How To Get A Credit Card That’s Right For You

by Millie Kay G. on Debt, Credit and Loans

Compare credit card offers before you apply for a card.

As we move through life, our credit circumstances may vary. Based on your situation, you may find that you require one kind of credit card vs another. We offer some ideas on what types of credit cards to seek out based on different credit requirements you may have.

Want To Get A Credit Card? How To Shop For One

First, you should figure out how a new credit card would benefit you. Would you use it for emergencies, for regular expenses, or for deals that you can’t pass up? What sort of monthly payment can your budget handle? Do you need a card with rewards built in? Also, it may be good for you to read the fine print in those credit card offers, in case there are hidden fees or an interest rate jump after an initial sign up period. Check out the following cards in the market today:

Rewards Credit Cards For The Responsible Card Holder

If you’re aiming for a rewards credit card, know that you can maximize their benefits by paying off the balance each month, by staying loyal to one or few cards rather than using many cards (by focusing your spending on one card, you can qualify for better rewards), and by saving up the reward points for bigger ticket items. Here are a few great choices:

Credit Card
Rewards Type
Chase Freedom Card Cash Back Up to 3% cash back, $50 cash bonus, No annual fee
Discover More Card Cash Back Up to 5% cash back bonus, No annual fee
Discover Student Card Cash Back Up to 5% cash back bonus, No annual fee
Discover Motiva Credit Card Cash Back Up to 1% cash back rebate, No annual fee
American Express True Earnings Card Cash Back Up to 3% cash back bonus, $25 cash bonus, No annual fee
Chase Sapphire Credit Card Point Rewards Unlimited points, Bonus: $100 cash or 10,000 points, No annual fee
Visa Black Card Cash Back / Point Rewards Exclusive rewards plus 1% cash back, $495 annual fee

Evaluate what sort of rewards you’d actually use, and determine if cashing in on those rewards is worth using the plastic.

Travel Credit Cards For The Avid Traveler

If you find yourself packing your carry-on bag regularly, you should look for a card aimed at travelers. Certain cards reward users for buying airline tickets, booking hotel rooms, gas miles, or other travel tie-ins. If there’s an annual fee involved (which is often the case for this type of credit card category), then you’ll need to make sure it isn’t exorbitant compared to the rewards being offered. Here’s a list of popular travel credit cards for your review:

Credit Card
Rewards Type
Discover Miles Credit Card Travel Rewards 12,000 bonus miles, No annual fee
Escape By Discover Card Travel Rewards Unlimited double miles, $60 annual fee
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Best Hotel Rewards Up to 6 free nights, No annual fee for first year, $45 thereafter
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Airline Rewards 20,000 bonus miles, $150 annual fee
Delta Reserve Credit Card Airline Rewards Bonus miles, $450 annual fee

If it turns out that you can’t use those airline miles or free room upgrades that you’ve been awarded, you should find out if you can trade in your rewards for gift cards to local stores (I got some Borders cards for Christmas this way).

Have Bad Credit? Use Secured Credit Cards To Rebuild Your Credit

Job losses, unexpected medical fees, and emergencies can all contribute to a negative credit rating. But don’t despair — we offer some ways to build good credit and clean up bad credit. Among our tips: consider using secured credit cards to restore or establish credit. Here are a few options for secured cards:

A secured credit card will allow you to deposit between $300 to $10,000 in a security deposit account, with your credit line being tied to this deposit. A card such as this could help you reestablish a pattern of responsibility after a bout of bad credit.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that consumers in trouble should contact their creditors to work out a repayment plan, stick to a budget, and dispute errors on credit reports. Also, don’t fall for a credit repair scam — you can fix problems with a credit bureau yourself, if you’re persistent!

How To Apply For The Right Credit Card

So what else can you do? It helps to check out various calculators and review financial literacy issues regarding credit cards. Some sites also offer credit card analyzers and tools that chart cards with different interest rates and benefits.

Other than online (after some research), you can also visit your local bank or credit union, who already know you as a customer. They may be willing to start you off on a new credit card, even if you’ve got a limited credit history.

To maintain good credit after you acquire a new card, try not to max it out too quickly. Also, credit bureaus may penalize you if you attempt to close out your old credit cards. Keeping those old cards open shows that you can handle your accounts in a responsible manner.

No matter what your circumstances, it pays to be a credit card detective before signing up for a new card. As long as you know your credit limit, your balance, your interest rate, and the fees involved, you should be able to use credit cards to their best advantage.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley September 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

For people starting out, credit unions are a good resource. They are typically more concerned about making sure the customer understands all the terms of the card they will receive.

2 James September 14, 2009 at 9:01 am

The Discover more is a good card for starting out.

There are lots of places where you can compare cards too.

3 winsala adebayo September 26, 2009 at 8:40 am

I really appreciated what i have read. But what i really need is a credit card that I can use on net to buy stuff. thanks.

4 Card Man June 28, 2010 at 10:02 am

You should sort cards based on credit, otherwise the people are unlikely to be approved. We have a card service that sorts all cards based on credit as well as card features. Your article is right on though.

5 The Smarter Wallet June 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

@Card Man,
I have another site that does that. 🙂

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