The use of credit cards is definitely on the increase. Indeed, it is so convenient to use a piece of plastic to pay for the goods you buy. Plus, if you have no cash on you or any money on your debit card, the credit card enters the stage and covers your expenses ‒ no questions asked.
But just because credit cards give you these benefits doesn’t mean that you should get the first credit card you are offered. You should know that the competition among credit card companies is fierce and it seems that this trend is about to continue, which works great to your advantage.
This means that you can be much pickier when considering which credit card offer you should accept. Remember, the market should serve you, not the other way around. If you adopt this mindset, you are much more likely to choose the best credit card for you.
To help you do this, we are going to list the five questions that you should ask yourself before getting a new credit card.
Do I Need Another Credit Card?
Just because you got a credit card offer in your mailbox doesn’t mean that you should accept it. Instead, ask yourself if you really need another credit card.
Will this new card give you better terms than any of your existing ones? Can you afford to get another one? Will this card improve your credit score?
All these are the factors that you need to bear in mind before falling victim to another credit card company. Remember, their goal is to make money and they will go a long way to do it.
However, there are certain situations when credit cards can even help you increase your credit score and improve your financial situation. But if you really want to do this, you need to know that this process will take a lot of time, effort and risk.
There are numerous aspects to consider when deciding how many credit cards you should have. Make sure that you take all aspects into account and we are sure that you will make the right choice.
What Is My Credit Score?
Now, this is a much more delicate territory. You should be well aware of your credit score and brutally honest with yourself before applying for a new credit card.
If you do not intend to apply for a card that will help you to rebuild credit, your score should be as high as possible.
One of the reasons for this is that the card acceptance rate is directly proportional to your credit score. In addition, credit card companies usually perform a hard inquiry on your credit report, which will temporarily decrease your score.
Therefore, if you can’t afford to have your score decreased, you need to be very careful when choosing the credit card that you want to apply for.
What Is the APR/Interest rate/Additional Fees?
If you are in dire need of money, you might overlook some of the terms that you are offered.
The U.S. national average APR for credit cards is around 15%. Therefore, if you have a fair credit score, you shouldn’t even consider getting a card which robs you off of your money. The same goes for interest rate and additional fees ‒ if the terms are predatory, feel free to decline the offer.
Even if you have a below-fair credit score, you can definitely find decent offers which will actually help you improve your finances, not harm them.
If you want to avoid paying fees, you should consider the best no-fee credit cards.
How About the Rewards?
Since competition among credit card companies is only increasing, they offer rewards to the people who are willing to use their cards. Your part here is to get as many rewards as you can through cash, gift cards and other options.
When you are considering a credit card offer, check how many points you will earn for your purchases, what each point is worth and what you will get for the points you earn.
In addition, make sure to actually use the rewards that you have earned. It might sound as too obvious a tip, but a lot of people never actually redeem their reward points.
However, don’t apply for a credit card only because it offers great rewards. Always consider other factors as well.
How About Other Offers?
If you don’t like the terms that a company gives, simply skip the offer. The market is becoming more and more flexible and there are numerous options to choose from.
Therefore, our final piece of advice is to shop around. And by this, we mean that you should actually invest time in finding the best deal for you. Make a table or a list of credit cards and write down the APR, interest rate, additional fees, rewards and all other terms for each one of them.
Then, once you have done your research, compare all of the cards and decide which one is the best for you at the moment. Maybe it looks like an exhausting process (that’s because it is) but it will definitely lead you to the best decision.
So, there you go ‒ the five questions to ask yourself before getting a credit card. It is important that you honestly answer each and every one of them.
But that is only rule number one. You need to be aware of your financial situation and the reason why you need a new credit card, in case you need it in the first place.
When you sort that out, take a look at your credit score and determine if you can afford to have a hard inquiry performed on your credit report.
Finally, make sure that you compile a list of all cards and compare the rates, fees and rewards that each card offers. This will lead you to a credit card (or a few of them) that are the best solution at the moment.