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Types of Credit Cards

Last Updated: January 15, 2024
4 min read

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Key points about: different types of credit cards

  1. Some credit card rewards programs offer fixed rewards rates, while others have bonus perks in specified spending categories.

  2. Student and secured cards can help users with no or limited credit history build responsible habits.

  3. Credit cards with 0% introductory interest rates provide some relief from accruing interest.

There are many types of credit cards available, each with their own perks, requirements, and conditions. With so many credit cards, how do you pick which one is best for you?

It all depends on your personal financial situation, along with how you anticipate using your card—whether for travel, everyday spending, or something else. There’s likely a card out there for you, no matter if you have an established credit history or are just starting out.

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Different types of credit cards are best for different uses

When weighing credit card options, it helps to consider your goals. For example, you can decide whether you want to maximize rewards on eligible purchases by getting a rewards credit card, build credit history, or pay down accumulated credit debt.

Credit cards with fixed rewards

Some types of credit cards offer a fixed rewards rate on all eligible purchases, regardless of category. This means that no matter how you spend with your card, you’ll get a constant, specified amount of redeemable value in return, such as miles or cash back rewards.

The Discover it® Miles Card, for example, offers 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase, while offering no annual fee. Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year.1 Plus, easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases or get cash.2

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Credit cards with bonus rewards categories

If there’s a certain type of spending for which you mainly use your credit card, like travel, dining, or gas, you may want to opt for a credit card with bonus rewards on these purchases. These types of credit cards offer higher-value perks in specified categories, allowing you to make the most out of your purchasing habits.

The Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card, for example, earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases–automatically.3

There’s also the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card, where you can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate

Types of credit cards to build credit

If you have no or limited credit history, you may not be eligible for every type of credit card rewards program. However, there are several card options expressly designed for building credit.

Secured credit cards

If you’re starting from scratch or have little credit history, you may qualify for a secured credit card, which allows you to pay a deposit up front up to the amount of your approved credit line. However, if you don’t pay off your secured card’s balance when you close the account, the credit card issuer typically keeps your deposit and applies it to the outstanding balance.

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The Discover it® Secured Credit Card has the added perk of offering cash back rewards—earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.3 And get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, automatically.4

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Student credit cards

If you’re at least 18 years old and are enrolled in a two- or four-year college, you might qualify for a student credit card, which can help newer cardmembers build their credit history without having to put up a security deposit.

Both the Discover® Student Cash Back and Chrome for Students cards come with no annual fee and let you earn cash back rewards.

Types of credit cards to save on interest

Other types of credit cards let you save on interest. For these, look out for low intro APRs on balance transfers and purchases.

Balance transfer credit cards

A balance transfer is when you switch debt from one credit card or loan to another credit card. If you transfer high interest debt onto a card with a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers, you can save money on interest if you pay off the balance before the introductory period expires. It can offer a way to temporarily reduce the interest rate (provided the new card has a lower interest rate) to give you time to pay down the debt.

0% intro APR credit cards for purchases

Some balance transfer credit cards come with the added perk of offering 0% intro APR on purchases, meaning you’ll pay no interest on any purchase during the intro period. There are also credit cards with 0% intro APR on purchases that don’t include a balance transfer intro APR.

Just keep in mind that no introductory period will last forever. Once it expires, you’ll have to pay a higher interest rate on the balance.

What’s the best type of credit card to have?

There’s no single best type of credit card for everyone. Before deciding on a card, you’ll want to compare fees, perks, and terms to determine which is best for your personal financial goals.

Just keep in mind that while you can have more than one card, applying for too many at once can affect your credit score.

Regardless of which card you choose, remember to use it responsibly and aim to pay your balance in full each month. No matter your starting point, this will always put you on the road toward a better financial future.


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