What to look for in a Credit Card?
World wide, credit cards have become an almost indispensable financial tool in the system of payments.
They are deceptively convenient and make it easier to spend money.
People are often surprised when they receive their monthly statement at some of the costs involved in using a credit card.
There is so much competition in the market today, however, that it's possible to find a card that is a good match for your financial habits, as long as you do your homework, and will help keep the cost low.
There are a number of things to look out for when deciding on a credit card, not just the APR rate, and it's important that you arm yourself with the appropriate information before making a choice.
What are your spending habits?
Do you tend to carry a balance every month or do you pay off the card?
If you carry a balance, then it can be a good idea to use a card that has a low Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
This rate is the interest that you'll pay monthly on any outstanding balance. The higher the rate, the more interest incurred.
Be aware, however, that many credit cards offer a low rate on initial purchase offers, but that rate can increase.
A fixed low rate
Choosing a card with a fixed low rate will guarantee you a certain interest repayment each month, and you will have a fair idea of what the charges will be, depending on your spending pattern.
The disadvantage of a fixed rate is that you usually pay an annual fee with the guarantee.
Low introductory offer
If you don't intend to use credit on a regular basis but want to use a card for a once-off, big ticket purchase like a new lounge suite or a new bed, then consider a card with a low introductory order.
Be warned, however, cards that offer a very low rate will usually have their rates increased over a relatively short period of time, say six months. If you are confident that you will have repaid the total amount within the stipulated time period, then this could be a good choice for you.
If you prefer to pay off the whole amount every month to avoid interest, look for credit cards that have a grace period. This allows you to pay off the amount with no charges.
A card without a grace period will begin charging you interest the moment that the purchase is made.
Cash advance fees
Cash advances always come at a price. Most cards will charge interest at a higher rate for a cash advance even if it offers a grace period for purchases.
Consider credit card protection
It may seem like an unnecessary cost to you now, but credit card fraud has spiralled in recent years. A protection plan will help safeguard you from any unauthorised payments on the card.
If your card is lost or stolen and you have followed the prescribed procedure, it is less likely that you will be held responsible for any payments made.
Is the issuer a reputable company? Do your research online and ask around, do you know anyone else that has a card with the issuer? Find out whether the card provider has signed up to credit card verification schemes offered by Visa or MasterCard. These schemes require you to enter an additional pin number to complete online transactions. Visit Visa or MasterCard to find out more.
There are many good deals out there on the market, what's important is that you make a considered choice when choosing a card and that you do not fall for any gimmicks. If you need advice or help then speak to an expert about the various cards on offer.
Credit Card buying power
With so much competition out there, there are many different benefit programmes on offer, so shop around to find one that will suit you best.
If you feel strongly about a certain issue or cause, look for a credit card that channels money to certain charities. This way, every time you swipe you could be supporting your favourite charities.
If you travel a lot, for example, look for a card that rewards you with frequent travel miles, or that offers traveller's insurance.
If you are planning to use the card for big purchases like electronics, consider a card that carries insurance which will help you replace your equipment if it breaks down or is stolen within a specified time period.
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