Credit Card Top Picks: Based on Your Life Stage

Credit Info Credit Card top picks_ Based on your life situation
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It seems like every day, a new credit card arrives on the scene. But how do you know if the card is worth applying for? It’s easy for consumers to become inundated and confused by all the cards available to them. 

Here’s a list of cards that fit each type of consumer – and why they’ll work for your particular situation.  

Credit Cards for the Recent Grad 

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 

This credit card is perfect for the recent grad who wants to build a credit history and earn rewards.  

Users earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a $150 bonus when they spend $500 in the first three months. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Cash-back can be redeemed at any time and rewards never expire. 

The card has 0% APR for the first 15 months, including balance transfers. If you’re just starting to put your life together, you can use this card to pay for moving expenses and other bills without paying a cent in interest. Just be sure to repay the balance before the 15 months are up. After that point, the APR jumps to 15.24% – 25.24%, depending on your creditworthiness. 

Discover it Cash Back 

The Discover it Cash Back card can help new cardholders earn rewards and learn how to manage their finances. Discover provides free FICO credit score for members, which you can view online or on the app.

Cardholders can earn 5% cash back in rotating categories, including gas, restaurants, grocery stores, Amazon.com and more. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Discover matches your total cash back after the first year. Rewards can be redeemed on your statement or used at Amazon.com.  

The card has 0% APR for 14 months for both purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR will be between 14.24% to 25.24%, depending on your credit history. There’s no annual fee.  

Credit Cards for the Avid Traveler 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 

This card currently offers 60,000 bonus points when you sign up and spend $4,000 in the first three months. The points, which are worth $750 when redeemed, can be used toward air travel, hotel stays, rental car reservations and other travel-related purchases. This bonus offer is one of the best available, especially because Chase Ultimate Rewards® has so many travel partners.

Users earn 2% on all travel and dining purchases and 1% on everything else. There are no foreign transaction fees, and no blackout dates or restrictions when booking with points. There is a $95 annual fee.

Other perks include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, and auto rental collision damage waiver.

Capital One® Venture® Card 

The Capital One Venture card, like its name, was designed for those bitten by the traveling bug. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Venture offers 50,000 bonus points, but customers only have to spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. This bonus offer is worth up to $700 when redeemed for travel expenses. It can be also be redeemed as a $500 statement credit. 

Cardholders earn 2x miles for every dollar they spend and 10x miles for hotel purchases booked through Hotels.com. Miles never expire and can be transferred directly to more than a dozen travel partners.  

Users also get an $100 statement credit if they purchase Global Entry or TSA Pre®. There are no foreign transaction fees, and the card comes with 24-hour travel assistance services, travel accident insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver. There is a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.  

Credit Cards for the Urban Dweller 

Capital One® Savor® Rewards 

This new card provides user a $500 cash bonus when they spend $3,000 in three months. Cardholders earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, perfect for the urbanite who spends their days and nights eating out and going to concerts and movies. The card also provides 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.  

The annual fee is $95, but is waived the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees and no minimum requirement for redeeming cash rewards.  

Other card perks include 24-hour travel assistance services, complimentary concierge service and extended warranty on certain items. Savor also provides price protection for 120 days. If you buy an item and it goes on sale, you can get the difference refunded on your card. 

Chase Freedom 

The Chase Freedom card has been a classic pick for years. Cardholders earn $150 cash back after spending $500 in 90 days, by far the easiest cash-back bonus on this list.  

Users earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that change each quarter, including gas stations, restaurants, drugstores and more. Consumers will earn 1% cash-back on all other purchases. Rewards can be used for travel, at Amazon.com or redeemed for cash. 

There is 0% APR for 15 months for both purchases and balance transfers. The APR will transition to 17.24% to 25.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. 

There’s no annual fee. Card benefits include extended warranty protection and price protection for 120 days. 

How to Use a Credit Card Wisely 

No matter which card you use, you should utilize the same practice to increase your credit score and not rack up a balance. Set your payments on autopay, so you never miss a payment. Making payments late can have the biggest effect on your credit score. 

Also, be cognizant of how much of your available credit you’re using at any one time. Using too much of your credit (like more than 30%) could flag for lenders that you don’t have enough cash on hand. It is also important to pay off your credit balance in full every month. Any revolving debt means paying additional interest – potentially negating any benefits or rewards you’re getting for that card.  

Lastly, don’t open too many cards in a short span of time. Every new application results in a hard inquiry, which will also lower your score. 

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Comments (7) Leave your comment

  1. You may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The $450 annual fee is offset by $300 in automatic travel credits (as in, take a cab or a flight and it gets credited back to your account until you hit $300). It also reimburses for TSAPre (or that other one), and gives 3% instead of 2%. The redemption bonus is also worth $750, as opposed to $625. Points are transferable to Southwest Rapid Rewards, which maximizes value and no other card does that.

    If don’t want to be limited by having to redeem your rewards for travel (through a specific portal to maximize or as a transfer to another airline), you absolutely cannot go wrong with the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card. 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% and grocery stores, and $500 to sign up.

  2. Disappointed in this list – most have annual fees and were probably paid promotions

    Uber Card is my current favorite – no fee, 4% at restaurants/bars, 3% on hotel/Airbnb/flights (no foreign transaction fees, 2% online purchases, and some other perks like credit for streaming services, and I think some sort of insurance on your cell if you pay your bill through them.

    And I forget what card my parents have, but they get 2% cash on everything with no fee, which again seems better than some of the cards listed here.

    Credit cards should be long term commitments (bad for your credit score to close them) – hyping cards with annual fees for the one time signing bonus is short sighted.

  3. Consider the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card. You get 3% on your choice of gas, dining, drug, home, online, or shopping, every month, 2% grocery store/wholesale club, and 1% otherwise.

    If you have 50k in the bank (investments + savings/checking) you get a 50% reward bonus. That’s 4.5%, 3%, and the minimum betting 1.5% on everything else.

    Pair this with Wells Fargo propel, which earns 3x on restaurants, travel (gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, car rentals), and streaming services and cell phone protection and you’re pretty much set.

    If you’re on Amazon Prime (who isn’t), you’ll get 5% at Amazon.com, 2% gas, restaurants, and drug store and 1% else, but it’s really about the 5% at Amazon at this point.

    That makes everything pretty much between 3-5%.

  4. I’m surprised that CitiBank’s Double Cash Back card wasn’t mentioned. One percent on all purchases and another one percent on on payments, for a steady two percent. No gimmicks like quarterly 5% on limited categories to try to keep up with.

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