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HomeBonus OffersBest Credit Cards Deals in October 2021: Cash Bonuses and Free Flights

Best Credit Cards Deals in October 2021: Cash Bonuses and Free Flights

Get more cash back, points or miles out of every swipe with these top credit cards.

Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.

Rewards Credit Card Deals

Rewards Credit CardsBonusBonus OfferAnnual Fee
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card$200Spend $500 during the first 3 months of account opening.$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card$200Spend $500 during the first 3 months of account opening.$0
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card60,000 PointsSpend $4,000 during the first 3 months of account opening.$95
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card50,000 PointsSpend $4,000 during the first 3 months of account opening.$550
The Platinum Card® from American Express75,000 Membership Rewards PointsMake $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.$550
American Express® Gold Card60,000 Membership Rewards PointsMake $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.$250
American Express® Green Card30,000 Membership Rewards PointsMake $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.$150
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$300Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on your new Card in your first 6 months.$95
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express$150Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on your new Card in your first 6 months.$0
American Express Cash Magnet® Card$150Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on your new Card in your first 6 months.$0
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card20,000 MilesSpend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.$0
Capital One® Quicksilver® Credit Card$200Spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.$0
Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card$300Spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.$95
Capital One® SavorOne® Rewards Credit Card$200Spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.$0

Airline and Hotel Credit Card Deals

Airline and Hotel CardsBonusBonus OfferAnnual Fee
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card40,000 pointsSpend $1,000 on purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.$69
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card40,000 pointsSpend $1,000 on purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.$99
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card40,000 pointsSpend $1,000 on purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.$149
United℠ Explorer Card40,000 milesSpend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening$95*
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card150,000 pointsSpend 3,000 during the first 3 months of account opening.$89
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Credit Card10,000 bonus milesSpend $500 in purchases in  first 3 months of card membership.$0
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Credit Card35,000 bonus milesSpend $1,000 in purchases in  first 3 months of card membership.$99
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Credit Card40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs)Spend $2,000 in purchases in  first 3 months of card membership.$250
Delta SkyMiles Reserve® American Express Credit CardEarn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs)Spend $5,000 in purchases in  first 3 months of card membership.$550
Hilton Honors Card from American Express100,000 Hilton Honors pointsSpend $1,000 in purchases in  first 3 months of card membership.$0
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card150,000 Hilton Honors pointsSpend $3,000 in purchases in  first 3 months of card membership.$95

* Annual fee waived for the first 12 months.

Business Credit Card Deals

Business CardsBonusBonus OfferAnnual Fee
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card$750Spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.$0
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card$750Spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.$0
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card100,000 PointsSpend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.$95
United℠ Business Card75,000 MilesSpend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.$99†
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card80,000 PointsSpend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.$199

†Annual fee waived for the first 12 months.

>>Review the methodology Slickdeals’ credit card experts use to evaluate and determine the best credit products in various categories.

*Jump to most frequently asked question about credit card deals.

Credit Card Deals of October 2021

Whether you’re looking for cash back, points or miles, the best rewards credit cards give you the most bang for your buck every time you use them. There’s no single best rewards credit card out there, though, so it’s essential to pick one based on your spending habits and preferences.

There are thousands of rewards credit cards in the U.S., which can get overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. To help you narrow down your selection, here are our top choices to consider and how to determine if they’re the right fit for you. To make things a little easier on you, we’ve put together a list of rewards cards based on what they’re best known for. Depending on what you’re looking for, these categories can help you find the best card for you.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: $200
APR: Variable APR After Intro 0% APR Period
Rewards Rate: 1%-5% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: New cardholders can enjoy an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months.

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness. See terms for details.

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter in rotating categories (when you activate), 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining, including takeout and delivery, 3% back at drugstores and 1% back on everything else.

Sign-Up Bonus: Receive a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. Additionally, receive 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 during the first year.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who want to maximize cash-back rewards with the option to get more value with travel redemptions.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Freedom Flex® Card

We love that the Chase Freedom Flex card expands on an already lucrative offering from Chase. The original Chase Freedom card was already a solid choice for cash-back enthusiasts, and this one raises the bar.

The Freedom Flex also gives cardholders access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is arguably the most versatile credit card rewards platform available. You’ll get plenty of redemption options at good rates. Plus, if you have one of the program’s travel credit cards, you can transfer points from your Chase Freedom Flex to your travel card account and get even more value and flexibility with how you redeem.

For a cash-back credit card, the sign-up bonus is already impressive, but add the grocery store bonus and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better offer with no annual fee attached.

