Practical Tips for Selecting a New Credit Card
Be wary of pre-approved offers
Those "pre-approved" offers that seem to show up daily in the mail don't really mean anything. If your formal application doesn't meet the criteria, you may still get shot down or, more likely, get a card with a higher interest rate than specified in the offer. Additionally, just because it is pre-approved, doesn't mean it is an offer that matches your spending patterns.
Consider total cost of ownership
When choosing a credit card, consider the total cost of ownership (interest rates and fees) and the quality of the card's bonus program, if any. The MyRatePlan Credit Card Deals Finder rates each card based on our opinion of the overall offer value, while letting you filter over 60 offers to find the best one for your spending patterns.
Take advantage of 0% financing
If you are carrying a balance on other cards, consider a card with an introductory 0% balance transfer rate. This can save you hundreds of dollars in the first year. However, review the disclosure to see if there are fees associated with these transfers. If you don't have a balance, look at credit cards offering 0% on purchases for the first several months.
Read (and re-read) the fine print
Review all disclosures associated with the offer being considered, particularly what happens to rates after any introductory period ends. Also, look at what happens to your interest rate if a payment is late, as many cards now have provisions where your interest rate can rise dramatically if you show a pattern of late payments. Also consider late fees, annual fees and any other charges.
Make sure the bonus program is rewarding
If you are considering a credit card offering airline miles, points, or cash back, check to see if there are fees associated with participation in the program (there could be even if the disclosure says $0 for an annual fee). Also, make sure the rewards program is relevant for your spending patterns or interests. It doesn't make too much sense to get a program with rewards that you'll never earn or use.