For many, if not most people, choosing the right credit card when just starting out in adult life is a fairly simple process. It basically boils down to getting whatever card someone is willing to issue. For example, college students are often deluged with card offers from oil companies and department stores. While an easy way to build credit for a possibly more thoughtful approach in the future, such practices on the part of card companies also begin creating consumer debt at an early age. With card companies competing for consumers, it only makes sense that, even at an early stage of establishing credit, one should take one’s time in deciding what cards to carry and use.
The most important factor in choosing a credit card is how you plan to use it. Before any other considerations, such as rewards, interest rates, or annual fees, decide what you will be doing with the card and how you plan to pay it. Basically, there are three types of usage to consider before proceeding any further. Figuring out which of these best describes your situation will go a long way in determining what card to get.
First, if you plan on paying off the card balance in full each month, the interest rate is not much of a concern. You should probably look for a card that has no annual fee, as well as a longer grace period in which to pay. Conversely, if you have a tendency to carry a balance from month to month, the interest rate becomes a determining factor. Finally, if you often use a credit card to get cash advances, you need to be aware that many cards charge a higher interest rate on cash advances than on purchases. Therefore, you need to make sure to look for a card that charges the same rate for both.
With all the credit cards on the market today, it is easy to get distracted by all the ancillary features offered. However, before deciding on a credit card based on bells and whistles, decide what kind of card user you are. This will vastly simplify the process at the start and help you focus on choosing extra features of those cards to which you are already best suited.