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Best Credit Cards of October2022

Our Credit Card Picks and Advice on How To Choose the Best Card for You

We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.

At The Balance, we choose the best credit cards based on the features we think are the most valuable for different sets of needs. Whether you’re looking for travel rewards, cash back on every day purchases, a way to build credit, or a better way to pay down costly debt, we’ve done the research and crunched numbers to find the very best option for you. These are the best credit cards you can get right now, and we highly recommend giving each offer a second look:

Best Credit Cards of October 2022

Best Overall and Best Cash Back : Citi Custom Cash℠ Card


Our Rating
4.9
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Current Offer

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.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 26.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5 points per $1 on purchases in your top eligible spend category up to the first $500 spent, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

No-hassle bonus categories that automatically update based on your spending patterns? Yes, please. That’s the gist of the Citi Custom Cash card, which offers 5% cash back on up to $500 in your top spending category each month, and 1% back on all other purchases. You don’t have to remember to activate bonus categories—whatever you spend the most on for a particular month will earn 5% that month. Earnings are given as Citi ThankYou Points that you can choose to redeem as cash back. There are other redemption options, but you’ll get the most value from cash back or transferring points 1:1 to one of the many travel partners. We also like its 15-month 0% APR deal on purchases and balance transfers, and its not-too-shabby sign-up bonus.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Good 0% APR intro offer

  • Competitive sign-up bonus

Cons
  • Foreign transaction fee

Highlights:
  • Earn 5% cash back on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle up to $500 spent and 1% cash back thereafter.
  • 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.
  • Get 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. 

Best for Small Business Owners : Amex Blue Business Cash


Our Rating
4.4
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
Current Offer

Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your card in the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.24% - 24.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Cash Advance Fee This product does not offer cash advances.
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

With a business to run, you may prefer to keep things simple with a flat-rate, cash-back rewards card, and the Amex Blue Business Cash fits the bill. Offering 2% back on up to the first $50,000 per year you spend, it’s a solid, no-annual-fee card for businesses that aren’t looking to charge more than an average of $4,000 in business expenses per month. Cash back is automatically credited on your statements, so you don’t have to lift a finger. As long as you’re not looking for any bells and whistles like welcome offers or travel rewards, this card can be your small business go-to card.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Single cash-back rate is competitive and keeps rewards simple

  • Cash back is automatically credited to your card account

  • New accounts get a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months—as long or longer than competing business cards

Cons
  • Cap on 2% cash-back earnings limits rewards potential for big spenders

  • Foreign transaction fee

Highlights:
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your card in the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.
  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express and other factors.
  • No Annual Fee

Best for Students : Discover it® Chrome for Students


Our Rating
4.2
Discover it® Chrome for Students
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.24% - 24.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 6 Months
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter at gas stations and restaurants (including cafes, takeout, delivery, and fast-food). Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card boasts decent rewards, a slightly below-average APR and a great welcome bonus, which makes it an all-around exceptional credit card for students. You’ll earn a little extra cash back on dinners out and gas-tank refills, plus Discover will double all the cash back earned your first year for an atypical (but generous) new-cardholder bonus. This card also stands out from other student cards because it waives your first late fee. You should, of course, strive to make on-time payments, but it's nice to know you won't have to pay an extra fee for a one-time mistake as you learn the ropes of building credit.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Available to those with fair credit, which makes this a good starter card

  • First late payment fee is waived

  • First-year cash-back earnings will be doubled for a generous and unconventional bonus

Cons
  • Bonus rewards categories have quarterly earning limits

  • Discover card acceptance may vary compared to Visa and Mastercard

Highlights:
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Cashback Match: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. There's no limit to how much they'll match.

Best for Travelers : Chase Sapphire Reserve®


Our Rating
4.2
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 19.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 10x total points on chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 5x total points on flights and 3x on other travel worldwide. Earn 3x points on other dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card has a sky-high annual fee, but its rich rewards-earning rates on travel and restaurant purchases, and superior travel perks (like unlimited access to participating airport lounges) make it more than worthwhile for the frequent traveler. Plus, you’ll get some terrific flexibility when you redeem your reward points. You can use them to book your choice of airline or hotel through Chase Ultimate Rewards—and you’ll get a 50% redemption bonus for doing so, making your points worth 1.5 cents each. Or, you can transfer points, at a 1-to-1 ratio, to a partner airline or hotel rewards programs, which may also boost their value. For example, The Balance found your points may be worth about 1.98 cents each when you transfer them to the United Airlines MileagePlus frequent flier program. 

