Compare credit cards

Compare credit card offers, learn how to choose a credit card and put it to work for you.

By   |   Verified by Yvonne Taylor   |   Updated 7th May 2021

Comparing credit cards

Citi Double Cash Card Reward - 18 months BT offer

On Citibank's website

Citi Double Cash Card Reward - 18 months BT offer

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

23.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cashback when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months which could help you get on top of things. A one-off $5 or 3% (whichever is greater) balance transfer fee applies.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

On AMEX's website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

12 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back.
  • Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cashback in the form of statement credits.
  • $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year then $95 p.a. annual fee thereafter.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

On Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

22.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$95.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

Overview

There are literally hundreds of different credit cards available from dozens of issuers, making it important to conduct a credit card comparison before you apply for one. To get you started in your search for a credit card we’ve prepared a comparison of all the different types in the market. We'll discuss how to find the best credit cards for you, including benefits, features, alternatives, and which credit cards to apply for. In short, you'll find all the details you need to know to make your search for your best credit card much easier.

The key benefits of credit cards

Credit cards can be used to cover everyday purchases including groceries, gas, and other goods and services. They can also be used to buy more expensive items such as travel packages, TVs, and even jewelry, especially if the funds needed aren’t at your immediate disposal. Apart being a convenient way to borrow and pay, they also provide:

  • Increased purchasing power
  • Rewards like airline miles, points or cash back
  • Other free benefits, like travel insurance and airport lounge access
  • Potential to build credit score
  • Online shopping convenience
  • The ability to secure a hotel room or rental car
  • No foreign transaction fees in some cases
  • Protection from fraudulent activity
  • Free access to credit report and score in some cases

Features you can find on the best credit cards

When you're ready to apply for a credit card it’s important to find a card that will work for you, such are those with rewards to help you save money, potentially putting hundreds of dollars, even thousands, back into your pocket. As you make your credit card comparisons, select features that will be most beneficial to you.

  • Rewards points. Points earned on purchases can be exchanged for airline miles—with some cards earning airline miles directly—merchandise, gift cards, hotel accommodation and other forms of travel, depending on the points program.
  • Cash back. Cash back credit cards give 1% to 2% cash back on overall purchases, or up to 5%-6% back on categories like grocery shopping, restaurants and gas, or a different category of your choice every three months.
  • Sign-up bonuses. Plenty of cards give great bonuses to new cardholders, for example a card that offers 50,000 points or airline miles when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
  • Travel perks. You may find a card that offers free checked bags, along with access to VIP lounges in airports. Other travel perks include rental car insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and roadside assistance.
  • Low interest rate. A card with a low APR will help if you can't always pay off your monthly card account in full.
  • Balance transfer at low or 0% interest rate. Consolidate your debts or just take a break from paying interest on your balance.
  • No foreign transaction fees. This is a particularly useful feature if you frequently travel outside the country, and can also help you save if you make frequent purchases from online retailers from foreign countries.
  • Free access to your credit score. If you want to work towards paying off debts and increase your score, it will help to check every now and then to verify that your score is still good. Some cards now give access to the cardholder's credit score, in some cases printing it on the monthly bill.

Understand the different types of credit cards

There are many different types of credit card, each suited to particular needs. You'll need to gauge which one will suit your own needs and lifestyle, so that you can work out which one to apply for.

Standard or "plain vanilla" cards

These are sometimes called “plain-vanilla” because they offer no rewards, and are plain and simple to understand. Most people choose this type of card if they’re not looking to earn rewards and if they want something that’s easy to understand without any added frills. They are often easier to be approved for.

Balance transfer credit cards

Many cards come with the capability to transfer balances from existing cards and loans, but the term is normally applied to a type of card that offers a low intro APR—possibly 0%—for balance transfers throughout a specified period of time. So if you aim to save money on high interest rates on an already existing account, then getting one of these is a great option. Balance transfer rates vary though, so be sure that you’re qualified to get ones that are as low as 0%. In many cases, the lower its promotional rate and the longer its promotional period is, the harder it will be to qualify since issuers will look for good credit.

