Credit Cards

There are lots of reasons why you might want a credit card, this site primarily focuses on credit card rewards. If you’re reading this site then it’s assumed that you will always pay your credit card bill on time and and in full to avoid late payment fees and the high interest rates that credit cards charge. If you can do that then credit cards can be extremely lucrative. A lot (but not all) credit cards offer a rewards program these days, but the difference between the best and worse cards is huge.

Generally there are two main types of credit card bonuses:

  • Sign up bonuses. These are a one time reward you receive for signing up for a card and meeting a minimum spend requirement (e.g spend $1,000 within your first three months of being a card member and receive a sign up bonus of $200).
  • On going spend/category bonuses. These reward you every time you spend one dollar, in some cases you’ll earn the same rate on all purchases but some cards offer spending bonuses for specific categories (e.g earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 3% cash back on grocery store purchases)

Sign up bonuses are typically the most lucrative and you can earn enough from a single sign up bonus for a round trip flight or multiple nights at a hotel. That being said if you spend a lot of money in a specific category it might make sense to get a card that earns at a high rate in that category. Or if you just spend a lot of money in general then you could get a card that earns at a high rate on all purchases. It’s important to remember that you still want to be able to pay your card off in full every month to avoid any interest charges otherwise any rewards you earn are quickly counteracted. It’s also a good idea to remember that some cards also come with annual fees.

The Doctor of Credit Difference

Unlike other sites we take putting our readers first seriously. One of the ways we do this is by not using credit card affiliate links, this means we don’t have any incentive to suggest one credit card or the other and will always share the best deals with our readers.

Helpful Resources

If you’re just getting started in the credit card rewards hobby or your a seasoned veteran then chances are we have some useful information for you.

General Information

Sign Up Bonuses

We keep a few pages regularly updated that you’ll find useful if you chase sign up bonuses.

Ongoing Spend

If you spend a lot of money in a specific category, then these posts will show you what the best card is for each category:

Questions?

Do you have any questions? If so feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible, although you’re probably find that most questions have already been answered on the site (using the search bar is your friend). If you like credit card rewards then chances are you will probably like bank account bonuses and high interest savings accounts as well, so be sure to check out those sections on our website.


56 Responses to Credit Cards

  1. RP says:

    I’m a housewife. I had an average credit score (~650) until a month back and from last month a pretty good score (~750) after getting added as an authorized user in my spouse’s cards. I never worked in USA, and therefore no income from employment. However I have checking and savings account where I and my spouse are joint account holders. I never had a credit card, but now I’m planning to apply for a chase freedom card. I’m wondering if I’ll be eligible for a regular CC. If yes, what should I be putting as ‘Gross Annual Income’ and ‘Source of Income’ in the online application.

  2. Cos says:

    i am a retiree who resides outside the u.s. and neglected my credit for a while anyway i maintain a saving, 2 checking accounts,a secured credit card at Bank America and a unsecured cc at Premier Bank both banks are paid on time and my average credit is 690 I intend to return to the U S so I apply to Chase Bank in addition my income is approximately $60000.00 annually . What I am scared of is if I am denied my score will drop and I am trying to build my score for over a year , do you have any suggestions

    • perry says:

      Cos based on your situation here is my suggestion.
      1. increase your secured with BOA to over $5,000 if you have the means.
      2. go to capital one site and see if you are prequalified for one their cards
      even if you apply for chase and get denied it only takes of 2-3 points off which isn’t big beal.

  3. Andy says:

    I’d love to sign up for credit cards through your affiliate links, but don’t see any. Hope you will get them online soon.

  4. Baaarbara Brown says:

    I have a BPchase Visa card. Why can I no longer view my statements on my computer?

    • A B White-Covington says:

      I have a BP Chase Credit card. I have paid my bill on line always. I wish to continue to pay on line but I am unable to determine what the procedure is. Please advise.

      • Peter says:

        Contact Synchrony Bank. They are the current issuer of BP credit card product. Chase is no longer the issuer of this product.

