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RATING

Best Credit Cards of August 2021

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Overall Best Credit Card: Citi Double Cash Card

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Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Out of nearly 500 cards in our database, we’ve selected the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) as the best overall credit card. It’s a simple solution to that common question, “What credit card should I use?”

The Double Cash is a great fit for just about everybody — with 2% cash back for every purchase and no annual fee, it’s perfect for any situation (you’ll earn 1% back for purchases, and 1% back for payments; you must pay the minimum due to earn rewards).

With a solid rate for everything you buy, it could be your only credit card. It’s useful for groceries, gas, travel, and everything in between. Or you could use it along with other reward cards that have bonus categories; just pay with the Double Cash whenever you’re spending outside their categories.

This card even comes with an introductory balance transfer offer: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable).

A balance transfer allows you to move a balance from one credit card to another. If you have debt on another card that’s accruing interest, you could move it over to the Double Cash and have some time to pay it down at no interest (but you can’t transfer a balance from one Citi card to another). Just check the balance transfer fee to make sure it’d be worth the cost.

The Double Cash is rewarding, inexpensive, and easy to use. That’s why we recommend it more than any other card.

Here’s a selection of blog posts with more best picks by category.

Metal & Heavy Cards

Building or Rebuilding Credit

Balance Transfers & Low APR

Travel Features

Choosing the Best Credit Card for You

There are many credit card offers out there, but which one is the best credit card for you? The answer depends on your needs and creditworthiness, which is based on your credit history and credit scores. Keep in mind you have more than one credit score!

If you’re considering a card for rewards, there’s a wide variety of options. This page shows you our top picks by category, but the best rewards card can vary depending on your situation.

Do you want a simple card that earns you a cash back percentage as a statement credit on all your credit card spending? In that case, a cash rewards credit card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer card or Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be a simple way to save some money. A cash back card may also come with an intro APR, which could let you earn rewards while paying for new purchases over time at a temporary low interest rate, before the regular APR kicks in.

Or are you looking for a travel rewards card that will earn points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points, that you can transfer as airline miles, or to another rewards program? Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may let you transfer your points to other loyalty programs or redeem for airfare to get more value than you would with cash back rewards or when redeeming point for gift cards. Certain travel credit cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, let you redeem for travel purchases without blackout dates.

Many rewards cards, like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card or Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, earn more year-round on certain bonus categories, like gas stations, grocery stores, or wholesale clubs. Others offer a higher rewards rate on rotating categories, which change throughout the year, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back. Choose wisely according to your spending habits.

Are you willing to pay an annual fee? Some cards have a high annual fee, but the value of benefits and rewards can more than make up for it. You may just want to keep things simple and only consider cards with no annual fee. Keep in mind some cards waive the annual fee for the first year, so you may be able to try a card to see if it’s right for you before you have to pay an annual fee.

Cards with annual fees, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, tend to have better perks, and may give cardholders an application fee credit for programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. You may also be able to get a fee credit for checked bags.

Consider the sign-up bonus that many cards offer. Credit card issuers will often award you bonus points or a cash bonus when you spend a certain amount within the first few months of opening your new card. A welcome bonus can be extremely valuable as long as you meet the minimum spend within several months of account opening or a certain number of billing cycles. Sometimes, you’ll even get an extra rewards bonus at the end of your first year.

Maybe you’re a student with no credit, or someone else who has not established credit history with credit bureaus yet. You may be able to qualify for a student credit card even if you’re not a student. These cards may come with a lower credit limit, but can provide a starting point for building credit. You may want to find a card that will let you monitor one of your FICO scores and track your progress. Credit cards can be a great tool for building credit, as long as you use them responsibly, and cash back credit cards can give you a slight discount while you’re at it.

If you have bad credit, you still have options to get the benefits of credit cards, but you might have to pay an annual fee or get a secured card. A secured credit card requires a security deposit, and may have a lower credit line as a result, but could help you re-build your credit as long as you pay your bill on time and use the card responsibly. You may not even need a bank account to get some secured cards.

If you’re trying to pay off debt faster with a balance transfer, the best card for you would probably have no balance transfer fee and a long 0% intro balance transfer or introductory APR offer.

Make sure you’re also considering the additional benefits cards offer. Many travel cards come with benefits like car rental and travel insurance, while some go further, offering big travel credits and airport lounge access. If you travel outside the country often, consider whether a card has foreign transaction fees. Some issuers, like Capital One, do not have foreign transaction fees on any of their cards. You may also want to look for a Visa or Mastercard, from an issuer like Capital One, Chase, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, since American Express and Discover cards may not be as widely accepted abroad.

If you’re a small business owner, there are lots of cards designed specifically for you. When applying, you’ll likely need to provide a personal guarantee and the issuer will probably check your personal credit, but these cards can be great for earning rewards on business purchases while keeping business and personal expenses separate.

Whichever card you choose, make sure you make your monthly payments on time and use the card responsibly to avoid late fees and expensive credit card interest charges. Most cards have a variable APR, and are an expensive way to borrow money. However, when you pay your statement balance in full, the purchase APR can be irrelevant, since you can avoid interest completely with most cards.

What Is the Best Credit Card?

If a cash back credit card is right for you, start your search with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review).

Need a travel rewards card to help fuel your next adventure? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) are two of the best.

If you want a 0% APR card for purchases or to pay down a balance transfer, try the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review) or U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (Review).

Or, if your credit scores could use some work and you need a card for bad credit or building credit, the Discover it® Secured (Review) or Secured Mastercard® from Capital One (Review) can help you get back on track.

What Is the Best Credit Card for Rewards?

For flat-rate cash back, check out the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review). If you’re buying gas and groceries, it’s hard to beat the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review).

If travel rewards are more your thing, look to The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) for airline rewards and lounge access. Or, try the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) for wide-ranging point opportunities and transfer partners.

What Is the Best Credit Card With No Annual Fee?

One of the best cards with no annual fee is the Discover it® Cash Back (Review), a highly rewarding offer with 5% cash back categories you can activate every three months (you’ll get that rate for up to $1,500 in spending per quarter). Give the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) a shot if you’re not into bonus categories.

Need to pay off some debt? The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (Review) gives you 20 billing cycles on purchases to pay off purchases or balance transfers, before the regular rate of 14.49% - 24.49%* Variable kicks in.

If your credit isn’t in the best shape, the Discover it® Secured (Review) is designed for bad credit and an excellent way to improve your scores.

What Is the Best Travel Credit Card?

The best travel card depends on your needs, but you can see all our top travel card picks here. If a high-end luxury travel card is on your mind, take a look at The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

For occasional travel, we love the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Or if you’re looking for something less expensive, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card and Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card have solid offers.

What Is the Best Credit Card for Bad Credit and Building Credit?

You don’t have to be punished for having bad credit — if you need a card to help you build credit, the Discover it® Secured (Review) is a great offer that includes cash back rewards, plus the opportunity to upgrade to an unsecured card.

Some other issuers provide simpler, but still useful, options for improving your credit scores:

What Is the Best First Credit Card to Get?

