If you only want to get one credit card, which should it be?
I’m one of the few people in the world who spends all day keeping track of the entire credit card industry — lucky me — and I’ve identified four types of credit card users. Here’s the one card I believe each type should have…
1. You have a limited credit history
College students (and recent immigrants) face a credit card conundrum: They can’t get a card because they lack a credit history, but they need a card to build that history. Capital One offers a solution: a Journey Student Rewards Visa card with no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and 1 percent cash-back rewards. There’s also a free “Credit Tracker” to help you monitor your credit score. Even better, when you pay your statement on time, you earn an additional 25 percent return on your rewards, for a total of 1.25 percent cash back.
2. You’re in debt
Let’s talk debt dilemma: You still have good credit but also some big balances on your cards that you need to pay off quickly before they crush you. You need a credit card that can help pay off your bills as quickly as possible.
Chase Slate is the only card on the market with zero-percent APR balance transfers and no balance transfer fee. You receive 15 months of interest-free financing on both balance transfers and new purchases. In addition, you receive access to Chase’s innovative Blueprint program, which allows you to avoid interest by paying some charges in full while carrying a balance on others. Like most the other cards on this list, there’s no annual fee for this card.
3. You always pay off your balance
The most responsible credit card users never pay interest because they always pay each month’s statement in full and on time. These cardholders should get a card with the most rewards per dollar spent. The Capital One Quicksilver card offers 1.5 percent cash back with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, so it makes a great rewards card for people who only want to use one, simple piece of plastic in their wallets.
4. You have a troubled credit history
Recession, medical bills, divorce, natural disaster. There are dozens of legitimate reasons for getting into debt — and just as many silly reasons. Regardless, these people need a card to re-establish good credit. Problem is, the cards targeted at this market are loaded with fees.
The Wells Fargo Secured Card is a great choice. Like all secured cards, you must place a security deposit on hold in a collateral account. It works just like any other credit card, which means you must make payments on time, and your payment history is reported to the major consumer credit bureaus. What sets it apart: Features such as an auto rental collision damage waiver policy, and cellular telephone protection policy. There’s a reasonable $25 annual fee for this card.
Of course, many of us carry more than one card. If that’s you, we have many recommendations. See the box below.