We all try to use our credit wisely. But American’s credit card debit has been inching up along with the cost of living. Since the late 70s have essentially been keeping up with the increasing costs of daily life with debt. If you are one of the lucky (or frugal) and do not carry debt month over month then why not find one that is the most useful to you?
Once a Year
It pops up, that Annual Fee on your credit card. And you probably, for a moment, say to yourself “What the heck is that!” until you read further. A fee on top of paying interest may seem like insult to injury. But it may be a way to offset those rewards consumers want as well as separating the wheat from the chaff – the chaff being frugal consumers. Credit card companies want ‘good’ borrowers (yes, that is essentially what we are when we use credit) i.e. wealthy, to ensure that they keep paying them back.
You can expect an annual fee to be between $25 and $500 depending on the card. If the rewards surpass the amount of the fee then you have found yourself a good deal. If, however, you fail to use the perk – such as a free hotel room – in a year you have come out in the red.
Points Matter-The Fewer the Better
If you carry a balance on your credit cards and that annual fee comes with a lower APR (annual percentage rate) it might well be worth it. Or if you travel often and want to rack up mileage points you might find a card with great rewards but also possibly a higher fee.
There are always deals available for 0% interest. But read carefully, those deals are for a finite amount of time. It is important to know what the interest rate will go to once the offer time has elapsed. And beware, not all 0% interest offers cover balance transfers. And if there is a deal on a balance transfer, you can bet there is a fee (usually a small percentage of the amount transferred) tacked on.
If you are using a credit card for travel rewards for instance, calculate how much the reward will save you. If your savings are more than you would pay, say a hotel stay valued at $120 and the annual fee is $85 you have just saved yourself $35. But if you don’t plan on travelling often and let those rewards expire unused, then you have just cost yourself $85.
If you are taking advantage of a 0% balance transfer option, make sure you don’t transfer more than you can comfortably pay in the offer period. Otherwise you may be just where you started.
A cash back rewards card can sound great, unless you don’t charge the certain items allocated for reward with your particular credit card. Or if you find that you don’t charge at all but incur an annual fee, it may not be such a great deal either.
A quick search for “best credit card offers” can reap good results. Or head to an established site like, www.NerdWallet.com but do research what you may qualify for. And of course, every time you apply for credit the credit reporting agencies will be notified. There can be adverse effects of applying for multiple cards at the same time, so pick wisely and apply only one or two at a time.