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While credit cards sometimes get a bad rap, having the best credit card — or at least, the one that’s best for you — can make your life easier and more rewarding. And if it’s been at least three years since you put your current credit card in your purse or wallet, now’s the time to consider your options and see if a different credit card might serve you better.
How? Well, a new credit card can help by temporarily letting you finance the things you need to buy at 0% interest, or consolidating debt at a lower interest rate. Or perhaps you just want to make sure you’re earning as many rewards as possible when you’re ordering online or having food delivered to your home, or booking that long-needed vacation.
Our comprehensive methodology compares every aspect of each credit card to our “benchmark credit card” to determine which cards can potentially help you the most. So give yourself a few minutes to take a look at our list of the best credit cards for May 2022 and see if one might be useful to you right now.
The best credit cards of May 2022 Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for flat-rate cash back
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best sign-up bonus
Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for flexible rewards
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for U.S. supermarkets
American Express® Gold Card: Best for dining
Citi Premier® Card: Best for gas stations
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: Best for balance transfers
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best introductory rate on purchases
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for small businesses
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business: Best for larger businesses
Why did we select these cards as our best credit cards for May? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.
Citi Double Cash Card: Best for flat-rate cash back Why it’s great in one sentence: The Citi Double Cash Card is both simple and lucrative, offering a market-leading 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay your statement — for no annual fee.
This card is right for: People who want a card that will work for them but don’t have the time, patience or interest to chase bonus categories or figure out complicated travel loyalty programs.
Earn 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit. 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (14.24%-24.24% variable afterward). Rewards from the card can also be used for travel when combined with the Citi Premier or (now discontinued) Citi Prestige® Card. No annual fee. Sign-up bonus: None.
What we like about the Citi Double Cash: Life is complicated enough — not everyone wants to make their credit card complicated as well. If you don’t want to deal with bonus categories, transfer partners or spending caps, you can’t get much simpler than the Citi Double Cash.
But “simple” doesn’t have to mean “weak.” In fact, you’ll get 2% cash back on practically everything you buy with this card, which is the best ongoing flat-rate return you’ll find on any no-annual-fee credit card out there.
Yes, if you want to put in extra effort to maximize bonus categories or if you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you can absolutely get more in overall rewards or perks. But if you don’t want to make your credit card another thing in your life to worry about, you can put the Citi Double Cash in your purse or wallet, and set it and forget it.
What could be better: The Citi Double Cash is a no-frills credit card, so you won’t find any fancy travel or dining perks on it, nor are there any significant travel or purchase protections. You also won’t want to use this card for overseas purchases, as the 3% foreign transaction fee will offset the rewards you earn.
When you have other premium Citi cards, the ability to use the Citi Double Cash card’s cash back for travel in the form of Citi ThankYou points is useful to points and miles experts, but the ThankYou program’s airline transfer partners can be challenging to leverage for beginners, who might want to just stick with the card’s cash back rewards.
The balance transfer offer does come with a 3% fee (with a minimum of $5) in the first four months after opening the account, though that’s comparable to other credit cards with similar balance transfer features. And the Citi Double Cash doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, which means other cards might be more rewarding right out of the gate, though the Double Cash will catch up with long-term use.
Why it’s our “benchmark” credit card: The ease of use and straightforward top-of-market cash-back earning rate of the Citi Double Cash are why CNN Underscored uses the Double Cash as our “benchmark” credit card to compare the features of other credit cards and determine if they’re better or worse overall.
You can read more about our benchmark credit card concept in our credit card methodology guide, or dig into our complete review of the Citi Double Cash.
Learn more and apply now for the Citi Double Cash Card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best sign-up bonus Why it’s great in one sentence: The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after you open the account, and the points can be redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, or in other eligible categories using the card’s “Pay Yourself Back” tool.
This card is right for: People with larger than average travel and/or dining expenses who want to redeem their credit card rewards for travel.
Earn 3 points for every dollar spent on dining, select streaming services and select online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). Earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel, or 5 total points if purchased through Ultimate Rewards. Earn 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2025. Points can be redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal or with the “Pay Yourself Back” tool at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Points can also be transferred to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners. 10% anniversary point bonus on all your yearly spending. $50 annual hotel credit that can be used for any booking made via the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. No foreign transaction fees. $95 annual fee. Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
What we like about the Chase Sapphire Preferred: It may not seem like it, but at over 10 years old, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is practically the granddaddy of travel rewards credit cards. But to Chase’s credit, it’s keeping the card fresh by introducing new features that make the card even more useful, which is just one of the reasons it’s our favorite travel credit card for beginners.