The Chase Freedom Flex® card is an excellent cash-back credit card for people who are looking to maximize rewards. Cardholders can take advantage of 5% cash back on rotating categories when you activate (up to $1,500 each quarter), 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining, including takeout and delivery, 3% back at drugstores and 1% back on other purchases.

New cardholders can also take advantage of an interest-free introductory 0% APR offer on purchases for the first 15 months with the card. Additionally,  you’ll also earn a $200 sign-up bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. You’ll also get 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Read our full review.


Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: $200
APR: Variable APR After Intro 0% APR Period
Rewards Rate: 1.5%-5% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: This card allows new cardholders to save money with an introductory 0% interest rate on new purchases for the first 15 months of account opening.

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back at drugstores and on dining purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 1.5% back on everything else.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can receive $200 in cash after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening. Additionally, earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases up to $12,000 spent during the first year. Note that big box retailers including Target and Walmart do not qualify for this bonus category.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Households that prioritize cash-back rewards for everyday spending and Chase loyalists who are looking to maximize Ultimate Rewards earnings.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card

You don’t need excellent credit to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited. In fact, many cardholders report getting approved with good credit. We like that the card offers a high flat rewards rate but also provides accelerated rewards on some common everyday spending categories. You’ll also get access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which allows you to use your cash-back earnings for travel rewards, gift cards and more.

And that sign-up bonus? It’s pretty easy to reach the spending requirements, assuming that you can spend $500 in purchases within the first three billing cycles. Add the fact that there’s a 0% introductory APR for 15 months, bonus rewards on grocery store purchases during the first year and no annual fee, and you’ll see why the Chase Freedom Unlimited is among our favorite flat-rate cards.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is a great all-around card with no annual fee. New cardholders can take advantage of its big $200 sign-up bonus and an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months. Read our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.

You earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back at drugstores, 3% back on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, and a flat-rate 1.5% back on other purchases. There are no rotating categories to track, caps on how much you can earn or excluded purchase categories. Plus, the Freedom Unlimited earns 5% cash back per dollar spent on grocery store purchases up to $12,000 during the first year of card membership. Note that big box retailers like Target and Walmart are not considered grocery stores and therefore are not eligible for this bonus category.

This card has no annual fee; so it’s possible to use it with no costs at all as long as you pay off the balance in full by the due date and avoid certain fee-bearing activity.


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 60,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-5X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), 3x points on select streaming services, 3x points on online groceries (excluding Target and Walmart), 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too. Also, the card earns 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.

Sign-Up Bonus: New applicants can earn 60,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s $750 when redeeming points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who are beginning with travel rewards cards.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred actually works like having over a dozen different rewards credit cards. That’s because this credit card allows you to transfer your rewards points into miles with 11 airlines and points with three hotel programs.

Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers and highest spenders, it’s part of a family of Chase cards that has a built-in upgrade path. So when it comes time to take your travel rewards game to the next level, you won’t have to start from scratch with an entirely different credit card and rewards program.

The card has a $95 annual fee, but the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit effectively reduces that fee to $45. Plus, the credit card allows you to continue earning points through bonus categories and a 10% anniversary points boost. But when it comes time to redeem your rewards for travel, this card really shines. You can take advantage of some really strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can just book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel center.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the gold standards for earning travel rewards. New cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. This is worth $750 in travel reservations booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, but potentially more when transferred to airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Additionally, Chase recently made updates to the Sapphire Preferred which give the card even more value than before. Cardholders now enjoy new perks like a $50 annual hotel credit, 10% anniversary point boost and new bonus categories like online groceries (excluding Walmart, Target, and wholesale clubs) and select streaming services.

Sapphire Preferred also allows cardmembers to take advantage of some really strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt.


Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $550
Bonus: 50,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-10X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $550

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card offers you 10x points per dollar spent on hotels, rental cars and Chase Dining experiences booked directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Additionally, it awards 5x points on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3x points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and 1x everywhere else.

Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Frequent travelers who are serious about earning travel awards.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Right off the bat, Chase Sapphire Reserve features a $300 annual credit for travel purchases. That means the annual fee is effectively just $250 per year for frequent travelers. You also get free access to more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world. Those lounges usually give you free food and drinks, cleaner bathrooms, fast internet and a comfortable place to sit outside of the ruckus of an airport terminal. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve will get you access to the upcoming Chase Sapphire Lounge network.

