How to choose a credit card
One of the first questions people ask when looking for a new credit card is, “What is the best credit card?” Well, I’m sorry to tell you but there is no “best credit card”. Credit cards aren’t one size fits all and the right card for you will depend on what you need in a card and how you plan on using it. You should even consider whether you need a credit card at all.
There are hundreds of credit cards in the Australian market so choosing a card can seem a bit daunting at first. We’ll take you through the common types of credit card users and what kind of card they should keep a look out for.
THE DEBT COLLECTOR
Are you someone who never pays off their credit card? You pay the minimum amount due each month and keep on spending? You might like to take a look at a credit card with a low interest rate.
A low rate credit card comes in two forms. The first is one with a low ongoing purchase rate. With some credit cards charging 20% p.a., a low rate card with a purchase rate of 14% p.a. for example, could save you in interest charges each month.
The second kind is one with an introductory purchase rate. These cards typically charge a very low rate on purchases for a limited number of months. For example, 0% p.a. for 12 months. After the initial period is up, any purchases made will be charged at the ongoing (and usually much higher) purchase rate.
THE REFORMED SHOPPER
If you’ve racked up a large amount of debt and you’re determined to pay it off, you might like to consider a balance transfer credit card.
A balance transfer credit card allows you to move your existing credit card debt to a new card (usually with a different credit card provider) that charges a low interest rate for a specific period of time. You should make sure you pay off your debt before the initial period is over because the interest rate will revert to a much higher rate (either the purchase rate or the cash advance rate). Also, try not to make any purchases on the card while you’re paying off the balance because you might not be able to take advantage of any interest free days.
THE RAINY DAY SPENDER
Are you looking for a credit card to cover yourself in case of an emergency? Then a low fee credit card could give you peace of mind that credit is there if needed. These credit cards are quite basic and have a small annual fee and there are even some that have no annual fee at all, meaning you won’t be charged for keeping the account open. Make sure your card has interest free days so any emergency purchases you make don’t attract interest from day one.
THE HIGH ROLLER
Do you consistently charge thousands of dollars to your credit card and have no problems paying the bill each month? Well, hey big spender! You might like to check out a rewards credit card or a premium credit card.
Credit cards with a rewards program allow you to earn points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. These points can then be redeemed for goods, gift cards, cash back, travel etc. You might be able to earn enough points to get a return airline ticket for your next holiday. Just be careful that the annual fee on your card doesn’t outweigh the benefits of your points.
Premium credit cards are those with higher status levels; gold, platinum and black. They come with extra features and perks such as complimentary insurances, a personal concierge service or preferred or elite membership levels to affiliated programs. They often have a hefty annual fee, so make sure you try to use all your benefits. There’s no point paying a $500 annual fee for a credit card you don’t use.
Remember, just because your sister’s brother-in-law’s uncle’s plumber has a great credit card, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. The right card for you will depend on your individual circumstances so don’t forget to shop around and do your homework.
Ready to start comparing credit cards? Head over to Credit Savvy’s Credit Card Comparison Service to start comparing today. But as we always say, only apply for credit if and when you really need it and remember to read the product’s terms and conditions before applying!