There are many reasons to open a new credit card. Maybe you’re trying to build your credit. Maybe you have a lot of subscription services and want to simplify your monthly billing. Or maybe you want the sweet, sweet cash back rewards that a lot of card companies are offering.
So how do you know which cards are the best? To find out, we turned to three subreddits: the Reddit best credit card group at r/CreditCards, the Reddit churning group at r/churning, and the personal finance fanatics at r/PersonalFinance.
Now, we didn’t just list any old recommendation. We looked at each card’s features, such as the APR, annual fees, and reward programs, and listed the ones with the best real-world benefits. And because we’re using Reddit as our guide, we’ve included some of the top Reddit quotes about each card, so you can see what real people are saying about our choices.
Are you ready to find the best credit card for your needs and budget? Let’s get started!
A lot of credit cards offer cash back on purchases. But this is usually limited to 1 percent, with the exception of limited categories which provide huge rewards. In this section, we’ll be looking at cards with a more generous across-the-board cash back percentage, so you can rack up rewards on everything from gas and groceries to rental cars and restaurants.
The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card offers cash back on all purchases, not just a certain category like groceries or gas. It's a rewards card that’s designed for people who want to invest their credit rewards for the long term. The main selling point of this card is that it offers 2 percent cash back on all purchases. There are plenty of cards that offer 3 to 5 percent — we’ll be talking about a few! — but these cards typically limit those rewards to a particular category, like groceries, or only offer rewards on purchases from a single store, like Amazon.
Some Redditors report using this card in conjunction with other, higher-percentage cards to maximize their rewards. For example, we saw one user who used her Costco rewards card for gas and groceries at Costco, then switched to her Fidelity Rewards card when she stopped for lunch on the way home. So what’s the downside?
All rewards must go into a Fidelity investment account. This can be a brokerage account, a cash management account, a 529 college savings fund, a retirement account, or even a charity. However, the rewards can’t go into a simple bank account, so you won’t have immediate access.
The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card has an APR of 14.99 percent. This par for the course for a zero-fee card, but it’s a bit steep compared to some others. Use this card for building your nest egg, not for carrying a balance.
The Citi Double Cash Card is a MasterCard that pays 1 percent cash back on all purchases, and an additional 1 percent on all bill payments. Effectively, this works out to 2 percent cash back on all purchases, which is nothing to sneeze at.
The downside of 2 percent rewards cards is that they’re not very profitable for the credit card company. To cut costs, many companies, including Citi, are eliminating benefits like car rental insurance, baggage delay protection, and roadside assistance. Make sure to take this into account when you’re deciding which card to use for a given purchase.
That said, the Citi Double Cash Card is more flexible than most. You can either have Citi pay you directly — minimum $25 — or you can apply the cash back directly to your bill, effectively giving yourself a 2 percent across-the-board discount on all of life’s expenses. However, like a lot of starter cards, it charges a hefty APR, which immediately rises when you carry a balance from one month to the next. This card is for building your credit rating and getting a 2 percent kickback. It’s not ideal for long-term expenses.
The Citi Double Cash Card is also an excellent choice if you’re trying to pay down debt. There’s no interest on balance transfers for the first 18 months, so you can pay off your old debt without being charged any hefty interest payments.
The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card offers 2.5 percent cash back, which is the highest you’ll see from any lender without category limits. During the first year, you’ll get an unbelievable rate of 3 percent.
So how does Alliant offer such a generous card?
They limit it to their own customers. To get approved, you’ll first need to open an Alliant account. This is where all your cash back rewards will go. From there, it’s your money to do with as you wish. Transfer it to your regular bank, invest it, or use your Alliant account as a rainy day fund.
There’s a $99 annual fee for this card, although the fee is waived for the first year. When comparing the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card to a 2 percent, zero-fee card, your break-even point is $20,000 of annual spending. Needless to say, this is not a starter card.
Of course, that’s assuming you’re not concerned about any extra features, which this card offers in spades. You’ll get Visa’s $0 fraud liability, travel accident insurance, rental car collision coverage, roadside assistance, and no fees on foreign transactions. And their customer service is based in the US, which the folks on Reddit seem to appreciate.
Looking for cash rewards in a specific category? These cards have you covered. Here, we’ll be looking at the best credit cards for gas, groceries, online purchases, and other everyday expenses.
The Uber Visa is a zero-fee rewards card that offers a slew of cash back benefits, with programs geared towards people who use a lot of digital services. For example, UberEATS counts as a dining expense, so you get 4 percent. Uber counts as an online service, so you get 2 percent instead of just 1 percent. And speaking of online services, you also get a $50 statement credit towards streaming services after you spend $5,000 in a year, which is a fun way of giving you an additional 1 percent cash back.
This is a great choice for a first card, especially since younger people are most likely to use Uber rewards. Unfortunately, the lending bank, Barclays, seems to deny a lot of first-time cardholders, even if they have good credit. But many redditors have had success simply calling the reconsideration line, and ended up with a low limit that they could raise at a later date.
One more fun feature that’s worth mentioning: the Uber Visa provides $600 in mobile phone protection, provided you use the card to pay your phone bill. There’s no fee for this service, which makes it a better deal than whatever your service provider is offering.
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card focuses primarily on everyday purchases. Its biggest benefit is 6 percent rewards on groceries, which stacks up quickly if you’re not the only person in your household.
A lot of cards offer increased rewards for gas, but the Blue Cash Preferred goes a step further by offering 3 percent on all transit expenses. Whenever you take a train, a bus, a subway, a cab, or a rideshare service, you’re getting that increased reward. This makes it a solid choice for anyone who lives or commutes in the city.