If you’re looking to elevate your travel experience, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you first get approved, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months — that’s worth $750 in travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and potentially more if you transfer your rewards to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® sign-up bonus rewards new cardholders with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after they spend $4,000 during the first three months of opening the account. The Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus is worth $750 in travel redemptions when booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Right off the bat, this card features a $300 annual travel credit. That means the card’s hefty $550 annual fee is effectively just $250 per year for frequent travelers. You also get free access to more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world. Those lounges usually give you free food and drinks, cleaner bathrooms, fast internet and a comfortable place to sit outside of the ruckus of an airport terminal. Throw in perks like a complimentary DashPass from DoorDash, an annual statement credit, no foreign transaction fees and 24/7 customer service through a secure website and it’s easy to see why so many consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve to be a high-value card.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $69
Bonus: 40,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Earn 2x points per dollar spent with Southwest, either for flights or Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases. This card rewards 1x points per dollar on all other spending.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 during the first three months of account opening. Additionally, this card earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who fly Southwest several times a year.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

This is the entry level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners, and new cardholders can earn a 40,000-point sign-up bonus, which can go a long way toward booking flights for your next travel destination. All Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year, 2x points per dollar spent with Southwest and 1x points on all other purchases. Above all, for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible.

Our favorite Rapid Rewards Plus perk is the 3,000 bonus points that are awarded to cardholders on the anniversary of your account opening. It’s an added incentive to retain the card after you’ve earned the introductory sign-up bonus.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is the entry level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners. Above all, for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible. Additionally, our favorite ongoing Rapid Rewards Plus perk is the 3,000 bonus points that are awarded to cardholders on the anniversary of your account opening. It’s an added incentive to retain the card after you’ve earned the one-time sign-up bonus.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $99
Bonus: 40,000 Points
APR:Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $99

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Earn 2x points with Southwest and 1x points per dollar on all other spending.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 during the first three months of account opening. Additionally, this card earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who fly Southwest a couple times a year.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

In addition to perks like no foreign transaction fees and being able to earn A-list flight status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier also offers a generous 6,000 bonus points every cardholder anniversary. It’s these types of benefits that help round out the value of the $99 annual fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card offers the standard 2x points per dollar spent with Southwest. While double points is not the most exciting feature, all points earned with this card gets you closer to a Southwest Companion Pass.

In addition to perks like no foreign transaction fees and being able to earn A-list flight status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card also offers a generous 6,000 bonus points every cardholder anniversary, which can often be enough to cover the cost of a one-way domestic flight. It’s these types of benefits that help round out the value of the $99 annual fee. Visit our offer page to learn more about this sign-up bonus.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $149
Bonus: 40,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $149

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: Earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Earn 2x points with Southwest and 1x points per dollar on all other spending.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 during the first three months of account opening. Additionally, this card earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Southwest loyalists and frequent flyers.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

When you look at benefits like a $75 annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings each year, free checked bags and discounts on in-flight purchases, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority is probably the most affordable of all the Southwest credit cards. Similarly, the 7,500 bonus points each cardmember anniversary really pack on the value and offset this card’s $149 annual fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is as close to a premium credit card that Southwest Airlines offers non-business account holders. While its earnings are the same as the Plus and the Premier, the $149 annual fee does reward cardholders with a generous 7,500 bonus points on their account anniversary, as well as a $75 annual travel credit.

When you look at benefits like a $75 annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings each year, free checked bags and discounts on in-flight purchases, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority is probably the most affordable of all the Southwest credit cards. Similarly, the 7,500 bonus points each cardmember anniversary really pack on the value and offset this card’s $149 annual fee. Our offer page has all of the details on this limited-time offer.


United℠ Explorer Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95 (fee waived first year)
Bonus: 40,000 Miles
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-2X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card features 2X miles for every dollar spent on United purchases, at restaurants and eligible meal-delivery services like GrubHub, DoorDash, Seamless and Caviar. You also earn 2X miles for every dollar spent on hotel accommodations booked directly through the hotel. Additionally, you get 1X miles per dollar everywhere else.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 with their new cards in the first three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? United loyalists who want to earn free and discounted airfare.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the United℠ Explorer Card

The United Explorer Card’s benefits are what makes it really stand out from the crowd. Here’s what you’ll get: One free checked bag for each flight, priority boarding, 25% back on inflight purchases, two United Club airport lounge passes every year and Global Entry of TSA Pre✓ application fee credit.

The United Explorer Card also offers several trip protections including primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement. The card’s annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95 after that, which will give you some time to confirm that it’s a good fit before the fee hits.

The best airline credit card for you is likely the card offered by the airline you fly with most. For total value, the United℠ Explorer Card is tough to beat. It offers 40,000 bonus United MileagePlus Miles. You’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. United MileagePlus Miles can be used for United flights, as well as with partner airlines, upgrades, hotel accommodations, car rentals, gift cards and more. Read our full review of the United Explorer Card.

