How to Pick the Best Credit Card for You: 4 Easy Steps – NerdWallet

Finding the best citation menu is part art, separate science. No single credit card is better than all others in all categories — or for all people. But by understanding your options and asking the veracious questions, you can find the circuit board that ‘s the best suit for your outgo habits and citation situation. Follow these four steps to find the best credit card for you.

1. Check your credit

Find out what credit rating card offers you might be eligible for by checking your credit score. The better your score, the greater your prospect of being approved for cards with better perks. Among ways to check your score :

  • NerdWallet offers dislodge access to credit scores .
  • many credit card issuers give cardholders free FICO scores .
  • The three major credit chest of drawers ( Experian, Equifax and TransUnion ) sell credit scores .

If the number international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate what you expected, check your credit reports to see what ‘s causing the problem. You can then start figuring out ways to improve it, from changing your outgo habits to disputing an error on your reports, if you need to. Federal police entitles you to one exempt copy of your credit report from each of the three major chest of drawers every 12 months. Get your detached reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, a federally authorized site.

2. Identify which type of credit card you need

There are three general types of citation cards :

  1. Cards that help you improve your accredit when it ‘s limited or damaged .
  2. Cards that save you money on interest .
  3. Cards that earn rewards .

The best card for you is one with features designed to meet your specific needs. If you do n’t travel much, for example, then the best travel circuit board in the populace is n’t going to do you a bunch of dependable.

If you want to build or rebuild credit: Student or secured credit card

scholar credit cards, unguaranteed cards meant for college students who are raw to credit, are easier to qualify for than early types of citation cards. So are secured credit cards, which generally require a security system deposit of $ 200 or more. Your deposit is returned to you when the history is promote or closed in good standing.

If you want to save on interest: Low-interest, 0% APR or balance transfer card

A calling card with an basic 0 % APR and ongoing low interest could be a good match for you if you plan to use your credit rating tease in case of emergencies, or if you have an irregular income and carry a balance from time to time. A balance transfer offer could help you pay off a high-interest debt interest-free. Keep in mind that these offers may be harder to find if you have average or poor credit. » MORE : Find the best low-interest or 0 % APR credit card with this flow chart

If you want to earn rewards: Rewards, travel or cash back

A rewards credit calling card is a good match for you if you pay off your balance in full every calendar month and never incur interest. These cards typically have higher APRs, but offer larger sign-up bonuses and give you points, miles or cash back on every dollar you spend. » MORE : Find the best rewards credit card with this flow chart

3. Narrow your choices by asking the right questions

Visit NerdWallet ’ s accredit menu comparison instrument and search for the type of accredit card you ‘re looking for, filtering results according to your credit score and monthly spend. As you go through the top picks, consider these questions.

For student and secured credit cards:

  • Will this calling card help me build my credit rating ? Look for a tease that reports your credit rating wag payments to the three major credit chest of drawers. many secured cards do n’t do this.
  • How much does it cost to open an account, including the annual tip ? The rewards on these cards broadly aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate high enough to warrant an annual fee. Unless you have identical poor credit, you can probable avoid this expense. For fasten cards, the lower the security deposit, the better, although your credit limit may be tied directly to how much of a depository you make .
  • Can I graduate to a better card later on ? Choose a calling card that will let you build your credit rating and upgrade to a wag with more competitive terms. This makes it easier to leave your batting order open longer, boosting your average age of accounts in the farseeing function .

For low-interest, 0% APR or balance transfer cards:

  • How hanker is the 0 % APR period, and what is the ongoing matter to APR ? Look for a menu that gives you adequate time to pay off your debt interest-free. If you ’ ra plan on carrying balances over several years, consider a credit tease with a low ongoing APR .
  • What is the wag ’ s balance transfer policy ? If you ’ re doing a counterweight transfer, look up a card ’ s remainder transfer fees. Find out what types of debt you can transfer and whether there ’ s a limit to how much you can move over. note that the proportion transfer APR on a batting order may be unlike from the purchase APR .
  • Does the card put up rewards ? If you ’ ra looking for alone a few months of 0 % APR — possibly rather of a sign-up bonus — you may be able to find a card that doles out generous ongoing rewards ampere well .

For rewards, travel or cash-back cards:

  • How do I spend my money ? Look for a card that delivers the highest rewards for the categories you spend the most on. If you ’ re a big spender, consider getting a card with an annual fee, if your rewards earnings would offset the cost. If you ’ re design to use the tease abroad, look for one with no extraneous transaction fees and chip-and-PIN capability, preferably than the chip-and-signature engineering that ’ randomness standard in the U.S. This goes for other types of cards besides .
  • How complicated is this credit batting order ? If you don ’ t want to contend with specify award seat handiness, spending caps, rotating bonus rewards and loyalty tiers, consider a tease with flat-rate cash-back rewards .
  • How cursorily will I earn rewards, and how much are they worth ? read NerdWallet ’ s rewards valuations to find the answers to these questions .

4. Apply for the card that offers you the highest overall value

Narrowing your choices is the easy partially, but deciding between two or three alike cards can be quite unmanageable. If you ‘ve already found a clear winner after Step 3, go with that one. If not, it ’ south fourth dimension for a tiebreaker orotund. Look closely for differences. All early values being equal, hera are some factors that might set a card apart :

For student and secured cards:

  • Credit terminus ad quem mechanically increases. Certain cards let you increase your limit after a few consecutive on-time payments .
  • interest paid on your sediment. Some procure cards place your security lodge in an interest-earning cadmium. This way, you can earn a small sum of money on it .

For low-interest, 0% APR or balance transfer cards:

  • Debt bribe planner. Some issuers let you create your own debt return plan on an on-line portal, a valuable joyride if you ‘re overwhelmed with debt .
  • No late fees or penalty APR. Certain cards waive these charges. If you fall behind on payments, this could come in handy .

For rewards, travel or cash-back cards:

  • Lower required outgo. The less you need to spend to qualify for a sign-up bonus, the better .
  • No passing date on rewards. On some cards, you can use your rewards ampere farseeing as you keep the poster open .

When you last pick a card, keep in mind that, on the application, you can include all income you have reasonable access to, not good your personal income. For students, that can include money from grants and scholarships, or allowances from parents. For others, it may include a spouse or spouse ‘s income.

So you’ve found the best credit card. What’s next?

Choosing the best credit card is an authoritative decision, but don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate arrest there. Use your batting order the right way to get the most for your money. If you ’ re trying to establish accredit, pay your placard in full moon every month and don ’ metric ton manipulation besides much of your available credit. Stick to your debt return plan if you snagged a 0 % APR deal. And if you ’ re trying to rack up rewards, use your batting order for casual purchases and pay your circular in wax every calendar month. The credit card you choose should help you achieve your fiscal goals in the most low-cost, effective means possible, whether you ’ re trying to build credit, borrow money or earn rewards. Don ’ t settle for less. Find your best credit card here .

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