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
“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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
or call (888) 822-9193.
Andrea Aker, 602-339-7339