NEW YORK (LowCards.com) — The start of a year is typically when consumers take a close look at their finances, making resolutions on saving money and cutting expenses. So it’s good to know there are steps households can take to save a little extra and protect their finances in 2013, including getting the right credit card.
Changing credit cards can save substantial money on interest payments or earn some extra cash via rewards programs. But the choices can be overwhelming; there are more than 1,000 credit cards offered in the United States, and they are not one-size-fits-all, making it important to thoroughly research and compare cards to find the right one for your needs.
Before shopping for a credit card, it is important to have a plan for how you will use the “loan.” Are you a disciplined person that charges what you can afford and pays off the balance in full on time every month? If so, a rewards card is a good option. If you carry a balance from month to month, getting a card with the lowest possible interest rate is the most important consideration.
The ads you see on television and in print can make every card look good, but ignore the pictures of happy faces and the promises in the headlines. Read the terms and conditions of the offer before applying for any credit card. The offer you get today is determined by your credit score and how you have handled finances in the past. The lowest interest rate is given only to applicants with good or excellent credit scores, not to everyone who applies. If you don't have a good credit score, you could get an offer with a higher interest rate or a declined application. And don't assume you know what your credit score is. Before you apply for a credit card, check your credit score so you know what offer you can expect. This also gives you a chance to find and correct any errors that may be pulling down your score. A FICO score in the mid-700s is considered good, and you can expect to get a relatively low interest rate with it. A FICO score less than 640 may be too low to be approved for a card, so you may have to look at other options, such as a secured card.