Credit cards are kind of like chainsaws.
When used properly they can be extremely helpful tools, but if they are used improperly, they have the ability create a horrendous amount of damage. Considering this, it’s important to take the right steps to make sure that you get the best credit card for your situation. But with the overwhelming amount of credit cards out there, how do you choose the right one? Below are a few things that you should be asking yourself before making that choice.
What do you want this credit card for?
Before choosing a credit card, you need to know what you want to use if for. Are you trying to build or consolidate credit, do you have a large purchase coming up, are you looking to get rewards, or are you wanting to use it for business? There are specific credit cards tailored for each of these different desired uses. Once you know your main reasons for getting a credit card, you’ll be able to narrow down the choices.
How’s your credit?
It should be no surprise that the best credit cards require the best credit! So, it’s very important to know what your credit score is before researching cards. The last thing you’ll want is to put in a lot of time to find the perfect credit card only to find out you’re denied because of your credit score.
If you find out that your credit score needs improvement before you can obtain the credit card you want, there are secured cards available that will help rebuild your credit. Secured cards usually require a security deposit, but the deposit is returned once you’re able to upgrade your account when in good standing.
Do you plan to pay off your credit card balance each month?
It’s important to be honest with yourself here. One of the largest consequences to utilizing a credit card is having to potentially pay interest on unpaid balances. If you know there are some months you might not be able to pay it off or if you plan on making a large purchase that will take several months to pay off, it’s important to find a credit card with the lowest APR before considering the rewards they offer. Choosing a low APR over rewards may save you a lot more money.
For those of you wanting to make a large purchase or transfer credit card balances, there are a lot of credit cards that offer a 0% APR introductory rate for certain time period. If you pay the entire balance within that time frame, you’ll avoid having to pay any interest.
What kind of rewards are you looking for, if any?
Figuring out all the different types of rewards programs offered through credit cards is almost as complicated as trying to figure out which credit card is right for you. It’s important to figure out what type of reward would be most beneficial for your situation. Do you fly a lot? Maybe look for a program that offers airline miles. Do you shop at a store all the time like Amazon? If so, it might be beneficial to research Amazon’s credit card choices. Or would you prefer simply getting cash back for your purchases? If you’re not sure, look for a card that offers the greatest flexibility (like travel or cash) and has rewards you’ll actually use that are easily earned and redeemed.
If you’re still overwhelmed by all the credit card choices out there, then consider utilizing a credit card comparison tool that will allow you to do a side by side comparison (example: nerdwallet.com/credit-cards). It’s important to do your research and find the best credit card for your situation.
As always, please reach out to your trusted advisor with any questions.
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