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Deciding which credit card to get

Which credit card is right for you primarily depends on how you plan to use it. Most people use credit cards as a convenient alternative to cash or checks, to make big purchases, or to travel. Depending on how you'll use your credit card, consider these points when shopping for the best value.

If you're a If you're a If you're a
convenience shopper big spender frequent traveler
You'll use your card instead of cash or checks for all your routine purchases (e.g., at the grocery store, the gas station, the pharmacy, the video store). You'll generally pay off the entire balance each month. You'll use your card either to make many purchases all at once (e.g., holiday shopping) or to make a large purchase sooner than you otherwise could (e.g., a new refrigerator when it's on sale). You'll generally stretch out your payments. You'll use your card for frequent business or pleasure trips. You want a card that's accepted all over the world, and you'd prefer an issuer who offers travel-related services
What to look for What to look for What to look for
  • A bank card with no annual fee
  • No (or low) transaction fees
  • A long grace period (so your purchases don't start to accrue interest immediately)
  • A low interest rate (just in case you can't pay off the entire balance)
  • As an alternative, consider a debit card affiliated with a payment card plan (e.g., Visa or MasterCard)
  • A bank card with a high credit limit
  • A low interest rate
  • An outstanding balance calculation method that minimizes finance charges (e.g., an adjusted balance, previous balance, or average daily balance excluding new purchases method)
  • No (or a low) annual fee
  • No transaction fees
  • Merchandise or cash-back rewards
  • A travel card with no (or a high) credit limit
  • No (or low) transaction fees, especially on cash advances, currency exchanges, and foreign currency purchases
  • Free services (e.g., hotel or flight reservations, car rental or travel insurance)
  • Travel-related perks (e.g., frequent-flyer miles, discounts on meals or accommodations)