10 Best Credit Cards of February 2020 – At The Balance, we name the best credit cards based on the features we think are the most valuable for different sets of needs. Whether you’re looking for travel rewards, cash back on everyday purchases, a way to build credit, or a better way to pay down costly debt, we’ve done the research and crunched numbers to find the very best option for you. These are the best credit cards you can get right now, and we highly recommend giving each offer a second look:
The Best Credit Cards of 2020
- Citi® Double Cash Card: The Best Overall Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: The Best All-Around Travel Rewards Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: The Best Airline Rewards Credit Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card: The Best Card for Travel and Dining
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: The Best Premium Rewards Credit Card
- Discover it® Student Cash Back: The Best Student/First Credit Card
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: The Best Credit Card for Foreign Travel
- United℠ TravelBank Card: The Best No Annual Fee Airline Rewards Credit Card
- Target REDcard™ Credit Card: The Best Retailer Credit Card
- American Express Cash Magnet® Card *: The Best Credit Card For Amex Offers
For the credit cards reviewed for this list, we valued the costs and benefits of each credit card. The costs of each credit card included the annual fee, foreign transaction fees (or lack thereof), and the required spend to qualify for the welcome offer. The benefits evaluated included the welcome offer, the retained earnings rate for net purchases, issuer benefits, preferred member benefits (i.e. if you were an account holder of another account with the same issuer/bank), and licensee benefits. For travel rewards cards, we reviewed the value of miles/points per brand based on how many points are earned as a rewards member (i.e. Marriott Bonvoy) per stay and needed to redeem.
In terms of reviewing welcome offers and benefits, we used the public details available at the time of writing (June 6, 2019) on the respective card websites and not any individual offers via email or postal mail. Even if a specific credit card offers a better incentive depending on the location from which you applied (i.e. applying for an airline rewards card while at the airport), we only considered the public offer from the issuer directly online.
What is the best credit card overall?
The best overall credit card depends on what your goals are and how you spend money, so the best card isn’t likely to be the same from person to person.
That said, the Citi Double Cash credit card takes our spot for the best credit card overall and it’s a good starting point for most people. The card earns an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, provides a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers (balance transfer fee applies, after 18 months standard purchase APR applies), and doesn’t have an annual fee.
The card’s 2% cash back rewards structure (1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay your card off) makes this card one of the top cash back credit cards on the market. For those who pay virtually every expense with the card, the effective 2% cash back can generate $1,000 or more a year in rewards, according to Forbes’ review.
Keep in mind, there are other cards on the market catering to different needs. Though the Citi Double Cash credit card offers an excellent rate on cash back rewards, there are better credit cards on the market for, say, travel lovers. For this reason, make sure to understand what type of rewards you are most interested in, and consider credit card offerings accordingly. The Citi Double Cash credit card provides excellent value for everyday use.
What credit score do you need to get a top credit card?
Plan to have a good to excellent credit score to get approved for most of the top credit cards on the market. Although there are no hard rules on which score qualifies and disqualifies an applicant, a safe rule of thumb is to have a score above 700. This is considered a good credit score according to Experian, a consumer credit reporting company.
Top credit cards, such as the American Express Gold card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, or the Citi Double Cash card, generally require users to have good to excellent credit.
Card holders with scores below 700 should make sure to pay off their balance on time monthly, keep credit utilization low and maintain a history of responsible credit use in order to raise that score as soon as possible.
How many credit cards should you have?
First and foremost, make sure you are already responsibly paying the balance on your first credit card before moving on to expanding to more cards. More cards will add more complexity to your financial life, so it’s good to increase your responsibility slowly.
Keep in mind that applying for a new credit card will temporarily drop your credit score, so applying to multiple cards at the same time is generally not a smart move. If you are already a responsible credit card user, adding a second or third credit card to take advantage of multiple rewards is definitely the next step in your personal finance journey.
There is no exact maximum number of credit cards you should have, as everyone’s spending habits and needs are different. Someone with a 10-year history building credit will likely have more credit cards than someone just starting to build credit.
A smart move is to pick cards from different popular networks, such as Mastercard or Visa. This is optional, but it’s smart to have both a Mastercard and a Visa in your arsenal. Some locations around the world accept Visas much more frequently than Mastercards, while networks such as Discover are much less accepted.
How do you pick the best credit card for your specific needs?
The most simple way is to create your personalized budget so you can see exactly what are your spending habits. There are several apps that can streamline this process for you.
Knowing the above data, you can select the card which best aligns with your spending habits. Spend a lot on groceries? Look for cards with excellent rewards on grocery purchases. Spend a lot at the pump? Look for cards with top notch rewards on gas. Next, calculate your rewards potential, so you’ll know exactly how beneficial that card will be for you.
Keep tabs on some additional card benefits, such as warranties, trip cancellation insurance and even price protection.
What’s the best first credit card to get?
The best first credit card to get will be the one to start building your credit history. Don’t focus on travel rewards or cash back rates, these will come later. Instead, pick a starter card, and responsibly handle the card until your credit score improves to move on to a better credit card.