Ben Todd | Jun 2, 2017 | 1
The Best Credit Cards: The Ultimate Mega Guide to Every Card for Every Person (2017 Edition)
Our team at eCheck.org have worked tirelessly during the first half of the year 2017 to test as many different credit cards as we can get our hands on. Months of work, teams of testers, and hundreds of staff hours have gone into our credit card reviews. We now have a comprehensive list of the best credit cards available today, and we have reviewed every single one.
Read on, and you will find a short tabulated lists of the best credit cards available today, along with page links to our in-depth reviews of each credit card. We also explain how to choose a credit card, how credit card fees work, how to avoid credit card fees, and we detail which credit card offers are worth trying. We explain everything you need to know about your FICO credit score, and even offer an in-depth tip-by-tip guide on what to do if you have bad credit.
Credit cards that offer an introductory 0% APR balance transfer may be used to help you get out of credit card debt. They give you a few months free from interest, so that you may start chipping away at your current credit card debt. We reviewed a vast number of credit cards with a 0% APR on balance transfer introductory offer. We picked the best credit cards that had a great introductory offer, that had a fair balance transfer APR, and that offered a high standard of service.
Our list doesn’t just focus on the 0% introductory offer alone, our full review of these 0% balance transfer cards also concentrates on the APR you get when the offer is over. We also consider factors such as the service standard that the credit card company gives you. Here are the very best cards we could find, and a link to the full review if you would like to know more.
|The Type Of Credit Card With A 0% APR For Balance Transfer Offer||Name Of The Credit Card||Required Credit Rating|
|Best Everyday Credit Card||The Amex EveryDay Credit Card||690|
|Low APR For People With Excellent Credit||Barclaycard Ring MasterCard||720|
|Best Credit Card For An Average Credit Rating||Chase Slate Credit Card||630|
|Long 0% Balance Transfer Period||Citi Simplicity Card||680|
|Very Long 0% Balance Transfer Period||Citi Diamond Preferred Card||700|
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The Best Credit Cards For Balance Transfer Offers In 2017. Follow that link, and not only will you find a full review on each of the cards in the table, but you will also find a very long list of credit cards available in 2017 that have a great 0% APR for balance transfer offers.
Just how low your low-interest credit card is going to be depends on your credit rating and the credit card company that issues your credit card. We have picked the best low interest credit cards for people who have a great, okay and bad credit score.
|Type Of Credit Card||Name Of Credit Card||Required Credit Score|
|Low APR For People With Excellent Credit||Barclaycard Ring MasterCard||750|
|Low APR For People With Good Credit||Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express||665|
|Best Low-Interest Cards For People With Poor Credit Ratings||primor® Secured Visa Gold Card||300|
|A Low APR Card For Travelers With Excellent Credit||Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||750|
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The Best Low Interest Credit Cards Of The Year 2017
There are quite a few store credit cards that are really top notch, which is why our Store Credit Cards article features a wider-than-usual range of the best credit cards. Here is a list of the best store cards of the year 2017.
|Store Card Advantage Or Feature||Store Credit Card Name|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Fast Shipping||Amazon Store Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Everyday Items||Target REDcard|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Clothes||Gap Store Credit Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Home Improvements||Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Discounts||TJX Rewards Credit Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Wholesale Club Shopping||Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Children And Family||Toys R Us Store Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Rewards||Ann Taylor|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Consumer Electronics||My Best Buy Credit Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Interest Rate||L.L. Bean Visa|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Adult Clothing And Lingerie||Victoria’s Secret Credit Card|
|Best Store Credit Cards For Gas/Fuel||Synchrony Bank BP Visa|
Citi Shell MasterCard
Shell Card Drive-For-Five
Valero Store Card
Sunoco Credit Card
Phillips 66 Card
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The Very Best Store Credit Cards Of The Year 2017
As part of our research, we went out of our way to find the best credit cards for businesses. Researching these credit cards was a little more difficult because we do not have ten to twenty different businesses that we may use to sign up for credit cards with. It is not like applying for personal credit cards where anybody in the office can apply, these business credit cards only accept applications from businesses and self-employed persons. Nevertheless, we managed to review the most popular business credit cards and wrote a full review on the best business credit cards. Here are the top business credit cards we reviewed.
|Best Business Cards For Your Circumstances||Name Of The Business Credit Card|
|Best Business Card for Cash Back||SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express|
|Best Business Card for AA Travelers||CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard|
|Best Business Travel Credit Card||Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card|
|Best Business Card for Good Credit||Spark Miles Select From Spark Business|
|Best Card With Excellent Personal Credit||U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite MasterCard|
|Best Card For Fair/OK Credit Ratings||Capital One Spark Classic for Business|
|Reasonably Good Runner Up Credit Card||Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card|
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The Best Business Credit Cards Of The Year 2017
If you have bad credit, you should probably stay away from credit cards until you are 100% confident in your money management skills. Nevertheless, there is a large demand for credit cards that will accept people with a poor FICO score. Below is a list of the best credit cards for people with a poor credit rating, and after that is a link to a full review of each of those cards.
|Types Of Cards For People With A Low FICO Score||Name Of The Credit Card|
|A Card For Rebuilding Your Credit Rating||Capital One Secured Mastercard|
|The Best Credit Card For People With Terrible Credit Ratings||Surge Mastercard Credit Card|
|Another Best Cards For Bad Credit Card||VERVE MasterCard Credit Card|
|The Best Credit Card For People With A Poor Credit Rating||Milestone Gold MasterCard|
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The 2017 Credit Cards Suitable For People With A Low FICO Score
Secured credit cards are the sort of thing you may have to rely on if your credit rating is so terrible that you cannot get a regular credit card. Below is a short list of some of the best secured credit cards we reviewed. If you are interested in them, then we have a full review of the best secured credit cards that you can reach by clicking this link, or by clicking the link that appears after the table just below.
|The Type Of Credit Card||The Name Of The Credit Card|
|Best Secured Card For Bad Credit||Open Sky Secured Visa Credit Card|
|Best Lowest Deposit for No Credit Established Card||Capital One Secured MasterCard|
|Best High Limit Secured Card||Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card|
|Best Secured Credit Cards||primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card|
|U.S. Bank Secured Visa|
|Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card|
|Unity Visa Secured Credit Card|
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The Best Secured Credit Cards Of The Year 2017
We created an article full of the credit cards that we especially admire. Each of them has their own selling point or features that make them the best credit cards of the year 2017. The table below shows what we like about them. Follow this link here to our full review of our favorite credit cards of 2017, or follow the link after the table.
|The Reason It Is One Of Our Favorite Credit Cards||Name Of The Credit Card||Required Credit Score|
|An 18-Month 0% Balance Transfer Offer||BankAmericard Credit Card||690|
|An 15-Month 0% Balance Transfer Offer||Chase Slate||685|
|An 14-Month 0% Balance Transfer Offer||Discover it 14 Month Balance Transfer||707|
|A Great Traveling Sign Up Bonus||Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||690|
|Cash Back With A Sign-Up Bonus||Discover it – CashBack Match||690|
|Best Credit Card For People With Average Credit||Capital One QuickSilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||630|
|Credit Card For Building Your Credit Rating||OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card||350|
Follow This Link To See Our Full Review Of The Very Best Credit Cards Of The Year 2017
How To Choose The Best Credit Cards For You
In this section of our epic article on the best credit cards, you will find out how to choose the best credit cards. We start with the pros and cons of different information sources. After all, you should never believe what you read on the Internet. This article explains where to look for honest information about credit cards. As you read on, this article also gives you a list of the best places to find out about credit cards, and gives you the pros and cons of each information source. This article then moves on to the biggest selling points a credit card may have and why those selling points apply to you.
The Pros And Cons Of Comparison Websites
They Are Not As Great As You Think They Are
Some people use comparison websites and that is all they use, but they are making a rather silly mistake. Comparison websites only offer a small fraction of the options you have at your disposal. It is highly recommended that you try two or three more research methods (such as the ones listed below), and that you try at least five to ten different comparison websites before making your choice.
The Pros Of Comparison Websites
[+] They offer a short selection of credit cards very quickly
[+] You can tailor your results to match some of your needs
[+] It can show you some popular credit card companies
[+] Comparison websites are easy to find on Google
[+] Get an overview of some popular deals that are on offer
The Cons Of Comparison Websites
[-] You are severely limited in the way you are able to tailor your results
[-] The card company paying the website the most money will appear first
[-] It is easy to manipulate comparison websites to artificially appear at the top
[-] Comparison websites encourage credit card companies to hide fees
[-] Many credit card companies are absent from comparison websites
[-] Comparison websites only deal in basic statistics
[-] You cannot see the many selling points of each credit card
[-] It often shows you credit cards that you are not eligible for
[-] Fair comparisons are not things you can quickly cover via a comparison website
[-] Comparison websites that ask you to sign up are just after your email address
[-] It is very hard to trust comparison websites because webmasters are paid very well by credit card companies
The Pros And Cons Of Credit Checking Websites
Handy, But Very Untrustworthy
Credit checking websites are websites that allow you to run a soft check on your credit first. They then offer you a series of credit cards that you may be able to apply for and may be eligible for. They are handy websites that may save you a fair amount of research, but they cannot be trusted. Some web masters are paid per application, which means it is in the web masters interest to make you appear more eligible for certain credit cards over others. Plus, the credit cards that tend to appear as your options are often the ones that pay the best affiliate fees to the web masters, which means other (possibly better) credit cards are absent from the list.
The Pros Of Credit Checking Websites
[+] You may be able to see some credit cards that you are eligible
[+] Get an idea of the different types of cards you can apply for
[+] See what deals a small selection of credit card companies are offering
[+] It may save you running single soft credit checks with each credit card company website
[+] These websites are not trustworthy, but are far more reliable than comparison websites
[+] Credit card companies have a harder time manipulating credit checking company results
[+] Offer and card comparisons are brief and easy to understand
The Cons Of Credit Checking Websites
[-] You may be tricked into applying for credit cards that you are not eligible for
[-] The web masters are paid to promote certain cards over others
[-] Information about one credit card over another may be misleading
[-] Some use your credit check to try to sell you other products
[-] You often have to sign up
[-] Some mean try to charge you for their services
[-] You are limited in how you customize your results
[-] Many credit card companies are absent from your credit card results
[-] They only show you basic statistics
[-] You cannot see the many selling points of each credit card
[-] They do not really show you a fair comparison of each card
[-] Webmasters are not as well paid by credit card companies as comparison site owners, but bribing is still common
The Pros And Cons Of Credit Card Review Articles
Only As Trustworthy As The Writer Or Website
To conduct suitably deep research, you need to look at comparison websites, credit checking websites, review articles and credit card company websites. Doing that will give you a fuller idea of what is on offer and what your options are. Review articles are only as trustworthy as their writers or the website brand itself. Some review websites, like ours, are independently funded, so we don’t really care if you pick one credit card or another. There are some review websites that are paid massive amounts by credit card companies to promote their brands, which means they cannot be impartial.
