Our Credit Card Rating Methodology
MoneyGeek experts create comprehensive reviews and comparisons of credit cards to help our readers find the best cards for their lifestyle. By focusing on the key details of each card and providing unbiased recommendations, MoneyGeek is a trusted resource when choosing your next credit card.
There are hundreds of credit cards for consumers and small businesses to choose from when they're ready for a new card. Narrowing down the choices can be overwhelming for many, but MoneyGeek is here to help. Our thorough review process helps us determine the best credit cards for each type of reader based on each card's fees, interest rates, rewards, benefits and more.
Step 1: Collected Credit Card Data & Information
We independently gathered data on credit card issuers based on those listed in the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's credit card agreement database. This allowed us to collect information on approximately 2,500 credit cards.
Approximate Numbers of Cards Collected
- Credit Card CategoryApprox. # of Cards
- General Consumer Cards1,600
- Business Credit Cards545
- Student Cards80
Step 2: Standardized data points for ranking calculations
For each issuer, we manually visited the issuer’s official website to ensure we had the most up-to-date data on the fees, benefits and reward structures associated with each card offered. We approximately collected, analyzed and compared about 56 different data points for each card and category. These data points include annual fees, introductory offers, spend limits, reward rates and types (points, cash back, etc.), APR and much more.
Step 3: Estimated average spend profiles
Using a standardized spend profile based on the mean American household from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we projected the expected annual spend across multiple categories of purchases. If the card earned rewards, we used this spending data to determine how much it would earn if the consumer used it exclusively for all eligible purchases.
Note: While many consumers use more than one credit card to maximize the available benefits according to different spend categories, we cannot account for such optimizing in our general rankings.
Step 4: Factored in annual and introductory bonuses
All introductory and annual bonuses offered by the issuer for each card were assumed to be earned based on our BLS spending data.
Step 5: Established the 3-year value for each credit card
Based on those calculations, we determined the approximate three-year value of holding a card, based on the expected benefit of the card's rewards less the cost of maintaining that card (such as by annual fees).
Step 6: Created data review and re-ranking processes
Because card details and welcome offers change regularly, the MoneyGeek team runs this process monthly to ensure our data, rankings and recommendations are as up to date as possible. We also run a more thorough process on a semi-annual basis to include any new or remove any old credit cards from our dataset.
How Are These Rankings Used?
The output of our calculations determines which credit cards are featured in our ‘Best Cards Lists’ every month. Our card recommendations and expert tips are meant to help you make the best decision when choosing a new card or how to use your current card effectively to pay down debt or maximize rewards.
Explore our monthly card recommendations and tips by clicking on one of the boxes below:
Disclaimer About Our Rankings
Every person is unique and may have different credit rating factors to consider when choosing a credit card. Though we do our best at MoneyGeek to filter and suggest the best credit card for a specific category or spend profile, our data is representative of quality, publicly sourced information and should not be interpreted as bindable.
- Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. "Credit Card Agreement Database." Accessed May 1, 2021.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Consumer Expenditures--2019." Accessed March 1, 2021.
- Census.gov. "2019 Capital Spending Report." Accessed May 1, 2021.
- Fed Small Business. "2021 Small Business Credit Survey." Accessed May 1, 2021.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings.com and CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek, CardRatings and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.