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What’s Your Favorite (or Best) Credit Card?

by J. Money on Friday, March 30, 2012

credit cards and cash

Hey guys! So not sure if you’ve been noticing around here or not, but I’ve been slowly adding up new pages to the site that I think can really help out over time (like my best products tab), as well as doing some much needed Spring cleaning too (like clearing out old stuff in my sidebars). I think it’s a little better on the eyes now, but be on the look out for even more features and nav bar pages to come :)

My vision for this site is to not only MOTIVATE you to rock your finances through the content here, but also to share the tools and resources that are out there to get you to take those NEXT STEPS in life too. Say, with the help of calculators or mortgage tables, or even credit cards for that matter (if you’re like me and love to budget with them). So over the next few months you’ll see some more features pop up around the site as well, all in the hopes that it’ll help push you forward no matter what stage of the financial game plan you’re in. I’m pretty excited about it!

And one of the main things I want to get better about here, is featuring some of the best credit card offers on the site every now and then too. (Maybe like once a week or something?) I get pinged whenever a good one comes out through a lot of our networks and what have you, but I’d absolutely LOVE to hear from *YOU GUYS* on which you have found to be the ultimate credit card out there. Whether it be in the cash-back department, the travel department, or just the best overall card around from your experience.

I’ve recently launched a “best credit cards” section you can find in the top nav bar there, but it’s mainly from checking out other great financial blogs and sites to get a good feel for what’s out there. In my perfect world, though, I’d like to have this stuff backed up by YOU so it helps everyone going forward (and I learn a $hit ton in the process). I tend to lock myself up with USAA and not look elsewhere when searching for stuff (which is both good and bad, depending on how you look at it), so pumping up my OWN database of credit card knowledge would be a huge help to me too :) Know what I’m saying?

So let’s do this – I’ll start with a couple cards that I think are good based on what I’ve researched lately, and then YOU’LL tells us yours. Sound good? Here’s what I’ve found:

The Chase Freedom® MasterCard

1) Chase Freedom® MasterCard – $100 Bonus Cash Back + 0% Intro APR: This one seems to be one of the most popular card offers out there right now, and you can see why! Check out all perks:

  • Earn $100 Bonus Cash Back after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers and 6 months on purchases
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent at grocery stores and movie theaters from 4/1/12 – 6/30/12
  • You’ll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and even airlines. It’s free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
  • Up to an additional 10% Cash Back when you shop online at select merchants through Chase
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire

The Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card

2) Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card: A pretty killer travel card that’s having a CRAZY good promo going on right now — a 40,000 points bonus if you spend $3k in the first 3 months! My boy of over at My Money Blog currently has this card and he’s loving it :) I’m considering picking it up too to replace my old Amex biz card, but don’t think I’d spend the $3k in time to activate it…we’ll see though! Check it out:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months- that’s $500 toward travel rewards!
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 20% off airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you book through Ultimate Rewards℠
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Receive a 7% annual dividend on all new points earned – even on points already redeemed
  • 1:1 point transfer to participating frequent travel programs
  • Direct access to expert service advisors anytime
  • No Annual Fee for your first year – A $95 value

Pretty smooth, huh? Again, it depends on what perks and features you value over others out there, but it’s nice to know there’s a good card in every department when you’re ready to roll. My new goal is to always know the #1 card out there so when I’m asked for the billionth time which one I advise, I can just point them to it right away here on the site ;) Win-Win for everyone!

Your turn! What’s YOUR favorite credit card out there? And why do you like it so much?? Let us know so we can all learn from it! (And I can continue to build out my best credit card section ;))

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PS: Even though it goes without saying, I’m gonna say it again anyways cuz it’s super important: DO NOT PICK UP ANY CREDIT CARDS IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE THEM! If you suck at paying them off on time and/or don’t trust yourself to use them properly, stay away! They’re only awesome tools if you can take advantage of them the right way.

(Photo by Anthrocopy – I like how a Chase Freedom card is in there too, haha… totally unplanned! ;))


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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cassie March 30, 2012 at 6:31 am

My one and only, a paid off credit card ;)

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2 Frugal Fries March 30, 2012 at 7:48 am

I think most Canadians will probably say the MBNA card because it has some awesome cash back rewards!