Perks like free checked bags and lounge passes can more than compensate for its $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. The cardholder and a companion can get one free checked bag each way. Use that once per calendar year for a roundtrip flight and you’ve already saved $140 with the card, more than the annual cost.  Additionally, the United Explorer Card awards 2X miles per dollar spent on United purchases, at restaurants and eligible delivery services including GrubHub, DoorDash, Seamless and Caviar. You’ll also earn 2X miles per dollar spent on hotel accommodations when booked directly through the hotel and 1X miles on all other purchases.


IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $89
Bonus: 150,000 Points
APR:Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-25X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $89

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This hotel credit card awards up to 25X points per dollar at IHG Hotels, 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1X points on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Frequent customers of IHG hotels and other people who enjoy earning rewards nights for hotel stays and premium hotel status.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Aside from its astounding sign-up bonus, the IHG Rewards Club Premier offers tons of value, especially for loyal IHG customers. You get a free reward night every year on your account anniversary for use at eligible IHG hotels. When you redeem points for stays of four nights or longer at any IHG hotel, your fourth rewards night is free. Cardholders also enjoy Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member. Plus, it offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® fee credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card. IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels and Holiday Inn®.

This IHG card is a traveler’s dream, especially if you’re already a loyal IHG customer. The perks accompanying this Chase co-branded credit card are worth way more than the $89 annual fee that comes with it. If you’re in the market for a hotel rewards credit card, look no further than the IHG Rewards Club.

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with an attractive offer. For new cardholders, you can earn a valuable 150,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months from card opening.  A sign-up bonus like this can go a long way towards free reward nights at participating IHG hotels around the world, including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Kimpton, Even Hotels, Indigo Hotels and Holiday Inn. Read our full review of the IHG Rewards Club Premier.

This IHG card is a traveler’s dream, especially if you’re already a loyal IHG customer. The perks accompanying this Chase credit card co-brand are worth way more than the $89 annual fee that comes with it. Rewards earning is incredible for IHG purchases, with 25X points per dollar spent at IHG hotels. You’ll also earn 2X points for fuel, dining and grocery purchases and 1X points for other purchases. The IHG card comes with Platinum Elite Status, a free anniversary night every year and a free rewards night for reward stays four nights or longer. It’s great for international travel because there are no foreign transaction fees.


Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: $750
APR: Variable APR After Intro 0% APR Period
Rewards Rate: 1%-5% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: New accounts enjoy an introductory 0% APR for purchases during the first 12 months.

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: You earn an amazing 5% cash back on your first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. That can add up to 125,000 points per account year. It also offers you 2% cash back on your first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.

Sign-Up Bonus: This card offers you $750 in cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases within three months of account opening. The $750 bonus comes in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for cash, gift cards or travel.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Small business owners and sole proprietors who want flexibility in their credit card rewards

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
The Ink Business Cash is legendary for its offer of 5% cash back for purchases at office supply stores and on many telecommunications services, with no annual fee. And while 5% cash back sounds great, these rewards can be much more valuable when paired with another Chase credit card that allows transfers to airline miles or hotel points. In addition to earning excellent cash-back rewards, it also includes competitive introductory offers and provides cards for employees at no additional charge.

This an incredibly valuable card for anyone who owns a small business and makes frequent purchases at office supply stores, which can include furniture, electronics, school supplies, gift cards and printing services. The Ink Business Cash is also a great card to use when paying for your internet service, phone bill or television service. It might not seem like much, but earning 5x rewards on these bills every month will add up to serious rewards very quickly. You earn one point per dollar spent elsewhere.

The Ink Business Cash Card is a great option for entrepreneurs of all types. Earn an impressive 5% cash back on select business purchases. These include the first $25,000 you spend each account anniversary year at office supply stores and on phone, cable and internet services. The card also offers 2% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations. You’ll earn 1% cash back on virtually everything else you buy. As a new cardholder, get $750 in bonus cash back when you make $7,500 worth of purchases within the first three months your account is open.


Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $0
Bonus: $750
APR: Variable APR After Intro 0% APR Period
Rewards Rate: 1.5% Cash Back
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $0

Intro APR: New accounts enjoy an introductory 0% APR for purchases during the first 12 months.

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card offers 1.5 cents (as 1.5 Ultimate Rewards® points) per dollar spent on all purchases, with no limits.

Sign-Up Bonus: This card offers you $750 in cash back in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards® points after you spend $7,500 on new purchases within three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? This is a valuable card for those who aren’t interested in bonus categories, or for those who are, but want a separate card just for purchases that don’t qualify for a bonus.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Here’s a card that you can use to earn a strong rate of return on all of your business purchases, with no annual fee. The Ink Business Unlimited is technically a cash-back card, but the rewards can be transferred to travel partners when you have another qualifying Chase card that offers this feature. If you want cash back that you can drive back into your business or use for personal expenses, this card could be a great option.

