Editors Choice: Best Credit Cards in each category
This is where we highlight what we think to be the best credit cards in the various categories. We will explain our decision and keylight key points for each credit card that we have chosen
Best Business Credit Cards
The Advanta Platinum with Rewards is one of the best business credit card available to the small business owner. For those looking for a great introductory apr offer and a business credit card with low apr, this card will suit you. You get a 0% introductory apr for 15 months and a fixed apr of 7.99% (which is probably the lowest in this category). There is no annual fee nor is there any additional card fee. Furthermore, you earn 5% cash rebates when you makes gasoline and diesal purchases, computers, computer supplies, electronics and office supplies, utilities and telecommunications. You can choose to earn reward points rather cash rebates if you want.
The Business Cash Rebate from American Express is another cash back business credit card that we recommend.
For the first $15,000 of spending on your card, you will earn 5% rebate with American Express OPENSavings merchants. You will earn 2.5% rebates on other purchases. Once you exceed $15,000 in spending, the rebates are lowered to 2% and 1% respectively. You can earn unlimited rebates. There is no annual fee or addtional card fee and you could potentially get a low apr and 7.99% apr on a balance transfer for the life of the transfer. The most attractive feature of these cards is that you can earn 2.5% rebates on "other purchases". You can combine this with a card like the Advanta Platinum Business Card with Cash Back Rewards for example, and earn even more cash rebates.
Best Credit Cards: Hotel Credit Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
was voted second in the Best Affinity Card category for the Americas. This is not surprising given that the Starwood Preferred Guest Program is considered the best hotel rewards program by many. The program has won more Freddie Awards not just this year, but also the past few years. It has swept the Best Award, Best Award Redemption, Best Customer Service, Best Elite Level and Best Hotel Program of the Year for all three regions (the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia). It also won the award for Best Member Communicatons and Best Web Site in Europe, Middle East and Africas. It has the least restrictive award redemptions, a favourable cash and points options and a 5,000 bonus points upon transfer of 20,000 points to a partner airline that makes it a favourite among frequent travellers.
If you are a member of more than one hotel frequent guest program and would like to earn points that can be used with multiple hotel programs, then the Blue from American Express® is the best card to get. It has 15 hotel partners (versus three for most credit card reward programs). You can either transfer points directly into frequent guest programs, redeem points for hotel certificates or choose from over 250 hotel porperties to exhange points for a nights' stay. It's hotel partners include Best Western, Hilton HHonors, Priority Club, Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriot, Fairmount, Loews Hotels, Omni Hotels, Preferred Hotel Group, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons, Orient Express Hotels, Ritz Carlton, Concorde Hotels and Rock Resorts.
But the Blue also has other great rewards. It's reward program (Membership Rewards Options) has 24 airline partners, tons of shopping and entertainment rewards as well.
Best Credit Cards: Reward Program Credit Card
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Rewards Card is a no annual fee reward card that has a similar reward program as the Citi Premierpass card, the ThankYou Redemptions Network. This is the only reward credit card that lets you earn 5 points for every dollar you spend at standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores and 1 point for other purchases. This is a very important feature because you earn points very faster when you charge your grocery and gasoline purchases to your card.
Consider this example, if you spend $417 a month (equals to $5,000 a year) on groceries and gasoline (very realistic number for a family), you will be able to earn 25,000 points in one year just from grocery and gasoline spending, and get a free roundtrip airline ticket within the Continental USA. Let's look at the math again, one free airline ticket on just $5,000 in grocery and gasoline spending. No other card allows you to earn faster points than this card.
The Blue Sky® Credit Card from American Express is a unique travel credit card. Like other reward credit cards, you earn points for the dollars you spend on the card (one point for every dollar). However, unlike other reward credit cards that require you to book any travel rewards through their in-house travel agents, you can make reservations through airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, travel agencies, tour operators, and online travel sites that are submitted under an appropriate industry code or identifier for the above-listed categories. After you have booked them, you can use reward points to get a credit into your next statement ($100 credit with 7,500 points).
Because you can book your travel anyway you want, you can search for the best deals. Furthermore, you avoid restrictions like blackout dates, having to book your travel 21 days in advance and staying over a Saturday.
The Citi® PremierpassSM Card is anther very unique travel reward credit card in the market. You earn points ($1.00 = 1 point) when you use your credit card, but you also earn points on the miles you fly (at a rate of 1 miles for every 3 miles). Hence, if you are a frequent flyer, you can chalk up points very quickly. These points you earn are on top of the frequent flyer points you will get. If you pay for your companion's airline ticket, you will also earn points on the miles they fly. There is also no annual fee for the Citi Premierpass Card. The elite version allows you to earn double points for purchases at standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores and one point for every mile flown. But you have to pay an annual fee of $75.00.
