Consumer Reports Picks Top Credit Cards for Your Needs

By Meg Favreau. Last updated 9 May 2019. 1 comment

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Figuring out which credit card works best for your lifestyle and spending habits can feel like a financial Where's Waldo, leaving you scanning over a sea of card offers, hoping that the one you're looking for will pop up in your vision.

Consumer Reports — the non-profit organization that rates everything from airlines to air conditioners — put their Money Lab to task on the credit card problem, evaluating 53 cards to come up with the top options in three categories: cash back rewards, travel rewards, and balance transfer / low-rate cards. We've featured the highlights of their findings below, along with some commentary and additional information.

Best Balance Transfer / Low Rate Card

According to Consumer Reports, the Chase Slate is great for consumers who want to transfer a large balance. Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee on transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (16.99%–25.74% variable applies after that). Plus, receive your monthly FICO Score for free. There is no annual fee.

The information related to the Chase Slate® card has been collected by Wise Bread and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

Key Features About Balance Transfer Cards

If you're trying to pay down credit card debt, the only card you should consider getting is a balance-transfer card. You have two options here:

Balance-transfer cards are a great option if you can pay your debt off within the introductory rate period (usually a year to a year-and-a-half). After paying the transfer fee of 3%-5% required by most cards, you'll enjoy a 0% rate for that introductory period. After that, the rate jumps up.

Low-rate cards, Consumer Reports points out, are better for those with longer-term debt — instead of possibly jumping up to a rate over 20%, these will stay at a lower-than normal rate for a longer period.

Best Cash Rewards Card

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services. It also offers 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, and more, and 1% back on other purchases — making this a great card to use for everyday purchases. Plus, you can earn a $250 statement credit after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms apply. There is an annual fee of $95. See Rates & Fees.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express today!

Key Features About Cash Back Cards

Cash back cards are a good option for many people. If you are thinking about getting a cash-back card, take some time first to look at your budget and financial goals. Since many cards do offer different levels of cash back on different categories, there is no one-size-fits-all best cash-back card; what works best for a person who commutes two hours each way to work might not work best for someone who spends more at the grocery store.

Best Travel Rewards Cards

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to participating travel partners. The annual fee is $95.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card today!

Key Features About Travel Rewards Cards

Consumer Reports points out that travel rewards cards often offer big sign-up bonuses for new customers — sometimes enough to get one or more round-trip tickets. These cards do often have annual fees, but perks like free checked baggage, travel insurance, and lounge access more than make up for the fee. These fancy freebies used to be only available to business travelers, but thanks to the competitiveness of the market they are now offered to regular consumers as well.

We're proud to note that our credit card experts independently came up with pretty much the exact same list of cards. Consumer Reports' top choice for each category has been recommended by Wise Bread for months!

Check out our credit card guides for the best:


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Will Chen's picture

I guess great minds think alike! Congratulations to our credit card writers for independently coming up with the same recommendations as the venerable Consumer Reports.