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The Best Credit Cards of 2019 (Updated for April)

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These are the best credit card offers currently available. Continue below to see our top picks along with an explanation of each card's benefits and any potential things to watch out for before applying.


1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Excellent credit

Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has one of the best earning structures of any credit card on the market. Cardholders earn 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. What makes the card special is that the points you earn are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which is considered by some as the premier card rewards program. Within the program, users can transfer their points to 12 travel programs, ranging from United Airlines to Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

If you're thinking about applying for this card, now may be the perfect time to do so, as the card is offering an unusually high sign-up bonus. Cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points, if they meet a certain spending requirement, but the offer previously stood at 50,000 points. There's no telling how long Chase will offer the 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Things to watch out for: You'll need to have excellent credit to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The card also comes equipped with a $95 annual fee. We imagine that most people will earn enough rewards to offset that annual fee.

rewards rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card
rewards rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card

2. Discover it® Cash Back

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: Most credit cards in the cash-back space only offer up to 1.5% cash back when they charge no annual fee. Unlike those cards, the Discover it® Cash Back offers cardholders up to 5% cash back in quarterly categories that apply on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter. Cardholders will have to activate the categories in their account, and any spending that falls outside of the quarterly categories will earn 1% cash back.

Another great thing about the Discover it® Cash Back is that Discover is currently matching the cash back you earn in the first year. This means, at worst, you'll earn 2% cash back on most purchases during your first year and 10% cash back on purchases in the bonus categories. Even some of the best cash-back credit cards fail to reward users within that range. If you're interested in other cash-back options, make sure to read our in-depth guide.

Things to watch out for: There are two main things to watch out for here: category activation and the rotating calendar. Activating the 5% categories on the Discover it® Cash Back is pretty straightforward and you can do it online, but if you forget to do so, you'll only earn 1% cash back for the quarter. Before applying, make sure your spending aligns with the cash-back calendar; otherwise, you won't be able to maximize your cash-back rewards.

If you typically spend in different categories, consider opting for the Chase Freedom®, a similar card with a different cash-back calendar.

5% Cash Back Bonus Schedule


January-March

  • Grocery stores

April-June

  • Gas stations
  • Uber & Lyft

July-September

  • Restaurants

October-December

  • Amazon.com


3. American Express® Gold Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $250 (See Rates & Fees)
  • Regular APR: See Rates & Fees
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 35,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first three months.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The American Express® Gold Card is one of the best premium cards on the market due to its high rewards-earning potential. Cardholders earn 4 points per dollar spent at supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year), 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

On top of a great rewards structure, the American Express® Gold Card also offers worthwhile perks. Cardholders get a $100 airline fee credit every calendar year and $10 in statement credits when you use the card for purchases at Grubhub, Seamless and other food-related purchases. When you combine the statement credits with the high points potential, it becomes obvious this is one of the best credit cards for foodies.

Things to watch out for: In the past, this card has offered a 50,000-point bonus, but it's currently offering just 35,000 points after spending $2,000 within three months from account opening. There's no telling whether the 50,000-point welcome bonus will come back. Regardless, the card offers a strong enough rewards structure to justify applying even with a relatively low welcome bonus.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

rewards rates for the Amex Gold

4. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, cardholders earn an unlimited 2 miles on every dollar spent, which is great if you want a simple yet high-earning travel rewards credit card. The miles you earn with this card can be transferred to 14 travel loyalty programs, meaning you can get a higher value for your miles. Capital One is also offering 10 miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture through January 2020.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the only cards to offer an application fee credit for TSA Precheck/Global Entry at this price point. For reference, most other cards that offer a TSA Precheck or Global Entry voucher charge an annual fee of more than $200. Therefore, if you're already considering applying for one of those programs, then it could make sense to apply for this card and use it to apply for one of those programs.

Things to watch out for: There aren't many downsides with this card, especially if you plan to redeem your miles for travel. That said, if you're interested in cash-back rewards, we would suggest a different card. When you redeem miles for cash using the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, they may be less valuable.

If you'd like a card that offers strong cash-back rewards along with travel points, then we suggest applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

rewards rates for the Capital One Venture credit card
rewards rates for the Capital One Venture credit card

5. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Regular APR: 19.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Excellent credit

Why we like it: Hands down, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the most talked-about cards of 2019—and for good reason. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3 points for every dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere, and a $300 annual travel credit. The 3 points on travel applies directly after earning the entire $300 travel credit. Currently, cardholders can also get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. Points are worth 50% more when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, meaning the sign-up bonus can be worth $750 when redeemed for travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also grants cardholders access to Priority Pass airport lounges. It's worth noting that many recent travelers have complained about lounges rejecting them due to capacity constraints, so we wouldn't recommend this card if you're primarily interested in lounge access. The best reason to get this card is if you want to transfer miles to airline or hotel partners and maximize the value of your points.

Things to watch out for: There's no denying that a $450 annual fee is hard to stomach. To make matters worse, the $450 will be due with your first billing statement. But if you typically spend at least $300 in travel per year, then the card's annual fee is effectively just $150. While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® definitely offers a lot of value, it's still one of the highest annual fees around.


6. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 17.24% - 25.99% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The worst cash-back rate you can earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is 1.5%, which is in line with some of the best cash-back cards. During your first year with the card, you can earn 3% cash back on the first $20,000 you spend; anything above that threshold will earn you 1.5% cash back. The card doesn't have categories to activate, making it ideal for someone who just wants a flat-out competitive rate but doesn't want to think about rotating categories like those found on the Discover it® Cash Back.