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Earn extra points for travel and dining purchases

  • Many different purchases count as travel spending, which makes earning rewards easier

  • Several valuable ways to use points, including transfers to partner loyalty programs

  • Jam-packed with valuable travel credit and travel insurance benefits

Cons
  • Massive annual fee

  • High ongoing APR

Highlights:
  • Receive 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. (That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®)
  • Earn 10x total points on chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 5x total points on flights and 3x on other travel worldwide. Earn 3x points on other dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.

Best Secured Card : Discover it® Secured


Our Rating
4.1
Discover it® Secured
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 25.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Pay deposit in installments No
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

If you’re a first-time borrower or rebuilding a bad credit profile, finding a first-class secured card can be tough. Thankfully, this is it. You’ll earn some decent cash back on routine purchases, and at the end of your first year, the rewards you earned the first year will double. You won’t pay an annual fee (many secured cards charge one), and Discover will even waive your first late fee. Plus, after seven months, Discover will begin reviewing your account for a possible upgrade to an unsecured card.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Ability to earn cash-back rewards while building credit

  • Responsible use can lead to automatic unsecured card upgrade

  • No foreign transaction fee

  • Cash-back match as a first year bonus

Cons
  • Low cap on highest rewards earning rate

  • Mediocre maximum credit limit compared to other secured cards

Highlights:
  • No annual fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO Credit Score.

Best for Balance Transfers : U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card


Our Rating
3.1
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.74% - 26.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 20 Billing Cycles
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

The U.S. Bank card, with its 24-month, 0% APR payoff period, is unmatched. Though it has a higher average APR than other balance transfer cards, if borrowers use the card as intended, having two years to pay off debt without interest is the best deal that you’ll find right now.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Long 0% APR offers

  • Cellphone protection

Cons
  • Few perks or bonuses

  • Limited value after the intro period ends

Highlights:
  • 0% APR for 24 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No annual fee

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Credit cards allow you to make purchases without having to immediately pay for them with cash or money from your checking account. Essentially, you’re using the credit card company’s money, and then you pay it back. 

The credit card company (also called a credit card issuer) will send you a bill about once a month telling you how much you owe and when to send your payment by. If you can’t cover the whole bill, the issuer adds interest charges to your account. Those are the basics, but this explainer on how credit cards work will help you understand everything you need to know about the cost of carrying a credit card balance.

How Do You Choose the Best Credit Card?

Choosing a credit card requires you to take an honest look at your habits and needs, and see how those line up with the products out there. To get started, here are six tips for matching your needs to the right type of credit card. 

  • Building credit? Look at secured credit cards.
  • Travelers: Consider travel reward cards or cards with no foreign transaction fee. 
  • Thrifty shoppers can save big with cash-back cards.
  • Need to buy something big? Look at cards with low introductory interest rates.
  • Pay off card debt with a balance transfer card.
  • Plan for emergencies with a low-APR credit card.

To help you further understand the credit card selection process, we put together this guide to picking a credit card and an overview specifically for first-time card applicants. Here's another summary of our top credit card picks:

Is a Credit Card Right for You?

Before you can make a decision about opening any credit card, you need to understand the value and drawbacks of credit cards as a whole.

What We Like
  • Allow you to build credit

  • Offer rewards

  • Enable you to make large purchases

What We Don't Like
  • Could lead to debt

  • Charge costly fees

  • Are difficult to fully understand

For a more detailed explanation, check out our guide to the pros and cons of credit cards.

What Credit Score Do You Need?

The better your credit score, the more credit card options you have. And if you want a credit card with the highest rewards earning rate and best perks, you’ll likely need to have a very good credit score. Our credit card reviews tell you what kind of credit score (fair, good, very good, etc.) you need to qualify for that card. 

If you don’t know your credit score, learn how to check your credit score. These days, there are many options that will cost you nothing. Once you know your score, you can figure out what category it tends to fall into. There are a couple of different credit score models (FICO and VantageScore) and each has its own range. This is all explained in detail in our guide to credit scores. But for a quick overview, here are the ranges of scores for the two different scoring models, FICO and VantageScore:

FICO Score Ranges
Exceptional 800+
Very Good 740-799
Good 670-739
Fair 580-669
Poor Under 580
VantageScore Ranges
Excellent 750-850
Good 700-749
Fair 650-699
Poor 550-649
Very Poor Under 550

Note

Credit score isn’t the only factor credit card issuers look at when evaluating your application, but issuers aren’t transparent about what those factors are.

