Best Basic Credit Cards

If you are considering getting a credit card, the sheer number of choices available on today’s market can feel overwhelming. Not only that, but you also need to compare the rates, features, fees, and rewards of each offer to determine which one best fits your needs.

Those who already have a card or two know how complicated it can be. Credit cards have more bells and whistles than ever before. And even though they are supposed to make things easier, some can feel like they’re more trouble than they’re worth. 

So if you’re looking to get your first credit card or switch from your old one, you want something simple and straightforward. In response to the growing demand for basic credit cards, several credit card companies now offer just that. These cards make it easier to avoid fees, earn rewards, and make the most of your card.

Why Should You Get A Basic Credit Card?

There are only a handful of credit card companies, but each offers a wide range of different cards. And when you consider the thousands of banks and credit unions that provide their own credit cards, your choices are almost endless. 

From the thousands of cards on the market, you can find rewards cards, credit building cards, secured cards, and branded cards from popular retailers, airlines, and hotel chains. 

But what about people who want a plain Jane credit card? Sometimes, you just want a straightforward card that offers a secure and easy way to pay. 

A basic credit card is simple and doesn’t come with many hard-to-understand terms, conditions, or rewards programs in the fine print. Of course, this also means you won’t earn rewards for purchases. But if you’re satisfied with just the basics or you want something better-suited for chronic overspenders, this is the perfect credit card for you. That’s because these types of cards are more affordable — they usually have fewer fees and low interest rates. 

What Are The Best Basic Credit Cards?

Here are Money’s top basic credit cards:


PenFed Gold Visa Card

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union is the second-largest federally-operated credit union in the US. It was designed to give military and defense employees and their families financial products and services.

While you typically have to join an organization to bank at a credit union, civilians can become a member of PenFed and apply for this basic credit card. With it, you’ll pay lower interest and don’t have to worry about an annual fee or extra charges for cash advances or foreign transactions.

Depending on your credit, you can get approved for 7.49% to 17.99% APR. Although you can’t earn any rewards with this card, you can qualify for a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days after opening your account. As a new cardholder, you also don’t have to pay interest on balance transfers for 12 months. 

Capital One Platinum Mastercard

Do you have fair credit? Or are you looking to build (or improve) your credit score? Then you should consider the Capital One Platinum Mastercard. This basic credit card comes with zero annual fees or extra charges for foreign transactions or balance transfers. 

After six months, Capital One will automatically review your account activity to see if you are eligible for a higher line of credit. You can’t earn rewards, and it has a standard interest rate of 26.99%.

Citi Simplicity Card

It doesn’t get more straightforward than this. This Citi Simplicity Card is designed specifically for people who want a simple and affordable credit card. You don’t need to worry about annual fees, foreign transaction penalties, or other charges. Like other basic credit cards, don’t expect to get any rewards when using the Citi Simplicity card.

New cardholders can enjoy zero APR for 18 months, including purchases and balance transfers, though you need to pay a 3% fee for balance transfers. Depending on your creditworthiness, you can qualify for a 14.74% to 24.74% APR.

Bottom Line

Everyone could use a little simplicity in their lives. And sometimes you just want a credit card; nothing more. If you’re tired of complicated contracts or convoluted rewards programs, you may want to consider a basic credit card. 

By checking out Money’s best basic credit cards, you’ll have a better time picking the right one for you.


  • Steele, Jason. “Credit Cards Don’t Have to Be Complicated. Here Are the Best Basic Options With Few Fees and Low APRs.” Money, 27 Aug. 2020,
Ian Schindler