Things to watch out for: The most disappointing feature about the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is that it doesn't offer a sign-up bonus. Most no-annual-fee cash-back cards offer enticing bonuses that can be worth $150 to $300 for meeting a minimum spending threshold. Regardless, the temporary 3% cash-back rate can be just as enticing and valuable as a welcome bonus.


7. Citi Simplicity® Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0*
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 26.24%* (Variable)
  • Sign-up bonus: N/A
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Citi Simplicity® Card is one of the best options for anyone looking to pay down existing credit card debt. That's because the card comes with a 21-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases. After the intro period, your APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%* (Variable), depending on your creditworthiness. The intro offer on this card is one of the most competitive balance transfer offers that we've seen.

Things to watch out for: While the card does come with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers, there's also a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% (whichever is greater) on each transfer. While some balance transfer cards don’t charge this fee, their introductory periods are typically much shorter than 21 months. Despite the balance transfer fee, most people will come out ahead if they save enough on interest costs.


8. Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $39
  • Regular APR: 26.96% (Variable)
  • Sign-up bonus: N/A
  • Credit needed: Average, fair or limited credit

Why we like it: The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the few great cards available to those with a fair or average credit score. We consider it among the best cards because it offers a strong 1.5% cash-back rate on all purchases, when most competitors typically provide meager cash-back rates and charge high fees for people with low credit scores.

Things to watch out for: Don't confuse this card with the significantly better Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. The two have similar names, but the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is only available to those with excellent credit. If your credit score improves with the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, we suggest you upgrade your card to take advantage of the sizable cash-back bonus and $0 annual fee.


9. Citi® Double Cash Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0*
  • Regular APR: 15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
  • Sign-up bonus: N/A
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Citi® Double Cash Card is our top pick for users who simply want a highly rewarding card that doesn't require much additional thought. That's because the Citi® Double Cash Card offers 1% cash back twice (for an effective 2% rate), while most other cash-back cards top out at 1.5% cash back. You'll get 1% cash back when you make a purchase and an additional 1% back as you pay for your purchases. While other cards can get you higher cash-back rates, they require you to keep track of rotating categories.

Things to watch out for: There are two main drawbacks to the Citi® Double Cash Card: It charges a foreign transaction fee and doesn't offer a sign-up bonus. Most other cash-back cards offer cardholders the opportunity to earn sign-up bonuses ranging from $150 to $300 for meeting certain spending requirements. Unfortunately, that's not the case with the Citi® Double Cash Card. Furthermore, you'll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee anytime you use the card while abroad. If you can get over those hiccups, then the Citi® Double Cash Card can prove one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market.


10. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $95 (See Rates & Fees)
  • Regular APR: 15.24%-26.24% Variable
  • Welcome offer: Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the best cards for shopping at U.S. supermarkets. The card offers 6% cash back in said category on up to $6,000 in purchases per year and 1% thereafter.

In addition to a strong rewards rate at U.S. supermarkets, the card offers 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1% cash back on all other purchases. While the card does charge an annual fee, we suspect most users will earn enough cash-back rewards to offset the cost.

Things to watch out for: There's not much to dislike about the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. If we were forced to nitpick, we'd say the welcome offer could be stronger for a card with an annual fee. Still, this is one of the best cards around for earning cash-back rewards, specifically if you spend a lot at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations.

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


Summary of the Best Credit Cards of 2019


Honorable Mentions: More of the Best Credit Cards of 2019

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases
  • Sign-up bonus: Get a $200 cash reward after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is one of the most robust cash-back rewards cards that's available. You'll earn 3% cash back on a category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back everywhere else. The 3% and 2% cash-back rates are restricted to the first $2,500 you spend in the category of your choice and at grocery stores and wholesale clubs combined every quarter. After that, you'll earn 1% cash back in these categories until the next quarter begins.

Why it missed our list: While the cash-back rewards are quite high, the $2,500 spending cap is actually quite low. For example, assuming you maxed out the $2,500 limit in the 3% category, you would only earn $75 in cash-back rewards every quarter. Some readers may fare better with a simpler card, like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no spending cap.

Here are your choices for the 3% category:

  • Gas
  • Online shopping
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drugstores
  • Home improvement/furnishings

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
  • Sign-up bonus: Get $500 after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases, making it a premier cash-back credit card. On top of that, the card doesn't charge users a foreign transaction fee, so you’ll earn competitive rewards abroad without paying extra.

Why it missed our list: The only real downside to this card is its $95 annual fee. That said, it does redeem itself in its first year because the annual fee is waived. To get the most out of this card, you'll have to be sure your budget constantly hits certain categories, like dining, entertainment and grocery expenses.

FAQs About Credit Cards

Before you apply for any credit card, we always recommend you research and compare options. Below are some questions many of our readers have about credit cards.

1. What Are the Easiest Credit Cards to Get Approved For?

The easiest credit cards to get approved for are usually secured cards or credit cards geared toward people with no or limited credit histories. Secured credit card holders pay a deposit upfront, which acts as the credit line and protects the card issuer in case the cardholder defaults. Below, we provide our thoughts on the best credit cards for people with no or limited credit.

2. What Is a Good Number of Credit Cards to Have?

There's no rule of thumb for how many credit cards you should have. The average person has 3.1 credit cards, but you should focus on how you use and manage them. You can have a great credit score whether you have one or a dozen credit cards.

3. How Do I Compare Credit Cards?

The best way to compare credit cards is to consider the rewards, benefits and costs of each card. To help readers in their search for a credit card, our team developed a credit card comparison tool. It shows the rewards you stand to earn with each card over a two-year period. It's also fully customizable to your spending. You can use the tool here.

Yowana Wamala

Yowana is a product analyst at ValuePenguin, specializing in credit cards and rewards programs. He previously covered mortgages and banking for the website before graduating from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science.

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).