What you need to know when getting a credit card
If you’re looking for a credit card, shop around, don’t accept the first offer you get. There are many fees and charges that can add up to the cost of the card. Decide on how you plan to use the card, whether you’ll pay off your full dues or if you intend to carry a balance. Then find a card that will cost the least for your type of usage.
Credit Card Charges and Fees
The first point to look for is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). That’s the yearly interest rate charged on your card. There’s also the Periodic Rate, which is the rate levied on your card balance for each billing cycle.
If the APR is variable, the interest rate can go up or down depending on changes in certain economic indexes. Get information on how often the rate changes occur and what factors determine these changes.
When you use your credit card, there are some fees that you should know about. These include annual fees, late payment charges, charges for cash advance, and exceeding your credit limit.
Finding the Right Card
â If you have a habit of carrying a large balance on your credit card, look for cards with a low APR. There might not offer rewards like air miles or cashback, but they let you save interest charges on your balance
â If you regularly clear your card dues on time, you can choose cards that charge a higher APR but have reward programs and other benefits
â If you’re considering a zero percent interest rate balance transfer offer, remember there can be a one time charge of 3% on the balance when you start the transfer
â Some card issuers have a low APR for an initial period. However, find out how much the APR would be when the offer period expires
â When you charge an expense to your card like hotel bill or a pair of shoes, you get a grace period. During this period, you can pay the dues without charges
â However, if you get a cash advance on your card, or do a balance transfer, the interest rate starts ticking from day one
Chip and PIN
Look for cards with EMV chip and PIN features:
â Previously, all American credit cards carried authentication information on a magnetic strip. Not only was this easy to read, but it was also easy to duplicate. This resulted in a number of credit card frauds.
â Now, there’s an embedded chip on the card which carries the information in an encrypted form. The cardholder has to enter a PIN to complete the transaction
Take all these factors into consideration when you choose a card. Also look for a card issuer who offers 24/7 customer support. If you encounter a problem like an unauthorized charge on your card or a lost card, you can instantly contact customer support. The card can be cancelled and a new one issued to stop the thief from using your card.