How to Pick the Best Credit Card for You: 12 Easy Steps

Best Credit Card
Best Credit Card

How to Pick the Best Credit Card.. Selecting the best credit card for yourself involves evaluating your financial habits, needs, and goals. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you choose the best credit card:

  1. Determine Your Credit Score: Your credit score largely determines which cards you’ll qualify for. There are many free services online that allow you to check your credit score. Generally:
    • Excellent Credit: 750+
    • Good Credit: 700-749
    • Fair Credit: 650-699
    • Poor Credit: 600-649
    • Bad Credit: Below 600
  2. Understand Your Spending Habits:
    • If you frequently travel, consider cards that offer travel rewards or benefits.
    • If you eat out often or spend a lot at supermarkets, there are cards that offer bonus points for those categories.
    • If your spending is more general, a card with a flat-rate cash back might be more beneficial.
  3. Identify Your Needs and Goals:
    • Rewards: Do you want travel miles, cashback, or points for shopping?
    • Introductory Offers: Some cards offer 0% interest for a certain period or bonus points for spending a certain amount in the first few months.
    • Annual Fees: Determine if you’re okay with paying an annual fee. Some cards with annual fees offer more substantial rewards or benefits that can outweigh the cost.
  4. Look at the APR: The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the interest you’ll pay on balances you carry month-to-month. If you plan on carrying a balance, a lower APR is crucial. If you pay in full every month, this may be less of a concern.
  5. Evaluate Additional Benefits:
    • Travel Perks: Things like airport lounge access, free checked bags, or travel insurance.
    • Extended Warranties: Some cards will extend the manufacturer’s warranty on products you buy.
    • Rental Car Insurance: Coverage when you rent a car using the card.
    • Purchase Protections: Protection against damage or theft for items purchased with the card.
  6. Check for Foreign Transaction Fees: If you travel internationally, you’ll want a card that doesn’t charge extra for purchases made outside your home country.
  7. Consider Issuer-Specific Features:
    • Customer Service: Some issuers are known for superior customer service.
    • Mobile App & Online Experience: If you prefer managing your account digitally, ensure the issuer’s app and online tools are up to par.
  8. Secured vs. Unsecured: If you have bad credit or no credit, a secured card (which requires a deposit as collateral) may be the only type you qualify for. These can help build credit if managed responsibly.
  9. Understand Fees and Penalties:
    • Look for cards with no late fees or penalties.
    • Understand the charges for cash advances, balance transfers, and exceeding your credit limit.
  10. Balance Transfers: If you have a balance on another card, consider whether you want to transfer that balance to a new card with a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers.
  11. Read the Fine Print: This might sound tedious, but it’s essential to understand all terms and conditions, including how rewards work, how they might change, and any limitations or restrictions.
  12. Regularly Reassess: As your spending habits and financial needs change, so might the best credit card for you. Revisit your choice every couple of years to make sure you’re still getting the best deal.

Finally, once you’ve picked a card, always aim to use it responsibly. Maintain a low credit utilization ratio (the amount you owe vs. your total credit limit), pay your bills on time, and avoid carrying high balances. This not only helps with your personal finances but will also keep your credit score in good shape.

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