The card has no annual fee but offers an incredible $750 cash bonus after you spend $7,500 in the first three months. You’ll also earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.

Additionally, if you have some purchases coming up and need some time to pay them off, the card’s 0% APR on purchases for 12 months can help you save a lot on interest. And, if you need employee cards, you can get them at no additional charge.

Here’s a card that you can use to earn a strong rate of return on all of your business purchases.  The card has no annual fee but offers an incredible $750 cash bonus after you spend $7,500 in the first three months. You’ll also earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The Ink Business Unlimited also doesn’t allow point transfers by itself, but the points can be combined with rewards from other Chase accounts that do allow transfers. It also has travel benefits including an auto rental collision damage waiver, travel and emergency assistance and roadside dispatch.


Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 100,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: You can earn 3x points on your first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines on each account’s anniversary year. Plus, 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: Here’s your chance to earn a whopping 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on your card within three months of account opening. This bonus can be redeemed for $1,250 worth of travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who own internet-based businesses and spend heavily on advertising are the ones who can really earn the most rewards from this card.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

If you’re a business owner who travels a lot for work or pleasure, this card is an ideal choice. It offers a whopping 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months — with the card’s 25% bonus on travel booked through Chase, that’s worth $1,250. But you could potentially get more through one of the bank’s transfer partners. The rewards you earn from the Ink Business Preferred Card can be transferred to 10 different airline partners including United, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore and British Airways, as well as hotel partners Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott.

Unlike the other two Ink Business cards, you can use this card to transfer your rewards directly to airline miles and hotel points. Travelers may also like this card’s cell phone protection policy that will cover up to $600 per claim.

If you’re a business owner who travels a lot for work or pleasure, the Ink Business Preferred is an ideal choice. It offers a whopping 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months. Additionally, with the card’s 25% bonus on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s worth $1,250. It awards 3x points on your first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines on each account’s anniversary year. Plus, 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.


United℠ Business Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $99 (fee waived first year)
Bonus: 75,000 Miles
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-2X Miles
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $99 (annual fee is waived for the first year)

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card earns 2X miles for every dollar spent at United, gas stations, restaurants, office supply stores and transit including train tickets, taxis, rideshares and tolls. You can earn 1X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders can earn 75,000 miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Freelancers and business owners who regularly fly with United Airlines.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the United℠ Business Card

This card offers a hefty sign-up bonus, which has our attention for sure. We also like the laundry list of travel perks, which include a $100 annual United travel credit after seven United flight purchases over $100, two United Club passes, a free first checked bag each flight, 25% back on inflight purchases and priority boarding.

There are other benefits when flying United, like travel and purchase protections. For example, the card features no foreign transaction fees for international purchases and 5,000 bonus miles awarded on each anniversary year when you own both the United Business Card and a personal United credit card. If you’re serious about getting awarded for travel and find United convenient or simply prefer it, you can maximize your United miles earned every year. Plus, business owners can also provide employees with cards, at no additional cost, to maximize rewards earning potential.

The United Business Card℠ comes with a sign-up bonus of 75,000 MileagePlus miles. Earn 75,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening. Beyond the generous bonus, cardmembers will also receive a $100 annual United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more. Earning this extra bonus will make up for the $99 annual fee attached to the card. However, this annual fee is waived for the first year to give you time to decide if the card aligns with your spending and traveling needs. Another perk to highlight is a 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary if you have both this new United Business Card and a personal United card. These new benefits, along with a list of other valuable travel perks, make the United Business Card a near-perfect business credit card for those who travel regularly on United.


Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $199
Bonus: 80,000 Points
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-3X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $199

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: This card rewards cardholders with 3x points per dollar spent with Southwest, either on flights or with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases. It also offers 2x points per dollar spent on internet, cable and phone services, as well as purchases related to social media and search engine advertising. The Performance Business card awards 1x point per dollar on all other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: New account holders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 during the first three months.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? Small business owners and freelancers who enjoy flying with Southwest.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

It’s perfect for small business owners who have employees who travel. The card offers employee cards at no additional cost and provides perks like inflight WiFi credits, a TSA Pre✓® fee credit and complimentary upgraded boardings. The card also offers the most generous point rewards structure of any of the Southwest cards: 3x points per dollar spent with Southwest.

