How to Pick the Best Credit Card?

01 Oct 2020

Credit cards have become a very popular way to meet immediate financial expenses. There are many companies that offer a number of benefits with their credit cards. And even exciting credit cards are available for bad credit.  

As per a data released by the American Banking Association in April 2018, there were 364 million credit card accounts in the USA by the end of 2017. 185 million accounts belong to the super-prime consumers whereas 104 million accounts belong to prime consumers and 75 million credit cards are used by sub-prime users.

Plastic money seems to be gaining popularity amongst individuals but the number of options we have in the market leaves us perplexed. To ensure that you end up finding the right and best credit cards, it is important that you must keep certain points into consideration.

Key points to consider before applying for a credit card:

To know which credit card is best for you, you must keep the following into consideration before opting for one:

  • What are you expecting from your credit card- Well, credit card companies offer you cards for different purposes, for example, you have a credit card for travel, cards for entertainment, cards for dining, credit cards that have no charges on foreign transactions and much more. So, before you apply for your best credit cards, it is important that you must first check your requirement and based on it, prepare a list of credit cards that will be in your best interest.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of credit cards-

  • One that helps you improve credit- Student credit cards or secured credit cards may fall in this category. These are comparatively easier to qualify for.
  • One that allows you to save money on interest- A credit card with an introductory low interest offer or a 0% APR may be of good use for you if you want to save  money on interest payable. Do have in mind that you may have a tough time getting these cards approved if you have a poor/average credit.
  • One that provides rewards- If you intend to pay off the full balance amount every month, reward credit cards are fantastic options for you. These cards usually come with higher APRs but provide greater sign-up bonuses and you can earn cash-back, miles or points on every purchase you make.

You should opt for a card with features that meets your specific needs. For example, if you are not a frequent traveler, it does not make sense to go for a travel card.  

  • Do you really need a credit card- Many a time it happens that we get going with the flow and since everyone around us is buying credit cards, we also do the same. But this decision may often leave you with the burden of repayment. The credit card comes with repayment and interest rate, so you must first check whether or not you would be able to repay the same or else holding a credit card becomes a liability. This sometimes increases so much that the credit card holder has to take a loan to clear it off.

  • Credit Score- Before filling out the credit card application; make sure you check your credit score. Companies issuing credit cards often consider credit score before they decide to offer you credit card.  Once you know your credit score, you can apply for the credit cards which are likely to get approved.

Get to know the card offers you may be qualified for by checking the credit score with any of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). As mandated by Federal Laws, you are entitled to a free credit report copy every year from each of these bureaus. If your credit score is not on the expected lines; check your credit reports to verify the root of the problem. You can then figure out means to improve it, from disputing errors on your credit reports to changing your spending habits, if required. If you become successful to lift your credit score, you stand a better chance of getting a credit card approved, with better perks.

  • Benefits offered by the cards- Credit card offers are lucrative, some come with competitive interest rates, and some have no annual charges, while there are some which have an impressive reward points system. Make sure that while shortlisting the cards, you consider all these points and then come to a conclusion.

When you are weighing up your options among a few similar cards, opt for the one that offers the maximum overall value to you.

  • For student/secured credit cards-
  • Check if the card allows you to increase your credit limit after a series of timely payments
  • Check if your secured credit card keeps your security deposit in a CD from where you can earn money as interest.
  • For low-interest or 0% APR cards-
  • Check if your issuer makes provisions for online creation of your debt payoff plan in its portal.
  • Check if your card waives off the penalty APR/late fees on the first few instances of your late payments.
  • For travel/reward/cash-back cards-
    • Check how much you are required to spend before you qualify to avail a sign-up bonus. The lower is this amount, the better is for you.
    • Check if any expiry date is attached with any of the reward schemes shown to you.
  • The interest rate- APR or Annual Percentage Rate is the interest rate that a credit card has. It can be fixed or variable which is tied to another financial indicator, mostly prime rate. The fixed interest rate credit card is the same from month to month while with a variable interest rate, it fluctuates. Think for the one which will be helpful for you and apply for the same.

  • Credit limit- If you are a person who actively uses a credit card, then the credit limit plays a key role in the same. Some cards offer a limited range while there are cards that have a higher credit limit. Remember, overspending will put you under the burden of repayment and if it is not done on time, then you may be charged penalty and it will also affect your credit score.