Some credit card review websites are written by people who know very little about credit cards and are just rewriting what they see on the Internet. Other review websites, such as ours, are staffed with people who actually try the credit cards, who have suitable qualifications, who have financial industry experience, and who work in teams to review and test different financial products and credit cards. We dedicate a lot of resources into getting it right. We wouldn’t sell our online reputation or integrity for a cheap affiliate fee from a credit card company.
I am not saying we are perfect. We are only human. There have been times when we have been a little harsh on some banks and credit card companies because their senior executives were rude to us. Plus, my boss has walked past my office three times and he has no idea that while writing this article I have a split-screen on my monitor with my girlfriend on Skype trying on her new outfits. The point is that some web masters protect their online reputation with the ferocity of a nursing tiger protecting her kittens, and some web masters will sell their opinion for three cents per click. Your job is to find reviewers you can trust.
The Pros Of Credit Card Review Articles
[+] You often get a very in-depth look at what credit cards offer
[+] Find out what people have experienced after trying the credit cards
[+] Learn things that other websites simply cannot tell you
[+] Some online reviews are the result of direct experience with the credit cards
[+] Review articles will tell you the perks and selling points that other websites won’t
[+] Some review websites are just as willing to tell you as many bad points as they are good points
[+] Some review websites will give you advice on how to best exploit your new credit card
The Cons Of Credit Card Review Articles
[-] Some credit card articles are written by fools and terrible writers
[-] There are some review websites that are paid to promote one credit card over another
[-] It is difficult to know which review is honest and which is the result of bribing
[-] Review articles will often compare credit cards unfairly to try and promote one over another
[-] Some credit card reviewing websites are littered with annoying adverts
[-] Spam websites tend to write about credit cards because it is a lucrative industry
The Pros And Cons Of Online User Reviews
Skewered, Doctored, Unreliable, But Interesting
User reviews are where people go online to voice their opinion about credit cards. The sad part is that most people only go online to voice their opinion if something goes wrong. Plus, it is very common for credit card companies to hire massive teams of marketers to go online and post positive comments and reviews about them. They also pay reputation managers to remove negative comments from various websites. User reviews are often the most interesting research avenues, but sadly, they are the most unreliable and skewered.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of them. Firstly, only consider something to be true if multiple people are saying the same thing. Secondly, compare what users are saying from one website to the next to see if there are discrepancies and signs of doctoring/selective comment editing. Thirdly, if overwhelmingly negative comments appear on numerous websites about a credit card, then you should probably avoid that credit card to be on the safe side. Fourthly, remember that user reviews quickly go out of date; what was a problem last week may now have been fixed.
The Pros Of Online User Reviews
[+] If many people say the same thing, then it may be true
[+] A massive amount of negative comments may suggest a genuine problem
[+] Some of the stories you read can be rather interesting
[+] You get to read how some people have dug themselves into a big mess through their own idiocy
[+] They appear on various websites, so you can compare them all
The Cons Of Online User Reviews
[-] You cannot believe the testimonials that appear on the credit card websites themselves
[-] Some websites remove comments that contradict the selling points their website has listed
[-] Webmasters may doctor come comments if they risk the loss of affiliate clicks or sales
[-] Some users cause their own problems and then blame the credit card companies
[-] Users tend to exaggerate to try and demonstrate how they feel in a dramatic manner
[-] There is very little incentive to add positive user reviews
[-] Many credit card companies have marketing teams that go online and write numerous positive reviews
[-] Some users confuse one financial product with another and end up reviewing the wrong thing
The Pros And Cons Of App And Google Searching
Can You Rely On App And Google Search Engines?
Google and apps may help you conduct your research on different credit cards. Just remember that the credit card companies with the biggest marketing budgets and biggest technical teams are going to appear first on the search engine results.
The Pros Of App And Google Searching
[+] Google and other search engines have less reason to promote one credit card over another
[+] You may find massive amounts of information about a credit card
[+] Finding positive and negative reviews is very easy
[+] Your research material is broader and there is much more research material available
[+] Self directed research might help you avoid credit card bias
[+] It may be harder for the credit card companies to sell to you before you make your decision
The Cons Of App And Google Searching
[-] Bigger brands tend to appear more prominently on these types of search engines
[-] You have to do in-depth research yourself with very little direction
[-] The research process can take a very long time
[-] You are solely responsibility for the quality of your own research
[-] There is nothing easy or convenient about the process
The Pros And Cons Of Taking Advice From Friends And Colleagues
Do Your Friends Know Best?
Your friends and colleagues do not have any sort of financial incentive to mislead you. There is a very strong chance that your friends and colleagues will offer an unbiased opinion when comparing cards. For example, Jonny has no reason to promote his favorite credit card while disparaging the Jenny’s credit card.
The biggest downside is that some people become very attached to their own decisions and opinions. For example, we all know people who have picked ugly or poor quality cars, but they stick with that car and even tout its benefits because they are attached to their own decisions. It is possible that one of your friends and colleagues may tout the benefits of a poor quality credit card just because he or she chose that credit card.
The Pros Of Taking Advice From Friends And Colleagues
[+] There is not a competitive edge or bias to contaminate your research
[+] Many people are happy to promote or complain about their own credit card
[+] Some of your friends or colleagues may have plenty of credit card experience
[+] Your friends or colleagues may be able to tell you about credit card deals that are not widely known online
The Cons Of Taking Advice From Friends And Colleagues
[-] Some of your friends or colleagues may know very little about credit cards
[-] Your friends or colleagues may overly promote a credit card just because they picked it
[-] Some of your friends or colleagues may not wish to talk about their credit cards
[-] Some people just like to talk, and some of your research time may be a complete waste
The Pros And Cons Of Credit Card Website Searching
What Do The Credit Card Websites Say?
When you have started to narrow down your choices to your top ten or top five, it becomes time to visit the credit card websites. You may decide to visit them far earlier in your research, but it is really up to you and how you intend to get the best credit cards for you and your family. Visiting the website to check what they offer is necessary, but the process has its pros and cons.
The Pros Of Credit Card Website Searching
[+] You can see a condensed packet of information that shows what the credit card offers
[+] You may be able to check your eligibility for the card
[+] There are often widgets and tools that help you make your decision about the card
[+] The final stage of your research and your application has to happen on their website
[+] You may find out information that reviewers and other websites do not show or offer
[+] You should be able to read their small print
[+] The best credit cards will give you access to all their fees
The Cons Of Credit Card Website Searching
[-] Some of the positive things they offer may be hidden to the point where you overlook them
[-] Some of the negative things about their card may be hidden or poorly represented
[-] You are being sold to at every moment on their website
[-] They will only paint a good picture of themselves
[-] Some credit card websites create misleading selling points
[-] There are poor quality websites that hide or misrepresent fees
[-] Some credit card websites play on your emotions and/or your base instincts
A List Of Credit Card Selling Points And Why You Should Care
The Reasons Why You Should Choose One Credit Card Over Another
One of the biggest selling points of having a credit card is actually having a company lend you some money or offer you some credit. The second biggest selling point of a credit card alone is the fact it will accept and approve your application. If you were faced with a choice of five credit cards, and one of them guaranteed you would be approved, then you would lean heavily towards picking the one that you know will approve your application.
Credit card companies have to compete with each other for different segments of the consumer market. Some credit card companies are aiming to lend money to the very affluent who have excellent credit ratings, some are looking to sell to frequent travelers, others are looking to sell to businesses, and so forth.
In order to sell to different segments in the consumer market, a credit card company must pick one or more selling point to push on its target consumer. Below is a list of the biggest selling points of getting a credit card. These are the selling points that credit card companies will pick and choose in order to sell their lending services. Most credit card companies will pick one or more of the selling points listed below.
- Great service standards
- Purchase and fraud protection
- Extra insurance perks
- High availability
- Balance transfers
- Rewards and perks
- Cashback rewards
- Travel credit cards
- Overseas use
- Purchase credit cards
- Low fees and low transaction fees
- Secured credit cards
- Low long-term APRs for your credit rating
- Low introductory APRs
- 0% ARP for purchases
- 0% ARP for balance transfers
- 0% ARP for cash advances
- Bad FICO score credit cards
- Credit cards for building your credit rating
- Excellent FICO score credit cards
Why You Should Make Your Choice Based On Each Selling Point
What Each Selling Point Means To You
You can decide for yourself what each selling point means to you. For example, a common use for a secured credit card is to help people build their credit rating, but you may decide that a secured credit card is for you because you wish to give it to your irresponsible daughter and have her learn that she is going to lose her deposit if she mismanages her secured credit card. Below is a list of reasons why each selling point may be suitable for you.
Great Service Standards
If you are a veteran credit card holder, if you are not a victim of everlasting credit card debt, then great service standards may matter more to you than they do to other people. The lack of a fuss and headache required to deal with this company may make it more appealing to people who have fought with and been let down by credit card companies in the past.
Purchase And Fraud Protection
Many private credit cards come with purchase and fraud protection. It is highly recommended that you double-check what purchase and fraud protection your card has. It means reading their small print and double-checking with their customer service department, but the protection you get with credit cards can be immensely powerful. The fraud and purchase protection they offer is perfect for anybody and everybody, and it is highly recommended that you double-check the type and extent of protection you receive from your card.
Extra Insurance Perks
The “extra insurance” selling point is valuable to some people, but it depends on you and your circumstance. For example, if your card offers life and injury insurance whenever you buy and use aircraft tickets, then such insurance is pointless if you never travel by air.
Can you actually get the card? Is the card available in your state? Are there in-network ATMs near you where you may transact without having to pay extra fees? Are there branches near you? Is there much point in getting excited about a card if there is no chance you can ever have it?
