How FinanceBuzz Rates Credit Cards

FinanceBuzz rates credit cards on a variety of criteria, including potential value to our readers as well as other features and benefits related to the card's category. To rate cards for our reviews, we divide them into two main types:

  1. Consumer credit cards
  2. Small business credit cards

For consumer credit cards, we then assign each card to one of five categories:

  1. Travel
  2. Cash Back
  3. 0% Intro APR
  4. Student
  5. Credit Builder

We rate all the credit cards we review on a scale from one to five stars — five being the highest score any card can get. Exact star ratings are the product of our proprietary calculations.

Overview of our card rating method

Our rating method generates an overall score for each credit card based on a combination of subscores. The subscores come from our estimated annual value for cardholders, as well as other factors that influence the average person’s experience with the card.

For example, for travel credit cards, we look at earning rates in travel categories as well as how the card’s travel-related perks and features stack up against other options.

Note that our annual values for each card are estimations based on our own spending models in the context of each card’s features and offerings. These values are not guaranteed to any cardholder and are instead intended to help readers identify which card could potentially fit their needs and supplement their lifestyle. Our system does not account for every possible benefit or drawback, and readers should consider other factors before deciding which cards to apply for.

Travel card ratings

Travel cards typically earn points or miles and offer higher rewards rates on travel purchases.

We rate travel cards primarily based on their estimated annual value to the cardholder, as well as on their potential value for travel purchases specifically. We also consider card features that are most important to frequent travelers, such as transfer partners, redemption options, travel protection, and other perks.

Cash back card ratings

Cash back cards typically earn points that can be redeemed for statement credits (among other options). They often offer higher rewards rates on daily spending categories, such as gas and groceries.

We rate cash back cards primarily based on their estimated annual value to the cardholder, as well as on their rewards earning potential for common everyday purchases. We also consider features that are valuable to the average cardholder, such as ease of use, redemption options, and various perks specific to card membership.

0% intro APR card ratings

The most important feature with these types of cards is a 0% introductory APR offered for a set period of time on purchases, balance transfers, or both. These cards may offer other rewards and perks, but if so, they typically earn points that can be redeemed as statement credits (among other options).

We rate 0% intro APR cards primarily based on the length and quality of their intro APR periods on purchases and balance transfers (as compared to other cards in the category) as well as on fees. We also consider the card’s estimated annual value, as well as other offerings, such as consumer protection features, rewards options, and various perks specific to card membership.

Student card ratings

Student cards are geared toward young adults who are still working on building a credit history. These cards may or may not offer rewards programs that let students earn points, miles, or cash back.

We rate student cards primarily based on the availability of credit monitoring tools and credit building potential, as well as on fees and features such as ease of payment methods, ease of use, and other perks that could be beneficial to students specifically.

Credit builder card ratings

These types of cards are geared toward people who have fair to poor credit, and who are working on building a credit history or rehabilitating their credit. Credit builder cards include secured credit cards, and they typically require a deposit. These cards rarely offer rewards programs.

We rate credit builder cards primarily based on the availability of credit monitoring tools. We also assess fees and other features, such as ease of payment methods and how well the card helps people reach the next step in their credit journey — whether that’s upgrading to another type of credit card or improving their credit score.

Business card ratings

Small business owners and solopreneurs are top of mind for us when rating business cards. The most valuable credit cards to this type of reader include cash back and travel cards that offer rewards on common business expenses and travel costs.

We rate business cards primarily based on their annual value to the user. We also score these cards on business-specific features, such as earning rates on things like office supplies and telecommunications, as well as travel perks and reward redemption options.

How card ratings influence our content

Individual card ratings influence the cards we choose to feature in our content. We’re more likely to include cards with high scores, but our editorial team also considers topic-specific features and drawbacks to prioritize the needs of our audience. Credit cards with below-average scores may still be featured if their offerings fit a particular topic and could be valuable to readers.

As detailed in our editorial policy and advertiser disclosure, we often receive compensation from companies featured in our content. However, while compensation may influence the order in which cards appear on a page, it does not in any way influence our star rating calculations or editorial opinions and recommendations.