We recommend getting a credit card with no annual fee for your first card. You’ll be able to keep it open indefinitely at no cost, if you avoid interest and other fees, which can help boost your credit scores.

Maybe a student credit card is right for you, or maybe you’re just new to credit. Either way, some of the best first credit cards include:

What Credit Scores Do You Need to Get a Top Credit Card?

The best credit cards for rewards, cash back, and travel might be more accessible than you think.

Having good or excellent credit scores will give you the best chance at approval. That means a FICO score of at least 740, or a VantageScore of at least 700 (read more about credit score ranges).

The better your credit scores, the more likely you are to qualify — but credit card approval relies on more than just credit scores. Other factors, like income, are taken into account too. So you may still be approved with relatively low scores, or denied with fairly high scores.

See the easiest cards to get for every credit score here.

What Types of Credit Cards Are There?

Credit cards come in a dizzying array of types, designed for different purposes and lifestyles. Some of the most popular types of credit cards are:

Expert Q&A

Q1) Should everyone have at least one credit card?

Answer by: C. Andrew Lafond, Associate Professor of Accounting, La Salle University

Yes. Having a credit card is a great way to build and maintain good credit scores as long as it’s used responsibly.

Answer by: S. Abraham Ravid, Sy Syms Professor of Finance, Yeshiva University

It is important to have a credit card, and everybody who qualifies should have one. The only very important caveat is to never use credit cards for credit, i.e. for borrowing.

Credit cards make your life much simpler- it is very difficult or sometimes impossible to buy on the internet, rent a car, book a hotel or buy anything in cashless establishments without a credit card. Cashless trains, coffee shops or stores are much more common overseas, but they are becoming ubiquitous in the US as well. There are other cashless alternatives- debit cards or other payment forms that draw directly from a bank account or apps on your phone.

Credit cards have some advantages over payment forms which draw directly from an account. First you have a grace period to pay your bill, so you are better able to pace your outgoing payments and match them with times when you expect your salary or other incoming payments to be deposited. More importantly, should there be any fraudulent charges on your card, you are better off disputing such charges before you pay your bill rather than after the fact, when the money has already left your account. Some credit cards are better than others in providing consumer protection and you should read the small print before you sign on to a specific card.

Furthermore, by using a credit card and paying on time, you are building a credit history that can help you later qualify for loans, mortgages etc.

Answer by: Duane Donaldson, Finance Instructor, Columbus State Community College

In general, YES, everyone should have a credit card in order to help build your credit scores, and show future lenders that you can manage, borrow, and repay loans. They can also act as an added security measure and be a fall back when you have no funds for important expenses like medical care.

Answer by: Marcus Bansah Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, St. Olaf College

You should have at least one credit card because they help with building credit and can be used as charge cards. Having at least one credit card for purchases is strongly recommended since some financial transactions cannot be completed without a credit card. Since credit cards often have fraud protection, using them, rather than debit cards, can help reduce the chance of losing money through fraud.

Answer by: Alicia Plemmons, Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance, Southern Illinois University

A credit card can provide a cushion for purchasing power, is a layer of protection against fraud, and a means of building credit. Inappropriate use of credit cards can also create financial pitfalls and stress. Before deciding to obtain a credit card, a person should first sharpen up their financial literacy knowledge and determine if they can use a credit card responsibly without being tempted to spend outside of their means.  

Answer by: Michael Manahan, Full-Time Lecturer, California State University

Yes, everyone should have at least one credit card. If you make your payments on time, it will help your credit scores over the long run, plus give you a positive track record, which may make it easier to get other credit lines in the future. Paying off or the full statement balance each month can also improve your credit scores.

Answer by: Vladimir Dashkeev, Assistant Professor of Economics, Seattle University

A reason to have at least one credit card is to take advantage of rewards programs. By making purchases and on-time payments, card holders can earn points that can be converted into cash, discounts at some stores, or miles. Most credit cards offer complementary perks that some people find useful, such as rental car insurance, extended warranties, and purchase protection. Some cards waive international transaction fees, which is a perk important for global travelers or consumers who are buying from vendors located abroad.

Answer by: Ozgur Ince, Clinical Associate Professor of Finance, University of South Carolina

Yes. Having a credit card makes it easier to build credit, which can be important when you decide to make a large purchase, such as a house or car. A good credit history can also be important when purchasing insurance or when applying for jobs.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy, Associate Professor of Accounting, Morgan State University

It’s recommended that consumers have at least one credit card. Credit cards are useful tools for financing in the short term, and building credit history.

Financing in the short term may be a necessity rather than an option, especially during times of need. Building an outstanding credit history is crucial and is one of the most important benefits of having a credit card. Paying off the balance in-full every month helps in building strong credit scores. The longer consumers hold onto credit cards that are paid in full on a continuous basis, the more likely they’re to build strong credit scores. Excellent credit scores can help consumers obtain financing with favorable terms, like low interest rates.

Answer by: Kelly Carter, Associate Professor, Morgan State University

Yes, because that is the easiest way for consumers to establish a reputation as a good borrower.  I suggest having two cards — one that is always kept for emergencies and one that is used for common purchases, like groceries and gas.

Answer by: Lawrence J. White, Professor of Economics, New York University

Although having at least one credit card can be a useful source of spending flexibility, there may be individuals that realize that the temptations for spending are too great.

Answer by: Emily Norman Zietz, Professor of Economics and Finance, Middle Tennessee State University

While credit cards have become a way of life, they are not ideal for everyone. Unless someone is disciplined with their buying habits and will only purchase items that they’re able to pay for in full each month, there are better ways to make electronic purchases. Many people think that getting a credit card is the only way to help establish their credit. Credit cards may help in establishing a credit record, but this is a very costly way if the balance is not paid in full each month.

Answer by: Corey Cole, Assistant Professor of Finance, Eastern New Mexico University

Credit cards are great tools for individuals to build credit. They also serve as a good reserve for emergencies. As such, yes, in a general sense, everyone should have at least one credit card for these purposes. However, it’s important to note that responsible credit card use is ideal. Although they can be great tools, they can also be dangerous if used irresponsibly.

Answer by: Adele Harrison, Professor of Finance, California Baptist University

I will say that everyone should have at least one credit card. The reason for this is that when you use a debit card, the hold placed on your account is normally much higher than the amount of the original charge. In addition, some places will not accept a debit card for payment, such as many rental car companies. Last, it can be an easy way to build credit.

Answer by: David Leach, Lecturer, University of Maine at Augusta

If this includes every eligible 18 and older adult in the United States, the answer is a resounding “No.” From a pragmatic point of view, there are many good reasons for responsible, financially able and literate adults to hold at least one, if not two credit cards. Since 2002 I have been a college professor, teaching both banking, investments, personal finance and marketing courses. In each of those courses, I implore students to be careful with credit cards, and use them the following way: Travel & emergencies, responsible online purchases, occasional larger item purchases. Most importantly, pay the balance in full each month to avoid additional charges.

