The October 2014 issue of Money Magazine features their annual rankings of the “Best Credit Cards”. Here’s a condensed list of their top picks for various categories. I’ve written about most of them, and in those cases I’m linking to that post which provides more details. Otherwise, I’m linking directly to the card page and including a few highlights about the card.
Best for Balance Transfers (Low, long introductory APR)
- Chase Slate Card. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No balance transfer fee if you transfer within the first 2 months. No annual fee.
Best for Regular Balance Carriers (Low ongoing APR)
- Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa. 6% to 14% APR on balance transfers, starting at Prime + 3% for those with excellent credit. No balance transfer fee. No annual fee.
Best for Purchases (Low, long introductory APR)
- Citi Simplicity Card. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months. 3% balance transfer fee, $5 min. No annual fee.
Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Rewards (Tie)
- Citi Double Cash Card. 1% flat back when you swipe, 1% flat when you pay your bill. No limits or tiers. If you redeem rewards via check that is 2% flat cash back, if you redeem via statement credit then it is actually technically 1.99% cash back. Spend $2,000 a month on this Mastercard and get back $480 a year without changing your spending patterns. No annual fee.
- Fidelity American Express. 2% back with no limit or tiers. Rewards must be deposited into a Fidelity account.
Best For Cash Back on Essentials
- American Express Blue Cash Preferred. 6% back on groceries on up to $6,000 in purchases a year. 3% back on gas. $75 annual fee.
Best 5% Cash Back Cards (Tie)
- US Bank Cash Plus. 5% back on two categories from 12 possible choices, on $2,000 in purchases per quarter. No annual fee. Must apply in physical branch, application is not available online.
- Chase Freedom. 5% in categories that rotate quarterly, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. $100 sign-up bonus. No annual fee.
Best For Travel Rewards / Traveling Abroad.
- Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. Big upfront sign-up bonus, 2% back towards any travel with no limit plus a 10% rebate on redemptions. $0 annual fee first year, then $89.
Best For Miles Hounds / Best Sign-Up Bonus.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred. Big upfront sign-up bonus, 2x points on Dining and Travel, Ultimate Rewards points offer flexible transfers to miles, cash, or travel credit. $0 annual fee first year, then $95.
Best For Hotel Perks.
- American Express Starwood Preferred Guest. Decent sign-up bonus, SPG points offer redemptions towards free hotel nights or miles. $0 annual fee first year, then $65.
Best For Small Business Rewards.
- Chase Ink Cash. Decent sign-up bonus, 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. No annual fee.
Best For Small Business Borrowing.
- US Bank Business Edge Platinum. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, 10% to 18% after that. This is the lowest APR among no annual fee small biz cards. No annual fee.
Best First Card For a College Kid
- Northwest Federal Credit Union FirstCard. No annual fee. Reports to credit bureaus. Must be a credit union member to apply (can be done for $10).
Best Card For Online Shopping
- Discover It Card. The ShopDiscover portal offers cash back bonuses of 5% to 20% at select online retailers, which can be redeemed as statement credit. Also has 5% rotating categories. No annual fee.