Best Credit Cards of June 2020

Matt is a Certified Financial Planner® and investment advisor based in Columbia, South Carolina. He writes personal finance and investment advice, and in 2017 he received the SABEW Best in Business Award.

We are committed to full transparency in our mission to make the world smarter, happier, & richer. Offers on The Ascent may be from our partners - it's how we make money - and we have not reviewed all available products and offers. That transparency to you is core to our editorial integrity, which isn’t influenced by compensation.

A credit card can be a great way to build credit, earn rewards on every purchase, and even avoid interest charges on purchases and balance transfers. We're working to make selecting a credit card as easy as buying a new pair of socks. Below, you'll find our recently released shortlist of the best credit card offers for 2020, along with essential education to help you manage credit cards the right way.

High cash back
Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 14 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 14 months

Ongoing APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 21 months

Ongoing APR

13.74% – 23.74% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

FICO score for free

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. After that, the variable APR will be 13.74% – 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 13.74% – 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balance, are paid in full.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® score online.
  • With Citi EntertainmentSM, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% – 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.
Big Sign Up Bonus
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Chase's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Chase's Secure Website.

Rewards

3x points for groceries through June 30 2020, 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal.

Annual Fee

$95

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months -- worth $750 of travel redeemed through Chase

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
2% Cash Back
Rewards

2% cash back: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months

Ongoing APR

13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

FICO score for free

Highlights
  • Earn cash back twice. 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® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Chase's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Chase's Secure Website.

Rewards

5x points for groceries through June 30, 2020, 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point on all other purchases.

Annual Fee

$550

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase, up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.
Discover it® Miles

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Unlimited 1.5 Miles per $1

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 14 months
Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 14 months

Ongoing APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double Miles in the first year, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel or to redeem as Cash! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem for Travel or Cash. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases or get cash.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Rewards

6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets ($6,000 spending cap per year), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$95

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months

Ongoing APR

12.99%-23.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$250 statement credit after spending $1,000 within three months, get free 2-day shipping on eligible items at a growing network of 100+ online stores with ShopRunner.

Highlights
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Rewards

3% cash back on gas or in your choice category, 2% at grocery stores & wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined bonus category quarterly purchases), 1% on all else.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 billing cycles
Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 billing cycles on transfers made within first 60 days

Ongoing APR

13.99%-23.99%

Bonuses & Perks

$200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, 25% to 75% more rewards for Preferred Rewards members

Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 6 months
Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months

Ongoing APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
Discover it® Secured

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter, 1% cash back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months

Ongoing APR

22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Rewards

Unlimited 1.5% cash back, no minimum to redeem, rewards don't expire

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months

Ongoing APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 after spending $500 within three months, free credit score monitoring

Highlights
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
The information related to Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected by The Ascent and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.
Rewards

5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

14.40% - 24.40%, variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 credit after spending $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 14.40% – 24.40%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
  • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
  • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
  • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It's simple: $1 = 1 Point
  • No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Select Your Rewards Your Way
Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 18 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months on qualifying balance transfers

Ongoing APR

15.49%-24.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

FICO® score for free, mobile phone protection

Highlights
  • Pay down balances instead of interest with Wells Fargo’s longest intro APR
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum card
  • Easy access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
Wells Fargo Platinum card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.
Rewards

3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, and more, 1x points on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months on qualifying balance transfers

Ongoing APR

13.99%-25.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, mobile phone protection

Highlights
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $200 cash redemption value
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign currency conversion fee
  • Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points on popular streaming services
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is temporarily unavailable on The Ascent. All information was collected independently from the issuer. Some items may be out of date.

Get our latest tips and uncover more of our top picks to help you conquer your money goals

By submitting your email address, you consent to us sending you money tips along with products and services that we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please read our Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions.