WIth classic travel and dining bonus categories, bonus points on streaming services and online groceries, 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2025 and an 80,000-point sign-up bonus, you should be able to score plenty of points even if you aren’t planning to fly much in 2022, since Chase defines “travel” very broadly to include purchases like mass transit, tolls, parking and even ride-shares.
But the real power of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is in its redemptions. You’ll get 1.25 cents per point in value when you redeem your points through Chase’s travel portal. And Chase’s “Pay Yourself Back” tool allows you to redeem points on purchases beyond just travel.
Plus, you can get potentially even more value when you transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners. In fact, the Ultimate Rewards program still features some of the best transfer partners around, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Hyatt Hotels, and all partners transfer at a 1-to-1 ratio (meaning you’ll get 1,000 points in the partner program for every 1,000 points you transfer from Chase).
To top it off, you can safely use the Chase Sapphire Preferred overseas, since it has no foreign transaction fees on international purchases. It even provides primary car rental insurance, so you don’t have to look to your own auto policy first if you have an accident with your rental car.
What could be better: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a classic, but in some ways, it’s starting to get a little long in the tooth. Other credit cards offer even higher bonus points on travel purchases (though usually accompanied by higher annual fees), though if you book travel through Ultimate Rewards with the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 5 total points for every dollar you spend.
Even our benchmark Citi Double Cash card earns 2% cash back -— 1% when you make a purchase, and 1% when you pay it off — on everything you buy, including travel, though you can get more value when redeeming your Sapphire Preferred points than you can with simple cash back.
For many people, the Sapphire Preferred isn’t as flashy as its big brother, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which comes with travel perks and a $300 annual travel credit (but also a significantly higher annual fee). But if you don’t need or won’t use all those extra perks, you may be better off with this significantly less-expensive version.
Where it beats our benchmark card: Bonus categories, excellent travel protections, solid airline and hotel partners, sign-up bonus.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, an introductory rate on balance transfers and earns easy-to-redeem cash back.
Learn more and apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Freedom Flex: Best for flexible rewards Why it’s great in one sentence: If you’re on the fence about whether you’d prefer to rack up cash back or travel points, the Chase Freedom Flex allows you to do both when paired with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
This card is right for: People who want maximum flexibility in a no-annual-fee credit card.
Earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and 3% at drugstores. Earn 5% cash back in bonus categories that rotate, up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Expert users can convert the cash back to flexible travel points when pairing the Freedom Flex with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card. 0% introductory APR on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (15.24% to 23.99% variable afterward). No annual fee. Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 in bonus cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months after opening the account.
What we like about the Chase Freedom Flex: If you prefer cash back now but think that a dose of adventure is in your future, the Chase Freedom Flex can give you the best of both worlds.
The Chase Freedom Flex starts by earning cash back in three permanent bonus categories: 5% cash back on travel purchases made via Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining — including takeout and delivery — and 3% cash back at drugstores.
Then you’ll also earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in bonus categories that rotate each quarter. The categories for April through June are Amazon and select streaming services, but each quarter’s categories are different.
That’s already a pretty great package for a cash back credit card. But when you pair the Chase Freedom Flex with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can convert your cash back to points at a rate of 1 cent per point. Then you’re able to redeem those points for travel at an increased value of 1.25 to 1.5 cents apiece via the Chase travel portal, or in other categories using the “Pay Yourself Back” tool.
Even better, once you’ve converted your cash back to points, you can transfer them to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel loyalty partners. This amazing flexibility is why frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece. At that rate, since you’re earning 1.5% cash back on the Freedom Flex, you could effectively end up with a 3% return on your purchases.
Other benefits of the Chase Freedom Flex include cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection and a three-month complimentary subscription to DashPass.
What could be better: While the permanent bonus categories are uncapped, you can only earn bonus cash back on up to $1,500 each quarter in the rotating bonus categories. After that, you’re only getting a 1% return, so it’s important to keep track of how much you’ve spent in those categories over the quarter.
Also, you must remember to activate the rotating bonus categories each quarter in order to earn 5% cash back on them. While you can activate them almost anytime throughout the quarter and still get the bonus cash back retroactively on purchases you’ve already made, it’s important not to miss the deadline or you’ll lose out on an important feature of the card.
Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, cell phone and purchase protections, and introductory rate on purchases for 15 months.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash offers a higher overall cash back rate.
Learn more and apply now for the Chase Freedom Flex.
Blue Cash Everyday: Best for U.S. supermarkets Why it’s great in one sentence: The Blue Cash Everyday card earns 3% cash back as a statement credit at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%) and 2% back at U.S. gas stations, while also offering a generous introductory interest rate on purchases for 15 months, all with no annual fee (see rates and fees).
