Getting the Best Credit Card Rate

by : C.R. Hayes

Finding the best credit card rate takes time, but the pay-off is that you'll know before making your first purchase exactly what to expect, and being familiar with your terms may motivate you to make wiser purchases and to pay off your monthly balances in a timely fashion.

One of the first things you'll need to know is your FICO score, which is available through credit monitoring agencies. Scores of over 700 are low-risk, between 620 and 659 are moderate risk, and 619 and below are considered high risk.

Your risk level will determine the type of terms credit card companies will offer you. One of the benefits of having a good credit score is that you'll be eligible for lower interest rates and it's generally easier to find a company willing to extend you credit.

Determining your risk level

You can find out your risk level by obtaining a copy of your credit report. Everyone is entitled to one free copy every year (in the U.S), and you may request a copy from any of the reporting agencies.

Comparing Features

Next, you will want to do a thorough comparison of credit card features and compare and determine the following:

* Interest rate, or APR
* Annual fee
* Other possible fees
* Grace period
* Rewards/points options

Although all of the associated terms are important, the most crucial one is probably your interest rate, or the APR. Things to pay attention to are whether the rate is fixed or variable. A fixed APR does not increase or decrease, while a variable can do both. Check to see if the interest rate being advertised is only for a specified amount of time - an introductory rate. A lot of companies offer low teaser rates for only a few months (though some offer up to 1-1/2 years) before switching to a higher, permanent interest rate. Some companies apply one rate for balances up to a certain level, with a higher rate for higher balances.

Another important consideration is whether or not your card will charge an annual fee. Many credit card companies which offer rewards programs charge fees ranging from about $30 per year on up to as much as $100. If you want a card for its rewards, make sure what you are earning is worth what you pay in annual fees.

One pitfall you'll want to avoid is applying for lots of cards at one time. Each time you apply for credit, it's recorded on your credit history and too many applications will become a blemish on your report. Therefore, it's best to reduce your list and make only one or two choices.

In conclusion, you will get your very best credit card rate by having a credit score of over 700. You can decide on which extra perks and features you would like to have by comparing all associated fees, if any.