No doubt about it, this has been a very good year for credit cards. Sure, interest rates are still a little high, but in the past few months, banks have loosened the purse strings a little. This led to some really exceptional credit card offers during the past year. In fact, the sign-up bonuses got better and better as the year progressed.
So here’s my last shout-out to the best cards of 2011:
Best Airline Miles Credit Card
This card was the winner of the Best Airline Miles Credit Card in America last month. It has a generous rewards program plus an extraordinary sign-up bonus. If you spend $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points, which is worth $625 toward airfare or hotel expenses.
You also get two points per $1 spent on travel and dining. If you book your travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards online booking tool, you’ll get an additional point, which gives you three points per eligible $1 spent.
APR: 15.24 percent (V); Annual fee: $95, waived for the first year.
Best Airline-Branded Card
Runner-up: Continental Airlines OnePass Plus Card
These cards are so similar, it’s hard to choose. If you fly either United or Continental frequently, there’s a lot to like. But the United card is a Visa Signature card, which comes with extra benefits, so it gets the nod just ahead of the Continental card.
All you have to do is buy a cup of coffee to get 25,000 bonus miles. You can earn up to 40,000 bonus miles within the first year. Both you and your companion get one free checked bag. You also get priority boarding privileges and two free passes to the United Club each year. Rewards include 2 miles for every $1 spent on tickets purchased from United or Continental.
APR: 14.24 percent (V); Annual fee: $95, waived for first year.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Card
This card was the winner of the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card in America this past spring. If you spend $650 within the first three months, you get 20,000 bonus points. You earn 5 points for every $1 spent on airfare and one point for every $1 spent on everything else. You get to enjoy a concierge service along with outstanding travel benefits and discounts.
If you don’t have a family member in the military, you can join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union by contributing $20 to the National Military Family Association. You can get more details on the card’s home page.
APR: 13.99 percent (V); Annual Fee: None.
Best Low-Interest Credit Card
This card was the winner of the Best Low Interest Credit Card in America last month. This is the perfect card to have in your pocket for an emergency. Or if you’re currently having cash flow issues and you need to revolve a balance, this credit card gives you a low-cost way to survive until you can make ends meet again. You also get travel insurance coverage up to $1,000,000, which is very generous.
APR: 7.25 percent (V); Annual fee: None.
Best Cash Back Credit Card
This card was the winner of the Best Cash Back Credit Card in America this past spring. You get a $50 cash back bonus after your first purchase. You earn 5 percent cash back when you use your card for purchases in rotating categories and 1 percent on other purchases.
But the crowned jewel of this card is the 9.99 percent APR. I rarely see a rewards credit card with such a low starting APR. Now, you have to have excellent credit to qualify for that, so it won’t be offered to everyone who applies. But if you have an exemplary credit history and tend to revolve a balance from time to time, this is a great choice.
APR: 9.99 percent – 22.99 percent (V); Annual Fee: None.
The Best Credit Cards of 2011 (cont.) »
At publishing time, Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, United Mileage Plus Explorer, Continental Airlines OnePass Plus Card, Simmons First Visa Platinum and Chase Freedom Visa – As Low As 9.99% APR are offered on Credit.com product pages and Credit.com may be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Main image: alykat, via Flickr.com
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