4 Top Strategies for Finding the Best Credit Card for You

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Why should you shop around? 

Comparing offers before applying for a credit card helps you find the right card for your needs, and helps make sure you're not paying higher fees or interest rates than you have to. Consider two credit cards: One carries an 18 percent interest rate, the other 15 percent. If you owed $3,000 on each and could only afford to pay $100 per month, it would cost more and take longer to pay off the higher-rate card. The table below shows examples of what it might take to pay off a $3,000 credit card balance, paying $100 per month, at two different interest rates. So, not shopping around could be more expensive than you think. Here's how to get started.

1. Decide how you plan to use the card

You may plan to pay off your balance every month to avoid interest charges. But the reality is, many credit card holders don't. If you already have a credit card, let history be your guide. If you have carried balances in the past, or think you are likely to do so, consider credit cards that have the lowest interest rates. These cards typically do not offer rewards and do not charge an annual fee. If you have consistently paid off your balance every month, then you may want to focus more on fees and rewards. Always compare the value of rewards you expect to receive (and use) each year with the annual fee you might pay.

2. Know what to compare

APR Sometimes a credit card offer lists several rates or a range of rates, and you won't know the rate you'll get until after you're approved. Would you still want the card if you had to pay the higher advertised rates? 

Fees Compare the fees listed for each card. Common fees include a cash advance fee, a latepayment fee, and for some cards, an annual fee. 

APR for balance transfers If you plan to transfer your balance from one card to another, compare the interest rate you are paying now with the rate you'll pay on the new card after the introductory rate, plus any balance transfer fee. 

Penalty APR Check for a penalty APR. The offer must tell you what the penalty rate is, what triggers it, and how long it would last

3. Shop around and ask for better deals

Start your search for a new card at your bank or credit union. Your existing relationship may qualify you for a better offer. If you have a credit card and are happy with your service but think you're paying too much in interest and fees, then ask the issuer to match or beat the terms and rate on the new card you're considering. Next, compare the offers with others you've received at home or have seen online. Only apply for the credit you need. Applying for too many cards over a short period can lower your credit scores.

4. Transfer your account with care

Most credit cards charge a fee to transfer your balance. So even though a zero percent interest rate on balance transfers may sound appealing, it may not be free. Some credit card companies charge a one-time fee of 3 to 5 percent of the balance you're transferring. When you move your account, don't close your old account right away. Continue to make at least the minimum payment while you're waiting for the balance to transfer to the new card. If you transfer your balance to a new card, and you feel you've made a mistake after reviewing your disclosures, you can generally change your mind if you act within 10 days after the credit card company sends your account opening disclosures. Contact the credit card company as soon as possible if you think you've made a mistake.

When your rates can rise 

Most credit cards have interest rates that change based on overall interest rates in the economy. This means that when interest rates rise generally, the interest rate you pay on your credit card purchases also increases. Otherwise, credit card companies cannot raise your rate for the first 12 months after you open your account, unless: § There is an introductory rate (introductory rates must last at least six months) or § You are more than 60 days late paying your bill Your rates can go up at any time after the first year, but the credit card company must notify you about the change in advance..

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Thursday, 26 May 2022
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