What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing Credit Cards?

Aug 6, 2017 by

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing Credit Cards?

Credit cards are a double-edged sword. They are convenient, universally accepted, and relatively easy to acquire. However, not all credit cards are created equal. Credit cards for personal or business use confer many benefits on their owners. It is estimated that some 9 million US businesses alone accept credit card payments, and that number is growing all the time.

The importance of credit cards in international financing and transactions cannot be overstated. They make up the bulk of e-commerce transactions, retail operations, and remittances to utility companies, et al. However, there are fees and charges which need to be considered when evaluating credit cards.

Tips for Choosing Credit Cards

First things first: there are many types of credit cards that you can apply for. Since your options are virtually ‘unlimited’, it’s important to take your time. Experts advise clients to consider their personal and business requirements when picking one card over another. Another crucial factor is how payments will be made.

Ideally, you will want to pay off your card in full by the end of the month, but many folks spread their payments over a period of time. Remember, timely payments (in full) will avoid the interest-related charges. Interest is payable on cash that is borrowed against the card, and this typically comes at a higher cost. Here are some of the most important factors to look for when picking one credit card over another:

  • Application Fees and Annual Fees – £0 application fees, and £0 annual fees are preferred.
  • Rewards such as Loyalty Points (LPs) – certain credit cards are known to reward their account holders with points for pounds spent. Provided these points can be redeemed somewhere useful, this can be a major enticement for credit card holders.
  • The Annual Percentage Rate – compare credit cards based on their APRs and choose a card with the lowest APR. It’s not always just the APR that needs to be factored in – it’s also charges, benefits, and associated fees.
  • Fees for Exceeding Your Credit Balance – these can quickly rise out of control if you do not stay within your credit limit. Much the same is true if you are late in paying your credit card bill.
  • Making Minimum Monthly Repayments – this is important, since the lower your repayments the higher your interest -related charges.
  • Cashback Offers – credit cards offering the highest cashback percentages are preferred by businesses and individuals. Look around for cards offering a minimum of 1% – 3% in cashback. This money will be refunded back to your credit card.
  • Balance Transfer Fees with Credit Cards – if you have an existing credit card account, your new credit card provider may encourage you to transfer your existing balance over to your new accounts. Check the fees associated with making the transfer before you rush into the transaction. Fees are typically a percentage of the transferred amount or a fixed figure.

Ways to Maximize your Credit Card Utilization

For starters, it’s always a good idea to pay down high-interest credit card debt first before you pay down low-interest credit card debt. If possible, try and use a credit card with 0% interest to pay off your other cards with higher interest. The 0% interest credit cards can be available for up to 18 months. Take advantage of these if your credit score is good.

You can transfer your credit balance from high-interest credit cards to the 0% interest credit card and take advantage of the interest-free holiday. This makes it much more affordable for you to pay off your balance, without paying interest on your interest. You will typically encounter a fee when transferring a balance, and this could be as high as 3%. If your outstanding credit card balance is high, this option will certainly help you.

It’s also a good idea to utilize different credit cards for in-person transactions and recurring monthly transactions. If a card goes missing for any reason, it will have a limited impact on your recurring monthly charges or your in-person credit card transactions. In all cases, it’s important to use credit aggregator services to evaluate the merits of one credit card against another. Cashback, rewards points, 0% APR, and other offers are important considerations when choosing credit cards.

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