How to compare credit cards

Cards offer rewards in two general forms: cash back or points. Here are a few things to help decide which is best for you:

  • For frequent travelers, a points-based rewards card might deliver the most value. In addition to miles or points that can be redeemed for flights, hotel rooms, and more, these cards often come with other travel-specific benefits such as no foreign transaction fees or free checked bags on a specific airline.
  • If you aren't a frequent traveler, a cash-back rewards card may be best. There are two basic types: flat-rate and category-based. A flat-rate cash-back card gives you the same earnings rate on all purchases, while a category-based cash-back card gives you better rates on certain types of purchases. For example, a card might pay 1% back on most purchases but 3% on gas and restaurant purchases. If you spend a significant amount of money on a high-earning category, that's often a good reason to choose one card over another.
  • Some points-based credit cards allow you to redeem rewards for cash but at a lower rewards rate, so be sure to check out the specific redemption rules if you want the flexibility to choose.

What type of credit card is right for you?

Though there are many different credit cards, virtually all card offers can be divided into five categories based on their features and rewards programs. The first thing you should do when shopping for a credit card is narrow the list of possible matches by picking a feature or functionality that is particularly important to you.

The five types of credit cards are as follows:

0% APR credit cards

These cards offer 0% intro APRs on purchases and/or balance transfers for periods as long as 21 months, allowing you to carry a balance without paying double-digit interest rates during the promo period. These credit cards are best for people who will carry a balance, since a 0% intro APR card can potentially save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest.

And because the 0% intro APR often applies to purchases and balance transfers, these can be an excellent choice for consumers with existing credit card debt who want to pay it down faster.

Cash-back credit cards

These are the most common types of credit cards. Cash-back cards give cardholders rewards equal to a percentage of their spending, typically ranging from as low as 1% all the way up to 10% for spending in certain bonus categories. Some cash-back credit cards accumulate rewards at a flat rate -- typically 1%-2% of every purchase -- while others have tiers of rewards, such as a preferential rate on gas, groceries, or travel.

The beauty of cash-back credit cards is that you can redeem your rewards for cash to use however you'd like. Many people redeem their rewards for statement credits, which reduce the card's balance, but you can typically request a check be mailed to you instead.

Travel credit cards

Travel credit cards typically accrue rewards in terms of miles or points. Some travel credit cards earn miles or points specific to an airline or hotel chain, while others earn generic miles or points that can be applied to virtually any travel purchases.

Travel cards also tend to have other perks that 0% APR cards and cash-back cards are less likely to have. These can include reimbursement for TSA PreCheck membership, free checked bags on a certain airline, and no fees on foreign transactions. Frequent travelers, especially international travelers, would be wise to have a travel credit card, if only for the benefit of avoiding foreign transaction fees. Travel credit cards also tend to have some of the most lucrative sign-up bonuses in the industry.

Secured credit cards

These are designed for people who have no credit history, or who have bad credit. A secured credit card acts just like an ordinary unsecured card, but it requires applicants to post a security deposit (hence the name) to open the account. These cards report to the big three credit bureaus just like any other card, making them a great entryway into the world of credit. They're also useful for consumers looking to rebuild credit.

Business credit cards

Designed for business owners and managers, these cards typically offer higher credit limits and rewards programs that pay out bonuses on company expenses like online advertising, cable or phone bills, internet and utilities, office supply stores, and others.

Business credit cards are great for small business owners who want to separate their personal expenses from their business expenses while building a relationship with a bank that will help their business qualify for other types of financing. It's also important to mention that self-employed individuals and independent contractors can potentially qualify for business credit cards.

Why should you use a credit card?

Credit cards are about more than just borrowing money. A credit card is a useful payment option that offers more convenience and fraud protection, while helping you build the credit necessary to qualify for other loans at the lowest possible interest rate.

Here are a few reasons why it makes sense to use a credit card for your ordinary daily purchases:

Use a credit card to building credit

A credit card is a great way to help you build credit so that you can later qualify for financing to buy a car, home, or another large purchase. Most credit cards report to all three credit bureaus, so having an open credit card account is one of the best ways to start building up your credit report and credit score.