This card’s annual fee is expensive, but the perks you get outweigh its cost. We like that points earned can qualify towards Southwest’s A-List status, the airline’s rewards program. Let’s not forget the sign-up bonus and the 9,000 cardmember anniversary points you can receive. Plus, you’ll get other benefits like four upgraded boardings per year, free inflight WiFi credits and credit toward a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application. In other words, these can help you have a much smoother flight, which is helpful if you’re on an important business trip.

New account holders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 during the first three months of account opening. This credit card is perfect for small business owners who have employees who travel (employee credit cards at no additional cost). It also offers the most generous point rewards structure of any of the Southwest cards: 3x points per dollar spent with Southwest. Let’s not forget the 9,000 cardmember anniversary points you can receive. Plus, you’ll get other benefits like four upgraded boardings per year, free inflight WiFi credits, no foreign transaction fees and credit toward a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application. In other words, these can help you have a much smoother flight, which is helpful if you’re on an important business trip.

man looks at mountain
Credit: Twenty20

American Express Credit Card Deals

Dollar-for-dollar, many consider American Express to offer the most exciting rewards credit cards on the market. American Express deals come in the form of high-value Membership Rewards Points earnings, valuable purchase protections and travel benefits, cash statement credits and third-party partnerships with vendors like Uber and Grubhub. Whether you’re looking to enjoy travel credits with their flagship Platinum Card or earn accelerated cash-back earnings at U.S. supermarkets, American Express offers some of the best credit card deals.

Credit CardWelcome BonusWelcome Bonus DetailsAnnual FeeForeign Transaction Fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express75,000 Membership Rewards PointsMake $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.$550No
American Express® Gold Card60,000 Membership Rewards PointsMake $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.$250No
American Express® Green Card30,000 Membership Rewards PointsMake $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.$150No
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$300Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on your new Card in your first 6 months.$95Yes
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express$150Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on your new Card in your first 6 months.$0Yes
American Express Cash Magnet® Card$150Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 on your new Card in your first 6 months.$0Yes

*Slickdeals updates American Express credit card offers periodically. These details are accurate as of Sep. 14, 2020.

While American Express offers many co-branded airline and hotel credit cards, its travel rewards and cash back credit cards offer some of the best value you can get. In fact, two of Amex’s flagship credit cards don’t charge an annual fee — that’s the Cash Magnet and the Blue Cash Everyday — and the annual fees for the other cards range from $95 to $550. Of course, you can get enough value from each card to make up for its annual fee.

Similar to the Citi® Double Cash Card, American Express cash rewards credit cards don’t make you fuss with quarterly bonus categories. Instead Amex cards offer accelerated earnings on popular household spending categories like U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

  • The Platinum Card: Earn 5x points per dollar spent on flights and pre-paid hotels booked through Amex Travel. Also, it offers 1x point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • The Gold Card: Earn 4x points per dollar on all restaurant purchases worldwide with no limit, 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in annual purchases) and 1x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • The Green Card: Earn 3X points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and on travel, which includes flights, hotels, transit, subway swipes, taxis and ridesharing services. This card also offers 1x point per dollar on all other eligible spending.
  • Blue Cash Preferred: Get 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), unlimited 6% back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% back on other purchases.
  • Blue Cash Everyday: Earn 3% cash back on the first $6,000 spent per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases.
  • Cash Magnet: Get a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.

Capital One Credit Card Deals

Credit CardBonusBonus Offer DetailsAnnual FeeForeign Transaction Fee
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Card20,000 bonus milesEarn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.$0No
Capital One® Quicksilver® Card$200Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.$0No
Capital One® Savor® Rewards Card$300Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.$95No
Capital One® SavorOne® Rewards Card$200Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.$0No

Methodology: How We Chose the Best Rewards Credit Cards

We chose our best rewards credit cards based on the total value they offer to cardholders through ongoing rewards, sign-up bonuses, 0% APR promotions and other perks. We also broke the cards down into clear categories that highlight features that credit card users are typically interested in — for example, premium travel vs. general travel, flat rewards vs. tiered rewards, and so on.

While some cards charge annual fees, we only picked ones that make it easy to make up for them with the value they provide. Before you apply, though, take some time to compare these cards with other top credit card offers to make sure you get the best fit for you.

happy mom and child
Credit: iStock.com/ Drazen Zigic

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Rewards Credit Card?

A rewards credit card is one that gives users incentives when they make qualifying purchases. Rewards vary by card issuer and a card user’s spending habits. Some cards reward you more for spending in specific categories. Many rewards credit cards come with a special sign-up bonus offer after users hit the stated spending limit.

