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Which of the Big Credit Card Companies Should You Go With?

October 12, 2020

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Many people get their first credit card from the bank or credit union where they already have a checking account. But it’s not a requirement—nor is it necessarily the best option—to stick with one company for all your financial needs. 

If you have an online or mobile bank, it’s easy to connect your accounts to pay your credit card bill. And you could choose from the hundreds of credit cards that can help you build credit, save money, or earn rewards. 

The Top Six Credit Card Issuers

As part of your decision-making process, you may want to consider what each credit card issuer has to offer. 

American Express

American Express is well known for its premium cards and services. Amex’s has cash back cards and rewards cards that you can use to earn American Express Membership Rewards points.

In addition to credit cards, American Express has charge cards. These work the same for day-to-day purchases, but you generally have to pay your balance off in full each month. However, if you enroll in the Pay It Plan It program, you may be able to pay off some charge card transactions over time. 

Bank of America

The first credit cards can be traced back to BankAmericard, which was launched in the late 1950s and eventually became the first Visa card. 

Bank of America has a unique Preferred Rewards program, which offers extra benefits to current customers based on their combined Bank of America deposit and Merrill investment account balances. At the highest level—a combined balance over $100,000—you’ll get a 75% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards.

Capital One

Capital One is known for offering cards to people with average or poor credit, including some of the best secured and student cards. Although, it also has some great premium card options for those with good or excellent credit. Its Venture rewards cards let you earn miles that you can redeem for travel rewards or transfer to partner loyalty programs. 

None of Capital One’s cards have a foreign transaction fee and all cardholders get access to the technology-driven card benefits. These include security measures, like the ability to create virtual card numbers for online shopping or lock your card if you lose it.  


Chase is one of the largest credit card issuers. It has a wide range of rewards cards that are part of its Ultimate Rewards program. Several years ago, Chase released the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which quickly became the hot rewards card and a top contender with the Platinum Card from American Express as king of the premium cards. 

Many Chase cards require good to excellent credit. However, there are a few options for those who are first starting out or rebuilding credit, including a recently launched student card. Chase’s credit card resources center gives an overview of many of the benefits cardholders can receive, including access to the credit-tracking Credit Journey program, spending reports, and Chase Offers. 


Citibank also offers a variety of cards that are part of the company’s Citi ThankYou Points rewards program or co-branded rewards cards. Similar to American Express and Chase’s in-house rewards programs, you can redeem the points in different ways, including cash back, travel, or by transferring points to partner frequent traveler programs. Citi’s cardholder benefits include virtual account numbers and a quick-lock feature.  

Citibank notably has the Citi Double Cash Card, which is widely considered one of the best flat-rate cash back cards without an annual fee. Using the card, you can earn 1% cash back on your purchases and another 1% when you pay your credit card bill. Also, its balance transfer cards often come with a long promotional 0% APR period. 


Discover has student, secured, business, and rewards cards. Most offer two different rewards structures. Either a rotating bonus category rewards, letting you earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases within certain categories each quarter. Or, 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined gas station and restaurant purchases each quarter. Both options earn 1% cash back on other purchases, and there are 1.5% cash back business and travel cards (you can redeem the “miles” for cash back or to offset travel purchases).

Its secured card is one of the few secured cards that offers rewards, and it doesn’t have an annual fee. In fact, none of Discover’s cards have an annual fee or foreign transaction fee. All the cards also offer an intriguing intro bonus for new cardholders, doubling the cash back you earn during your first year. 

The cardmember benefits include free Social Security monitoring, the ability to freeze your Discover accounts, and FICO Score tracking. You can also use a Discover card to get up to $120 per day as cash back at participating retailers, without paying any cash advance fees or interest. 

Choosing Your Next Credit Card

Regardless of which card issuer may catch your eye, choosing your next card can depend on your goals and relationship with money. 

For example, a balance transfer card could help you pay off debt without accruing additional interest. Or, if you don’t have credit card debt, a premium rewards card might offer extra rewards and perks that align with your lifestyle. In either case, you’ll want to be careful if you tend to overspend, as transferring balances won’t help if you max out your card again, and rewards cards may have high interest rates. 

Once you’ve decided which type of card you want, you might start looking for a few of the best picks. There’s no shortage of review and comparison sites. However, keep in mind credit card companies pay big bucks in referral fees, which may influence which cards get reviewed and the order the cards appear in rankings. 

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”).. Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).
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Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance finance writer based in Oakland, California. He specializes in consumer credit, personal finance, and small business finance, and loves helping people find ways to save money. In addition to Varo, Louis works with a variety of financial services firms, credit bureaus, and educational websites, including Credit Karma, Wirecutter, Funding Circle, and Experian.

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