Expert credit card reviews help you pick the right cards

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Our credit expert Jason Steele is a master of credit cards. Even we’re amazed every time he takes international vacations with his whole family for free; he also manages not run into trouble with the debt, either. So, the credit card reviews here are advice you can trust. Whether you have bad credit or need the best reward or travel credit cards around, we’ve got you covered.

credit card rewards

Is There A Free Credit Card With Maximum Travel Points?

June 22, 2017 | Jason Steele

Yes, and it has an annual-fee cousin that’s even better.

negotiate your credit card debt

Why Shoppers Are Loading up their Credit Cards This Holiday Season

November 15, 2016 | Dori Zinn

38 percent of Americans will charge their holiday purchases to a credit card, and almost half of those said it’s to earn rewards.

Credit card consolidation

4 Best Credit Cards For Military Members

July 14, 2015 | Debt.com

These cards are uniformly the best for those in uniform.

credit card security

Why You Shouldn’t Care About Having A Chip In Your Credit Card

May 13, 2015 | Jason Steele

Here’s what your credit card company doesn’t want you to know: The latest tech will rarely protect you.

cards that help build credit

The Top Credit Cards To Build Your Credit

May 6, 2015 | Jason Steele

Yes, there are credit cards specifically for people who can’t otherwise get credit cards.

Credit card debt has a way of causing problems

The Credit Card Habits Of Rich Americans

April 28, 2015 | Jason Steele

They prefer cash back to airlines miles, even though the value is less – because so is the hassle.

barclaycard's aviator cards

Good and Bad: Barclaycard’s New Aviator Cards

April 14, 2015 | Jason Steele

If you fly a lot and want to save big, one of these cards is a deal. The other is a dud.

gas credit cards

More Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Bother With Gas Credit Cards

April 7, 2015 | Jason Steele

I said it last summer and I’ll say it again: You never need one of things. Never.

Discover it miles

Discover “it” Miles Makes Me Smile

March 11, 2015 | Jason Steele

Not many credit cards automatically double your rewards. This one does.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card: Why You Want It, Even If You Never Stay At The Ritz

March 4, 2015 | Jason Steele

Here’s a classy credit card that can save regular folks like us some big bucks.

why you shouldn't get a Kroger rewards card

Kroger 1-2-3 Rewards Card: Everything You Don’t Want And More!

February 4, 2015 | Jason Steele

Kroger’s 1-2-3 Rewards Card doesn’t stack up to better credit card offers.

Get the PenFed Promise

PenFed Promise Visa: The Credit Card For People Who Hate Credit Cards

January 21, 2015 | Jason Steele

A credit card with no late fees? No balance transfer fees? No fees at all? Yup, it’s a Promise.

American Express Everyday

Credit Card Review: Amex EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred

January 7, 2015 | Jason Steele

Earn major miles without a major headache, plus double and triple points on gas and groceries.

Citi Double Cash offers 2 percent cash back

Credit Card Of The Week: Citi Double Cash

December 17, 2014 | Jason Steele

Good news: the most cash back. Bad news: the dumbest way of doing it.

Get lower credit card interest rates!

Credit Card Of The Week: Citi Prestige Review

December 10, 2014 | Jason Steele

The good news: all the bells and whistles. The bad news: a $450 annual fee.

Department store credit cards

Just Say ‘Bah, Humbug’ To Store Credit Cards

December 3, 2014 | Jason Steele

Here’s why you should be a scrooge when a store offers you a credit card this holiday season.

Score free travel

How To Get $3,000 In Free Travel

November 26, 2014 | Jason Steele

All it takes is two credit cards and your usual purchases.

Diners Club cards are back

Credit Card Of The Week: Diners Club

November 19, 2014 | Jason Steele

One of the first credit cards ever is accepting new members for the first time in years.

Get credit card points that matter to you

Which Credit Card Points Fit My Personality?

November 5, 2014 | Jason Steele

So many points programs, so little time to rack up the rewards. Here’s a shortcut.

best tips for buying a car in 2015

How a Credit Card Can Save You Big Bucks On A Lexus

October 29, 2014 | Jason Steele

We’re not really recommending it, we’re just saying it’s possible to save thousands.

You should consider the Discover card

What’s the deal with the Discover Card?

October 15, 2014 | Jason Steele

The maligned card has a cult following — for good reasons.

These cards got top rankings in customer satisfaction

Which two credit cards are tied for best customer satisfaction?

October 8, 2014 | Jason Steele

You might have one, but you probably don’t have both.

Cash advances rarely make sense

Are cash advances ever a good idea?

September 17, 2014 | Jason Steele

Short answer: hardly ever. Here’s list of better and cheaper options.

Credit card consolidation

How many credit cards do you REALLY need?

August 27, 2014 | Jason Steele

The answer: More than 1 and less than 60.

The best credit cards based on spending personality

The single best credit card for people who don’t want to worry about credit cards

August 20, 2014 | Jason Steele

Depending how you spend, here’s your one best card.

Worst credit cards in America

The 5 worst credit cards in America

August 13, 2014 | Jason Steele

You need to avoid these cards at all costs, or they’ll cost you big bucks.

Do you know about the value of EMV credit cards?

5 best credit cards with microchips

August 6, 2014 | Jason Steele

These chips protect you from theft, but they aren’t common in the United States. Here are the best ones so far.

The Amazon credit card isn't bad, but it isn't the best even for Amazon fans.

Is the Amazon credit card the best card for shopping at Amazon?

July 16, 2014 | Jason Steele

Surprisingly, no. You can earn more rewards shopping at Amazon by using other cards.

Hotel reward cards are awesome.

