There are many factors involved in choosing for the best credit cards. First, you must think about how the it will be used.
If you expect to always pay your monthly bill in full, your best choice may be a credit card that has no annual fee and offers a longer grace period.
If you sometimes carry over a balance from month to month, you may be more interested in a credit card that carries a lower interest rate or low annual percentage rate (APR).
If you expect to use your card to get cash advances, you will want to look for a one that carries a lower APR and lower fees on cash advances. Some charge a higher APR for cash advances than for purchases.
These are steps to take when deciding on a credit card, but your actual breadth of options depends in great part on your credit history.
Once you have decided which card is best suited for your needs, it is time to do a comparison shopping; more like when you are looking for a mortgage or a car loan.
Here are some tips that should help you get started:
1. Do some research – There are plenty of places, both online and offline, where you can read about credit card offers and even get their ratings, but since rates and plans change so often, it’s a good idea to call the institutions you are interested in to confirm the information and to see if there are other plans that might work for you. A reliable and non-commercial resource is the Federal Reserve Board. Also, the non-profit consumer credit organization U.S. Citizens for Fair Credit Card Terms offers credit card ratings from its research.
2. Make a list – Make a list of credit card features that fit your financial needs and rank the features according to how you plan to use the card and pay your monthly bill.
3. Review the plans – Review all of the information you have gathered on different plans. Pay special attention to the APR; you want a low rate, but not necessarily the lowest. This is because, depending on your lifestyle and payment habits, you might benefit more from a card that offers cash rebates, discounts or frequent-flier miles.
4. Check out credit unions – Look into the possibility of joining a credit union. Credit unions are non-profit, and they have lower overhead so they can charge lower interest rates.
5. Compare plans – If you already have a credit card, be sure that you’re making a good move before you swap cards. If you are a current cardholder and have a good credit rating, see if the institution that issued your card will lower your current rate. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
Now here are some benefits of your low interest credit card:
With your low interest credit card on hand you can:
1. Get Rid of your Debt – You can transfer balances from one card to another to take advantage of low introductory rates. This a very common practice among U.S. credit card holders. Low introductory rates can be very helpful in your quest to become free of credit card debt. You should look for one that offer a low intro rate, and transfer the balance from your previous credit card to that new card. Before you take this step, however, make sure that, after the intro rate has expired, the new card offers the same (or lower) interest rate as your current card.
Often times, credit card companies offer a low “introductory” rate that will give you a low interest rate on a credit card for only a short period of time; usually 6 months. After that time the low introductory rate goes up to a higher fixed interest rate. The low introductory interest rates sometimes appear really good, but might actually cost you in the end.
If you are planning to pay off the balance before the introductory rate expires, then credit cards with a low introductory APR or low interest rate can actually save you money. However, if you plan to own a credit card for an extended period of time then a fixed low interest rate card might be right for you. With a fixed low APR credit card you know what your interest rate will be.
2. Fund some or all of that new or used car – Using a low interest credit card for this purpose could potentially be a less expensive alternative to the auto financing offered by the dealer. Since a credit card loan is unsecured, your car would not be in danger of repossession down the road if you hit a rough patch financially and had trouble paying back the debt (although your credit would still be damaged).
With financing from the bank, monthly payments are fixed for the loan term. But using a card to buy a car means you have the option of simply paying the minimum monthly payment, if need be, whereas not paying the bank loan in full could result in a hit to your credit history.
Furthermore, paying for a car with your low interest credit card means no waiting for loan approval. You can skip discussing loan rates and loan approvals with the car salesman, since your credit line can be used like cash whenever you decide it is time to make an auto purchase.
Still, you need to cautious when buying a car with plastic. Among the dangers, your low interest rate is probably for a limited time and could jump once this introductory period ends. Be aware also whether the low interest rate applies to new purchases or cash advances as opposed to simply balance transfers from other credit cards.
Be smart when you apply for the best credit cards. Do comparison shopping for and find one that will give you the benefits of low interest credit cards.