There are plenty of reasons to want balance transfers, but the most common is to lower your current APR. Let’s say you have been making lots of cash withdrawals from your current credit card and they are now charging you 45% APR on your debt. A new credit card may offer balance transfer debt for just 22% APR. In that case, you are better off transferring your debt from your old card to your new credit card via a balance transfer.
Rewards And Perks
This is another selling point that really depends on you and your circumstances. For example, you may be a big Wal-Mart shopper, and one credit card may offer frequent discount deals in Wal-Mart, in which case you should consider the credit card. The most common perks include air miles, cash back, and retail discounts or exclusive offers.
Cash back rewards are actually rather pointless. After all, you would receive better value if your credit card lowered its APR by 3% instead of giving you cash back. Nevertheless, some people are able to exploit cash-back schemes. For example, one credit card may offer 5x more cash-back points if you spend money in gas stations. Somebody who frequently has to use gas stations may be able to exploit a cash-back reward, especially if that person offers to fill the tanks of his/her friends where his/her friends give him/her cash for the fuel that is purchased.
Travel Credit Cards
There are quite a few of these, and they do offer a genuine benefit to people who travel quite a bit. The key to success is finding the right credit card and the perfect offer to suit your personal circumstances and needs. For example, there is little point in picking a card with a great air miles offer if you rarely spend enough money on your credit card to generate sufficient air miles for a cheap flight.
If you are planning to travel overseas, then an overseas credit card can save you a lot of money. If you travel overseas frequently, then it may be worth getting a travel credit card for your travels, and a different credit card for your everyday borrowing needs. That way, you may pick a travel card that is unwaveringly focused on overseas benefits, while picking a domestic-focused card that offers rewards for staying within your own country.
Purchase Credit Cards
Many credit cards focus on purchase perks. Some card companies go even further and focus most of their offers and perks around rewarding people for making purchases. For example, you may be able to find credit cards that are partnered up with a series of merchants. If you are a frequent shopper with those merchants, then such a credit card may offer fantastic benefits. Some credit cards encourage purchases by offering low APR interest for purchases in the long time (not just as an introductory offer).
Low Fees And Low Transaction Fees
Ideally, everybody should seek out a credit card with low overall fees and low/no transaction fees. However, a fee free card is not often possible. For example, some poor FICO score credit cards and credit building credit cards will charge people fees to lessen their lending risk. Some credit cards that offer big-money perks may charge higher fees to offset their potential losses when people take full advantage of their big-money perks.
Secured Credit Cards
If you have a terrible credit rating and you cannot get a regular credit card, then a secured credit card may be the best way for you to enjoy the perks of a credit card. For example, a secured card may be used when registering with a hotel and it may be used to hire a car. A secured credit card may also be used to rebuild your credit rating so that you may get a real credit card in six to twelve months.
Low Long-term APR For Your Credit Card
The competitive nature of the credit card industry means that many people find themselves jumping from one credit card to another on a frequent basis. If you wish to find a credit card and stick with it, then searching out a credit card that has genuinely low APR rates may the way to go. It may not have many perks, and its service may not include the best technology, but the credit card’s low interest rates may mean you can stick with your card for many months and years.
Low Introductory APR
There are many reasons why you may wish to seek out low APR interest rates when you go looking for a credit card. It may be your default-searching stance if you are getting a credit card, but you are not yet sure how you plan to use it. You may replace it one day with a travel-focused, or purchase-focused, or credit building card.
0% APR For Purchases
The perk of shopping for a few months without having to pay interest on the purchases is one perk, but it is not a very good one. The best reason for seeking out an introductory offer of 0% APR for purchases is to buy a big-ticket item. For example, if you want a washing machine, but you don’t want to try the store’s 29% APR finance deal, you can buy it with a 0% APR for purchases credit card instead. You may then pay off your purchase on a monthly basis and aim to pay off the debt by the time the 0% APR for purchases introductory offer.
0% APR For Balance Transfers
The best reason for signing up for a credit card that has an introductory offer of 0% APR for balance transfers is to take a chunk out of your current credit card debt. You may have maxed out your current credit card, and the interest payments may be eating a hole in your efforts to pay off your card. Transfer the balance with a card that has a 0% APR for balance transfers introductory offer. While the introductory offer is in place, you do not have to pay interest, so you may take a big bite out of your current credit card debt and get as much paid off as possible.
0% APR For Cash Advances
If you need cash money and you need it fast, then look for a credit card that has an introductory offer of 0% APR for cash advances. In an ideal world, you should probably get a loan if you need cash. However, you may not be able to get a loan, or your current loan may not offer all the money you need. In which case, you need a credit card that doesn’t punish you for cash advances (at least, it doesn’t punish you during the first few months).
Bad FICO Score Credit Cards
There are some people who have terrible credit ratings and they cannot get a regular credit card. If that is the case, they may have to get a credit card from a company that approves applications from people with a poor FICO score. Some of these cards help people rebuild their credit, and others simply offer a credit card service to people who have a shaky financial past.
Credit Cards For Building Your Credit Rating
These are similar to the bad FICO score credit cards mentioned above. They are credit cards that you may get if you have a bad credit rating. Yet, not only do they accept your application, they also help you build your credit rating. They may offer tools to help you manage your money, they may report to all three credit-reporting bureaus, and they may have things such as education centers where they teach you how to manage your money and build your FICO score.
Excellent Fico Score Credit Cards
If you have a great FICO score, then you may pick from the most selective credit card companies. You may find credit cards that have a wide range of varied perks. Typically, if you have a great FICO score, then you will probably be able to get a credit card that has great APR interest rates and that has a slew of different perks and rewards.
Credit Card Fees Explained
Even the best credit cards have fees. There is a whole slew of fees you may have to pay. Some credit card companies add fees to prop up their lending profits, others add them to offset lending risks, some add fees to enable them to lower their lending APR, and others add fees to callously wring as much money out of their customers as they can. As you read the small print for your new credit card, see if any of the fees listed below turn up.
APR Finance Fees
The Money You Pay For Borrowing Money
When you read the credit card’s advertised APR (annual percentage rate), you are actually seeing how much they charge for finance. They lend you X amount if you agree to pay X + % back to them. You can avoid APR interest if you repay your balance before the end of the grace period.
For example, if there are 25 days before your bill is generated, then there may be a 20-day grace period. That means that if you repay whatever you spent between now and the next 20 days, then no interest will be added to your account in 25 days. Check your credit card’s small print to find out how long their grace period goes for and when it ends each month.
An APR For Purchases
When you buy things, you create debt on your card. You will have to pay interest (APR) on the debt you accrue. The interest rate you pay for purchases may differ from the interest you pay on cash advances.
For example, you withdrew $300 and spent $200 in stores. The APR for purchases may be 20%, so you have to pay 20% APR on your $200 debt. The APR for withdrawals may be 25%, so you have to pay 25% APR on your $300 debt.
Cash Advance Fees
Fees For Anything Considered To Be A Cash Advance
When you withdraw money, or spend it on things such as gambling, it is considered to be a cash advance. In other words, it puts cash in your hands. Many credit card companies will charge you a fee every time you take out a cash withdrawal. We have a section a little later that lists all the transactions that may be considered a cash advance.
A cash advance fee is a percentage fee or a standard fee that you pay for cash advances. For example, yesterday you withdrew $300 and they charged you a standard $10 cash advance fee for your withdrawal. Today, you withdraw $500, and they charged you $10 again as a cash advance fee.
Cash Advance APR
An APR For Cash Withdrawals
Credit card companies will typically charge you a higher APR for the debt you accrue because of cash advances. Cash advances typically make your credit card debt more expensive.
For example, if you max out your $1000 credit limit card with purchases with a 22% APR, then your monthly interest will cost $18.40. If you max out your $1000 credit limit card with cash advances with a 29% APR, then your monthly interest will cost $24.20. In both instances you have maxed out your $1000 credit limit card, but the cash advances example will cost more to repay because your monthly interest is higher.
Balance Transfer APR
The APR Rate For Money You Transferred
Transferring your balance from one card to another is the act of transferring debt from one card to another. When you transfer your debt, you then accrue debt on your new card. You have to pay APR interest for that debt, and that is what your balance transfer APR is all about. Some cards offer 0% APR for balance transfers for a short while.
Balance Transfer Fee
A Fee For Transacting A Balance Transfer
Even if a new credit card says it has 0% on balance transfers, they may still want a balance transfer fee. This means they will charge either a standard fee or a percentage fee for the act of transferring your debt from your old credit card to your new credit card.
Interest Paid On The Fees On Your Card
Being charged a special APR for purchases and cash advances seems reasonable, and you can understand why cards charge a balance transfer fee. Also, many credit cards charge you a special APR rate for the fees you have paid on your card.
For example, your card may charge 22% APR for purchases, 29% APR for cash advances and 20% APR for balance transfers, and 30% APR for fees. That means, if you paid something such as a $50 fee to set up your card, then you are paying 30% APR on that fee until your balance is cleared (paid off).
A Penalty APR
A Higher APR For Going Outside Of Your Agreement
There are two types of penalty APR, but one of them is better known as the “Over the limit APR,” which is discussed later. When you see the words “Penalty APR” on your credit card’s small print, then they probably mean a default APR. In other words, if you break your credit agreement by missing a payment or going over your limit, then the credit card may charge a penalty APR on all your debt.
For example, the penalty APR may be 60%. You may currently be paying 26% APR on your credit card balance, but one month you miss a payment. The penalty APR then comes into effect. You are now paying 60% APR on your debt, not 26%, and you are paying that 60% APR for the rest of the time you have debt on your credit card.
Over The Limit Fees
Unplanned Overdraft Fees
Over The Limit fees are one of the nastier fees because some credit card companies are unscrupulous in their application of unplanned overdraft fees. Some will charge a single fee for overdrawing, and many charge for every occasion you overdraw. They may also charge interest on your overdrawing, and you may instigate a penalty APR on all your debt.
For example, the over the limit/unplanned overdraft fee is $25. Today you spend on your maxed credit card. You spend $2, $5 and $3 with three different purchases, and each time you dug deeper into your unplanned overdraft. The credit card company charges you $75 (3 x $25) because you overdrew by a total of $10. Sensible credit card companies add the charge during your next bill, but callous companies add the charges right away, so by the end of the day you will be $85 overdrawn.