Rewards credit cards

These are perfect for those who wish to earn rewards with their purchases. They come in three types—points, airline miles and cash back. While some people opt for points that can be redeemed for cash and goods, others prefer getting airline miles or cash back rewards.

Travel credit cards

Anyone who loves to travel will like this option, designed to earn more points for traveling, hotel stays, free flights and travel credits. Travel rewards cards usually come with a heftier interest rate and annual fee, but it can be worthwhile if you earn airline miles upfront or convert your points into airline miles, travel cash back or travel rewards. In addition, they will often have a sign up bonus that you can take advantage of.

Student credit cards

This type of card has been specifically designed with college students in mind, and takes into consideration that most young adults won’t have much credit history to show. This option can come with perks such as low interest rates and limited rewards schemes. However, these aren’t as important as the eligibility requirements. In general, students need to be enrolled with an accredited university to be approved.

Secured credit cards

Secured cards provide a great option for those who who want to work towards building credit, or who have damaged their credit. They require a security deposit before the account can be opened, and the credit limit will usually be in the same amount as the deposit made. You can't access the deposit while the account is open or until you transition to an unsecured card, so you will still need to make monthly payments towards the balance on your secured card.

Low interest credit cards

Low interest rate cards are a good choice for anyone wanting to pay off large purchases over time, since the lower rates mean you'll pay less interest in total. Although they usually come with an annual fee, the cost is more than offset by interest savings.

Alternatives to credit cards

If you’ve had financial problems in the past, borrowing money can be a tricky business and it usually means that your access to financing is limited. This may be one of the reasons why a credit card may not be the best for you. However, if you really need to borrow money or use a convenient and secure payment method, consider these alternatives:

  • Buy now, pay later services. If you are concerned with your ability to manage a credit card, buy now pay later services offer a way to buy to buy the things you want with a fixed repayment plan.
  • Personal loans. Generally, the biggest difference between a credit card and a personal loan is the fixed repayment term. Unlike credit cards, personal loans don’t provide access to a revolving line of credit. Instead, a borrower gets an upfront sum and is given a time frame during which it has to be repaid in full, usually through a scheduled payment scheme. Personal loans are sometimes preferred since this arrangement comes with a lower interest rate for borrowers with a good or excellent credit score.
  • PayPal. This platform is no longer reserved just for payments on online auction websites, but is now also used for sending money to family and friends. It's also highly useful for sending invoices for business purposes and can be used to pay in restaurants, shops and some bus services. It also offers protection for purchases and is accepted by a wide range of online retailers.
  • Debit cards. Probably the most used alternative, debit cards provide convenience for spending online, in-store and over the phone, without the need for cash. They won't, however, allow you to spend money you don't have, since they access the cash you have in the bank account they're linked to. Using a debit card makes it easier to stay out of debt.
  • Prepaid cards. You can buy a prepaid Mastercard or a Visa, already loaded with cash, to use in physical retail stores or online. You may also top them up with more cash through a bank transfer or in person at a bank. Prepaid cards are a great substitute if you need to be able to withdraw and pay without incurring too many fees.

Learn about how credit cards work

Find out how to apply for a credit card and make it work for you.

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

  • Glossary

  • Guides

A convenient way to pay

Paying with your credit card is the fastest and most convenient way to make purchases in-store and online, especially now that you can pay with your smartphone.

Applying for too many cards can damage your credit score

Every time you apply for a new card, the card issuer is very likely to ask for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. This is known as a "hard inquiry" or "hard pull", and a note about it will stay on your credit report for two years and cause your credit score to drop slightly. While a couple of hard inquiries won't do much harm, making too many applications within a short period of time will not only make lenders suspicious—and more likely to deny your application—but will also add up to more significant credit score damage.

A secure way to pay

Credit cards are much more secure than cash. If you lose your card, or it's stolen, you can contact the credit card company and get them to place a hold on your account. And most banks will monitor your card transactions and alert you to any suspicious activity in your account that you may not have authorized.

Credit card interest rates are high

If you carry a more or less permanent balance on your card, you're going to pay a lot in interest charges because credit card APRs are usually much higher than personal loan interest rates.

