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Best credit cards in 2020: Travel rewards, cash back, intro APR & more



Business Insider recommends credit cards based on their overall value and ease of use. Sometimes, we receive a commission through The Points Guy affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our choices are always independent and objective.

These are the best credit cards by category:

Given the wide range of benefits, rewards, and annual fees available, it’s impossible to name one single best credit card. But if you’re looking to find the best credit card for you, breaking it down by category is a good way to approach your search.

For example, if you’re just getting started with credit, a student card or a card that doesn’t require a high credit score is an ideal pick. If you’re looking to earn travel rewards, on the other hand, you’ll want to look at cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

This guide highlights the best credit card option for several different types of users. If you want a to-the-point recommendation for maximizing your spending and enjoying benefits like an intro APR period, this guide will help you find a quick answer. However, if you want to go deeper, check out our in-depth credit card guides for the following categories:

Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back. 

Citi Simplicity Card Review 4x3

Business Insider

Annual fee: $0

Pros: Longest intro APR period on balance transfers

Cons: Balance transfer fee, no rewards (though rewards shouldn’t be a priority if you’re carrying credit card debt)

If you’re looking to transfer your existing credit card balance to a new card that offers a long introductory APR period, you can’t do better than the Citi Simplicity card. It offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of your first transfer. (You must complete your balance transfers in the first four months from your account-opening date.) After the 21-month intro APR period on balance transfers ends, there’s a variable rate of 16.24% to 26.24%.  There’s a balance transfer fee of 5%, with a minimum charge of $5.

To get the full benefit out of the Simplicity card, you’ll want to make sure you pay off your balance before the 21-month introductory period is over. The key to using credit cards responsibly is to avoid carrying any debt, so the Simplicity card can be a useful tool in your strategy to get back on track with good financial habits.

In addition to the stellar introductory offer for balance transfers, the Simplicity card offers 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from your account-opening date. After that, it will be a variable rate of 16.24% to 26.24%

Click here to learn more about the Citi Simplicity card »

Read more about the Citi Simplicity card:

finance money bank banking banking credit card credit score investment payment chase freedom unlimited visa cox 1

Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Annual fee: $0

Pros: 15-month introductory APR period, strong cash-back rate on all purchases, you can combine rewards with premium Chase cards

Cons: Other cards earn more cash back

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a long introductory 0% APR period of 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers, after which there’s a variable rate of 16.49% to 25.24%.

Not only does this card help you pay down credit card debt with a generous introductory APR period, but it also offers solid ongoing rewards. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and if you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can combine your rewards balances and gain the option to redeem your earnings from the Freedom Unlimited as points that can be used to book travel. 

Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited »

Read more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited:

wells fargo propel credit card lifestyle 22

The Points Guy

Annual fee: $0

Pros: No foreign transaction fee, several bonus categories

Cons: It’s essentially a cash-back card, so you won’t get higher-than-average value using rewards points for travel

The Wells Fargo Propel card packs in a lot of benefits for a card without an annual fee. We love that it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee (that’s relatively rare for no-annual-fee cards), and it offers several bonus categories for earning more points.

You’ll earn 3x points on eating out and ordering in, and on travel (including flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals), gas stations, rideshares, transit, and popular streaming services, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 

You can redeem points from the Wells Fargo Propel for cash back or for travel through the Go Far Rewards program. Each point is worth 1 cent, so there’s no opportunity to maximize your redemptions, like you can with rewards programs such as Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. But if simplicity and avoiding an annual fee are your priorities, this card is a great option.

Click here to learn more about the Wells Fargo Propel card »

Read more about the Wells Fargo Propel card:

Citi Double Cash 4x3

Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

Annual fee: $0

Pros: No bonus categories to keep track of, no annual fee, you can combine rewards with other Citi cards

Cons: Some cash-back cards with bonus categories earn you more

Not only does the Citi Double cash card offer one of the longest introductory APR periods, but it’s also a great option for earning cash back. In fact, it’s one of our top picks for the best cash-back cards thanks to its straightforward earning structure — you get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% back when you pay your bill. 

As a new cardholder, you get the first 18 months with 0% APR on balance transfers — after that, there’s a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%. 

While the Citi Double Cash is a cash-back card, if you also have a premium Citi card like the Citi Premier℠ Card or the Citi Prestige® Card, you can combine your cash-back rewards with one of those accounts for the opportunity to redeem them as ThankYou points toward travel. 

