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How to Set Your Priorities When Choosing a New Credit Card

Sep 3, 2007
There are a lot of good deals to be had on credit cards right now. But what is a good deal to you may not be a good deal to another consumer. You have to think about what it is you need from your credit cards.

Take the introductory 0% APR deals. They may sound great to you if you have a balance you'd like to transfer over, but for someone who isn't going to be carrying a balance, who cares? 0% APR means nothing to them.

Then again, which 0% APR really means most to you? Is it better on purchases or balance transfers? What about the balance transfer fee? Will you be saving enough money to chose that card over this card? You really have to think carefully.

For other people, it's all about the rewards. These cards are best for people who won't be carrying a balance, as higher interest rates generally easily eat up the reward value. But which reward is best depends on your shopping habits.

Sometimes it's the gas rewards card. You earn rewards on shopping in general, but higher rewards at selected gas stations.

For others it will be the travel rewards card. You're going places and the card helps cut your costs.

Of course, anyone carrying a balance wants a lot interest rate in the long run. It just makes sense. And there are plenty of credit cards out there offering just that. Some require better credit than others, but so long as you have a reasonably decent history, you can get a fairly low rate in many cases. It may be a matter of asking your current credit company for it, or it may be a matter of applying for a new card and moving things over. At the very least, if you are pretty sure of being approved there is little enough harm in applying for a credit card with a better interest rate.

The big thing to watch out for are the other terms. Annual fees are not too hard to avoid these days, but you should definitely be on the watch for them. You'll also want to know what happens to your APR if you miss a payment. These things can become extremely relevant rather unexpectedly. There's no good reason to be caught off guard.

There's no reason to settle for the first credit card application that falls into your mail slot. Do your research and figure out what is really going to give you what you want from a credit card. You'll be much happier with it in the long run.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://credit-blog.findcreditonline.com/ about being smart with your credit. Her site also offers resources so that you can compare credit card offers .
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