Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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4 Credit Card Features to Research Before You Apply

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Several of the latest credit cards boast a cutting-edge, sleek design that's far more attractive than plain old plastic. Cardholders would feel a rush of prestige to hand a metallic card to a waitress or whip it out in front of a line of customers. But, no matter how impressive a credit card is designed, you should never pick a credit card based on looks alone. Researching the most important features of whatever credit card you're considering is essential to making sure you pick the best credit card. If you’re considering a few different credit cards, compare these features to narrow down your options and make a final choice.

1. The fees

Nearly all credit cards come with fees. Some you can avoid, some you can’t. Credit card issuers are required to disclose the fees to you before you apply for the credit card. You’ll typically find a link to the fee structure on the credit card issuer’s website. Some of the most common fees are: annual fee, late fee, balance transfer fee, and cash advance fee. Not only should you know what fees come with the card, you should also know when the fees are charged.

2. The APRs

The interest rate, which is expressed as an APR or annual percentage rate, is another major factor that influences the cost of a credit card. When you carry a balance on your credit card, rather than paying it in full, you’ll be charged a finance charge based on your APR. Credit cards typically have several different APRs: for purchases, balance transfers, cash advances, and a penalty APR that becomes effective when you default on your credit card terms. The APRs are listed in the credit card disclosure along with the credit card fees.

3. Timing of promotional rates

If you’re signing up for a credit card with an introductory promotional rate, e.g. a 0% balance transfer rate, make sure you pay attention to the timing of the promotional rate. By law, promotional rates have to last at least six months, but some of the best credit cards offer promotional rates for much longer. Be aware of how long the promotional rate will last and the rate that will go into effect once the promotional rate ends.

4. The rewards

Rewards credit cards are one of the best kinds of credit cards. Purchases you make on a rewards credit card allow you to earn points to use for travel, hotel stays, and other benefits or cash back to your credit card or checking account. Before you sign up for a rewards credit card, read through the rewards program to find out the kinds of rewards you can earn, how you can earn them, and what you’re allowed to do with the rewards. If your credit card pays higher rewards on certain types of purchases, you’ll want to use your credit card primarily for those purchases.

Whether you're picking out your first credit card ever or your 30th, these features should always be a major part of your decision.

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Comments 1

Frank on Monday, 25 September 2017 17:41

When I pick out CCs, I usually focus on the rewards and don't care too much about the APRs given I am going to pay off my bill every month.

When I pick out CCs, I usually focus on the rewards and don't care too much about the APRs given I am going to pay off my bill every month.
Guest
Monday, 19 August 2019

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