The Best Credit Cards For Consumers In 2012

The start of a new year is typically when consumers take a close look at
their finances and make resolutions on saving money and cutting expenses.
Changing credit cards can save substantial money on interest payments,
or earn some extra cash with attractive rewards.

But credit cards are not one-size-fits-all, and shopping for the best credit
card to fit your specific needs is a must. The credit card offer you receive
today is determined by your credit score and how you have handled
finances in the past.

Getting Started
When shopping for a card, you must first determine what kind of credit card
consumer you are. Are you a disciplined person that only charges what you
can afford and pays off the balance in full on time every month? If so, a
rewards card is the best credit card for you. However, if you do carry a
balance from month to month, you should not be concerned with the rewards
of a card but in paying off this balance as quickly as possible. For you,
getting a card with the lowest interest rate is the most important consideration.

Know that credit card companies can make every card seem like the best
product on the market. Television ads, emails and direct mail pieces tout
the low rates and benefits of every card. But consumers should look closely
at the terms and conditions of the offer before applying for any credit
card. The lowest interest rate is only given to applicants with good to
excellent credit scores, not to everyone who applies. If you don’t have a
good credit score, you could receive an offer with a higher rate, or a
declined application.

Before you apply for a credit card, check your credit score so you know what
offer you can expect. A FICO score in the mid-700s is considered a good
score and you can expect to receive the lowest interest rates. A FICO score
less than 640 is too low for normal credit cards and you will have to look
at other options like a secured card.

Low Interest Rates
If you feel you are likely to carry a balance on your credit card from one
month to the next, it is vitally important to get a credit card with a low
interest rate. According to the Complete Credit Card Index
which tracks over 1,000 credit cards, the average advertised APR last week
was 14.00%. Look in the terms and conditions for the range of interest
rates because most cards have three rate tiers. The higher your credit
score, the lower your APR will be. If your FICO score is in the mid-600s,
you will probably get the highest rate.

When shopping for a low interest credit card, consider your credit union
and local bank. In addition, these are the most attractive low interest
credit cards:

Simmons First Visa Platinum
An APR of 7.25% but you have to have outstanding credit to be approved.
No transaction fee for balance transfers

Iberia Bank Visa Classic
If you have an excellent credit score, you can get a 7.50% APR. They also
offer a 1.99% APR for six months on balance transfers.

Capital One Platinum Prestige
The lowest rate is 10.90%. The card offers 0% through March 2013
on balance transfers with a 3% balance transfer fee. There is no fee for
international transactions.

Balance Transfers
Consumers can transfer their credit card debt onto another card that is
offering an attractive interest rate and sometimes save significant money
on interest charges. Currently, many issuers are offering 0% interest rates
on balance transfers for a substantial time period. The two important
considerations for consumers are to make sure they can pay off this
transferred balance during that 0% introductory period, and that the
interest penalties you save are more than the fee you’ll pay to transfer
the balance from one issuer to another.

When comparing cards for a balance transfer, also look at the ongoing
interest rates. If you can’t pay off the balance before the introductory
period ends, you will then pay the ongoing interest rate. Another
consideration is that the credit card issuer may only accept a portion
of the amount you want to transfer because, depending on your credit
limit, the issuer will want to leave room for new charges.

The best offers will typically be given to applicants with a credit score
in the mid-700s. If you have a score less than this, you may receive a
shorter introductory period, or your application may be declined.

Citi Platinum Select
This card gives you a 0% interest rate for 21 months on both the balance
transfer and new purchases. That gives you almost two years without paying
interest on your transferred balance. The balance transfer fee is 3%. The
ongoing APR is 11.99-21.99%.

Discover More
There is currently a Discover More card that offers 0% interest on balance
transfers for 18 months. Consumers also receive 0% on purchases for six
months. The balance transfer fee is 3% and the ongoing APR is 11.99-20.99%.

Capital One Platinum Prestige
Consumers receive 0% interest until March 2013 on both purchases and
balance transfers. The balance transfer fee is 3%. The APR is 10.90-18.90%.

Slate from Chase
Slate offers a 0% intro rate for 12 months on balance transfers but the
unique feature about this card is that it is not charging a balance transfer
fee when you transfer during the first thirty days of account opening. The
ongoing APR is 11.99-21.99%.

Cash Rewards
If you are struggling to make up your mind about the many types of
reward cards, a card that gives you a little extra cash is always a good
choice. Cash rewards won’t make your rich since the average reward
is about one penny per dollar spent, but that can add up. Many cards now
offer a generous cash bonus with the new card. Cash back cards typically
have a slightly higher interest rate, so only apply for a reward card if you
will pay off the entire balance each month. Reward cards are generally
available to consumers with good FICO scores.

Chase Freedom–$200 Bonus Cash Back
Get a $200 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months. You will
earn an unlimited 1% cash back on everything you buy. Earn 5% cash
back on up to $1,500 in seasonal spending categories that change
every three months. The interest rate is 15.99 to 22.99%.

Capital One Cash
Receive 1% cash back on all purchases. Get a 50% cash back bonus on the
cash you have earned on your anniversary date. New account-holders earn a
one-time $100 bonus once you spend $500 in the first three months.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% on groceries, and 3% on gas. Plus
earn a 10% customer bonus when you redeem into a Bank of America checking
or savings account. Get a $50 cash rewards bonus after you make at least
$100 in purchases within 60 days of account opening.

Secured Cards
If your credit score is too low (less than FICO 640) to qualify for a
regular credit card, then a secured card may be your best option. These
require a security deposit which will be your credit limit. Choose a card
that reports your payment history to the credit bureaus because this can
eventually raise your credit score if you use this card responsibly and make
all payments on time. You do not have to use this card, but just keeping it
open and in good standing can create a positive credit history. Secured
cards offer almost 100% approval, but they also charge higher interest rates
and fees.

Capital One Secured MasterCard
Receive automatic reporting to the three major credit bureaus. You can even
earn credit line increases based on your payment and credit history. This
card requires a $200 minimum security deposit and your credit line will be
equal to your security deposit. The interest rate is 22.99%, and the annual
fee is $29. The refundable security deposit is $49, $99 or $200, based on
your credit.

Orchard Bank Secured Visa
Reports to all three credit bureaus. The minimum security deposit is $200.
The rate for purchases is 7.99%, and the $35 annual fee is waived the first
year. ( simplifies the confusion of
shopping for credit cards. It is a free, independent website that helps
consumers easily compare credit cards in a variety of categories such as
lowest rates, rewards, rebates, balance transfers and lowest
introductory rates. It also gives an unbiased ranking and review for
each card. The Complete Credit Card Index
( is the most objective and
comprehensive resource on the Internet which allows consumers to compare
rates for over 1000 credit cards offered in this country. Created by
Hampton & Associates, the company has been analyzing the credit card
industry and supplying objective websites on various consumer expenses
for twelve years.

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