This article was updated on June 24, 2018.
Credit cards come with a bevy of benefits, but some of the biggest benefits come when you first apply. Credit card companies provide extremely lucrative offers for signing up and spending a certain amount of money on a new card. From free travel to cash back to interest-free loans for the first year or longer, there are a lot of credit card offers and features out there for consumers to sift through.
Determining which is best can be a tough task, especially if all you have to rely on is what the credit card company says on its website. That's why we've put together this list of our top three recommended credit card offers to help you figure out which is best for you.
If you love to travel
Credit card offers can be a great way to fund your next vacation. The average American who chooses to travel by plane spends $3,304 per year on airfare. A nice offer from a credit card company could help put a big dent in that expense.
Our top pick for people who want to get the most bang for their buck with a travel credit card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred®. It comes with a huge 50,000-bonus-point offer for new card members spending $4,000 or more in their first three months. Those points are worth $625 when redeemed through Chase's travel portal, or you can transfer them to Chase's various airline and hotel partners for use in their rewards programs. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year.
The Chase travel portal offers a wide variety of options, but it's still limited to some degree. Savvy travelers may be able to get even more value out of the credit card offer by transferring points to partners for free nights at hotels or free flights. People who want simplicity may do better with a credit card where points can be redeemed against all travel expenses.
Learn more about why the Chase Sapphire Preferred® tops our list of best travel credit card offers. See our full list of top picks for other great travel credit card offers. And here are some things you should know before you apply for a Chase credit card.
If you just want some extra cash
Travel isn't for everyone. Sometimes you just want cold hard cash.
If you'd rather just have some extra cash in your wallet, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® could help. The credit card offers $200 to new qualifying card members who spend $1,000 in the first three months. On top of that $200 offer, the card earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And you'll receive a 5% bonus on every redemption that can be used for your next redemption, effectively making it 1.575% cash back.
The flat cash-back rate makes it a good option for consumers who want to simplify their wallets with just one credit card for everyday spending. While it's not the highest rate of cash-back cards we've reviewed, it's above average. The Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® has a high redemption minimum of $50, though, so you might have to wait a while between redemptions.
The card also comes with an introductory offer of 0% interest on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for the first 15 months, which makes it an excellent option for consumers looking for both a great cash sign-up bonus and a 0% interest rate on purchases for a few months.
If you absolutely have to spend money you don't have right now
Aside from travel credits and cash back, another huge perk credit card companies like to offer is an introductory 0% interest rate for a certain period of time. These cards can be really great if you have a big upcoming purchase and you'd rather pay over time instead of all at once.
The longest 0% intro APR offer comes from the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card. The 21-month no-interest period is the longest of any card we've reviewed. The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is similar to the Citi Simplicity® card, which promises no late fees. But that perk comes with the potential for Citi to raise your interest rate and pull benefits because of delinquent payments.
The Diamond Preferred ought to keep you accountable, which is important for a couple of reasons. Paying your bill on time every month ensures you'll keep your 0% interest rate, and perhaps more importantly, it won't hurt your credit score.
Keep in mind you'll need a good credit history to qualify for the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, as the credit card company is taking a big risk extending a 0% interest rate to new card members. But if you're just looking for some extra time to pay for a big purchase, or part of it, it could be the credit card offer for you.
Learn more about why the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card here. See our full list of top picks for other great intro 0% APR credit card offers. And here are some things you should know before you apply for a 0% intro APR credit card.
Which is best for you?
There's no single answer to which credit card offer is best for everyone. Each person has different needs and circumstances that can make one card better for one person and another better for someone else.
If you'd rather maximize the offers from credit card companies by managing multiple cards, you could do well with some cards that have category spending bonuses, particularly in the categories you spend the most. If you want simplicity, maximizing the rewards on your everyday spending is best with a high cash-back rate. And if you just want to get the biggest sign-up offer out of each credit card you apply for, the cards on this list are some of your best options.
Be sure to review all of our recommendations to determine which credit card is best for you.
Adam Levy has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Barclays. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool's alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. Review The Motley Fool’s ratings methodology to uncover how we pick the best credit cards.