There s no denying that in today s world, it s just about impossible to get along without a credit card. Sure you can make purchases in stores with cash or a check, but try doing that online. Even though there are alternatives to credit cards, like PayPal and VeriCheck, they re not nearly as widely accepted as good ol plastic.
It gets even tougher if you want to rent a car, reserve a hotel room or book an airline ticket. In these situations, a credit card is generally a firm requirement.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of credit cards available for just about every need and personal financial situation. Though the options are certainly broader for people with a nearly flawless credit history, banks have come up with ways to put the convenience of the credit card in the hands of anyone. Here s a general breakdown of the various categories of cards. For more in depth assistance in finding exactly the right card for you, check out our objective, side-by-side reviews on our Credit Card Review site.
Since you re swiping the credit card anyway, you might as well have them bank pay you to use it. Rewards come in a wide variety of forms including airline miles redeemable for tickets, merchandise from an online catalog or a number of participating merchants, and even cash back in the form of a check or credit towards your bill.
Good credit is usually a prerequisite for getting this type of card and they re most valuable for those who pay off their entire balance every month. Otherwise, interest charges quickly consume the value of the rewards and more. Also, it s not uncommon for a rewards card to carry a higher interest rate than otherwise comparable cards so it s doubly important to pay the full balance. Also, these cards sometimes require an annual fee so be careful not be so anxious to get the rewards that you pay fees upfront.
The best rewards cards have no annual fee and offer flexibility when redeeming the accumulated points. Presuming you will pay the full card balance monthly, the interest rate is irrelevant. To find the best rewards card for you, take a look at our Rewards Cards site.
Business Credit Cards
Whether a giant corporation or a small sole proprietorship, keeping business and personal expenses separate is a must. Indeed, half of all business credit cards are held by small businesses with no employees other than the owner. Business credit cards generally provide more thorough reporting of expenses with categories of spending and account summaries that can be very helpful at tax time. They also are likely to offer rewards that are specifically tailored to the business user.
Business credit cards are also a good tool for building a business credit history. That history is just as important for a business as it is for individuals. With a business credit card, there s also the option of providing cards to employees who make purchases on behalf of the business. When choosing this option, it s critical to make certain that any employee with a card understand that no personal transactions are to be made using the card and it s critical to monitor such cards for unauthorized transactions. For the best business credit cards, check out reviews on our Business Credit Card site.
Credit Cards for People with Bad Credit
It would be great if everyone had a spotless credit record and could take advantage of the most generous rewards cards. But in the real world, there are lots of reasons that a low FICO score could make that impossible. Everything from an unexpected job loss, catastrophic medical expenses or just plain overspending can do serious damage to a credit rating making it hard to get the best credit cards. No credit record, common for younger people just starting their financial life can also find it a challenge to get a card.
There s a special niche in the credit card industry for just such folks. Credit cards for people with bad credit can be divided into two general categories: secured and unsecured.
If you can afford to put some money away in a savings account with the card issuer, a secured card is likely the best bet. The credit limit for the card will be the amount that you ve deposited into the account and the issuer uses that account balance as security for the card. The card issuer isn t taking any risk of being repaid so they ll offer better terms than with an unsecured card. Using the card doesn t decrement the balance of your deposit with the bank. There are, nonetheless, several fees associated with these cards so take a look at our objective reviews of Bad Credit Credit Cards to find the one that best suits your needs.
Another option for those with poor or no credit is an unsecured card. Since the issuer does assume higher risk than with other cards, the fees can be pretty substantial. Still, getting one can be an important step towards regaining a desirable credit rating and having the convenience of a card. Check our reviews for the best options.
Prepaid Credit Cards
Another option for folks who need a credit card but can t qualify for the best ones is the prepaid credit card. With a prepaid card, you must deposit a sum of money with the card issuer and then any charges made are paid with those funds. Therefore, these cards are actually debit cards as opposed to credit cards. A standard debit card makes withdrawals from a checking or savings account as though writing a check. Prepaid cards make the withdrawals directly from the card account so a bank account isn t even required. These cards usually can accept direct deposit of a paycheck which eliminates the need for paying high check cashing fees often associated with people who don t have a bank account. As with other card types, fees vary widely from card to card and our Prepaid Credit Card site will help you decide which one is best for you.
Student Credit Cards
Students have a unique opportunity in the credit card world. While typically young and without a well established credit history, card issuers look upon students as the customers of the future. They re also considered less risky than others without a strong credit record because, if all else fails, parents can often be counted upon as a backup for a student s debts. For those reasons, special student credit cards typically offer notably better terms than cards for people with bad credit. To help decide which card is best for you, check out our Student Credit Card reviews.
Regardless of your financial situation, it s hard to get along in the modern world without a credit card. We ve conducted objective reviews of all types of cards to help you find the one that best meets your unique needs.
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