Credit Card Top Picks: Based on Your Life Stage
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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
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.
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
This card currently offers 50,000 bonus points when you sign up and spend $4,000 in the first three months. The points, which are worth $625 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. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
Other perks include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, and auto rental collision damage waiver.
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
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. Discover 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.
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.