How to Choose—and Use—That Next Credit Card
The amount of consumer debt in the US is staggering. Hovering at $12.58 million overall, the average American family is also carrying close to $17,000 in credit card debt. While we may assume typical issues with overconsumption and overspending are the cause of such debt, often it is a symptom of consumers trying to keep up with the rising cost of living, escalating bills, and wages that may have stagnated.
Most of us are aware of the financial headaches and traps that the temptations of using credit can lead us into; however, credit cards are also a necessary evil in our society. Today, you may be hard pressed to travel, rent a car, or secure numerous consumer items or services you want without a valid credit card; plus, they help you build and maintain a good credit score when paid on time. There is also a vast range of cards to choose from that instead of ruining your finances, can help them.
Whether you are looking for the best cash-back incentives, member rewards programs, copious frequent flyer miles, or more, there are plenty of options to choose from—depending on your credit score, willingness to take time to research what will work best, along with figuring out how the incentives work and perhaps even agreeing to pay some annual fees.
A recent Wall Street Journal article should help consumers save some time, outlining how to choose the best ones and then use them like ‘power tools.’ The priority of course, is in not allowing credit cards you apply for to ruin you in the end. Develop a strategy and stick to it, making appropriate payments each month and avoiding late fees. As you search for the best credit card for you, consider the following:
- What are you looking for in a credit card? Will you use the incentives offered? If not, you probably better off with a cash-back program.
- Realistically, how do you expect to pay each month? Do you usually pay off your balances each month or make payments? A rewards program makes sense if you plan to pay off monthly balances consistently. If you plan to make payments, your decision-making process should be centered completely around the best interest rate.
- If you seek a card that offers travel rewards, investigate exactly how the programs work and whether you will have to cough up fees (sometimes substantial) when getting ready to redeem your miles. Consider how flexible you can be when traveling as well, as that may be required of you.
- Competitive deals that allow you to switch a card with a balance to another with zero percent interest can work very well for you if you can keep up with your payments and pay the balance off before the introductory period ends.
- Cards with annual fees may be more beneficial than you think. Do the math regarding potential rewards and bonuses you could earn before you toss the idea aside in favor of credit cards with no annual fees.
There are many instances today when you may be better off using a credit card rather than a debit card or cash—assuming payments are made responsibly. To keep your credit in good order, set monthly reminders for paying your bills on time, and check your credit score once a year at least a year, especially if you are trying to build credit or improve your score. If you find yourself getting dangerously in debt, contact Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC so one of our experienced attorneys can review your case and discuss all the options available to you for improving your finances.
Our attorneys have decades of experience in serving clients as they navigate through challenging financial situations, to include bankruptcy and other debt management processes. Let us review your case and discuss what would work best for you. We are here to help! Call us today for a free consultation at (855) 709-5788, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in: Credit Card Debt