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3 Peaches & Whiskey March 30, 2012 at 8:00 am

When my wife and I were getting married, we got an American Express Blue Cash card. 5% Cash Back on groceries and gas, 2% on everything else. It really adds up whenever the Mrs. gets a hold of it! We love it! Only drag is AMEX isn’t accepted everywhere – so we have a back-up but the rewards really add up!

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4 Daisy March 30, 2012 at 9:15 am

I’m Canadian, so it may not apply, but my card is a TD Rebate Rewards Card. It gives me 1% back on everything I spend – so I spend everything on my card!

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5 Jon B March 30, 2012 at 9:17 am

I like my Chase Freedom Mastercard too! When I signed up back in 2008 I got 5% cash back for like 6 months and then 3% cash back on certain purchases. Plus now they do 5% cash back on certain purchases and 1% on everything else.

Also, I had an issue where they didn’t get my payment and charged me fees. I just sent an email and it was resolved within a day…fees waived!

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6 J. Money March 30, 2012 at 9:31 am

This is all helping guys, thank you!!

@Cassie – HAH! Good one ;)
@Frugal Fries – Oh yeah?? Okay! I’ll go and see if I can find more info on it and include for the future – thanks! Didn’t even consider Canadian cards (I know, I know – so “American” of me)
@Peaches & Whiskey – First off, I LOVE your name here, haha… makes me thirsty!! :) And secondly, I’ve def. heard good things about that card too – so thank for backing it up a bit for me :) That’s the only thing I hate about my Amex card too – only works 80% of the time. Luckily I don’t use it as much as I used to though so those times I get denied are few and far between… great company for sure!
@Daisy – I like it! That’s the method we use too to grab all those perks :) Much better in my opinion than using debit for the same stuff – esp if it ever gets lost and/or stolen – at least w/ credit they can wipe away the charges faster and not have your money missing in the process! Bleh.
@Jon B – Nice! Def. seems to be one of the more popular cards lately, and I guess 4 years ago too! Haha… thanks for sharing man, really helps out :) Smooth work on that email too – probably saved you 45 mins had you gone w/ phone ;)

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7 Leah March 30, 2012 at 9:43 am

I LOVE my Chase Freedom card. Shouldn’t I get an endorsement for saying that??

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8 Trinnie March 30, 2012 at 9:54 am

as much as I hate to say you’re right….I LOVE MY USAA AMEX Card! One of the best rewards programs ever…(and this is coming from a long-time Discover Card user) and the company is kinda fly too. (and yes, I have to disclose that I am a USAA employee)

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9 John | Married (with Debt) March 30, 2012 at 9:54 am

I have the Chase Freedom and I like it okay. Been considering the Chase Sapphire, especially since it has zero foreign transaction fees.

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10 tom March 30, 2012 at 9:56 am

Blue Cash Preferred – Even though there is an annual fee you cannot beat 6% cash back at grocery stores. Especially if your grocery store has an excellent selection of gift cards ;)

I couple that card with the Chase Freedom and the AmEx Costco Business.

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11 Melissa March 30, 2012 at 10:00 am

I looooove my Air Miles Mastercard. I’ve been collecting Air Miles since I was 18, and though people totally teased me about it, I’m 25 now and I have enough Air Miles to fly almost anywhere in the world and back. (Can’t quite get to Asia, Africa or Australia yet, but anywhere in North or South America and all of Europe!) I pay a $99 annual fee for it, because doing so gave me a bunch of bonus miles, a lower dollar value for miles (I get one for every $15 spent instead of $20) and 20% off flights. Since I’m planning on taking a trip this summer, the 20% off will more than offset the annual cost of the card!

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12 Jen March 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

Some people like cash back – but I know my favorite splurge is travel. I can’t bring myself to pay $300+ per flight out of pocket, so I focus on cards that will get me free flights. So far, my favorite cards are:

Southwest Visa by Chase – The sign-up bonus when I got the card was 4 one-way vouchers. Spending on this card also accumulates Southwest miles.

Chase Sapphire – Great sign-up bonus (50,000 points), and I can transfer points 1:1 to Southwest. That’s enough for 2-3 free flights on the eastern seaboard.

