Credit cards are all about convenience. Today’s credit cards offer various types of introductory rates, cash back offers, balance transfer promotions and a variety of rewards programs. However, a recent study by J.D. Power estimates that one in five credit card customers are carrying the wrong card. With so many options, it can be challenging to determine which card is right for you.
If you’re looking for a new credit card, don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, look for a card that will save you money and offers honest value. Keep your search simple by focusing on these four key features:
1. Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The APR is one of the most important features of a credit card. But don’t be fooled by 0% APR offers. Many card issuers use teasers rates as an enticement to sign up for the card. After a short period, the rate will increase to a much higher rate, usually higher than what is available from other issuers.
In addition, most credit cards charge different rates for different types of usage. There might be a relatively low rate for purchases, a higher rate for balance transfers, an even higher rate for cash advances and an outrageous penalty rate for late payments. Look for a card that has one rate for all transaction types. One example of this is our Visa Platinum Rewards Card.
Be aware of annual fees. Many of the reward programs need to offset the cost of the rewards by charging an annual fee. Annual fees typically range between $50 – $150. In addition, many of the elite cards like the Black Card and American Express offer special perks including concierge service, airport lounge access and other high-end benefits, but come with a hefty annual fee of $450 or more just for the privilege of carrying a prestigious card.
Another typical fee is a balance transfer fee. Typically, this fee ranges between 3% to 5% of the transfer amount. So, a transfer of $5,000 could cost as much as $250. Another fee many cardholders overlook is a cash advance fee. Most credit cards charge a fee of 3% to 5% for cash advances. Look for cards that do not overcharge for these services or better yet, select our card, which doesn’t charge them at all.
Everyone likes to be rewarded for being a loyal customer. But think carefully about the types of rewards that matter to you. In many cases, rewards programs are branded by a specific hotel, airline or entertainment destination. J.D. Power estimates that 44% of airline card consumers are in the wrong card, often because they aren’t spending enough on their card to earn enough points to cover their annual fee, or because they haven’t used the airline benefits they have accrued in the past 12 months. Unless you always use the same hotel, airline or go to the same place for all of your vacations, you may want a more flexible rewards program. Look for a program that offers a variety of options. Our reward program offers multiple airlines, hotels, cruises, and vacation packages, as well as a large selection of brand-name merchandise. Cards with more flexible rewards programs are better options for most consumers.
Twenty-seven percent of Americans had their credit card information stolen in 2016, according to Gallup. The vast majority of those were due to data breaches at some of the largest retailers in the country leaving millions of cardholders open to account fraud. To avoid becoming a victim, make sure you find a card that offers security features like purchase and fraud alerts. In addition, Visa Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) offers secure online purchases that allow consumers to enter a username and password for a purchase instead of entering their credit card information at online merchants.
Chip card technology is also important. Chip cards use unique encryption for each transaction which helps prevent against fraudulent use. Instead of holding all your card information in the swipe—including your card number, expiration date and PIN—a chip card encodes each transaction, so that fraudsters can’t recreate and use your card information.
If you’re looking for a credit card, make sure to take the time to examine the rates, fees, rewards and security features to make an informed decision. For a card that ranks among the best, look no further than our Visa Platinum Rewards card. With a low rate and low fees combined with a variety of rewards, and backed with state-of-the-art security features our card is hard to beat.