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Which Credit Card Should You Get?

Key Takeaways

  • Cash-back credit cards allow you to earn rewards on purchases that can either be deposited into your bank account or applied to your statement.
  • Frequent travelers might prefer a travel rewards card that allows you to earn points or miles for future trips.
  • Those who struggle to make full payments could consider a low interest rate card.

Credit cards add flexibility to your everyday transactions, not to mention added perks. But with a number of different cards out in the marketplace, you’re probably wondering, “Which credit card should I get?”

In order to answer that, you must know the differences between the types of credit cards so you can make the best choice for you.

Cash back

Most cash-back cards offer a flat percentage back on all purchases without an annual fee. For example, if you make a $100 purchase using a cash-back card offering 1% cash back, you’ll receive $1 as a reward. Cash-back rewards can be redeemed in one of two ways:

  1. Deposited into your bank account
  2. Applied as statement credit on your credit card

Some cash-back cards offer tiered rewards — you could get more cash back on grocery or gas purchases than on everyday purchases. Others have rotating cash-back offers for set timeframes, such as 3% cash back on purchases at department stores for the next three months.

Travel rewards

Are you constantly searching for your next trip? Then a travel rewards card might be the best fit for you.

With a travel rewards card, you accrue points on every purchase that can be used on purchases such as airline tickets and hotels. (You can also redeem your points as statement balance just like a cash-back card.) While the perks of these cards are notable, you’re more limited in how you can use your rewards when compared to a cash-back card, so be sure to evaluate how much value you would receive based on how frequently you travel.

Annual fee

As mentioned before, cash-back cards typically do not have an annual fee. However, there are some cards that do charge a fee each year but offset that fee with higher rewards than a typical cash-back card. Cards with annual fees can be particularly beneficial for those who use their cards frequently.

Before signing up for a card with an annual fee, review your credit history to see how much you typically charge on your cards. Then use that number to calculate how much rewards you’d earn with this card’s higher cash-back bonus. Not only do you want to make sure those rewards offset the annual fee; you also want the difference between the rewards and annual fee to be higher than what you’d earn with a typical cash-back card that doesn’t carry an annual fee.

Low interest

Some folks struggle to make full payments each month, causing them to carry a balance and rack up interest-rate charges. If you tend to carry a balance, consider signing up for a low interest rate card. These cards lack rewards, but they offer much lower interest rates in the event that you consistently struggle to keep up with your monthly credit card bill.

Balance transfer

Those struggling with credit card debt might want to consider using a balance transfer card to help pay down what they owe without feeling the burden of interest rates. Here’s how it works: You transfer your debt from one card to a balance transfer card, which doesn’t charge interest for a set amount of time, such as 12 months. This allows you to continue to chip away at paying down your credit card debt without worrying about interest charges compiling each month. (Note: Some balance transfer cards charge a fee for every balance transfer.)

However, be careful when using balance transfer cards. If you still have a balance on the card after the “no interest” timeframe runs out, these cards tend to have higher interest rates than the low interest cards mentioned previously.

Secured

Secured credit cards can be helpful if you have poor credit history and cannot get approved for a different card. With a secured credit card, you put down a deposit as collateral and in exchange the card company gives you a credit limit equal to the amount of your deposit. (If you put $300 down as collateral, your credit limit is $300.)

Secured credit cards can help you build credit just as any other credit card. However, make sure you have all the terms of these cards before you sign up — some have annual fees or other charges that can chip away at your deposit, and therefore your credit limit.

Co-branded

These cards tend to offer high rewards, but use of the rewards is limited to the corresponding brands on the card. Even though the rewards are limited to the brands, you can make purchases anywhere. Co-branded cards are particularly prevalent with airlines.

The bottom line

Consider your credit practices before choosing which credit card you should get. Do you carry a balance from month to month? Consider a card with low interest. Do you consistently make full payments? Look at rewards cards that can help you optimize your cash flow.

More information

We are committed to helping you reach your potential by providing personalized solutions. Our dedicated colleagues can help you find the right product to help you reach your goals. To learn more about our credit cards, please call 1-888-333-5145, visit us online, or visit your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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