For a responsible adult that practices my 4-step plan above, I’d say 2 credit cards is ideal for the reason we drive with a spare tire. If one fails to work or is blocked, you have the other to fall back on.

Answer by: Bonnie Rohde, Instructor of Business, Albright College

Not necessarily. Credit cards can make the purchasing process easier, however, there are pros and cons.

First the pros. Credit credit cards can help consumers build their credit history. This is important if you plan to borrow money in the future for a large purchase like a car or home. A credit history is also used to evaluate a person’s “trustworthiness” when renting an apartment, when applying for jobs or for estimating health or car insurance premiums. The consumer usually has thirty days to pay for the purchase without any fees.

The cons of credit cards are people could spend more and overpay for items.Credit cards with high interest rates and fees can ruin the owner’s credit scores.. Taking out too many credit cards in a short period of time can also lead to poor credit scores, poor spending habits, and missed payments.

Answer by: Lora Reinholz, Instructor of Practice, Finance, Marquette University

Repeat after me: I promise to use my credit card carefully, to pay the bill in full each month, and to review my statements. If you can agree truthfully to the statement above, you should be good to get a credit card. A credit card requires that the cardholder act responsibly. Common credit card issuers are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Many stores and restaurants accept all, but you might want to check the shops you frequent to be certain that they accept the card issuer.

Answer by: Sonik Mandal, Assistant Professor of Finance, Cameron University

Yes. Start with one credit card to build your credit history and add more when you’re in a full-time job earning an annual salary. It’s an easy way to pay rather than carrying cash all the time which can be unsafe. Online shopping as well as paying bills can also be easily done using credit cards.

Answer by: Shelton Weeks, Professor of Real Estate Development and Finance, Florida Gulf Coast University

Yes.  I believe everyone should have at least two, a primary card that is used on a regular basis and a secondary card.  One can be kept in reserve and only used in situations where the primary card is not available.  In addition to having access to another card in the event the primary card is lost or stolen, this will give you the security of knowing that you have another card available with an untapped credit line in the event of an emergency.

Answer by: Edward Horwitz, Associate Professor of Practice, Creighton University

In the economic system we live in today, establishing credit and obtaining credit scores are necessary. Among the more popular ways to establish credit are through credit cards or installment credit through a retailer. 

Answer by: Robert Uptegraff, Special Instructor of Finance, Oakland University

There isn’t a rule or policy that everyone should have at least one credit card. It’s good practice to have a credit card in reserve for emergencies.

Answer by: Punit Arora, Associate Professor of Economics and Business, The City College of New York

Yes, without a doubt. You need to have a long credit history and good scores for big purchases and emergency lending.

Answer by: Kent Belasco, Assistant Professor of Practice, Marquette University

I believe everyone should have at least one versatile credit card that can be used anywhere. This is important when travelling for purchases. This, basically, is a revolving “line of credit,” and provides the owner with purchasing power and emergency needs, without having to go through the process of a bank loan.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera, Assistant Professor of Economics, Centre College

I think so. Credit cards can help build your credit history which are essential for future financial plans. Having credit cards can help you pay for emergency expenses that you can pay for later.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta, Assistant Professor of Finance, Florida Gulf Coast University

Yes. Credit cards can be important financial tools if used properly, especially if a credit card offers cash back or other rewards. An important consideration is whether a credit card charges an annual fee or not; in the case that the card does charge an annual fee, the rewards you expect to earn must be significantly higher than the cost of the annual fee.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein, Emeritus Professor of Finance, Texas Tech University

No, credit cards are not for everybody. Credit cards require discipline in spending that some don’t have. If you are disciplined and can pay off the balance on your credit cards each month, they’re helpful.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig, Associate Professor of Finance, Eastern Michigan University

Everyone should have at least one credit card, two preferably.  Two cards provide flexibility for taking advantage of multiple types of reward programs, such as cash back or travel rewards.  However, ensure the credit limit on each card is manageable. Credit cards should not be used to finance large non-critical purchases when the credit card holder does not have the cash to cover the expense.  This may leave the card holder without credit to cover purchases in an emergency.  Credit card interest rates are high and it’s important cardholders control their use.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty, Associate Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

I think everyone should have a credit card. Remember, you don’t have to use it. You can keep it for emergencies, or for things that no longer take cash, like online purchases that prefer cashless payment. Credit cards can be preferred to debit cards, particularly for unanticipated expenses. If you are worried about overspending, I suggest using a checking account to pay off the credit card, and not to make regular credit purchases if you don’t have the “cash” to back it up.

Answer by: Axel Grossman, Freeman Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Finance, Georgia Southern University

I would recommend that everyone has at least one credit card to build your credit scores.

Answer by: Dr. Gregory Kuhlemeyer, Professor of Business, Carroll University

The world, before the pandemic hit, was moving at an incredible speed to a world of paperless transactions.  People are buying more online at a rate not seen before and avoiding contact in stores with cashiers and business people facilitating transactions by using contactless RFID-technology.  For younger people, having a credit card is often an important and critical step to build up their credit scores.  High credit scores are critical to getting low interest rate loans, cheaper insurance rates and facilitating transactions most cost effectively. 

Answer by: Diann Moorman, Associate Professor of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, University of Georgia

I think it would be challenging to be an active consumer without having a credit card.  There are times where it’s virtually impossible to consume certain goods without paying for it with a credit card—for example: hotel reservations or plane tickets. 

An additional advantage of having a credit card is that the use of that credit card helps the consumer to build and maintain positive credit scores. Positive credit scores are used when consumers seek to purchase big ticket items such as homes. Good credit behavior on credit cards usually results in lower interest rates on an automobile or home purchase.

Q2) What advice do you have for someone who is applying for a credit card?

Answer by: C. Andrew Lafond

Apply for one card at a time. Applying for multiple credit cards at the same time can hurt your credit scores and get you denied. If you don’t have a credit card and a limited credit history, try a secured card. If you are worried about getting approved for a credit card, it may be good to apply for a card with the bank where you have a checking account. Once you obtain a credit card, be sure to use it wisely by not overspending and be sure to pay your full balance each month.

Answer by: S. Abraham Ravid

There are two important downsides. The first is behavioral. Studies show that credit cards increase spending, as opposed to buying with cash (that is one of the ideas behind store credit cards). You should keep that in mind as you shop.

The more important caveat is that whereas credit cards are a good instrument if you pay your entire balance on time every month, they are a very costly way to borrow due to the interest rates. Because of the very specific way interest payments for credit cards are calculated, the effective rates paid by consumers may actually exceed the listed rates.

As to the type of credit card you should get, there are essentially two types. The first one is attached to a specific good or service. The most popular cards of this type are airline affiliated credit cards, where purchases earn frequent flyer miles. Similarly, there are hotel affiliated cards, store cards etc. All these cards may be good if you use the goods or services extensively. Frequent Flyer miles are useless if you rarely fly but can be very useful if you fly often.

The other type of card provides cash back- which may vary with the type of purchase. If you go for this type, try to find the highest cash back percentage you can find- today it should be generally in the range of 1.5%-2%.