How Cash-Back Rewards Work

Many rewards credit cards offer special rewards bonuses on specific types of purchases. These vary by card, so it is smart to look for one that will reward you the most for your spending habits. Cash-back cards offer rewards in three different ways:

  • Flat-rate
  • Tiered
  • Rotating

Flat-rate cards have a set rate, usually 1% or 1.5%. You earn this flat-rate on virtually all of your purchases, from groceries to gas to airline tickets. This type of credit card earning simplifies the process, but it also leaves a lot of rewards on the table when compared to other cards.

Tiered rewards cards offer both a flat-rate spending rate of 1% or 1.5% on some categories and a higher reward rate for select categories, such as 2% back on dining or 4% back on gas purchases. These cards are extremely beneficial for maximizing certain areas of your spending. One downside with these cards is that if you apply for a card that offers higher cash back in a category you don’t spend a lot of money in, such as travel, you aren’t going to see a huge difference over a flat-rate reward card.

Rotating credit cards offer rotating bonus percentage on specific categories during specific times of the year. These cards usually come with a standard 1% rewards rate and a 5% reward rate on the quarter’s special category. This could look like 5% back on gas January through March and then 5% back on groceries April through June. These rewards are also capped at a certain purchase amount, such as $1,500.

What Determines Bonus Rewards?

Bonus rewards are typically set by the issuer, though some cards allow users to select between two or three bonus category choices. Rewards credit cards that are branded under a specific airline or hotel chain typically give the most bonus rewards for purchases made through them. Additionally, many credit cards offer promotional bonus offers for spending at a specific retailer.

How to Redeem Cash-Back Rewards

Cash back gives card users the most flexibility and most cards offer this option. Of course, if a point- or mile-based card offers the chance for you to trade in your points/miles for cash, you will probably see a lower monetary value over using the points/miles towards travel. Card issuers make it easy to get your cash-back rewards.

Here are a few options they allow:

  • Statement credit
  • Cash transfer directly into your bank account
  • Some cases a check mailed to your home (this might require special contact or an additional fee)
  • The ability to use your cash reward on popular retailers, like Amazon, once you link your card

How Travel Rewards Work

With a travel rewards credit card, you’ll earn points or miles with every purchase, which can then be redeemed for your future travel plans. General travel cards will earn points or miles back on virtually every purchase, regardless of the airline or hotel chain.

Co-branded travel cards, the ones that align with a specific airline or hotel, will reward users with more points for loyalty spending. This is beneficial if you are loyal to one airline or hotel chain or if you want to reap the additional benefits these co-branded cards bring, such as free checked bags or a free hotel stay on your card anniversary.

Travel reward cards are best for those who travel frequently because they will earn more points on trip expenditures and have an easier time redeeming earned points for their desired destinations. If you love the idea of using your points to travel more but don’t actually travel much yet, stick with a popular rewards card instead to rack up the points faster.

What Is a Point or Mile Worth?

Generally, points and miles are worth one cent. Therefore, you will need to spend $1,000 to earn $10 in rewards. However, using your points or miles wisely can help you redeem them for two to three cents per point.

For example, choose a last-minute flight or a flight during the holidays, and your points could be worth less than one cent each. On the other hand, redeem your points for a less popular flight during off-season and your points can be worth three cents. Always calculate the flight you want to book to make sure you are getting the maximum worth for your points.

How to Redeem Travel Rewards

Many rewards credit cards will allow you to redeem your travel rewards one of three ways:

  • Cash back/statement credit
  • Travel purchased through the card
  • Transfer points to partner hotel or airline

These three methods are what distinguish the card users who get a few hundred dollars back in cash each year with those who go on trips for free. If you request your travel rewards as cash, you aren’t going to see the best return on your points. Travel purchased through your card issuer’s portal can result in great travel deals, but take time to research the current transfer partners.

Some rewards credit cards offer one-to-one transfers on travel partners, which means you can move all of your points over to an airline. Booking a flight directly through the airline using airline points could cost you fewer points than booking the same flight through your card’s travel booking site. Transferring points to partners is also a great way to pool together points.

Say you already had points on your Hilton Rewards program from staying there earlier this year. You don’t have enough points to earn a free room, and you don’t want the Hilton-branded credit card to get that free room either. If your travel rewards card offered one-to-one transfers to your Hilton Rewards program, you can then combine your points for that free room.

How to Choose the Rewards Credit Card That Is Right for You

With so many different reward cards and travel rewards cards out there, how do you know which is right for you? The easiest way to know which rewards credit card is best is to evaluate your spending.

Where do you spend the most money? Once you know where your money is going, you can choose a card that will reward you the most in that category of spending.

It is also a good idea to consider how much time you want to invest in your reward card. Do you want to keep up with rotating category bonuses and make sure you are getting the best flight deals for your points? Or would you rather something easier like a card that earns 1% cash back on every purchase?

