The benefits of owning a credit card cannot be underestimated. It not only allows you the benefit of short-term credit, other benefits in terms of co-branding, reward points and discounts etc. but also make credit cards a complete package in itself.
There are hundreds of credit cards available in the market each catering to different needs of individuals. This definitely confuses credit card aspirants on what could be the best card for anyone. We at Credit Mantri have put out this simple guide which you can use to select the best credit card to suit your needs.
1. Do A Reality Check on Your Spending Habits and Finances: Credit cards are convenient, no two ways about it. But before you decide if you need a credit card, carry out a reality check on your spending habits and finances. Are you a saver or a spender? Are you an impulsive spender? How regular are you with your repayments on other credit instruments like loans? These questions will help you decide whether you need a card and the kind of card that will be helpful for you. For Ex: If you are an impulsive spender, it would be good to go in for a prepaid card so that you can rein in your expenses.
2. Consider Your Credit Score: Accept it or not, credit score is now an integral part of your life just like your mobile number or email id. Knowing your credit score helps you in deciding the best credit for your needs. Why don't you see the offers we have for you matched to your credit profile? Also, evaluate if you are planning to build a credit profile for yourself or are you looking to rebuild your low credit scores. In these cases, a secured credit card or a prepaid credit card works to your favor, as long as you use it responsibly.
Additional reading: How Can a Credit Card Help Improving Your Credit Score?
3. Ascertain If You Can Pay Off the Outstanding Every Month: A credit card allows you to buy/pay for goods/services on credit till a predetermined date, post which interest is chargeable on the outstanding and any future usage. Also, keep in mind that interest charged on outstanding amounts are in the range of 24-48% p. a making it one of the most expensive debts to have. So if you are unsure of making that payment at the end of each credit period, then it is good for you to scout a card with low interest rates. Such cards may not give you good options for rewards or discounts. But keep in mind, not making regular repayments will lower your credit score.
4. Evaluate Your Needs: Credit cards are catered to meet different needs. Evaluate your needs beforehand. Are you a frequent flyer, a movie buff or one that travels a lot by road, does a lot of shopping etc? For each of your needs, there is a credit card. So carefully evaluate how the card can be useful to you and if you can save by going in for that particular category of card.
5. Do not fall prey to advertisements: Once you decide what category of card you would like to go in for, check for all offers available for that category of cards. Do not make your decision only claims made like no annual fee, welcome gift vouchers etc. A no annual fee card may require you to spend a certain amount every year, the gift vouchers may be subject to certain conditions. So it is good to go through all the terms and conditions before you submit the application to your lender.
Additional reading: Best Credit Cards for Business Travel
Credit cards are double-edged swords. Do not ever get caught up in the debt spirals of a credit card. Use it judiciously and make prompt repayments, no matter which card you end up going in for.