comparing credit card offersIf you’re in the market for a new credit card, you may be asking yourself how to pick the best possible card for you. After all, there are so many different types of credit cards that choosing the right one can be incredibly difficult.

To help you out, I’ve put together a list of questions you should ask yourself when comparing credit card offers.  Answer them honestly and use the answers to find the best credit card option for you.

Do you plan to carry a balance?

Determining how you plan to use the card is the most important step. If you already have a credit card balance or you expect to carry one in the future, you should look for the credit card with the lowest interest rate.  You want to minimize the amount of finance charges you pay, so look to roll any current balances onto a card that offers a low introductory rate on balance transfers.  There are many cards that will charge you zero interest for up to 18 months.  Of course, the goal is to pay off the balance as fast as possible so be sure to pay as much toward the principal as you can afford.

Can I count on myself to always make payments on time?

Even a tremendous introductory offer like zero percent for two years would be useless if you can’t trust yourself to make regular payments.  A single missed or late payment may be enough for the creditor to wipe away the introductory rate and start charging you the full interest rate plus late fees.  Then you’ll be right back where you started, just with a different credit card.

Credit cards offer you great spending power, but with that power comes great responsibility. If you have a history of missing payments, then your best option might be to skip the credit cards altogether until you’re more financially responsible.

What kind of rewards do I like best?

No matter what kind of rewards you’re looking for you can be sure there is a credit card that offers something just for you.  If you have a favorite store that you always shop at there may be a cobranded card that offers rewards specifically tailored to customers. By using this type of card you can earn lots of gift cards and store credits.

Credit cards that offer travel rewards are always popular. Let’s face it, vacations are not cheap and you need to save money whenever you can. One of my favorite travel hacks is using credit card rewards points to score free airline tickets, hotel stays, and car rentals.  Credit savvy consumers work the system and earn free vacations just by using a rewards credit card for their purchases and paying the full balance every month.

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Over to You

Ok readers, what do you think about credit cards? Do you carry a balance or pay it off every month? How many credit cards do you have in your wallet and which is your favorite?

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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9 Comments

  1. Good questions to think over Mike! We pay our cards off each month, so we’re not really looking at the rate or anything like that. Since we churn we’re looking at the rewards and the amount needed to hit them. We prefer travel rewards, though we’ll take cash as well. 🙂

  2. Although I don’t use credit cards, I do think for people who use them it’s important to only use cards that don’t cost anything (i.e., that don’t have an annual fee).

  3. We don’t really care about interest rates since we pay our balance in full each month. The only factor I really consider is how lucrative the rewards are.

  4. These are great questions Mike. I don’t worry about interest rates because I make my payments, but I do like rewards. I have not figured out how to travel hack like some bloggers, though, and I keep it fairly simple. I have one visa card and one amex card which both get rewards and give discounts on different things. I think if I had any other cards, I would get confused. Maybe it’s because I’m blonde. 🙂

  5. I don’t carry credit cards. I guess I’m just not financially responsible enough. I cut up all of mine years ago. Actually, I guess that does make me financially responsible. Credit cards may be great for an emergency (but so is a savings account!), but beyond that, they hurt too many people.

  6. I only use credit cards for the rewards and convenience. I don’t ever plan in carrying a balance, so interest rates make no difference at this point.

  7. We carry balances but they are going down each month as we work toward our debt payoff goal. Only two cards now, and it will likely go down to one after the other is paid off. From then on, emergency use only.

  8. These are good questions to ask. I was just hit with a finance charge on a card that I was not expecting. I will be working on paying off that card soon.

  9. When it comes to shopping for a credit card, it’s so important to research and compare others before deciding on one. Keeping these questions in mind will definitely help make the process easier and more efficient. Thanks for sharing!