Credit Cards

Discovering the card that best fits you

How do you find the perfect credit card for you? First, you should research credit cards that might suit your needs and what features they have to offer. Features to consider include rewards, balance transfers, ATM fees, interest rates, and more. Start the process of comparing cards by saving providers you like, and avoiding those whose networks won’t be the right fit. Read on to learn more about choosing the right credit card.

The Qualifications

Nearly everyone qualifies for one credit card or another. The process of qualification requires that applicants submit three key pieces of information:


Consistent income of some kind is required to qualify for a credit card. Income can be in the form of a pension or earned income from a job. Applicants who do not have a source of consistent income may submit their spouse’s income instead.


While most credit card companies don’t require you to be debt free, monthly debt payments should be low compared to your income.

Credit Score

There is a credit card for just about anyone regardless of credit score, but credit cards with the best rates, highest limits and best rewards are reserved for applicants with excellent credit scores.

In order to be approved for a credit card, you will need relative strength in all of these areas. Missing one of these elements will make your chances of enrollment lower than those that possess strength in all three areas.  

The main determining factor in credit card approval is a risk. Lenders analyze how risky individual borrowers are, and dole out credit cards accordingly. High-risk applicants may only qualify for a secured credit card, for example. Secured credit cards require a cash deposit in the total amount of the line of credit prior to the card being issued. Low-risk applicants will likely qualify for cards with large lines of credit, low-interest rates, and excellent rewards.

5 Tips for Credit Card Shopping

Credit card issues work hard to minimize their own risk, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want your business. Lenders want to select applicants who will prove profitable to them, and applicants who match the criteria they are looking for. Here are 5 tips for successful credit card shopping:

1). Knowing Your Credit History

Applicants with regular payment history will be favored over those with frequent late payments or higher debt-to-income ratios. Prior bankruptcy, poor payment history, and missed payments can significantly impact your chances of being approved for a credit card. Checking your credit history is a good way to know where you stand so you are not caught off guard in the future., as well as several other free online services, can help you see your credit score and history almost instantly.

2). Knowing Your Credit Score

Along with understanding your personal payment history, you should also know your credit score. Most lenders require credit score reports when considering application approval, and credit score reports can be acquired at no cost online.

3). Knowing Your Debt Payments

Understanding how much you can afford to pay back relative to your income is an important element in successful credit card shopping. Taking on more debt or credit than your income can sustain will be a red flag for lenders. Lenders vary when it comes to the debt load they allow, so you should reach each application carefully to understand their line of credit determination process.

4). Knowing Your Income

When you apply for a credit card, the lender will verify your income via a number of credit bureaus, examine employment history, and check for any IRS or tax payment issues. Your income will help determine your line of credit and how much debt you can take on. Someone with a $25,000 a year income may be granted a $2,000 line of credit. Someone making only $10,000 a year may only qualify for $500. Knowing your income can help you know what to expect when applying for a credit card. Child support, pension payments, and spouse income are also considered during the credit card application.

5). Knowing Your Goals

Beyond knowing what qualifications you meet, you should also understand your own personal reasons for wanting a credit card. Knowing what it is you need from a credit card will help you in the selection process. Those looking to travel with a card may want to focus on cards with high limits, but APR may not matter as you will likely pay off the balance quickly. If you need your card to carry a balance, consider looking for cards with lower APRs and fees. Secured cards can help you rebuild poor credit score and help you qualify for better lines of credit in the future.

Credit Card Terms

Authorized user

Authorized user refers to the account holder and any individual they allow to have access to the account. This can include spouses, children, or employees.

Credit score

Your credit score refers to the number assigned to you based on your credit history and repayment. This number is used by lenders to help determine the amount of credit you are eligible for.

Grace period

The grace period is the period in which you may repay your credit card bill without accruing interest. The typical grace period lasts at least 21 days in accordance with the Credit Card Act of 2009.

Balance transfer

When funds are moved from one card to another, this is referred to as a balance transfer.

EMV Smart Chip

EMV chips/smart chips help protect consumers against theft or counterfeiting. Embedded directly into certain credit cards, this technology offers added security for credit card users.

Credit CARD Act of 2009

Put into effect in May of 2009, this act protects credit card users by requiring interest rate increase restrictions, notice of significant change requirements, and grace periods for repayment.

Joint account holder

Joint account holders have equal responsibility for debt repayment and fund management. Accounts are granted joint holder status most often for engaged and married couples. Both parties must agree to hold account responsibility.

Variable Rate

The variable rate refers to certain cards whose rates vary based on market conditions.

Foreign transaction fee

Most lenders charge a fee for purchases or transactions made outside of your home country. These fees are typically calculated according to purchase percentage.

“Schumer Box”

The Schumer Box is named after US Senator Charles Schumer who created this standardized formatting for card conditions and disclosure. All disclosures related to rates, terms, fees, etc. must be included in credit card agreements under the Federal Truth in Lending Act.

Prime rate

The prime rate refers to the benchmark interest rate and is the basis for determining all other interest rates. Basing rates off of this prime rate helps interest rates to match market standards and fluctuate with it.

Statement period

At the end of each statement period (which is typically 30 days), interest is calculated based on the remaining balance. The statement period typically ends 14 days prior to the monthly billing date.

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