Navigating the Credit Maze: How to Find the Right Credit Card for You

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Nonprofit credit counseling agency Take Charge America shares eight
tips for credit card shopping

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Credit cards are a tricky business. On one hand, we are cautioned
against them and warned about debt pitfalls. On the other, you need
credit to take out a mortgage or auto loan, rent a home or even secure
employment.

“The key is to find the right balance – to use credit safely and
conservatively,” said Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with
Take Charge America, a national
nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency
. “Credit
cards are easy, convenient and fuel our culture of instant
gratification. Unfortunately, massive debt is also a part of American
culture, but there are ways to build credit without accruing big debt.
It starts by finding a card that meets your needs.”

Sullivan shares eight keys to credit card shopping:

  1. Know your limits. This doesn’t just apply to your credit limit.
    If you’ll have trouble resisting extravagant purchases, be honest with
    yourself and choose your card accordingly.
  2. Get a secured card. If you’re concerned you’ll be tempted to
    overspend, consider a secured card. Most cards are unsecured, meaning
    you’re not required to put up collateral to obtain credit. A secured
    card links directly to the collateral in your bank account, so you
    won’t be able to exceed your available balance.
  3. Choose your APR wisely. Even people who pay off their credit
    card monthly may end up with a balance occasionally. Pick a card with
    a low APR to minimize interest. If your purpose is to build up your
    credit score, a no-frills card will fit the bill.
  4. Read the fine print. Many cards offer low or even no interest
    for an introductory period, but the rate increases after a specified
    time. Credit card issuers also levy penalties when you’re late on a
    payment or exceed your credit limit – you may be billed a fee, and
    your low APR may be swapped for a higher rate.
  5. Consider a balance transfer. If you carry a balance on a card
    with a high APR, transfer the balance to a card with a low rate. Most
    creditors will charge a balance transfer fee – often three percent of
    the debt you’re transferring – so do the math. If you’re carrying a
    hefty balance you don’t expect to pay off immediately, transferring
    the balance is likely your best bet.
  6. Don’t pay for rewards. Many rewards cards charge an annual fee,
    but don’t pay extra. There are plenty of cards that offer rewards free
    of charge.
  7. Apply one at a time. If you don’t have great credit, be choosy
    about applying for cards or you risk getting declined, which will hurt
    your credit more. Seek out a card designed for people with fair
    credit, or wait until your score improves.
  8. Opt out. If you’re overwhelmed by offers or don’t want to be
    tempted with more credit than you really need, opt out at optoutprescreen.com.

For more financial tips, visit Take
Charge America
.

About Take Charge America, Inc.

Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency
offering financial education and counseling services including credit
counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling
and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 1.6 million consumers
nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more,
visit www.takechargeamerica.org
or call (888) 822-9193.

Contacts

Aker Ink
Andrea Aker, 602-339-7339
andrea.aker@akerink.com