  5. JUANITA M SPRAGUE says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO GET AN AMERITRADE CREDIIT CARD.

  6. John says:

    My wife and I have a pretty simple goal– to earn a “free” travel for our family of four once a year. So far, we have obtained a Target Prepaid card and an Ink Plus, but I wouldn’t say we’re that successful in utilizing these cards. To be honest, just trying to get purchase GCs from Staples & Office Depots and load them on our Redbird has been stressful (so we can pay our high monthly mortgage).

    Both of us have excellent FICO scores (800+). Anyway, can you outline a simple strategy for us? We are thinking of getting a couple of SWA cards so we can begin to make an attempt at the companion passes, but unsure of the timing. We also came across your article on the BofA’s TravelRewards card… Would this card lower the stress of maximizing our spending? Finally, since our biggest spending is our mortgage, we really like to utilize “Plastiq” (especially now there’s a promotion going on)…but it sounds like we need an Amex or a MasterCard, which we don’t have… So another headache is trying to figure out what Amex/MasterCard to get. Anyway, it seems a bit overwhelming, and we really need a strategy.

    Can you help?

    • Hi John, to give any advice you really need to have a clearer goal that just travelling for free. I don’t think the Travel Rewards card would make sense at all though, it’s basically a cash back card with low earning rates.

  7. Amit says:

    my credit score (fico) fluctuates between 720-780.
    I applied for two credit cards 4 months back and just applied for two more. How many credit cards is too many in a 3 month period/ 1 year period.

  8. Jay says:

    William,
    How long after cancelling a card would you recommend waiting to reapply if you are within the timeframe of not receiving the bonus in the last 24 months?

    Thanks!

    • SC says:

      Any time after the required 24 mos…. Sometimes they’ll let you keep your existing card [ Chase in particular ], and give you a new acct. no questions asked, and sometimes they have you cancel it, but ALWAYS be sure to get any accrued Cash Back if available BEFORE you cancel. I good CSR will go along with that and help you with it, or you can just take care of it first and then apply while holding on to old card. If they turn you down [ no ‘hard pull’ at that point, per Chase CSR, so no harm no foul in that regard ] cancel and call them up and try again. IF you get to keep the old card, which I have been able to on a couple occasions with Freedom and INK, even thou I don’t use them it adds to my ‘credit limit’ which can be a double edged sword of course, but so far has been of benefit to my Credit Score since it reduces ‘utilization’ and can increase ‘credit age’ depending on how they figure that.

      If not aware of how each of the various factors affect your CS, go to Credit.com or CreditKarma.com, or check here on Dr Credit so you’ll know how your actions are considered percentage wise. FWIW I’ve done several apps that added to hard pulls, had CS go down a few [ 15-20 ] pts. and before ya know it it’s right back up where it was. This is of course determined as to the ‘free’ CSes, not the REAL FICO, but it’s all relative and you’ll learn to know where you stand after a while monitoring it.

  9. Bill says:

    My credit score used to be good, in the 750 range. But since this summer, when I borrowed money from a line of credit and also got 3/4 new credit cards for the signup bonus, which also coincided with my student loan becoming due and added to my credit history, the score has dropped to 680, and a new card application was refused because “high utilization”. I start to realize it’s time I did something to improve my credit profile now. I never carry balance on the credit cards, but the student loan is on a monthly installment payment plan. Line of credit is outstanding but will be paid back. Another thing I want to do is to get rid of 3 cards I won’t use often and will start charging annual fees. 2 are Amex charge cards and one is a bank issued VISA. Should I simply cancel them, or should I just convert them to non-annual fee cards to keep the accounts? All of them are less than 1 year old. Which method will be better for my credit score?

    Thanks doc!

    • SC says:

      Best to keep active, but down graded to avoid annual fees. The number of cards still in effect will increase your available credit line and ‘credit age’ and since not using them they won’t contribute to your ‘utilization’, in fact will reduce the percentage since they’ll increase the denominator of the equation. Whatever you do, any acct. you close in good standing, DO NOT have removed from your credit record as it adds to your ‘good history’.

      Also, in order to keep the CCs happy with hyou and not have them close them out on account of not using them, albeit some don’t seem to care as I have some that have gone for a couple years w/ no charges before they sent notice of closing them if I didn’t t use them by a drop dead date, which I did to keep them in force.

