Best credit card promotions for November 2016

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on the website are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers.

Editor’s note: Some offers on this page may no longer be available through our site.

If you’re in the market for a new credit card, look for cards that feature outstanding rewards, big bonus offers, long introductory periods when you’ll pay no interest and low fees.

Whether you’re looking for a rewards card or a card that can help you build credit, this list includes something for everyone.

Bankrate’s Best Credit Cards from Our Partners

Card Category Why it’s good
Chase Freedom Unlimited Overall rewards Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard Travel and airline rewards 2 miles for every dollar spent on all purchases
Chase Slate Balance transfer Save with a 1% introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Citi Simplicity 0 percent APR intro period 18 months no interest on balance transfers and purchases
Citi Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back 1% cash back on all purchases; 1% cash back when you pay your bill on time
Chase Sapphire Preferred Points rewards 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining
Chase Ink Business Preferred Business card 3 points for every $1 spent on select categories up to $150,000 annually
Capital One Secured Mastercard Secured card for bad credit Deposit may be smaller than credit limit
Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa Unsecured card for bad credit 1% cash back on gas and groceries
Discover it® chrome for Students Student credit card 2% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases, up to a combined $1,000 in quarterly spending ; bonus offered for good grades

What to know before getting a credit card

There’s no such thing as the “best” credit card. Everyone has different financial circumstances and the best card for you is likely to be different from the one that’s best for your partner, friend or colleague.

When trying to choose a credit card, consider two things: What do you spend the most on? And, what do you want out of the card? The right card for you will depend on your household’s lifestyle and spending patterns.

For a busy suburban family who spends heavily on groceries and gas, a cash-back card that offers rewards in those categories could be the right match. But road warriors and globetrotters may fare better with a credit card that offers boosted rewards on travel and dining. College students and recent graduates on the other hand might benefit the most from a card aimed at helping them build credit.

If you’re torn between two offers that seem similar, check and compare if they have any sign-up offers, which can typically be worth anywhere from $150 to $1,500 if you meet a minimum spending requirement within the specified time period. If both cards offer the same benefits, it usually makes sense to go with one that offers a bonus.

But you shouldn’t necessarily sign up for a card just because it comes with a bonus. Although these lucrative offers can be enticing, longer-term it pays to be sure that the benefits of the card beyond any initial bonus are still a match for your spending habits.

How to use a credit card

There’s really only one rule to strive for when you have a credit card: pay your balance in full and on time every month. When you don’t pay it off, you accrue finance charges, which can range from an annual percentage rate (APR) of 11% to as much as 36% depending on the credit card. If you continue to carry a balance and just make the minimum payments each month, you’ll add those interest charges onto your existing debt and increase your financial burden.

Carrying a large balance on your card can also affect your debt-to-available-credit ratio and have a negative impact on your credit score. This is important because your credit score determines the rates you’re eligible for on everything from a mortgage to an auto loan to other credit cards. The lower the rate, the less interest you’ll pay.

If you must carry a balance, a good rule of thumb is to keep your credit card bill at 30% or less than your card’s maximum limit. For example, if you have a credit card with a limit of $10,000, try to never carry a balance larger than $3,000.

Paying off your card every month? You could benefit from using a rewards credit card that offers cash-back, points or other incentives just for shopping the way you normally would. Keep in mind the value of these rewards—typically between 1% and 5% of the amount of purchase, will always be less than the double-digit interest you’ll pay on your debt.

If you do tend to carry a balance on your credit card, you’d be better off with a low-interest card than one that pays rewards but has a steeper interest rate.

Should I get a credit card?

Deciding to sign up for a particular credit card depends on your unique situation. If you have little to no credit history, or are trying to improve a low credit score, making regular on-time payments on a secured credit card can help you build up your credit profile and eventually allow you to graduate to a credit card with better terms.

If you’re trying to eliminate your debt, you may want to consider a balance transfer card, which gives you a break on interest for a period of time, allowing you to pay down more of the principal and knock out the balance faster.

Using a credit card with a 0% APR offer has the same benefit if you’re looking to buy some big-ticket items in a short period of time. If you use a card with an introductory zero percent offer, you get some breathing room to pay off the balance without adding interest charges on top of what you owe.

For someone who doesn’t typically carry debt and has predictable spending patterns, a cash-back or other rewards card can help you save money. Using a card that gives a flat cash back rate is like getting a discount every time you shop. Other rewards cards may offer rotating quarterly bonus categories giving you a chance to earn enhanced rewards for a limited time at select places. . redeemable for travel, gift cards or statement credits.

Travel credit cards often come with additional perks and benefits like free checked luggage, priority boarding or elite hotel status, which could be especially appealing for frequent travelers.

Many premium airline credit cards will also offer extras that can be worth more than the cost of ownership. Airport lounge access, reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fees, price protection, rental car coverage and travel credits are just some of the plush perks found on these cards.

