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Banking

The Best in Banking and Credit

Here are our picks for stellar rewards cards, high-rate savings accounts and identity protection.

Looking for a low-rate credit card? How about a cash-rebate card or airline rewards card? We've found the best of these and other types of credit cards. Plus, we'll also tell you which banks offer the best checking and savings accounts. And we have picked the best way to protect your identity and where to report it if you become a victim of identity theft.


RELATED LINKS

Slide Show: More of Our Favorite Things

The Best of Everything

More Credit and Banking Info


Credit Cards

BEST GASOLINE CREDIT CARD
BP Visa
Cut the price of gas with the BP Visa (877-278-4729; www.bpchase.com), which gives you a 5% rebate on all BP purchases, including car washes and items at its convenience store. In addition, you get 2% back on most travel and dining purchases and 1% on the rest of your spending.

BEST CASH-REBATE CARD
American Express Blue Cash
Using Blue Cash for all of your spending can put a lot of money in your pocket. You earn 1% on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases, plus 0.5% on all other spending up to $6,500. After that, your rebate jumps to 5% on gas, groceries and drugstore products (excluding purchases at Costco and similar stores) and 1.5% on everything else. There's a $50,000 spending cap, so your rebate potential is more than $2,000 (800-223-2670; www.americanexpress.com).

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BEST CARD FOR TRAVEL ABROAD
Capital One Platinum MasterCard
Most major credit-card issuers pass along to customers the 1% fee Visa and MasterCard charge for purchases made in a foreign currency, plus an additional 2% fee when a purchase must be converted into dollars. Capital One's no-fee Platinum MasterCard charges neither, which makes it our top choice when you travel overseas (877-304-2066; www.capitalone.com).

BEST AIRLINE REWARDS CARD
Citi PremierPass Elite
The $75 annual fee for the Citi PremierPass Elite (800-248-4226; www.citibank.com) could be a good investment for frequent travelers. You earn two points per dollar spent for groceries, gas, commuter transportation and parking, plus one point per dollar on everything else. Purchase a qualifying ticket, which generally means one that costs at least $299 for a ticket within the U.S. (including Hawaii in season), and you receive a free companion ticket.

BEST LOW-RATE CARD ISSUERS
Capital One, Simmons First, Pulaski Bank
If you have excellent credit -- which Capital One defines as having a credit card for at least five years, a credit line of more than $10,000, no bankruptcies and no payments more than 60 days late -- you qualify for Capital One's platinum Prestige cards (877-304-2066; www.capitalone.com). Its 6.9% rate is variable. Cards from Simmons First (800-636-5151; www.simmonsfirst.com) and Pulaski Bank (800-980-2265; www.pulaskibank.com) have fixed rates of 7.25% and 7.99% respectively. Pulaski charges an annual fee.

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BEST CARD FOR BUSINESS EXPENSES
Advanta Platinum
A business credit card can simplify your life at tax time because you don't have to separate business and personal expenses. The no-fee Advanta Platinum business card (800-780-3945; www.advanta.com) also offers a generous 5% rebate on gasoline, office supplies, utility bills and Internet service, with a $300 annual cap.

Banking

BEST CHECKING ACCOUNT
EverBank
EverBank's online-only interest-bearing checking account offers a minimum yield of 3.25%, and it can go up to 4.41% on balances of $100,000 or more (www.everbank.com). That's ten times the yield of the average interest-bearing checking account. Opening the account requires $1,500. For the first three months take advantage of an introductory rate of 6.01%.

BEST ONLINE SAVINGS ACCOUNT
HSBCDirect
Earn top dollar -- in this case 5.05% -- in a federally insured account (www.hsbcdirect.com). All it takes is $1 to open an account either by electronically transferring money from another account or by mailing in a deposit. You'll get an ATM card to make deposits or withdrawals at any ATM. Keep in mind that money you transfer electronically will take two or three days to clear.

Identity theft

BEST PLACE TO REPORT ID THEFT
Federal Trade Commission
The FTC's ID-theft Web site offers step-by-step instructions for reporting identity theft. To keep an eye out for suspicious activity, order a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year at AnnualCreditReport.com. For updates on security breaches, see the Web sites of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Identity Theft Resource Center.

BEST WAY TO AVOID ID THEFT
Fellowes P-57Cs Shredder
The most popular shredders cut paper into thin strips that a determined thief could reassemble. Your identity will be safer if you choose a "cross cut" shredder, which turns paper into unreadable confetti. Our top pick is the Fellowes P-57Cs, which showed its chops by dicing credit cards and stapled bills without jamming. We also liked the easy-empty wastebasket. And the price is right -- $60 starting this fall at OfficeMax and other retailers.

Next: See our slide show More of Our Favorite Things
Or go back to our master list The Best of Everything