  • Cashback- This is another lucrative deal that credit cards offer. You get the money refunded based on how much you spend. But, first, you need to check whether or not you qualify for the credit card offer or cash back. An important point to note here is that the card will have cash back only when you pay the balance in full each month.

  • Fees and penalties- One of the most important factors that you must consider before choosing a credit card is to see the fees and penalties. Some of the common charges that you must look at include fees for transactions, cash advances, balance transfers, overseas transaction cost, fees for duplicate statement, card replacement fees, cash withdrawal on credit card, card replacement fee, etc.  Most of the credit card companies lure you with their offerings and in a hurry to get the card, we tend to ignore these charges. So, don’t make haste while choosing the card, ask the company about the same. Moreover, ask the credit card company about the penalties in case there is a delay in payment. Find out the card which offers no transaction fees and zero per cent interest for at least 12 months. Don't go for the credit cards that ask for extra payment for reward points.

  • Advanced Features- See if the credit card company you are choosing is ready to provide you with the advanced feature for card protection like electronic chip protection, bio-metric cards, no duplicate holograms, anti-phishing and online fraud system.

  • Balance Transfer- While choosing credit, apart from the above-mentioned factors, you need to also consider the balance transfer feature offered by the card. Some of the key factors that you must consider include:

    • The current rate of payment
    • Ask the credit card company provider if they have an introductory APR offer
    • What would be the rate you need to pay after introductory APR offer expires.
    • Is there any fee that you need to pay when you transfer all or a part of your balance to the new card. This is also known as balance transfer fee.
  • Don’t get swayed away by the advertisement- Most of the time it happens that while buying credit cards, we get swayed away by the advertisement and pleasing offers that the credit card companies offer. But, when it comes to buying the credit card, the scenario gets topsy-turvy. There are many hidden points between the lines and conditions apply which we cannot understand, and thus, it becomes necessary that while choosing the credit card we must thoroughly understand the offers by the credit card company. A good way to understand this is by comparing the cards online. Afinoz helps you to do the comparative analysis based on the APR, fees, penalties, rewards, balance transfer and other features.

  • Trip cancellation insurance- If you love to travel then this feature offered by some credit cards will lure you. For example, the booking has been done and for some reasons, you could not travel then all you are left with is a big bill. With the trip cancellation insurance, you can easily save on this. Ask your credit card provider if they have a card that comes with this feature.

 

Most Popular Credit Cards for 2019

S.No.

Name of the Card

Annual Fee

APR

Key Feature

1


 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

There is no annual fee for the first year,

and then the user has to pay $95 per year.

17.99%–24.99% (variable rate)

  • This is an excellent card for those looking for reward points.

  • For every $1 spent on travel, you will earn 1 point.

  • You will also make 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

  • You also earn 25% more when you redeem the points while travelling through this card.

2

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card


 

There is no annual fee for the first year, and then the user has to pay $95 per year.


 

14.24%, 22.74% or 26.24%, the interest rate depends on the credit score of the user.

  • This is one of the best choices when you are searching for the travelling card.

  • It allows transfer of miles to more than 10 associated airlines making you earn the benefits.

  • The more you travel, the better are the rewards.

  • For every dollar spent, you earn 1.25 miles.

  • You can redeem these points by while paying for purchases on the card.

3

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

$89

17.99% - 24.99% (Variable rate)

  • This card entitles you to get 10 complimentary airport lounge visits every year after you make one-time signup with Priority Pass™ Select.

  • The user also gets to earn a weakened stay after he/she has spent $15,000 on the card in a year.

4

Citi® / Advantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

The user needs to pay $99 for the first year.

18.24% to 26.24% based on your creditworthiness

  • This card offers no foreign transaction fees.

  • The card also enables the user to enjoy preferred boarding on American Airline Flights.

  • You can also save 25% on the food and beverages purchased in the flight.

5

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

$149

 

17.99% - 24.99% (Variable rate)

  • The card lets the user earn 2 points per dollar spent with Southwest Airlines and with Rapid Rewards airline.

  • You get a 20% rebate on inflight purchase done using this card.