While credit card companies don’t clearly state what you need to do to get approved, you’ll improve your chances by having a job, a reliable source of income, and a bank account. We describe these best practices in detail in this article on how to qualify for a credit card.

Can You Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit?

You often can get a credit card with bad credit. Secured credit cards are usually available for people with poor credit because you have to put down a deposit that’s typically equal to your credit limit. If you use the card responsibly, over time you’ll build your credit and can apply for a better card.

How Do Credit Card Rewards Work?

Most credit card rewards programs follow the same basic structure: For every dollar you spend on your credit card, you earn a percentage of that purchase in cash back, points, or miles. You can then redeem cash, points, or miles for a variety of things. 

Every credit card rewards program is different, so it’s best to read individual credit card reviews to understand their programs. This overview of rewards cards basics will help you learn about the different rewards programs out there and, most important, whether or not it’s worth signing up for a rewards card.

What Are Some Common Credit Card Benefits?

You know all that fine print you see when you go to a credit card’s website? It includes a lot of details about card benefits you might not realize you have access to. We have a full rundown of credit card perks you should know about, but here’s a quick list of common benefits.

Common Perks on Many Kinds of Credit Cards

  • Car rental insurance
  • Zero fraud liability
  • Roadside assistance hotline

Common Rewards Card Perks

  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
  • Lowest advertised price match
  • Extended warranties on purchases
  • Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item

Common Travel Rewards Card Perks

  • Insurance coverage for lost or delayed luggage
  • Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay
  • Travel accident insurance

How Do You Apply For a Credit Card?

Follow these steps to apply for a credit card:

  • Check your credit score.
  • Choose which kind of card you want to apply for.
  • Research a few different cards from different companies.
  • Decide on one to apply for.
  • Visit the card application webpage.
  • Enter your personal information, including your Social Security number and annual income. 
  • Be patient. It can take a couple of weeks to receive a final decision. 

This guide will walk you through all the steps of getting ready and actually applying for a credit card.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial. No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We reviewed more than 300 credit cards to identify the one with the best combination of low fees, good rewards, and relatively low interest rates—that's what people say is most important to them when choosing a new credit card.

The top card on this list is the outright winner, based on the dozens of card attributes we evaluate in our scoring process. The other cards on this list have the top scores in specific categories, and each category has its own methodology.

Important

While annual fee is a top driver in determining the best credit card overall, it's not as important in our list of the best travel cards. That's because our research and analysis shows that travel cards with no annual fee tend to have little value. To understand how we scored cards in each round-up, see the methodology at the bottom of each page.

What We Score

The most important components of a credit card's overall score are the fees, rewards, and interest rates.

Fees

We look at the average cost of a card's annual fee over three years, to account for credit cards that waive the annual fee the first year. The lower the average annual fee, the better the score it receives. The total number of fees a card has also has a significant bearing on a credit card's score, including whether or not the card has foreign transaction fees or waives the first late-payment fee.

Rewards

First, we look at the value of a card's rewards. We determine reward value by researching options for redeeming a credit card's rewards, as well as Americans' travel and spending habits.

Next, we evaluate the rate at which you can earn rewards. If a card has multiple rewards-earning rates (aka tiers), we determine the score based on the highest rate. But we also look at how many rewards tiers the card has, and a card with fewer tiers receives a higher score. We also look at if there are limits on rewards earning, how many options you have for redeeming rewards, whether there's a minimum amount of rewards you must have to redeem them, and if rewards expire. Rewards-earning limits, few redemption options, minimum redemption thresholds, and rewards expiration lead to low scores.

Interest

People don't often start using a credit card with the intention of going into debt, but it happens. That's why it's important to consider a card's annual percentage rate (APR), not only on all purchases but also for balance transfers and cash advances. (The higher the APR, the lower the score.) And if a card offers 0% APR periods on purchases or balance transfers, we consider that a good thing.

Other Things We Consider

While fees, rewards, and interest rates make up the vast majority of our scores, we also consider the overall experience of using a card. Our scoring model favors features like a mobile app, a free credit score, and 24/7 customer service, to name a few. For more information about how The Balance evaluates credit cards, see our full credit card review methodology

To see the rates and fees of featured American Express Card, please see the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express rates and fees.

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