Rebuild your credit with a secured credit card

Late payments or collections accounts can haunt your credit report for seven years, dragging down your credit score the whole time. But having an open credit card account in good standing can help you rebuild your credit by "diluting" the importance of the bad accounts. It also shows that you're current on your newest obligations, which can help you show lenders that you're managing your finances better today than you did in the past.

Advanced fraud protection

It's a simple fact that credit cards offer more fraud protection than debit cards. At the very worst, cardholders are only liable for up to $50 of losses if their credit card is used fraudulently, though most credit card companies simply eat the $50 loss rather than pass it on to their customers. In comparison, the worst case for debit card fraud is that you ultimately lose everything in your checking account (and potentially more if the account is overdrawn or linked to other accounts).

Earn rewards

When used responsibly, a credit card is simply a better way to pay than debit or cash. Think of rewards as an effective discount -- if you use a 1.5% cash-back card to make purchases, it's like getting a 1.5% discount on everything you buy. Over time, even small percentages really add up!

Get extra perks and discounts

Many cards offer perks including free rental car insurance, extended warranties on the things you buy, and price protection, which can reimburse you if something you purchase is advertised at a lower price later. These little-known card perks can easily create hundreds of dollars of value for their cardholders. (You won't find these perks on the average debit card.)

Is a credit card right for you?

Though more than 70% of American adults have a credit card, they aren't for everyone. On one hand, they can offer excellent benefits that include rewards on every swipe, big sign-up bonuses, free access to a FICO® Score, and 0% intro APRs for new cardholders. But if used to spend beyond your means, a credit card can put you into costly credit card debt that will take months, if not years, to pay off.

You won't use it irresponsibly

Credit cards are not free money. If used responsibly, you'll never pay a dime in interest or fees by using a credit card. That means making sure that you always pay your balance in full each month by paying the "statement balance" reported on your statement. Carrying a balance is a really good way to get into financial trouble since balances are assessed interest at rates in the double digits.

You can manage another due date

Failing to make payments on time and in full can result in paying late fees and interest charges. If a payment is more than 30 days late, it can negatively impact your credit score, too, doing more harm than good. Don't use a credit card if you're an especially forgetful person.

You have predictable, recurring income

Credit card companies require that your household have some kind of income in order to approve you for a card, but having income is also important for avoiding credit card debt. Unstable or unpredictable income is one of the biggest reasons people fall into debt.

You won't need to get a big loan in the near future

If you're thinking about applying for a mortgage in the next six months, you might want to reconsider applying for a credit card now. People who have thin credit files will see their scores drop after applying for more credit, and may run into trouble explaining their recent credit inquiries. The best time to start building credit is, unfortunately, when you're least likely to need a good credit score in the next few months.

What is the average credit card interest rate in America?

According to the Federal Reserve's latest Consumer Credit Report, the average interest rate charged on credit card accounts in the United States is 14.87%, as of November 2019.

However, this is an overall average that includes accounts that charge no interest. For example, many credit cards have 0% intro APRs for 12 months or more, and many store-branded credit cards offer promotional financing deals.

When the data is narrowed down to include only those accounts that are assessed interest, the average is significantly higher, at 16.88%. So this would be a more accurate answer to the question of "what is the average credit card interest rate?"

To illustrate what a high-interest form of debt credit cards tend to be, consider that the average APR on a 60-month new car loan is just 5.37% as of November 2019. Even the best personal loans have a significantly lower interest rate, on average.

The average credit card interest rate increased dramatically from 2014 through 2018 but appears to have leveled off in 2019. Here's a table that shows the progression of credit card interest rates from 2014 to the most recently available data:

Date Overall Average Average Among Interest-Charging Accounts
2014 11.87% 13.19%
2015 12.09% 13.66%
2016 12.35% 13.56%
2017 12.89% 14.44%
2018 14.22% 16.04%
1Q 2019 15.09% 16.91%
2Q 2019 15.13% 17.14%
3Q 2019 15.10% 16.97%
November 2019 (most recent) 14.87% 16.88%

Which credit card is right for you?

