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Best Credit Cards for December 2022

Whether you're a frequent traveler or need a little extra time to pay off debt, these credit cards are best in class.

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The "best credit card" can take many forms depending on your personal financial goals and situation. 

If you have good credit and want to reap as much cash back and other rewards as possible, you'll likely want a cash-back credit card or rewards credit card. If you have some credit card debt you'd like to do away with as quickly as possible, a balance transfer credit card or introductory APR credit card can help you avoid interest charges as you pay off your debt. Otherwise, you might want to find the best credit card to start building your credit, protect your online purchases or make your travel more comfortable.

Below we review the most widely applicable credit cards for a variety of popular financial goals.

Best overall credit card

9.5/10 CNET Rating
See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
APR18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Our Take

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card offers most people the most helpful benefits overall. The lack of an annual fee makes this card accessible and low maintenance. The 2% cash rewards across your purchases is a competitive rate: While it's not the highest you'll find for some major shopping categories like groceries and gas, it gives you one of the best rates on more obscure spending categories like online shopping, services and bills. The introductory APR gives you an opportunity to finance a large purchase or to prevent interest charges with a qualifying balance transfer, and the welcome offer has one of the best spending-to-rewards ratio.

For more details on this card's benefits, see our full review of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card.

Read our Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review.

 

Best for balance transfers

8.75/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 21 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 21 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer APR15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See Terms
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR none

Our Take

This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

The BankAmericard® credit card offers cardholders a good opportunity to mitigate some of their existing credit card debt. It features an introductory 0% APR for balance transfers and purchases for 21 billing cycles (then 15.74% to 25.74% variable), one of the longest offers on the market.

That's about 21 months, or nearly two years, to pay down a transferred balance. Just keep in mind that any balance transfers need to be completed within the first 60 days of account opening, and there is a balance transfer fee of 3% ($10 minimum). While it does have the same offer for new purchases, there are no rewards offered by the card.

If you're suffering from high interest charges from another credit card balance, consider using a balance transfer to the BankAmericard. Both your bank account and your credit score will thank you.

See our full review of the BankAmericard credit card for more details.

Best credit card for less than average credit

9.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR15.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Limited/Fair/Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

Our Take

Credit card options may be more limited for people with limited or fair credit. The Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card, issued by WebBank, offers people with a wide array of credit scores the ability to earn cash-back rewards without the hassle of a security deposit or an annual fee. You can get a credit limit between $300 and $10,000 depending on your credit score and other factors. This card also works to incentivize good credit card behavior by rewarding you with more cash back if you make your monthly payments on time.

Long 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers

8.75/10 CNET Rating
See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases
Recommended Credit Good/Excellent
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
Foreign Transaction Fees 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars. 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency

Our Take

The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers a whopping 18 billing cycles at 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers (18.24% to 28.24% variable APR thereafter). Though there is no sign-up bonus or rewards program, there is also no annual fee, making this a low-maintenance option. 

Not only is this a great card if you're making a large purchase or want to prolong your interest-free payments, but it's an excellent emergency credit card in case you need to cover a large expense unexpectedly. Other 0% APR credit cards may have a shorter period of time with the 0% introductory rate, but you may receive other benefits and rewards.

Check out our full review of the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card for more information.

Travel rewards card

9/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 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 Ultimate Rewards®.
APR18.99% - 25.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Annual Fee$95
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR18.99% - 25.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Our Take

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is arguably the best travel card on the market. It's hard to rival its rewards program -- it expands to everyday categories and has competitive rates on travel. Points are worth $0.01 when redeemed for statement credit, but you get a 25% boost in redemption value if you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The welcome bonus -- 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening -- is worth $750 toward travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, as well. 

You also get a slew of travel-related perks. There are no foreign transaction fees, a one-to-one point transfer with airline and hotel partners, baggage delay insurance, trip delay insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance. In combination, this is a standout offer for a $95 annual fee. 

Read more details in our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

 

Unlimited Cashback Match at the end of your first year

7.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
APR15.74% - 26.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months
Recommended Credit Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR15.74% - 26.74% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

Discover it® Cash Back* offers a unique sign-on bonus: an unlimited cash-back match at the end of your first year. You don't even have to reach a minimum spending threshold, like with most other sign-up bonuses -- but you can outearn other credit cards with such bonuses if you spend enough. 

You will enjoy 5% cash back up to the quarterly maximums (then 1%) on rotating quarterly categories as you activate them. Some of these quarterly categories include purchases from Amazon.com, grocery stores or gas stations. Discover will also give you 1% cash back on all other purchases. We've also collected a few other credit cards with generous sign-on bonuses.

Check out more details in our full review of the Discover it Cash Back.

FAQs

How should I choose a credit card?

Ultimately, the right credit card is individual to each person and their goals and preferences. Decide what features you're looking for: maximized rewards, spaced-out payments on a large purchase, credit building, an emergency credit card or other benefits. From there, you can decide the type of card you're looking for. You can then use online reviews like those at CNET to further narrow down what terms will work best for you.

How do I qualify for a credit card?

The better the benefits, the more hoops you'll need to jump through to be eligible for certain credit cards. Credit cards with attractive rewards programs or cash-back rewards require better credit than more basic credit card varieties.

If you have poor or fair credit, you might only qualify for credit builder or secured credit cards. If you have good to excellent credit, you may easily qualify for any credit card you want. But if you don't have the right score, you can always work to improve your credit for better odds of approval.

What's the best credit card to get for first-time users?

The best credit card for beginners is one that will help you build credit, so make sure to get a card that reports to the three credit bureaus. You'll also want to determine how you plan to use a credit card. Are you expecting to carry a balance from month to month, or can you reliably pay the credit issuer off? Are you a student who needs to finance a bunch of back-to-school purchases? Depending on what you need, one credit card might be better than another.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

*All information about the Discover it Cash Back 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.