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How to Save Money When You Compare Credit Cards Online
This guest post was written by Jason Bushey. Jason runs the credit card comparison website Creditnet.com.
It used to be that the only way to apply for a credit card was to receive an offer in the mail, send the application back, cross your fingers and wait. Well, that or call the company from your landline. Man, those were the dark ages…
Those days are (thankfully) long gone and have been replaced with new, interactive ways for consumers to compare credit cards online. Where as credit card offers that come through the mail are generic and impersonal, online search tools allow consumers to narrow their search to the credit cards they most wish to carry. Not only that, they match up users with the cards they're most likely to be approved of; important, since your credit score is docked (albeit slightly) each time a consumer applies for a card.
But did you know that getting matched up with the right credit card for you can also save you some serious cash? Interest fees, cash back rewards, bonus miles and retail discounts can all work to save you a small fortune with your new credit card!
So before you compare credit cards online, there are a few things to consider before you click that “Apply” button that can save you big.
- What's my credit score?
First and foremost, it's important to know what your credit score is before you apply for a card. If your credit score is excellent, than the chances of getting approved for lower interest rates is greater and your options much broader. Don't settle for high interest if you have a high score! This is the mistake a lot of shoppers make when they sign up for retail credit cards, which carry notoriously-high interest rates no matter what your score is.
The reverse of that, however, is if you have poor credit and attempt to buy an excellent credit (or even good credit) card. Getting denied for a card you're not qualified for can ding your score further (because of the hard pull of your credit the company takes), which can consequently raise your interest rates even further.
That said, bad credit consumers CAN save money when they compare cards, too. For instance, they can identify cards for bad credit that carry tons of fees – fees they would be forced to pay if they were approved – against other, better options. Credit cards for bad credit that are just straight up BAD can include annual fees, monthly fees and other fees that aren't easy to track down.
Know your score, folks. This should be the first thing you consider when you begin comparing credit cards online.
- Where do I spend most of my money?
It doesn't take a calculator to figure out where you spend the biggest chunk of your paycheck each month. Maybe you're on the road constantly and could use a little relief at the pump, or you've got a family of five to feed and could really benefit from some cash back on your grocery purchases.
There are credit cards that reward essentially every kind of consumer – from the frequent flyer to the frequent diner-outer, for lack of a better word. Consider where you could net the most rewards for the purchases you're making anyways. Over the course of a year, you would be surprised by how much cash back, points or miles you could earn without any changes in your current spending habits. And seriously, you're not going to receive 5% cash back with your debit card.
- Am I currently paying interest?
Interest fees can make paying down your debt challenging and, at times, seemingly impossible. Wouldn't it be great if you paid zero interest on your credit card bill each month, even just temporarily?
If your answer to that question is ‘Yes', then it's time to consider applying for a 0% balance transfer credit card.
A lot of credit cards allow you to transfer your existing balance, but far fewer allow you to transfer that balance and pay 0% interest as part of its introductory period for a specific amount of time. These cards market themselves as balance transfer credit cards, and they provide an easy way for consumers to stop paying interest on their balance and pay down their existing debt.
If this sounds appealing to you, it's important to determine how long it will take to pay down your debt, then match that calculation up with a card whose intro period is similar. If you determine that it will take you at least a year to pay down your debt to zero, then you should apply for a 0% interest balance transfer card with an introductory period that's at least that long.
Transferring your balance is simple – just make sure the card you're applying for is correct for you. In fact, that's the moral of this entire guide to comparing credit cards – consider your costs, determine your credit score and decide where you can stand to save the most. Make your credit card work for you, and you'll be surprised how much extra cash you'll be working with…