A number of readers have asked me to come up with a list of the top 10 best credit cards to have. However I’ve held off on doing this because to be honest, the top ten will vary by person. What’s best for one person may not be for another. This is why I recommend comparing cards by category (see list on right side of page).
With that said, I totally understand that not everyone wants to sort through dozens and dozens of different credit cards. So if you don’t have time for that, here’s my list of the top 10 credit cards in 2013. I have cherry picked these from across the various categories. To keep this current, I will constantly be updating it each month as needed.
#1. Barclaycard Arrival
Category: Overall Best of 2013
You earn 2.2% on all purchases! Here’s how it works: You earn 2 miles per dollar spent. Each mile is worth 1 cent in statement credits (which can be used to offset any travel purchase made with the card). Right there that’s the equivalent of a 2% rebate, but it gets better since 10% of your miles will be given back to you to use again when you redeem them. The net result means you’re earning 2.2% on all purchases!
Right now if you apply you can get your annual fee waived the first year, which is normally $89, and earn a ton of bonus points.
Use this link to earn 40,000 bonus points (awarded after $1k spend in first 90 days)
#1. Blue Cash (available in 2 versions)
Category: Cash Back
If you have great credit and want high cash back, I feel this card is a must have for every wallet and purse. A couple years ago American Express improved the program and restructured the tiers. The result? A great choice for both low and big spenders alike.
It comes in 2 versions – the “Everyday” has no annual fee and the “Preferred” runs $75/year. Both have great programs but the one that really impresses me is the Preferred because it earns 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent per year at US supermarkets (1% after that); 3% at US gas stations and select US department stores; 1% on other eligible purchases. Terms and limitations apply. Go here to compare AmEx Blue Cash Preferred vs. Everyday.
#2. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
Category: Hotel + Travel
Even if you don’t stay at Starwood hotels you need to hear about this card. Why? Well you can spend your reward points at Starwood properties (obviously) but that’s not all… you also can transfer them to mileage programs with various airlines and its usually a 1 for 1 conversion.
So as funny as it may sound, this AmEx card for hotels is also probably the best for airlines, too. Check out this Starwood credit card review to learn more.
#3. Chase Freedom
Category: Cash Back
Even though I personally like the AmEx Blue Cash better, the Chase Freedom is actually ranked at #1 on the top 10 cards for cash back list for 2013. Why? Because right now Chase is offering an extremely enticing signup promotion for it on CreditCardForum.
The bonus aside, this card does offer a very straightforward and generous rewards program, especially considering that is has no annual fee. You get 1% on normal spending and 5% on categories. Learn more about the Chase Freedom promotion and rewards program.
#4. Chase Slate
Category: Balance Transfers
Do you currently have a balance? If so the Slate is probably the top credit card for you. Why? Because it has what is arguably the most attractive 0% intro APR offer currently on the market.
Another added benefit is the Chase Blueprint feature, which is a built-in feature that helps you better organize your card’s debt and setting goals for paying it off. Check out my review of Slate to find out more.
#5. Chase United Airlines Credit Card
As you are well aware, just about every airline these days has their own card. However there are some distinct advantages that set the United Airlines credit cards apart from the competition.
For of all, thanks to their recent merger with Continental they are now the world’s largest airline (meaning you will have tons of flight options). Secondly, your first bag flies free. Third, you get great benefits. Check out the review of the United Airlines credit card offer to see for yourself.
#6. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
This is a newer card from AmEx and chances are, you’ve probably seen a commercial or two for it. The annual fee is $175 which is definitely not for everyone. However if you are a moderate traveler and spend, say $2.5k or more, per month on average… then the generous benefits and rewards you get will almost certainly outweigh the costs.
Another significant advantage the Premier Rewards Gold Card offers is that your annual fee is waived for the first year… this gives you a chance to try it out without having to pay. Secondly, the current bonus offer CreditCardForum is running for it is quite generous. To learn more check out this review.
#7. Discover it
This is the newest card from Discover. It has no annual fee and gives 5% on categories along with a full 1% on other purchases. For a long time this was numero uno among the top 10 credit card deals, but given that the signup bonus isn’t that exciting right now, it has fallen back several places.
However despite those drawbacks, what you need to realize about this card it has the best rewards program for online spending, without a shadow of a doubt. The Shop Discover program gives higher rewards, on average, than all the other similar programs out there. For this reason everyone should consider it.
#8. Chase Ink
If you have a small business then you need to take a look at the Chase Ink. I actually use this card myself and have been very pleased with it. That’s why it is currently ranked #1 on the top 10 credit cards for small businesses. The nice thing about Chase (vs. many other biz card issuers) is that they report your account to the business credit bureau, assuming you provide them with your business tax ID number. Many issuers won’t do this.
Of course, the rewards and benefits aren’t too shabby either. There are a few versions available, ranging from no annual fee to $95. To see them all, compare the Chase Ink rewards programs.
#10. Capital One Secured MasterCard
Category: Rebuilding Credit
For most of the cards we’ve discussed so far, you need good credit to qualify. Not you? Well I want to make sure I include something on this top 10 list for you, too!
This is a MasterCard which is available in a secured version. The fees are quite reasonable and the minimum security deposit is low. At the end of the day, this is probably the top credit card for bad credit. Learn more about it here.