What to know about selecting the right credit card

Selecting the right credit card will help you achieve many of your life goals ... photo by CC user smemon on flickr

Barely a week goes by without a credit card solicitation arriving in your mailbox. Prior to this day, you have reflexively tossed them into the trash, but lately, you have been reading the pitches contained within out of interest.

Whether you are seeking to take advantage of the upsides of having credit for the first time in your life, or you are looking to change your current card for another that fits your needs better, it helps to know which type of card will work best for your life situation. This post will outline some of the most common specialty cards out there in the industry, and what they can do for you…

Have a balance you need to pay down?

It has happened to many of us at one time or another: a major car repair has exceeded your bank balance, or you lost your job and you needed to live off your plastic until you found another gig. After the smoke cleared from these and other situations, you have amassed a large balance that needs to be paid down.

The trouble is that many of us have cards that have interest rates that are ludicrously high (e.g. 20% or more), making repayment efforts akin to paddling upstream against a raging current. Balance transfer or low interest credit cards allow consumers dedicated to paying down their principal to move their whole balance to a card with no or low interest, making it easy to make some serious progress towards zeroing your debt.

Love to travel?

If much of your time at work is spent planning your next big trip, then getting a credit card with travel incentives will prove to be one of the best investments that you will ever make.

Many cards offer you points for the simple act of signing up, and by shifting all your spending onto this card (and by shopping strategically with retail partners that offer extra point promotions), you can amass a ton of points in a short amount of time that can be redeemed for free flights and/or stays at amazing hotels in many dream destinations around the world.

Credit rating in shambles and you need to repair it?

Whether you made some poor decisions earlier in your life or had an identity thief take a wrecking ball to it, your credit rating is in tatters and you need to restore it to its former glory. By showing you can use credit responsibly through the acquisition of a secured credit card, this goal can be achieved in time.

A secured credit card requires that you put up collateral (usually a deposit equal to or greater than the credit line amount), while a prepaid credit card (technically not a credit card) allows you put cash onto a card branded by major agencies like Visa; over many months of faithful and consistent payments using these types of cards, your credit score will rise into a favorable range, allowing you to apply for limit increases and increasing your chance of being approved for a loan.