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I am looking to open up a new credit card. Throughout college, I had a credit card from a store, but since I don't really shop at the store anymore, I am not really getting value out of the card (besides that it gives me a limit that I pay off in full every month to build credit).

What criteria should I consider when looking at various credit cards before choosing one to open? I am hoping to get a card that has some type of reward option like cash back or points to something, but I'm not really sure where to look. Is there a site that compiles the various types of credit cards that would allow me to look in one spot as a starting point?

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Some features to be aware of are:

  • Annual fee (or lack thereof)
  • Payment network (Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover/etc.)
  • Cash back/rewards rate (i.e., how much cash/rewards points you get per dollar charged)
  • Interest rate
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Extra benefits (e.g., free FICO score, "purchase protection" where you can get a refund in certain circumstances, etc.)
  • Credit score requirements (i.e., how good your credit must be to obtain the card)

How you prioritize these features will depend on your specific circumstances. For instance, if your credit score is poor, you may have to choose among cards you can get with that score, and not have much choice on other dimensions. If you frequently travel abroad, a low or zero foreign transaction fee may be important; if you never do, it probably doesn't matter. If you always pay the balance in full, interest rate is less important than it is if you carry a balance. If you frequently travel by air, an airline card may be useful to you; if you don't, you may prefer some other kind of rewards, or cash back.

Cards differ along numerous dimensions, especially in the "extra benefits" area, which is often the most difficult area to assess, because in many cases you can't get a full description of these extra benefits until after you get the card. A lot of the choice depends on your personal preferences (e.g., whether you want airline miles, rewards points of some sort, or cash back). Lower fees and interest rates are always better, but it's up to you to decide if a higher fee of some sort outweighs the accompanying benefits (e.g., a better rewards rate). A useful site for finding good offers is NerdWallet.

  • Perfect. I read your answer twice, surely you must have missed something. Just that that I could find. The only comment I'd offer is my own priority was 2% cash back, no annual fee. The rate can be 24% for all I care as I only change what I can pay in full. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Dec 27 '15 at 3:03
  • Thanks. This definitely gave me a lot to think about and seems to be a good list for getting started. The link you provided also seems very useful. – Lexi Dec 27 '15 at 5:12
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Google has a tool for comparing credit cards.

My suggestion would be for a simple, no-annual fee cash back card. Points can be a hassle to redeem, and like they say, cash is king. Assuming you have the credit score for it, Citi Double Cash is a good choice.

  • Picked up the Citi Double Cash card myself around the middle of 2015. Another feature worth noting is their Citi Price Rewind. Basically, they refund the difference in cost if they find a cost that is cheaper within 60 days of purchase. Used it and didn't have issues getting 2 refunds. There is a manual claim form as well for better success/reward amounts at the cost of convenience. – Xrylite Dec 28 '15 at 23:04
  • Looks like I found this answer just in time. That tool is shutting down next week :( – a cat Mar 15 '16 at 20:52
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I would look for these features in the credit card:

  • That the credit card is accepted in as many places as possible. Obviously you don't want to have a card you can't pay with everywhere. If you travel in foreign countries, make sure the card is accepted also in those countries.
  • That the total costs to you are as low as possible.

If there is some kind of reward option like cash back or points, you obviously deduct these from the total costs. Chances are the total costs are higher than the rewards, because generally people don't give you money for free. The reward has to be financed somehow.

I would adivse against building up credit card debt. It typically has a high interest rate. So, use the credit card only as a method of payment and pay back the debt so quickly that the interest doesn't start to accumulate.

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Depends on your credit score. If you came from foreign country, you might not be having enough Credit Score. In that case, you have to go for Prepaid Credit Card offered by Banks. For prepaid credit card,you have to deposit certain amount of money which will act as your credit line.

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