Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Right Way to Obtain a Credit Card

“You can save 10% on this purchase if you open a credit card at our store.  Would you like to do that now?”
Make any purchase at a department store and, if you are not currently one of their store’s credit card holders, you will hear that pitch.  You may have even fallen for it.
Credit card offers abound, but there are right ways to obtain credit cards and ways you should avoid.
The Wrong Way to Obtain a Credit Card
  • Open an account just because a store offers a one-time discount off your purchase.  In most cases the 10% discount on your purchase will easily be recouped by the store.  They are counting on you using the card frequently, running up a balance and having to pay interest (which many customers do).  Don’t be enticed by the discount. 
  • Apply for a credit card because you get a free tee shirt or mug.  Credit card companies used to be notorious for setting up a table at a college campus and enticing students to open a credit card by giving them a freebie bag.  Rules on this behavior are stricter now, but again, don’t sign up for a card just because you get a small item for free.

The Right Way to Obtain a Credit Card
  • Apply for one from your bank or credit union.  Chances are they will have a reasonable interest rate and agreeable terms.  (Still, be sure to read the fine print before signing up.) 
  • Apply for one that offers you rewards.  There are many credit cards that give members rewards.  If you fly frequently, try a credit card that offers flyer rewards.  If you drive frequently, consider getting a credit card that rewards you with gas discounts.

When applying for credit cards, make sure that you know what the APR will be, if there is an annual fee, and what the terms of payment are.  Once you have done your research, open an account with confidence.
Credit is part of life, and if you are responsible about the way you obtain credit after careful research, you can make sure credit cards are a positive part of your life.

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