How do I get a credit card?

Whether you are planning to obtain your first credit card or are looking to transfer an existing balance to a lower interest card, pick one based on sound advice and careful comparison. Years ago, a person just starting out developing a credit history would apply for an American Express Card whose balance had to be paid off each month. After you used it for a year or so and established a solid record of monthly payments, you could then apply for cards such as a Sears or other department store plastic. It was a rite of passage we all had to experience.

The idea was to slowly develop trust and work up to bank cards allowing for larger credit limits. That was then, this is now and despite the fluctuations in the economy, anyone with a post office box can receive unsolicited pre-approved credit card offers from all manner of lender. Consumer debt from irresponsible use of credit cards has skyrocketed in recent years, in no small part due to deceptive and usurious practices by lenders. In the fine print of many credit card applications lie details that are drawing the attention of watchdog groups such as the Consumer Law Center. Your zero interest can suddenly convert to a 30% penalty interest rate on past as well as future charges.

While Congress debates whether to make some of these practices illegal, your best advice is to shop wisely. A wise credit card shopper will not only learn about the credit card offers to avoid, but will also select the best deals, promotions and bonuses which offer cash back, air miles and other perks. The best place to shop and compare credit cards is online using our free “Chaser” tool.

Why People Use Credit Cards

Of the many reasons you would want a credit card, the convenience of buying without carrying a lot of cash, and making online purchases are the two most common. Maintaining credit cards responsibly is also a great way to improve your credit score to qualify for lower interest on new car or mortgage loans. When you make monthly payments on credit cards over the years that is an indication that you are a lower risk for defaulting on larger loans.

What Bonuses are Available from Some Credit Cards

Credit card companies are eager to earn your business by offering tempting perks to their cardholders. Credit card enticements can include; no interest on purchases or transferred balances for six months, frequent flyer miles, cash back bonuses for certain categories of purchases like gas, restaurants and entertainment, and no annual fees. Credit cards have also branched out by offering specialty cards for particular needs.

College students are relying on student credit cards to pay their tuition and other educational expenses at a record pace. A study performed by Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest education lender, shows that last year the average undergraduate student put approximately $2,200 on credit cards in education related purchases. Credit card companies have the college student population well served with numerous programs to help students get established.

Students, who perhaps have not had experience using credit cards, can obtain a card with a limited credit line and a rewards program for staying under their credit limit and paying on time for a certain number of billing cycles in a row. Other cards offer you rewards for maintaining a good GPA. These companies are very lenient with students who, with little financial experience need to develop responsible credit card habits in a forgiving environment.

Prepaid & debit cards are another convenient and safe way to help your student manage his money without the risk. With this type of card, you can have a good, fair or bad credit rating and still be approved.

Shopping for Credit Cards

The Internet is the most convenient way to find the right credit card and apply all in one place. Being able to compare interest rates, rewards and other parameters side by side makes your job easier. If your main concern is finding a reputable credit card company, begin by checking the large, well-established ones like Visa or Discover. They generally have all of the rewards and features you could need. For more in depth comparisons, use the “Chaser Tool” above, where you can narrow down your research to find solutions to your specific credit card needs.

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Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or any other credit card company or issuer. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any credit card company or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any credit card company or issuer. Credit Card Chaser may be compensated through various affiliate programs with advertisers. As always, Credit Card Chaser is an independent website commmitted to helping people research credit card offers and find the best credit card!