Click here to learn more about the Citi Double Cash card »

Read more about the Citi Double Cash card: 

finance money bank banking banking credit card credit score investment payment chase sapphire preffered food dining restaurant cox 3

Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Annual fee: $95

Pros: Great sign-up bonus, multiple options for redeeming points for travel, valuable travel protections

Cons: Other cards offer more competitive bonus categories

If you want to earn travel rewards, you’ll find that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the most user-friendly of the various bank currencies, which are also referred to as transferable points because you can transfer them over to various airline and hotel partners. In the case of Chase points, you can redeem them with partners like British Airways, Hyatt, United Airlines, and Singapore Airlines, or you can choose to book travel directly through Chase. If you choose the latter, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece — a 25% bonus.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred starts you off with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Those points are worth $750 in travel booked through Chase, or potentially even more if you decide to redeem with the program’s transfer partners. 

You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Beyond the rewards, the Sapphire Preferred offers some valuable coverage benefits, including primary car rental insurance, trip delay insurance, and baggage delay insurance.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred »

Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

Students_Discover it Secured

Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

Annual fee: $0

Pros: It’s an attainable option even if you have bad credit, and it earns rewards — which is rare for a secured card

Cons: Some secured cards have lower minimum deposit requirements

If you have a very limited credit history or are looking to repair bad credit, many of the cards on this list won’t be available to you. Most of the top rewards cards require credit scores in the 600s or higher — if that’s not where your credit is, you may need to consider a secured card to repair your credit. 

Secured credit cards are easy to get approved for because they require a cash deposit up front, which minimizes the issuer’s risk. Your credit limit is equal to the cash deposit you put down. 

If a secured card seems like the right option for you, the Discover it Secured is an especially good option, because it’s the rare secured card to offer rewards. You’ll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter (then 1%), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of the first year.

Capital One Quicksilver card

The Points Guy

Annual fee: $0

Pros: Earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, no foreign transaction fees

Cons: Other cards offer better rewards

If you have a credit score in the “fair” range (580-669, according to FICO), you have a good chance for being approved for this card. It offers a respectable 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and there are no foreign transaction fees. 

The Capital One Quicksilver card also offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers (then a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%). 

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Quicksilver card »

Spark Business computer office_146

The Points Guy

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Pros: No bonus categories to keep track of, solid earning rate

Cons: Other business cards offer higher rewards and more benefits — but they come with higher annual fees

There are lots of great business credit cards, and if you travel constantly, it could be worth paying the high annual fee for a more premium option like the Business Platinum® Card from American Express. But if you just want a card that maximizes your cash back on spending, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business is a great choice. 

You’ll earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all your spending, and you can get free employee cards that earn 2% back as well. It’s a simple card, but for users who want to put money back into their business it’s a great option.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Spark Cash for Business »

Read more about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business:

Annual fee: $0

Pros: Cash-back reward for good grades, earns up to 5% cash back, no foreign transaction fee

Cons: Other cards offer a higher cash-back rate on non-bonus spending

The Discover it Student Cash Back is a pretty rewarding card, with a neat Good Grades Reward benefit targeted to those in school. Each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, you’ll get a $20 statement credit. 

Beyond that, the card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter when you activate, and 1% back on everything else. Discover will even match your cash-back earnings after your first cardmember year. Overall, this card is a great entry point into the world of cash-back rewards.

Other credit cards that we considered that just missed the cut

  • Capital One Venture card: You get a lot of perks, and solid rewards, in exchange for a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, but your options for redeeming miles for travel aren’t the most competitive due to confusing transfer ratios and only one US airline partner.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: While this premium card has a long list of travel benefits like airport lounge access, Uber credits, and complimentary hotel elite status that can cancel out the $550 annual fee if you put them to use, not everyone will be able to justify that cost.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: The higher-end sibling of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is another card that offers some great high-end travel perks — like up to $300 in statement credits each year — but with a $550 annual fee it’s not the best travel card for everyone.
  • Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card — It earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, plus 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else, but many people prefer earning a higher rate of cash back on all their purchases without any bonus categories.
  • Chase Freedom — The Freedom can help you earn 5% cash back/5x points on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 each quarter when you activate), but again not everyone wants to keep track of bonus categories, especially when they change several times throughout the year.
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — It earns 6% back on select US streaming subscriptions and 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each year (then 1%), so it’s another solid option for those who want maximum cash back on select purchases rather than a higher rate of cash back on all purchases.
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business — It earns miles instead of cash back, but if you prefer travel rewards this card is a great option.
  • Business Platinum Amex card — With a $595 annual fee, it has lots of travel benefits that could be worth it if you’re constantly on the road.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — Chase’s premium business credit card has solid bonus categories, a great sign-up bonus, and a reasonable annual fee of $95, but it’s best for those who want to redeem rewards for travel.

