What to Look For in a Credit Card

With all of the credit card offers floating around today, how is one to decide which offer best fits their individual needs? Most credit cards today are designed to be used by a certain types of cardholders, and in order to get the full benefit from any given card you will need to pick the one that best fits your own personal needs. I know that this process can be difficult and sometimes seem overwhelming, but this article is designed to point out what you need to look for when deciding which credit card is right for you.

Most credit cards offer a special introductory rate for a specified time period when you sign up for the card. The usual introductory offer you will see is for a 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers. Although most of the deals will look similar, you will want to pay special attention to the length of this introductory offer. Some credit cards only offer this special rate for the first 3 or 6 months, but if you look around you will find some cards that offer the introductory rate for the first 12 months that you own the card. When comparing cards, you should consider the ones that offer the lowest introductory rate for the longest time period.

After analyzing the introductory rate, you will want to look at what the interest rate will be for the life of the credit card. This number can vary from card to card so you will want to make sure that you compare a few cards to find the most competitive rate. The most important thing to look for when reviewing the interest rate is to check to see if the interest rate is variable or fixed for the life of the card. A variable interest rate can change over time, and this is not ideal because your interest rate can start of at a competitive rate and end up rising to a very high rate over time. You will want to make sure that you are not signing up for what you believe to be a low interest rate card, only to find out later that the interest rate is variable, and will go up in the future. When possible, you will want to find a credit card that offers a fixed interest rate.

Some credit cards will charge an initial setup fee and/or an annual fee for using the card. Whether to apply for and to carry a card with such fees can be a tricky decision, because some of the cards that charge an annual fee may offer a low, fixed interest rate, or allow you to participate in an exceptional rewards program. Card features such as these can make the fee worth your while. To make the decision on whether or not the fee is worth paying, you will have to compare the card with similar cards that do not charge fees, and examine the extra benefits of the card that charges the fee. If the card with the fee offers a better rewards program that you plan to participate in, or has a lower interest rate then the fee may be worth paying.

Every credit card offers some benefits, however, they are not all equal. Some of the benefits that are available through certain cards are special discounts, travel insurance, lost luggage insurance, rental car insurance, identity theft insurance, purchases protection, and return protection to name a few. You will want to review the list of benefits for each card that you are comparing to find the card that offers the best benefits for your needs. For example, if you travel often, you may want to look for a credit card that offers you travel insurance, lost luggage insurance, and rental car insurance, since these benefits are services that you could potentially take advantage of.

One of the best kept secrets when it comes to credit cards is the special perks that are available to the cardholders. You can find perks for almost anything that you wish to purchase if you look in the right place. These perks can range from discounts on items such as rental cars, clothing, sporting goods, restaurants, and home décor to give a few examples. These perks allow you to receive discounts on products that you may already be purchase using your credit card, but have not been receiving the discounts because you were not aware of how to take advantage of these offers. Most perks are available for the various card types that most cardholders currently carry, such as Visa, MasterCard or American Express, but there are also certain perks available for specific cards as well. These credit card perks can be one of the best advantages of owning a credit card, so make sure that you take advantage of these discounts when available.

The most important factor that you should consider when deciding on a credit card is the rewards program that is associated with the card. Most credit cards allow you to participate in a rewards program that allows you to earn points when making purchases at participating retailers. These points can then be used towards discounts or free products, based on the rewards program that the specific card offers. Some of the numerous rewards programs available are hotel, travel, gas, airline, auto, and cash back rewards. These programs are a great way for you to earn discounts while you are making normal purchases. For example, if you stay at a certain hotel chain or fly on a certain airline regularly, then you would benefit from using a credit card that offers rewards when you make a purchase from that retailer. This will allow you to earn points on your purchases and use those points for future discounts.

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