Easy to overspend

You need to practice financial discipline to avoid overspending, because credit cards give you the opportunity to buy something without saving up for it first. This makes it much easier to run up a debt you can't afford to repay.

Lift your credit score

Managing a credit card responsibly, by always making the monthly payment on time—even if you can't pay off the whole balance—and trying to stay well blow your credit limit, will have an upward impact on your credit score, because the bank will report your good financial behavior to a credit reporting agency. The longer you keep a well-managed credit card account open, the better your score will get.

Potential to borrow without paying interest

If you can pay off your balance in full every month, you won't be charged any interest on your purchases. You will be borrowing the bank's money without paying for the privilege.

Rewards and benefits

Many cards come with rewards points, airline miles or cash back rewards, as well as other benefits like travel and shopping perks. These have the potential to save you a significant amount of money.

Avoid taking cash advances

If you withdraw cash from your credit card account at a bank counter or ATM, you're going to start paying interest on that amount at a high APR right away. Unlike credit card purchases, there's no grace period on cash advances. You'll also likely pay a cash advance fee of a few dollars, so cash advances work out to be very expensive and are best avoided.

Check your credit score before you apply

Don't risk a rejection—and a hard credit inquiry—by applying for a card with a credit score requirement higher than the one you have. Check your credit score before you apply to make sure that it's high enough.

Improve your credit score to lower your interest rate

The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you are likely to be offered. So, aim to work on improving your credit score by:

  • Paying your bills on time
  • Paying down debt to improve your credit utilization ratio
  • Avoiding applying for too may cards within a short time frame
  • Trying to have a mix of different credit accounts, such as a credit card, an automobile loan and a mortgage

Learn more about how to calculate your credit card's interest rate here.

Pay your balance in full each month if you can

There's no doubt that the best way to use a credit card is to borrow the bank's money free of charge. To do this you need to repay your full account balance each month, or as often as you possibly can. This will also improve your credit utilization ratio and help you to maximize the benefits you receive from rewards points or cash back. Paying high interest charges seriously reduces the value of these benefits, in fact probably wipes them out altogether.

Can I change the credit limit?

Yes, you can request either an increase or a decrease. Some card issuers allow customers to request a limit change online, while in other cases you may need to phone the service center. If you're asking for an increase you may need to prove that your income has gone up. But some card issuers will increase your credit limit without being asked if you've had the card for a while and have been using it sensibly, with on-time payments.

Can I get a credit card number instantly?

Yes, you can. However, this is limited to a few lenders. American Express is the leader when it comes to instant credit card approval, usually providing successful applicants with a card number immediately.

Can I get a credit card with no income or low income?

If your income is low, there will be fewer options for you to choose from. Include in your application all sources of income that you might have access to, to increase your chances of being approved. Secured credit cards, or applying with a co-signer, are options for someone with no income or low income.

Can I get a credit card with poor credit?

Yes, there are credit cards aimed specifically at people with poor credit, but you're likely to be asked for a security deposit equivalent to the amount of your credit limit. Used responsibly, a secured credit card is a good way to rebuild your credit score.

Can I give a credit card to my children to use?

Children under the age of 18 aren’t considered to be legally old enough to have their own credit cards. And while It's not illegal to give your credit card to someone else to use, it may be a breach of your contract with your credit card company. You can, however, allow your child to be an authorized user, which gives them a card with their own name on it and allows them to make purchases on your account. You're the one responsible for all debt repayments, however.

Can I overpay my credit card to increase the limit?

Overpaying won't increase your official credit limit, but because it will make your balance negative it will temporarily increase the total amount of funds able to be spent using the card. For example, if you overpay your balance by $2,000 on a card with a $5,000 credit limit, you now have $7,000 of spending power at your disposal.

Can you be denied after pre-approval for a credit card?

While a pre-approval can greatly increase the chance of getting accepted, it isn’t the same as getting approved. Your application may still be declined, possibly because you have provided other information that the bank wasn't aware of when they issued the pre-approval, and you no longer meet the bank’s requirements.

Does canceling a credit card hurt your credit score?

