Think you’re ready to get a credit card? Are you sure you’re getting the best one for you? Before you jump into a credit agreement, it is best to go through a checklist to make sure you are getting the best credit card offer for your needs.
The first thing you should do when shopping around for the best credit card offers is to make sure you are eligible for them. Many credit cards have certain credit requirements that have to be met in order to be approved. You should read these requirements so you don’t spend time on trying for a credit card you will be automatically denied.
Many credit cards come with special introductory offers that promise 0% interest on purchases or balance transfers. While these are a great thing to have, especially if you are trying to lower your overall debt, you need to know more than what the introductory offer is. You should find out how long the introductory offer lasts and what the rates will be at that time. Many a credit card applicant has been surprised to find out that when the 0% offer went away they were hit with interest rates that were higher than the cards they had replaced the new one with.
If you are planning to use your new credit card to lower your overall debt, but transferring other high interest balances to the card, you need to know what their balance transfer policy is. Most credit cards charge balance transfer fees. These may be low fees or very high. You need to know what you are getting into before you agree, otherwise the money you think you will save in interest by switching may have already been spent in the fees to transfer the balance over to the new card.
If you are going to get a credit card to make purchases, why not get one that pays you back for your use. There are a lot of rewards programs available these days. From cash back to airline miles to discounts on gas purchases, take a look at the various rewards programs and see which one is best for you.
If you don’t think rewards programs are worth it, think again. If you were to get a credit card that offers 1 mile per dollar spent and you spend $200 per week on the card (buying gas, groceries, etc) you would have over 20,000 miles at the end of the year. For many airlines, that is enough to get a ticket.
The final thing to check is for annual fees. Many credit cards waive the annual fee for the first year to get you to sign up. But these fees can be $50, $75 or more a year on many rewards programs. If you will be getting enough in return from the rewards, it’s worth it. If not, you may want to think twice about getting a card with an annual fee.