Top Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Credit Card

/ BY / Credit Cards

If you're like most people, you probably get a number of credit card offers in the mail each week. While the majority of people toss these offers out with junk mail, if you're in the market for a credit card, offers from different companies vying for your business can make the process of selecting the right credit card much easier.

Knowing what to look for in these credit card offers that come in the mail can help you select the best card for your needs. As you wade through your credit card offers, ask yourself these questions before choosing a card:

How am I going to use my credit card?

This is the first thing you need to decide. Knowing how you're going to use your card you want will help you whittle down your options and end up saving you a great deal of time. For example, if you have poor credit and need a card that helps you rebuild it, you'll want to look for a secured credit card and avoid low-interest cards that are reserved for those with excellent credit. If you travel often and want travel perks, look for a card that offers airline miles or travel rewards.

If you're unsure of the type of credit card you want, take some time to research your options. The best type of card is one that pays you back in one way or another, either through cash back, discounts, gift cards, or airline miles to name a few. There are also low interest cards, student credit cards, cards with gas perks, and many more. You can find a list of different cards here at

Am I aware of the fees?

Credit cards make a great deal of money on fees. In fact, in 2009 alone, credit cards made over $48 billion in fees alone. The Credit Card Act of 2009 placed a number of limits on the types of fees and how much credit cards could legally charge, but fees still exist. These can include anything from annual fees you must pay simply to use the card, to penalty fees such as over-limit or late payment fees. Make sure you understand these before signing up for any card.

Does the card offer a promotion?

Many credit cards offer attractive promotional periods for new cardholders. These can include anything from 0% interest on balance transfers, no interest on new purchases, double points, or additional cash back for a certain period of time. Promotions like these can be the deciding factor, so make sure you understand them thoroughly before signing up.

What is the APR after the promotional period?

A 0% introductory APR for six months sounds great. When the six month period ends and you're suddenly paying a 29% APR, it's no longer a great deal. If the card you're considering has a promotional period, make sure you know exactly what the new rate will be once the period expires.

You should also find out when new interest starts accruing. According to current law, promotional periods have to be at least six months, but cards aren't obligated to provide a grace period before interest starts to accumulate on purchases.

Have I shopped around?

There are dozens of credit cards available, and they all want your business. For that reason, it's smart to shop around and compare offers before deciding on just one. You should also shop around for a better interest rate, and make sure you get the agreements in writing.

With so many options, choosing a credit card can be a daunting process. Ask yourself these questions so you can be sure you’re selecting the best card for you.

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Please note your financial situation is unique and our tips & advice presented here may not be appropriate for your situation. recommends that you seek different advice & opinions from your own accountant or financial adviser who understands your individual circumstances before making any important decisions or implementing any financial strategy.