Choosing your card type
Your best credit card probably isn't the same as someone else's. Features that save you money based on your lifestyle won't make the same impact on another person's wallet. Compare credit cards based on whether you are most interested in paying a balance over time, consolidating your spending, or maxing out your rewards. For example, a low interest credit card makes the most sense for emergencies, while a cash back card will earn bigger rebates on frequent purchases.
Comparing credit cards
Review the terms and conditions of your favorite offers, narrowing down your list based on the features, benefits, and fees attached to each credit card deal. Subtract the cost of annual fees and service charges from the value of the perks you expect to receive in your first year. Use a credit card calculator to estimate annual costs if you intend to maintain a balance.
Applying for a credit card
Most banks now offer instant-decision online application forms that can approve you for a new card based on your credit score and your recent credit history. Check your credit report for errors before you apply, especially since automated systems may ask you to confirm your other account details to verify your identity. Sometimes, regional banks and credit unions may extend even better credit card offers for customers willing to submit written applications by mail.
General credit card tips
Rewards cards tend to carry higher interest rates and annual fees than "no frills" accounts, so plan to funnel most of your purchases through a single card to save the most money. When transferring a balance, watch for upfront fees that can reduce your savings. Compare credit cards based on what they'll cost you over three to five years.