Assessing the top rates credit card companies involves asking a lot of questions. How are the companies rated? Who rates them? Do they offer different features? Where can I find them? This article is going to cover these topics and direct you to the best resources on the web.
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When you’re done reading this you’ll have more information to enable you to make a good informed decision on the top credit card you need or want. You will want to know these things before applying for a credit card.
How the Top Rated Credit Card Companies are Rated by the FTC
Credit card companies can be rated in a variety of ways; the interest rate, and annual credit card fees they charge being the key ones. Since there are no completely objective websites rating credit cards, they all have ads of some type; you will need to do some homework on your own. A good start is the read the checklist offered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at their website. As you shop, you can take note of the fees, charges, rates, and many other key measurement areas the site advises you to check before applying for a particular card.
The FTC also publishes information on some of the top credit cards at their Survey of Credit Card Plans site. This website is updated twice a year and the latest list is a snapshot of major credit card companies as of July 31, 2011. While this site gives you very good information on rates, features and fees, it does not rate them in any way except to sort them from lowest to highest interest rate charged by the issuing company. This default listing can be changed to see the credit card issuers in an alphabetic order to make finding a company you are interested in easier for you.
How the Top Rated Credit Card Companies are Rated by Consumer Reports
Next, you can go to the Consumer Reports website, which has a small list of top credit cards and rates them in the areas of cash back, frequent flier miles and lowest credit card interest rates. You can visit their site at to see the ratings. In addition, Consumer Reports details some special offers that card companies offer and what to look out for at.
As for the fine print you’ll encounter when looking at top credit card offerings, the California Department of Consumer Affairs explains it all in great detail at their site. Scroll down to the section titled “shopping for a credit card” and check out the details you should be looking at. These details include:
- Annual Percentage Rate (APR) charged
- APRs charged for additional features beyond the basic use of the card such as cash advances, minimum finance charges
- Any variable-rate information if it applies
There are many commercial websites that rate top credit cards, as does this one you’re reading right now. Look for disclosure statements that explain exactly what their policy is regarding bias to advertisers. Once you have the information, you can rate them yourself, finding the best match for your circumstances and needs.
Features Offered by the Top Credit Cards
In addition to the basic revolving credit, the top credit cards offer several additional features that consumers may be in interested in. Over half of the credit cards issued these days offer some form of a rewards feature that may include:
- Cash back
- Frequent flier miles
- Gift cards to various merchants
- Discounts on car rentals and hotel rooms
Some even make contributions to a designated college savings fund for your children or grandchildren.
Some cards will also include a small supply of so-called credit card convenience checks that can be used just like a regular check. Beware though; these checks often have very high interest rates above what the basic card charges are.
Another feature is credit card grace period that allows you avoid finance charges altogether if the outstanding balance is paid in a certain number of days from the due date listed on the bill.
Some top credit cards will offer balance transfer services where you can move the outstanding balance on one credit card to it, beware the rates are often different from the basic APR charged on regular transactions.
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