Over The Limit APR
Unplanned Overdraft Interest
If you overdrew last month, then your next bill may also feature extra interest. Your credit card company may have added extra interest for your unplanned overdraft (unplanned going over the limit).
For example, if you went over by $10 for two days, then they may charge you interest on that $10 x 2 days.
Your Starting Interest Rates
Many credit card companies offer you a special APR rate. For example, some companies say they will give you 0% interest on purchases for the first 12 months. That means you will have to make a minimum payment every month on your debt, but you will not be charged interest on your debt for the first 12 months.
Foreign Transaction Fee
Fees For Using Your Card Abroad
Credit card companies justify their foreign transaction fee because they say they have to convert your currency from your home currency to the currency of the country you are visiting.
Some credit card companies charge a foreign transaction fee for simply leaving your shores, even in the country you are visiting uses your currency.
Some credit card companies will not charge you an extra fee for using your card abroad. Such cards may not charge foreign transaction fees, but they may offer very poor currency conversion rates. Make sure you are not stung with a poor conversion rate.
Yearly Fee For Having Your Card
Do not confuse this fee with your monthly or your maintenance fee. Some credit cards will charge you a yearly fee for using or not using your card. They may charge an annual fee for simply having the credit card. You may have debt on your card, or it may be clear of debt, nevertheless, the card company will charge you a fee every month.
Monthly Or Maintenance Fee
A Recurring Fee For Having Your Car
These fees are added every month. They are added to your credit card bill every month. Each month, you may be asked to pay off a portion of your debt, to pay off a month’s worth of interest, and then pay a fee for using the card that month. The monthly or maintenance fee may be charged even if you do not use your card and it doesn’t have debt on it. Other card companies will only charge you a maintenance fee if there is debt (a balance) on your card.
Fees For Using Your Card
A transaction fee is what credit card companies charge for many types of transaction. It is an umbrella term that covers many types of fee for using your card. Card companies may call many card uses or functions a transaction, and may subsequently add a fee for it. Nefarious card companies may mask a hidden fee by calling it a transaction fee.
For example, you may be charged a transaction fee if you check your balance with an ATM. You may be charged a transaction fee if you pay your bill over the phone. These may be considered transaction fees, and some companies may add fees for them.
Credit Limit Increase Or Decrease Fee
A Fee For Changing Your Credit Limit
This sort of fee happens far more often than it should. A card company may automatically increase your credit limit and then charge you a fee for doing it. Some credit cards charge a fee just for increasing your credit limit, but some card companies charge for your credit limit going both up and dow.
For example, if you were to call your credit card company and ask them to lower your limit, they may ask for a $50 fee for changing your credit limit. If you ask them to increase your limit, they will check your credit rating, and if they say yes they will ask for a fee for increasing your limit.
Application Or Processing Fee
A Fee For Your Credit Card Application
When you first apply for your card, there are sometimes application fees. They actually charge you a fee for a successful credit card application. It doesn’t happen too often these days. Modern application/processing fees happen under two conditions these days. The first is if you sign up via a third-party company and they charge the processing/application fee. The second is if you have a very bad FICO score (credit score) and the credit card company takes advantage of you by asking for a fee to set up your card.
Expedited Payment Fee
A Fee For Paying Over The Phone Or In Branch
Expedited payments are payments you make on the day your bill is due (or just before). If you were to pay online by AHF, or via a check through the post, the payment may appear too late on your account. A late payment may damage your credit rating and/or add fees to your account. Making an expedited payment means making a payment on the day or just before. Typically, you can expedite your payments by paying in branch or paying over the phone. Due to this fact, some credit card companies charge you a fee for paying over the phone or paying in branch.
Returned Payment Fee
If you make a payment and it is reversed, then the credit card company will charge you a fee. Almost every credit card I have reviewed has some sort of returned payment fee and most of them want between $25 and $60 for it.
Store Charges For Credit Card Use
These charges are becoming more and more common and it sucks. A merchant may charge you extra for using your credit card in their store. Your credit card company isn’t the one to charge you in this case, it depends on the merchant.
Smaller businesses are more likely to charge a fee for using your credit card, but more and more larger companies are doing it and it is becoming increasingly annoying. These are companies that make billions and they are charging customers 40 cents because they want to use their credit card rather than their debit card.
Customer Service Fees
Costs For Contacting The Customer Service Department
These are not fees you will see added to your credit card bill. Customer service fees are what credit card companies charge for you contacting their customer service department. They may take the form of phone charges, or charges for contacting them online.
Paper Statement Fees
Fee Receiving Statements Through The Mail
Most credit card companies and banks will charge you a fee for receiving your credit card statement through the post. You are better off checking your statement online and having free email alerts that tell you whenever a new statement is generated.
Credit Card Fraud Insurance
$0 Fraud Liability Cost
If you lose your card or it is stolen, you should inform your credit card company right away. If you do, then their $0 fraud liability function means you are not charged for whatever debt your stolen/lost card accrues. Most personal credit cards have credit card fraud/$0 fraud liability automatically. Many business credit cards ask for extra fees for fraud liability.
Reward Redemption Fees
An Amount Charged To Use Your Rewards
Even though reward redemption fees are rare, they are not rare enough! Some companies will actually charge you a fee for using your reward points. Others have fees attached to the reward you are claiming.
It seems to happen more with credit cards that offer airline miles as rewards. When you spend your miles, they also charge a fee for making your booking.
Charges For Lack Of Use
Hidden in the small print, you may find an inactivity fee. An inactivity fee is a fee that is added to your card if you do not use it for a certain number of months. Good credit card companies do not charge this fee at all. Moderate credit card companies will count debt repayments as activity. Horrible credit card companies will add inactivity fees if you do not make a purchase within a certain number of months, even if you are frequently making debt repayments.
Payment Protection Fees
Better Known As PPI Charges
If you agree to payment protection insurance, then your card will be charged a fee every month. If you happen to miss a payment , then the PPI insurance will pay it for you. It helps you avoid late fees and damage to your credit rating. If you have maxed out your card, then it may also help you avoid over-the-limit fees too.
Extra Fees For Missing Minimum Payments
These are a favorite amongst credit card companies. You are supposed to pay your credit card bill by a certain due date. Miss your payment, and a late fee will be added. It may be added right away, but is usually added onto your next credit card bill.
Replacement Card Fees
Fees To Replace Your Card If It Is Lost Or Stolen
If you lose or damage your card, or if it is stolen, you will probably need to replace it. Good credit card companies will replace your card for free. Money-grubbing credit card companies will charge you a fee to replace your card.
Add User Fee
To Add A New Card Holder To Your Account
You may be able to add a new card holder to your credit card account. This means the new holder gets his or her own card with his or her own name on it. You are the one that pays the bill on whatever is spent on the card. The bill for your credit card and the new users credit card is all part of the credit card bill you receive every month. When you add a new user and order a new card, your credit card company may charge you a fee.
Charges To Use An ATM In Their Network
Some credit card companies will not charge you if you use certain ATMs. The trouble is that most ATMs are used for withdrawing money, and that always costs a fee. The only other reason to use an ATM with your credit card is to check your balance, and there is only a marginal chance that you will be charged a fee for that.
Out-Of-Network ATM Fee
Charges To Use An ATM Outside Of Their Network
There are some credit card companies that will charge you for using certain ATM machines. It is never very likely, but still possible. An out-of-network ATM is an ATM that your credit card company doesn’t have an active deal with. Using these ATMs may cost you money if you wish to check your balance and so forth.
11 Common Credit Card Fees and How You Can Avoid Them
Now that you know what fees and types of interest you may be paying, let’s take a look at some of the most common credit card fees and how you may avoid them. Even the best credit cards have fees, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay all their fees.
1 – Late Fees
Pay your bill on time, set up auto pay/direct debit, and maybe consider PPI. You may like to make a point of always paying your bill five days early. Also, if it is the first time you have ever paid late with your credit card company, give them a call and ask if they will remove the late fee as a show of goodwill.
2 – Unplanned Overdraft Fees
Go over your credit limit and you are going to have to pay. If there is an overdraft protection option (its possible but unlikely), then opt out of it. Opting out of overdraft protection will mean the credit card will no longer overdraw. Overdraft protection is not what is sounds like. Overdraft protection actually gives your bank/credit card company permission to overdraw your account. Consider linking another card that is used if your current credit card doesn’t have enough credit on it.
3 – Foreign Transaction Fees
Take the time to find a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees because there are plenty of travel credit cards that do not charge this fee. Also, consider converting your cash and storing it on a prepaid debit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Consider another option besides credit cards if your credit card company charges foreign transaction fees.
4 – APR Finance Fees – Interest Charges
You can use your credit card and get into debt all you like. If you repay the debt during the grace period, then you will not have to pay interest on it. The grace period is usually 20 to 25 days after your last payment. In other words, pay off your balance in full about 5 days before your next statement/bill is generated, and you probably won’t have to pay interest on the money you spent.
5 – Expedited Payment Fee
Do all that you can to pay your bill in advance. Consider setting up an auto-pay instruction or direct debit instruction to take the minimum payment out of your account on the same day you are usually paid. At least make an effort to pay off the minimum in advance, and that way you will never have to make emergency payments at the last minute.
6 – Returned Payment Fee
Pay online or pay well in advance. Proper account care and correct money management is probably the only way to avoid this fee. If your payments are not getting through and/or are being returned, it is time for a serious re-evaluation of your finances and your money management skills.
8 – Balance Transfer Fees
A big selling point for some credit cards is their 0% balance transfer offer. Yet, transferring your debt from one card to the other is not free. In most cases, you may not have to pay balance transfer interest for a few months, but you will have to pay a balance transfer fee. There are three ways to avoid it. Call the credit card and ask that they refund your balance transfer fee. You may search for a card that offers a 0% balance transfer and has a no-balance-transfer-fee offer in tandem with it. The third option is to not transfer your balance and find another way of paying down your debt.
9 – Annual And/Or Monthly Fees
The first thing you should do is pick a credit card that doesn’t have an annual or monthly fee. There are two types of card that usually charge these fees. The first are cards for people with terrible FICO scores to the point where they have to sign up for credit cards with terrible terms and nasty fees. The second type are credit cards that have so many perks that the credit card company feels it can charge fees. Go out of your way to find credit cards that do not charge monthly or annual fees. If your credit card company does charge these fees, then make sure the benefits/perks/rewards you get from your credit card will far outweigh the annual/monthly cost of having your credit card.
