With thousands of offers available, the prevailing wisdom when shopping for credit cards is to seek out a low interest rate or 0 percent introductory APR. But there’s so much more than that to consider. From cashback rewards and travel benefits to low balance-transfer fees and time-saving financial resources, the best credit card is the one that offers the most benefits for how you plan to use it. So here’s what to look out for while you shop for cards:

  1. A Low Interest Rate
  2. Rewards on Things You Buy
  3. A Low Balance Transfer Rate
  4. Services that Save Time and Money

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.

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. 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.

4. 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.

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.

Published February 10, 2015

Updated January 12, 2021

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.