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Best Credit Cards of June 2021

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Credit Card Insider is an independent, advertising supported website. Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Editor’s Best Card Picks. Credit Card Insider has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace. Content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information, though all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on any ‘Apply Now’ button, the most up-to-date terms and conditions, rates, and fee information will be presented by the issuer. Credit Card Insider has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Credit Card Insider and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. A list of these issuers can be found on our Editorial Guidelines.

Overall Best Credit Card: Citi Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Out of nearly 500 cards in our database, we’ve selected the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) as the best overall credit card. It’s a simple solution to that common question, “What credit card should I use?”

The Double Cash is a great fit for just about everybody — with 2% cash back for every purchase and no annual fee, it’s perfect for any situation (you’ll earn 1% back for purchases, and 1% back for payments; you must pay the minimum due to earn rewards).

With a solid rate for everything you buy, it could be your only credit card. It’s useful for groceries, gas, travel, and everything in between. Or you could use it along with other reward cards that have bonus categories; just pay with the Double Cash whenever you’re spending outside their categories.

This card even comes with an introductory balance transfer offer: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable).

A balance transfer allows you to move a balance from one credit card to another. If you have debt on another card that’s accruing interest, you could move it over to the Double Cash and have some time to pay it down at no interest (but you can’t transfer a balance from one Citi card to another). Just check the balance transfer fee to make sure it’d be worth the cost.

The Double Cash is rewarding, inexpensive, and easy to use. That’s why we recommend it more than any other card.

Here’s a selection of blog posts with more best picks by category.

Metal & Heavy Cards

Building or Rebuilding Credit

Balance Transfers & Low APR

Travel Features

Choosing the Best Credit Card for You

There are many credit card offers out there, but which one is the best credit card for you? The answer depends on your needs and creditworthiness, which is based on your credit history and credit scores. Keep in mind you have more than one credit score!

If you’re considering a card for rewards, there’s a wide variety of options. This page shows you our top picks by category, but the best rewards card can vary depending on your situation.

Do you want a simple card that earns you a cash back percentage as a statement credit on all your credit card spending? In that case, a cash rewards credit card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer card or Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be a simple way to save some money. A cash back card may also come with an intro APR, which could let you earn rewards while paying for new purchases over time at a temporary low interest rate, before the regular APR kicks in.

Or are you looking for a travel rewards card that will earn points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points, that you can transfer as airline miles, or to another rewards program? Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may let you transfer your points to other loyalty programs or redeem for airfare to get more value than you would with cash back rewards or when redeeming point for gift cards. Certain travel credit cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, let you redeem for travel purchases without blackout dates.

Many rewards cards, like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card or Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, earn more year-round on certain bonus categories, like gas stations, grocery stores, or wholesale clubs. Others offer a higher rewards rate on rotating categories, which change throughout the year, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back. Choose wisely according to your spending habits.

Are you willing to pay an annual fee? Some cards have a high annual fee, but the value of benefits and rewards can more than make up for it. You may just want to keep things simple and only consider cards with no annual fee. Keep in mind some cards waive the annual fee for the first year, so you may be able to try a card to see if it’s right for you before you have to pay an annual fee.

Cards with annual fees, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, tend to have better perks, and may give cardholders an application fee credit for programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. You may also be able to get a fee credit for checked bags.

Consider the sign-up bonus that many cards offer. Credit card issuers will often award you bonus points or a cash bonus when you spend a certain amount within the first few months of opening your new card. A welcome bonus can be extremely valuable as long as you meet the minimum spend within several months of account opening or a certain number of billing cycles. Sometimes, you’ll even get an extra rewards bonus at the end of your first year.

Maybe you’re a student with no credit, or someone else who has not established credit history with credit bureaus yet. You may be able to qualify for a student credit card even if you’re not a student. These cards may come with a lower credit limit, but can provide a starting point for building credit. You may want to find a card that will let you monitor one of your FICO scores and track your progress. Credit cards can be a great tool for building credit, as long as you use them responsibly, and cash back credit cards can give you a slight discount while you’re at it.

