[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Mismanaging your credit cards can really cost you. Go over your credit limit and you’ll get hit with a fee. Need to transfer a high-interest balance? You’ll pay a fee. Miss a payment? Incur a fee — and a penalty annual percentage rate (APR).
Some credit cards, however, will give you a pass from time to time — at least as far as fees and those pesky penalty APRs are concerned. Credit scoring consequences will still apply, which is why you’ll want to do your very best not to get into trouble. (You can see how your card use is affecting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.) Still, it’s nice to know that not every mistake will cost you. Credit card late fees, after all, can run you $25 to $37 and penalty APRs are no joke — industry standard is around a variable 29.99%.
Expert Intel: Some issuers will forgo reporting a first missed payment to the credit bureaus, too, if you call them up and plead your case. (Accidents happen, you know?) Habitual offenders, however, shouldn’t expect their issuer to acquiesce.
With that in mind, here are four credit cards that’ll cut you some slack.
1. PenFed Promise Visa Card
Why We’re Mentioning it: Because when it comes to fee-free credit cards, the PenFed Promise Visa is king. There’s no annual fee, no late fees, no balance transfer fees, no over-the-limit fees, no cash advance fees and no foreign transaction fees. Plus, there’s no penalty APR. All that and you can earn a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 in your first 3 months. One note: PenFed is a credit union open primarily to military members and their families, though there are other ways to qualify for membership. See its website for full details.
Annual Fee: $0
Purchase APR: Variable 9.49% to 17.99%, depending on your credit
Why We’re Mentioning it: On top of being a solid rewards credit card, the Discover it completely forgoes over-the-limit fees, and a late payment won’t incur a penalty APR. You’ll also get a free pass the first time you miss a payment. (Remember, though, you’ll want to avoid skipping a due date at all costs, as doing so can seriously muck up your credit.) You won’t have to pay an annual fee either. As for the rewards, Discover it cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in revolving quarterly bonus categories, plus 1% cash back everywhere else. They’ll also get a dollar-for-dollar match on all the cash back they earn in their first year at the end of it (hence the name.)
Purchase APR: Variable 11.99% to 23.99% depending on your credit, after 14-month 0% introductory APR expires
Why We’re Mentioning it: The Citi Simplicity’s big selling point is its balance transfer offer: Cardholders get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a whopping 21 months (after that, it’s a variable14.24% to 24.24%, depending on creditworthiness). On top of that, the card’s also relatively cheap to carry. It skips late fees and forgoes a penalty APR. Plus, there’s no annual fee to start with. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
Annual Fee: $0
Purchase APR: Variable 14.24% to 24.24%, depending on your credit, after a 21-month introductory APR expires.
4. Chase Slate
Why We’re Mentioning it: The Chase Slate also forgoes a penalty APR, and it also sweetens its 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (variable 15.74% to 24.49%, after that) by waiving the balance transfer fee during the first 60 days after account opening. (After those 60 days, the balance transfer fee will run you 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum fee of $5.) And, like all of the other cards on our list, there’s no annual fee.
Annual Fee: $0
Purchase APR: Variable 15.74% to 24.49%
At publishing time, the the PenFed Promise Visa, Discover it — Cashback Match, Citi Simplicity and Chase Slate credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
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.