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Blog > 2013 > February > How to Choose the Right Credit Card
February 20, 2013

How to Choose the Right Credit Card

by Hostetler, Michael

Being smart about credit is one of the best ways to stay financially healthy. With so many credit card programs out there, choosing the right one can be a bit overwhelming. Paying attention to the details of these four areas can help you make a smarter credit card decision that you won't be stuck paying for later.

Interest Rates. While the days of fixed interest rates are likely over, credit card interest rates still run the gamut - from low introductory rates near Prime to more than 25.00% APR. Remember that the rate you qualify for is based on your credit score, so keeping it in good standing is the best way to get the lowest rate possible.

If you know you're going to carry a balance on your card, it's extremely important to steer clear of cards with high interest rates. If you are steadfast in paying off your card on time each month, call the credit card company and ask them if they can give you a lower interest rate. Most often, they can and will to keep your business.

Introductory Rates. If you plan to transfer a balance from another card, it may be worthwhile to find a card that offers a low, introductory rate for a designated period. However, be aware of what the rate converts to after the introductory period - as some cards' rates jump to double digits without its cardholders even being aware.

Fees. While it may be tedious, reading the fine print can save you a lot of money in the area of fees. Before you open a new card, be aware if balance transfer fees, annual fees, or even rate hikes for payments that are past due are in the terms. Look for cards that offer no balance transfer fees, no annual fees, and that aren't going to gouge you if you make a payment a few days late.

Rewards. While not important to everyone, some people really enjoy earning credit card rewards. Airline points, cash back programs, philanthropy programs (like Financial Center's new Cathedral branded VISA card which gives back to Cathedral High School), and gasoline discounts are just a few of the rewards offered through many credit card companies. Most often, you'll be given a choice of the type of reward program you'd like to enroll in. Research your options, and pick the program that fits your goals and pays you the most dollar for dollar.

Click here to learn more about Financial Center's VISA Platinum and Platinum Rewards credit cards, or view our current rates.

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