When you’re trying to find a credit card, it’s important to pick the card that will best fit your needs. In a best-case scenario, the wrong kind of card will do nothing but take up space in your wallet. At worst, it might be a tool enabling you to dig yourself deeper into debt. So how do you find a credit card that’s right for you?
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Step One: What Do You Want the Credit Card For?
To find a credit card that fits you, begin by asking yourself why you want a credit card in the first place.
Are you looking for a card that you’ll only use in dire emergencies? A card to help rack up rewards points? Do you want to consolidate your outstanding debt using credit cards? Are you trying to establish credit for the first time or reestablish it after years of inactivity? Always have a purpose in mind when you go to find a credit card.
Identifying your purpose for obtaining credit will help you find a credit card that fits your life. For example:
- Emergency Credit Cards: Getting a credit card for emergencies means you’re looking for a high limit, no annual fee and low APR. Points don’t matter much.
- Credit Card Rewards: Here you need to look for a card providing rewards on items you actually purchase, and rewards you will actually use. Frequent travelers, for example, will almost necessarily want a travel rewards card in their wallet. Make sure you’re not paying more in an annual fee than you’re getting out of the card.
- Consolidating Debt: When consolidating debt using a credit card, you want to find the card with the lowest APR and balance transfer fee possible. If the APR is introductory, search for the card with the longest introductory period. No annual fee is another important feature to look for when figuring the total cost of transferring your outstanding debt.
- Establishing Credit: When establishing credit, look for a card with a low APR and potentially one with rewards on everyday spending. Pay off the card every month and you’ll be establishing a credit history while racking up points.
Step Two: Find a Credit Card by Comparing
Now that you know what kind of card you want, how do you find a credit card that fits that profile? One good way is to use a credit card comparison tool. You enter in information about the type of credit card you’re looking to find and it spits out cards fitting your needs best, detailing the relevant features on each card. This allows you to look at what your options are and begin comparing apples to apples in your search.
Again, remember the main points of comparison:
- APR: The lower the better. Look at the introductory rate period, how long it lasts and if you will be charged deferred interest once that period runs out.
- Annual Fees: Again, lower is better and many cards waive the annual fee for the first year.
- Rewards and Perks: Rewards points are just the beginning. Many cards also offer purchase protection, roadside assistance and extended warranties, among other perks.
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Step Three: Applying for the Right Card
Make a list of the cards you want in your wallet and rank the list. Apply to the one at the top of the list. In the event that you are not approved for your top choice, move along to your second and so on. If you are denied for a card, consider getting a secured card from your bank to help build your credit back up. Try to aim for cards you think you’ll be approved for. Every time you apply for credit, the creditor will pull your credit report, which will likely impact your credit score.
It takes a little bit of work to find a credit card that’s right for you, but not too much. Spend a couple of hours doing the research to find the right card for your needs.