Key features of the best credit cards

All credit cards have a few standard attributes. The most notable ones are:

  • APR. This stands for the annual percentage rate and is the amount of interest an issuer charges you if you carry a balance. If a card has an APR of 17% and you have a $10,000 balance that you don’t touch for a year, you’ll owe an additional $1,700 on top of the original amount.
  • Annual fee. This is the amount charged to just own the card. Typically, the higher the annual fee, the more extras a card offers in return. Some cards will waive the annual fee for the first year as an enticement for you to apply. Other cards don’t charge any annual fee but might be no-frills. Depending on your goals, an annual fee might be worth it if the card offers you something of equal or greater value in return.
  • Sign-up bonus. Some credit cards will offer you a sign-up bonus as cash-back or other rewards if you meet their minimum spending requirement within a certain amount of time. If you were going to spend the money anyway, a sign-up offer can be a great way to get rewarded for shopping. But, signing up for multiple cards just to earn bonuses can hurt your credit score as it can create too many inquiries with the credit bureaus. Some banks won’t approve you for a card if you’ve opened too many accounts in a short period of time.
  • Balance transfer fee. If you’re consolidating debt to a balance transfer card, there might be a balance transfer fee, usually ranging from 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred. It’s important to calculate the amount of this fee to make sure you aren’t adding more to your debt than you’re paying in interest on the original card.
  • Foreign exchange fee. Some credit cards add a surcharge to all international charges, making every purchase more expensive. If you buy a $100 souvenir with a card that charges a 3% foreign exchange fee, that means you’re paying an extra $3 just for using that card. The best travel cards don’t charge any foreign exchange fees, making them a better choice for using abroad.
  • Card chip. An increasing number of credit cards are embedded with a microchip that you dip (instead of swipe) at a card reader. Also called EMV technology, which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, this is considered a more secure payment method than swiping.
  • Mobile wallets. A mobile wallet lets you use your credit card information by storing it on your mobile device. It uses a technology called Near Field Communications, or NFC, that lets you tap an enabled payment terminal with your device instead of opening your wallet and taking out your card. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are two of the most widely known mobile wallets.

Recap: Bankrate’s favorite credit cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited

This rewards credit card offers generous cash back and a decent sign-up bonus.

Highlights:

  • Earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase.
  • Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
  • Cardholders can redeem rewards for cash in any amount at any time. Rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.

Who should get this card
This card is a good choice for anyone who wants a straightforward rewards program. It’s also useful for anyone who already owns a Chase rewards card, since Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred between cards.

It comes with a 0 percent, 15-month introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, making it a good option for someone trying to pay down high-interest debt. After the initial intro period, the card has a variable APR of 16.24 to 24.99 percent.

Its cashback rate, while good, isn’t the highest flat-rate available. This card also has no bonus categories, a downside if you spend frequently in one area where you want to maximize rewards.

CARD SEARCH: Browse airline and travel credit cards.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Its simple rewards structure, generous sign-up bonus and flexibility makes this a worthy card to own.

Highlights

  • Earn 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days.
  • Earn two miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Five percent of the miles you use will be rebated upon redemption.

Who should get this card
This is a great card for the avid traveler who wants easy-to-use rewards and big bonus opportunities. Like the Venture Rewards card, the Arrival Plus allows you to use your rewards on any airline or hotel.
This card has a 0 percent introductory APR for 12 months for all balance transfers made within 45 days of opening an account. It comes with a variable APR of 17.24, 21.24 or 24.24 percent, based on creditworthiness. The annual fee is $89, which is waived the first year.

Chase Slate

Its long introductory period and lenient stance on late payments make the Chase Slate a standout option among balance transfer cards.

Highlights:

  • You’ll pay no interest for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Transfer your balance an low introductory rate of 2% during the first 60 days the account is open. The standard fee is $5 or 5 percent of the transfer, whichever is higher
  • Standard APR is a variable 16.24 to 24.99 percent based on creditworthiness.

Who should get this card
If you’re looking for a balance transfer card with a good no-interest introductory period, no fee to transfer a balance and flexibility on late payments, the Chase Slate is a solid choice.

On the other hand, you are limited in how much you can transfer to the card: $15,000 or your credit limit, whichever is lower. You also can’t transfer debt from another Chase account.

CARD SEARCH: Find the right balance transfer card for your situation.

Citi Simplicity

This card has an industry-leading introductory offer, which makes it a great choice for the consumer who wants to make a big purchase and pay it off slowly. And because of its generous stance on late fees (there are none), it’s also a solid option if you need flexibility with payments.

Highlights:

  • Pay no interest on purchases or balance transfers for 18 months. That’s the longest interest-free intro period available.
  • There are no late fees with this card, giving borrowers the flexibility and help they need to pay off high-interest debt.
  • Pay no annual fee and no penalty rate, making it a great choice for consumers on a budget.

Who should get this card
Anyone wrestling with high-interest credit card debt should consider the Citi Simplicity card. It’s generous 18-month introductory zero percent APR offer on balance transfers and new purchases gives debtholders an opportunity to pay down their bill without accruing additional charges. This card also has access to Citi’s Price Rewind program, which will refund the price difference if you made a purchase that can be found for less elsewhere.