This card has a relatively high APR, so you’ll want to be careful about carrying a balance. However, AmEx offers long-term financing on major purchases through their PlanIt payment program. Provided you get approval in advance, you can pay your appliance or other major expense in monthly installments, with a small fee that costs significantly less than regular interest.
Another nice feature of the Blue Cash Preferred card is that you pay 0 percent interest on balance transfers for 12 months. If you have good credit, but you’re making high interest payments on another card, you can save a lot of money by transferring your balance over. Just make sure to pay it off within the 12-month window, or your APR will rise significantly.
The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa provides the highest gas reward percentage on the market, it's offered by Citibank under a contract with Costco, as a result, it requires a Costco membership for approval. And while the 2 percent cash back on all Costco purchases is nice, you can get the same benefit with some of the other rewards cards we’ve already looked at, without being tied to a single retailer.
The real benefit here is the 4 percent cash back on gas purchases. If gas is one of your biggest expenses, the Costco Anywhere Visa can earn you heaps of rewards. The 3 percent rate on restaurants and travel purchases is also very competitive, and includes hotels, airfare, and rental cars. There’s no annual fee — other than your Costco membership — so every dollar of cash back is a dollar earned.
Be careful about carrying a balance on this card. The maximum APR is a hefty 29.99 percent, and it goes up quickly as your utilization grows. The cash back pays out once a year, in the form of an annual check. Only get this card if you’re planning on keeping it for at least a full year, or you won’t see any benefits.
One nice side benefit of the Costco Anywhere Visa is that you can use it as a replacement for your Costco membership card. That’s one less piece of plastic cluttering up your wallet.
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card offers up to 5 percent cash back on Amazon purchases it's designed specifically for people who do a lot of their shopping online. You know who you are. You’ve got your Prime subscription, and you’ll order a pack of razors — with free 2-day shipping! — rather than drive 5 minutes down the road to buy some. Well, now you can start earning 5 percent cash back on all those Amazon binges.
The 5 percent rate is only for Prime members. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you’ll be earning only 3 percent. Of course, if you don’t already have a Prime membership, this probably isn’t the right card for you to begin with. The other cash back rewards are okay, but there are better ways to earn money on gas and groceries.
Your rewards are paid in the form of Amazon Rewards credits on your Amazon account. On the plus side, this means you can buy even more Amazon stuff with the tap of a button. On the downside, you won’t be able to spend your rewards anywhere else.
One thing we really like about this card is the benefits package. You’ll get roadside assistance, car rental collision coverage, travel accident insurance, lost/delayed luggage insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. Not bad!
When it comes to travel, credit card rewards become significantly more complicated. You’re dealing with purchases in several different categories: airlines, hotels, restaurants, and rental cars. Many cards also offer travel-related insurance coverage, access to airline clubs, and upgrades at hotels and rental car companies. If you spend a lot of time — and money — on the road, all of these factors are worth taking into consideration.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides rental car collision coverage, lost and stolen baggage insurance, and several other travel-related benefits. It's a travel rewards card that pays your cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards credits. These credits can be redeemed for travel, consumer products, and more. One great feature of the Sapphire Reserve is that it gives you 50 percent bonus value on your Chase Ultimate Rewards credits — all of your credits, even ones you’ve previously earned from other Chase cards.
Needless to say, this makes the Sapphire Reserve a significant value for anyone who’s already carrying Chase plastic.
The $450 annual fee means you’ll have to spend over $3,300 on travel to break even for the year, even when you account for the card’s $300 annual travel credit. If you’re already a frequent flyer, you’ll get plenty of benefits, but don’t expect to see much value if you only fly once a year.
A lot of banks are cutting back on their signup bonuses, and Chase is no different. But for the Sapphire Reserve Card, they still offer a 50,000-point bonus — worth $750 — if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. If nothing else, this card is worth owning for the first year for the signup bonus alone.
The American Express Platinum Card provides several perks for upgrading your travel experience. If you’re looking to maximize your airline rewards with a card that also provides a lot of extras, the American Express Platinum Card is worth looking at. Before we go any further, though, it’s worth pointing out that this is a charge card, not a credit card. It’s designed for people who pay off their entire balance every month, and you’ll pay hefty fees if you end up carrying a balance from month to month.
Your rewards come in the form of American Express reward points, which can be redeemed for a number of travel-related purchases, or applied to your statement as an account credit. On airline and hotel purchases, you’ll earn 5 points for every dollar, a solid perk for any frequent flier.
If you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll also earn an additional $600 worth of points. Considering the $200 annual airline credit and the $15 monthly Uber credit — $180 annually — you’ll only have to take a few flights before your reward points have paid for the $550 annual fee.
But you’ll appreciate this card even before you start earning points. Among other benefits, it provides access to lounges for 5 major airlines, as well as Priority Pass lounges and other Priority Pass services. You’ll also see an upgrade to your Marriott and Hilton hotel status, which provides a variety of perks including 4 PM checkout.
Each and every one of these cards is a good choice. But which one is the best is going to depend entirely on your needs. For example, Uber rewards are a great feature if you live in an urban area and frequently use ride-sharing services. On the other hand, if you never use Uber, you’ll prefer a different rewards program, like Amazon credits or travel rewards.
Social media sites like Reddit allow customers to communicate with each-other like never before, which is why we trust them when it comes to product selection. We like to think that at least one of these credit cards will be perfect for you. But no matter what card you end up using, we hope these reviews helped point you in the right direction.