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Not all credit cards are created equal. Check out which is good for you.

5 minute read

Deciding which credit card is right for you can feel daunting. But whatever your niche or demographic, there’s a card tailored for you. To make it easier to decide, we put together a list of the best for you.

The “best” credit card will vary based on your lifestyle — a military member, a broke college student, or just a rewards-hungry consumer. There’s no singular card for everyone — and that’s because they’re not made for everyone.

Here are some of Debt.com’s picks for credit cards that can benefit you based on your needs…

Best rewards credit cards

Reward credit cards offer points, miles, or cash back for each dollar you spend, and some toss in additional perks. So if you pay your balance in full and on time every month, you can make money.

How much? Depends on what you buy the most. Here are the five best reward cards on the market today…

1. Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

The perks: This is just like an airline or hotel reward card, but with an important difference: The miles can be redeemed as statement credits toward any travel purchase including airfare, lodging, car rentals, tours, or cruises. You earn two miles per dollar spent, and each mile is worth one cent. You also receive a 5 percent rebate of your miles redeemed. This card also offers new applicants 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $89 annual fee, but that’s waived the first year.

2. American Express Blue Cash Preferred

The perks: Receive 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in eligible purchases each year), 3 percent at U.S. gas stations and select department stores, and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. New cardholders also receive 12 months of zero-percent APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3 percent balance transfer fee.

Annual fee: $95

3. American Express Platinum

The perks: This do-everything travel reward card offers value all over the place. You receive a $200 annual credit toward airline fees and a $100 credit toward the Global Entry program offered by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol – which offers expedited customs when entering the country and makes you eligible for streamlined airport screenings with the TSA. You also get a total of $200 in annual Uber credits.

You also receive membership in the Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, and American Express Centurion airport lounge programs, which allows you to access hundreds of airport lounges around the world for free. And for each dollar you spend, you earn a point in the American Express Membership Rewards program, with 5-times points earned for flights booked with airlines or hotels booked through Amextravel.com. These points can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, and travel reservations, or be transferred to miles with many different frequent-flier programs.

Annual fee: A steep $550 — the highest on this list by far, and among the highest in the industry. If you’re a frequent traveler, the array of benefits will more than makeup for that eye-blinking fee.

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve

The perks: This card offers you triple points on all dining and travel purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, and merchandise, or transferred to 11 different airline or hotel programs. Or, points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center.

You can receive 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in your first three months. This card also offers you a Priority Pass Select membership that lets you access over 1,000 airport lounges around the world.

Annual fee: $450

Best credit cards for students

There’s no college course called “Intro to Not Screwing Up Your Life with Credit Cards.” So how do you learn to use this form of debt the right way?

Below are the top cards that reward good behavior, forgive bad behavior, and don’t charge an annual fee. In other words, these are the best credit cards for students…

1. Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®

The perks: Receive 1 percent cash back on all purchases  – plus a 25-percent bonus on the cash back you earn each month when you make your payments on time.

Annual fee: None. And here’s an added bonus: No foreign transaction fees for a semester spent studying abroad [1].

2. Discover It Student Cash Back

The perks: Earn 1 percent cash back on all purchases and 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 you spend each quarter at select categories of merchants. You also receive a waiver on your first late payment and never incur a penalty interest rate.

Annual fee: None.

3. Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

The perks: Earn 1 percent cash back on all purchases, 2 percent at grocery stores, and 3 percent on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery and gas purchases each quarter. You can use mobile banking and text alert features to keep track of your accounts, and you even receive a 10 percent cash rewards bonus when you deposit your rewards into a checking or savings account at Bank of America.

Annual fee: None.

4. Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card

The perks: Earn 3 percent cash back on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months – and 1 percent cash back on all other transactions. Cash rewards are redeemed in $25 increments and can be automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings or checking account.

Annual fee: None.

Best credit cards for military members

The brave men and women in the U.S. military often have to make big sacrifices during their service. But they can also enjoy some benefits that most civilians don’t get, such as pensions after 20 years of service, excellent healthcare, and access to several different military credit cards with perks.

The small number of banks and credit unions that cater to military personnel and their families issue some credit cards with amazing benefits, low rates, and flexible terms. Here are some of the best…

1. Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card

The perks: It doesn’t give any rewards, but it does boast an APR that is lower than any of the other cards it offers — 8.24 percent. There’s also an automatic Collision Damage Waiver, coverage on cars rented with the NFCU’s Platinum Credit Card, and travel and emergency assistance.

Annual fee: None.

2. Exchange Credit Program MILITARY STAR Card

The perks: Exclusive benefits to this military-only card include earning two points per dollar charged on your card (excluding refunds and returns). For every 2,000 points earned, you earn $20 in MILITARY STAR rewards you can use later.

Annual fee: None.

3. USAA Preferred Cash Rewards VISA Signature Credit Card

The perks: You earn unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on most purchases. This card also offers a low APR of 4 percent during deployment, compared to its normal APR of at least 14.45 percent. There’s also no foreign transaction fee on this card. You can benefit from the 4 percent APR up to a year after completing active duty.

Annual fee: None.

Best credit cards for customer satisfaction

Over the summer, J.D. Power released its 2018 study on customer satisfaction in the credit card industry, and it showed two very different cards tying for the top ranking [2].

Discover, which ranked the highest, is seen as a fee-free alternative to the major card networks like Visa and MasterCard. American Express, in second place, focuses on high-end reward cards and those that feature travel benefits.

1. Discover

Discover has rabid fans who can’t boast enough about the rewards they receive for no annual fee. In 2013, Discover also took steps to enhance this reputation by consolidating all of their products into the Discover it® card, which offered competitive rates, fees, and rewards in a single card.

2 American Express

American Express has a legion of fans that enjoy high-end benefits for travel and shopping, valuable rewards, and a reputation for going out of its way to assist its card members. Its four main cards also come with annual fees between $95 and $450, and you must pay off your balance in full each month.

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About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

I'm one of the country's leading experts on credit cards and have been regularly syndicated by mainstream outlets such as MSN Money and Yahoo! Finance. I live in Denver, Colorado with my wife and two daughters, and we love to travel. We often fly first-class, not because I'm rich, but because I know how to acquire credit card miles in the most efficient way. Keep reading Debt.com, and I'll teach you, too.

Published by Debt.com, LLC