Credit cards can be such secure and convenient financial tools that they might seem like magic to people who lived 100 years ago. Unfortunately, these magical little plastic cards also come with a maze of terms and conditions that can be a nightmare for many users. In fact, the two biggest problems that many credit card users have with their cards tend to be the harsh penalties and the ease of incurring debt.
Simple credit cards, however, can offer cardholders relief from balance transfer fees, late fees, foreign transaction fees and penalty interest rates. So what should you look for when selecting a simple credit card? Try to find the card with the features that will benefit you the most. If you have had trouble making payments on time, look for a card with no late fees or penalty interest rate. If you need to perform a balance transfer, you can save a significant amount of money by avoiding balance transfer fees, which are typically 3% of the amount transferred. Those who travel outside the U.S., or make purchases that may be processed in foreign countries, will also want to look for a card with no foreign transaction fees.
As you shop for a credit card, it can help if you know whether you meet the issuer’s guidelines (including your credit scores), so that you apply for a credit card that you’re more likely to get approved for. There are free tools that can help you prepare for your search, like Credit.com’s Credit Report Card, which gives you two credit scores and an overview of your credit profile, and updates them every month.
Now, let’s take a look at this month’s Best Credit Cards in America picks for simple credit cards, based on a thorough review of many offers.
The Winner: PenFed Promise
PenFed is the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which offers the only card on the market with no fees for anything. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Applicants have to join the PenFed credit union first, but then they can apply for this card that has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no balance transfer fee, no cash advance fee, no late fee and no penalty APR.
Other features: New applicants receive a 7.49% APR for 36 months, and a 4.99% APR promotional balance transfer rate that is good until the transferred balance is paid off. To keep costs down and stay green, cardholders must agree to receive all PenFed credit card statements electronically.
The costs: After the promotional rate expires in three years, the standard interest rate will be 9.99% APR, but will vary based on the Prime Rate.
1st Runner-Up: Slate from Chase
This card is the only one on the market that offers 0% APR promotional balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. New cardholders receive 15 months of interest-free financing on purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of opening an account. There is no annual fee for this card.
Other features: Cardholders can utilize Chase’s innovative Blueprint program at no additional cost. This feature includes powerful budgeting and goal setting tools, and cardholders can even save interest by choosing to pay some charges in full while carrying a balance on others.
The costs: While this card doesn’t have a balance transfer fee for new cardholders, it retains the customary late fees, penalty interest rates and 3% foreign transaction fees.
2nd Runner-Up:Barclaycard Ring
Ring is an entirely different kind of credit card that uses social media to allow cardholders to shape this card’s policies, but it is a simple card at its core. It features a low 8% interest rate on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. The cash advance fee is just $1 for each ATM withdrawal, and the foreign transaction fee is just 1%.
Other features: Barclaycard customers have a access to a forum where they can interact with the product managers and each other. In fact, Barclaycard opens up the books so that customers can see how much income is being generated, and how profits are being distributed in the form of cardholder rewards and charitable donations.
The costs: There is no annual fee for this card.
Compare these simple credit cards with other credit cards on Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Slate from Chase and Barclaycard Ring are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com may be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for either of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.