If you have bad credit, you still have options to get the benefits of credit cards, but you might have to pay an annual fee or get a secured card. A secured credit card requires a security deposit, and may have a lower credit line as a result, but could help you re-build your credit as long as you pay your bill on time and use the card responsibly. You may not even need a bank account to get some secured cards.

If you’re trying to pay off debt faster with a balance transfer, the best card for you would probably have no balance transfer fee and a long 0% intro balance transfer or introductory APR offer.

Make sure you’re also considering the additional benefits cards offer. Many travel cards come with benefits like car rental and travel insurance, while some go further, offering big travel credits and airport lounge access. If you travel outside the country often, consider whether a card has foreign transaction fees. Some issuers, like Capital One, do not have foreign transaction fees on any of their cards. You may also want to look for a Visa or Mastercard, from an issuer like Capital One, Chase, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, since American Express and Discover cards may not be as widely accepted abroad.

If you’re a small business owner, there are lots of cards designed specifically for you. When applying, you’ll likely need to provide a personal guarantee and the issuer will probably check your personal credit, but these cards can be great for earning rewards on business purchases while keeping business and personal expenses separate.

Whichever card you choose, make sure you make your monthly payments on time and use the card responsibly to avoid late fees and expensive credit card interest charges. Most cards have a variable APR, and are an expensive way to borrow money. However, when you pay your statement balance in full, the purchase APR can be irrelevant, since you can avoid interest completely with most cards.

What Is the Best Credit Card?

If a cash back credit card is right for you, start your search with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review).

Need a travel rewards card to help fuel your next adventure? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) are two of the best.

If you want a 0% APR card for purchases or to pay down a balance transfer, try the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review) or U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (Review).

Or, if your credit scores could use some work and you need a card for bad credit or building credit, the Discover it® Secured (Review) or Secured Mastercard® from Capital One (Review) can help you get back on track.

What Is the Best Credit Card for Rewards?

For flat-rate cash back, check out the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review). If you’re buying gas and groceries, it’s hard to beat the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review).

If travel rewards are more your thing, look to The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) for airline rewards and lounge access. Or, try the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) for wide-ranging point opportunities and transfer partners.

What Is the Best Credit Card With No Annual Fee?

One of the best cards with no annual fee is the Discover it® Cash Back (Review), a highly rewarding offer with 5% cash back categories you can activate every three months (you’ll get that rate for up to $1,500 in spending per quarter). Give the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) a shot if you’re not into bonus categories.

Need to pay off some debt? The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (Review) gives you 20 billing cycles on purchases to pay off purchases or balance transfers, before the regular rate of 14.49% - 24.49%* Variable kicks in.

If your credit isn’t in the best shape, the Discover it® Secured (Review) is designed for bad credit and an excellent way to improve your scores.

What Is the Best Travel Credit Card?

The best travel card depends on your needs, but you can see all our top travel card picks here. If a high-end luxury travel card is on your mind, take a look at The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

For occasional travel, we love the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Or if you’re looking for something less expensive, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card and Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card have solid offers.

What Is the Best Credit Card for Bad Credit and Building Credit?

You don’t have to be punished for having bad credit — if you need a card to help you build credit, the Discover it® Secured (Review) is a great offer that includes cash back rewards, plus the opportunity to upgrade to an unsecured card.

Some other issuers provide simpler, but still useful, options for improving your credit scores:

What Is the Best First Credit Card to Get?

We recommend getting a credit card with no annual fee for your first card. You’ll be able to keep it open indefinitely at no cost, if you avoid interest and other fees, which can help boost your credit scores.

Maybe a student credit card is right for you, or maybe you’re just new to credit. Either way, some of the best first credit cards include:

What Credit Scores Do You Need to Get a Top Credit Card?

The best credit cards for rewards, cash back, and travel might be more accessible than you think.

