Fine print, Living with credit

Consumer Reports rates the best and worst of credit cards

Connie Prater

The October 2008 issue of Consumer Reports hit newsstands this week with the best — and worst — credit cards on the market.

The magazine analyzed hundreds of credit cards and published a list of the best 12 and worst three. The cards were selected after CR researchers reviewed the terms and conditions disclosed by issuers.

According to CR Associate Editor Chris Fichera, the best cards were those that carried no annual fees, no balance transfer fees or offered the greatest cash back incentives. The worst cards were those that carried hidden fees, account set-up fees, monthly servicing fees similar to subprime (or fee harvesting credit cards) or those that asked applicants for too much personal information or carried no grace period for monthly payments.

Here are some of the listings:

The best
For low-rate, low-fee credit cards, CR recommends:

  • Capital One Platinum Prestige.
  • Clear from American Express.
  • Iberiabank Visa Classic.

For cash-back cards:

  • Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards.
  • Chase Freedom Visa.
  • Discover More.

For gas cards, they recommend:

  • Chase PerfectCard MasterCard.
  • Discovr Open Road.
  • Hess Platinum Visa.

The worst
The magazine says steer clear of the following cards:

  • First Premier Bank card.
  • HSBC American DreamCard.
  • New Millennium Visa or MasterCard.

Get regular card checkups
CR recommends consumers check the terms and conditions of their credit card accounts regularly to look for changes such as interest rate increase, lowered credit limits or fees.

“Whether you have good credit or bad, you should check your account terms with your credit cards,” CR Executive Editor Greg Daugherty, said in a press release. “Several card issuers have doubled or tripled interest rates for some customers in recent months, even though many were current on their bills and have good credit.”

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  • Ricardo cortes

    total visa credit i just got is it reputable

  • Beth Lindemann

    I currently have a Capital One card and they are
    charging us 23.99% interest because we were late with one payment in the last 12 mos. Can’t get them to reduce it. ASAP I will have something different in “my wallet”!

  • daidrmiller

    my wifes capital one card went up to 21% mine is going up to 17% what`s the deal

  • Anonymous

    no tranfer fees

  • Jon

    I have had the absolute worst service from Chase. I often make 2-4 payments per month on my card. i recently made payments on July 2 and July 29. Since my billing cycle starts on the 4th and the payment is due by the 28th I got a late charge of $39 and my APR jumped from 6.99% to over 27%. they will not make any exceptions even for really good customers who make large payments. Even though I made two payments in the month of July they could not do anything for me. And the customers ervice reps are extremely rude and unhelpful. I will no longer be doing business with Chase.

  • Darlen

    I was paying my Chase cc bill on time. I have promotional offer for life but now they are billing me 3 times for 1 month bill and increased my rate. It is crazy! It’s hard to make the payment and now what do I do! They told me I had no choice. I feel cheated.

  • Andrew

    Wife and I both have Chase United Mileage plus cards. Took advantage of the 2.99% transfers for life of loans. Now they are changing the deal on us, they told us to either accept a 250% increase in the minimum payment or accept a 7.99% apr for only 2 years. With 250% increase in minimum payment our monthly payments are going from $200 to $500! We have never missed a payment or been late, this is soley because they don’t wan’t to live with the deals they made. A complete bait and switch. DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH CHASE. I have never been wronged like this by a major corporation or bank before, I am just stunned. I would expect something like this from a scam artist, not from a major institution.

  • Martha

    As another burned by Chase raising the minimum payments (in my case on 3.99% for the life of the loan), I too would recommend avoiding both their credit cards and their bank. They may get their money faster (or drive customers to default which may be what they want) but they are destroying their brand. Six months ago, I would have said they were the best. Now they are dead to me and I will cancel each card as the balance is paid off. I said “no thanks” to their bait-and-switch 7.99% for a limited time offer to restore the 2% minimum payment, though I may be very, very skinny by the time I get my payments back to a level I can actually afford.

  • Erica

    Wow – I got on here to research credit cards because I, too, have been burned by Chase. When they took over WAMU and bought my account they jacked up my APR to over 28% – when I called they told me to be “patient” as they were re-evaluating the accounts they had purchased. That was in January. It’s now Novemenber and they are still telling me to be patient. Their customer service is unforgivably rude and I’ve been a great customer – always on time, always pay far more than the minimum and usually more than one payment a month. Does anyone like their credit card? I’ve got to have one for travel, so I need something.

  • Boo Hoo


  • Pay in cash boo hoo is right

    pay in cash they creat people

  • Teri

    I have experienced the worst customer service from applied bank credit card. I over several months repeatedly asked them if they could lower my APR as I was struggling to make the 29.9% payment , they refused.I asked them if they would close it and let me continue to make payments so that I was not continuing to collect that high interest, they refused. I would get nasty calls fromthem at work , at home at all hours of the night. And I took out a loan to make a huge dent in the bill and i payed a payment of $1200.00 and after I did that then they sent m,e a letter stated that the card was closed(where i could no longer charge but it still collects interest
    ). I think Applied bank is in the business to screw tthe customer not help or even provide a service. This is the worst credit card company i have ever had business with. I hope they go out of business…..i hope our gov’t(we the people) does not bail them out because they do not help us(we the people).

  • Dalah Vargas

    I just got my first credit card, its the Capital One Platinum. I researched it before I applied, and happy to see that here, it was the first on the list of top cards.

  • dont worry about it

    Yes paying in cash would be easier and less stressful, but you cant pay in cash if you want to build your credit score.