One thing we want to make very clear is that picking the best credit card is a personal decision that should be guided by your financial needs. Though there is a perfect credit card out there for you, there isn't a single credit card that is perfect for every single person.

Which credit cards are the best depends on the features and functionality you want from your new card. Below, we constructed a table showing you the types of credit cards to pick based on why you want a credit card in the first place.

You want to use a credit card to… You should apply for…
Finance an upcoming purchase A card with a 0% intro APR on purchases
Refinance existing credit card debt A card with 0% intro APRs on balance transfers. We give bonus points to cards that waive balance transfer fees, too.
Earn rewards on all of your spending A flat cash back card that offers 1%-2% cash back on every purchase.
Travel abroad and redeem rewards for travel A travel card that offers travel rewards and no foreign transaction fees.
Finance purchases for my business A business card that has features designed for business owners in mind.
Build credit Any credit card can help you here, but cards that offer free FICO® scores are a good pick.
Minimize the risk you get denied for a credit card A secured card, which offers the highest approval rate (nearly 100%).

FAQs

  • A credit card is one of the best ways to build credit. When used correctly, credit cards positively affect the most important factors that go into calculating your credit score: payment history, credit utilization, and length of credit history.

    To improve your credit using a credit card, there are a couple habits you should follow.

    1. Always pay your bill on time, because that will benefit your payment history.
    2. Try not to charge a balance of more than 20% to 30% of your available credit so that your credit utilization doesn't get too high.
    3. Be careful about canceling credit cards, as this can affect the length of your credit history.
  • The primary reason to get a credit card is to build your credit. Your credit score can affect your life in many ways, including being a critical factor whenever you need to apply for any type of financing, and it's difficult to get an excellent credit score without using a credit card.

    Many consumers get credit cards to earn rewards on their purchases, often in the form of either cash back or travel rewards. Another popular reason to get a credit card is a 0% intro APR offer, either to finance purchases or to transfer balances from other credit cards so you can pay off your debt at a much lower interest rate.

  • To choose a credit card, start by determining what type of card you want. You can figure this out by asking yourself why you're getting a new card. Common reasons include cash-back rewards, travel benefits, credit building, or balance transfers.

    Once you’ve narrowed down your search to one category of credit cards, compare the features of the best cards in that category. Focus on features that will be easy for you to use, as those will provide you with the most value. Continue narrowing down the results until you've found the card that's right for you.

  • There's no right or wrong number of credit cards, but the smart approach for most consumers is to take it slow and aim for quality over quantity. Focus on finding one great card with the features you need. After you've gotten the card you want and used it for several months, you can consider getting another if you think it has benefits that will be valuable for you. Take it one card at a time and make sure you don't get more cards than you can manage.

To recap, here are the best credit cards

The Ascent's picks for the best credit cards for auto_date_month_year:
Card Rating Great For
Discover it® Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Cash Back
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Bonus category cash back

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Graphic of Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Balance transfers

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Graphic of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Travel sign up bonus

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Graphic of Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Flat rate cash back and balance transfers

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Graphic of Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Premium travel

Discover it® Miles Graphic of Discover it® Miles
Rating image, 3.5 out of 5 stars.
3.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Travel with no annual fee

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Graphic of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

U.S. supermarkets and gas

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Bonus and cash rewards

Discover it® Student Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Student Cash Back
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Student cash back

Discover it® Secured Graphic of Discover it® Secured
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Building credit and cash back

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Graphic of Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Unlimited cash back

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card Graphic of ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Average credit and 0% intro APR

Wells Fargo Platinum card Graphic of Wells Fargo Platinum card
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Balance transfers and purchases

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card Graphic of Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Travel and dining

About the Author