Credit Card Reviews
Reviews and Roundups of the Best Cards
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the types of credit cards?
There are a lot of types of credit cards to choose from. Rewards cards are attractive for people with qualifying credit scores because you earn a little something (such as cash back or travel points) when you make purchases with them. Consumers with good or excellent credit may also qualify for cards that offer 0% APR promotions on purchases or balance transfers. If you’re rebuilding your credit or you're new to credit, you may be better off looking for secured cards, student cards, or plain vanilla credit cards with no annual fee. Finally, entrepreneurs and small-business owners may find that small-business credit cards fit their needs best.
What credit card should I get?
When choosing a credit card, consider a number of factors: the type of credit card you want (e.g., a cash-back credit card, a secured card, a student credit card); the annual percentage rate (APR); and fees, especially annual fees. Also think about what cards you might qualify for. If you’re new to credit, look for cards that are aimed at people with thin credit files. Already have a great credit score? Then you may qualify for one of the best travel rewards cards or cards that charge you no interest for a promotional period.
How can I get a credit card?
Once you’ve made a decision on the right card for you, you’ll need to fill out an application that asks for your personal information, including your Social Security number, annual income, and housing costs. The credit card company will run a credit check and base its decision on your credit record, plus other factors such as how many credit cards you’ve applied for recently or whether you have another account with that bank. Although it’s possible to get an instant decision, sometimes you may need to wait several days for approval or rejection.
What is cash back?
Cash back is a type of bonus paid by credit card issuers to cardholders for purchases made on the credit card. A small percentage of qualifying transactions is paid as cash back, which accumulates until the cardholder redeems the reward for a payout. Cash back may be awarded as a statement credit that reduces your outstanding credit card balance; or you may opt to receive cash back as a deposit to your bank account, a check, or a prepaid card.
Why was my credit card application rejected?
The most obvious reason your application might have been rejected is that your credit score didn’t meet the issuer’s requirements. This could be because you already have high credit card debt relative to your available credit or, conversely, because you have little credit experience. It could also be because you’ve applied for too many credit cards or loans recently, or you have a recent delinquency or collection on your credit record. But you can even be denied if you have good credit, if your income is too low, or you haven’t been in a stable job for long enough. Finally, you may have been turned down if you didn’t fill out the application correctly or you’re too young to apply.
Credit Card Issuer
A credit card issuer is a bank or credit union that offers credit cards and extends credit limits to cardholders who qualify. When consumers make credit card purchases, the credit card issuer is responsible for sending payments to merchants where the purchases were made. Top U.S. issuers include Chase, American Express, and Citi.
Credit Card Network
A credit card network authorizes, processes, and sets the terms of credit card transactions, as well as transfers payments between shoppers, merchants, and their respective banks. In the U.S., the four primary networks are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.
Your credit limit is the maximum outstanding balance you can have on a credit card without being penalized. Your credit card issuer determines your credit limit when you apply for a credit card. It bases its decision on your income, current debt level, and credit history.
A credit card retention offer is a tool that issuers use to entice you to keep your account open. Retention offers typically come at the request of the customer and can include waived annual fees, statement credits, or reward points.
Many major credit card issuers have a reconsideration line that you can call if you feel your application for a card has been rejected in error. Most credit card application decisions are made automatically through a computer system using the financial and personal data you provide. Calling the retention line gives you the chance to make a personal appeal to a human who will then manually review your application.
An open-loop credit card is not limited to use at one specific retailer but can be used at any merchant that accepts cards on the card’s network. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover are examples of credit card networks.
Private Label Credit Card
A private label credit card, also known as a store credit card or closed-loop card, can only used with a specific retailer or brand. It does not work with a payment network such as Visa or Mastercard, so you won't see one of those logos on the card. Private label cards tend to have higher interest rates and lower credit limits than other cards, but may appeal to consumers who are loyal to a brand or who don't qualify for other cards.
Credit Card Preapproval
If you’re preapproved for a credit card, it means you've met the initial criteria for the card. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll be approved, though. Card companies base preapproval on criteria like meeting a minimum credit score, which they get by doing a soft pull of your credit record. To be approved, you’ll need to apply for the card and undergo a hard pull of your credit, which may ding your credit score.
Credit card churning is the practice of repeatedly opening new rewards credit cards to earn sign-up bonuses and then canceling the cards and reapplying for them to earn more bonuses. It can be risky for the average consumer's credit score and has become harder to do in recent years as card companies have come up with rules that deter churning.
Many credit card issuers allow you to redeem your rewards for cash back in the form of a statement credit. A statement credit reduces your outstanding balance by the amount of your redemption, similar to a refund. For example, if you have a $100 balance and redeem your rewards for a statement credit of $5, your outstanding balance goes down to $95.