card guide
Choosing the right card

Choosing a credit card can be a process full of heartache and confusion; there are so many to choose from. But do they really offer different benefits?

Whether you are venturing into the world of credit for the first time or are thinking of changing your card, we examine the process of choosing a card and reach some interesting conclusions.

Loads of money!

It was clear some decades ago that credit cards were here to stay. In the late seventies there were articles on TV and in newspapers that soon we wouldn’t use cash any more – no more paper and no more heavy coins jangling in the pockets.

It hasn’t quite gone that way, but certainly these days it’s a question of which card to choose not “do I want one?”

Everybody’s different

What type of credit card user are you?

There are some very set patterns that go to make up the million or so credit card users in the UK today. There are so many of us that all together we owe in the region of £180 billion. And that’s a lot of interest!

Pay it off

Do you clear your balance every month? If you are one of these tidy users then really the market is completely open to you as you won’t have to concern yourself with how much interest the credit card company charges. It would be worth casting an eye around the market though just to make sure you’re aware of what is on offer.

To pay it off, or not pay it off, that is the question

If you use your card for regular purchases each month and usually pay off those regular sums but occasionally run up larger bills, perhaps at holiday time or Christmas, then you do need to be aware of how much interest you are being charged.

You should also examine how long the interest free period is offered on the card. Most companies will give you between 56 and 59 days interest free credit, but a rare few don’t give any!

The hole in the wall

If you are going to use your credit card to obtain cash then you are going to get stung anyway you look at it. Going to the hole in the wall will incur interest on the cash as soon as it’s in your hand; there are no interest free periods with cash transactions.

Check to see what rate the company charges for cash; it’s bound to be higher than other rates on the card.

A debt is a debt is a debt

If you are somebody who has run up a debt, or is likely to run up a debt, on your credit card and lets it sit there, then you really do need to go for the cheapest option you can get your hands on.

There are two schools of thought for outstanding balances. Some people say chose a credit card that has a low interest rate for the life of the balance and stick with it. Some people say go for the zero rate promotions and switch when they come to an end. We say it’s up to you.

Buyer beware

If you are going to change between zero rated cards and become a bit of a ‘rate tart’ then you will need to keep an eye on how often you do so and whether there are any penalties charged when you transfer to the next zero rated account.

Switching from card to card for the zero rated incentives can affect your credit rating. Credit card companies have now got wise to the fact they are losing something like £1bn a year in potential revenue by people taking advantage of their offers. So watch out for those fees.

Something for nothing

Credit card companies have also now introduced what are known as honesty boxes on their promotions. These show all the interest rates they charge and should be displayed in a clear understandable form, so you can easily compare like for like.

As far as other incentives are concerned there are cards out there that offer reward points or discounts at selected retailers, cashback, zero percent on goods purchased or even, on special charity cards, a small donation to a named charity every time you make a purchase. There will be one for you.

Choose your weapon

The credit card industry spends billions of pounds every year on encouraging users to transfer balances or to take out more credit. The different types of card on offer are staggering and have been developed to compete in the High Street wars of open finance introduced in the eighties. Today, some of the larger organisations like Barclaycard or American Express will offer several different cards each with their own unique benefits. These demonstrate that we all may be unique, but we each share the same type of habits when it comes to dealing with our finances.

Choose carefully, for your credit card can be your friend if used wisely in the fight to survive the daily financial grind or it can very easily become your enemy.

Posted on: [ November 03, 2017 ]       Add to Del.icio.us   Digg it   Add to Blinklist   Add to FUrl   StumbleUpon