      Jes a suggest… and as always YMMV…

      Steve

  10. bob says:

    Is this the right time to apply for both Personal and Business SW cards to get the Companion pass?

    Any SW CC Deals/promotional offer going on currently?

  11. Kevin says:

    Hi,

    I have a FICO score of about 760. Since this past summer, I have gotten the SW Air Visa, SPG Visa, and Chase Saphire Visa. I would like to add the Amex everyday card and the Chase Freedom card next. Also, at some point, may add the Chas Hyatt, IHG, and perhaps a Barclay or Capital One card.

    What advice can you give on which cards best to apply for first and how many I could(should) ralistically get at one time?

  12. Dan says:

    Credit Score: 690, 735, 730
    I would like to open 3 credit cards from different banks.
    Chase, Amex and Barclay.
    It’s almost 90 days. Do you think it is wise to open them at the same time on the same day?
    I am able to cover all the minimum spending.

  13. Dan Rogers says:

    I applied for citigold checking 12-19-15 for the for the 50k thank you points offer, they said no. Yesterday 4-26-16 they sent me an email saying I am approved ,and to expect paperwork in 7 days . Any chance they will include the points offer at this late date?

  14. Jamie says:

    Have you ever seen an Alaska Air offer that waives the annual fee?

  15. Tom says:

    Just a FYI. I applied for and received the Barclay Cash Forward Mastercard with a generous limit.
    When I applied I got the screen that said 7-10 days notice. After that screen I received a phone call immediately from Barclay. They just wanted to ask me some questions, Home address, Birth date, etc. He put me on hold and came back and told me I was approved. Never had that happen before.

  16. someone says:

    I applied for Citi prestige in August (before the new terms were supposed to go into effect) The offer I had was 40 TYP for $4000 spend in 3 months. The application went pending and was approved in Sep after 2 weeks. I had a Citi Premier card earlier.

    One CSR said they go by when the card was approved and not when I applied. After HUCA another said the new terms came into effect in june already.

    A few questions:

    1) What is the current knowledge about pro-rated annual fee refund of $450 for the Citi prestige card?

    2) Do you think complaining to CFPB would make a difference to get Citi to honor the old terms. Is there any website where it says the new terms were supposed to go in effect on Sep/1?

  17. Reddy says:

    Hello again! I am trying to get a new car worth $45000. I have a history of 1 and half year(came to US in 2014) and always paid the installments on time. I have a score of 648 and a CL of 20k. Can you suggest some credit unions for auto loans? Also, should i wait for my credit score to become 670+(Credit Sesame says that 670+ is more healthier)? By having a score of 670+ would really lower my interest rates compared to 648?

    Many thanks

    • Chuck says:

      I’m not an expert on auto loans. It’s quite possible that with a higher score you’ll get approved by a financial institution who offers a lower rate.

  18. Rebecca W. says:

    Hi Will,

    I am a freelancer with years of experience writing articles about debt consolidation and other finance topics. I have been on your site (www. doctorofcredit.com) and found it to be very interesting and engaging. I have read your guidelines and I have done a research into the latest trending topics on debt consolidation and have come up with one of my own, which I would like to guest post on your site. The topic is “Successfully managing credit card debts,” as I think it would really resonate with your readers, as most people are looking for ways to become debt free, or trying to find out all they can about tax relief. Kindly let me know if you also think that this article would be an interesting contribution to your site.

    I really appreciate you taking the time out to read this mail and look forward to receiving your response.

    Thank you

  19. Lisa says:

    Hi,
    I have a credit score of 567. Going through a divorce and my ex filed bankruptcy but, I didn’t. His name was removed from all of out joint accounts so, they are only in my name now. He paid all the bills and dealt with the accounts we had. I should have done this with him. I didn’t know that he had maxed out all credit cards and had stopped paying the bills. I found out when I filed for divorce. My credit score is actually up from the 426 score that it was three months ago. Capital One pre-approved me and gave me a non-secured credit card which I pay in full each month. I would like another credit card but, I don’t want any hard hits on my credit report. Do you know of any way to encourage credit card companies to send you pre-approvals or prior authorization offers?
    Thank you!!

