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The Benefits of Shopping Around for Credit Card Deals

Aug 20, 2007
Whether or not you intend to carry a balance on your credit card, choosing the right one matters.
There are a lot of benefits you can get from your credit card beyond simply a convenient way to spend money. Take some time and figure out what will bring you the most benefit.

The most popular benefit is points of one sort or another. These can go towards travel, cash back, gas or other things, depending on the kind of program you join. If you aren't carrying a balance and the card has no annual fee, these can be a great deal.

On the other hand, carrying a balance with a points credit card can mean that you are paying more in additional interest than you are gaining from the points. It is not always worth it.

What Do You Need to Look At?

The first question you need to ask yourself as you shop for a credit card is why do you need it?

Suppose you are trying to break away from a higher interest rate card, for example. A good card for you will have a low or even 0% introductory APR, and no balance transfer fees. You will want to look at how long the initial APR lasts and what the final APR will be.

On the other hand, if you aren't needing to transfer a balance these features will be of less interest. You will want to think about if you will be carrying a balance or no, and picking the features and APR that will best suit your needs from there.

Seek Out Credit Card Offers

Get ready to take some notes. Start taking notes on the credit card offers that appeal to you. You can do this on paper or on a spreadsheet if you are comfortable with these. What you want to do is make it easy to compare the features of each card you are considering.

Do not start applying for cards yet.

Divide your notes into columns, one for each feature, and each card on its own row. Look at a number of cards, ruling out any that obviously aren't what you need (high interest rate cards, for example), but noting any that are even slightly of interest.

Take a look at what you have found and compare it with what you are looking for in a card. One or two should have the strongest match to what you are after in a credit card.

I generally prefer online credit card offers for one simple reason - you get far more of them. The ones in the mail can be quite good, but odds are you can find them online too, along with offers you haven't received in the mail. But online offers have the advantage that you get your answer in minutes, rather than days or weeks. All you have to wait for is the actual card in the mail.

Smart shopping for your credit card means you will get the best benefits from your card. You won't regret the time spent when you know that you've picked the exact card for your needs.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.knowyourcreditcards.com/ as a resource for learning to pick the right credit card offer. Learn more about credit cards at her site.
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