This card is right for: People who spend a significant amount of their money at U.S. supermarkets each year and don’t want to pay an annual fee for a credit card.
Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. Earn 1% cash back on everything else. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. 0% introductory APR on all purchases for the first 15 months (14.24% to 24.24% variable afterward, see rates and fees). No annual fee. Terms apply. Welcome bonus: Earn $200 back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months after opening the account.
What we like most about the Blue Cash Everyday: For many Americans, a significant portion of the monthly family budget goes to supermarket expenses. The Blue Cash Everyday card dials up the bonus cash back in that category, as well as at gas stations, creating a go-to in your wallet for two routine purchases.
The card also pairs its bonus categories with an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months. But you’ll want to make sure your debt is paid off by the end of the intro period, as the APR jumps to a variable 14.24% to 24.24% afterward.
New Blue Cash Everyday card members will also find a welcome bonus that should come in handy: $200 cash back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first six months. That’s a decent chunk of change for a card that has no annual fee.
What could be better: Bonus cash back isn’t earned on purchases outside of the US with the Blue Cash Everyday, and there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee on top of that (see rates and fees). Plus, there’s no way to convert your cash back to American Express Membership Rewards points, which are potentially more useful for those who may want maximum flexibility in redeeming credit card rewards for travel down the line.
Some people might want to consider the more expensive version of the Blue Cash Everyday, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets — double the Blue Cash Everyday — on up to $6,000 in purchases each year (1% thereafter). The Blue Cash Preferred also offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit.
In exchange for those higher bonus rates, you’ll normally pay a $95 annual fee each year, but right now the Blue Cash Preferred comes with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (see rates and fees). So you’ll need to consider whether the Blue Cash Everyday with no annual fee, or the Blue Cash Preferred with a $95 annual fee after the first year, is a better choice for your needs.
Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, an introductory interest rate on purchases, car rental damage coverage.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has an introductory balance transfer offer and since you are earning Citi ThankYou points, you can transfer your points towards travel — although your points are worth more when combined with the Citi Premier.
Learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday card.
American Express Gold: Best for dining Why it’s great in one sentence: The American Express Gold Card is a top-notch card when it comes to food, as you’ll not only get a relatively high return at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, but also some incredible baked-in benefits.
This card is right for: People who either eat at restaurants or order food for delivery on a regular basis.
Earn 4 points for every dollar you spend at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1x). Earn 3 points per dollar for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Earn 1 point per dollar on everything else. Up to $120 in annual dining credits. Up to $120 in Uber Cash annually. $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Terms apply. Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months after opening the account.
What we like about the American Express Gold: It’s not a cheap card with a $250 annual fee. But hang on, because the perks on the Amex Gold can quickly outweigh its cost thanks to its numerous statement credits.
Aside from earning a lot of points, you’ll earn up to $10 in statement credits each month with the Amex Gold when you use your card to pay at select food merchants, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required).
You’ll also earn up to $10 in Uber Cash each month, which can be used for either Uber rides in the US or Uber Eats orders. So if you order out regularly, you can easily use up both the Uber Cash and the dining credits each month.
If you’re able to utilize all of these credits each year, that’s $240 in credits, which means you’re effectively only paying $10 for the card even with its $250 annual fee.
What could be better: The Amex Gold earns points that can be redeemed a number of ways, but are best used for travel. That means you’ll likely want to hold off on redeeming the points you earn with this card until you’re ready to travel. So, if you’re looking for a card with rewards that you can use more immediately, you might be better off with a cash back card.
You’ll also want to look elsewhere if you can’t utilize the annual credits on the Amex Gold, which do require a bit of effort to maximize since they’re doled out monthly. Otherwise you’ll be paying a lot of money for the card and not getting the most for it.
Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, annual credits, bonus categories, solid airline and hotel partners.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, an introductory rate on balance transfers and easy cash back.
Learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
Citi Premier Card: Best for gas stations Why it’s great in one sentence: The Citi Premier card has a robust set of bonus categories that make it easy to earn extra points at gas stations and on many other major staples of most household budgets, plus its points can be easily redeemed for travel or transferred to any of Citi airline or hotel partners for potentially even more value.
This card is right for: People who want to earn bonus points in a broad set of categories and are willing to learn how to use Citi’s eclectic roster of transfer partners.