After the introductory period expires, this card has an ongoing variable APR of 15.49 to 25.49 percent.

Citi Double Cash Card

This card has a simple rewards structure with no categories to track, no cap on cash back and no annual fee. That makes it a great cash-back card.

Highlights:

  • Earn cash back twice: 1 percent on general purchases and 1 percent when you pay your bill on time. Two percent cash-back on everything makes this an industry-leading card for cash back on general purchases.
  • Pay no interest on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, a variable APR of 14.99 to 24.99 percent will apply.
  • Register your purchases online through the Citi Price Rewind program and the company will search for lower prices on those items and refund you the difference on better deals.

Who should get this card
This card is good for those seeking an affordable cash-back card with generous rewards on all purchases and an easy-to-use rewards structure. There’s no chasing bonus categories, no rotating categories and no annual fee.

This card charges a variable APR of 14.99 to 24.99 percent.

If you typically carry a balance, or often fail to pay on time, this may not be the card for you. There’s also no sign-up bonus, something you’ll find on other competing cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

This card’s generous rewards, stellar sign-up bonus and low annual fee are hard to beat. It’s a solid card for people scared off by the Sapphire Reserve’s big annual fee.

Highlights:

  • Earn two points per dollar on travel and restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account. That’s $625 toward travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
  • Earn 5,000 points when you add an authorized user within the first three months of opening an account.

Who should get this card
This card is ideal if you’re looking for an everyday, low-fee travel card with great perks. It’s especially useful if you’re comfortable using the Chase Ultimate Rewards program — when redeemed through the program, points are worth 25 percent more.

There’s no introductory fee for the first year. After that, the fee is $95 per year. It has a variable APR from 17.24 to 24.24 percent.

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Ample bonus opportunities and points on business-related spending put the Chase Ink Business Preferred at the head of the class.

Highlights:

  • Earn three points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent annually on select categories, one point per dollar spent on all other purchases with no limit.
  • Earn 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
  • Points are worth 25 percent more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program

Who should get this card
This card is a solid option if you spend heavily on the card’s bonus categories. It’s also worth consideration if you plan on spending at least $5,000 within the first three months to earn the bonus, which is equal to $1,000 toward travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

While it offers generous perks, this card comes with an annual fee of $95. You’ll need to make sure you spend enough to earn rewards that cancel out the fee.

It has a variable APR of 17.24 to 22.24 percent.

Capital One Secured Mastercard

This is one of the only secured cards with a deposit requirement that could be lower than your limit.

Highlights:

  • Depending on your credit history, get a $200 credit line for either a $49, $99 or $200 deposit. You can deposit more to get a higher limit — up to $1,000.
  • The APR is a variable 24.99 percent, but there are no annual fees, application fees or foreign transaction charges.
  • If you make the first five payments on time, you can increase your credit limit without any additional deposits.

Who should get this card
This card is a good fit for anyone with little or no history who might qualify for one of the lower deposit options. The card also comes with an option to pay the opening deposit in installments over an 80-day period, which may help people on a fixed income who are seeking to build credit.

Not everyone can qualify for this card. If you have a non-discharged bankruptcy, a past due or over-the-limit Capital One card, a card that was charged off within the past year or your monthly income does not exceed your monthly housing payments by at least $425, you won’t be approved.

Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa

Rebuild credit without putting down a deposit with this card, which also features cash back rewards and a flexible payment policy.
Highlights:

  • Earn 1 percent cash back on gas and groceries.
  • Pay an annual fee of between $0 and $99.
  • Receive free online access to your credit score and credit report summary.

Who should get this card
This card is ideal for the individual who wants to build credit while earning cash-back rewards for gas or grocery purchases. But if you often miss payments or typically carry a balance, the high fees on this card could quickly cancel out any rewards earned.

The Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa includes an annual fee that ranges between $0 and $99.

It has a variable APR of 19.15 to 25.24 percent.

CARD SEARCH: Need to rebuild credit? Browse credit cards for bad credit now.

Discover it® Chrome for Students

This is a quality student credit card for cash back and perks. Plus, students can get a bonus for maintaining good grades.

Highlights:

  • Earn 2 percent cash back on gas and restaurant purchases on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter. On all other purchases, the card pays 1 percent.
  • Maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0 gets you an extra $20 cash back each school year for a maximum of five years.
  • During the first year, earn double the cash back on all purchases.

Who should get this card
The Discover it is a fine pick for students with good grades who would like to enjoy cash back and perks. It also works as a solid introduction to credit because it has no annual fee and allows for mistakes.

There is no penalty APR, no late fee on the first payment and no over-limit fee. You’ll be charged a variable APR of between 14.49 and 23.49 percent.

Take note, though: Discover isn’t widely accepted overseas. So while the card comes with no foreign transaction fees, it’s a less than optimal choice for studying abroad.

This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. This post contains references to our partners, and Bankrate may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on certain links posted on this website.