Ten tips to finding the right credit card, sounds easy but wait there are some things to consider. I can help you make with the right move based on what I have learned over the years as a former personal banker, and a retention or account specialist for a couple of large size banks.
What do you want in a card?
First of all you need to look at what you want from your credit card. Do you want one that rewards you for buying airlines tickets or do you want a card that gives you a low teaser interest rate and then offers a pretty good interest rate after the teaser?
Offers in the mail:
Read the offer very thoroughly. Every little word the application says. If you don’t understand the wording calls the company, and find out what it means. If it states it has a low interest rate for six months, but has a two cycle billing. Call them to find out how they calculate the credit card charge.
Transferring a balance from one card to another sounds great, unless you miss a payment. If you miss a payment, you will take that interest rate to the highest dimension that the bank is allowed. Again read the find print on the application, and contract that the bank sends you. Maybe contact the bank to see what can be done to reduce your interest rate. But if you do the right thing by transfering the balance it could actually start to add up if you have one card that is at 12%, 15%, 19.8%, and you can get a balance transfer for one year for 0% interest. But again read the fine print, and see if the company offers no fees to transfer the balances. If it sounds like a good deal, and your still not sure do your research. Ask the bank if they offer checks for transfering the balance or can they do it electronically, or did it have room on your application to put the card numbers, their addresses, and how much you want to transfer. Another thing before you give them all of your numbers you might want to make sure that you are approved first, and make sure that it is the whole line of credit you can use to transfer the balance or if it is only a portion.
Look for the card that works best for you. If interest is the thing that you need to help the family budget then researches the company, and call them to ask how the rewards programs work. If you are a world traveler, and travel on XYZ Airlines perhaps an Affinity card would be good. This is a card that has an association with the bank card company, such as United Airlines or American Airlines. The airlines uses the bank to process the applications, and takes care of the customers who are accepted for their card. For example, Citibank offers a credit card for American Airlines, and offers many different perks for their card holders who use the cards. This allows you another opportunity to charge, and earn more miles. Check with your airlines to see if they have credit cards that are affinity cards. Some of the credit cards that American Express offers make the consumer payoff the card after the billing cycle, but again they also have some perks and some have a membership fee or could charge you for having an additional signer on the account.
Can you travel the world with your card?
I was in Mexico a few years back, and believe it or not I couldn’t use my American Express card there. I ended up using my credit/debit card. They broke down the charges from pesos to American Dollars on my bank statement. Check with the hotel you are going to and see what kinds of cards the businesses in their area takes. It’s always good to have a backup plan when traveling overseas, or just plain traveling down to your local filling station.
Having one for business and one for pleasure:
Itemizing your charges for your business sounds simple if you use one card for business, and the other card for your personal items. Business lunches, office depot expenses, getting coffee for the office, or buying a new computer for the receptionist-these charges need to be separated out. Some companies offer a year end statement. It’s always nice to be able to have those statements so you can see that you bought the paint for improvements in your lobby. When getting a personal card for your non-business purchases it helps expense your budget when you need to pay for the dentist or pay for the water heater to get fixed. This is why you need two kinds of cards for business and pleasure.
24 hour customer service:
Look for a bank card that offers 24 hour customer service. You don’t want a card where the bank closes at 5, and doesn’t offer services 24/7. If you were traveling and you lost your card, or you needed a credit line boost. Service is something that you should look into as well.
Can you pay your credit card online?
Another simple thing that people forget to think about is paying their bills online. Does the company offer same day payment when you pay your bill online? Does it cost a fee if you pay it online?
Research the company:
If it is a company that you have never heard of and it offers perks that are too good to be true. Google the company, or use Ask.com. Call the number on the application or the number you found online. These days, money has been vanishing, and you don’t want to go with a company that asks for your personal information, and you never hear from them again.
Some companies offer a spreadsheet of sorts online to see where you’re spending is going. It can track down your doctor’s appointments, groceries, and various other expenses. It is great to have a list of places that you have spent your money. Also, a debit card is great for those that don’t have enough credit to get a credit card. Only thing is that the money needs to be in your account to spend. So many times when I had people at my desk I had to explain that last detail after they had over drafted their account.
I personally like the debit card because I can use it to get cash out of an atm, or make purchases at my favorite restaurant. I don’t have to carry cash, and I can save the receipts for later to balance my check book. I don’t have to stand in line to write a check, and it’s faster.
So consider it all very carefully. What makes one card different from the rest? It’s all about making the right fit for what is most important to you as the card holder! The rest is up to you!