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5 Common Questions People Ask Me as a Credit Card Editor

Hot take: There's no 'magic' credit card. But there are ways to narrow down your best fit.

skaman306 / Getty

Whenever you meet new people, the inevitable question of, “What do you do?” usually comes up. Once people learn I’m a credit card editor, they don’t hesitate to start asking me questions.  To help you find your next credit card or avoid applying for one that’s not a great fit, here are some of my answers.

What’s the best credit card?

There’s no one best credit card that will work for everyone. The best credit card for you is the one that best fits your needs. If you want to earn cash back on essential purchases like gas and groceries, consider a rewards credit card. I typically recommend the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express because of its unparalleled rewards at U.S. supermarkets and its competitive rate at U.S. gas stations.

Or maybe you’re in the market for a card that makes traveling the world a little less expensive. In that case, consider a travel credit card that specializes in earning points or miles which you can redeem toward airfare, hotels and rental cars. I usually recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as a good travel card because of its flexibility (you aren’t tied to just one airline or hotel like a co-branded credit card) and rewarding redemption options.

And if you’re just starting out, a top credit-building card should have low fees and helpful credit tools. I recommend the Discover it® Secured Credit Card* or for college students, the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card*.

Basically, the best credit card for you may not be the best for someone else. It depends on your spending habits and what you’re looking to gain from the credit card. A few easy tips to follow:

  • Check to see if the rewards match your spending. If you have to make purchases you normally wouldn’t, it’s not the card for you.
  • Check the card’s fee against your budget. Factor the card’s annual fee into your yearly spending and see if you can cover the fee with the card’s rewards.
  • Think about what you want to get from the card. Do you want to earn a return on your essential purchases, or are you looking to lower travel expenses or improve your credit score?

Which credit cards do you have?

I use the Blue Cash Preferred and the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card for all of my spending. The Blue Cash Preferred has one of the highest cash-back rates for purchases at U.S. supermarkets and for select U.S. streaming services while offering a good rate at U.S. gas stations.

The Active Cash covers everything else. It offers flat 2% cash rewards for purchases. Unless I’m at the grocery store or gas pump, the Active Cash does all the heavy lifting while my Blue Cash Preferred stays snuggly in my wallet. It’s a simple but effective strategy.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply Now

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
See Rates & Fees Terms apply
Intro Offer
Earn $250 Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
19.24% – 29.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% on purchases for 12 months
Rewards rate
1% – 6% 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 on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more; 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations; 1% Cash Back on other purchases
Apply Now
On American Express’s secure website
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Apply Now

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

9.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
$200 cash rewards Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
Annual fee
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Rewards rate
2% Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Apply Now
On Wells Fargo’s secure website

What do you think about my credit card?

So long as it matches how you spend -- and you’re not overspending to earn more rewards or carrying a balance -- I think it’s great! Credit cards are tools tailored for different jobs. If your credit card is helping you build credit, pay down debt with a balance transfer offer or earn rewards, and it’s not draining your finances, you’ve probably found a solid fit.

What’s better: cash back or points?

Again -- it depends on what you’re after. The simplest form of credit card rewards is cash back, where you earn rewards and then redeem for statement credits or direct deposits. The former reduces the overall balance of your credit card account while the latter increases your bank account balance. Depending on the card, cash back can usually also be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise or with a specific retailer at checkout.

Travel credit cards typically earn points or miles (the two terms are often interchangeable). Points can usually be redeemed as statement credits, for travel or merchandise, as gift cards, or transferred to travel partners. 

Points are generally more flexible and have more redemption options. You might even get a higher value from them than you would with cash back when redeeming for travel through credit card issuer portals or by transferring them to airline or hotel partners.

Which travel credit card should I get?

When it comes to travel credit cards, the top cards tend to charge annual fees. But in exchange, they offer higher welcome bonuses and better card perks. So if you travel often, a credit card with an annual fee might offer better features.

If you prefer flying with one airline or staying with one hotel, consider a co-branded credit card with that brand. They offer special membership programs, airline or hotel-specific discounts and other amenities.

Like any credit card, the best travel card will depend on how you spend your money and how you like to travel. Some tips to remember:

  • Don’t spend outside your budget. Never overspend to earn more rewards.
  • Make sure you can use the card’s perks. If you’re paying an annual fee, you’ll want to be able to use the majority of the card’s rewards, credits and other perks to get the most value from it.
  • Earn the welcome offer. If you can earn the card’s welcome offer without overspending, it could go a long way toward covering some of your travel expenses or your annual fee.

The bottom line

Credit cards can fit a lot of different needs. The best credit card for you may not be the best for someone else. So long as you’re able to get a good value from yours -- and you’re not overspending to get it -- it’s likely a good option.

*All information about the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Discover it Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.