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Best Credit Cards for 2012

Capital One Cash Get 1% cash back on all purchases. Get a 50% cash-back bonus on the cash you have earned on your anniversary date. New-account holders earn a one-time $100 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% on groceries and 3% on gas -- and a 10% customer bonus when you redeem into a Bank of America (BAC) checking or savings account. Get a $50 cash rewards bonus after you make at least $100 in purchases within 60 days of account opening.

Secured cards
If your credit score is too low to qualify for a regular credit card (less than FICO 640), a secured card may be your best option. These require a security deposit that will be your credit limit. Choose a card that reports your payment history to the credit bureaus, because this can eventually raise your credit score if you use the card responsibly and make all payments on time. You do not have to use this card -- just keeping it open and in good standing can create a positive credit history. Secured cards offer almost 100% approval, but they also charge higher interest rates and fees.

Capital One Secured MasterCard (MC) Get automatic reporting to the three major credit bureaus. You can even earn credit line increases based on your payment and credit history. This card requires a $200 minimum security deposit and your credit line will be equal to your security deposit. The interest rate is 22.99%, and the annual fee is $29. The refundable security deposit is $49, $99 or $200, based on your credit.

Orchard Bank Secured Visa Reports to all three credit bureaus. The minimum security deposit is $200. The rate for purchases is 7.99%, and the $35 annual fee is waived the first year.

-- Reported by Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com.

Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of LowCards.com, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."
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