Finally, you should remember that there is a tradeoff between the features a card offers and also between the benefits and the annual fee you are paying for your card. Cards may be free or cost hundreds of dollars a year in fees. The latter come usually with added features such as Uber cash, free memberships etc. which may be useful if you need them. If you do not need the added features and possibly better service, the high fee cards may just add to your cost.

Answer by: Duane Donaldson

Don’t open multiple accounts over a short period of time, otherwise your credit scores will decrease. When researching credit cards, consider the combination of rewards and interest rates in case you can’t pay off the balance at the end of the month.

Answer by: Marcus Bansah

If you are considering applying for a credit card, you should answer the following questions: What type of credit card would work best for me? What kind of reward program do I want to use? Do I want a credit card with no annual fees?

You should compare the monetary value of the projected rewards from purchases to the card’s annual fee to determine if holding the card is beneficial.

Answer by: Alicia Plemmons

A credit card is a responsibility, and much like how you would research fuel mileage before purchasing a car, you should also research what card is right for you before applying. This can include looking at the interest rate, annual fees, and rewards program, such as miles or cash back.  

Answer by: Michael Manahan

There are lots of choices when it comes to credit cards. If you are the type of person who pays off your card balance each month, go for a cash back card. If you need to carry a balance, find a 0% introductory APR card.

Answer by: Vladimir Dashkeev

All applicants should check their credit reports before applying, as it’s free and doesn’t affect their scores. However, most credit applications show up on their credit reports and reduce their credit scores. If the credit scores don’t qualify an applicant and the applicant does not want to obtain a secured card, that applicant should take steps to improve their scores before applying again. Applicants should also compare deals from different kinds of financial institutions. These offers might differ in terms of the interest rates, fees, rewards, or attractiveness of sign-up bonuses.

Answer by: Ozgur Ince

Do your homework. There are different types of credit cards with different benefits and costs. Pick one that’s appropriate for your needs and has a low or no annual fee. Read the fine print. Don’t apply for too many cards at once; too many credit checks can be bad for your credit scores. If the card comes with an introductory interest rate, know when the period ends and what the permanent interest rate will be.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Shop for the best credit card on the market in terms of advantageous promotions, low or no annual fee, and low interest rates. Consumers should make the choice based on what suits their income and spending needs. I also recommend paying off credit cards quickly, which will help avoid paying interest.

Further, credit history is an important factor for building credit scores. If consumers don’t want to use their credit card at the present time, it’s strongly recommended not to close the accounts because this might negatively affect a consumer’s credit history and scores. In general, consumers should not borrow more than 30% of the available balance.f consumers would like to build excellent credit scores, they should aim for a 10% utilization rate.

Answer by: Kelly Carter

Take on only those debts that you can afford to pay off.  The key to establishing a reputation as a solid borrower is to repay debts on time and in full.

Answer by: Lawrence J. White

Shop around for good terms. Be honest and straightforward in responding to requests for information.

Answer by: Emily Norman Zietz

Think about why you need a credit card in the first place. If it’s because you’re not able to buy things that are often impulse purchases, then don’t get a credit card. Credit card users should only make purchases they plan to pay for within the month. If you are unsure whether you have the discipline to pay the balance in full, then a debit card that doesn’t allow overdraft purchases may be the way to go.

Answer by: Corey Cole

Read the fine print; know exactly what kind of card you’re getting. What is the interest rate? Is there an annual fee? What are the perks? In addition, it’s important to make sure you have the financial capacity to pay off the balance every month.

Answer by: Adele Harrison

Start small. If it’s your first credit card, check with your bank or credit union to see if they offer a secured credit card.

Use a website that compares credit card offers. This can help you get the best overall deal. For example, if you carry a balance on your card, a lower APR can be worth paying a small annual fee rather than a card with no annual fee and higher APR.

Finally, only apply for one card at a time. It will actually lower your credit scores if too many credit issuers check your credit within a short period of time.

Answer by: Martin Mulyadi, Associate Professor of Accounting, Shenandoah University

Always look for no annual fee cash back credit cards and apply for a credit card that offers promotions, such as a sign up bonus.

Answer by: David Leach

If it is your first ever card, choose a local bank. When selecting a card issuer, shop for the lowest APR, find a card with no annual fee, and one that provides a monthly grace period so you have the option to pay the balance off in full each month without having to pay a finance charge. Start out slow, test drive ONE card.

Establishing a great history of on-time payments will greatly enhance that new card holder’s credit scores. Plus, paying off the card’s balance in full each month also enhances your credit scores. I like to keep my balances at the end of each month at $0.00, and my credit scores in the low 800 range.

Answer by: Bonnie Rohde

Look for low interest credit cards, bonuses for spending in the first six months, zero interest for a set introductory period, flexible membership points, and cash back on purchases. Verify the payment due period, coverage for fraudulent use, and fees on cash withdrawals, overcharges, annual ownership, and late payments.

Answer by: Lora Reinholz

Pay the bill in full every single month. Even one late payment can reduce your credit scores . Check for fees such as late fees, interest rates, and any other fees. Know when your bill is due. Pay it before the due date just in case there’s a delay. You can set up an automatic payment for your monthly credit bill. Be certain that you have funds in your checking account to cover the balance, so you won’t get hit with any fees from your bank or the credit card company! If rewards are important to you, find cards that offer rewards you’ll use.

Answer by: Sonik Mandal

Apply from the bank you have a savings or checking account with. Have at least 1 visa or MasterCard credit card, as not all stores accept Discover or other cards. Keep your spending in line with your monthly income so that you’re able to pay the balance in full each month. Some credit cards have high interest rates, so paying the minimum balance is not a good idea, always pay in-full. Many rewards credit cards can save you money, so keep an eye out for them. 

Answer by: Syed Ahmed, Professor of Economics, Cameron University

Always check your balances online. If you lose your credit card, call the issuer immediately. 

Pay all your balances in full each month to avoid interest.  A 0% introductory APR offer is good as long as you pay off your balance by the end of the offer period, otherwise you’ll risk paying a lot of money in interest once the offer ends.

Answer by: Shelton Weeks

Do your research.  Don’t simply apply for a card from the first issuer who presents an offer to you.  This process should start with a careful and honest analysis of how you will use the card.

After receiving a card it’s important to be a responsible user.  Don’t make the mistake of running up the balance on the card just because you can.  If you are using the card as a means of payment for purchases you previously made with cash, track your purchases and be careful not to blow your budget.  Plan to pay off the balance each month.  In those cases where you have to make larger emergency purchases using the card plan to pay these off as quickly as possible to avoid excessive interest and to make sure that you have access to credit for the next emergency outlay.

Answer by: Edward Horwitz

It’s important to pick a good credit card based on several factors including interest rates, annual fees and payment expectations. Oftentimes people pick a new card to earn points on a promotion, or to save money at the time of a larger purchase. These cards might have higher rates and have annual fees to consider. Make sure to shop for the best rates and fees as well as flexibility of use for rewards. 

