The Ultimate Guide To The Best Credit Cards Of 2014

The Ultimate Guide To The Best Credit Cards Of 2014

June 3, 2014         Written By John H. Oldshue

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If you are interested getting a credit card, you’ll want to have all of the facts before you make a critical decision. Getting a credit card is a big step for most consumers, and too many people make that choice without knowing all of their options.

There are a plethora of credit cards available, and if you search thoroughly enough, you can find one with features that match up with your individual lifestyle. The last thing that you want to have to do is change your spending habits because of your credit card. You don’t want to start eating out or buying airline tickets more than you used to just because you get bonus points on those purchases. You want to find a card whose benefits are organic–where you get rewarded for doing things that you already do. If you are a big department store buyer and your credit card will give you cash back or rewards for those purchases, then you might be on your way to finding a match. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on the negatives–and there can be a long list of negatives for credit cards. There are hidden fees, high APRs and a variety of other issues that you want to avoid as a consumer. You’ll want to read the fine print so you won’t have to worry about those issues when it comes time for you to pay your bill.

You can check out a variety of the best credit cards of 2014 below and figure out what works best for you! We cover it all from bad credit to good credit, travel to cash back, low interest to balance transfer.  

Top Low Interest Card: The Discover it® card

discover-it-card If you are looking for a strong low interest credit card, then the Discover it® card should definitely be one of the first credit cards you examine. The card comes with a 0% introductory rate that lasts for 14 months, in addition to offering a potentially low APR after the end of the introductory period: between 10.99% and 22.99% for purchases. The card also comes with a number of perks, including a rewards program that allows you to get up to 5% cash back on purchases. But make no mistake, the real coup here is the 14 month introductory period. A number of credit card companies only offer half that long for an introductory period. Learn more about the Discover it® card or click here to view all low interest credit cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.

Top Low Intro Rate Card: The Citi Simplicity® Visa Card

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The Citi Simplicity® Visa Card is a strong low intro rate card, and you can get 0% APR for 12 months on new purchases and 21 months on balance transfers, as long as the transfer is made within the first four months of being a cardholder. It’s hard to find a better introductory rate, however, you’ll need to have excellent credit in order to be approved. The card’s APR can be relatively low afterwards as well, with an ongoing APR between 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable). The card’s other perks are limited as there is no rewards program, but the card does not have an annual fee. The card is designed for those with great credit, so if you don’t have a strong credit score, you’ll likely find yourself out of luck. If you are looking to make a big purchase and pay it off in a year or so, this could be the card for you. Learn more about The Citi Simplicity® Visa Card or click here to view all low intro rate cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.

Top Balance Transfer Card: The Chase Slate® card

Slate-from-chase The Chase Slate® card is a great credit card for those looking to make balance transfers. The card charges no balance transfer fee if the transfer is made during the first 60 days of card ownership. That, along with the 0% introductory rate for a cool 15 months, makes the Chase Slate® card a must have for many consumers. The card does not have any perks, and you aren’t going to get any bonus points for making purchases. But if you’d like to transfer a balance and be able to pay it off without worrying about excess interest, then you have found the right card.  Learn more about The Chase Slate® card or click here to view all balance transfer cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.

Top Cash Back Card: The Chase Freedom® card

chase-freedom-card If you are looking for a strong cash back card, then take a look at The Chase Freedom® card. The Chase Freedom® card offers you a great way to take advantage of your purchases, by getting cash back on many of the purchases that you already make. The The Chase Freedom® card comes with a 0% APR for 15 months, which applies to balance transfers as well as purchases. You’ll get a $100 bonus after you purchase $500 in the first three months of card ownership. You’ll also get a $25 bonus when you sign up another authorized user for your account in the same time period. While the card’s perks are attractive, it is difficult to get—you’ll need excellent credit to get your hands on the card.  Learn more about The Chase Freedom® card or click here to view all cash back cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.

Top Gas Card: The Chase Freedom® card

chase-freedom-card If you are looking for a strong gas card, then the Chase Freedom® card is probably your choice. This card was just mentioned, we know—but it’s versatile! It has a number of uses, and for those who are regularly traveling on the road, it has a number of perks, especially early on. Earning 1% cash back on all purchases will help a lot when buying gas, and the introductory bonus of $100 for $500 spent in the first three months of card ownership is just icing on the cake. For certain revolving categories, you’ll get as much as 5% back when making purchases. Learn more about  The Chase Freedom® card or click here to view all gas credit cards sorted by our editor’s opinion. 

Top Hotel/Travel Card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred®

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If you are a regular traveler or stay in hotels fairly often, then you are probably interested in the , especially if you plan to travel within a few months of opening the account. The card has a long list of perks, and you’ll earn 60,000 in bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months of owning the card. In addition, you’ll get 1:1 point transfers with participating frequent travel programs, and you’ll earn 2x the bonus points on travel and when dining out. In addition, there are no foreign transaction fees—so if you are traveling overseas, feel free to use the card without fear of extra charges!  Learn more about the or click here to view all hotel and travel cards sorted by our editor’s opinion. 