Having good or excellent credit scores will give you the best chance at approval. That means a FICO score of at least 740, or a VantageScore of at least 700 (read more about credit score ranges).

The better your credit scores, the more likely you are to qualify — but credit card approval relies on more than just credit scores. Other factors, like income, are taken into account too. So you may still be approved with relatively low scores, or denied with fairly high scores.

See the easiest cards to get for every credit score here.

What Types of Credit Cards Are There?

Credit cards come in a dizzying array of types, designed for different purposes and lifestyles. Some of the most popular types of credit cards are:

Expert Q&A

Q1) Should everyone have at least one credit card?

Answer by: Kelsey Syvrud, Assistant Professor, Florida State University

Credit cards can be a useful tool to build your credit credit scores. Credit cards help establish a good credit history, assuming the individual consistently pays off the balance. Further, a portion of your credit scores is based on how much available credit you have, or the maximum amount you could charge on credit across all your accounts. Opening a credit card account naturally boosts that available credit balance, which can provide a bump to your credit scores. Additionally, credit cards are associated with other benefits – such as cash back rewards or periods of 0% interest on purchases.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera, Assistant Professor of Economics, Centre College

I think so. Credit cards can help build your credit history which are essential for future financial plans. Having credit cards can help you pay for emergency expenses that you can pay for later.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta, Assistant Professor of Finance, Florida Gulf Coast University

Yes. Credit cards can be important financial tools if used properly, especially if a credit card offers cash back or other rewards. An important consideration is whether a credit card charges an annual fee or not; in the case that the card does charge an annual fee, the rewards you expect to earn must be significantly higher than the cost of the annual fee.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy, Associate Professor of Accounting, Morgan State University

It’s recommended that consumers have at least one credit card. Credit cards are useful tools for financing in the short term, and building credit history.

Financing in the short term may be a necessity rather than an option, especially during times of need. Building an outstanding credit history is crucial and is one of the most important benefits of having a credit card. Paying off the balance in-full every month helps in building strong credit scores. The longer consumers hold onto credit cards that are paid in full on a continuous basis, the more likely they’re to build strong credit scores. Excellent credit scores can help consumers obtain financing with favorable terms, like low interest rates.

Answer by: Kelly Carter, Associate Professor, Morgan State University

Yes, because that is the easiest way for consumers to establish a reputation as a good borrower.  I suggest having two cards — one that is always kept for emergencies and one that is used for common purchases, like groceries and gas.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein, Emeritus Professor of Finance, Texas Tech University

No, credit cards are not for everybody. Credit cards require discipline in spending that some don’t have. If you are disciplined and can pay off the balance on your credit cards each month, they’re helpful.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig, Associate Professor of Finance, Eastern Michigan University

Everyone should have at least one credit card, two preferably.  Two cards provide flexibility for taking advantage of multiple types of reward programs, such as cash back or travel rewards.  However, ensure the credit limit on each card is manageable. Credit cards should not be used to finance large non-critical purchases when the credit card holder does not have the cash to cover the expense.  This may leave the card holder without credit to cover purchases in an emergency.  Credit card interest rates are high and it’s important cardholders control their use.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty, Associate Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

I think everyone should have a credit card. Remember, you don’t have to use it. You can keep it for emergencies, or for things that no longer take cash, like online purchases that prefer cashless payment. Credit cards can be preferred to debit cards, particularly for unanticipated expenses. If you are worried about overspending, I suggest using a checking account to pay off the credit card, and not to make regular credit purchases if you don’t have the “cash” to back it up.

Answer by: Axel Grossman, Freeman Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Finance, Georgia Southern University

I would recommend that everyone has at least one credit card to build your credit scores.

Answer by: Jesse Lineberry, Instructor of Finance, Virginia Tech

It’s generally best for consumers to harness their spending and build an emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses before acquiring a credit card. A credit card provides a broad range of rewards and conveniences, along with the ability to improve the consumer’s credit scores. In a perfect world, consumers would maintain 1-3 credit cards with balances that are paid off, in full, every month. 

