NerdWallet said it best – finding the right credit card for you is part art, part science. That’s because there’s no one size fits all model for determining the perfect card. Instead, it depends on your unique spending habits and financial goals.
Whether you’re looking to build up credit, or are a frequent flyer hoping to earn some points for miles, the right credit card is out there for you. To find “the one” that fits your financial needs, there are a few factors to consider. Read on for help weighing your options before opening up another line of credit.
Check Your Credit Score
Credit cards, and how you manage them, can have a significant impact on your credit score, which is why your credit score is the main determining factor in credit options available to you.
Before you apply for a new card, check your credit score to help set realistic expectations of what you’ll be able to apply for. Borrowers with higher credit scores will have higher credit limits and more points and rewards available to them, while borrowers with lower credit scores may find it challenging to secure a line of credit of any form.
If you’re unsure of your credit score, free apps like Credit Karma can help by providing you with a general range of your credit standing, along with recommendations for credit cards best fit for your score.
Evaluate Your Options
Once you know your credit score, you’ll have a better idea of the card limits you’ll be able to access. Depending on your specific goals, when it comes to selecting a credit card, you have a few options to choose from.
- Cards designed to help you improve limited or damaged credit
If you’re just establishing your credit, have low credit, or are looking to build up or repair your credit, a secured credit card can be a great tool to help you get there (so long as you practice responsible spending).
Secured credit cards are similar to traditional cards in that they extend credit, charge interest, and can offer rewards, but they require you to make a deposit in order to access that credit. The amount of money you choose to deposit becomes your line of credit, aka your credit limit, and serves as collateral if you fail to make payments. This is a great option to ensure you don’t overspend your means, since you’ll need to put down the cash you want to spend on your credit card in advance.
- Low or no-interest cards
0% APR – or no-interest credit cards – are cards that offer introductory 0% APR rates during a certain period of time (usually a year). This can be a great option for a few reasons. First, if you’re looking to make a large purchase, a low-or-no interest credit card provides the security of not accumulating interest on that purchase as you pay it off monthly. If you’re able to pay off the balance before your 0% interest period is up, you could essentially provide yourself with an interest-free loan.
Additionally, 0% APR cards often offer a balance transfer, enabling borrowers to consolidate other high-interest credit card debt to one monthly bill, while saving cash on monthly interest.
- Cards that earn rewards
For frequent travelers, and those who love to dine out, rewards cards can be just that – rewarding! Rewards credit cards give you something back for every dollar you spend. Depending on the card, that can be in the form of frequent flyer miles, hotel points, or cash back, which you can use toward paying down your monthly balance.
If you’re able to pay off your balance in full each month, rewards cards can actually not only save you money, but put some extra cash back into your pocket for purchases you would have otherwise not been earning any rewards on (like dining out, for example).
Remember, a credit card is a tool that, when used responsibly, can help you reach your financial goals. On the flipside, missed payments and exceeded limits can be detrimental to your financial wellbeing. To determine the right card for your financial needs, carefully assess your options and always consult a financial advisor if you have any questions.
The opinions expressed in this post are for informational purposes only. To determine the best financing for your personal circumstances and goals, we advise you to consult with a licensed advisor.
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