Selecting the right credit card for you

Answering a few questions will make you an informed consumer when selecting a credit card.

There is no shortage of credit cards from which a consumer can choose. Credit card promotions can be found everywhere from social media to brick and mortar institutions. According to Michigan State University Extension, analyzing your own payments and spending patterns will help you pick the right card for your lifestyles.

There are websites that claim to help you find the ideal card. These sites are often sponsored by companies and will always select a card offered by their sponsors, not necessarily the best card for you. It is almost impossible to tell which sites are legitimate. However, ConsumerReports.org  has chosen Lowcards.com and Cardratings.com as two search engines that make unbiased decisions. Both sites ask questions to help build a consumer profile to find the best match. These sites also have additional credit tips and information to help users.

If the consumer wishes to take a hands-on approach, Neighborworks America suggests that they start by asking the following questions from their Building Skills for Financial Confidence Manual:

  • Is the interest fixed or variable?
  • If variable, what is the initial rate, how long is it good for and how much can it increase?
  • What financial indicator or index (such as Prime Rate) is it tied to?
  • What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
  • Is there an annual fee?
  • What method is used to calculate the interest owed each month?
  • If a payment is late, how is it handled?
  • What are the late fees, over limit fees and balance transfer fees?
  • What kind of fraud protection is offered?
  • What types of rewards program is offered (miles, points, products, etc)?
  • Do the rewards expire or are there other restrictions?

The Cardmember Agreement contains the details that will answer these questions. Thanks to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, this information is easy to find. By combining the knowledge of one’s financial habits with the information gathered about the credit cards, the consumer’s next step is to choose, and apply for, the appropriate card. 

Researching credit card options can aid consumers when selecting the best credit card for your lifestyle.

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