Which Credit Card is Best for You?
Credit card features to consider
1. A low interest rate
Low or 0 percent introductory APRs may be more important to you if you plan to carry a balance, rather than paying off your bill in full each month. Finding a low-interest credit card with a 0 percent introductory purchase APR can save money on finance charges. But remember, you will be charged interest at a higher rate once the introductory period expires and you’re still carrying a balance.
2. Rewards on things you buy
If you plan to pay your credit card balance in full and on time each month, a low interest rate may not be as appealing, since you will be paying off your entire balance. You may be more interested in a points, miles or a cash back credit card, like the Discover it® Cash Back card.
Look for a rewards card that gives you cash back, bonus points or travel miles at the places where you spend the most—and offers redemption options that you would actually be able to use.
3. No annual fee
Although Discover cards carry no annual fee, many credit cards do charge an annual fee, which is the amount you’ll pay every year to keep your account open, regardless of how much you purchase on the card. If you’re comparing rewards, make sure that the value of the rewards you’ll receive is higher than the cost of the annual fee.
4. A low balance transfer rate
If you need to transfer a balance from a card with a high APR, look for a credit card that offers an introductory 0 percent APR on balance transfers. Some offer a slightly higher rate for a longer period of time. If you are transferring a large balance, you may find the best option for you is to have a longer introductory period to give you more time to pay off the balance. But be sure to remember that many balance transfer offers include a balance transfer fee.
5. Services that save time and money
No matter what card you choose, look for a credit card that offers benefits as well as a low intro APR and excellent rewards. Any credit card you choose should also offer services that can help you make your money go further. Here are some other factors to consider when you’re looking for the best credit card offers for your lifestyle:
- Check to see what the current customers think of the credit card’s customer service. Knowledgeable customer service reps can be of great help with merchant disputes, investigating potential unauthorized charges and much more.
- Look for online resources such as interactive financial calculators to help you manage your budget, track spending and plan purchases. If you use your credit card to make your bill payments, you may appreciate the convenience of being able to track all your transactions in one place online. Online statements that help you track purchases or transactions for several years, and can be sorted by month, merchant or amount can be a big help at tax time.
- See what tools are available to help you manage your due dates. (Paying on time is important to maintain a good credit standing.) Find out if you can change a payment due date to one that works better for you, schedule payments in advance (in case you’re out of town, for instance) and make a same-day payment free of charge online or by phone. You may also be able to set up automatic payments to help ensure you never miss a due date and incur a late charge.
- Watch for special promotions, merchant tie-ins and reward offers or incentives that can add even more value to your credit card.
- Finally — don’t overlook other valuable perks such as price protection, purchase protection, travel assistance, travel insurance and car rental insurance.
The best credit card for you may depend on your credit score
Some credit cards require higher credit scores than others. If your credit score is lower, you may need to choose a secured credit card, which requires a security deposit, and then work on building up your credit score until you can qualify for a standard card. The higher your credit score, the more cards you will qualify for.
Should I apply for more than one credit card?
When you’re researching the best credit card to apply for, you may find it hard to choose just one, or maybe you’re not sure whether you’ll be approved for your first choice.
While there’s nothing wrong with having more than one credit card, you should avoid applying for multiple credit cards at once. That’s because each credit card application will generate a hard pull of your credit, and hard pulls will potentially lower your credit score. If you want to check whether you’re qualified for a particular card, it’s best to find out whether you pre-qualify, as most issuers that pre-qualify applicants use a soft pull, which will not impact your credit score.
Choose a credit card carefully
No matter what type of credit card you’re interested in, be sure to read the details. The credit card agreement will tell you the grace period (if it applies and how long you may have to pay off your balance before you pay an interest charge), and what rates, restrictions and fees are involved. You’ll also better understand the terms of a low or $0 intro APR offer, when the intro period expires and what the rate will be afterwards.
The more you know, the more value you’re able to gain from a great credit card offer.