10 – Merchant Surcharges
More and more merchants are charging extra fees for people using their credit cards. Forget trying to avoid the fee and simply avoid the companies/merchants that charge these fees. Sure, it may affect a few smaller businesses, but life is hard and most of the time anyway, so small businesses will have to get over it.
Besides, there are plenty of small and struggling businesses that do not whack customers with extra fees for using credit cards. Don’t try to avoid the fee itself, just avoid the merchants that charge you extra for using your credit or debit card.
11 – Inactivity Fees
Firstly, if you have stopped using your credit card, then cancel it because you probably have read the small print. If you haven’t read the small print, then there may well be an inactivity fee that is about to kick in within just a few months. Secondly, if you only intend to use your credit card in emergencies, then search out a credit card that has no form of inactivity fee. Read the small print all the way through, and then ask their customer service department just to be sure. In addition, try to get an email response, so you have proof of what they told you before you applied for the credit card.
7 – Cash Advance Fees
Don’t withdraw money, and do not spend credit card money on things that are considered to be cash advances. Some people do not know what these “things” are and are sometimes caught out. That is why the section below explains what credit cards consider to be cash advances.
Types Of Cash Advance
When people think of a cash advance, they think of drawing money out of an ATM from their credit card, but that is not the only way you can get a cash advance. Most credit cards charge a different/higher APR for cash advances, so it pays to know what one is. Even the best credit cards will consider the items listed below to be cash advances.
- Drawing money from your credit card using an ATM
- Drawing money from your credit card using a bank/branch
- Asking for cash back at a store when paying with your credit card
- Transfers of cash from your credit card to your bank account or debit card
- Funding a prepaid card with your credit card
- Funding an online wallet with your credit card
- Buying traveler’s checks
- Buying most types of gift cards are seen as cash advances
- Putting money into your store card where there is an option to draw it out
- Buying a store card or store-value gift card
- Any transaction where you gamble
- Paying utility bills over the counter at banks, post offices or other financial institutions
The last one on that list may seem like a bit of a surprise, so it is best to check with your credit card company before you pay your utility bills over the counter. Pay your utility bills online or over the phone, and it seems to come up as a purchase. Pay them over the counter, and some credit card companies will consider that to be a cash advance and they will charge you the cash advance APR (which is usually higher than their purchase APR).
The Types Of Offers That The Best Credit Cards Offer
One of the great things about the best credit cards is that they have a number of special offers. We at eCheck.org have read epic amounts of small print while reviewing credit cards and we have come across some pleasant surprises. Some credit cards offer protection and perks that they hardly even mention on their websites. You may expect the small print to hold hidden fees and nasty terms, and sometimes it does, but the best credit cards are so good that their small print is almost pleasant reading. At least, it is for the financial nerds we have working here.
The list below features some of the most commonly seen credit card offers and perks. It is not a comprehensive list. We have seen some weird and varied credit card offers and perks in our time, from exclusive access to airline lounges, to exclusive meetings with applications managers at overseas tax haven banks. We couldn’t possibly cover all the offers and perks we have ever seen, so we have explained some of the most common.
O% APR On Purchases
A Period Of Time Where You Do Not Pay Interest On Purchases
If you buy something within a certain period of time on your credit card, then you do not have to pay interest on that debt until the introductory offer is over.
Do not confuse this with the grace period. The grace period happens every month, where you may spend money on your card and then repay it quickly so you don’t have to pay interest on it.
If you get into debt on your credit card because you have bought stuff, then you still have to pay a minimum payment every month, but you are not charged interest on your debt until the introductory offer is over.
Example Explaining O% APR On Purchases
Without the 0% APR offer, you spend $100 on your card. At the end of the month, they want a $20 minimum payment, and they charge you 22% APR. In total, they want $20 + $1.84 = $21.84.
With a 0% APR offer, you spend $100 on your card. At the end of the month, they want a $20 minimum payment, and they charge you 0% APR. In total, they want $20 + $0 = $20.00.
As you can see, you pay less per month if there is a 0% APR on purchases offer. Just as a refresher, here is how the APR is worked out. Don’t forget that APR is yearly, so it is worked out like this. With an APR of 22% on purchases, you work out 22% of 100, which is $22. That $22 is divided by 12 months, which comes to $1.84.
O% APR On Cash Advances
You Don’t Pay Interest On The Money You Withdraw For A While
Typically, if you get a cash advance from your credit card, then you are charged a slightly higher APR. Some credit cards encourage people to take cash advances by offering a 0% APR on cash advances.
The catch is that if you do not pay off your debt before the introductory offer ends, then you may end up paying a higher APR rate on your debt. It is a possible catch/downside when you take advantage of a 0% APR on cash advances offer. The best credit cards will not charge a higher APR on cash advances, but your best course of action is still to pay off your debt (pay off your balance) before the 0% APR introductory period ends.
Read your credit card’s small print to find out what they consider to be a cash advance. A previous section in this article covered all the possible definitions of a cash advance. It is any situation where your credit card balance may turn into cash in your hand, such as if you draw it out from an ATM, or if you gamble with it, or buy a gift card, and things of that nature.
Example Explaining O% APR On Cash Advances
Without the 0% APR cash advance offer, you draw $100 from your card using an ATM. At the end of the month, they want a $20 minimum payment, and they charge you 29% APR for your cash advance debt. In total, they want $20 + $2.42 = $22.42.
With the 0% APR cash advance offer, you draw $100 from your card using an ATM. At the end of the month, they want a $20 minimum payment, and they charge you 0% APR. In total, they want $20 + $0 = $20.00.
Be sure to pay off all your credit card debt before your introductory offer ends, or you will be paying a minimum payment plus interest on your balance.
O% APR On Balance Transfers
Pay Nothing On Your Transferred Debt For A Few Months
Balance transfers are popular because they offer people a break from paying interest on their debt. You may have debt on your current credit card for which you are paying a high APR. With a 0% balance transfer offer, you may transfer your debt from your old card to your new card and stop paying interest on it for a while.
Do not be confused by the terminology. When they say, “Balance transfer,” they mean debt transfer. The money you owe on your old card will be transferred over to a new card. You may have mismanaged your old card and you may be paying a very high APR rate. Your new card may allow you a few months of 0% APR, and when the offer is over, the new APR on your new credit card may be less than the APR you were paying.
It doesn’t matter how you managed your old card. Some of your debt may have been from cash advances and some may have been from purchases, but it doesn’t matter when you transfer your debt to your new card. The only APR rate you have to worry about is your new card’s balance transfer APR.
Example Explaining O% APR On Balance Transfers
For example, you have spent $2500 on your current credit card, and you sign up for a new credit card with a 0% APR balance transfer offer. You transfer that $2500 debt from your old card to your new card.
Your new card now has $2500 debt, and your old credit card is paid off. For a few months, you will have to pay a minimum amount on your new credit card, but you will not be charged interest, which means you are no longer sitting still in debt–you are paying it off bit by bit.
On your old card, you may have been paying a $90 minimum payment where $40 was interest. With your new card that has a 0% APR on balance transfers for six months, you only have to pay $50 per month for six months because you do not have to pay the $40 interest for six months.
No Balance Transfer Fees
You Don’t Pay A Fee For The Transfer Transaction
Many people who have never created a balance transfer are surprised by the balance transfer fee. It is a fee you pay for creating a balance transfer, and it has nothing to do with any 0% APR deal. They may offer a 0% APR, but they still want you to pay a fee for transferring your balance. In many cases, your fee is taken out of your new credit card.
Example Explaining No Balance Transfer Fees
You get a new credit card that has a $2000 credit limit. Your old credit card only has a $1000 credit limit and you have maxed it out. You decide to transfer your balance (your debt) from your old card to your new card.
You log into your new credit card’s website and into your new credit card’s account. You start your balance transfer and $1000 is taken from your new credit card to pay off your old credit card. However, your new credit card also adds on a fee of $60, which they call their “Balance transfer” fee. Your new credit card now has a balance of $1060 ($1000 + $60) with just $940 of credit left on it.
If your new credit card has a “No Balance Transfer Fees” offer, then you avoid the $60 fee from our example. After your transfer in our example, you would have a balance of $1000 on your new credit card with $1000 credit to spend.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
You Don’t Pay Extra For Using Your Credit Card Abroad
Some credit card companies will charge you a fee to make purchases and withdraw cash abroad. If your new credit card says there are no foreign transaction fees, then it probably means you can make purchases abroad without incurring extra fees. If your credit card has a foreign transaction fee, then every time you make a purchase abroad, you will have an extra fee added to your bill at the end of the month.
Many credit card companies say they charge a foreign transaction fee because they have to go to the trouble of converting your currency. Please do your research before you rely on your credit card to do your currency converting. You may be better off using a company such as Transferwise or CurrencyFair to convert your money.
Some credit card companies will give you a terrible conversion rate. They may claim you are saving money because they do not charge foreign transaction fees, but you may be getting far less currency for each dollar you convert. Also, be sure to find out if their “No Foreign Transaction Fees” is a permanent perk or a temporary offer. Usually it is a permanent perk, but you would be surprised at some of the money-grubbing tricks that some credit card companies pull.
Example Explaining No Foreign Transaction Fees
You go to the United Kingdom. During your visit, you see Big Ben, the river Thames, and you move north to see the Castles and countryside in Yorkshire. You visit the scary moors in Scotland, and go mountain climbing in Wales.
Your credit card charges a foreign transaction fee. Every time you buy a steamy cup of tea or fish & chips, you have to pay a fee. In this case, you have to pay $0.45 per transaction. During your visit, you make 89 purchases, and at the end of the month, you have extra fees of $40.00.
To put that in context, let’s calculate your total bill in this article. Usually, you maintain a balance of around $1000 of debt on your card. Your credit card bill is usually $60. That is a $40 mandatory repayment and $20 APR interest that brings your monthly minimum payment a total of $60. After your visit to the British Empire, you come home and your bill is $100. That is your usual $40 mandatory repayment, $20 your usual APR amount, and $40 for foreign transaction fees.