It depends. When you cancel a card you've held for a long time you could damage your score, because having a credit account open for several years usually has a positive impact, which you've now removed. And if the card had a high credit limit, you could have significantly increased your credit utilization ratio by removing that credit limit from your total available credit. But closing an account you're not using won't have much impact if your debt total elsewhere is low, or the card's credit limit was low, or you've only had the card for a relatively short time.

Do I need to be employed in order to be approved?

Fortunately, you don’t always need to have a job before qualifying for a credit card, but you will need to show that you’ve got income from some other source. If you have no income, you'll need to consider applying for a secured credit card.

Do I need to use my credit card every month?

It’s best to use your card once every three months at least, to ensure that the account remains active and open. Doing this also gives the issuer updated information to send to credit bureaus.

Do returns hurt your credit?

Returning an item usually won’t affect your credit score, since the cost won’t remain in your balance. The timing of your return, however, may have an effect. Because card companies generally report balances to credit reporting agencies monthly, the amount of your returned item may still be included in the amount owed. If you're returning an expensive item, it’s best to make your return before this happens, so that your credit utilization ratio is lower.

How long does it take to build credit?

It takes time to build good or fair credit because you will need to have your credit history reported by lenders to the credit bureaus. It will usually take anywhere between 3-6 months for history from a new account to appear in your credit file.

How long does it take to get a credit card?

Once you’re approved, companies generally give you an ETA of seven to ten business days. In most cases, however, you won’t need to wait that long and the card will probably arrive in the mail in five days or less.

How many hard credit inquiries is too many?

Hard credit inquiries happen when you apply for credit—such as a credit card—and the lender requests a copy of your credit file from a credit reporting agency. The hard inquiry stays on your credit file for two years, so a couple of inquiries each six months aren't going to have a big impact on your score. But it's generally considered that having six recent hard inquiries on your credit file is too many.

How many is too many credit cards?

While there aren’t any numbers set in stone, the average American, according to Experian, has four credit cards. A general rule of thumb, however, is if you can’t keep track of all your accounts, then you probably have too many.

Is it bad to have a lot of credit cards with a zero balance?

Having one or two cards with zero balance is okay, but having all of your accounts at zero balance without any activity puts you at risk of lowering your credit score if the bank cancels the cards, or if your credit utilization ratio falls to a percentage that is considered too low. Having some credit activity is better than having none at all.

Is it bad to pay your credit card twice a month?

The lower your balance is compared to the credit limit, the better it will be for your credit score. So, if you’re able to make more repayments on your card, the faster you can pay off debt and the more it will help your credit score. And you are more likely to make at least the minimum payment on time, which is also good for your score.

Is it better to have one or more credit cards?

Keeping more than one card helps you by keeping your debt utilization ratio low, which in turn helps your credit score. You could also maximize your rewards by having more than one card, to target higher rewards for different spending categories.

Should I pay off my credit card in full?

Yes, as long as you can afford it. Paying your balance in full will help you avoid interest charges and may increase your credit score by reducing your credit utilization.

What happens if I don't use my credit card?

If you don't use your card for a long period—say a year—it may be canceled. This could come as a shock if it happens without warning and you try to use the card. It could also mean that your credit score could take a hit, for two reasons. Firstly, your credit file loses a potentially lengthy and positive section of credit history. Secondly, your credit utilization ratio goes up, because the canceled card's credit limit disappears from your total available credit.

What happens if I have overpaid my credit card balance?

Overpaying will make the amount in your account show as a negative balance. Negative balances are reported as zero balances on your credit report and won’t affect credit utilization.

What happens when you get a refund on a credit card with a zero balance?

If there is no balance on your card, the refund will still be applied and will be shown as a negative balance.

What is the "5/24 rule"?

It's a guide used by Chase when assessing credit card applications. If you've opened 5 new credit card accounts within the previous 24 months, you're unlikely to get approved for a new Chase card. While other banks may not have this rigid rule, they will still look unfavorably on too many new card accounts opened within a short time.

What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

A credit card is a revolving line of credit. Put more simply, it's a way to temporarily borrow money from a bank up to a set limit each month. You can choose to repay the full balance each month and avoid interest charges, or repay only part of the balance and pay interest on the rest.

