Are you looking to get a credit card? Here are some tips on how to compare credit card offers.
To judge from the amount of junk mail I get, not every company is suffering a financial crisis. Some credit card companies are still looking for new customers like me. With interest rates in flux, now is the time to review the difference between legitimate credit card offers and those that are unsavory. Here are some of the more popular cards I know of, all of which I know are from reputable credit card companies:
Compare Credit Card Offers: Find The Best Credit Cards To Own
Which Credit Card Offers Should You Entertain?
While you’re shopping for a credit card, there are some things to take into consideration before deciding to actually sign up for a new card. Personally, I ask myself a few questions before applying for any card that I see online or that I encounter as a mail-in offer:
- Have I heard of this company? For example, I know about American Express and Discover credit cards; I’m less familiar with say, the Bank of GimmeYourDough and its products.
- What is the interest rate for purchases? When I review new offers, I make sure it stacks up against my current credit card. I certainly don’t want to pay a higher interest than I already do on my current credit card.
- What are the interest rate and charges for cash advances? Although I don’t intend to take out cash advances, it’s better to be informed than shocked silly by a 30% rate later.
- Can I transfer balances to this card without incurring lots of fees? I picked up my current credit card because the bank offered a low rate on balance transfers.
- How much are late fees and will my interest rate skyrocket if I make a late payment? Again, I don’t want or need a credit card that will severely penalize me.
- Would I be better off without an additional credit card? Taking on too many credit cards can make my credit report look bad, and may just encourage me to take on more debt.
Image by TheBrassPotato
Read the Fine Print & FAQs
The fine print can be intimidating, but you should be able to track down the answers to your questions in it. It’s also wise to study any user agreements or FAQs regarding the credit card in question. If you can’t find the lender’s website online, that should be a big red flag.
Also, make sure you’re familiar with the credit card bill of rights before applying for a credit card. The Fed recently passed several credit card regulations promoting changes in the credit card industry, which should help out consumers.
One other thing I do: if I’m looking over an offer that has arrived in the mail, I take the letter and check up on the company’s address and any Better Business Bureau complaints before filling in any applications.
Another factor that’s important for me is knowing how to make my payments. Will a new credit card company allow me to pay online, by phone, or at a bank branch? Do I pay extra for paying these ways? If the fees seem too high, or the company is hard to reach, then I pass on that credit card.
Credit Resources For Consumer Education: The FTC
The Federal Trade Commission has a lot of helpful articles on credit issues. For instance, if a lender charges a processing fee without telling you about it or doesn’t display any interest in your credit history, you may be dealing with a scammer. In addition, you should stay away from lenders that aren’t registered with your state’s attorney general.
According to Bankrate.com, you could be targeted by scammers if you have a bad-looking credit report. Maybe you’ve seen ads for places that promise you a credit card if you pay a fee in advance. This might sound tempting if you can’t get credit elsewhere, but then your money might disappear. Or the credit card may not be worth pursuing because the limit might just be too low. These are definitely considerations when you’re trying to determine if a card is worth getting.
Also, Bankrate.com points out that you shouldn’t pay extra for credit protection because Federal law already limits your liability to $50. Then there’s the issue of debt suspension: you shouldn’t be tempted to pay extra for so-called insurance if you have a problem paying your bill. Instead, you should call up the lender and discuss payment arrangements directly.
For more tips on sifting through genuine versus risky credit card offers, check out Consumer Savvy Tips.
Finally, remember that it pays to know whom you’re dealing with: call up the lender’s customer service number if you have more questions about your credit card offers. The companies that can’t give us straight answers aren’t worth our money.
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