The Dollargeek Methodology For Credit Cards

Dollargeek is all about demystifying finance, which also applies to credit cards. We critically evaluate credit cards based on utility and value, being candid about less beneficial cards.

Credit Card Ratings Methodology

Our credit card ratings encompass several aspects:

  • Annual fees
  • Introductory offers
  • Ongoing earning rates
  • Value of points or miles
  • Inclusive discounts and benefits
  • Additional card perks

We place higher importance on frequently used features, which collectively determine a card’s star rating.

Best Credit Card Lists Procedure

We assess cards as standalone products and against other cards in specific categories. Ratings can vary based on a card’s suitability for a category and user preferences.

A card might be average in a rewards list, but could top a no-annual-fee rewards list due to its comparative advantage after excluding fee-charging cards.

Using government data, we approximate typical cardholder spending, ensuring consistent and fair comparisons. We also factor in each card’s bonus categories.

Data Sourcing for Best Lists

For good to excellent credit-required cards, we base calculations on the spending of households earning $116,000 annually. For fair or below credit-required cards, we use $91,162-earning households’ data.

We consider net earnings (rewards minus fees), interest rates, and other fees. Additional categories come into play for certain card types.

Rating Different Credit Cards

Cash-back cards are judged on cash back and other elements like fees, reward maximization ease, and promotional offers. Travel cards are assessed based on benefits against annual fees, including allowances, status upgrades, lounge access, and trip protections. Branded cards are evaluated on perks like enhanced status, increased earnings, and annual freebies. 

Cards for fair or bad credit are rated based on credit improvement potential, considering whether a card is secured, APR, fees, and credit bureau reporting. For student cards, we look at accessibility, upgrade potential, rewards, and benefits like no foreign transaction fee or 0% APR offers.

Dollargeek Team and Process

Our team, composed of industry veterans, ensures accuracy through a stringent review process with multiple checkpoints before publication.

Our commitment to relevance means our top credit card content gets reviewed at least twice a year, with immediate updates when card features change.