What credit card should you get? So you want a credit card, huh? Well that is great. But a person applying for a new credit card often wonders which credit card they should get (or apply to get). There are several things you want to look for when applying. Here is a top 10 list of things you want to look for when applying for a new credit card.
What Credit Card to Get: Top 10 Things to Look for When Comparing Credit Card Offers
- Low Credit Card Interest Rates–Interest rates are of HUGE importance when getting a credit card, as this will determine how much you will have to pay in interest charges on your regular balance (if any). Many cards will offer an introductory 0% rate (often for months). This is a great deal, and is basically a free loan during the term. But just make sure to read the fine print and know what your rate will be when the 0% stops. Make sure it has a good credit card interest rate. (see link)
- No Annual Fee–Credit cards used to require an annual fee in the past (which was often anywhere from $20 per year to $100). Thankfully, most credit cards don’t try to charge an annual fee at this point. However, some still try to charge an annual fee. So make sure there is no annual fee just to keep the card. You can easily find one that doesn’t.
- Grace Period on New Purchases–Most credit cards have what is known as a “grace period” for new purchases. This “grace period” is a period of time (typically 1 month), that you can pay off the balance without accruing any interest charges. I make sure to pay my last statement balance in full each month, so I never pay any interest (while still earning points).
- Type of Card (Visa, Mastercard, etc.)–You want a card that will be accepted by most major retailers, online shops, etc. Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted. So whatever brand of card (i.e. Chase), make sure it is either a Visa or Mastercard. So make sure to pick one that you will actually be able to use when necessary =).
- Sneaky Charges or Excessive Charges–Make sure to read the fine print to ensure your card won’t charge ridiculous fees for anything. They should not charge annual fees, fees to access your account, or anything like that. Also, make sure that they won’t charge you an arm and a leg if you ever go over your credit limit, make a late payment, etc. Also, NEVER use a cash advance on a credit card. You will probably have to sell your kidney to pay off the high fees you will be charged!
- Credit Card Rewards Program–You will also want to find a credit card with a great rewards program. Many cards will offer cashback, points, or some other type of reward compensation for using their card. I love to redeem my points when they build up enough =). You can save a lot of money on interest, and even make a profit by using your credit card!
- Fraud Protection–You want a card that offers a $0 fraud liability guarantee. Even though many laws require a credit card to not charge for unauthorized or fraudulant charges, sometimes you may still have to pay a portion of any fraudulent charges. That is why it is important to make sure your card comes with a strong fraud protection guarantee. My Discover card is so good at this, they actually call me even if they SUSPECT strange activity. One time I purchased several expensive items at Walmart. A few hours later, I had a Discovercard rep calling my house! I like how they stay on top of that.
- Online Access–In the digital age, it is easier and more convenient than ever to pay and manage your credit card accounts online. Almost every major credit card company has a great and secure website that allows you to manage your account, transfer balances, pay your bills, etc. Make sure the company and card you use has this feature, as it will save you some headaches.
- Toll-Free Customer Service–Again, almost every major card should have a customer service number that you can call at no charge. Almost make sure it won’t cost you, because the last thing you want to do is pay money while trying to straighten out your credit card account.
- No Balance Transfer Fees–This only applies to people who will transfer an old credit card balance to the new card. But if you are going to do this, make sure to read the fine print for balance transfer interest rates and fees. Many companies charge 3% to do this! However, some at least cap off this 3% at about $75. But beware that some have no cap, so that is quite a chunk of change you could end up spending if you transfer a high balance to your new card.
Those are the most important 10 things I look for when I go to apply for a new card. In addition, there are a few small things you can consider. People like the ability to customize their card (and pick their own design). My wife loves her little Discover with a doggie on the front. Of course, I really don’t mind that. Also, you may want the ability to add additional users (like a spouse or child), and other things.
In any event, be smart and shop around. Make sure to keep those 10 things in mind as you compare the different card offerings. Also, ALWAYS make sure you are applying with a legitimate company!! This is so important. If you apply online, make sure the site is secure and is the real site (i.e. make sure it is owned by Discover, Chase, etc.). Or if you mail a paper application in, make sure to drop in the mailbox INSIDE the post office, and make sure the address is the company’s correct address.
Other than that, follow the list and good luck.