Answer by: Robert Uptegraff

Before getting a credit card, keep the big picture in mind, meaning, have an ethic of austerity and force yourself to maintain budget discipline BEFORE applying for a credit card.

Answer by: Punit Arora

Look for the card that matches your needs and rewards. If you buy a ton of stuff on Amazon, get an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card for higher cash back rewards (5%). If you fly on Delta frequently, maximize your miles and medallion qualification miles for more rewards. If your credit card use is limited, get a card with no-annual fee. However, high annual fees can be worth every dime because they often come with rewards that are worth far more than the annual fee. I personally love Amex because of the benefits and customer service that comes with it.

Answer by: Kent Belasco

Depending upon your age, first cultivate your credit scores.  This is an extremely valuable tool because most everyone needs credit during their life for car purchases and leases, mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, etc.  Always pay off your credit card in full each month to avoid significant interest charges.  Live within your means but use this powerful financial tool judiciously.  

Above all, understand how it works.  Know the APR and know how much money will be charged to your account if you carry a balance.  Keep track of your purchases and balances, and analyze them monthly to see if the purchases are frivolous or sorely needed.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera

The biggest costs to having credit cards are any interest paid on purchases. This is where many people can lose money. When applying for a credit card, read the interest rates and any other offers . Many cards offer a 0% introductory APR, which may be valid only up to a certain period of time. Having rolling balances on your card after the offer period ends will lead you to pay more in interest. You can avoid interest by paying off the full statement balance each month.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

My suggestion is that you should use your credit card as long as you are solvent and disciplined enough to avoid the high interest payments that credit card issuers charge. The way to do this is by paying the balance in your credit card completely each billing cycle and not carrying a balance on your credit card, which may result in interest charges.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein

Try to find credit cards that offer the best rewards programs. Be aware of how high the interest rates are on your credit cards and calculate the dollar amount you must pay if you carry a balance on the card. If you pay off the balance each month, the interest rate doesn’t matter.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

Don’t be fooled by initial offerings.  Low balance transfers and sign on bonuses are meant to lure in customers but are often followed by annual fees and high interest rates after an introductory period.  Cash back cards are a good option if they provide a competitive cash back rate on items purchased.  For example, a 3% cash back offer for dining out charges would not be ideal for someone who rarely eats out.  That individual may be better with a 1.5% cash back on all purchases.Always read the credit card agreement, no matter how small the print.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Don’t overpay in terms of annual fees and other charges. I never have credit cards with annual or other fees, but credit card issuers make money when people don’t pay them in full each month. Try not to have too much credit – in terms of both total dollars and the total number of cards. You might find out you can’t pay everything off if you have a high limit.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

Before you apply for a credit card, make sure you really need the card, especially if you already have several credit cards. It may hurt your credit scores if you close a credit card later.
Make sure the credit card fits your needs. Consider the card’s long-term benefits with respect to points, miles, or cash back and consider cards that provide you with the best benefits.
For example, I have two cards with different reward structures and use either of them when the purchase earns me the maximum benefits (cash back or miles). This way you can make the card work for you.

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

The key is determining the cardholder’s primary purpose for the card.  If the purpose is to get perks, then look for the card that will provide the best perks at the lowest possible cost to yourself.  Consumers must find perks that best fit their needs.  I’m personally biased towards cash back cards because they provide exceptional flexibility, but I may be giving up greater benefits that are often seen with various travel cards.  

Be careful not to apply for every card that’s available.  Too many new accounts in a short period of time can hurt your credit scores.  This can be hard to manage and is also inefficient.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

I would advise someone who is seeking a credit card to start at one’s local bank and apply for their credit card.  For example, if I bank with Wells Fargo, I would apply with them because I have already established a financial relationship with that bank.  I likely have a savings or checking account with them, and that established relationship could possibly be a benefit in the application process.  For the student population who may not have established credit—this is one possibility to be their first credit card.  Students can request a credit card and have their parents/guardians act as a cosigner for a credit card. 

Q3) Are there any requirements to qualify for a credit card?

Answer by: C. Andrew Lafond

Typically, you will need a social security number and a good credit history. Some of the better rewards cards may require a longer credit history.

Answer by: Duane Donaldson

Yes, you’ll need a consistent income, and a history of paying your bills on time, which is viewed through your credit reports.

Answer by: Marcus Bansah

Showing financial institutions that you can use credit responsibly is the basic requirement for securing a credit card. You can demonstrate this by not missing payments and having good credit scores. For beginners with no credit history, you can first apply for a secured credit card in order to build credit. This could help you qualify for an unsecured credit card in the future.

Answer by: Alicia Plemmons

The issuer will want to assess the borrower’s credit worthiness. This can include asking for an estimated monthly income, source of income, and credit history. A credit card holder must also be old enough to be financially responsible for their debts.  

Answer by: Michael Manahan

There are typically very few requirements to get a credit card.

Answer by: Vladimir Dashkeev

To apply for a credit card, the applicant needs to be 18 years or older and have the following: social security number, personal income, and credit scores that meet the issuer’s requirements. Applicants who already have a credit card might have free access to their credit scores from their financial institution’s webpage. Prospective applicants can check their credit reports with one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from each agency. 

Answer by: Ozgur Ince

You need to be at least 18 years old and have access to a regular source of income to qualify for a credit card on your own. Otherwise, someone else can apply for a joint credit card with you or co-sign your application. Having bad credit or a lot of debt can cause your application to be rejected.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Most credit card issuers look for good credit scores and a stable income to qualify consumers for their credit cards. Good credit scores are built over time and many factors are included in it such as: credit history, timely payments, level and steadiness of income, and their debt-to-income ratio. Therefore, to qualify for a credit card, consumers’ credit history should show evidence of their creditworthiness and commitment to pay off their credit card balances. 

Answer by: Kelly Carter

Specific requirements can vary from company to company, so be sure to check carefully.

Answer by: Emily Norman Zietz

There are many different rules on how to qualify for a credit card, and these vary by issuer. Some credit card issuers require an applicant to prove creditworthiness, i.e., show an established record of credit before being approved, while other issuers are more lenient in issuing credit cards.

Answer by: Lawrence J. White

Different credit card issuers have different standards, but having a good track record with paying your bills on time is a big plus.

Answer by: Corey Cole

There are not any universal requirements aside from having a valid social security number and reported income. However, each credit issuer may impose their own set of standards to determine whether a consumer qualifies for their card, so it’s important to research the requirements of the card before applying.

Answer by: David Leach

The Credit CARD Act of 2009, an amendment to Federal Reserve Board Regulation Z, has some standards which the new card holder needs to show financial capacity to repay the card.

A person should “Self-Qualify” themselves for a credit card. Ask yourself a few questions: Do I have a job? Why do I want a credit card? How do I plan to pay it back? If the answer is not “Pay it in full every month,” or close to that, then that person may not be ready for a card. A credit card IS NOT extra money, but a revolving line of credit, with generally a high APR attached to it.

Answer by: Bonnie Rohde

The basic requirements are a permanent address, phone number, social security number, and income.  Credit card companies look for history on loan and credit payments, number of existing credit cards, amount of credit owed, income levels, and years of credit history to determine the credit limit and interest rate on the card. 

