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How do I Choose the Best Credit Card?

Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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With so many credit card providers to choose from, it is sometimes confusing to determine how to go about obtaining an account that is right for you. Fortunately, there is a way to remove the mystery from your search and settle on the best credit card for your needs. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Choosing a credit card should be a proactive task, not a reactive one. That is, there is no reason for you to limit your options to credit card offers you receive in the mail. While some of those offers are very good, many others have hidden fees, offer only an introductory low interest rate, or have something about them that may not be in your best interests. Take some time to research different providers and go after the ones that you believe have potential to be your best credit card.

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In order to evaluate your options, it is imperative that you become proficient in understanding the terms and conditions associated with a given credit card program. You want to know what happens if you make a payment late, if your interest rate is locked in for a particular period of time, and what type of limitations on balance transfers may be in place. Even if you plan on paying off your balance every statement period, you still want to know what could happen if circumstances prevented you from doing so. The best credit card options will provide you a level of protection as well as protect the interests of the card issuer.

Make a list of the benefits you want to receive with your credit card account. This can include benefits like accruing airline miles for each purchase, a cash reward program of some kind, or rapid card replacement in the event your card is lost or stolen. Ideally, you will also have access to live customer service around the clock as well as a balance transfer option that does not require more than a few steps. By creating a list of the benefits you really want with your account, your attention can be focused on offers that stand a good chance of being your best credit card option.

Of course, choosing the best credit card does include going for the lowest rates of interest that your current credit score will allow. However, what appears to be a good rate on the surface may not be in your best interests in the long run. Look closely for any evidence in the terms and conditions that the rate is only extended for a fixed period of time or that certain activities will automatically adjust the rate upward. The best credit card deal will be one where you get a low rate of interest at the beginning, and can keep that interest rate for as long as you have the account.

Choosing the best credit card option also means looking into the stability and the reputation of the credit card issuer. Investigating the issuer by visiting online consumer sites is a good way to go. What you want to avoid are reports that are either all negative or all positive. An abundance of complaints is a sure sign you do not want to do business with that issuer. At the same time, nothing but flowing reports is too good to be true and should be a red flag that something is not quite right. Look for information that indicates the issuer acknowledges and resolves issues in a timely manner; this is a sure sign of the integrity of the provider and indicates that issuer is worth your consideration.

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