How to Choose a Credit Card

by : Devin Gilliland

Before accepting one of the tempting offers that are coming in the mail, that urge the client to accept, thorough research is a must. The customer must find the best deal. As a is a form of payment and borrowing, the terms and conditions will affect the overall cost. The best way to choose the issuer is to compare fees and terms before opening a credit account.

Some important terms must be considered in a credit card application or any solicitations that don't require an application. When shopping for a card, the future cardholder must ask for these terms and conditions. The annual percentage rate (APR) is measuring the credit's cost. It is expressed in an annual rate. The credit card issuer must disclose the periodic rate, which is the rate applied to the outstanding balance to see the charge for every billing period.

Some plans are allowing the issuer to change the annual percentage rate when an economic indicator (index) changes. These are the so-called variable rate programs. The rate changes can raise or lower the charge on the cardholder's account. The issuer must also provide the necessary information that discloses that the rate can change, how the rate is calculated, which index is used and what additional fee is added to determine the new rate.

The future cardholder must receive all information before he becomes obligated on the account. He must know about the limitations on how often and how much his rate may change. The free period, also called the grace period, is the period that lets the cardholder to avoid the finance charges by paying the entire balance at the due date. It is important to know if the gives this grace period, even if the future owner plans to apply the account in full monthly.

If there is no grace period, the card issuer can impose a charge from the date when the cardholder use his card or from the date when the transactions are posted. If there is a grace period, the issuer will send the bill at least 14 days before the due date so the cardholder will have enough time to pay.

The annual fees or participation fees are charged by most issuers. The range is $25 to $50. The charges can be up to $100 too. Gold or platinum cards are charging up to $75 usually. Transaction fees are charged if the cardholder uses the card to get some money in advance makes a late payment. These charges may appear also if the cardholder exceeds his credit limit. Some issuers are charging a fee monthly even in the case when the cardholders don't use his card at all.

The cardholder must know also the balance computational method to anticipate how much he must to pay for purchases over the time, in the case when there is no grace period. Even if the APR remains the same, the difference can be important.