There’s a good chance that you already have a credit card (or five), particularly if you are one of my fellow US residents. They’ve become almost as American as mom and apple pie, with just about everyone having them.
Chances are, though, that you didn’t put much thought into getting just the right credit card. If you are like most of us, you accumulated your card(s) through pure chance, perhaps from offers you were sent in the mail or by representatives on your college campus when you were a freshman. Don’t be ashamed, I’m in the same boat; I filled out some paperwork back when I was a high school student and picked up my first credit card, a JC Penney Mastercard, if you were curious, which I still have (and semi-frequently use) even today, nearly a decade and a half later.
But there’s no reason to simply take whatever card(s) happen to be thrown your way; with the increasing selection of credit cards available (and the ease of finding out information about these cards via the Internet), it shouldn’t be hard to find the best card(s) for your purposes. You simply need to ask yourself a few questions, starting with:
1. Do You Really Need a (or Another) Credit Card? This question frequently goes unasked, but it is important to consider before you dive too deeply into the ocean of credit cards. If you have had trouble keeping your debt under control in the past, particularly if you have had trouble using credit cards, you probably want to hold off. You should also consider your faith (more than a few frown on debt, including credit card debt), your family (more than a few families frown on debt, as well), and your personal feelings about credit cards; there are plenty of reasons why a(nother) credit card might not be the best for you. If you still feel you should get a credit card, then you next need to determine:
2. What Are Your Credit Card Needs? With so many different credit cards out there, it can be tough to figure out where to begin. The easiest way to narrow things down is to figure what you need in your credit card, and then search through those particular cards. There are numerous approaches you can take to credit card usage, from transferring an existing balance to decrease the amount of interest you pay to paying off the balance you charge each month. If you need some help narrowing down the issues that are important to consider, check out this infographic from CardRatings.com:
You’ll need to be honest with yourself as you make these considerations, and when you figure out what you are looking for in a credit card, it’s time to:
3. Find a Card that Meets Your Needs. There are quite a few cards out there, but luckily, there are plenty of places to go if you need help narrowing things down. Being a Yakezie member, I’d recommend starting with Credit Card Chaser and the rather impressive credit card library it has available, as it can use to help you sort through the possibilities. When you’ve managed to cut things down to the few cards you’d really like, go ahead and apply, and if you get approved, congratulations! Success is yours. Now, just make sure that you:
4. Use Your Credit Card Properly. This shouldn’t come as any surprise; regardless of which card you finally choose, you need to use it properly if you are going to be successful with your card use. I’ve detailed the commandments of credit card use before, and they apply (with extra vigor) when you add further credit cards. Just do what you can to keep your balance low (and decreasing, if you are carrying a balance), the payments coming regularly, and spending kept under control, and you will hopefully be fine.