The universe of credit cards continues to expand and its vastness makes it extremely difficult for people to narrow down the choices in their search for the very best credit card.
There are hundreds to choose from, and while there are a lot of shining stars, there are also some black holes you want to avoid Of course, the best credit card is the one that will meet your specific needs, matches your personal spending habits, and the one that costs you the least relative to the benefits you actually receive from the card.
Here are 5 tips for selecting the best credit card for you.
Know the exact reason why you need and want the credit card.
There are many “best” credit cards out there, just as there are many “best” cars. But the best car in any one category may not be the best car for your particular needs. It’s vital that you know exactly what you’re looking for.
- Are you looking for more purchasing power, or are you trying to build up a rewards account?
- Do you need the additional credit, or are you trying to lower your credit costs by transferring a balance?
- Will you be carrying a balance or paying it in full each month?
- Is it business or personal?
- Do you need it for frequent traveling or are you using it for basic purchases such as gas and groceries?
The answers to each of these will reveal an ever narrowing choice in the best type of credit card for you.
Know your score
If your credit score is mid-range, it would be somewhat of a waste of time to look at credit cards issued for top-range credit scores. And, if you have a top-range credit score you will want to limit your selection to those designed for people with very good to excellent credit where you will find the most favorable terms. Improving your credit score will enable you to search among the better credit cards.
Know the terms
There are a lot of moving parts with credit cards – the annual percentage rate (APR), annual fee, grace period, late fees, minimum finance charges, etc. The complete terms of the credit card should be disclosed near the end of the offer or on the application.
Narrow the choices
By now you should know what type of credit card you are after – cash back rewards, 0% balance transfer, travel rewards, low APR, etc. Now you can concentrate your search in these categories. Websites like CreditCardReviews.com provide you with easy to navigate to tools to quickly narrow your search to categories and then sort by specific feature or benefit within the category. You can also explore the credit card reviews to learn what others have to say.
It almost always comes down to customer service
The lowest APR or fees and the best rewards program won’t amount to a hill of beans the first time you lose your credit card, or have a disputed charge and you can’t get immediate satisfaction from your card issuer. Some card issuers are notorious for their trigger-fingers on raising APRs or lowering credit limits which can put you in a bind.
Others, like American Express, Chase and Discover are legendary in their customer service quality. Your due diligence in customer service could save you a lot of time, trouble and cost at some point.