Between spending and sign-up bonuses, I’ve gotten 5 free round-trip flights in the past 2 years, not even counting the 50,000 points coming my way in the next few weeks. I flew from Phoenix to NYC, from Pittsburgh to Orlando (with my husband for our honeymoon, both flights were free), from Baltimore to Boston, and I have an upcoming trip from Baltimore to New Orleans.

Visiting family and friends for free is much more important to me than a few percentage points in cash back. If I had a 1% cash back card, and spent $3000 in the last three months (what was required to get the 50,000 points), I’d only end up with $30 in my pocket. I’d much rather use points to get free travel.

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13 Cecil March 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

So far I’m loving Chase as a whole. I have a LOT of credit card debt and have had some cards’ credit limits lowered due to being affected by other credit cards, such as my American Express accounts and also Discover.

Chase has been really good to me so I may be biased. I have three Chase credit cards. I have a Chase Flexible Rewards card, a Chase Amazon card, and a Chase United Mileage Explorer card. I love the Amazon card because I earn 3 points on Amazon.com purchases, 2 points on eligible gas, dining, drugstore and office supply stores, and 1 point everywhere else, and I can “shop with points” on Amazon. For the United explorer card, I received 50,000 bonus miles on my first purchase with the card (I think I bought gum just to get the miles) and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, which is worth it with the bonus miles I received that may be enough for a roundtrip ticket to Hawaii!

By the way, just FYI, I’m a female Cecil :)

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14 J. Money March 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

AWESOME STUFF!! Thank you so much – this is great!!! And oddly enough *most* of those cards y’all are mentioning are already in my top credit cards section right now – I did good! Haha… keep ‘em coming y’all :)

@Leah – Haha yes! I’ll put in a good word for you ;)
@Trinnie – Yayyy! USAA + AMEX is a killer combo for sure :) Glad you’ve been happy with it so far, my friend!
@John | Married (with Debt) – Yeah, exactly. If you’re a traveling man it DEF helps out a lot. The only part I don’t like about it is that it has a yearly fee, but since the first year is waived, I’m sure people have been canceling it before it renews, haha… but of course if it reaps in the benefits, then I don’t mind spending money to make even more ;)
@tom – Boy, you are the king of maxing out those benefits! Haha… love it!
@Melissa – There you go! That’s great :) Can’t tease about working the system – they’re prob. jealous!
@Jen – Yeahhh look at that! You’re killing it! Wow. I’m super impressed… and really feel like an idiot for not jumping on this stuff SOONER over here, haha… I need to start reaping in these benefits too!!
@Cecil – Hey female Cecil! Haha… that’s cool, never heard of that for a lady before – I dig it :) And I also dig your smoothness w/ the cards there, well done! Hopefully you can knock off that debt sooner than later too so you’ll REALLY be the queen of credit cards – you can do it!! And we’re all here to help! :)

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15 Brian March 30, 2012 at 10:57 am

I typically use my points for travel. So I have been rocking the Chase Trifecta of Chase Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and a Chase checking account. Working my way towards enough points to visit my father in law in Abu Dhabi next year (in business class). Redeeming points for travel using frequent flier programs typically provides the most value.

I’m secretly hoping Chase brings back the 100,000 mile British Airways card back, that would help me out a lot!

The trick is understanding that your credit is very important and only apply for cards knowing you will pay them off each month, otherwise any cashback or rewards are really not worth it

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16 ImpulseSave March 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

I started out with a First Financial USA low-interest credit card. It didn’t have any rewards, but the customer service was good and it was a good starter card. Then, they started charging a stupid annual fee that I had to call all the time to get cancelled. It was no longer worth the hassle and I then qualified to a DISCOVER Student Card! I love this card – cash-back rewards, medium credit limit, excellent website and features like online bill pay and activity analysis. There are also no fees and not sure about the interest rate but it doesn’t matter because I’ve paid it off every month anyway. For the cash back rewards, the only hassle is that you have to manually enter every few months for the nest featured reward specials. But I don’t mind doing that. Also I can cash in the points any time on Amazon dollar-for-dollar to make a purchase!