Answer by: Lora Reinholz

Sometimes, to qualify for a credit card. you might need a positive credit history. Sometimes you will receive pre approved offers to apply, other times, you will need to be proactive to get a credit card.

If you’re having problems qualifying for a card, you can try the following: Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and check your credit history. Do you have a history? Do you have any negative credit history  on your report? Are there any errors? Clean your credit reports  up to help qualify for  credit cards. If you don’t have any credit history, or if it’s not positive, you may consider applying for a credit card through your bank. Several options may be available.

Answer by: Sonik Mandal

The bank looks at your annual income, and determines if a co-signer is needed based on your current income and credit history. They will also pull your credit scores, so having higher credit scores increases your chance to be approved for a card.

Answer by: Syed Ahmed

Current income and past credit history are major requirements.

Answer by: Shelton Weeks

Yes.  The requirements vary greatly depending on the issuer and terms. 

Answer by: Robert Uptegraff

Unfortunately, there are no universal qualification requirements for credit cards. There are somewhat strict lending standards pertaining primarily to verifiable credit and on a more ancillary basis, home ownership and stable residency.

Answer by: Punit Arora

Generally, very few. Unless you’ve had a terrible history with debt repayments, you can usually qualify for at least one card. The better your credit history, the easier it is to get better cards. Some cards are not available to foreign nationals, but some are. Sometimes, cards will start with a small credit limit, but as you develop a history of paying on time, the limit can increase.  

Answer by: Kent Belasco

Your credit history will be evaluated and your payment patterns on other forms of credit.  In some cases a co-signer may be asked for, who would share the responsibility with the owner of the card, for repayment.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

The most important requirement to qualify for a credit card is to have a good credit history along with strong credit scores. Nonetheless, the credit card market now offers a product for almost every type of consumer including people with new credit, with bankruptcies, with less than perfect credit histories, etc. Keep in mind that the best terms and interest rates will be offered to the most creditworthy consumers.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein

Yes, but these requirements may vary by issuer.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

To obtain a credit card the applicant has to have a social security number, and be at least 18 years old with a steady source of income or a guardian’s co-signature.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Getting credit depends on your credit scores and your existing credit. You may get approved, but for a lower credit limit. Using credit wisely, paying your balance promptly, and not having too much credit relative to your income can help you get approved.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

There are age requirements. You’ll also have to provide a physical address and social security number. Other considerations might be your credit scores, your income, etc.

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

Every credit issuer is different.  Many issuers are going to use your credit scores from different credit bureaus.  Since each bureau has its own proprietary financial model, your credit scores may differ dramatically.  That means that you may not qualify for a card at one issuer using one credit score system, but the next issuer might use a different scoring model where you would qualify.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

Most creditors will be looking for a credit card candidate who has already proven to be financially responsible, meaning they have made other bill payments on time. Most financial institutions look for consumers who have consistent sources of income available.  The institution will be mindful of one’s debt to income ratio.  The financial institution is not inclined to approve a credit card to someone with a vast amount of existing debt as the assumption is that one financial disaster and their credit card will not be paid off by the consumer.

Q4) Are credit cards safe?

Answer by: C. Andrew Lafond

Yes. Most credit cards come with zero fraud liability policies that ensure that cardholders do not pay for fraudulent charges made to the cardholder’s account. Most credit cards now have improved their security through the use of encryption chips and pins, and many also have fraud monitoring.

Answer by: Duane Donaldson

For the most part, yes. Although the card number, expiration date and 3-digit code on the back of the card can all be stolen, the federal government has a law that limits your fraudulent charge liability to $50, as long as you notify the credit card issuer in a timely manner.

Answer by: Marcus Bansah

Credit cards are generally safe. Most credit cards have fraud protection, which means the chances of losing money through fraud is minimal. You can help reduce fraud by promptly reporting any unauthorized charges to your credit card issuer.

Answer by: Alicia Plemmons

A credit card is only as safe as the cardholder. While they can provide a source of purchasing flexibility and security, they can be easily abused with inappropriate or reckless spending. Cardholders concerned about these safety risks should consider refreshing their financial literacy knowledge on a regular basis.  

Answer by: Michael Manahan

Credit cards are generally safe. Most issuers will cancel fraudulent charges made to your card if it’s lost or stolen. Some credit issuers will let you “charge back” charges from merchants whose products don’t work or who don’t provide services as promised. This feature can be very helpful when making online purchases from lesser known retailers.

Answer by: Vladimir Dashkeev

Yes, as most credit issuers offer zero-liability protection. To qualify, customers need to keep their cards in a safe location, protect their online account credentials, and report fraudulent activity on their accounts promptly. Card holders should also exercise healthy cyber-security habits that include strong passwords and changing them regularly.

Answer by: Ozgur Ince

Credit cards are safe if used cautiously. You must keep your account information private and your electronic devices secure. Check your online account often and turn on suspicious activity alerts. If you lose your card or suspect fraudulent activity on your account, report it right away.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Credit cards are safe because most credit card companies offer fraud protections and employ a set of security standards to protect consumers from identity theft. Moreover, credit cards are much safer than debit cards because they’re using the bank’s money, not your own, and credit issuers have resources to track down fraudsters.

Answer by: Kelly Carter

I believe so.  Many companies protect cardholders through monitoring, updates, etc.

Answer by: Lawrence J. White

If someone steals your credit card or uses your information for their purchases, those charges will appear on your bill. The cardholder needs to report a loss of a card to the card issuer and any fraudulent charges as soon as possible. If the cardholder can show that the charges were fraudulent, the cardholder won’t usually be held liable.

Answer by: Emily Norman Zietz

With enhanced technologies that help identify fraudulent use of a credit card, they appear to be as safe as other financial accounts. However, with potential identity theft being an unfortunate part of our financial lives, it’s important for each person to carefully monitor your own financial accounts and to not rely on an issuer’s algorithms to keep your accounts safe.

Answer by: Corey Cole

In general, credit cards are safe. Most cards have good fraud protections for the user; in most cases, users are not liable for any amount of fraud charged on the card.

Answer by: Adele Harrison

Credit cards are very safe ways to pay. Major issuers offer protection against fraudulent use. You can request text alerts and other means of notification when your card is used. It’s easy to track usage via apps as well.

Answer by: David Leach

Yes, extremely safe. Federal law limits the liability to no more than $50; generally, card issuers charge the card holder $0.00 in the case of loss or theft. 

I reserve my online ordering with credit cards only. If there is a dispute, the credit card issuer will stand up for me and conduct an investigation. I hold payment on that item during the investigation. On some online purchases the Fair Credit Billing Act protections are in place.

Answer by: Bonnie Rohde

Credit cards are safe if the credit card company covers fraudulent use of the card.  They are more safe than a debit card tied to a bank account.  Most reputable credit card companies will protect their users from breaches and fraud, and they track card use.  This is significantly safer than cash.