Methodology: How we chose the best credit cards for 2020

Our list of the best credit cards is the result of an in-depth comparison between credit cards in each sub-category. We looked at America’s largest credit card issuers, as well as cards frequently recommended by blogs, forums, and travel communities.

The values we prioritized when coming up with this list were:

  • Simplicity — not everyone wants to invest lots of time and energy into maximizing their credit cards, so we focused on cards that make things as straightforward as possible
  • Affordability — while there’s a case to be made for paying a high annual fee when you’re getting high value in return, most credit card users aren’t looking for a card that costs $450 or more
  • Value — whether we’re talking about a credit card with or without an annual fee, it’s important that the benefits and features are worth it

Frequently asked questions

Why should I get a credit card?

Credit cards can be powerful tools for improving your credit score and earning rewards — if you use them responsibly.  It’s important to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month so you don’t end up in debt and start amassing steep interest fees.

Provided you’re in a position to pay off your credit card statements and spend within your means, there are several reasons opening a credit card could be a good idea. For one, credit cards offer better fraud protection than debit cards or cash — if an unauthorized purchase is made with your card, you won’t be on the hook. Using a credit card responsibly can also help you build and repair your credit, since your on-time payments will be reported to the credit bureaus. Finally, a credit card can help you maximize every dollar you spend, by earning you cash back, points, or miles. 

What is the best credit card?

It’s impossible to name just one best credit card, because there are so many options for so many different types of users. A credit card that earns travel rewards could be the best option for one person, but if you’re looking to earn cash back, you’ll be better served by another pick.

How do I choose a credit card?

Focus on your priorities, and be realistic about what cards you’re able to get approved for. Most of the top rewards cards require credit scores in the high 600s at a bare minimum, so if your credit score isn’t there yet, you’ll want to look at options for bad to fair credit scores so you can focus on building your credit back up. 

Beyond that, decide what annual fee you’re comfortable paying. Some people avoid paying credit card annual fees completely, and there are several great cards in the no-annual-fee category, but it could be worth paying a modest annual fee of $95 to $99 for a travel or cash-back card that earns you higher rewards. Also decide whether you want to earn cash back or travel rewards. Keep in mind that redeeming rewards for travel is more work than simply getting cash back in your account – the payoff can be big, but focus on what is the best option for you.

How do I build credit with a credit card?

Your credit card use is a huge factor in determining your credit score — every on-time payment you make is reported to the credit bureaus and shows potential lenders that you’re able to use credit responsibly. The key to building credit with a credit card is to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month. 

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Bad Credit

3 mortgage refinancing options for those with bad credit



Does a low score mean limited options? (iStock)

Record-low interest rates are dominating the news cycle and homeowners, in particular, are jumping to refinance. Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association puts current refinance activity at 98% higher this year than last year, even amid a global pandemic.

Those with low credit shouldn’t skip rate shopping either as there are still options available in today’s low-rate environment — even for those with the thinnest credit profiles.

Mortgage rates vary by lender. Many non-traditional lenders take other factors into consideration outside of credit score, like earning potential and steady work history. While some of these lenders do advertise their qualification criteria, many borrowers may not happen upon them unless they actively shop for refinance rates and offers.

These days, borrowers can quickly explore their mortgage refinance options by visiting Credible, which allows loan seekers to compare both rates and lenders in one place.

1. Look at FHA loans

FHA loans aren’t just for first-time buyers with small down payments. The benefit to doing an FHA refinance is that this option, backed by the Federal Housing Administration, does consider borrowers with sub-600 credit scores who hold less than 20% equity in the home. In fact, only those with less than 20% are eligible for an FHA refinance.

There’s even better news for those with existing FHA loans. With the newer FHA Streamline Refinance product, borrowers can refinance without an appraisal and with lower out-of-pocket costs, saving both time and money.