Answer by: Dr. Gregory Kuhlemeyer, Professor of Business, Carroll University

The world, before the pandemic hit, was moving at an incredible speed to a world of paperless transactions.  People are buying more online at a rate not seen before and avoiding contact in stores with cashiers and business people facilitating transactions by using contactless RFID-technology.  For younger people, having a credit card is often an important and critical step to build up their credit scores.  High credit scores are critical to getting low interest rate loans, cheaper insurance rates and facilitating transactions most cost effectively. 

Answer by: Diann Moorman, Associate Professor of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, University of Georgia

I think it would be challenging to be an active consumer without having a credit card.  There are times where it’s virtually impossible to consume certain goods without paying for it with a credit card—for example: hotel reservations or plane tickets. 

An additional advantage of having a credit card is that the use of that credit card helps the consumer to build and maintain positive credit scores. Positive credit scores are used when consumers seek to purchase big ticket items such as homes. Good credit behavior on credit cards usually results in lower interest rates on an automobile or home purchase.

Q2) What advice do you have for someone who is applying for a credit card?

Answer by: Kelsey Syvrud

Before applying for a credit card, try and make sure your credit scores are as strong as possible. Many financial institutions now offer clients the ability to see their credit scores for free. Additionally, U.S. Federal law allows every individual to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from the three credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. To boost your scores, make sure you are paying your outstanding debts on time each month.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera

The biggest costs to having credit cards are any interest paid on purchases. This is where many people can lose money. When applying for a credit card, read the interest rates and any other offers . Many cards offer a 0% introductory APR, which may be valid only up to a certain period of time. Having rolling balances on your card after the offer period ends will lead you to pay more in interest. You can avoid interest by paying off the full statement balance each month.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

My suggestion is that you should use your credit card as long as you are solvent and disciplined enough to avoid the high interest payments that credit card issuers charge. The way to do this is by paying the balance in your credit card completely each billing cycle and not carrying a balance on your credit card, which may result in interest charges.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Shop for the best credit card on the market in terms of advantageous promotions, low or no annual fee, and low interest rates. Consumers should make the choice based on what suits their income and spending needs. I also recommend paying off credit cards quickly, which will help avoid paying interest.

Further, credit history is an important factor for building credit scores. If consumers don’t want to use their credit card at the present time, it’s strongly recommended not to close the accounts because this might negatively affect a consumer’s credit history and scores. In general, consumers should not borrow more than 30% of the available balance.f consumers would like to build excellent credit scores, they should aim for a 10% utilization rate.

Answer by: Kelly Carter

Take on only those debts that you can afford to pay off.  The key to establishing a reputation as a solid borrower is to repay debts on time and in full.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein

Try to find credit cards that offer the best rewards programs. Be aware of how high the interest rates are on your credit cards and calculate the dollar amount you must pay if you carry a balance on the card. If you pay off the balance each month, the interest rate doesn’t matter.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

Don’t be fooled by initial offerings.  Low balance transfers and sign on bonuses are meant to lure in customers but are often followed by annual fees and high interest rates after an introductory period.  Cash back cards are a good option if they provide a competitive cash back rate on items purchased.  For example, a 3% cash back offer for dining out charges would not be ideal for someone who rarely eats out.  That individual may be better with a 1.5% cash back on all purchases.Always read the credit card agreement, no matter how small the print.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Don’t overpay in terms of annual fees and other charges. I never have credit cards with annual or other fees, but credit card issuers make money when people don’t pay them in full each month. Try not to have too much credit – in terms of both total dollars and the total number of cards. You might find out you can’t pay everything off if you have a high limit.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

Before you apply for a credit card, make sure you really need the card, especially if you already have several credit cards. It may hurt your credit scores if you close a credit card later.
Make sure the credit card fits your needs. Consider the card’s long-term benefits with respect to points, miles, or cash back and consider cards that provide you with the best benefits.
For example, I have two cards with different reward structures and use either of them when the purchase earns me the maximum benefits (cash back or miles). This way you can make the card work for you.