Answer by: Lora Reinholz

Credit cards can be safe. Do your research. Apply for your card through your bank or a reputable company. Making purchases with credit cards can be safer than using a debit card. If your purchase isn’t the quality you expected, the credit card issuer can assist with a refund. If you were charged twice, again, the credit card issuer may help you out. And some credit card issuers offer additional benefits such as travel protection or an extended warranty period for some purchases.

Answer by: Sonik Mandal

Most of the time, but always beware of credit card fraud. Keep your credit card in a safe place. If lost, report it to the issuer so they can lock it and a replacement card can be issued. Do not reveal your credit card number or the 3 digit CVV code on the back of the card to anyone suspicious, as they can use it to shop online.

Answer by: Syed Ahmed

Mostly, as long as you keep an eye on your balances and the card itself.

Answer by: Shelton Weeks

In general, credit cards are quite safe and issuers are constantly working to improve their security.  Unfortunately, there are criminals out there who are also working to find ways around existing security measures. 

Answer by: Punit Arora

Credit cards are generally considered safer than alternative means of payment. With debit cards, once the money leaves the account, it can be hard to get it back. 

You have a window to dispute credit card charges and most issuers offer fraud protection for free now. Credit bureaus also offer free access to credit reports, which can be a great tool to monitor your activity. Use good cyber safety practices such as strong passwords, not sharing private information unnecessarily, etc., and you are golden. 

Answer by: Kent Belasco

In general, yes.  More recently the “chip” in the card has made credit card use more secure and less vulnerable to fraud.  However, online purchases are now almost a norm in our society.  Entering credit card numbers online or over the phone puts the owner at risk of fraud.  Take advantage of various payment mechanisms to protect privacy.

If you notice spending that is not yours, you can dispute this easily and you will not be responsible for it.  The credit card company will likely want to close your current card and issue a new credit card.  My advice is to monitor your purchases.  It’s a good budgeting practice, and allows you to catch and report fraud faster.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera

Credit cards are one of the most secure forms of payments. Most credit cards offer limited or zero liability in case of fraudulent transactions. One can sign up for fraud alerts and enable location access so they get notified and go through another layer of security check to confirm their identity. Credit cards can also be immediately blocked in case one loses it, thereby preventing any unauthorized access.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

In general, credit cards are  safe financial products that offer consumers limited liability in the case fraudulent charges arise. In my experience, credit card issuers are quicker and more efficient in resolving fraudulent charges than those that happen with checking and savings accounts.

Answer by: Scott E. Hein

Credit cards can be risky, if you aren’t a disciplined spender. Credit card balances can rise rapidly, if you don’t keep track of your spending using credit cards.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

Credit cards are safer than debit cards because credit cards do not draw from a specific bank account.  In addition, credit card issuers continually monitor and block fraudulent charges and will credit back the fraudulent charge pending investigation.  Loss from unauthorized credit card charges is limited to $50 and most of the time the credit card issuer does not hold the card holder responsible for any charges.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Credit cards are safe, particularly with chip technology and other new advances. But from time to time, there are still breaches and you might find unauthorized purchases on your account. You usually won’t be held financially liable. I would rather deal with updating autopay information than have cash stolen or have my debit account drained. I advise regularly checking your credit card account online, and watching for purchases that might not be yours.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

I think they’re safe. For example, my credit card “shuts down” when the issuer suspects unexpected purchasing or travel behavior. One quick phone call or reply with a message and it’s working again. Most credit cards reimburse you in case of fraud.

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

Credit cards are incredibly safe.  Challenges are more often found when the user is not safe when using their card or if a business where the card is used makes some type of mistake.  Regardless, Federal law puts a maximum liability of $50 for unauthorized transactions when you report the concern within 2 months.  Many of the major issuers may waive that liability to $0 if you report unauthorized charges within a few days or provide that as a perquisite of you being a cardholder.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

For the most part, yes.  Financial institutions issuing credit cards and the merchants with whom consumers engage when making purchases take measures to protect their customer’s credit card information. However, hackers have gotten past some of those levels of protection and have compromised the financial institutions ‘customers’ information.  Part of the responsibility of protecting one’s credit card lies in the hand of the consumer him/herself.  Consumers should only use their cards at legitimate shopping sites.

Q5) Are there common mistakes consumers make when picking a credit card?

Answer by: C. Andrew Lafond

Be careful of 0% introductory APR cards, as the rate typically goes up after a certain period of time. If you haven’t paid off the full balance by the end of the offer period, it could cost you a lot of money. Also be careful of annual fees, which can sometimes outweigh the rewards that are earned on the card.

Answer by: S. Abraham Ravid

Do not borrow on your credit card. If you are buying an asset that can serve as security for loans, such as a house or a car, you can obtain dramatically better rates. If you have to borrow on credit cards to buy necessities, you are in a financial bind and it pays to seek advice and help, and if you buy discretionary items and incur credit card debt to afford them, then don’t. 

There is another caveat. Credit card issuers may sometimes offer cards with low or even 0% APR rates for a short period of time. If you can juggle cards from one promotional rate to another you may be able to borrow at reasonable rates, however, it requires vigilance, and since this type of behavior will negatively affect your credit score, you will usually not be able to do this for long.  

There are many reasons for the high rates charged by most credit cards. First and foremost, these are unsecured loans and as we have just said, because of the high rates, many card holders only borrow if they are in trouble. Banks are aware of this and realize that they are lending to a potentially risky pool of borrowers, thus they charge high rates to compensate for the risk of non-payment or default. Banks may also sell credit card receivables to investors and need a cushion.  

The ultimate message is clear- credit cards are good and necessary but pay your entire balance on time every month. 

Answer by: Duane Donaldson

Yes, many people obtain credit cards with no rewards, which means they’re losing out on a lot of potential savings and perks. High interest rates can be another problem, although you can avoid the interest rate completely by paying off the full statement balance each month.

Answer by: Marcus Bansah

Some common mistakes include not spending time to read the “fine print” before getting a credit card, and not undertaking a thorough analysis to know the long-run costs and benefits of a credit card before picking the one for you.

Answer by: Alicia Plemmons

The number one mistake that new cardholders make when applying for a credit card is making their decision on which card to get based solely on the benefits of the card, and not researching the interest rate. This often leads new borrowers to sign up for cards with very high interest rates, which cost them more money over time.

Answer by: Michael Manahan

Some credit card companies offer extra protection when traveling, such as rental car insurance. Check out the full list of benefits provided to cardholders and don’t only focus on the benefits card issuers advertise. 

Answer by: Ozgur Ince

A common mistake is to apply for and use too many credit cards. Closing credit cards quickly can also hurt your credit scores. Another common mistake is responding to promotional offers without careful consideration. Don’t apply for cards you don’t intend to use.

Answer by: Dina El Mahdy

Yes, for example, consumers may fall into the trap of credit card companies that offer promotions that may take effect immediately when consumers transfer their old balances to their new credit cards or simply open a new credit card. However, some promotions are not offered for free and there’s a chance that consumers will be faced with high interest rates following the promotional period if they don’t pay off their full balance. Consumers may also seek credit cards that offer very high credit limits that encourage them to live beyond their means, and engage in impulse purchases, but later realize that they are unable to pay off their balances.

