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Choosing A Credit Card That Suits Your Repayment Habits

Aug 17, 2007
When choosing a new credit card it's best to pick a card that suits your spending habits. However, this is not the most crucial factor. Even more important is to choose a credit card that matches your paying habits. This will ensure that you don't end up paying over the odds to repay your credit card debt. Consider these scenarios:

Big Spender, Big Payer

You put most of your spending on your credit card each month. Petrol, shopping, clothes, days out, drinks at the pub - it all goes on there. But you're one of the lucky ones. You earn enough to be able to pay off the balance in full each month. If you're this kind of spender, you won't be worried about the interest rate, provided the card has a long interest free period. (Some cards charge interest from the day of purchase; this is not a good option for regular spenders). The best card for you will be one that has other incentives, such as cash back or reward points of some kind.

Some people spend regularly on their credit cards, but can't clear the whole balance each month. If this is you, you'll want a card with a low annual percentage rate. This will keep repayments on uncleared balances relatively low. Check for cards without an annual fee but with other incentives if you can get these at a low rate.

Look For Low Interest

If you put most of your spending on the credit card but pay off very little or the minimum amount, then you need a different type of credit card. A card with a very low interest rate will keep repayments manageable. It's also worth checking to see what percentage of the outstanding balance has to be repaid. This can vary widely.

Another option for those who leave large balances on their credit cards is to shop around for balance transfer offers. Some of these offer a low rate for however long the transferred balance stays on the new credit card. This is usually significantly lower than the bank rate and can help with managing long term debt.

Some of credit card companies offer a balance transfer rate of 0% for a fixed period of six to nine months (and occasionally 12 months). This means that anything you pay will reduce the outstanding balance on the credit card. This will help to keep finances manageable.

Rate Surfing Advantages

You could also consider becoming a rate surfer. This means applying for a new card before the expiry of the 0% offer and transferring the balance to a new 0% credit card. Do this for long enough and the outstanding debt is bound to go down.

Whichever offer you choose, remember to look at the fine print. For example, credit card cheques arrive in the post and it can be tempting to use them. However, some credit card companies charge a higher rate if you use credit card cheques than if you spend with the card.

It's also advisable to see if the rate that applies to balance transfers also applies to purchases. Sometimes new spending on the credit card is charged at the standard rate. In these cases, payments are often applied to the lower rate balance first, which means you could end up making higher repayments than you had planned.
About the Author
Joe Kenny writes for the Credit Card Guide, offering views on credit cards in the UK, visit them today for some great 0% balance transfer offers and start clearing credit card debt today.
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