Introducing the Credit Card

Which credit card should I choose?

Choosing the right credit card can be quite a challenge because there are so many of them available on the market. Rather than freaking out and calling mom for help, you simply need to compare your options. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Annual Fee: The higher the annual fee, the harder it will be to avoid credit card debt. Make sure that your annual fee is something that you can afford consistently, even if that means giving up some rewards.
  • Credit Level Requirements: What kind of credit do you need to apply for the card? If you know you have “fair” credit, there is no sense in applying for a card that requires an “excellent” score. If you do this too much, you may be declined because too many people have looked at your credit history.
  • APR: Know what sort of fees you will encounter if you can’t pay off your balance in full. You may assume that you’ll always pay that back, but you don’t know what will happen in the future.
  • Intro Rates vs. Long Term Rates: Make sure you understand what your actual rates are going to be for the card, not just the introductory ones. 0% APR is great, but not if it is followed by a 29% APR. Figure out what the intro period is for each card before falsely getting your hopes up.
  • Rewards: Consider whether or not you can logically benefit from a card’s rewards program. If the numbers don’t add up, look for a card with the lowest carrying costs possible.
  • Reliability: The final piece of the puzzle comes from the trust you instill in the credit card company. If you think they will take care of you in times of need, you should feel confident getting one of their cards.

Credit card companies will come at you from all angles when you turn 18. They know that once they get you to set up an account, chances are you’ll keep it for a long time. At this point, you are considered a “new card customer,” and as a result, you may feel somewhat loyal to the first credit card company you work with. “Hey, they gave me a shot. Now I owe them something.” Don’t get caught up in this. Take the time to find the right card from the start, and don’t be afraid to change if a better offer comes along. It’s not impossible to switch credit card companies even after you’ve been with one for a while. You just have to find a way to make that happen.

As much as it sucks to read this, you are the only one who can figure out what the right card is for you. Compare all the rates, rewards, and requirements carefully, and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.