5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Credit Card
While it may be tempting to jump on the first offer that lands in your mailbox, do some research to select the card best suited to your personal financial situation.
Of all life’s decisions, choosing a credit card can be a daunting one. With a carousel of flashy offers and ever-changing features and rewards, how do you find the best credit card for your situation?
While it may be tempting to jump on the first offer that lands in your mailbox, ask the following five questions to select the credit card best suited for you.
Question #1: Do I plan to carry a credit card balance?
Personal credit cards generally fall into one of three categories: Cash back, rewards points or low interest rate. Choosing between the different categories often requires a tradeoff between rewards and interest rate: lower-interest cards tend to come with fewer rewards, while the most attractive reward cards often carry higher interest rates.
If you plan to carry a balance on your card from month to month, opt for a low-interest card, like the Zions Bank Clarity Visa® Credit Card*. You’ll save on interest payments compared to a rewards card, which generally have a higher interest rate. A low interest rate card — particularly one with a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) — can also serve as a quick and accessible alternative to a bank loan.
If you expect to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, then focus your search on comparing credit card rewards instead of interest rates.
Question #2: How would I like to reel in credit card rewards?
Credit card rewards are doled out in the form of either points or cash back. Rewards points can be saved up and redeemed for merchandise, cash or travel, depending on the card. Cash rewards are applied as a credit to your credit card account statement or as a direct deposit to your checking or savings account.
Frequent travelers and strategic spenders might benefit from a points card, while those who prefer a simpler and more straightforward rewards system may want to shop for a cash back card.
Question #3: How do I plan on using my credit card?
Some credit cards are tailored to certain categories of spending, offering additional rewards points when you spend money in those areas. The Zions Bank Vivid Rewards Visa® Credit Card, for example, gives users triple rewards on categories including dining, entertainment, transportation and digital services.
Look at your current expenses to figure out which rewards programs will complement your spending and benefit your bottom line.
Other cards offer equal rewards across all categories of spending, like the Zions Bank Agility Cash Visa® Credit Card which offers 1.5% cash back on every card purchase.
Question #4: How do various credit card offers compare?
Credit card issuers are required to include a summary box of all the costs of a credit card, including the APR, grace period and fees. When exploring cards online, you can often find this information by clicking on “learn more” or “terms and conditions.”
Pay attention to possible penalties such as late fees and balance transfer fees. Also understand how a credit card’s rewards are applied. Some cards come with reward fees and limits on how much you can earn.
Beyond pure numbers, there are subjective factors to consider, like the credit card issuer. While you aren’t limited to your current financial institution or issuer, getting a credit card from the same institution you already have a bank account with can help simplify your finances.
Question #5: Which credit card offers the greatest rewards and incentives relative to its fees?
Once you’ve estimated the potential benefits — including sign-up bonuses, cash back, redeemable points and waived fees — of a particular card, calculate how fees will offset rewards. The higher the annual fee, the more benefits a card should offer.
Some issuers waive the annual fee the first year as a sign-on incentive, but keep in mind that the annual charge will follow you for the life of the card, whether you continue to take advantage of its rewards.
Not sure which credit card is right for you?
At whatever stage you find yourself in life, a Zions Bank credit card can help you maximize your purchasing power and manage your finances. Choose from the Vivid Rewards, Agility Cash or Clarity Visa® credit cards by using our online credit card comparison tool.
*Credit cards are subject to credit approval. Terms, conditions and restrictions apply. See banker for details.
Kallee Feuz is Public Relations officer for Zions Bank in Utah.