Having a credit card allows you financial freedom and comfort, if you use them wisely. There is not one credit card that is right for every person. Some can add value to your life, while others might end up costing you money over time. Scroll down to find the credit card perfectly suited for you:
Check Your Credit Score
Before you figure out which credit card suits your needs, it’s a good idea to check out your credit score.
The best way to keep on top of your credit is to do an annual report. Every person can get a credit report from the top three reporting agencies once a year, from annualcreditreport.com. You have to pay in order to get your credit score, but it’s worth knowing what is on your report. There may be things on there that you want to dispute, or charges you can pay off to increase your score.
You can also use services like creditkarma.com to track your credit score. Services like this will help prevent false items from appearing on your credit report. They can also help you learn how things are effecting your score on a daily basis. It helps you make better decisions in order to increase your score.
After you find your score, you should find out which credit cards would work best for you, and which ones you qualify for. Figure out if you’d prefer a lower interest rate card, reward points or even travel points. If you have poor credit, you might only qualify for a secured card. When you know which card category you should be looking at, your next step is to find one with the best interest rate. This can help determine your payments.
What to Avoid in a Credit Card
Sneaky Late Payment Fees
Avoiding late payment fees isn’t always as easy as you might think. Many credit card companies include fine print in their agreements stipulating that payments must be received by a certain time on the due date. If they require payment by 2pm on the due date, then they can charge you late fees even when their offices know good and well that the mail doesn’t come until 4 o’clock.
Many online payment options are also set up to dupe customers into paying fees. Credit card companies should have the ability to process online payments quickly (after all, just about every other company in the world can do it), but some of them take more than a day to post payments made online. Most customers who realize that they forgot to send in their payments will log on to their online accounts to find that they have to pay additional fees to post their payments on the same day. So the option becomes pay the late fee or the processing fee. Hardly a fair choice.
Sneaky Over the Limit Fees
You would also think that over the limit fees are easy to avoid. Again, though, many credit card companies have found sneaky ways to trick their customers into paying these fees. One of the most common ways that customers get duped by sneaky over the limit fees occurs when the credit card company suddenly decides to lower their credit limit.
If you owe $1,500 on a credit card that has a maximum credit amount of $3,000, then you might feel that you are perfectly safe. There’s no way that you’re going to accidently go over the limit, right? Don’t be so sure. Credit card companies can lower your account’s maximum at any time. This puts you in danger of exceeding the limit.
One of the most angering things is when the credit card company lowers the maximum to a level that you will exceed when interest is applied to your current balance. They’ve set you up to max out and pay over the limit fees even if you make your minimum payment.
Adding Fees after the Introduction
Many credit card companies snag new customers by promising unbelievably good introductory rates. Be sure to read the fine print, though. Many of those awesome credit cards become expensive after using them for a few months. Plus, the credit card companies can continue to alter your rates and limits after the introductory period. Many customers have unwittingly applied for high-interest, variable rate credit cards with tons of fees because they believed their introductory offers would last forever.
Credit Cards to Check Out
If You Want to Rebuild Credit
Secured cards are the best option for rebuilding your credit. They require a cash deposit, which becomes the available credit line on your account. Some of these cards require a security deposit which can be refunded if the card is canceled or transferred. Some banks offer a secured card which can be turned into an unsecured card over a certain period, with specific qualifications.
The Capital One Secured Card is an excellent card to start with because it is specifically for people with bad credit who are looking to rebuilt theirs. It requires you to make a deposit of either $49, $99, or $200 to get a $200 line of credit. There are no annual fees. If you make your first five payments on time, you may qualify for a higher limit.
Items like bankruptcy or not having a bank account will affect your ability to qualify for this card.
If You Want Flexible Payments
For the lowest APR period, the Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fee Ever is the best card to use. If you have a good to excellent credit score, you might qualify for this card. The interest free period on this card is twenty-one months, then it rolls over to an interest rate of 13.99 to 23.99 percent.
One of the best features of this card is that Citi promises not to charge a late fee or an annual percentage fee on late payments. If you are forgetful or if there is an emergency in your life, you can still make the regular payments without any penalties.
The down side of this card is the three percent charge for balance transfers. This charge can add up over time and cost you more money for transfers than you had expected. Also, be aware that, even though Citi won’t use it against you negatively, late payments will reflect on your credit score overall. Don’t make it a habit, if you can.
If You Want Rewards
The Citi Double Cash Card – 18 month BT Offer is the best card for rewards. It offers 1% cash back for each purchase and for each dollar that you pay back. It also has a long interest free period on balance transfers and no annual fees. You can qualify for this card with good credit, which is usually between the 650 to 700-point range.
The down side is that there is a 3% fee on transfers. To get rewards, there is a $25 reward redemption minimum. There are no sign-up bonuses offered with this card. Many consumers keep the Citi card even after the zero-fee period because of the great rewards system it offers.
If You Want Low Fees
If you are looking for a low fee option, the Discover it-18 Month Balance Transfer Offer is the best one to choose. You can qualify with good to excellent credit. You will not be charged a fee for the first late payment you make, and it will not raise your APR. There is a 5% cash back rollover bonus, and a dollar for dollar match at the end of the first year for any cash back earned. There is no annual fee.
The downside is that there is a 3% balance transfer charge, which can potentially eat into any rewards you might earn. You also have to keep track of rewards quarterly and opt in to them every year. It allows you to earn a lot of rewards, but it doesn’t have a very long interest free period, like some of the other cards.
These options should help you find a card that can work for your lifestyle. Talk with your bank or a financial counselor to see if they have any other suggestions that will meet your needs. A credit card can save you a lot of worry. Find the best one that will work for you.