Choosing the Right Credit Card: A guide | Family Resource Guru

Choosing the Right Credit Card: A guide

All Credit cards are not the same. With the creation of “rewards systems” and introductory rates, there is a lot to think about when choosing a new credit card. It’s important to understand the terms of our current cards, while staying on top of what the market has to offer.

Here is a list of the different types of cards you should consider based on your personal spending habits.




BALANCE TRANSFER CARDS

Carrying credit card debt over month by month can be a costly proposition. High interest rates add up quickly, forcing your hard earned cash to go more and more towards interest payments instead of paying down your principal. Balance transfer cards offer a unique opportunity for those with credit card debt to transfer their debt over to a new card at an introductory rate, often at 0%, for up to 12 months. This can go a LONG way in saving you on interest payments while allowing you to pay down your debt more quickly. Keep in mind though, that those interest rates go back up after the introductory period, so make sure you remind yourself of that deadline so that you do all you can to reduce the debt as much as possible before then.

LOW INTEREST CARDS

If you have a good to great credit card score, you should be looking for cards with the lowest interest rates possible. Don’t underestimate how quickly interest payments can add up. Reducing your interest rate is the easiest way to save money. So, have a look at your current interest rate(s) and make sure there aren’t other offers in the market place that are lower.


REWARDS CARDS

There are so many different types of rewards cards. Some give you extra points for certain categories of purchases. You’re spending the money anyway so you might as well benefit from a rewards program that could give you cash back. Choose the right rewards cards that provide added rewards to the spending categories you use most (gas, online purchases, groceries, etc.)


MILEAGE OR FREQUENT FLIER CREDIT CARDS

Airlines have also gotten into the rewards craze and many have partnered with credit cards to provide you with the opportunity to earn free flights! If you’re a frequent flyer, or if you just like a vacation or two a year, consider a frequent flier card and allow your spending to earn you a free flight! Many of these card options also offer massive point bonuses for spending $X within the first Y months. Southwest, for example, offers 50,000 points just for signing up. That could be 3 or 4 free flights depending on how early you book.


CARDS FOR BAD CREDIT

Even if you have a low credit score there are credit card options for you. They may need to be secured and may carry a higher interest rate, but the only way you’re going to improve your score is by demonstrating that you pay your bills on time. As a general rule you should be looking to pay off your entire balance every month. I know that’s easier said than done, but if you’re serious about raising your credit score, some sacrifices will have to be made.

Also, secured credit cards are a great option for those with a low credit score. They may require a deposit, but they are a great way to establish positive credit and raise your score so that you can be eligible for cards with higher limits and better terms.




OTHER TYPES OF CARDS

Whether you run your own business or are a college student, there are cards specifically tailored to your lifestyle. Often these cards offer improved rewards programs that can be tailored to benefit your specific spending habits. A credit card is a great way to improve the cash flow of your business. For the first 30-60 days, you can view your credit card purchases as a free loan, freeing up cash to invest more in your business!

Student cards may not have the best rewards programs but they do offer young adults an opportunity to begin building their credit profile. Managing these starter cards effectively will let future creditors know that you deserve to be approved for their cards. Students are starting at the bottom of the mountain. Student cards can offer you a path to the top. They may also have some rewards for things like food and book purchases.

When searching for the right credit card, be sure to look online at some of the more popular sites like bankrate.com and creditkarma.com. And, don’t forget to check your snail mail! Often times credit card companies direct mail their best offers right to your mailbox. As with all credit card offers, READ THE FINE PRINT. Make sure you know what your terms are and develop a plan as to how you’re going to use and pay for your new credit card.