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credit & debt

Best Credit Cards of 2015

From cash back perks to travel incentives, these cards are our top picks.

Shopping for a credit card? You have plenty of great options to suit your spending patterns and preferences. Plus, we've picked out prepaid debit cards that go easy on fees—and one even pays cash-back rewards. Take a look.

For cash back: The no-fee Citi Double Cash card pays 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill, to return an impressive 2% on all your spending. With the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, you’ll easily earn back the $75 annual fee with its 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in supermarket purchases annually (1% thereafter), plus 3% on gas and qualifying department-store purchases and 1% on everything else. Spend $1,000 in the first three months and you get a $150 statement credit.

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For travel: Earn 1.5 points on every purchase with the no-fee BankAmericard Travel Rewards card and three points per dollar when you book travel through the Bank of America Travel Center. You can use points for statement credits on travel purchases at a rate of 100 points per dollar. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card's $95 annual fee is waived the first year, but its rewards make the fee worth paying after that. You’ll earn two points per dollar on travel and dining and one point on everything else. You can transfer points to several loyalty programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and Amtrak Guest Rewards.

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For prepaid: The Bluebird From American Express and Walmart card charges no fees, aside from $2.50 for each out-of-network ATM transaction. The mobile app has new tools to let you track and categorize spending and set monthly limits. Consider the American Express Serve Cash Back card if you expect to charge more than $595 a month on it; with 1% cash back on all purchases, you’ll cancel out the $5.95 monthly fee.

For balance transfer: Pay no balance transfer fee with the Chase Slate card as long as you move the money within 60 days of the card's issue. Plus, there's no annual fee, and the annual percentage rate is 0% for the first 15 months. Citi Simplicity charges a fee of $5 or 3% of the balance (whichever is larger) for balance transfers, but the introductory 0% APR continues for a lengthy 21 months. And the card charges no annual or late-payment fees and no penalty APR for missing a payment.

For sports fans: The BBVA Compass NBA American Express card is a slam-dunk for basketball fans. You get three points per dollar spent on NBA purchases (including qualifying tickets and in-stadium transactions), two points on gas and groceries, and one point on everything else.

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