There’s plenty to consider when choosing the best credit card. Researching different credit cards might reveal a host of features that you never considered — some good, some bad. For this reason, you shouldn’t rush the application process and apply for any type of card. The best cards provide the most benefits that you’ll actually use and it’s important that you’re comfortable with any and all fees.
Here are a few tips to help you select the best credit card.
- Determine which cards you’re eligible for. Applying for the wrong type of credit card will waste your time and result in a rejection. Understand the basic criteria for credit cards and then apply for the right kind of card. For example, if you have a long credit history and a good score, you can apply for an unsecured credit card with a bank. However, if you have no credit history or bad credit, chances of an approval are higher if you apply for a secured credit card which requires a security deposit.
- Are you looking for perks and incentives? Credit cards have evolved since their inception, and with reward programs, you can earn cash and gifts by simply using your credit card on a regular basis. Because you earn points on every dollar that you spend, paying your mortgage, auto loan and utilities helps you accumulate points faster. Of course, frequent credit credit use opens the door to debt. Reward programs are aimed at people who never carry a balance and pay off their cards each month.
- Do you rarely use your credit card? Even if you don’t believe in or like credit cards, you might keep one around the house for emergencies. In this case, you could probably care less about reward programs or cash back bonuses. All you need is a simple credit card with a modest spending limit. Given your infrequent credit card use, the best card for you might be a plain, no-frills credit card. Credit cards, such as Slate from Chase and Simplicity from Citibank, have no annual fees, no rewards, but feature a low interest rate.
- Do you want cash back on gas? Rising gas prices are on the minds of most Americans. But since prices aren’t likely to drop in the near future — or ever — why not apply for a credit card that offers cash back at gas stations? Several credit cards, such as the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express and the Discover Open Road Card, gives card members 3% and 2% cash back at gas stations, respectively. Use your credit card for all your gas trips and then use your reward to fill up your tank.
- Are you ready to eliminate your debt? A high interest rate doesn’t prevent debt elimination, but the more interest you pay each month, the harder it is to remedy balances. When shopping for the best cards, look into balance transfer offers with a low introductory rate or zero percent interest. You’ll avoid interest fees for the first six to12 months, which lets you knock down your balances sooner.