Answer by: Kelly Carter

A key mistake that consumers make is failing to consider the annual fee.  Some cards might offer excellent perks but might have a high annual fee.

Answer by: Lawrence J. White

They may become dazzled by short-term offers and “freebies” and overlook longer-term higher costs.

Answer by: Emily Norman Zietz

Many people seem to only be interested in the APR. This rate is not relevant if you pay the credit card balance in full each month. While the interest rate and any late fees quoted may seem negligible, these charges quickly amount to a generous sum of money. Additionally, focusing on the rewards or other perks that the credit card issuer offers does not justify the costs that may be incurred should a balance not be paid in full each month.

Answer by: Corey Cole

I would say the most common mistake is not doing research on a credit card. Oftentimes consumers fall prey to the exuberant marketing utilized by issuers instead of researching and comparing credit card offers to find the one that suits them best.

Answer by: Adele Harrison

One mistake to avoid is getting more “perks” than you will ever really use. These types of cards normally come with a high annual fee.

Another mistake is being swayed by the looks of the card or perceived prestige. Stick with a simple credit card, pay off your purchases every month, and let the rewards rack up.

Answer by: David Leach

Yes, undue influence by marketing. It could be a flashy television or digital ad, and a decision to apply without checking the card’s APR, existence of a grace period, or annual fee charge is made. I call those folks the “Low Information Card Shoppers.” Remember my guiding principles: Find a low APR card, with no annual fee, and a grace period, and endeavor to pay the card’s balance in full every month.

Answer by: Bonnie Rohde

Picking a card for only the added perks could be a big mistake.  Credit cards that offer more benefits and rewards could have big annual fees.  This could become costly if the benefits are difficult to use or have significant restrictions.  Not knowing your credit scores is a mistake before applying for a card.  Verify your current credit history at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/

If there are any issues, address them before applying for a credit card.  Understand the credit card terms, fees, and interest rates before applying for the card.  Verify when payments must be received to be interest free, the credit limit, the fees for services, and if the company covers fraudulent charges.

Answer by: Lora Reinholz

It can be easy to apply for a credit card. It’s also easy to make bad decisions. Using one or two credit cards wisely can improve your credit scores to show that you are ‘worthy’ of lower interest rates on loans. 

Answer by: Sonik Mandal

Many times consumers pick pre-approved credit card offers  that are sent in mail rather than doing their own homework. This may cause them to pay high fees. When choosing a card, try to include factors like where you shop, card network, and your current income and debt levels.

Answer by: Syed Ahmed

Read the fine print and ask the issuer any questions you have. Pay attention to the APR, late payment fees, and their policies on fraudulent transactions.

Answer by: Shelton Weeks

Absolutely.  This starts with not doing their homework prior to selecting a card.  The key to making the best selection is to find the card that best fits your needs given your current financial situation.  You also have to realize that your needs and usage patterns will likely shift over time resulting in the need to periodically shop for a card that is better aligned with your current financial situation.

Answer by: Edward Horwitz

A concern is more about the use of the credit card itself. Having a card and establishing good monthly payment behaviors go hand in hand. People can get carried away with their first card and build up a sizable rolling balance before they know it. Make sure you always have enough in your monthly budget to pay off at least 80% to 90% of your new monthly charges every month. Having consistently unused credit on your card limit at 70% or more can also help to improve your credit scores.  

Answer by: Robert Uptegraff

A common mistake is getting a credit card without cash advance capabilities. If a credit card is to be used for emergencies – this is important.

Answer by: Punit Arora

One mistake is not paying the entire balance on time. Credit cards work best when you can pay off the entire balance every month.  If you are addicted to shopping, the convenience and painless swiping or electronic payment, with the security of extra time to pay, can come back to bite you. Credit cards come with very heavy interest rates, which accumulates very fast. 

You need financial discipline to spend on only what you can easily pay back.Missing minimum payments can lead to higher penalties and interest rates. A consumer needs to inculcate good financial discipline to stay clear of these pitfalls and make the best use of credit cards. If you find it hard to do, I would recommend paying off the credit card expenses more frequently, like every time you make a big purchase or every week to better understand your spending capacity.

Answer by: Kent Belasco

Yes, many consumers fail to review the credit card’s terms and conditions, like the APR, before agreeing to them.

Bottom-line, it’s important to establish credit early on.  Young people will need to do this to build a credit history.  Credit cards are good ways to start.  Many young people ask me how to establish credit.  Some secured cards allow you to put down a deposit with a low credit limit.  As you pay and establish a history, you get the deposit back, and the benefit of building a credit history and credit scores.

Answer by: Sarthak Behera

I would recommend analyzing your needs and then choosing the credit card that has the best rewards for your regular purchases. Each card has its own benefits and the preference depends entirely on the consumer. One of the biggest pitfalls is the interest rate. You might have a promotional 0% APR for 12 months, but if you don’t pay off the balance by the end of the offer period, you will incur a charge of the original APR.

Answer by: Daniel Huerta

The most common mistake that I observe is picking cards with outrageous fees, including high annual fees and late payment fees. Another mistake is choosing cards that charge relatively higher interest rates than comparable cards. Before you apply, always read the fine print and allow yourself to compare among different issuers to make sure you are choosing the correct product for you.

Answer by: Karen Ann Craig

The most common mistake is not understanding fees and interest rates.  Credit cards will charge fees for cash advances, late payments, charging over the limit or not making the minimum payment.  Fees are avoidable if the credit card holder understands the policies and monitors their credit card usage.

Answer by: Scott Hegerty

Sometimes people apply for “store” credit cards to get a one-time discount (like saving 30% on their first order when they sign up). This leads to having many cards and risks having a rarely-used card that could get lost or that you might not notice if an unauthorized purchase gets made.

Answer by: Axel Grossman

Some people carry a balance on their credit cards because they think they need to keep a balance on their card to have good credit scores, which is false.I would advise everyone to pay their balance by the end of each month. The only exception should be emergencies. If you cannot pay your credit card balance regularly at the end of the month something is wrong with your finances or budget.

Answer by: Gregory Kuhlemeyer

The primary mistake I see is making a credit card decision immediately because someone tries to “offer” you a store credit card right now in a retail store.  By not taking sufficient time to think through the longer-term ramifications on credit scores, potential annual fees or interest rates and how you’ll use the card, it may impact credit scores negatively.  For example, opening many credit cards and buying a new car could cause your credit scores to temporarily decline.

Answer by: Diann Moorman

One mistake a consumer commonly makes is choosing a credit card too quickly.  An example being younger consumers may receive several “pre-approved” credit card offers in the mail.  They may be excited about the pre-approval and sign up without checking competing offers, like other perks such as frequent flier miles or cash back.  

Part of the problem is that consumers are not reading the fine print.  I know the print is small but consumers should read and understand it before signing up for credit cards.  Signing up for credit cards are considered legally binding documents and details of these contracts are extremely precise.

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