesn't offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit or any other statement credit benefits
    Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

     

    Pros: High sign-up bonus, strong rewards, good travel protections

    Cons: Some other travel rewards cards offer more bonus points and added benefits

    If you want to earn travel rewards, you'll find that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the most user-friendly of the various bank currencies, which are also referred to as transferable points because you can transfer them over to various airline and hotel partners. In the case of Chase points, you can redeem them with partners like British Airways, Hyatt, United Airlines, and Singapore Airlines, or you can choose to book travel directly through Chase. If you choose the latter, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece — a 25% bonus.

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred starts you off with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Those points are worth $750 in travel booked through Chase, or potentially even more if you decide to redeem with the program's transfer partners. 

    You'll earn 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Beyond the rewards, the Sapphire Preferred offers some valuable coverage benefits, including primary car rental insurance, trip delay insurance, and baggage delay insurance.

    Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

    Best for bad credit: Discover it® Secured

    Pros: It's an attainable option even if you have bad credit, and it earns rewards — which is rare for a secured card

    Cons: Some secured cards have lower minimum deposit requirements

    If you have a very limited credit history or are looking to repair bad credit, many of the cards on this list won't be available to you. Most of the top rewards cards require credit scores in the 600s or higher — if that's not where your credit is, you may need to consider a secured card to repair your credit. 

    Secured credit cards are easy to get approved for because they require a cash deposit up front, which minimizes the issuer's risk. Your credit limit is equal to the cash deposit you put down. 

    If a secured card seems like the right option for you, the Discover it Secured is an especially good option, because it's the rare secured card to offer rewards. You'll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter (then 1%), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of the first year.

    Best for fair credit:

    Annual Fee
    $0
    Regular APR
    15.49% - 25.49% variable APR
    Credit Score
    Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    4.15 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
    Annual Fee
    $0
    Regular APR
    15.49% - 25.49% variable APR
    Credit Score
    Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    4.15 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Featured Reward
    One-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months
    Intro APR
    0% intro APR for 15 months
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
    • One-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
    • 0% intro APR for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees
    • Travel Accident Insurance
    • Push notification each time a new purchase is approved on your account
    Pros
    • Earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase
    • Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
    • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
    Cons
    • Other cards earn more cash back
    Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

     

    Pros: Earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, no foreign transaction fees

    Cons: Other cards offer better rewards

    If you have a credit score in the "fair" range (580-669, according to FICO), you have a good chance for being approved for this card. It offers a respectable 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and there are no foreign transaction fees. 

    The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card also offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers (then a 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR). 

    Best business credit card:

    Annual Fee
    $0 intro for the first year, $95 after that
    Regular APR
    20.99% variable APR
    Credit Score
    Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    5 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
    Annual Fee
    $0 intro for the first year, $95 after that
    Regular APR
    20.99% variable APR
    Credit Score
    Excellent
    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star
    5 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Featured Reward
    $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months
    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • Unlimited 2% cash back and you could be putting thousands of dollars back into your business. Redeem at any time with no minimums
    • One-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
    • Add employee cards for free and earn all the rewards from their purchases
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Download your purchase records quickly and securely to multiple formats including Quicken®, Quickbooks™ and Excel®
    Pros
    • 2% cash back on every purchase with no cap
    • Annual fee waived the first year
    Cons
    • Other cards can get you higher cash-back rates, but only in bonus categories or on a capped amount each year
    Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

     

    Pros: No bonus categories to keep track of, solid earning rate

    Cons: Other business cards offer higher rewards and more benefits — but they come with higher annual fees

    There are lots of great business credit cards, and if you travel constantly, it could be worth paying the high annual fee for a more premium option like the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express . But if you just want a card that maximizes your cash back on spending, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great choice. 

    You'll earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all your spending, and you can get free employee cards that earn 2% back as well. It's a simple card, but for users who want to put money back into their business it's a great option.

    Read more about the Capital One Spark Cash for Business:

    Best for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

    Pros: Cash-back reward for good grades, earns up to 5% cash back, no foreign transaction fee

    Cons: Other cards offer a higher cash-back rate on non-bonus spending

    The Discover it Student Cash Back is a pretty rewarding card, with a neat Good Grades Reward benefit targeted to those in school. Each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, you'll get a $20 statement credit. 

    Beyond that, the card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter when you activate, and 1% back on everything else. Discover will even match your cash-back earnings after your first cardmember year. Overall, this card is a great entry point into the world of cash-back rewards.

