Card Hub's Plastic Hall of Fame: The Best Credit Cards for 2012

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Chase preferredWe've schooled you on what ranked as the worst credit cards of 2011, so it's only fitting to share which pieces of plastic would actually be wise to carry in your wallet this year, according to Card Hub, which bills itself as one of the leading credit card/gift card exchange portals.

Here are Card Hub's picks for some of the Best Credit Cards for 2012.

Best Credit Cards for Initial, Ongoing Rewards Offers

"Consumers willing to hop from credit card to credit card in pursuit of the most lucrative rewards will certainly be interested in identifying the highest initial rewards bonuses," said Card Hub's CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, in a statement. "Those who want a more lasting rewards card will benefit the most from the highest ongoing rewards earning rates."

• Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: This card offers consumers initial rewards of 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of usage (worth $625 in airfare/hotel accommodations or a $500 credit to their card account). With Chase Sapphire, Consumers can earn 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases, and earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. Also, the first-year annual fee is waived. (After that, the yearly fee is $95.)

• Capital One Venture Rewards Card: This card offers ongoing rewards of two airlines miles per $1 spent on all purchases. In other words, shoppers get 2% cash back when miles are redeemed for any travel-related expense, and 10,000 bonus miles when $1,000 is spent over the first three months of card usage. There is no annual fee during the first year. (It's $59 thereafter.)

• Escape by Discover Card: Users are granted 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, or 2% cash back when miles are redeemed for travel credits, and 1,000 bonus miles each month a purchase is made for the first 25 months. Escape by Discover charges a $60 annual fee.

• Capital One Cash Credit Card: This card offers no initial rewards bonus, but effectively 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and there is no annual fee.

Best for 0% APR

"A 0% credit card can be an important tool for consumers looking to lower the cost of debt, either present or future, as well as those interested in leaving their would-be credit card payments in the bank for as long as possible in order to earn the good kind of interest," Papadimitriou said.

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But users should take caution: "Make sure you'll be able to pay down the entirety of your balance prior to the end of the 0% introductory period, because high interest rates will kick in at that time and there might not be another 0% card available to bail you out," he said.

• Citi Platinum Select: This card waives interest charges on purchases and transfers for 21 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee. Its variable regular interest rate ranges from 11.99% to 21.99%, and there's no annual fee.

Best For Rebuilding Credit

"Secured credit cards are best-suited for credit-building because they have low fee structures, make it impossible to spend more than you can afford, and offer the closest thing you can find to guaranteed approval in the credit card market," Papadimitriou said.

• Orchard Bank Secured MasterCard: Like all secured credit cards, Orchard Bank's card reports to the major credit bureaus, waives membership fees during the first year and charges a $35 annual fee thereafter. It carries a 7.99% APR and requires a $200 minimum deposit.

Best for Students

"First and foremost, students need credit cards without annual fees in order to build credit as cheaply as possible," Papadimitriou said. "They may also require some rewards or a 0% introductory period in order to lower the cost of everyday expenses or avoid interest on upcoming big-ticket purchases," such as books.

• Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card for College Students: This card waives purchase charges for seven months, offers 5% cash back on utilities as well as on supermarket, drugstore, gas station and convenience store purchases for six months. After that, the Citi Card also offers 2% cash back on rotating spending categories. That means if in January, you get 2% cash back on grocery purchases, in February, you'll get 2% cash back on gas purchases, a Card Hub spokeswoman explained. "The rewards are applied to different types of purchases depending on the time period in which you buy."

What's more, the card offers 1% cash back on everything else.

Check out Card Hub's complete list of the Best Credit Cards of 2012.

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