The 6 Best Credit Cards According To CNN Money
Published 4/11/08 (Modified 11/24/13)
This week, CNN Money posted an article that introduced a short list of what it believed to be the top 6 credit cards. Because the selection of credit cards is somewhat subjective and dependent on individual spending habits and desired balance of rewards and interest rate perks, CNN chose to limit its selection to the top card pick for 6 basic credit categories: the best balance transfer card, the best card for big spenders, the best card for low spenders, the best card for those who travel and fly a lot, the best card to help you save for retirement, and the best card for lazy people perhaps new to credit cards.
Personally I don't think these categories are entirely representative of what consumers tend to apply for, but then again, I usually tend to ignore perks like low interest offers (I pay my entire balance every month) and usually go for more lucrative purchase rebates. I would have added more card categories broken down into particular types of purchase perks, like grocery rewards, dining rewards, and gas rebates. However, it was interesting to see what CNN viewed as the top six in the categories they delineated.
Here are the credit cards that CNN Money selected as their top card choices in the following six categories:
1) Balance Transfer Cards - Discover More- (Editors note: This offer is no longer available) While touting the benefits of Discover More as the best balance transfer card, CNN Money makes the statement that not many issuers still offer 0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers. However, that statement is not entirely accurate.
2) Big Spender Cards - Blue Cash Card from American Express - (Editors note: This offer is no longer available) The Blue Cash Card has definitely grown in popularity as the best rebate card for those who make a lot of purchases each month, particular those who spend a lot of money in the bonus purchase categories of groceries, gas, and drugs. This Amex card starts out slow but the purchase rebates surge forward when your spending reaches $6,500 for the year. At that point the card transforms into a 2-3% cash back card for bonus category purchases and into a 1% cash back card for everything else. Another nice lazy person's perk is that rewards are automatically credited to your account so you never have to worry about redeeming. For more info, check out my detailed Blue Cash credit card review, broken down according to spending habits.
3) Low Spender Cards - Chase Freedom Visa Signature Card - (Editors note: This offer is no longer available) Chase Freedom Card - I can't disagree with CNN Money's assessment of the Chase Freedom Visa Signature Card. It's definitely the best cash back rewards card for lower spenders. You earn 5% back each month in three out of 15 purchase categories (like groceries, gas, utilities, department stores, and pet stores). The rebate reward drops to 1% once you've made $600 in eligible purchases a month, but when you earn $200 in rewards, Chase chips in an additional $50 rebate. As mentioned in my Chase Freedom review, that translates to a nice 3.75%/1.25% rewards rate.
4) Big Flyers Cards - Citi Premier Pass Elite - This credit card offer, along with the Starwood Card from American Express are probably the two top tier travel cards available. The Citi Premier Pass Elite is definitely one of the best, if not the best airline miles card, particularly if you are a frequent flyer, a busy business traveler, or a fan of free airline tickets. With the points you earn for using it, you can redeem for plane tickets on any airline, with no blackout dates or seating restrictions. You earn 2 reward points for special category purchases, 1 reward point for every dollar spent on other purchases, plus 1 reward point for every mile you fly. With the Premier Elite card from Citibank, you can earn extra travel points fairly quickly via bonus purchases in everyday categories like groceries, gas, and transportation.
5) Top Savers For Retirement - Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa - I found it interesting that there was a card category for the best credit card to help you save for retirement since that's not a priority of most card users. This program's association with Fidelity Investments definitely encourages savings. It also earns the best reward rate for everyday purchases. This card earns you 1.5% reward back on everything with no category restriction. Once you earn 5,000 worth of rewards, you get $75 deposited into your Fidelity account - an effective 1.5% cash rebate. Although it doesn't necessarily have to be for a retirement account, saving for the future by putting it towards your Fidelity Roth IRA is a smart way to save.
6) Low Fee, No Hassle Cards - A Local Bank or Credit Union Card - For consumers who live in fear of surprise fine print surcharges, high fees, or forgetting to pay on time, CNN Money advises you to apply for credit cards belonging to your local small bank or credit union since they supposedly offer the most flexible terms. They mention Commerce Bank by name as one that allows cardholders to pay late, penalty-free up to 31 days. In my opinion, if the cardholder has recurring issues with paying on time, then perhaps he or she should stick with using cash or debit cards. Credit cards are not advisable for those who practice risky payment habits or those who don't like to bother with reading contractual fine print.
If you really want the best low interest credit card though, I would suggest something like the Capital One Platinum Prestige card.