2. Explore VA loans (if you qualify)

Veterans receive many benefits for their service to our country, and one of those is access to mortgage loans backed by the government via the Veterans Administration (VA). Not only are these loans offered at some of the lowest interest rates available, but they also benefit current and past service members regardless of their credit.

Those with current VA loans can also consider refinancing through the VA with the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan program. The IRRRL program is similar to the FHA Streamline Refinance product in that it does not require hefty out-of-pocket closing costs or an appraisal.

If you’re interested in finding the lowest interest rates around, however, you should consider using a multi-lender marketplace like Credible. Credible allows you to compare rates and lenders to ensure you find the best deal.


3. Opt for cash-out refinance

A cash-out refinance may make the most sense for those with low credit due to a large amount of high-interest debt. Leveraging a cash-out refinance turns home equity into a liquid asset, which borrowers can then use to pay off outstanding debts. Additionally, refinancing to a lower interest rate will save money on the repayment. With current credit card interest rates above 17%, and cash-out refinance rates at 3.194% APR for a 30-year fixed option, this refinance option makes financial sense for those battling to get out from under their debt.

You can visit Credible to get pre-qualified for such a loan and to shop around for loan options among different mortgage lenders. By providing some basic information, you can find out if approval for a loan is likely and can see what rate you’d pay so you can determine if a mortgage refinance loan is affordable.


What are today’s mortgage rates?

It’s important when shopping for a mortgage refinance to keep an eye on interest rate changes week to week as even a small increase adds up to thousands saved on interest. Again, Credible is a great place to shop. You can compare rates and complete the entire mortgage refinance application process online. Find your rate today.


As of the time of writing, (the week November 19th) the current interest rates are:

  • 30-year fixed-rate refinance average: 2.75%.

In the month prior (Week of October 19th), the average 30-year fixed-rate refinance was much higher at 3.16%.

To illustrate the difference, let’s look at the numbers. A consumer refinances a $300,000 loan at 3.2% in October pays over $167,000 in lifetime interest. Another consumer who waits a month and refinances $300,000 at a slightly lower rate of 2.8% percent will pay just $143,000 in interest over the life of the loan.

The bottom line

Don’t let a bad credit score keep you away from the significant savings to be had with today’s low interest rates. While lower credit may not qualify you for the best rates available, depending on when you refinanced and your credit score at the time, refinancing now could still be a big financial win.

To start, investigate refinance options by shopping with multiple lenders to see potential rates, and then input those figures into a mortgage refinance calculator to visualize savings.

Finding the best mortgage refinance rates takes time. You’ll need to compare rates from multiple lenders. Credible allows you to compare multiple lenders to ensure you meet your personal finance goals. Find out how much you could save on your loan amount by refinancing now.


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Can I Cancel My Full Coverage Car Insurance?



While you’re financing a vehicle, you must maintain full coverage auto insurance – it’s not required by your state, but by your lender. If you don’t have a loan, you still need to meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements to legally drive your car on the road. Here’s what you need to know about full coverage insurance, and your choice in the matter.

Auto Loans and Full Coverage Car Insurance

Financing a vehicle means you borrow money from a lender, and then you pay them back in installments. Until you completely pay off the auto loan, the lender has ownership rights to the car. They’re listed on the vehicle’s title as a “lienholder,” and it gives them rights to repossess it if you stop paying or break the loan contract.

One of the requirements of an auto loan contract is that you have full coverage car insurance until you pay off the vehicle. Since the car is technically the lender’s, they can, and do, require that the vehicle is covered to the fullest extent.

If you cancel your full coverage auto insurance while you’re financing, you’re breaking terms of your loan contract. The insurance company generally contacts your lienholder right away and lets them know that the insurance coverage has lapsed.

Your lender can then put what’s called “force-placed” coverage, and add the cost of it to your monthly loan payment. It’s typically more expensive than if you were to choose the insurance for yourself, since the lender isn’t going to shop for the cheapest rates out there – you’re the one footing the bill – because they just want the car covered.

If you refuse to pay for the force-placed coverage, or you can’t afford it, then the lender hires a recovery company to repossess your vehicle. Your other option is to reinstate your previous full coverage that you canceled, or find another insurance plan that meets your lender’s requirements. Contact your lender to see what their insurance requirements are and what you need to do to remove force-placed coverage.