Obviously, if your card doesn’t charge for foreign transaction, then your purchases will not have generated $40 of fees. You would return home and your credit card minimum payment would remain at $60.
Free Insurance With Your Credit Card
A Great Perk If You Can Find It
There are actually credit cards out there that offer free life insurance, free health insurance, free car insurance and much more. The hardest part is finding these credit cards because they tend to hide this sort of thing in the smaller print or in the less commonly used parts of their website.
Commonly offered insurance includes payment protection for your purchases, $0 fraud liability on your credit card, travel insurance, life insurance, injury insurance, rental insurance, theft insurance and health insurance.
Some credit cards offer things such as extended warranty, first crack at concert tickets, guaranteed returns, free cell phone replacement insurance, and even trip cancellation insurance. There are plenty of other insurance perks/offers and reward offers/perks, so keep your eyes open when you are picking your next credit card.
Example Explaining Free Insurance With Your Credit Card
You take a visit to France to try eating cheese with each meal and getting drunk on wine at 9am in the morning while sat outside. You hire a rental car, and you pay with your credit card. It turns out that if your rental car is stolen, or if its content are stolen, then your credit card will pay the expenses. You need car insurance to legally drive on a French road, but the rental company takes care of that. Your credit card protects you in this case from having to pay if the car is stolen or if items are removed from the car.
Another example is that you are a full-blooded and proud American woman and you buy airline tickets with your credit card. During your flight from America to Palestine, a Muslim sees that your face is not covered and he punches you repeatedly in the face and breaks your nose while the air martial is busy taking a nap. It turns out that your credit card covers injury, and because it happened while on your flight, your credit card will pay all your medical and reconstructive surgery costs. Some will cover you all the way from the US airport to the other airport, which means you are even covered if somebody runs over your foot with their case in the airport.
Overdraft Protection And Pay Monthly Accounts
Confusing Offers That Are Not What They Seem
If your credit card company offers “Overdraft Protection,” then turn it down or opt out of it. Overdraft Protection doesn’t stop you from overdrawing; it actually allows your card to overdraw. If you can opt out of Overdraft Protection, then a transaction will be unable to push you over your credit limit.
Most credit cards have automatic overdraft protection and you are unable to opt out of it. This means that you may keep spending even if you do not have credit on your credit card, which means you will go over your credit limit and overdraw.
If you keep going over your limit or start missing credit card payments, then look for a credit card that has a suitable method to help you stop. Some have permanent offers or perks that allow you to protect your credit rating by never allowing you to overdraw or go over the arranged credit limit.
Example Explaining How To Stop Over Limits And Overdrawing
If you keep overdrawing or going over your limit, then sign up for payment protection insurance (PPI) where your payment is made automatically if you miss it. On the other hand, you may sign up for a credit card scheme where you cannot overdraw.
For example, a HSBC credit card has the option of a Bank Account Pay Monthly Account, where your minimum payment is drawn from your bank account every month. In return, the credit card company will never allow you to overdraw. They charge a fee every month, your minimum payment is auto-paid out of your checking/current account, and your HSBC credit card will not allow informal (unarranged) overdrafts/over-limits.
Bad Credit And Secured Credit Cards
Some Bad FICO Score Cards Have Associated Perks
Within this article is already a full description of what types of credit cards are out there for people with bad credit ratings (a low FICO score). They are credit cards that allow people with poor credit scores to have a credit card if they don’t mind paying higher fees and higher APR rates.
There are also secured cards that allow people with bad credit to rebuild their credit rating by essentially lending money to themselves. For example, they pay $200 to a credit card company, and the credit card company gives that person a credit card with a limit of $200.
There are also hybrid secured cards where you may just $50 as a secured deposit, but the credit card company gives you a credit limit of $200. Cards of this nature are not great cards, but they do allow people to prove they can handle credit so that they may rebuild their credit rating.
Some of these credit cards and secured cards also have associated offers and perks. They may allow you to lend more, they may offer discounts, and they may even allow you to lower your APR.
Example Explaining Poor Credit Rating Cards With Associated Perks
One card may ask that you pay a deposit of $300, and they give you a $300 credit limit. They also say that if you pay your bill correctly and if you manage your account properly for a full six months, then on the sixth month you may increase your credit limit to $500 without having to pay a further deposit.
Some credit cards that are designed for people with a poor credit rating may still reject you. However, as an incentive not to give up, they may say that if you are rejected for a regular credit card, then they will automatically accept your application for a secured credit card so that you may make a start rebuilding your credit rating.
Some credit cards for people with poor FICO scores may offer tiered rewards. If your credit rating improves up to a certain level, then they may lower your APR. If it improves up to another level, then they may offer you one of their better and more regular credit cards that they usually demand a higher credit score for.
For example, Burt’s credit card company may offer you a poor-credit-rating credit card called the Copper card. It is the card they offer to people with a credit score of 500. Burt’s credit card company also has a silver credit card where you need a credit rating of 630+, but because you have been a good Copper card customer for a year, they let you apply for the Silver card when your credit rating is only 590.
No Overdraft Fees, Late Fees Or Associated Penalties
Go Over Your Credit Limit Without Suffering
The credit card industry is so competitive that there are companies that are willing to allow you to go over your credit limit without charging you extra fees and without charging you penalty interest rates. The same is true with making late payments. There are some credit card companies that will allow you to pay late and they won’t charge you a fee or set a penalty APR.
In some cases, the worst they will do is charge you interest for the amount you go over the limit and then demand that you return your account back to within its credit limit within a certain number of days.
Do credit cards that offer this deal have a catch? Sure they do. Sometimes the catch is something as simple as the credit card company charging you a bit of extra interest and refusing to increase your credit limit in the future. Some of the nastier catches include not charging you a fee for going over your credit limit, but where you now have to pay a monthly fee to keep your credit card open, or where your APR is now set to the highest rate.
A Very Large Credit Limit
A Highly Prized Perk That Usually Comes At A Price
Typically, a high credit limit requires a high FICO score that is at least over 700. A high credit score may allow you to apply for a credit card that allows you to have a credit limit in the thousands.
In many cases, even if you have a good-to-excellent credit rating, they still ask that you start with a smaller credit limit, such as $2500, and then work your way up to $5000+ over time by gradually having your credit limit increased.
Another way to get a very high credit rating is to take a credit card offer where you have to pay a fee every month or every year for the privilege of having a high credit limit.
Purchase Protection And Security
Most Private Credit Cards Have These Protections
Read the small print on your new credit card and you may be surprised by how much protection it offers. It often offers far more than what business credit cards offer. It is similar to the $0 fraud liability insurance where you are covered from paying excessive amounts if your card is used by another person without your permission (and you can prove it was fraudulently used). Many credit cards in Anglo-Saxon countries and in Europe will offer a powerful amount of protection for users.
You probably have purchase protection, which means you get your money back if you are ripped off online, over the phone, or by an offline merchant. You may also be protected if the goods you receive are broken and/or break down far quicker than they should have.
If your purchase is not delivered, or the selling/merchant company goes bust before you get your full product or service, or if a merchant doesn’t provide the full service you paid for, then you may be able to get your money back from your credit card if you paid with your credit card.
If the supplier/merchant has caused you problems and won’t fix it, then your credit card company may fix it for you. Sometimes your protection doesn’t kick in if you spend less than $100 or more than $30,000 and sometimes it kicks in for as little as $1 where you may claim your money back from your credit card.
These sorts of protections are often present on Visa, Amex and MasterCard credit cards.
Discounts With Your Credit Card
Pay With Your Credit Card And Get A Discount
Getting a discount because of your credit card is becoming more and more common. Discounts for using a credit card is a phenomenon that is becoming more popular as bigger companies/merchants start issuing their own credit cards. At the moment, you are probably more likely to see airline or travel companies offering discounts. For example, there are credit cards that are issued by hotel groups. If you pay for your hotel stay and your travel with your credit card, then the members of the hotel group will offer you a special booking and overnight rate.
It is not just specialized credit cards that offer discounts; there are quite a few big-named credit card brands that occasionally run promotions in tandem with other businesses where the credit card user receives a discount for shopping in a certain place with his or her credit card.
Rewards And Rewards Points
Spend Money And Get Points
Rewards and reward points are very common and most people understand how they work. The problem is that many credit card companies make earning and receiving your rewards very difficult. Some credit card companies will even charge you a fee for redeeming your points.
A common rewards system is air miles. You get an air mile point for spending a dollar. Spend enough dollars on your card, build up enough miles, and you get to take free air travel rides.
There are other rewards, such as getting money back, getting discounts, and earning perks that you would otherwise have to pay for. Try to avoid the credit card companies that make acquiring points too difficult, such as credit card companies that switch which categories/purchases earn you points on a quarterly basis.
Money Back Rewards
Spend Money And Get Some Money Back
The most common version of this scheme is where you spend $1 on a purchase and you get 1 point. Each point equals on cent. Earn points over time and then redeem them as credit on your next credit card bill.
To make the process more alluring and more exciting, some credit card companies will offer bigger rewards for different things. For example, some may offer 3 points per dollar if you use your credit card to purchase fuel. Others may send you promotions where you get extra points if you shop in a certain store during a certain period of time.
Very few credit card companies will give you cash in return for your points. Instead, you redeem your points as rewards, such as gift cards, or you redeem them by having the cash back knocked off your next credit card bill.
What Is A FICO Score And What Does It Mean When Getting A Card?
Your FICO score is also known as your credit rating or credit score. It is deeply linked with your banking history. When credit card companies talk about checking your FICO score, your credit score, your credit rating or your banking history, they are talking about the same thing. If you want the best credit cards, you are probably going to need a good FICO score.
When credit card companies talk about checking your FICO score, it means they are going to go to the credit scoring companies to find out about your banking/money management history and your current FICO score. Credit scoring companies are also known as credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus. There are credit scoring companies all around the globe, but the main three that many credit card companies listen to in the USA are:
P.O. Box 740241. Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
P.O. Box 2104. Allen, TX 75013-0949.
P.O. Box 1000. Chester, PA 19022.
A Glossary Of Terms
Let’s Nail The Terminology Before We Continue
It is the same as a person’s credit rating or credit score. It is a credit score calculated with software from Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). It gives a lenders a general idea about your ability to repay debt based on your current situation and your past money management/banking history.