Best Credit Cards: Cash Back credit cards
There are essentially two types of cash rebate credit cards, those with a straight forward rebate formula, and those with a tiered rebate formula whereby the rebate percentages is a function of annual expenditure and/or whether you carry a balance. But more importantly, cash rebate programs can be segmented into two categories, the (what American Express terms as) "everyday purchase category", which includes purchases from standalone supermarket, gasoline stations and drugstores, and the "other purchases" category, which essentially is all purchases except the so-called "everyday purhcases". There is no perfect cash rebate credit card, and the cards chosen to be on this list has strengths in either the "everyday purchase" segment or the "other purchase" segment.
The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card gets top billing here. You earn 5% cash rebate for purchases at standalone supemarkets, drugstores and gas stations and 1% rebate on other purchases. While other credit cards like the American Express Blue Cash allows you to earn "Up to 5% on purchases from standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores, you only get 5% when you annual card spending exceeds a certain threshold and if you carry a balance. The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card lets you earn a 5% rebate on these items with no strings attached. There is no annual fee and the apr is quite low. You also get a 0% apr offer on balance transfer for 12 months from the date of balance transfer (not account opening) and makes for a very good card to transfer your balance. This is a simple rebate formula, not tiered or contigent on annual expenditure or whether or no you carry a balance.You can earn up to $300 in annual cash rebate, which some might find too low. But you can also always get the another Citi Dividend card or the following card below.
From 31st July 2005 onwards, Chase discontinued their Cashbuilder and Ultimate Cash Awards Card (which was on our Editors's Choice List) and replaced it with the Chase Cash Plus® Rewards Card. Its' cash rebate formula is essentially identical to the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card. You earn 5% cash rebates on purchases at grocers, gas stations and drugstores and 1% on everything else. Like the Citi Dividend card, you can earn up to $300 in annual rebates. You also get a 0% introductory apr for 12 months. The part where it stands out from the Citi Dividend Card is that you can exchange your cash rebates for gift certificates and rewards if you want to.
The Blue Cash from American Express is included here because it has just changed its rebate formula (as of 8th May 2005) for the better. American Express has just done away with the requirement to carry a balance to earn maximum rebates. For spending up to $6,500, you earn 1% on "everyday purchase" and 0.50% on "other purchases". Once your annual spending exceeds $6,500, you earn 5% rebate on "everyday purchases" and 1.5% on "other purchases". You earn rebates for up to $60,000 in annual spending on the card. As a standalone cash rebate card, this is a very good card. When combined with the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card, you can earn more rebates by using your Citi Dividend card for "everyday" purchases and your American Express card for "everyday purchases".
Best Credit Cards : Gas Credit Cards
The criteria for gas credit cards to make it to our Editor's Choice list is that they must pay 5% rebates on gasoline purchases.
The Hess Platinum Visa® pays 5% rebates on all purchases at all HESS, HESS EXPRESS, and WILCO HESS locations. You earn 10% rebate for the first 90 days. You can earn unlimited rebates. We recommend the Hess Platinum Visa® to those who frequently buy gasoline from HESS stations.
We recommend the Marathon® Platinum Mastercard® from Chase to those who use Marathon gas stations frequently. You earn 5% rebates on all Marathon purchases (not just gas). For the first 60 days, you earn 10% rebates. There is no annual fee and you get a 6 month 0% apr for balance transfers.
The Shell MasterCard from Citi
is another gas credit card that allows the carholder to earn 5% rebates at Shell gas stations. There is no annual fee for the first year. Thereafter, there is a $20 annual fee unless you use the card nine times the prior year (which should never be a problem if you are a regular Shell user).
For those who use more than one gas stations, we recommend either the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card or the Chase Cash Plus® Rewards Card. Both pay 5% rebates on purchases at standalone gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores.