  • You can earn 40,000 points on spending $1000 in the first three months of purchasing the card.

6

Discover it® Cash Back

No Annual Fee

13.99% - 24.99% (Variable rate)

  • If you are looking for a card that offers good cash back offers, then Discover it Cash back cards are the best.

  • The card offers 5% cash back on various categories.

  • These categories keep on changing every quarter.

  • This 5% cash back rate is limited to the first $1500 purchases.

7

Chase Slate®

No Annual Fee

16.74% - 25.49% (Variable rate)

  • This no annual fee credit card is the best for those who are looking for interest payment relief.

  • It is one of the best choices that you can make for balance transfer.

  • While other cards may charge you with a fee for a balance transfer, the Chase Slate card offers free balance transfer during the first 60 days of opening of your account.

8

Discover it® Student Cash Back

14.99% - 23.99% Variable

No Annual Fee

  • This card is the best for the students as it offers 5% cash back on various categories through the year.

9

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

14.74% - 27.24% variable

No Annual Fees

  • No you get to earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

  • This 3X point works for dining out, gas station rideshares and transits.

  • The user also earns 1X points for other purchases.

10

Citi Simplicity® Card

16.24% - 26.24% variable

No Annual Fees

  • If you are looking for a card that charges no late and penalty fees, then Citi Simplicity card is an excellent choice.  

11

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

16.99% - 25.74% variable

No Annual Fee

  • The user gets 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

  • You also get to make $150 bonus after spending $500 on the purchases done in the first three months of account opening.

12

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

16.74% - 25.74% variable

$95, waived first year

  • This is again an excellent choice for those who are looking for cash back and rewards.

  • The card lets you earn one-time $500 cash back on purchase of $3000 in the first three months.

  • Moreover, you can make 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, and the card offers 2% cash back on grocery purchases and 1% on all other purchases.

13

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

15.24% - 26.24% variable

No Annual Fee

  • Get $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of getting the card.

  • You also get 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations 1% back on other purchases.

14

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

No Annual Fee

16.99% - 24.99% (Variable rate)

  • For the lovers of travelling this is a good choice.

  • It lets you earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all the purchases.

  • The card doesn’t charges any foreign transaction fees and also the points don’t expire.

15

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

No Annual Fee

15.24% - 21.24% (Variable rate)

  • Those who are looking for business credit card, getting Ink Business Unlimited credit card is a good choice.

  • You can earn a bonus of $500 after spending $3000 on the purchases done in the first three months of opening of account.

  • You also earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase done for your business.

16

Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card

$0 - $99

19.99% - 25.99% (Variable rate)

  • This card gives you cash back of 1% on purchases done on groceries, gas, mobile phones, cable, internet, etc.

17

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

No Annual Fee

14.49% - 21.49% (Variable rate)

  • Again a good choice for business cards.

  • You get to earn 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent.

  • This amount must be sent on telephone services which are directly purchased from US services providers and US office supply stores.

  • The card mentions 8 categories, on the purchase from these categories; the user gets a cashback of 3% on spending $50,000.

18

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

No Annual Fee

26.96% (Variable rate)

  • The card lets you earn a cashback of 1% on all the purchases.

19

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

No Annual Fee

26.99% (Variable rate)

  • The user gets $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200; this is based on your creditworthiness.

20

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

$95, waived first year

16.74% - 25.74% variable

  • Get 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, with Capital One Savor cash rewards credit card.

  • It also gives you 1% cash back on other purchases and 2% cash back on grocery stores.

 

Conclusion- There are other factors like credit score and incentives that you should consider while figuring out the right credit card for yourself. Credit cards are a great source of financial assistance especially in times of emergency but you must know that it comes with a liability of repayment and delay in this can adversely affect your credit score. This analysis becomes an important parameter while you consider buying a credit card. Remember, credit cards look lucrative but at the same time you need to make the payments on time, a delay in the same may adversely impact your credit history. So, make your decision wisely.

Read More Blogs : 

  1. How to Get a Credit Card for Every Credit Score?
  2. Top 20 Most Popular Credit Cards For 2019
  3. Lowest Interest Credit Card of 2019.
  4. Best Student Credit Cards for 2019
  5. Best Credit Card for Bad Credit 2019