Your credit rating is the same as a FICO score. It means the same thing. If a company is checking your credit rating, they are checking your FICO score with one of the three credit reporting agencies.
Your credit score is the same as your credit rating or your FICO score. It is the number you are assigned by the three credit reporting bureaus. It gives lenders an indication of your current capacity to repay a loan.
Banking History Or Financial History
Some consider this to be the same as your FICO score. If lenders say they are checking your banking history or your financial transaction history, they probably mean they are checking your FICO score. The way you manage your money will affect how good or bad your FICO score is.
Credit Scoring Companies
In the US, there are three of these credit reporting bureaus. They each have their own way of working out your FICO score. They are also known as credit bureaus, credit reporting companies, and credit scoring companies.
Your credit report is a report issued by Equifax and/or Experian and/or TransUnion. It starts with your FICO score, and it also gives details about your current liabilities, current address, linked accounts, and much more. It gives a brief view of your current financial status. These days, there are many solutions to get a credit report for free, so there is NO reason why you should not see what your report says. For example, you can sign up with Credit Sesame for free, and they will show you your credit score (based on the TransUnion score) right away — no catch, no credit card, no fees required. FREE (note, I use both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma myself to check and monitor my own credit).
A credit card company may say they are going to run a credit check on you. They often ask your permission to run a credit check. A credit check means they are going to ask one of the credit scoring bureaus for a credit report on you. When they ask for a credit report, it will be noted on your credit history. Too many of these notes in a short period of time will lower your FICO score, which is why credit card companies ask permission before running a credit check on you.
Soft Credit Check
A soft credit check allows credit card companies and online tools to take a brief look at your credit report information without actually generating a credit report. A soft credit check is not reported on your credit history, which means almost anybody can get a basic insight to your financial status. Most credit card companies offer you the option of running a soft credit check before you start your application because it allows you to see if will be rejected if you apply for the credit card.
How Your FICO Score Relates To Your Banking History Or Financial Transaction History
Lenders Can See Your Banking History And Your FICO Score
Credit reporting bureaus give lenders the same information they give you when you ask for your credit rating. They give your FICO score, and they also show your banking and financial transaction history.
Your credit report shows things such as your current address, your old addresses, and who your accounts are associated with. It show your current debt and it shows if you have made your most recent payments or if you have missed payments.
A lender may look at your FICO score and be undecided about your application, so they look at your banking history or financial transaction history. Some lenders take your financial transactions and history into account, and some do not.
Why Do The Credit Bureaus Show Different Credit Scores?
Shouldn‘t They All Give The Same FICO Score Results?
All three of the credit reporting bureaus have their own way of figuring out your FICO score. However, the way they do it is very similar to the point where they should all calculate your FICO score within just a few points of each other. With that being the case, why is it that one credit reporting company says one number and another credit reporting company says something very different?
The reason is because each company collects its own information, and some have more information than the others.
For example, you may have a credit card with company X, and company X may report to all three credit scoring bureaus. You may also have a loan with company Y, and company Y only reports to two of the credit reporting bureaus.
If you start abusing your loan from company Y, they only report to two credit companies. That means one credit company gives you an incorrectly higher FICO than the others.
In that example, two of the credit reporting bureaus will show a lower FICO score than one of the other credit reporting bureaus. That is why the three credit reporting bureaus sometimes show different results.
What Is A Good And What Is A Bad FICO Score?
What Do The Numbers Mean?
Below is a list of average credit rating numbers. They give you a rough idea of the your FICO score (your credit rating, your credit score) actually means. When the credit reporting bureaus issue your credit report, they give away a number, and they state the health of your FICO score. Its health runs all the way from Excellent to bad.
750 to 850 is Excellent
700 to 749 is Good
650 to 699 is Fair
550 to 649 is Poor
280 to 549 is Bad
Just to clarify, the list above is an average list. For example, some credit reporting companies will say that a rate of 631 is a Fair FICO score and others will say that anything below 650 is a Poor FICO score.
In addition, what the credit reporting companies name your FICO score may be irrelevant to some credit card companies. For example, one credit card company may have a policy to accept anybody with a FICO score of 580 or more. In that case, the credit card company doesn’t care if your 580 credit rating is called good, bad, or ugly. They just care that you have the required FICO score needed for approval of their credit card.
Not All The Scales Are The Same
Take a look at the image below. You may ask yourself what you are looking at, but it is not as complicated as it looks. The graphic shows you how the various credit scoring scales are different.
For example, the smallest scale is the Experian National Equivalency Score because it only runs from between 360 and 840. The largest scale is the FICO NextGen Credit Score because it runs from 150 all the way up to 950.
Don’t worry about the fact there are three credit reporting bureaus and yet there are seven different scales. It won’t make much difference to your next credit card application. It just pays to know that the credit bureaus may generate different FICO scores for different reasons, such as having a different type of FICO scoring scale.
Credit Reports And Where To Get Them
Do You Simply Pay Equifax, Experian or TransUnion?
All three credit reporting bureaus generate credit reports. You are entitled to at least one free credit report per year. You may apply to the credit bureau if you wish, but they usually try to sucker you in with a free trial where you have to pay when the trial ends. The credit bureau may also be obliged to give you a free credit report if a lender refuses to lend to you because of the credit report that the credit reporting company issued.
Some people use this website AnnualCreditReport.com, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it. There are websites on the Internet that allow you to see a soft search of your credit report for free. Just Google the words, “get a free credit report in the US” and see which companies are currently the most popular for offering free credit reports. These free credit reports do not require you to sign up for a free trail or any sort of paid subscription. The genuine companies allow you to securely access soft search credit reports absolutely free.
What Does Your Credit Report Actually Show?
What Are Credit Card Companies Seeing When They Run A Credit Check?
The image below shows you the basic information that the three credit reporting bureaus are going to add into you credit report.
Below is another image showing the type of information that a credit report may feature. The report in the image directly below is from one of the many free services that gives you a soft credit check. That is why there is a number between one and five on the left, and why the credit score scale seems a little different to the 280 to 850 credit scales mentioned earlier.
The images you see above and the one you see below may not be exactly what you see when you get your credit report. The formatting may be different, the way it is laid out, the way the information is given, and even the way the information is worded may be different. Nevertheless, the basic information that is given will be very similar to the sort of thing you will see on your next credit report. Take note of the green marks on the credit report that say “OK.” These are what credit card companies like to see on your credit report.
It will not show your spouse’s credit history or credit rating, but it will show any accounts you have that are linked with your spouses. It may also show that you live with your spouse.
What Your Credit Report Doesn’t Show
The fact that your FICO score and a credit report may so easily be accessed by so many people may send a tingly chill of horror down your spine. Even soft searches seem to display an overflowing amount of information about you. But, it is not as bad as you think. Here is a list of the things your credit report doesn’t show. Repeat, this is a list of things that DO NOT appear on your credit report.
- Many utility accounts do not appear on your credit report
- Some cell phone and some landline accounts do not appear
- Your employment status
- Any criminal record
- The current interest rates you pay with your listed accounts
- Your gender
- Political status or affiliation
- Maybe your religion
- Your spouse’s credit history
- Race or ethnicity
- A current medical history
- Any rewards accounts
- Current marital status
- Your pay day
- Any title loans
- Your income
Remember that the things listed above are things that do not appear in your credit report. That is why many of the items in the list above are asked by your credit card company when you apply for a credit card. They ask things such as your income, marital status, and payday, and so forth because they cannot get that information from your credit report when they run a credit check.
Nontraditional credit products will probably not appear on there unless they are in default. For example, the rent for your apartment may not appear there, but it may appear on there if you are currently in default, collections and/or you are being chased for it.
If you are trying to apply for the best credit cards, then you need to keep your credit report clear of any defaults, collections and/or missed payments.
Accounts and public records that have aged off the report will also not appear. For example, you may have had 10 missed payments in one month over seven years ago, and it may have messed up your FICO score at the time. However, since it was over seven years ago, that episode shouldn’t appear on your credit report any longer.
How Your Banking History Or Financial Transaction History Affects Your FICO Score
Your Credit Report Shows The Information The Credit Bureau Used
Your credit report includes the information that the credit reporting bureau used to generate your FICO score. All of your credit report has an effect on your FICO score, but some have a bigger effect than others.
For example, if you pay off your credit card very quickly, then your credit utilization (the amount of debt you are using) will change. This change may lead to your FICO score going up. If you then decide to close down your credit card because you are not using it, then your credit utilization chances again and your FICO score goes down.
Each element of your credit report will have some effect on your FICO score. For example, if you have stayed at your current address for three years or more, then your FICO score may go up. If you have missed a few credit card payments, then your FICO score may go down and you may find it more difficult when applying for the best credit cards.
How Your Banking History Or Financial Transaction History Affects Your Credit Application
Have You Read That Your FICO Score Doesn’t Matter That Much?
Your FICO score is important if you want a credit card, but different credit card companies have different ways of judging their potential customers. For example, if you have a terrible FICO score, but you have successfully banked with the same bank for years and have handled your account responsibly, then there is a chance your bank will give you a loan or a credit card even if your FICO score is poor.
Some credit card companies will take your FICO score under advisement but will pay more attention to your banking history. For example, a credit card company may not mind if you have a poor FICO score, just so long as you do not have insolvency or bankruptcy on your banking history.
There are credit card companies that will weigh your credit rating against your banking history and make their decision that way. For example, you may have a great FICO score, but a credit card company may turn you down because they can see on your credit/transaction history that you have missed three credit card repayments this year with your other credit card.
Credit cards may take your personal history with their company into account. Credit card companies may also take your transaction and banking history into account. That is why some people with a high FICO score still find themselves being turned down for credit cards for reasons as simple as the fact they moved house twice in the last year.
What To Do If You Have Bad Credit
If you want the best credit cards, then you need a good FICO score, but what is a bad FICO score? What do we call bad credit? The answer depends on who you ask. Banks, credit card companies, auto loan companies, and even estate agents have a very different idea of what bad credit is.
If you have a poor to bad credit rating, then you probably have a FICO score of 649 or less. If you have a FICO score of 549 or lower, then you have a bad credit rating. These numbers can be wiggled a bit depending upon which company you ask. For example, quite a few people think that a FICO score of 630 is fair, and many think that a credit rating of 650+ is good.