Answer by: Jesse Lineberry

Before applying for a credit card, it’s best to have a refined budget to help manage spending habits. Those who intend to finance a large purchase, such as a home or vehicle, within the next 12 months may want to delay applying for a credit card as the “hard inquiry” associated with a credit card application may negatively impact their scores temporarily. 

Consumers should review updated credit reports to ensure the accuracy of the data and to be sure they haven’t fallen prey to identity theft.

Evaluate multiple cards and ensure that the card aligns with their needs regarding rewards, interest rates, and annual fees. It’s generally best to avoid cards with hefty annual fees unless the perks provide substantially more benefit than the fee. It never hurts to call the credit card company and inquire about the likelihood of a successful application. 

For those rebuilding their credit scores or just getting started on the credit journey, consider  secured credit cards instead of a traditional credit card.

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

The key is determining the cardholder’s primary purpose for the card.  If the purpose is to get perks, then look for the card that will provide the best perks at the lowest possible cost to yourself.  Consumers must find perks that best fit their needs.  I’m personally biased towards cash back cards because they provide exceptional flexibility, but I may be giving up greater benefits that are often seen with various travel cards.  

Be careful not to apply for every card that’s available.  Too many new accounts in a short period of time can hurt your credit scores.  This can be hard to manage and is also inefficient.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

I would advise someone who is seeking a credit card to start at one’s local bank and apply for their credit card.  For example, if I bank with Wells Fargo, I would apply with them because I have already established a financial relationship with that bank.  I likely have a savings or checking account with them, and that established relationship could possibly be a benefit in the application process.  For the student population who may not have established credit—this is one possibility to be their first credit card.  Students can request a credit card and have their parents/guardians act as a cosigner for a credit card. 

Q3) Are there any requirements to qualify for a credit card?

Answer by: Kelsey Syvrud

Yes. Credit card applications generally ask for the applicant’s Social Security number, which is tied to your credit scores. Credit card applications will ask for an individual’s estimated monthly income, however, not having a full-time source of income will not prevent individuals from receiving a credit card. In fact, there are some cards that are specifically marketed for students who may not have a large source of income or substantial credit history. 

While individuals are not required to have excellent credit, financial institutions will look at credit history and credit scores as part of a credit card application. Individuals who have no credit or very poor credit history may want to investigate getting a secured card.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

The most important requirement to qualify for a credit card is to have a good credit history along with strong credit scores. Nonetheless, the credit card market now offers a product for almost every type of consumer including people with new credit, with bankruptcies, with less than perfect credit histories, etc. Keep in mind that the best terms and interest rates will be offered to the most creditworthy consumers.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Most credit card issuers look for good credit scores and a stable income to qualify consumers for their credit cards. Good credit scores are built over time and many factors are included in it such as: credit history, timely payments, level and steadiness of income, and their debt-to-income ratio. Therefore, to qualify for a credit card, consumers’ credit history should show evidence of their creditworthiness and commitment to pay off their credit card balances. 

Answer by: Kelly Carter

Specific requirements can vary from company to company, so be sure to check carefully.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein

Yes, but these requirements may vary by issuer.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

To obtain a credit card the applicant has to have a social security number, and be at least 18 years old with a steady source of income or a guardian’s co-signature.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Getting credit depends on your credit scores and your existing credit. You may get approved, but for a lower credit limit. Using credit wisely, paying your balance promptly, and not having too much credit relative to your income can help you get approved.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

There are age requirements. You’ll also have to provide a physical address and social security number. Other considerations might be your credit scores, your income, etc.

Answer by: Jesse Lineberry

Applicants must be 18 years old to apply for a credit card. There are multiple student credit cards available for those enrolled at a university. Regardless of age, the issuing bank will request information about the consumer’s income and current financial standing. US Citizens are required to report their Social Security number and the confirmation of a permanent address. The bank will also pull the consumer’s credit file to further assess the applicant’s ability to manage revolving credit. 