Top Retail Card: The Barnes & Noble MasterCard®

Barnes & Noble MasterCard The Barnes & Noble MasterCard® is a solid retail card you can use when you are spending money out on the town. The Barnes & Noble MasterCard® will give you a $25 gift card after your first purchase, and you’ll also get 5% back when you make purchases at Barnes & Noble. In fact, every time that you reach 2,500 bonus points, you’ll get a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. It’s a solid option for those who are looking to shop around town—but especially those who are regular readers at Barnes & Noble. The card’s APR is a reasonable 13.99 to 24.99%. However, there is no introductory rate.  Learn more about The Barnes & Noble Mastercard® or click here to view all retail cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.  


Top Prepaid & Debit Card: The ACE Elite Visa® Prepaid Debit Card

ACE Elite™ Visa(R) Prepaid Debit Card For those who can’t get access to a credit card, a good prepaid card or a debit card can be a very solid option. The ACE Elite Visa® Prepaid Debit Card fits the bill. The card does not require holders to have a minimum balance, and it also has no confusing hidden fees that often trap those with little access to credit. Though it is easy to obtain, it does not come with the bells and whistles that card holders have become accustomed to. There is no rewards program and you won’t earn any bonus points for making purchases.  Learn more about The ACE Elite Visa® Prepaid Debit Card or click here to view all prepaid/debit cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.  

Top No Annual Fee Card: Citi Simplicity ® MasterCard

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The Citi Simplicity ® MasterCard is a great option for those who are looking for a no annual fee card. The card has no late fees, and no penalty rate either. If you are looking for a credit card that you can feel comfortable using, then the Citi Simplicity ® MasterCard is for you. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you won’t get hit with hidden charges, and the 18 month introductory period at 0% APR is pretty stellar as well. Since the card is virtually stripped of fees, you won’t get any rewards or benefits programs from this one.  Learn more about The Citi Simplicity ® MasterCard or click here to view all no annual fee cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.  

Top EMV Compatible Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred®

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Making its second appearance on this list, The is an EMV compatible card, making it more secure than a regular magnetic stripe card. And you can rest assured that this card is going to be accepted everywhere you go. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card will allow you to earn 60,000 in bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card ownership. You’ll also get a 1:1 point transfer with participating frequent travel programs, which is attractive for those traveling often.  Learn more about The  or click here to view all EMV compatible cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.  

Top Canadian Card: Alaska Airlines MasterCard®

Alaska Airlines MasterCard® For consumers living in, traveling to, and making purchases in Canada, or for those who would just prefer a Canadian card, the top card available is the Alaska Airlines MasterCard®. With the Alaska Airlines MasterCard®, you’ll be able to earn a variety of perks based on making purchases with Alaska Airlines. Once you get approved for the card, you’ll get 25,000 bonus miles. Every year you own the card, you’ll get a coach companion fare, which gives you access to lower rates. The rewards program gives you three miles for every $1 spent on Alaska Airlines tickets and other purchases at Alaska Airlines, such as vacation packages or cargo purchases. Other eligible purchases give you one mile for each $1 spent. The card comes with significant drawbacks however—there is a $75 annual fee, no introductory rate, and the APR is a very high 18.99%.  Learn more about the  Alaska Airlines MasterCard® or click here to view all Canadian cards sorted by our editor’s opinion.  

There is a wide variety of credit cards available for you to choose from, and if you are looking to apply for a new card, then you need to weigh your options. Make sure you don’t enter into a relationship with a credit card company too quickly—you want to find the right fit for you.

Most people associate comparison shopping with consumer goods, but you should absolutely comparison shop for your credit card. Ask questions and research whether people who have the card are still excited about it. Or are they drowning in hidden fees? You should understand that as a credit card customer, you are going to pay interest if you carry a balance from one month to the next, and you’ll have to make on time payments to avoid penalties and other fees. But sometimes, credit card companies can hide the true amount that you’ll be paying for their services—and it isn’t always pretty.

Never take a bigger bite than you can chew. You’ll want to pick out a card that has a reasonable APR, so that if things do hit a sour note financially, you’ll be able to weather the storm without your credit card debt spiraling out of control with a high interest rate.

Note: The information for the Chase Slate and Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The product details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the bank advertiser.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of June 3, 2014. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.


About John H. Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers credit card rate issues for
View all posts by John H. Oldshue
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Top Features : No annual fee; $150 statement credit after spending $1,200 in first 90 days; 0% on Purchases for 12 months and Balance Transfers for 18 months
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