This section of our epic article on the best credit cards explains a little about bad credit and gives some usable advice. The information and advice in this section is suitable for anybody, no matter what your credit rating (FICO score). After all, this information will help you raise your credit rating, which means this information suits everybody.
How Your Banking History Or Financial Transaction History Affects Your FICO Score
Your Credit Report Shows The Information The Credit Bureau Used
The image below goes a long way to explaining how your banking history and transaction history will affect your FICO score. What you may find surprising is how credit-reporting companies prioritize your credit utilization.
Payment history may have more of an effect than 35%. After all, if all your other elements are top notch, but you keep missing payments, your credit rating will continue to fall and fall until you start paying on time again.
Credit utilization is a big factor, but I suggest you do not pay it too much attention because it is not calculated in a common-sense manner. All you need to know is that if you have paid off your credit card; do not cancel it right away because it will lower your FICO score for a while.
Credit age isn’t a factor as you get older. When you are young, you have less of a credit history, so lenders are a little more nervous about giving you credit. As you get older, and as you dabble with debt, the whole “credit age” element will not matter as much.
Different types of credit is not as complicated as it seems. It just means that your credit rating may be affected if you only have one type of debt in your life. If you have a healthy mix, such as a mortgage, credit card, car loan, and so forth, then you may happily grow your FICO score. On the other hand, if all you have ever had is an overdraft for 20 years, then your FICO score may not grow as quickly as you may like.
Number of enquires matters because too many will lower your FICO score. As you can see by the chart, having too many inquiries on your account will not slice your FICO score in half, but it will damage it a bit.
Beware Of The Prospect of Trended Data
It May Soon Become Harder To Get Credit
Lenders such as Fannie Mae have started using trended data, and there is a chance that it will catch on and become a regular part of a lender’s credit underwriting system. Creditors may currently use your FICO score, the information you give them, and your credit report to approve your credit application. If you have a history with that company or bank, then they may also use your banking/transaction history to make a decision. If trended data becomes more commonly used by creditors, then that is yet another way they may
With trended data, a lender may see your past financial data in a very different light. Trended data concentrates specifically on the last 30 months worth of financial behavior. It shows if an applicant frequently carries debt, if he or she only pays the minimum, and if he or she is getting further into debt, remaining still, or is lowering his or her debt month by month.
The current credit scoring system rewards people for paying their bills on time, even if those people have been in debt for decades without ever paying off their debt.
Trended data will reward people who pay off their debt, and hurt people who carry debt for long periods of time (excluding mortgages). If you make little effort to pay off your debt, then lenders using trended data is going to hurt you. You may find that lenders turn you down, even though you have a high FICO score.
To come out a winner when lenders use trended data, you need a high FICO score, you need to pay your bills on time, and you need to steadily improve your debt utilization ratio every month by paying more than the minimum on your debts.
How To Raise Your FICO Score
Tips To Help Make You More Creditworthy
Since we at eCheck.org are financial experts, and since our only aim is to help you build wealth and manage money, we are going to give away a few tips on how to help you raise your FICO score. Not only that, these tips will also help make you more creditworthy. Raising your FICO score is all good and well, but there are less obvious things you can do that won’t increase your FICO score, but will make creditors look more favorably on you.
In other words, there are some things in this section of our article that will not directly raise your FICO score, but they will heavily increase your chances of getting credit in the near future. There are also time-tested tips for raising your FICO score the honest way.
29 Tips For Fixing Bad Credit
It goes without saying that you should maintain your accounts a well as you possibly can. Pay off your credit card as often as you can, and never pay just the minimum on your debt unless your lender punishes you for paying more than you are asked.
FICO scores are lowered when the credit bureaus see you using more than 50% of your total available credit or more than 50% of your available credit on any one credit card.
Do not take on too much credit too quickly. Your FICO score will improve far better if you take on debt slowly and gradually prove you can handle it without missing payments.
A robust mix of credit is better than just having one type. Having a loan and a credit card is sufficient, but you may also benefit from an overdraft and maybe even a credit store card.
If you use credit to gamble, such as using your credit card to gamble online, then many banks and money companies take a dim view. Some will even refuse you credit because of “unusual activity” on your account.
Watch your credit card balances and try to eliminate your credit card balances where possible. More credit card balances is bad. It is better to have 3 credit cards and $90 on one of them than it is to have 3 cards and $30 on each.
Repaid debt on your credit report is a good thing. Don’t try to have it removed. Getting into debt and quickly getting out of it may help your credit rating in the long run.
Whenever you apply for credit and the creditor checks your credit, you will see a small dip in your FICO score that lasts about one year. If you are rejected, you need only wait six months before trying again, you do not have to wait a full year.
Pay all of your bills on time. It is true that you should prioritize the companies and banks that report to credit scoring companies, but you need to pay your other bills to avoid collections, defaults or court cases.
Avoid collections actions, even from companies that do not typically report to credit bureaus because collections/defaults/court cases will appear on your credit report.
Keep up with your credit score for free. It helps you spot financial irregularities, which may help stop a fraudster from exploiting you. It also helps you spot things that have damaged your credit rating, so that you may rectify or challenge them.
Paying a credit-reporting bureau to send you a credit report will not count has a hard check on your credit report. It is not the same as if a credit card company asked for a credit report. Before applying for the best credit cards, you should get a free version of your credit score and see where you may improve.
Set up payment reminders with your own apps, with banks and lenders. Have them email and SMS text you. Use the alerts system with their apps. Write it on your whiteboard. Write yourself a budget and keep checking it.
If you had a bad credit account in your recent past, where you had a lot of trouble, then closing the account will not make your past problems go away. They will still be noted on your credit report.
Have at least one credit card and use it responsibly if you wish to raise your FICO score. If you wish to allow your credit score (FICO score) to climb organically, then stay away from credit cards because even the best credit cards can leave you in debt for years if you mismanage them. Credit card debt is the hardest type of debt to get out of.
Do not use Auto-pay if there is a chance you may not have the money in your account. Pay manually over the Internet wherever possible. Auto-pay/direct debit will make you overdraw if you do not have the money in your account, and overdrawing will continue to hurt your FICO score. At least if you pay manually, then if you do not have the money on the day, it is not transferred out, which means you have a few more hours to borrow from friends before your creditor’s final date is over.
Do your best to get out of credit card debt. Prioritize that debt over all others. Training yourself to get out of credit card debt will do you the most favors. If you want to build your credit rating, then pay off your credit card debt every month.
Moving debt doesn’t help, but 0% balance transfers may because when you start paying your minimum, you are actually paying off the debt rather than just paying off the interest.
Opening more credit cards to increase your credit utilization will backfire. Lenders will wonder why you have so much available credit at your disposal and why you are asking for yet more. Credit reporting bureaus may figure you are mismanaging your credit. Lenders may figure you are setting up a big con.
A delinquency will remain on your credit report for seven years. Public record items are also likely to stay on your report for a full seven years. Unpaid tax liens and bankruptcies will stay on your credit report for ten years. Credit checks by creditors, such as credit card companies, will stay on your report for two years.
If you have very old negative debts and you have fresh new ones, then pay off the newer debts first because they will have a bigger impact on your credit rating. Use caution when you pay collection accounts, especially if they are over 24 months old. When you make the payment, it may become active and damage your FICO score once again.
Do not dispute any negative items on your credit report, and put in a request with the credit bureaus that they cancel any of the disputes you started in the last two years. If you have amounts in collection, try to arrange to pay the original company and not the collections company.
Whenever you fully pay off a debt, you must get some sort of written proof. Take a screenshot showing your paid account, get an email confirmation, and ask that they also post proof to your house that you have paid off the debt in full. File this information away and keep it safe for more than ten years.
Pay down or pay off your credit cards, and do not vary the amounts you put into your debts and your bank account. Don’t put $400 on your credit card one month, and $2300 the next month (unless you are doing that to pay off the debt in full). Consistency is a credit score’s best friend.
If you are not paying off your credit cards each month, then enter the same amount each month, which is ideally your minimum payment times two. For example, if your minimum credit card payment each month is $50, then you should pay $100 per month into your credit card.
Don’t forget that medical debt shows up on your credit reports. Pay it off as soon as possible. If your insurance is dragging its heels, then find out if you can pay it off with your own money and claim the fees back from your insurance company.
Get a secured credit card if your credit it truly bad. You have to pay a lump sum, and the credit card company gives you a credit limit as high as the lump sum you deposited. Take every care to spend on it and repay it before the due date during the grace period each month so that you are not charged interest. Manage your secured card well, and it will help return your FICO score back up to a reasonable level.
Sudden shifts in your spending and/or repayment habits may lower your credit rating. It may also make lenders a little less willing to give you credit. Missing a payment is bad, as is any type of delinquency, but even something as innocent as dropping your debt payments from $500 per month to $200 per month may set alarm bells ringing in a way that makes it harder for you to get credit in the near future.
Taking cash advances may make a credit company less likely to lend to you. This is especially true if you are paying for gambling with your credit card. It is okay if you have signed up for a credit card that promotes cash advances, but if not, then creditors will look upon your withdrawals with suspicion.
The New Authorized User Trick You Can Try
Bending The Rules A Little To Raise Your FICO Score
Do you have a parent with a credit card, or a person you trust? Have them issue a new authorized user credit card from their credit card account. The new card will be in your name, but it is under that person‘s credit card account. Let that person keep the card with your name on it and have them spend on it. That person spends on it, and that person pays back the balance. It improves your FICO score because the credit card company thinks you are spending and are paying it back. Just make sure that the other person who agrees to this trick actually uses the card in your name, and actually pays off the balance every month before the due date. The other person is doing all of this as a favor to you. He or she doesn’t get anything out of this deal. He or she is doing it out of kindness.
For example, Harold has a credit card with HSBC. He has a HSBC Visa credit card with his name on it. His daughter’s FICO score is bad, so she cannot get a credit card on her own. Harold adds his daughter Jenny as a new authorized user on his credit card account. A new HSBC Visa card is sent through the post with Jenny’s name on it. Harold keeps Jenny’s card. He uses Jenny’s HSBC Visa card every time he puts fuel in his car. He also pays off the balance on his HSBC credit card account every month, so both his and Jenny’s card is fully paid off every month. The credit card company thinks that Jenny is the one spending on the card and paying it off, so the credit card company informs the credit bureaus, and Jenny’s FICO score goes up.