There is no wrong answer, but you need to know these answers to understand which card will best benefit your lifestyle.

Reward Credit Card Risks

Earning rewards for spending money you were already going to spend — what could go wrong? While rewards credit card perks are an amazing way to stretch your spending power, it is also easy to go overboard with buying.

If your reward credit card is going to put you into debt, there is a good chance the interest paid on the debt will negate any rewards. This pressure to spend is multiplied when you are trying to meet a spending limit for a sign-up bonus. Dropping $5,000 in three months on purchases you wouldn’t have made otherwise can create more financial stress. You might have earned $500 worth of free travel, but is it worth scrambling to pay off $5,000 of debt? Consider if you are in a healthy place financial to complete sign-up bonuses before committing to a card.

What Is a Statement Credit?

A statement credit is money paid to your account by your card issuer. It essentially works the same as a cash payment to your account. Some rewards card issuers like American Express often offer statement credits as a payout for cash rewards or other point redemption. Statement credit can be used to pay down your card balance or they can remain on your statement as a positive account balance for future purchases.

What Is a Foreign Transaction Fee?

A foreign transaction fee is what your credit card issuer — such as Chase or American Express — charges when a transaction you make with your rewards card processes in a foreign currency or passes through a foreign bank. To process these foreign transactions, your card issuer charges you a percentage of the amount of this transaction, typically 3%. You’ll commonly see foreign transaction fees listed on your card statement as a separate charge.

What Are Bonus Categories?

The terms “bonus categories” and “spending categories” are often used interchangeably. But with cash rewards cards, bonus categories refer to any spending category that offers a cardholder accelerated earnings.

While some card issuers offer permanent bonus categories, other rewards credit cards feature rotating bonus categories that often change every quarter. As an example, the the Spark Miles earns 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rentals cars booked through Capital One Travel and unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.

What Are Annual Fees?

An annual fee is a set charge that occurs yearly. For cards with annual fees, the charge is applied to your account as soon as you are approved. You will see that same charge on your card anniversary. If you do not pay the annual fee in the billing statement you receive it, you will start to pay interest on it.

Since your annual fee is applied to your charge account automatically, that will affect your credit limit. For example, if you applied for a card with a $5,000 credit limit and the annual fee is $95, your new credit limit will be $4,905 until you pay your bill. Keep this in mind if you are hoping to use your new rewards credit card for a big purchase right after signup.

Annual fees do not count for sign-up bonuses and they do not earn points or cash back. Occasionally, some card issuers refer to no annual fee cards as no-fee cards. However, this isn’t entirely correct as even a no annual fee card will still have fees for late payments and cash advances.

Annual fees vary by card, with most fees starting at $95. Some cards, like the Business Platinum Card from American Express, charge a larger annual fee, but the card also comes with more rewards like annual travel credits.

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score tells lenders about your creditworthiness (how likely you are to pay back a loan based on your credit history). It is calculated using the information in your credit reports. FICO® Scores and Vantagescore are the standard for credit scores.

Good credit can be a valuable asset. It can help you save money and access affordable financing when you need it. Even if you have a sizable emergency fund, high credit scores can provide you with an extra safety net during times of economic uncertainty. The following tips can help you manage your credit during the current crisis.

Understand what affects your credit history

Certain actions can result in credit score damage — during the COVID-19 pandemic or at any other time. The following credit mistakes might lower your credit score and could make it harder to qualify for financing now and in the future.

  • Late Payments: The majority of your FICO Score (35% to be exact) is based on your payment history. Under normal circumstances, late payments can remain on your credit reports for up to seven years.
  • High Credit Utilization: Another important credit score factor is your credit utilization ratio. Credit utilization is a term that describes the connection between your credit card limits and balances. If your balance-to-limit ratio starts to climb on your credit report, your credit score may go down as a result.
  • Not Monitoring Your Credit: It’s a mistake to sit back and assume that your credit reports contain accurate information. Credit reporting errors are common. If errors appear on your credit report, they might lower your credit score even though you did nothing wrong.

To avoid late payments, don’t overspend and aim for at least the minimum

Whether you pay your bills on time or late is the single biggest factor that influences your FICO Score. So, if you want to keep your credit scores in good shape throughout the pandemic, it’s imperative to keep up with your payments.

Due to financial limitations, you might not have the means to pay off your full credit card balances right now. However, if you can keep up with at least your minimum monthly payments, you can safeguard your credit scores from late payment damage.

Of course, not paying your full balance will likely lead to more money out of your pocket in interest fees. If you want to avoid this extra cost, a balance transfer credit card might be a temporary solution. Just be sure to manage the process carefully and make sure the potential savings will outweigh any balance transfer fees.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.