People get credit cards for all sorts of different reasons.
Some people have been known to apply for and use a credit card simply for the customer rewards. Credit card companies are famous for offering excellent customer service programs. Some people get credit cards that offer product protection, if something happens to an item paid for with a credit card the company will reimburse the customer. Other people get a credit card so they can enjoy the online shopping. Several people carry credit cards simply for emergencies. Some people find credit cards are an easy way to establish a credit record. Others have a credit card so they can avoid carrying cash, after all a lost credit card can be cancelled, cash is lost forever.
Whatever the reason someone feels they need a credit card for there are some things they need to consider before they apply.
The first thing to think about is whether or not you’ll be able to pay the bill when it arrives. Credit card debt normally happens because the cardholder doesn’t pay attention to how much they are spending. When the bill arrives in the mail they don’t have the funds to pay the bill in full. The longer any portion of the bill remains unpaid the higher the interest rates and fees climb. It becomes a vicious circle that the cardholder can’t get out from under. If you have any inkling that you may be the type of person to get yourself into this situation applying for a credit card is probably not the best idea.
Before applying for a card research the company’s annual percentage rate. Each company charges a different interest rate. Don’t be fooled if a company advertises a zero interest rate. While many credit card companies do offer a zero percent interest rate this is normally an introductory offer only, after a few months interest is added to the monthly bill.
The other thing to research about a credit cards interest rate is exactly what type of rate it is. Some credit cards feature a fixed rate, where the interest rate is always the same. Other company’s prefer a variable rate, where the rate of interest charged to your outstanding bill will fluctuate based on outside financial indicators.
Be aware of how a credit card company notifies their clients about changes in on their cards balance. Some companies contact their clients through e-mails and text messages, sending the new daily balance and maybe even a short list of any transactions made during the days. Other companies prefer a simple monthly bill. When you get these statements, carefully review them and address any discrepancies immediately.
Check to see if a card charges an annual fee. This is a fee that many cards charge once a year to help offset costs. If a card boosts about not charging an annual fee spend make sure this is not just for the first year. Many companies waive the annual fee as part of the introductory offer and then start adding it to the bill after the first year.
Examine the company’s fraud program. Have they taken steps to make sure that your identity remains your own and won’t accidentally fall in the hands of someone else? What will they do if your card is stolen?
If you are concerned about your ability to act responsibly with a credit card the way to go might be a secure credit card. These are cards that require you to make a deposit. The amount of this deposit then becomes the cards balance.
The right credit card, if used responsible, will allow the cardholder a great deal of financial independence.