A debit card is linked to your bank account. When you use it to make payments, you are actually withdrawing money you have saved from your own bank account, not borrowing the bank's money. There are no interest charges involved, unless the bank allows you to overdraw your account.

Which credit card is right for me?

This question can only be answered depending on your individual preferences, lifestyle and needs, and by comparing credit cards to find out which one fits you best. But to further guide you along with this difficult decision, here are some factors to consider to determine which card is best for you:

  • What type of card would you prefer—plain vanilla, rewards points, cash back, low interest, balance transfer, or a combination of these?
  • What kind of rewards will you enjoy?
  • Are other features, such as travel benefits or extended warranty, important to you?
  • Do you shop online overseas and need to avoid foreign transaction fees?
  • Will you use the card enough to justify an annual fee?
  • Are your choices limited by your income level or credit score?

Will my credit score go down if I pay off my credit card?

While making the final payment on your debt can give a sigh of relief, it won’t necessarily help your score. There are many factors that are included in determining this number, including payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, the mix of credit types, and the number of recent applications. However, it also doesn’t mean that paying off your card will make your score go down. But avoid closing your credit card account altogether, because that will have a negative impact on your score. Ideally, continue to make small relatively regular purchases, and pay off the full balance each month.

Annual fee

A fee that’s charged either monthly or yearly for using your card and keeping your account open. Monthly charges will usually be indicated as “Monthly Maintenance Fees” while annual charges are simply known as “Annual Fee.”

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The interest charged on credit cards, which is expressed as an amount charged annually, even though it is divided by 365 when applied to your average daily balance.

Authorized user

An authorized user is nominated by the primary credit card account holder, and is given their own card to make purchases without having to be responsible for making payments.

Balance

The total amount owed on a credit card at any one time.

Balance transfer

The act of transferring a part or all of the balance owed from one credit card or loan onto another card.

Balance transfer fee

A fee charged when a balance transfer occurs from one account to another. It is usually 3%-5% of the amount transferred. Not all cards charge balance transfer fees, but most do.

Co-signer

Someone who submits a joint application, along with you, for a credit card. The lender considers the income and credit history of both parties when making a decision about approval. If the application is successful, both applicants are jointly and separately responsible for repaying the whole amount of any debt. You may need to find a co-signer if you can't get approved based on your own income or credit history alone.

Credit history

A record, maintained by a credit reporting agency, of how much you owe your creditors and whether you pay your bills on time. It also includes details on payment history, balances, collection information, and personal information. Serious offenses, such as debt defaults, can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, but your history will show data as far back as the date when your credit was established.

Credit limit

The maximum balance allowed on your card at any one time.

Credit report

A report compiled by a credit reporting agency, detailing your credit history.

Credit reporting agency

A company which compiles credit history files on individuals and businesses. U.S. credit reporting agencies include Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Credit score

A numerical representation of the information gathered in your credit report. It changes according to your credit transactions and other changes in your credit history. In general, you’re more likely to be offered better credit cards or lower rates and fees if you have a higher score.

Credit utilization ratio

A comparison of the amount of credit you are currently using and the total credit available to you. If you don’t have much debt but have a lot of credit available, then you have a low ratio and this will lift your credit score.

Foreign transaction

This refers to any transaction that occurs in a foreign currency or purchases that are made outside of the United States, including online purchases.

Foreign transaction fee

A surcharge on foreign transactions made with a credit card, typically 1% to 3% of the amount of the purchase after conversion to U.S. dollars.

Interest charges

Fees that are charged for the privilege of borrowing money. In the case of credit cards, interest is payable if the balance of purchases isn’t fully repaid each month, and is charged immediately on cash advances.

Interest rate

The price you pay for the money borrowed from your card. These rates are usually expressed as an APR, or Annual Percentage Rate.

Introductory rate

An interest rate that is lower than usual, provided as an incentive for a limited period of time before the standard interest rate is applied.

Late fee

A fee charged when the lender doesn’t receive the minimum amount of payment due by the specified due date.

Secured credit card

A type of credit card issued to cardholders required to place cash on deposit with the card issuer as collateral. If the cardholder defaults, the card issuer may use the deposit to recover the balance owing.