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17 Ernest S. March 30, 2012 at 11:16 am

I love my Capital One Venture card (Visa). It’s a flat 2% rewards card with an annual fee, but I’ve managed to accumuilate more rewards on it than any other card in my wallet (even those with rotating categories and zero annual fees). It has zero foreign exchange fees as well, which makes it an ideal card for international travel. The fact that it is a Visa (and not an AMEX) ensures that it’s accepted practically everywhere.

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18 Squeezer @Personal Finance Success March 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

I like my Sallie Mae Rewards Visa. Flat 2% cashback. Although I want to get a Penfed or Fort Knox Visa for 5% cashback on gas.

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19 Kevin March 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

My one and only card that i use is my Navy Federal goRewards card. Fantastic customer service and that goes a long ways with me. I was looking at getting a PenFed for the 5% gas bonus but Ehhhh I don’t need or want another credit card 1 is plenty for me.

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20 Marianne March 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I’m Canadian and have blogged about how much I love my President’s Choice Financial Mastercard. http://preservingpennies.com/how-we-save-money-by-using-our-credit/
They sent me the black card that gets double the rewards. I’ve been hearing great things about the MBNA card though as well so I’ve been meaning to check it out. I really love my PC card though so I’m a bit hesitant. Of course, we pay it off every month so the rewards are like free money.

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21 Slackerjo March 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Sometimes choosing a card is not about bonus points or interest rates but it can be about other things, like being valued as a customer and a person.
I used to do tech support for teleworkers. One night a customer screamed at me like a lunatic for 15 minutes because I was unable to provide him with an ethernet cable longer than 6 feet and unfortunately he would have to buy his own cable. He repeatedly represented himself as an employee of Amex yet it never occurred to me that the person he was screaming at was an Amex customer or potential customer. Never will I do business with that company.

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22 Melissa @ Little House in the Valley March 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

My husband and I have determined that right now we will forego any credit card rewards and just pay cash until we are debt free.

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23 TJ March 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I personally don’t recommend either of the cards that are listed here, because beyond the sign up bonus, they’re not really all that exciting. There are better things from Chase – last year I got the $50k Southwest points after one purchase which turned itno like $700 worth of southwest airfare or $500 worth of amazon gift cards. I canceled the card before the 2nd annual fee hit.

It really depends what categories people spend the most in – for me as a single dude who eats out alot as well as amazon, that means Citi Forward gets a lot of usage (I can barely read the numbers anymore – they are so faded) –

I don’t think there’s a “best” card that can be targeted at everyone unless some credit card company goes bonkers in offering a huge % off every purchase indefinitely.

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24 Wayne @ Young Family Finance March 31, 2012 at 7:05 am

I’ve been eye balling the Chase Freedom card for sometime, but simply haven’t pulled the trigger. Mostly because my wife and I haven’t been able to come to a decision on whether we’d like to go with that card or a store discount card. It’s a lesson on how indecision can cost you money. You post is a good reminder to come back to the conversation.

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25 Edward Antrobus March 31, 2012 at 9:31 am

Back when I had my Discover card, I was really impressed with their customer service. But I canceled that card years ago and finally paid off the balance in December.

Right now, we only have the starter Captiol One card. We use it for occasional purchases, but mostly to have a credit card when renting a car when visiting family.

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26 Stephen Harris March 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

We use a combination do 3 credit cards:
1) bank of America cash rewards but we got it when all purchases get 2% back and there is a 25% if you don’t cash out until you hit $300. That really means its a 2.25% cash back card on everything and no yearly fee
2) American Express Cash Preferred which as has been noted is 6% back on anything you buy in a grocery store, 3% on gas/department stores. This does have annual fees but the money back on groceries alone covers that.
3) Chase Freedom is last but not least. The rotating categories of 5% are nice but the limit of only $75 back per quarter is a little sad. At least no annual fees.