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

Every credit issuer is different.  Many issuers are going to use your credit scores from different credit bureaus.  Since each bureau has its own proprietary financial model, your credit scores may differ dramatically.  That means that you may not qualify for a card at one issuer using one credit score system, but the next issuer might use a different scoring model where you would qualify.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

Most creditors will be looking for a credit card candidate who has already proven to be financially responsible, meaning they have made other bill payments on time. Most financial institutions look for consumers who have consistent sources of income available.  The institution will be mindful of one’s debt to income ratio.  The financial institution is not inclined to approve a credit card to someone with a vast amount of existing debt as the assumption is that one financial disaster and their credit card will not be paid off by the consumer.

Q4) Are credit cards safe?

Answer by: Kelsey Syvrud

The CARD Act essentially overhauled the credit card market, particularly in enhancing protections for consumers. The Act greatly enhanced transparency between the financial institutions issuing the credit cards and the consumers using credit cards. 

In addition, the U.S. created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). This agency was originally created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and helps monitor and correct problems in the personal finance industry. Moreover, the CFPB took over enforcement of the CARD Act in 2011.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera

Credit cards are one of the most secure forms of payments. Most credit cards offer limited or zero liability in case of fraudulent transactions. One can sign up for fraud alerts and enable location access so they get notified and go through another layer of security check to confirm their identity. Credit cards can also be immediately blocked in case one loses it, thereby preventing any unauthorized access.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

In general, credit cards are  safe financial products that offer consumers limited liability in the case fraudulent charges arise. In my experience, credit card issuers are quicker and more efficient in resolving fraudulent charges than those that happen with checking and savings accounts.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Credit cards are safe because most credit card companies offer fraud protections and employ a set of security standards to protect consumers from identity theft. Moreover, credit cards are much safer than debit cards because they’re using the bank’s money, not your own, and credit issuers have resources to track down fraudsters.

Answer by: Kelly Carter

I believe so.  Many companies protect cardholders through monitoring, updates, etc.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein

Credit cards can be risky, if you aren’t a disciplined spender. Credit card balances can rise rapidly, if you don’t keep track of your spending using credit cards.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

Credit cards are safer than debit cards because credit cards do not draw from a specific bank account.  In addition, credit card issuers continually monitor and block fraudulent charges and will credit back the fraudulent charge pending investigation.  Loss from unauthorized credit card charges is limited to $50 and most of the time the credit card issuer does not hold the card holder responsible for any charges.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Credit cards are safe, particularly with chip technology and other new advances. But from time to time, there are still breaches and you might find unauthorized purchases on your account. You usually won’t be held financially liable. I would rather deal with updating autopay information than have cash stolen or have my debit account drained. I advise regularly checking your credit card account online, and watching for purchases that might not be yours.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

I think they’re safe. For example, my credit card “shuts down” when the issuer suspects unexpected purchasing or travel behavior. One quick phone call or reply with a message and it’s working again. Most credit cards reimburse you in case of fraud.

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

Credit cards are incredibly safe.  Challenges are more often found when the user is not safe when using their card or if a business where the card is used makes some type of mistake.  Regardless, Federal law puts a maximum liability of $50 for unauthorized transactions when you report the concern within 2 months.  Many of the major issuers may waive that liability to $0 if you report unauthorized charges within a few days or provide that as a perquisite of you being a cardholder.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

For the most part, yes.  Financial institutions issuing credit cards and the merchants with whom consumers engage when making purchases take measures to protect their customer’s credit card information. However, hackers have gotten past some of those levels of protection and have compromised the financial institutions ‘customers’ information.  Part of the responsibility of protecting one’s credit card lies in the hand of the consumer him/herself.  Consumers should only use their cards at legitimate shopping sites.

Q5) Are there common mistakes consumers make when picking a credit card?