    Other credit cards that we considered that just missed the cut

    • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: You get a lot of perks, and solid rewards, in exchange for a $95 annual fee, but your options for redeeming miles for travel aren't the most competitive due to confusing transfer ratios and only one US airline partner.
    • The Platinum Card® from American Express: While this premium card has a long list of travel benefits like airport lounge access, Uber credits, and complimentary hotel elite status that can cancel out the $550 annual fee (See Rates) if you put them to use, not everyone will be able to justify that cost.
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve: The higher-end sibling of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is another card that offers some great high-end travel perks — like up to $300 in statement credits each year — but with a $550 annual fee it's not the best travel card for everyone.
    • Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card— It earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, plus 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else, but many people prefer earning a higher rate of cash back on all their purchases without any bonus categories.
    • Chase Freedom Flex℠ — This card can help you earn 5% cash back/5x points on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 each quarter when you activate), but again not everyone wants to keep track of bonus categories, especially when they change several times throughout the year.
    • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — It earns 6% back on select US streaming subscriptions and 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each year (then 1%), so it's another solid option for those who want maximum cash back on select purchases rather than a higher rate of cash back on all purchases.Capital One Spark Miles for Business — It earns miles instead of cash back, but if you prefer travel rewards this card is a great option.
    • Amex Business Platinum Card — With a $595 annual fee (See Review), it has lots of travel benefits that could be worth it if you're constantly on the road.
    • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — Chase's premium business credit card has solid bonus categories, a great sign-up bonus, and a reasonable annual fee of $95, but it's best for those who want to redeem rewards for travel.

    Other Business Insider credit card guides

    This guide highlights the best credit card option for several different types of users. If you want a to-the-point recommendation for maximizing your spending and enjoying benefits like an intro APR period, this guide will help you find a quick answer. However, if you want to go deeper, check out our in-depth credit card guides for the following categories:

    Methodology: How we chose the best credit cards for 2021

    Our list of the best credit cards is the result of an in-depth comparison between credit cards in each sub-category. We looked at America's largest credit card issuers, as well as cards frequently recommended by blogs, forums, and travel communities.

    The values we prioritized when coming up with this list were:

    • Simplicity — not everyone wants to invest lots of time and energy into maximizing their credit cards, so we focused on cards that make things as straightforward as possible
    • Affordability — while there's a case to be made for paying a high annual fee when you're getting high value in return, most credit card users aren't looking for a card that costs $450 or more
    • Value — whether we're talking about a credit card with or without an annual fee, it's important that the benefits and features are worth it

    Frequently asked questions

    Why should I get a credit card?

    Credit cards can be powerful tools for improving your credit score and earning rewards — if you use them responsibly.  It's important to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month so you don't end up in debt and start amassing steep interest fees.

    Provided you're in a position to pay off your credit card statements and spend within your means, there are several reasons opening a credit card could be a good idea. For one, credit cards offer better fraud protection than debit cards or cash — if an unauthorized purchase is made with your card, you won't be on the hook. Using a credit card responsibly can also help you build and repair your credit, since your on-time payments will be reported to the credit bureaus. Finally, a credit card can help you maximize every dollar you spend, by earning you cash back, points, or miles. 

    What is the best credit card?

    It's impossible to name just one best credit card, because there are so many options for so many different types of users. A credit card that earns travel rewards could be the best option for one person, but if you're looking to earn cash back, you'll be better served by another pick.

    How do I choose a credit card?

    Focus on your priorities, and be realistic about what cards you're able to get approved for. Most of the top rewards cards require credit scores in the high 600s at a bare minimum, so if your credit score isn't there yet, you'll want to look at options for bad to fair credit scores so you can focus on building your credit back up. 

    Beyond that, decide what annual fee you're comfortable paying. Some people avoid paying credit card annual fees completely, and there are several great cards in the no-annual-fee category, but it could be worth paying a modest annual fee of $95 to $99 for a travel or cash-back card that earns you higher rewards. Also decide whether you want to earn cash back or travel rewards. Keep in mind that redeeming rewards for travel is more work than simply getting cash back in your account – the payoff can be big, but focus on what is the best option for you.

    How do I build credit with a credit card?

    Your credit card use is a huge factor in determining your credit score — every on-time payment you make is reported to the credit bureaus and shows potential lenders that you're able to use credit responsibly. The key to building credit with a credit card is to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month. 

    How many credit cards should I have?

    There's no one answer to this question — it's possible to have more than 20 cards and maintain an excellent credit score, but this would probably entail several annual fees. Go slowly, space out your applications, and never bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you're able to pay off your balances in full each month, because earning rewards is never worth going into debt.

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

    Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

    Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

    For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

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