Best Credit Cards for 2013 (by Category)

If you're looking for the best credit cards by category, you've come to the right place. has assembled some of the most popular top credit cards available.

Whether it's cash back, travel rewards, 0% balance transfers, or low interest credit card offers and offers on small business credit card you're after, you know you want the best credit card in its class that gives you major bang for your buck. Whatever your financial spending habits and goals, there should be a top credit card that fits your lifestyle. Select from our most popular credit cards here.

Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Balance Transfer Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 Stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Student Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter--no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 12.99% - 21.99%.
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rewards - Miles/Points Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
Rewards - Cash Back Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment - APR won't go up for us paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
Small Business Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • Earn 15,000 bonus ThankYou® points after you make $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of cardmembership -- redeemable for $150 in gift cards.
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for 6 months. After that, 13.24% variable*
  • Earn 3 ThankYou® points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases in rotating business categories*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
Bad Credit / Prepaid Credit Card
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rewards - Gas Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • Plus Card: 5% cash back on gas paid at the pump with a qualifying PenFed product*
  • Plus Card: No annual fee
  • Standard Card: 3% cash back on gas purchases paid at the pump
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Low Ongoing Rate Credit Card (SEE ALL)
  • No annual membership fee
  • Low variable rate of 7.25%, 10.25%, or 13.25% based on the creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
  • Low Introductory APR on balance transfers of 1.99% for your first 6 billing cycles, this rate will not change during the introductory period. Applies to balance transfers processed within three months of your account open date. After that, your APR will be the same as your assigned purchase rate, based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

These quotes are from credit card issuers which have paid for a link to their website. Offers are subject to change without notice and may not be the same for all consumers.

 Monthly Spend

Top credit cards

By Doresa Banning | Money Rates Columnist

What makes a credit card a Top Card? Many factors go into determining what makes a credit card exceptional, and the Top Cards here combine the characteristics below in a way that separates them from the pack.

Competitive interest rates

The lower your interest rate, the less money you pay each month on your balance. So cards with competitively low interest rates are more attractive. Keep in mind that credit cards generally have an APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. The APR for each of these might be the same or different. One APR for all three is the least complicated and easiest to remember. Credit cards also have a penalty, or default, APR that takes effect when you miss a payment, make a late payment or exceed your credit limit. The penalty APR can raise your finance charges significantly over the standard rate.

APRs may also be fixed or variable. Fixed APRs are typically more desirable since they aren't susceptible to the sudden rate increases that are possible with variable APRs.

Many credit cards feature a 0% introductory APR on purchases or a zero percent or a low APR on balance transfers. The draw with these cards is they can help you pay down your credit card debt from one or more cards by lifting the burden of interest for a period of time.

Minimal fees

The fewer fees associated with your credit card, the better. When you choose a card with fewer fees, it means less money out of your pocket--sometimes much less. The types and amounts of fees vary from card to card. Most cards have penalty fees, but not all have application, annual or setup fees. Sometimes card companies will waive one or more fees for a period of time. Potential fees include:

  • Application fees: For processing an account application
  • Annual/membership fees: For ownership over a period of time
  • Setup fees: For opening a new account
  • Late payment fees: For past-due payments
  • Cash advance fees: For using the card to get cash
  • Balance transfer fees: For moving your balance between cards
  • Over-the-limit fees: For exceeding your credit limit
  • Credit limit increase fees: For getting a higher credit limit

Attractive rewards

If you use your credit card to pay for purchases and bills, you might as well get some perks for doing so. That's where reward cards come in. With these popular cards, you may earn cash back on all purchases or for purchasing certain products like gasoline, office supplies, auto repairs or spending at specific places. You may rack up air miles and redeemable points for travel-related expenses--vacations, car rental, hotel stays and more--along with other goods and services. With so many choices of rewards programs, you can likely find one that's ideal for your spending habits and the type of rewards you want. You can really benefit from these rewards cards--so long as you don't overspend for the sake of the rewards.

A good fit

The way a credit card meets your individual needs is what makes it a Top Card for you. Cards are tailored to distinct groups of people and their financial needs and lifestyles. The Top Cards category features credit cards for students, small business owners, individuals with bad credit, gas cards for people who drive often, cash back cards for shoppers, air miles and points cards for frequent fliers and balance transfer cards for people who need a break on interest to pay down a debt. Finding the credit card that best suits you is a simple matter of doing your homework.


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