Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated February 21, 2009)
When shopping for credit cards you're basically (or at least should be) comparing different offers and deciding on the best one for your needs. There are countless credit card companies and within those companies there are numberless offers and deals, so doing your homework and comparing your options is a most wise decision. Once you know how to compare you have a better chance at finding the right card for you; your credit card won't be a spur-of-the-moment decision, but rather one that's planned out and thought through and that's the best way to dive into such an endeavor.
The first thing you do before doing anything with your credit card applications is list out your needs as a consumer. Then you find credit cards that best fit your needs. Once you narrow down your search a bit then you can start seriously comparing. What is most important to you when finding the right credit card? Is it low interest rates? Is it a long grace period? Are perks more important to you than minimal fees or would you rather go for a simple basic plan with as little twists and caveats as possible? All of these are things to consider and think about before you even start looking into credit cards.
Once you have your data (and gather information on four or five different credit cards so you have a narrowed down but still varied selection), compile it in some way so you can look at it all at once. When you can visually compare credit card offers, it's easier to see where one outweighs another instead of jumping from one brochure to the next. You can either lay this out in a chart, on the computer, even in exciting colors and glitter if you so desire, as long as you can visually place these different cards with their different pros and cons side by side. This is very much like making an old fashioned pros and cons list and can actually help you out a lot when it comes to figuring out what is your best fit.
When comparing, focus first on your number-one priority in a credit card. Whether it's APR, grace period, or frequent flyer miles, hone in on that one important aspect and then weigh that in comparison with the other features. When placing them side by side and seeing where one's strengths are as opposed to another's you can make the best judgment call and figure out what is the best credit card for you. Keep in mind the credit card that's best for you may not necessarily be the one that has the best of whatever your number one priority is; it's the best combination of what you need. Good luck in your credit card comparisons!
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