What to look for when choosing a new credit card

There are several key factors in choosing a new credit card. Most of them deal with your lifestyle. For me, I tend to choose credit cards with reward programs. My husband and I used to love to take weekend trips before the kids came along. Now the cost can be quite prohibitive when buying tickets for the whole family vs just the two of us. So all my cards are either airline reward or hotel reward based cards. That suits our lifestyle and makes sure that we can enjoy a nice vacation each summer. Below, I have listed several features that I look for when choosing a new card. I hope they are helpful in helping you choose one that will work to your advantage.

Credit Card Features

  • Approval process – I always look to see what earn_more_pointskind of credit is needed to get approved.  I don’t like to get turned down for a credit card. And even though I have excellent credit, there are some cards that not only take your credit score into consideration, but they also look at your annual income.  I don’t want any unnecessary pulls on my credit report.
  • Competitive rate of interest and fees. The oh so important rate and fees.  Make sure you read the fine print.  A lot of cards have introductory rates.  You need to make sure after the introductory rate is over, you can live with the rate.   Don’t forget about annual fees.  A lot of these are free the first year, and then the next year, they hit you with a fee that can be $100s of dollars.  Again, make sure the card is worthy of that fee!
  • Determine what kind of rewards you need.  For me its travel, my husband has a reward gas card because his car is such a gas guzzler and he does a lot of driving for work.  My sister likes cash back reward cards.  Its really up to you, choose a card that will help you live your life to the fullest! Our Hilton HHonors card not only helps us stay in Hiltons, but if we spend enough we have automatic status.  Which means FREE room upgrades, access to hotel club lounges, etc.  There is nothing like traveling in “high style” without having to pay for that high style!
  • Look at the reward program. Some of them are really unreasonable. You want a card where the points don’t expire after a year.  How hard is it to use the points.  In the case of airline rewards, research the blackout dates.  Also find out how many award seats are usually available on popular flights.  I’ve had some that on holidays I had to book at least 5 months before in order to get enough seats.  What kind of perks do they offer?  Is there any crossover programs?  Like for us, our Starwood card now has crossover with Delta.  While Delta is not our airline of choice, we are seriously considering switching to them to take advantage of this feature.

Some Last Minute Reminders

  • Don’t rush the process.  Everyday credit card companies add new programs and take some away. Take all the time you need in shopping and comparing the features of various credit card programs. After all, this activity can help improve your chances of finding a program that will suit your needs, preferences, and most importantly your financial capability.
  • Referrals.  Don’t forget to ask friends and family about their cards and why they choose that particular card.  Also look for credit card forums and see if they have any good incites for you.   When we choose our cards, we spent a lot of time on travel sites to see which cards gave the maximum rewards with fewest fees.
  • For those rebuilding their credit.  If you wish to use your card account to rebuild your credit history, then you need to make sure that your chosen card issuer that will:
    • Approve people with bad or no credit
    • That it reports to the credit bureaus
    • Will give you a decent credit limit.  Most bad credit cards give limits around $500

IF you keep these tips in mind, I’m sure you will find the right card for you!

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