So you want to get a credit card, you have no idea how, what and where. This guide will help you understand what to look for and where.
Credit cards are essentially a short term debt facility which you can repay at the end of every month. Credit cards help you build your credit score by showing regular repayments and low credit utilization but credit cards can also put you in a lot of debt if you can't find the funds to repay the debt at the end of each month.
Credit cards are usually advertised with their APRs, introductory offers and rewards. This makes them hard to compare but we are going to give it a go.
Before applying for a credit card you should ensure you know your credit score and affordability. This will give you an idea of what products you will qualify for. If you are plugged into a financial wellbeing platform then you will automatically see what credit cards you are eligible for. Checking your credit score will also give you the chance to do some repairs before you apply.
If you have little or no credit score then your best chance of a credit card is with your bank or possibly with credit builder credit cards. Regardless of which route you take to get a credit card, good financial behaviour will ensure your financial wellbeing is always in check. Paying your debts off early, always looking to switch and never overspending are a few things you should always look to do.
So what should you be looking for when comparing credit cards?
What rates are on offer or rather what rates are you eligible for. The APR is the interest rate plus any cost associated with the loan. All credit card providers show the APR so this makes it a whole lot easier to compare. APRs are essentially the cost for carrying the debt over a year, you shouldn't worry about this if you plan to repay your credit card at the end of every month and therefore you will not be charged any interest.
As with most credit products, the higher your credit score the cheaper the APR.
Fees and charges:
Credit cards have a variety of fees attached to them and if you are not careful you could find yourself paying so many charges that might eventually overwhelm your APR. That’s how they get you!
Some of the fees charged are late payment fees, going over the limit fees, withdrawing cash, using your card abroad and balance transfer fees.
Credit card providers are specialists at introductory offers. They offer cashback, rewards, airmiles, low interest rates( some providers will even offer you a 0% for 24 months +) and many more to get you through the door.
these are the amounts you can spend on your credit card. The higher your credit score , the higher the limit. There will also likely be charges for going over the limit and for those who constantly reach their credit limit, this will affect negatively on your credit score. This is known as credit utilization.
Many credit card providers will offer rewards to generate new customers, these are a whole lot harder to compare as they vary too much. This rewards are usually in the form of cash back or airline miles.
The minimum payment is the minimum amount the credit card provider will expect you to pay back every month. This might be a set amount or a percentage of what you owe e.g 40%. The minimum payment will include any charges due for the month, any interest and any annual fees paid monthly.
Essentially, the lower your credit card debt , the lower your minimum payment and the lower the interest rate charges you have to pay back as interest is being charged on a smaller debt.