Choosing a credit card
Credit cards can be a great help. A lot of people decide to get one because they need to buy something expensive and want to pay for it later, or pay for it by spreading the cost over a few months. Cards can also be useful as a backup in an emergency. But because they charge pretty high interest, credit cards can be an expensive way to spend. That’s why some people end up with a debt that is hard to pay back. And it’s one of the reasons that it’s important to spend time deciding which credit card is best for you.
There are eight different types of credit cards that you can check out with comparethemarket.com.
Zero rate purchase cards
These cards offer you zero interest on your spending for a set period of time. These zero rate credit cards can be a real help if you need to pay for a wedding dress, a new kitchen or a holiday. These often give you ‘interest free’ spending for a year or two – but when that period ends you will be charged interest on what you buy.
Zero percent balance transfers
A second kind are zero percent balance transfer credit cards, where you can move your debt from your current card to a new one, and you won’t have to pay interest on this balance (however you are likely to have to pay a fee to move the balance and are subject to exclusions and terms of your card). Some of these cards will also offer you zero interest on your spending. This kind of card is sometimes called a balance transfer and purchase card. You need to check the details carefully so that you know exactly how long the offers last for, and there may be other terms and conditions.
Other cards to consider
Other types of card include cashback cards and rewards cards through to low APR cards and cards from your own bank. This guide will explain the different kinds to help you understand which might suit you best.
A useful thing to take note of is the APR for each card. The APR helps you understand how much it could cost you to use the card. The APR rate is one way to compare how much using a credit card will cost. So if the APR on a card is 17 per cent and you spend £1,000 on it, the interest and charges will mean that you are spending £170 on top of your debt. In the end, then, you will be paying back £1,170. Don’t forget there are other types of fees to take into account such as balance transfer fees or late payment charges.
Rewards and cashback
The next two kinds of cards work differently. Rewards cards and cashback cards will both give you something back for spending money on the card. You might gain loyalty card points or travel points (like Avios), or receive money off your credit card bill, depending on how much you use the card each month.
These cards often have high APRs, so they are best suited to people that usually pay the full balance on the card every month. If not, the interest you owe will probably be more than the value gained in your rewards.
Low APR cards
If you are struggling to pay your balance off your card each month a low APR card may be better for you . Low APR credit cards cost less to use in charges and interest. Typical zero percent credit cards and rewards card might have an APR of 15-25 per cent, while a low APR card might offer somewhere between 6 and 15 per cent. Also as mentioned previously, zero interest credit card offers may be worth considering, especially if you have a balance to transfer.
Bank cards and credit builders
There are two final kinds of card that we haven’t talked about – cards from your bank, and cards that build credit.
If you get a card from your own bank, they know you and your history, and so might give you more credit than you get elsewhere. After all, they would rather keep you loyal to them than turn you away to one of their competitors.
If you’ve previously been turned down for a credit card, there are special cards that can help you become a more appealing customer. These will offer low limits, but as long as you stay within them and pay regularly, you’ll build up your credit rating for the future.
Do bear in mind that if you’re asking yourself “which credit card is right for me?” one way of safe spending is to avoid using a credit card. But we know that credit cards can provide people with a convenient way to buy. So use comparethemarket.com to help find the best credit cards for you, whether it’s one offering zero balance transfers or something totally different.