Wonder how we get our rankings and our genius scores?

It's actually pretty complicated and requires a whole lot of math – so we developed our Genius algorithm to do it for us. Behind the scenes of creditcardGenius is a well-oiled machine developed for almost a decade and constantly being improved.

We don't just look at rewards either – we consider over 126 different features of credit cards in our comparison, including the underappreciated aspects, like credit card insurance, rewards flexibility, and acceptance. And we do this for every credit card in our database – all 136 of them.

At the end of it all is one simple number out of 5, our beloved Genius Rating. This shows how good a credit card really is, either relative to the component you've chosen, or just overall.

We wanted to make a way for Americans to compare credit cards painlessly, with no fear of bias or dishonesty.

So that's why at creditcardGenius, we're devoted to helping you maximize your rewards, finding perks you'll actually use, and getting you the best credit card for your wallet.

How we compare the best credit cards in America

Want to know more about our Genius Rating? We don't blame you.

We have 8 main componenets:

Any score you see on the site is based on these 8 components with a set configuration behind it, which is why the same card can have different scores on different parts of the site. On our blog, many card views are set to "best mode," which is where our algorithm gives more weight to the card's top 2 components (excluding approval, acceptance, and user reviews).

On our Compare Credit Cards page, you'll notice all sliders in the left column are set to the middle. This is what we call "default mode" and the weights look like this:

Default weights for CCG Genius Rating

But we don't live our lives by default – we each have our own preferences for what we want in a credit card. That's why you can change the sliders to reflect what's important to you.

Let's look at what happens to the weights when you select a preference. Just note that on the compare cards page, user reviews can't be selected in the sliders.

Category-based best credit cards in the United States

Every time you move one of the sliders, the weight for each component shifts accordingly.

Moving one slider will change the weight of that component to be about half, then all the other components will make up the rest of the weighting, keeping the same ratio they have in the default weightings.

Let's go through the main components to give you an idea of what this looks like. Keep in mind that selecting more than one slider will further split and change the weightings.

Credit card rewards

You'll want to choose "Cash" on the sliders if you like your rewards to be paid out in the form of cold, hard cash (or statement credits).

Or if you'd rather the most valuable rewards possible, and love to do a bit of travelling, then move that first slider to "Travel."

Either way, here's what the weights will look like in the rewards state:

Weights in reward mode

Low fee credit cards

If you love credit cards, but aren't ready for the commitment of an annual fee, slide your marker to "Low fees."

The weights will change like so:

Weights in fees mode

Low interest credit cards

If you're carrying a bit of a balance on a credit card, or tend to often, low interest credit cards could help save you a lot of money.

Here's what the weights will look like behind the scenes if you slide over to "Low interest."

Weights in interest mode

Credit card perks

If rewards are all well and good, but what you really want is to feel like a VIP, then perks could be the options for you.

This is how the weights shift when you select them:

Weights in perks mode

Credit card insurance

But maybe instead of flashy perks, you just want some peace of mind.

This is how the weights will look if you choose "Insurance" as your preference:

Weights in insurance mode

Credit cards with good approval

If your credit score isn't as good as you'd like it to be, you're better off sliding over to the "Approval" side.

Here's what the weights look like in this state:

Weights in approval mode

Credit cards with good acceptance

If you don't want to worry about your card being accepted at some merchants, set your preference to "Acceptance."

This will give a boost to Mastercard and Visa while nerfing Amex and Discover.

Here are the new weights in this state:

Weights in acceptance mode

User reviews

User reviews also play a role in genius ratings. Everytime you leave a review for a card, you're also helping determine its score. This way, real world experience for credit cards becomes part of the equation.

Once a card has 5 reviews, they start being taken into account for a card's overall score. The maximum change user reviews can make is to increase or decrease a genius rating by 10%, and this amount depends on the average user review rating. The maximum boost only happens when a card gets over 100 reviews and gets an average score of 5 stars.

How we calculate credit card rewards

The other important number you'll see on our card summaries is annual rewards.

These are calculated based on our default spending, which we estimated based on various sources. The default breakdown looks like this:

CCG default spending breakdown

Doesn't really look like your monthly spending? No problem, you can edit any of these fields to be a more accurate estimate for you. The "Annual Rewards" number will be recalculated in real time to reflect your changes.

Try it out for yourself in the left-hand column of our Compare Credit Cards page.

For our ranking pages and card displays in articles, we use this typical $2,000 spend for scoring annual rewards (unless we say so otherwise).

Oh and did we mention it's unbiased?

So now you have a better idea of how everything works behind the scenes. With all the numbers, algorithms, and math going on – there's not much room for bias to seep in.

We'll show you the best credit cards in America, based on your needs, spending habits, and wants. And not based on our compensation or partnerships.

Find out more about how we make money here.