There are so many different credit cards — each with its own set of advantages and rules — that it can be tough to decide which one you should choose. Here are some quick things to consider:
Low Interest Rate
A low interest rate can be a great deal, but there are several important things to consider. Is the low rate the standard rate that will apply? If the low rate is an introductory or other promotional rate, how long will it last? What rate will apply after the low rate expires?
Low Balance Transfer Rate
Credit card issuers may offer you a special low interest rate (perhaps even a zero-interest rate) to transfer your balance from another card — which can be a very attractive deal if that other card has a high interest rate. Keep in mind: a low balance transfer rate may apply for only a limited time. In this situation, if you don't pay off the transferred balance before the rate expires, you'll be charged the standard balance transfer rate, which may be much higher.
It's important to read the terms and conditions when considering a credit card. In particular, you want to find out about any fees that you may be charged. Some cards charge an annual fee. You also need to see if you may be charged late fees, over limit fees and other charges.
A rewards card lets you earn rewards for using the card. The rewards may be in the form of cash, points, discounts or other incentives. With most rewards cards, you earn rewards by using your card for purchases, so you can get rewarded for buying everything from groceries to gasoline. Look for rewards programs that best complement your spending habits and offer you the most potential reward earning opportunities.
Services You May Need
When evaluating or comparing credit card options, be sure to consider any particular services you may need or want. For example, if you anticipate the need to call for assistance or information outside of normal business hours, look for a company that provides 24/7 telephone support.
Benefits and Advantages
Credit card companies and card issuers offer a wide variety of benefits, which can include things like concierge services; travel-related perks such as access to airport lounges; and buyer protection features such as extra insurance coverage, damage protection or extended warranties. Some credit card issuers may even offer really special benefits like access to unique experiences or luxury treatment for preferred customers. Credit cards with better benefits may also have higher annual fees or other costs, so be sure to read the terms and conditions for these cards thoroughly.
Realizing that many of us spend so much time online — and that many people conduct a lot of their everyday tasks via computers or other electronic devices — credit card issuers are constantly expanding their online services. Most issuers allow you to do basic things like pay your bill or review your transactions online, but you can often also file a dispute for an unauthorized charge, request a credit limit increase or change your due date. And if you need assistance, you may be able to chat with an agent live online in real time.
Cards for Specific Categories of Consumer
Many card issuers also offer cards that are specifically targeted to a certain type of consumer — for example, students or people looking to establish or rebuild/repair their credit. These cards often have a low credit limit and may even require you to have a secured account for a certain period of time until you prove yourself.