Best Credit Cards: 0% apr credit cards
There are a few things to look out for when looking for a 0% apr credit card to transfer a balance from a higher interest rate credit card. Firstly, the 0% offer should be as long as possible. The best cards give 12 months of 0% apr on balance transfer. It should have low apr after the introductory offer. There should preferably have no balance transfer fee during the introductory offer. The card also should not use the 2-cycle average daily balance method to calculate monthly balance as you will incur a slightly higher balance if you are reducing your credit card monthly consistently. With that in mind, we recommend the Citi Simplicity(SM) Card for those looking to transfer their balance and get 0% apr. Firstly, you get 0% apr on your balance transfer for 12 months. However, you are given 12 months from the date of account opening to transfer your balance and the 12 month 0% period starts from the date of transfer (not from date of account opening). There is no balance transfer fee. The apr is low at prime rate plus 2.99% and it uses the average daily balance method to calculate monthly balances. You also get a 0% apr for 12 months for purchases. Many other Citi Credit Cards offer a similar balance transfer deal as well. However, we highlight this card because of its low apr and 0% offer on purchases as well.
Best Low Interest Credit Card
The Pulaski Bank MasterCard® or VISA®
may be right for you if you have Excellent Credit and are looking for a card with a fixed rate and want to Transfer Balances from other credit cards. Even though the card has a $35-$50 (gold is $50.00) annual fee, this card can be a very good deal if you carry high balances on other cards. The intro rate is 0% on balance transfers for 6 billing periods, and then the annual percentage rate (APR) is only 7.99%. Aside from having very low fixed rate apr, there are a couple of other features that make this a very good low interest rate credit card. Firstly, it uses the "monthly periodic rate" to calculate your finance charges. Most other credit cards these use the "daily periodic rate". The use of the "monthly periodic rate" results in a lower effective rate given identical quoted aprs. Furthermore, it uses the average daily balance method to calculate monthly balances (versus many cards that use the 2-cycle method. Lastly, this is one of the few cards that have a 25 days of grace period (versus 20 days for most credit cards).
Credit Card for people with bad credit
The Orchard Bank Mastercard is the first credit card we would recommend to anyone who is looking to rebuild their credit. When you apply for this card, you will either be approved of a secured credit card or a regular unsecured credit card depending on the bank's assessment of your credit. If you are approved of a secured credit card, you pay a very reasonable annual fee of $35.00 and none of the one-time application or processing fee common in other secured or sub-prime credit cards. You can deposit anywhere between $200 and $15,000 and you are given a credit limit based on 100% of your deposit. Orchard Bank reports to the three major credit agecies as well.
If you are approved of a regular unsecured credit card, you will have to pay a one-time application fee of anywhere between $0 and $49. There annual fee will be between $0 and $79.00. Orhcard Bank has been acquired by Houeshold Finance, which is now part of HSBC Bank, one of the largest and most reputable bank in the world.
For those who have gotten into financial problems in the past may want to get a prepaid credit card to help control one's spending. However, most prepaid debits cards do not report to credit bureaus because by its nature, it does not extend you credit. Those that report to credit bureaus require you to pay a monthly fee that will be reported to the credit bureaus as an interest payment. However, the BuyRIGHT Prepaid MasterCard®
is a better alternative. It is actually a hybrid prepaid/debit and catalog card. This offers you the best features of a prepaid and catalog credit card. As a prepaid credit card, you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Every BuyRIGHT prepaid card also comes with a free membership to the BuyRIGHT Marketplace, which gives customers access to a $5,000 credit line that can be used to make purchases through the BuyRIGHT quarterly catalog and on-line at the BuyRIGHT marketplace (MyBuyRight.com). The BuyRIGHT website has over 15,000 brand name products available. Your payments to purchases at MyBuyRight.com are reported to two of the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis (Transunion and Innovis).
Best Credit Cards - For College Students
The Citi® mtvU Platinum Select® Card is probably the most innovative student credit card. The reward program is based on Citibank's ThankYou Network reward program. You can earn five points for every dollar you spend at (1) bookstores, (2) record stores, (3) restaurants (including fast food), (4) motion picture theaters and (5) video entertainment rental stores and
earn one point for every dollar spent on other purchases. But in addition to that, you earn 25 points each time you pay your minimum bills on-time and if you do not exceed your credit limit. You can also earn point twice a year for getting good GPA scores (4,000 points for a perfect score). This is a good incentive to develop good money habits and to motivate you to do well in studies. There is also no annual fee.
The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa®for college students is a cash rebate credit card with identical reward program features as the regular Citi Dividend Card. You earn 5% rebate for "everyday purchases" (purchases at standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores) and the usual 1% rebate for other purchases. You can earn up to $300 in rebates a year. Purchases made from partner merchants of the Dividend Network are exempt from this cap. There is no annual fee and you get a 0% apr for six months on balance transfers and a 9.99% apr for the first six months on purchases. To sum up, with is card, you get a great reward program and a 5% rebate at standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores.
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