Best Overall Credit Card

The best overall credit card

It seems like everybody is looking for the elusive "best ever" credit card.

With the right credit card, your life will be easier and your finances simpler. But truth be told, credit cards are not one-size-fits-all.

That's why we've created the Genius Rating – a score out of 5 that will give you insights into whether or not a card is ideal for you. To get the most accurate Genius Rating, it's important to know what's important to you when it comes to credit cards.

So let's discuss a few things to consider before you can find your perfect-fit.

How to choose the best credit card for you

The perfect credit card for me, might not be the best credit card for you. It's all about what features you're looking for and what cards you can qualify for.

Some things to keep in mind before starting an application are:

Best rewards credit cards

Perhaps one of the biggest selling points for credit cards is your ability to earn rewards.

Rewards can be divided into 3 categories:

These rewards are mostly earned through your everyday purchases or category specific spending.

But you can also earn rewards through limited-time welcome bonuses or sign-up offers.

Cash back rewards credit cards

If you're looking to save money on your everyday spending, cash back credit cards are almost like getting mini discounts. On each purchase you make, you'll get a small percentage back, often as a statement credit.

Travel rewards credit cards

Whether you travel for work or play, a travel rewards card is great if you're looking to get discounts on specific airlines, cruise lines, hotel chains, or railways.

Each dollar you spend will earn you points or miles, and their value depends on how you redeem your points. To get the best value, some strategic redeeming could be in order.

Flex rewards credit cards

Flexible rewards are for people who prefer to have options and are looking for that guaranteed return.

Want to redeem your points as a statement credit? No problem. What about switching travel providers here and there? You bet.

Balancing credit card rewards and your annual fee

Some credit cards come with annual fees ranging from $25 to $550. However, those annual fees often come with increased rewards, added perks and benefits, and increased insurance coverage.

The extra rewards earned might be enticing, but if you're not spending enough on your card, taking on that annual fee won't be worth it.

When does it make sense to pay a credit card annual fee?

It can vary from card to card, but if you're putting upwards of $1,500 per month on your credit card, you might benefit from the higher earn rates offered by a credit card that has an annual fee.

That being said, it's important to pay off your balance in full every month, otherwise you're potentially cancelling out your rewards with interest payments. Which leads us to our next point.

Having a good credit score

Another important thing to consider when applying for a new credit card is your credit score, and, with that, insurance rates.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a 3-digit number between 300 and 900 that is calculated based on a number of things like your payment history, amount of money owed, and length of credit history, among others. This numbers gives lenders an indication on how likely you are to pay off your debt – the higher the number the better.

Having a good credit score can help you get:

  • a better apartment,
  • approved for a mortgage loan, and even
  • lower interest rates.

A score of 740 or more is considered very good and will allow you to qualify for better credit cards with lower rates.

Credit scores and interest rates – what's the deal?

Interest rates are variable. There are 2 things that are considered when calculating your interest rate:

  • The U.S. prime rate and
  • your creditworthiness.

This basically means that if you have a poor credit score, your interest rates will be higher. So if you're not paying your balance off in full every month, you'll be paying the banks more from your pocket.

Bummer.

Wanna try crunching some numbers? Enter your interest rate and payment amount into our interest calculator to see how much money you'll be paying in interest and how long it will take you to pay off your credit card.

How can I get a better credit score?

If you've never had any type of loan, your credit score might be non-existent – which often makes banks less eager to lend you money. If this is the case for you, a student card or a secured card might be your only option, at least until you get a good credit score.

Otherwise, if you're struggling to improve your credit score, here are a few tips.

Automatic payments

The best way to improve your credit score is by making your credit card payments on time. Some banks will let you set up payment reminders or automatic payments through your online banking.

Lower your debt

Bringing down your total balance on your credit cards will help improve your credit score. Ideally, the balance should be low enough that you can pay it off in full every month.

Credit cards are not extra income

Treating a credit cards like extra income is a surefire way to get into a hole of debt that will be very hard to get out of.

Credit cards should only be used to make the purchases you would normally make.

Earn rewards, take advantage of the perks and insurance, and then pay them off in full.

Compare Overall Best Credit Cards

The creditcardGenius algorithm calculates an estimated dollar value for all rewards and bonuses by using a typical point value a person can realistically achieve by redeeming their rewards in a reasonably optimized way. The "Welcome Bonus" is the dollar value obtained by combining of all one-time bonuses available to new cardholders within the first year. To qualify for the full bonus you may need to make purchases, meet minimum spending requirements, or complete special actions. Terms and conditions apply.

* Conditions apply.