  20. ST says:

    Hi All,

    Fantastic site and thank you for it. Very useful. I had 2 q’s.

    1) Upfront bonus stuff aside, what credit card(s) would you recommend most for long term bang for your buck? Stipulations: No FTF and ideally, low annual fee (i’m just weary of big annual fees if I don’t know I’ll use those added perks/benefits)

    2) I noticed many on here are racking up cards just to get these bonus offers but isn’t that bad for your credit to keep opening new cards and then letting them close? Sincerely, if I’m wrong, please enlighten me.

  21. Isabella says:

    Hello, in https://www.doctorofcredit.com/use-lending-club-find-fico-score-range-free/ you said that A1 = 770+ ; A2 = 747 – 769 ; A3 = 734 – 746 ; … ; C3 = 668 – 670 ; C4 = 664 – 667 ; C5 = 660 – 663. So how about D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, F1, F2, F3, F4, F5? What are their fico score range?

  22. MTC says:

    My wife applied for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card with Chase. She was unfortunately denied, and when I looked at the letter they sent, it showed Chase has it’s own credit score calculation. We had checked her score on credit karma and Discover’s FICO score the same day she applied and on both she was well above 700, but Chase’s calculation showed her in the low 500s. Has this happened to anybody else? Does anybody know how this could be occurring, or what kind of system Chase is using?

    • Steven says:

      Chase uses a variety of scores. In the last 3 months I got 3 Chase cards. CSR, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase IHG Card. For me they pulled Experian, TU and as you mentioned their own internal scoring system. My scores were all pretty much the same, 750ish. Not sure why your wife’s would be so much lower with Chase’s scoring unless at one time she had an account years ago that ended badly. Chase never forgets.

  23. Eddy says:

    Got this through email.

    “Shopping on Amazon.com2 is convenient – and now it’s even more rewarding! Earn 2,500 bonus points when you use your Elan Financial Services Visa Signature® Bonus Rewards card to make three Amazon.com purchases of at least $25 each by May 31, 2017.1 Any three purchases qualify – including gift cards, books, electronics, computer games and more.

    This bonus is in addition to the rewards you are already earning on everyday purchases!”

  24. Jimmy says:

    What would be a better churn right now, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred?

  25. Elena says:

    Is there a post somewhere on CC closing strategy? I’ve learned so much here and already opened a few credit cards with your help. Now, that I got the bonuses posted I want to close the accounts but I’m not sure if there are any rules around that. I’m planing on doing churning long term but my credit history is only about 10 years, so with many new open accounts the “average” is really suffering right now and is down to 2 years. And I’m not sure if my bonuses will be taken back if I close the new accounts?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi elena,

      Usually you’re better off keeping the cards open if there is no annual fee and if there is an annual fee downgrading them to a card without an annual fee. Even if you close them they will continue to age for 7-10 years before falling off your report. Hope that helps!

      • SamSimon says:

        1. If keeping the cards you won’t be able to recycle/churning.
        2. If you will have many cards they will lower your total credit length.
        3. If closed cards stay 7-10 years it doesn’t really matter – because company either will have enforced rules like 5/24 or 3/12 etc. and they will reject or approve you… but I agree some relationship with banks is better than none to be approved but not always it helps, and probably help a little. Score, income, how many cards opened within specific time, how many inquiries within specific time is important….

    • SamSimon says:

      Elena mentioned “churning long term” I think it’s good to keep card open for 6-12 months then close. No rules so far as I know of.

  26. LG says:

    Hi there, my question is same as Elena. The answers given are confusing to me.

    I’m a bonus chaser thanks to William LOL. So now I’m stuck with 3 bank accounts ( I like them all) and 6 credit cards. I need to close some of those acc because it’s too hard keeping track. I giving myself headaches remembering which cc to use for which reward points etc.
    Now I’m ready for a new bank bonus and a couple new cc. bonuses but I’m worried that I’ll be denied because I have so many open acc. I pay my balances every month but I worry that my credit margin versus income might be too large. What should I do?

  27. Noah Abrahams says:

    This is all wonderful info. Who hear has multiple premium cards? ?car, platinum, prestige, etc.

    What’s your favorite and why?

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