Are You Swiping the Wrong Credit Card? Here’s How to Fix It

Closeup shot of a customer making a credit card payment in a cafe
Tinpixels/Getty Images

All men are created equal, the Founding Fathers said.

Ah, but not all credit cards are created equal.

You might think plastic is plastic, and that’s all there is to it. After all, you whip out a Visa, Mastercard or Discover for the same reason — because you want to buy something now but pay for it later. They’re all the same, aren’t they?

No, no, a thousand times no! The credit cards we have at our disposal today aren’t the same credit cards your momma used to buy diapers back in the day. Credit cards have evolved. They’re specialized now.

The same way there now seems to be a million different flavors of Pringles or Oreos or Triscuits at your local grocery store, credit cards just keep multiplying.

You have choices is what we’re saying. Don’t just leaf through your junk mail and accept one of the offers that show up in your mailbox. That’s a good way to end up unhappily shackled to a card that’s all wrong for you.

To get some professional help choosing a credit card, you could try Even Financial. Its online marketplace helps find the right card for you, based on your situation and needs.

Start by asking yourself what you want most out of a credit card:

  • Rewards: Some cards get you cash back on your purchases, discounts at the gas pump or points you can redeem for gift cards.
  • Travel incentives: Other cards reward your spending with miles or points you can redeem for airline tickets or car rentals.
  • Balance transfer: If you’re carrying a balance on a high-interest card, transfer that balance to a different card with a lower rate. As an incentive, some balance-transfer cards offer a 0% interest rate for a year or more.
  • Credit improvement: One way to improve your credit is to keep your credit card balances low.

Credit bureaus look at your credit utilization, or how much of your available credit you’re using. You can improve that ratio — and, potentially, your credit score — by getting a card with a high credit limit. Just don’t increase your spending to match.

Even Financial reviews the information you provide, such as your credit score, annual income and what kind of card you’re looking for. Then it’ll play matchmaker and help identify the right cards for you.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He could really use a new credit card.