Are you getting lots of credit card offers in the mail? Wondering which ones are good and which ones are, well, not so great?
Here’s a deep-dive 7-point inspection you can do for each card offer you get to decide whether it’s worth applying.
Before we dive into the details, a word of advice: read the whole offer letter and all the fine print. By the end of this article, you’ll understand why.
1. Is this a real offer or a scam?
Chances are, if you’ve never heard of a credit card company, it may not be trustworthy.
That said, even the big credit card companies occasionally roll out new products and offers—so if you’re not sure, check out their info on the Better Business Bureau or other reputable sources to make sure they’re legitimate.
2. Shopper vs. Target
When you get an unsolicited credit card application in the mail, they’re probably not pitching you a great deal. Offer letters aside, you would probably be better off doing some research on your own time and applying for a card that best fits your needs and your financial situation.
3. Opportunity Cost
There’s no such thing as free when it comes to credit cards. There are, however, some advantages to certain cards under ideal conditions. By fully reading the terms and conditions of the offer, you can glean information that may not be immediately apparent on page one of the letter.
4. Annual Fees
Many cards offer no annual fee, whereas others do charge an annual fee. A card with no annual fee may come with fewer rewards than a card with a higher fee. But you’ve got to do the math on each card to understand the cost/benefit analysis here. Additionally, it’s important that you take the time to really understand any rewards programs offered to decide whether it’s worth getting the card.
5. Interest Rates
If your credit is in poor shape, your interest rate will be high. If your card offer isn’t great, your interest rate will be high. It’s also important to understand how interest compounds with the card in question.
Low-interest credit cards might sound appealing, but make sure the offer isn’t too good to be true. Keep reading to learn how other fees may offset the benefits of low interest.
6. Late Fees, Penalty Rates and Other Fees
Some cards have a grace period on late fees and penalties, so know your terms when it comes to these line items. Hefty late fees could easily eradicate any benefit of using a card.
When it comes to using your card for cash advances or other odd transactions, you could be paying a premium fee for the privilege as well as being assessed a special interest rate on cash advances.
7. Conditional Clauses
Beware of cards that would claim the right to repossess your purchases should you default on payments. This does actually happen to people. That’s why reading the whole offer letter and the fine print is so critical. Don’t let anyone take advantage of your financial situation. Also, understand where you can use your card and where you can’t. Not all retailers take all cards.
When to Call CreditGUARD
If fitting credit card payments into your budget no longer feels manageable, call us at 1-800-500-6489 to discuss your options with a certified credit counselor. We can help you take control of your credit and finances without adding more cards – and more debt – to your name.