Not all credit cards are the same: they have different uses, different benefits and different drawbacks, all of which depend on what your own personal needs and circumstances are. While we can’t tell you which credit card to pick, we can help you know what to look out for so you can easily spot the deal that’s right for you.
1.Pay attention to whether the card is a purchase card, balance transfer card, rewards card or a credit builder card
These are all the different types of card you can encounter. Sometimes, what they’re used for will be clearly stated but sometimes it might be a bit harder to work it out. For example, credit builder cards aren’t often labelled like this but you can tell they serve this purpose because they offer low credit limits and higher APRs. To help you work out which type of card you need, read this quick guide. It’s important you choose the right one, because if you try to make purchases on a balance transfer card, for example, you could be faced with much higher rates.
2.Know what a good APR looks like
Like most things to do with money, what’s considered ‘good’ depends a lot on what’s happening in the market. It also depends on what you’re actually eligible for. While there might be some great rates out there, these are usually reserved for people with good credit scores, so if your score could do with improving, a ‘good’ APR for you will be higher than a ‘good’ APR for someone with top credit profile. To simplify things, make sure you’re signed up to Noddle to see your credit score before you apply for anything and then use our Card Matcher, which shows you cards you may be eligible for based on your score and allows you to compare them to find the best deal. With the cards you could be eligible for in one place, you will be able to see what APR ranges you have available to you. Generally speaking, the lower the better, but, as we explain below, there are other things you need to consider too.
3.Think carefully about introductory interest rates
When you first sign-up to a new credit card, you’re likely to be given a nice low interest rate or even none at all, such as 0% interest on purchases for 12 months. These introductory offers are great but it’s important to pay attention to how much interest you’ll have to pay once this introductory period ends and whether or not the deal still looks as good compared to other cards. After all, you could have a brilliant 0% interest introductory offer but if this then skyrockets, you may be best getting a card with a weaker introductory rate but a better standard rate.
Of course, it is possible to use introductory offers smartly by making sure you pay off what you owe before the standard rate kicks in. Some people will then move credit cards once the introductory period on one in over. However, you need to be careful if you plan on doing this, as too many credit card applications can have a negative impact on your credit score, meaning each time you apply for credit, it will get harder and harder.
4.Make sure you can make the minimum repayment
Minimum repayments are usually around 3% of the balance due or £5, whichever is higher. You need to pay off this amount or more each month on your credit card. If you don’t, you risk falling into debt and your credit score may be negatively affected. That’s why it’s so important that you make sure you’re able to make the minimum repayments on whatever you owe.
5.Don’t be seduced by rewards if the deal isn’t right
Let’s face it, the idea that you could get rewarded for spending money is an attractive one. However, rewards cards can sometimes come with higher interest rates and yearly fees, which can soon turn a good deal into a bad one. That being said, rewards cards can be a great choice, but you have to be able to compare what’s on offer versus a standard credit card.
6.See if the credit limit suits your needs
Most credit cards have a credit limit, of which it’s advised that you never use more than 25%. If you need to make a larger purchase, for example, a credit card might not be the right option for you. In fact, you could instead benefit from a loan.
It’s important that you think about how much money you’re looking to borrow, and if the card on offer allows you to do that in a smart way, before ploughing ahead with a credit card application.
If you’ve checked all of the above and the card you’re looking at still looks like a good deal, then as long as you’re eligible for it, there’s nothing stopping you making an application. Remember, however, use your credit wisely and make sure you’re able to make repayments.
Noddle is a credit broker, not a lender.