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Are Consumer Reports “Best Credit Cards” Really the Best?

The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.


Citi Diamond Preferred offer has expired

In the upcoming issue of Consumer Reports magazine, they name their picks for best credit cards of 2012 in three categories: cash back, travel rewards, and balance transfers. The cards were selected from 53 mass-market consumer credit cards and tested by Consumer Reports Money Lab using criteria based on total money spent, fees, and rewards earned.

Are the Consumer Reports choices really the best? Here’s what editors thought of the chosen cards.

Consumer Reports Best Credit Cards of 2012

  • Best cash back credit card: <#table#><#product#>><#prod-name#><#/product#><#/table#>

This card is one of the best values out there for families looking for cash back rewards, hands down. With six percent cash back on groceries, three percent back on gas, and one percent back on all other purchases, it easily earns back its $75 annual fee. take: This really is the highest-value cash rewards card on the market today; however, customers have to have extremely good credit to be approved, making it an inaccessible choice for many customers. The Discover More gives five percent cash back in rotating categories, has no annual fee, and is a credit card that a much higher percentage of customers can be approved for.

  • Best travel rewards credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card benefits from being part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which lets cardholders use their rewards points toward flights on virtually any airline, as well as at hotels, car rental agencies and on cruises or trains. With a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, it’s easy to see why Consumer Reports named this card the best in travel. take: The flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program really is fantastic, but the transferability of Ultimate Reward points is a fairly recent perk that Chase adopted in order to compete with the American Express Membership Rewards program. If people are looking for a good no-annual fee, high-value travel rewards card, they should check out the American Express Blue Sky card.

  • Best balance transfer credit card: Chase Slate

Consumer Reports is a fan of this card because it has no balance transfer fee – something that used to be relatively easy to find, but is now very rare among balance transfer credit cards. With a 15-month zero percent APR introductory period on balance transfers, there’s no doubt that the Chase Slate is a good option for customers looking to transfer a balance, but is it the best? take: Customers who apply for a Chase Slate card should be aware of two things: first, they have to transfer their balance within the first 60 days of opening the account, or else a three percent balance transfer fee kicks in, and second, they should be prepared to pay off their balance within 15 months, before the APR goes up to between 11.99 and 21.99 percent. The second-choice card, Citi Diamond Preferred (offer has expired), gives an 21-month zero percent APR period on balance transfers, so you have a little more time to pay off your balance without accruing interest – although it does have a three percent balance transfer fee right off the bat.

Finding the right card for you

Readers shouldn’t rely on “best-of” lists alone, which can be a good jumping-off point when searching for a credit card, but may not reflect their particular circumstances and needs. A tool like’s Credit Card Navigator lets credit card shoppers enter their credit score (or general credit history, from poor to excellent) and desired rewards, along with how they intend to use their new credit card, and get personalized recommendations.

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer(s). Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer(s), and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer(s). Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate information, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank for the terms & conditions.
All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.
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