PS Check out the American Express Twitter page. If you link your card, you can get some nice little cash back options. So far got back $5 on a $5 purchase at McDonald’s and $10 back on a $10 purchase at Best Buy. Going today for the $20 back on a $75 Whole Foods purchase ( and we get the 6% cash back to boot)

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27 Sense April 1, 2012 at 6:02 am

The credit card tango can be very rewarding. :) I fly home every year for free (NZ to east coast) using sign up bonuses. The only card from my bunch that I am sorely tempted to keep (and pay the $95 annual fee) is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Aside from the deals you get, they make it out of some weird material that feels AWESOME and is heavier than the other cards. Everyone comments on it and checks it out when I pull it out–it makes me feel special. But that’s how they get you, right?!! $95 is a lot of money to pay just for a stranger’s second glance…

Other than that, I love my Capital One Rewards card. No foreign transaction fees, and $0 annual fee, plus 1% cash back. It’s my stable, steady, FREE credit-building card. :)

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28 Michelle April 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I just got the Freedom but have definitely thought about getting the Sapphire, maybe I will!

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29 J. Money April 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm

FYI: That Sapphire card deal ends this Tuesday, April 3rd! So if you’re planning on getting it, make sure to do so before then!

@Brian – Nice! Look at you workin’ it like that. Man, Abu Dhabi would be awesome to check out. If you need someone to carry your bags, let me know ;) All I need is an excuse to go out there!
@ImpulseSave – Oh cool! I love it when you can use your cards’ points for Amazon – makes it soooo easy! Esp. sinc most of use hit it up so frequently these days… only thing I hate about Discover is it’s not accepted everywhere :( But I guess it’s the same thing w/ my Amex. Pros and cons, eh?
@Ernest S. – Yeah, that’s bad ass too. Total ease of mind! I’ll have to research that one more and add it to the list. Someone else the other day brought that one up too, thx for the heads up.
@Squeezer @Personal Finance Success – Sallie Mae has a card? Hah! I bet there’s a ton of cards out there we haven’t even heard of before. Really interesting just peering in your all’s wallets :)
@Kevin – You know yourself well sir, that’s great :) People tend to get in trouble when they start signing up to a new card every week for the perks and then end up with way too many to keep track of – so good job. Big fan of Navy Federal too – though they are 2nd to my beloved USAA ;)
@Marianne – And that’s the beauty of it all! It IS Free money if used smoothly like that! I’ll go and check out your post after adding this up – thanks, friend :)
@Slackerjo – Wowwwwww see that! People are making their companies look bad when they don’t even mean to – crazy… but just goes to show you gotta be a respectable human at all levels to not dick people/companies over! And it sucks for Amex too cuz they really are a bad ass company. At least in my experience so far.
@Melissa @ Little House in the Valley – Woot Woot! Not a bad plan at all either, I hope you rock it! :)
@TJ – Yeah, for sure. It really does depend on WHAT you’re going for, and what offers are available for you at the time. For example my business Amex card rarely gets used, so I just picked one that had no fee every year and had *some* sort of perk built in. But I knew I wouldn’t get much out of it anyways, so for ME – had their been some $200 cash back or something awesome – I totally would have jumped at it cuz it would pretty much be the only thing I’d get out of it, haha… but yeah – for the most part it’s better to go for a card you can get rewarded for on a continual basis than just a 1-time up front bonus. Good reminder.
@Wayne @ Young Family Finance – Yup! And it makes things even harder when there’s about a billion other credit cards out there to choose from too – sometimes that analysis paralysis comes in and just gets you to freeze up… so once you make up your minds on which way you guys wanna go, def. good to just jump on something you’re 80% sure is good and be happy with it. It’s rare you get that card that’s 100% perfect no matter which way you go.
@Edward Antrobus – Oh yeah – I always forget you need a card for rentals, etc. And using a debit one SUCKS for that cuz they pull that $200-$300 deposit right out of your account unlike a credit card where you don’t notice the $$ :( Another great perk of using credit cards!
@Stephen Harris – Wowwww that’s awesome! I didn’t know they did that! I’ll most def. check it out, thanks man :) Though unfort. I only use my Amex for biz. expenses which usually doesn’t include “everyday” stuff (unless you count Go Daddy “normal” haha…)
@Sense – HAH! “credit card tango” – I like that :) And you’re totally right about that Preferred card too – I’ve heard it’s totally awesome (and different) than all other cards out there! Kinda like that “black card” I bet – makes you all super fancy pants when you whip it out, haha… nice job on getting those free trips back home though using your tango – that’s pretty sweet.
@Michelle – Haha – double whammy! If you do though, you only have 1 more day left cuz I heard that deal goes away on this up and coming Tuesday, April 3rd!

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