Types of Auto Insurance Coverage

If you’re not financing, then you can simply opt for personal liability and property damage (PLPD) coverage if you choose. This is usually the most basic level of insurance coverage offered by insurance companies, and it’s required to carry this coverage to drive your car on the road in nearly every state.

Can I Cancel My Full Coverage Auto Insurance?Full coverage is defined as a combination of comprehensive, collision, and liability insurance.

  • Comprehensive – Can cover damage from “perils” such as fire, theft, vandalism, or other single accidents not involving another driver, and carries a deductible.
  • Collision – Covers your vehicle in the event of an accident with another driver, regardless of who’s at fault, and carries a deductible.
  • Liability – Covers bodily injury and property damage if you’re in an accident and you’re at fault. This is the most basic level coverage that’s required in nearly every state.

The consequences of not carrying any sort of auto insurance on your car are usually hefty fines, and possibly other serious long-lasting repercussions. Not having auto insurance could lead to a misdemeanor or even a suspension of your license depending on your home state.

Check with your state’s minimum car insurance requirements so you can be sure that your insurance plan is up to snuff.

Car Insurance Too Expensive? Consider a Different Car!

The price of your auto insurance is also dependent on what vehicle you’re driving. Newer cars are usually more expensive to insure because they have more bells and whistles that are costly to insure and fix.

Used vehicles are typically less expensive, but it also depends on the make and model. Some cars are more desirable than others, which can make some vehicles a higher risk for theft. Your credit score can even be a factor in your auto insurance costs in many states.

If your car is too expensive to insure, then consider getting another vehicle. Sometimes, though, getting into an auto loan can be hard if your credit score isn’t the best. Instead of searching all over town for dealerships that can work with your credit, let us help at Auto Credit Express.

We’ve produced a nationwide network of dealers that are teamed up with bad credit car lenders, so let us look for a dealership for you in your local area. Fill out our free auto loan request form to begin the search for your next vehicle.

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Mark McCown: Eviction is different under land contract – The Tribune



Dear Lawyer Mark: I have had my old house for sale with realtors for almost two years now, but it still hasn’t sold.

I had a few people look at it, and even make offers, but none of them can get a bank loan because of their bad credit.

I don’t want it to keep sitting empty, but sure as heck don’t want to rent it out and have someone tear it up.

One of the people who had bad credit asked me if I would sell it to him on a land contract.

I’m really thinking about doing it, but need to know what all needs to be in the land contract.

I also want to make sure that he is right when he told me that if he didn’t pay, I can just evict him like a rental agreement.

Is that correct? — WORRIED IN WINDSOR

Dear Worried: Chapter 5313 of the Ohio Revised Code governs land contracts.

Under its sections, the contracts must be executed in duplicate, and must contain at least 16 particular provisions.

Some of those are obvious, such as the sellers and buyer names and addresses (referred to as the vendors and vendees for a land contract), and some not so obvious, such as a “statement of any pending order of any public agency against the property.”

The land contract must also include the legal description of the property, sale price, interest rates, payments due dates, whether there are any other charges, as well as who is to pay for the property taxes, and whether there is a mortgage owed, among other items.

Even though it is not technically required, other provisions should go into the land contract as well, such as who is responsible for maintaining property insurance, and who the beneficiary of any insurance claims would be.

This can be extremely important, for example, if there were a fire that didn’t totally destroy the premises, but the buyer wants to stay.

Who gets the money from the insurance company — the seller for the purchase price, or the buyer for the damage to what will be his house?

Your prospective vendee is partially correct in stating that you can evict him like a rental.

If he is 30 days late on the payment, and the scenario below does not apply, you can evict him and cancel the land contract in a court case fairly quickly, if you follow the correct procedures.

If you do this, you cannot sue him for missed payments, unless he paid less than the fair rental value of the property.

However, under RC Section 5313.07, if a buyer has paid more than 20 percent of the purchase price or has paid on the contract for more than five years, the seller can only get possession of the land by bringing foreclosure proceedings.

This means you would have to bring a lawsuit against him, get a judgment in the lawsuit, and then have the property sold at a sheriff’s sale after advertising the sale, just as a bank would do in a foreclosure.

You can only recover up to the amount still owed to you on the property, with the excess proceeds from the sale going to the buyer.

Thought for the Week: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” Oscar Wilde

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.

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