3 surprising benefits of hotel reward cards

July 9, 2014 | Jason Steele

We love our cash-back and frequent-flier credit cards. But hotel cards offer better rewards.

Are gas credit cards worth it?

Get rid of your gas credit card

June 25, 2014 | Jason Steele

What you save per gallon isn’t nearly what you can reap from “regular” rewards cards.

The best travel cards for summer

The 5 best credit cards for summer travel

June 18, 2014 | Jason Steele

With one of these cards, you can start charging this summer for big savings next summer.

Department store credit cards suck.

You never need a department store credit card

June 11, 2014 | Jason Steele

It sounds like a great deal in the store, but you can actually save more by not signing up for one.

Get lower credit card interest rates!

A clever and proven way to chop down those credit card interest rates

June 4, 2014 | Jason Steele

Credit card debt? Consider a zero-percent APR promotional financing offer.

How to beat credit card fees

Stop paying those stupid credit card fees

May 21, 2014 | Jason Steele

Your credit card will nickel-and-dime you to death — unless you do this.

Flying pet peeves

What’s better? Cash back or airline miles?

April 23, 2014 | Jason Steele

As airline credit cards crash and burn, cash-back cards are taking off.

You want the best airline miles cards? Here you go.

The 5 best airline miles cards right now

April 16, 2014 | Jason Steele

No other kind of credit card has more loopholes and pitfalls – or awesome rewards.

The best credit cards for those with bad credit

April 9, 2014 | Jason Steele

Yes, you can get a credit card even if you’ve been rejected for all other credit cards. But there’s a catch.

Here are the best credit cards for students.

The 5 best credit cards for college students – right now

March 26, 2014 | Jason Steele

Is there a credit card that rewards students for being financially responsible? No. There are five.

7 Key Features to Consider When Choosing the Right Credit Card

#1: Pay attention to the rates… all of them

APR is probably the most important feature on your credit cards. Rewards are great, but  if incentives get offset by high interest charges, you don’t actually earn anything. So, you need to know your credit score and understand where average credit card APR sits today.

As you look at each card, consider all the rates that can apply to your debt. Note how long introductory or promotion APR applies. Then evaluate the rate you’ll pay when that period ends. Check balance transfer APR and the rate for cash advances. Finally, take note of penalty APR, to know what you could face if you miss a payment.

#2: Fees matter – particularly annual fees

In general, unless you’re well-versed in using credit frequently without causing debt problems, you should avoid annual fees. Many credit cards don’t have them; they usually only pop up on account that offer the biggest reward programs. However, that means you have to use the card regularly to earn enough to offset a high annual fee. Don’t use these cards if you don’t have experience at managing credit card debt.

Be aware of other fees on the account, too. You can pay additional fees for balance transfers and cash advances. Many cards also have special transaction fees, such as foreign transaction fees if you travel.

#3: Grace periods are great if you can find them

A grace period is a set period of time after your payment due date that you can pay without penalties. Grace periods used to be pretty common, but not so much these days. If you have trouble remembering to make payments, grab one of these rare credit unicorns if you can find it.

#4: Consider credit limits carefully

High limit credit cards can be useful to extend your purchasing power. However, they can also lead to high levels of debt that can be tough to pay off. A higher limit is not always the better choice. Limiting your credit limit helps you avoid debt problems and limits your liability if someone steals your card.

Also be aware that credit limits can affect your credit score. Credit utilization ratio is the second most important factor in FICO scores. It measures your current balance versus your total available credit limit. If you have high limits and low debt, it’s good for your score.

However, in early 2017 the credit bureaus announced they will change their scoring formula, the VantageScore. Their model will count down for higher limits on more cards, because it means more potential to run up debt. The changes will take affect later this year.

#5: Can your card go where you go?

Make sure the credit cards that you open are accepted at enough places to make them useful. The wider the range of places you can use a card, the more useful it will be. If you travel internationally, make sure your cards can be used anywhere you want to go.

Only open a retail store credit card if you shop at that store frequently enough to justify having the open account. Remember that credit cards can close if you don’t use them; there’s no point in creating a hard inquiry and extra credit line that you don’t really need.

#6: Be aware of reward restrictions

Wonder why we’re focusing on reward restrictions instead of the rewards, themselves? It’s because a credit card reward program is only as good as the restrictions it places on you. Rewards programs usually offer greater earnings with more restrictions; if you want to earn rewards with every purchase, expect them to be lower.

Figuring out which rewards you want and how to use them to get the most out of your accounts is crucial. Finding the right balance of reward credit cards to use in different situations can help you minimize interest charges, too.

#7: Assess the added perks

Most new credit card accounts offer other added perks to your account, too. From enhanced fraud protection programs to credit scores and credit tracking, these benefits can make a big difference. You don’t need three cards that offer your FICO score, but if one of them does it can be beneficial.

How many credit cards should one person have?

This question varies based on the credit user. Cardholders like our expert Jason Steele have dozens of cards and not run into trouble with debt. Other people can cause debt problems if they have just one card.

In general, you should open an account when you have a clear, specific need for that card. For most people, having 2-5 credit cards is enough. You may have a general rewards credit card, a gas card, a travel miles card and a low-interest card for bigger purchases.

That being said, some credit score models give you points for having more accounts open. They want to see that you have a wide range of accounts; so having anything less than 10 accounts is not as good as having more than 10. However, even on the models that count this factor, it has a low impact. It also factors in account age, so having older accounts is better, too.

So, in conclusion, you should not open up cards just for the sake having more accounts. The credit score benefit is not enough to offset the potential for debt problems. Only get the cards you need and if it’s only 2-3 accounts, just keep them in good standing; you can still achieve an excellent credit score.