Earn 3 points for every dollar you spend at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, air travel and hotels. Earn 1 point per dollar on everything else. Points can be redeemed for travel through the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel portal or for gift cards at 1 cent apiece. Points can also be transferred to any of Citi’s 16 airline and hotel partners at a 1-to-1 ratio. Annual $100 credit on a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when booked through thankyou.com. No foreign transaction fees. $95 annual fee. Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
What we like about the Citi Premier: With a $95 annual fee, the Citi Premier features a nice balance of solid bonus categories, powerful travel rewards and a great sign-up bonus that make it a package worth considering.
For starters, you can currently score a nice sign-up bonus on the Citi Premier. New card holders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after opening the account. The Points Guy values Citi ThankYou points at 1.8 cents apiece, which makes 60,000 points worth as much as $1,080 in travel.
While Citi’s ThankYou program typically doesn’t get as much attention as the bigger Chase and Amex programs, the issuer’s 14 airline transfer partners — and two recently-added hotel partners — offer several options that aren’t available anywhere else.
Of course, if you’d rather not jump through the hoops required to learn about transfer programs, you can always redeem your Citi Premier points by using Citi’s travel portal to book any flight or hotel room without having to worry about award availability or blackout dates at a value of 1 cent per point. Even if you take this easy path, the 60,000-point bonus is still worth a sweet $600 in value.
What could be better: While it’s great to have unique transfer partners, the Citi ThankYou airline partnerships lean heavily toward international programs that are best utilized by points and miles experts who don’t mind the time and effort required to take advantage of them. You can get top-notch value for your points by using them, but they’re not for the faint of heart.
One other surprising downside of the Citi Premier card is that, for a travel credit card, it’s seriously lacking in travel and purchase protections. Citi removed the vast majority of its travel insurance coverage from all its credit cards a few years ago, and as a result, it’s the one aspect of the Citi Premier that pales in comparison to its competitors.
Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, bonus categories, airline and hotel transfer partners.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, an introductory rate on balance transfers and easy cash back.
Learn more and apply now for the Citi Premier Card.
Citi Diamond Preferred: Best for balance transfers Why it’s great in one sentence: If you need to consolidate your debt to reduce your interest expenses, the Citi Diamond Preferred credit card offers an introductory interest rate on balance transfers for a full 21 months for transfers completed in the first four months after you open the card.
This card is right for: People who want to consolidate their existing debt at a low interest rate for an extended period of time.
0% introductory APR for 21 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward). 0% introductory APR on all purchases for the first 12 months (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward). No annual fee. Sign-up bonus: For a limited time, earn a $150 statement credit when you spend $500 in the first three months after opening the account.
What we like about the Citi Diamond Preferred: The first step to getting out of credit card debt is to stop the bleeding by putting a halt to the exorbitant interest you’re paying on your accumulated debt. A credit card with a long introductory balance transfer offer is exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Citi Diamond Preferred comes with a lengthy 21-month introductory period, during which you’ll pay a 0% APR on any balance transfers made during the first four months you have the card. But you’ll want to pay off your entire balance transfer during those 21 months, because when that introductory period ends, the APR will jump to between 13.99% and 23.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
Even better, you’ll get the same 0% APR on new purchases with the card for the first 12 months. Again, the APR goes to between 13.99% and 23.99% at the end of the intro period, depending on your creditworthiness, so make sure you pay off your balance before then.
The Citi Diamond Preferred card also comes with a free FICO credit score online and allows you to choose your payment due date, which is extremely helpful for those who pay their credit card bills around their paycheck schedule and need maximum flexibility.
What could be better: Aside from the balance transfer option and free FICO score, there aren’t a ton of exciting features with the Citi Diamond Preferred. There are no rewards on the card and no important other perks.
You’ll also pay a 5% fee (with a $5 minimum) on any balance transfers made to the Citi Diamond Preferred. That’s higher than average for a balance transfer fee, which is typically closer to 3%, so it’s something you should keep in mind when transferring debt to the card.
If you only need the balance transfer option and not the introductory rate on purchases, consider our benchmark Citi Double Cash card, which offers a 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months you have the card (then a variable APR of 14.24% to 24.24% applies), but also earns cash back on all purchases (though note that balance transfers don’t earn cash back).
Still, if you need to pay no interest on both your new and existing debt for an extended period, the Citi Diamond Preferred is potentially worth the extra cost to buy yourself time to get back on track and firm up your financial picture.
Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory interest rate on purchases for 12 months and on balance transfers for a longer 21 months.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns cash back rewards on all purchases.
Learn more and apply now for the Citi Diamond Preferred Card.
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum: Best introductory rate on purchases Why it’s great in one sentence: For those who’d rather pay no interest on purchases for as long as poss
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