The Best Credit Cards to Have In Your Wallet (for 2016)

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Are you a responsible, financially-savvy consumer in need of a better credit card? You are in the right place.

The Best Credit Cards by Category

On these pages you’ll find the best credit cards available today. Get started by choosing a card category below:

Credit Card Bonus OffersCredit Card Bonus Offers – In this section we highlight some of the best credit card bonus offers available today. If you’re going to sign up for a new credit card you should definitely take into consideration the upfront bonus opportunities.

Cash Back Credit CardsBest Cash Back Credit Cards – Show me the money! Consumers who choose these cash back reward cards only want one thing: top dollar cash back rewards in exchange for their spending.

Travel Rewards Credit CardsBest Travel Rewards Credit Cards – If you do a lot of traveling, or if airline miles are like gold to you, then check out these cards. You’ll be off on that free vacation in no time. A good travel rewards card will protect you too.

Airline Miles Credit CardsBest Airline Miles Credit Cards – If you fly a particular airline regularly (AA, Continental, Southwest, Delta, United), then there is likely a card for you here. With one of these cards, you can most likely qualify for a free round trip ticket fairly quickly.

Hotel Rewards Credit CardsBest Hotel Rewards Credit Cards – If you have a favorite hotel chain, having their branded credit card can make for a more exclusive experience on your next stay. The bonus points on these cards often mean free stays after initial sign up.

0 Balance Transfer Credit CardsBest 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards – Are you on a debt reduction plan and need to free yourself from high-interest? 0% balance transfer cards can be a creative way to speed up your debt payoff plan. These days, transfer deals can be had for 18 months.

Credit Cards for College StudentsBest Credit Cards for College Students – Heading off to college soon? Want to start building your credit history? Consider one of these cards aimed at helping you manage your money wisely and reward you for your smart spending and grades.

Small Business Credit CardsBest Small Business Credit Cards – Small business owners who need a bit of flexibility in their cash flow, should consider a business credit card. Run your business expenses through this card and you will have a month longer to pay your bills.

Secured Credit CardsBest Secured Credit Cards – If you are just getting started with credit, or if you’ve had difficulty managing credit in the past, a secured card might be the best solution for you.

Credit Cards 101

Credit cards can play a big role in personal finance. Most smart people I know do one of two things with credit cards: either they don’t touch them at all, or they use them to their advantage. How can a credit card be a positive piece of your financial portfolio? First, find the right card. Then, make sure you handle it properly:

  • pay it off each month,
  • maximize your cash back and rewards,
  • and watch out for fees.

Over time you will rack up rewards and your credit history should improve.

I know a lot of people don’t care for credit cards, including some of my readers, but I think they have their place. I see credit cards as simply another financial tool, like life insurance or a Roth IRA. They’re just an instrument to make things happen financially. It’s all in how you treat them.

Tips for Good Credit Card Use

If you plan on using a credit card, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure you have the best experience possible:

Know Your Credit Card Terms – You may say to yourself, “who reads those terms? I don’t need to read the credit card terms.” Well, I think you should. There is a lot of fine print involved with a credit card. At least turn over your credit card statement and review the following: annual percentage rate (APR), other APR, variable rate information, grace period for purchases, balance calculation method, annual fees, minimum charges, specific transaction fees (cash advance and balance transfer), and late payment and over limit fees. Also, make sure you know your credit limit, and any cash advance limits.

Review Your Charges – When you get your first credit card statement in the mail, you’ll want to make sure that the APR applied to your balance is the APR that you were given when you were accepted. You also will want to review your individual charges (just as if you were reviewing your bank account) for the correct charge. Lastly, just look for any changes that the credit card company might be making. With all the new credit card rules going into place, it’s likely that your credit card statements will be seeing some changes in the near future. Beware of any sneaky new annual fees for instance.

Protect Your Credit Card Number – Protections for credit card use are getting stronger everyday. However, it’s still important to keep your number under wraps. Make sure you never share your credit card number with anyone. And if you use it to purchase something online, be sure that the website you are dealing with is reputable. Since your credit card statements usually have your full card number printed out, consider keeping them in a safe, shredding them, or going to online statements.

Keep Your Balance Well Below the Credit Limit – Be sure you aren’t maxing out your credit cards: using all of your available credit balance. Credit utilization is a factor in determining your credit score. You want to keep the amount of credit used well below the amount of credit you have. This is per card, and across all cards.

Pay More than the Minimum Balance – Lastly, make sure you pay more than the minimum payment on your credit cards. Paying the minimums, it will take you years to pay off your balance. Make sure you stay aggressive in your plans to stay in control and reduce your debts.

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