Which Credit Card is Right For You?

There are so many different credit cards — with their own set of advantages and rules — that it can be tough to decide which one you should choose. Here are some features to consider:

Low Interest Rate Credit Card
A low interest rate credit card can be beneficial, but they often come with conditions. You’ll want to ask several important questions before you sign up for this card: 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 — an attractive deal if your 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. Also, in addition to the interest that may be charged on the transferred balance, many issuers charge a fee for every balance transfer.

Credit Card Fees
It's important to read the terms and conditions when considering a credit card. In particular, you want to find out about any fees you may be charged. Some cards charge an annual fee, but there may also be late fees, over limit fees, and other charges.

Rewards Credit Cards
A rewards card offers incentives for using the credit card. The rewards may be in the form of cash, points, discounts, or other incentives. In most cases, you earn rewards when you make purchases with your card, so you can get rewarded for buying everything from groceries to gasoline. Look for credit card rewards programs that best complement your spending habits and offer you the most opportunities to earn incentives.

Services You May Need
When evaluating or comparing credit cards, 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.

Credit card issuers may make available a wide variety of benefits, which can include features like concierge services, travel-related perks such as roadside assistance or lost-luggage reimbursement, and buyer protection features such as extra insurance coverage, damage protection, or extended warranties. For certain cards, these benefits may include access to unique experiences or luxury treatment. Although information about benefits is available through the credit card issuer, the actual benefits typically are provided by the credit card network, such as Visa or MasterCard, not the credit card issuer. Credit cards with better benefits may also have higher annual fees or other costs, so read the terms and conditions for these cards thoroughly.

Online Resources
Because many of us spend so much time online conducting everyday tasks via computers or other electronic devices, credit card issuers are constantly expanding their online services. Most issuers allow you to receive online statements, pay your bill, and review transactions online 24 hours a day, seven days a week from your device. You may also be able to file disputes for unauthorized charges, request a credit limit increase, or change the due date of your monthly payment. And if you need assistance, you may be able to chat with an agent online in real time.

Account alerts are another feature to look for in your next credit card. Mobile alerts send messages to your phone — via text message or through a mobile app — with transaction alerts for every authorization as well as threshold alerts for transactions above a specified dollar amount. For even more in-depth notifications, look for online alerts that include transactions, automatic payments — scheduled and failed — payment due, and payment past due.

Credit Cards for Specific Categories of Consumer
Many card issuers also offer credit cards specifically targeted to a certain consumer — for example, students or people who might not qualify for a traditional credit card due to limited or poor credit history. These cards may have a low credit limit and require you to provide collateral as security for the account.

Many cards will allow you to customize the physical card. Some credit cards offer a selection of designs in an image library, while others still allow you to personalize your card even further with an image you provide. You may even be able to include a headshot of yourself on the card, which may provide an extra level of protections if your card is lost or stolen.

After you've answered your biggest question — how do you get a credit card, and make the decision to apply for a new credit card, considering the features and options available as you compare credit cards can help you narrow your choices.

This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.