Answer by: Kelsey Syvrud

One of the most common mistakes consumers make is not conducting research when applying for credit cards. It’s useful to think about what matters most to you – if you are going to leave a monthly balance, you may care more about the APR charged on the balance than you do about rewards. In contrast, if you know that you are going to pay it off in full each month, then you may be more interested in rewards. Even amongst the rewards, you need to determine what benefits you want most – will travel miles be most beneficial to you or would you rather have cash back?

Another mistake is making sure that you understand the terms associated with your credit card. Make sure you understand the current interest rates, fees/penalties, and benefit structure of the card.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera

I would recommend analyzing your needs and then choosing the credit card that has the best rewards for your regular purchases. Each card has its own benefits and the preference depends entirely on the consumer. One of the biggest pitfalls is the interest rate. You might have a promotional 0% APR for 12 months, but if you don’t pay off the balance by the end of the offer period, you will incur a charge of the original APR.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

The most common mistake that I observe is picking cards with outrageous fees, including high annual fees and late payment fees. Another mistake is choosing cards that charge relatively higher interest rates than comparable cards. Before you apply, always read the fine print and allow yourself to compare among different issuers to make sure you are choosing the correct product for you.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Yes, for example, consumers may fall into the trap of credit card companies that offer promotions that may take effect immediately when consumers transfer their old balances to their new credit cards or simply open a new credit card. However, some promotions are not offered for free and there’s a chance that consumers will be faced with high interest rates following the promotional period if they don’t pay off their full balance. Consumers may also seek credit cards that offer very high credit limits that encourage them to live beyond their means, and engage in impulse purchases, but later realize that they are unable to pay off their balances.

Answer by: Kelly Carter

A key mistake that consumers make is failing to consider the annual fee.  Some cards might offer excellent perks but might have a high annual fee.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

The most common mistake is not understanding fees and interest rates.  Credit cards will charge fees for cash advances, late payments, charging over the limit or not making the minimum payment.  Fees are avoidable if the credit card holder understands the policies and monitors their credit card usage.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Sometimes people apply for “store” credit cards to get a one-time discount (like saving 30% on their first order when they sign up). This leads to having many cards and risks having a rarely-used card that could get lost or that you might not notice if an unauthorized purchase gets made.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

Some people carry a balance on their credit cards because they think they need to keep a balance on their card to have good credit scores, which is false.I would advise everyone to pay their balance by the end of each month. The only exception should be emergencies. If you cannot pay your credit card balance regularly at the end of the month something is wrong with your finances or budget.

Answer by: Jesse Lineberry

Acquiring a credit card on impulse is a common mistake. Selecting the right credit card requires diligent research and an understanding of which rewards will benefit consumers most. Department stores are notorious for creating an environment for the impulse acquisition of a card. It’s generally best to steer clear of “store cards” due to the narrow benefits. 

Ignoring the costs is another common mistake. Many consumers overlook the presence of annual fees or introductory interest rates. Many credit cards charge an annual fee for access to their card and subsequent benefits. While I hesitate to completely discount cards that have an annual fee, it’s important to ensure that the benefits outweigh the fee. Further, it’s wise to avoid having multiple cards with annual fees that provide the same or similar benefits, which would erode the marginal value of the rewards. 

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

The primary mistake I see is making a credit card decision immediately because someone tries to “offer” you a store credit card right now in a retail store.  By not taking sufficient time to think through the longer-term ramifications on credit scores, potential annual fees or interest rates and how you’ll use the card, it may impact credit scores negatively.  For example, opening many credit cards and buying a new car could cause your credit scores to temporarily decline.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

One mistake a consumer commonly makes is choosing a credit card too quickly.  An example being younger consumers may receive several “pre-approved” credit card offers in the mail.  They may be excited about the pre-approval and sign up without checking competing offers, like other perks such as frequent flier miles or cash back.  

Part of the problem is that consumers are not reading the fine print.  I know the print is small but consumers should read and understand it before signing up for credit cards.  Signing up for credit cards are considered legally binding documents and details of these contracts are extremely precise.

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