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There are hundreds of different types of credit cards available for consumers. While they all allow you to borrow money, they each have perks that may or may not work in your favor. One way to figure out which card is right for you is to examine the kinds of credit cards available and the benefits they offer.
The Most Common Types of Credit Cards
Aside from standard credit cards, there are several types of credit cards including:
- Cash back rewards cards
- Hotel, travel and gas rewards cards
- Secured credit cards
- Business credit cards
- Student credit cards
Cash Back Rewards Cards
Cash back rewards cards offer cash back on purchases made throughout the month. Most of these cards allow you to earn 1 to 5 percent back on eligible purchases. The best cash back cards offer a flat-rate on every purchase. Cash back rewards cards are an excellent choice for people who can pay off their balance every month because the cash earned won't be eaten away in interest rates.
Hotel, Travel and Gas Rewards Cards
This kind of rewards cards is a good choice for people who use credit cards and travel frequently. Instead of earning cash back, customers earn points for every dollar spent. You can redeem these points for airline tickets, hotel rooms, gas, or car rentals.
Secured Credit Cards
People who have little to no credit or bad credit score are good candidates for secured credit cards. Before they can be activated, these cards require a cash deposit that is usually between $200 - $500. Secured credit cards generally have a low limit but they are ideal for consumers who wish to build up the credit score.
Business Credit Cards
For business owners that spend a significant amount of money on business expenses each month, it might be worth applying for a business credit card. Some business credit cards offer lower interest rates than personal credit cards. Business credit cards also help business owners keep business and personal finances separate.
Student Credit Cards
Student credit cards are aimed at younger people who have little to no credit. These cards usually have limited credit score requirements as well as low minimum balances. If you're looking at applying for a student credit card, do some research because some companies trade low credit limits with high-interest rates.
How to Choose the Best Credit Card for You
You might have to do some homework before choosing a card that is right for you. Finding the right credit card can help you can get the most out of it.
Research Credit Card Reviews before You Commit
Your best tool for finding the best credit card is the research. There is a number of credit card review and consumer advocate websites that can help you narrow down your choices. In addition, you can find plenty of reviews about credit cards and companies on social media networks, forums, and blogs.
Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score determines what kind of credit card you can apply for and what terms are involved. Consumers with poor credit scores will generally pay higher interest rates. If you have a low credit score, it may be worth waiting until you can improve your score before applying for a credit card.
Annual Percentage Rate
Before signing up for any credit card, you should know the annual percentage rate, which is how much the creditor is charging you to borrow money. Creditors use your credit score, income, payment history and economic indicators to set this rate. It is important to understand how these fees work so that not to be surprised when your monthly bill arrives.
Will You Benefit From Any Rewards Offered?
Credit card companies use rewards to lure customers to apply for their cards, but in some cases, purchases must be related to the type of rewards being offered. Read the fine print to know if there are any stipulations regarding any type of rewards being offered. You may find that your spending won't generate much in terms of rewards.
Are You Willing to Pay an Annual Fee?
Credit card companies that charge an annual fee usually have features that make the fee worthwhile. Sometimes these features come in form of rewards, such as cash-back incentives, which could turn out to be greater than the cost of the yearly fee. Other cards with fees might offer membership benefits that could include discounts on purchases, hotel upgrades, or other perks.
If you find that you cannot earn a card's annual fee back in the certain type of reward, it may be best to go with a card charging lower fee or no fee at all.
Consider How You Spend Money
You shouldn't be tempted by sign-up offers from credit card companies if you won’t benefit from any of the card's perks. Likewise, don't let a good rewards plan to lure you into signing a contract. For example, if you don't travel very often, a travel rewards card would not benefit you no matter how good the rewards plan might be.
Consider How Many Credit Cards You Already Own
If you’re able to manage the credit card(s) you already own, you might benefit from another credit card by utilizing any rewards and perks it offers. Another advantage of owning more than one credit card could be to boost your credit score. Some people also find that having more than one card offers a sense of security should one card become lost or stolen.
Know Your Limits
If you’re not able to pay your current credit card balance, or if you struggle to pay bills every month, another credit card could lead to more debt in your future. Using credit cards can be tempting but remember you will have to pay back the money you borrowed sooner or later -- plus interest.
If you’ve decided that you want to apply for a credit card, one way to know if a card is the best for you is to read the contract, especially the fine print. Read credit card reviews and do your homework. Just like any other business, credit card companies are there to make money. Always be certain that you understand and can comply with the company’s terms of the agreement before choosing a credit card.