Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for items you need when you currently don’t have the funds to pay for them. Many people nowadays have at least one in their wallet, and find it to be a great way to earn rewards and bonuses while having the means to make purchases they otherwise wouldn’t be able to make. With this piece of plastic, you’ll be able to open many doors of opportunity and build your credit along the way as well.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Credit cards are essentially a portable small loan that banks give you so you don’t have to touch the cold, hard cash you’ve earned. With lines of credit from credit cards companies, you can do many things with them. Not only can you make purchases of items you wish to have, but you can also make balance transfers from other credit cards or get cash advances if you are short on money at the moment.

Because credit cards are a type of loan, this means they come with an interest rate. The interest rate depends on what type of credit card you are using and what bank you’ve signed up with. To maintain good standing with the company and to build up your credit in a positive direction, you must make a payment every month that is at least the minimum amount the company sets up for you, and you must do so by the due date chosen. It is up to you whether or not you want to pay the full balance off or if you want to leave a small balance every month. However, the wisest choice would be to pay the full balance of your credit cards every month so you’ll be paying the least amount of interest possible.

Types of Credit Cards

Credit card companies understand the unique needs of their customers, which is why they have different types of credit cards available. The terms and conditions vary, as well as the credit limits and rewards available to you. By doing a credit cards comparison, you can find out just exactly which type of credit card is perfect for your personal situation. Before applying , you should always do a quick check again since credit cards deals do often change.

Personal Credit Cards

The most popular credit cards used are personal ones, since there is a wide variety of them to cover the needs of the general population. These standard credit cards are considered unsecured, which means there is no need for you to put down a security deposit in order to use them. Generally, you don’t need fantastic credit scores in order to procure one. Interest rates are at an average rate and you can even sign up for ones that have an introductory annual percentage rate (APR) of 0 percent if you do a balance transfer.

Rewards Programs

As an incentive for using credit cards, many companies offer rewards programs which give you points depending on the types of charges you make on your credit card. In most cases, points are awarded to you based on each dollar you charge on your credit card. These points can then be used to redeem rewards such as cash back, gas money, gift cards, plane tickets, hotel stays, and more. Because this type of credit card can get you nice rewards, they typically require you to have better-than-average credit scores in order to obtain a card. They also may require you to pay an annual fee since these types of programs may be costly for credit cards companies to run.

Frequent Flier Credit Cards

If you travel a lot, this can be a highly advantageous credit card to apply for. This is also a type of rewards program, but specifically for flying. When you purchase items on your credit card, you earn airline mile credits to use for future plane tickets. When applying, you can choose between airline-specific and generic airline miles cards. The airline-specific option may be better for you if you are loyal to just one or two airlines, while generic airline miles cards may be the better option for you if you like to shop around for deals and not stick to just an airline or two. This type of credit card also usually comes with an annual fee.

Credit Cards for People with Bad Credit

If your credit score is in disarray or you have no credit at all, it may be hard to apply for a normal credit card. But not to worry — there are credit cards aimed specifically at people with either no or bad credit. These kinds of credit cards come in two forms: secured credit cards and prepaid credit cards.

In order to get approved for a secured credit card, you must offer up collateral first. This can be in the form of anything of value to you, such as a house, jewelry, or a vehicle. This is an ideal credit card for you if you’re trying to repair your credit or have none to start off with. Keep in mind that since this type of credit card is geared towards people with low credit, the credit lines are pretty low and often come with additional fees. This means that you shouldn’t count on these credit cards for major purchases in your life, since the limit is usually is in the three digits range.

Prepaid credit cards actually don’t help your credit score directly, but allow you to use a credit card if you don’t have credit or if the credit you have is bad. These are great if you’re bad with managing your debt since the credit available is whatever amount of cash you’ve already loaded them up with. With better budgeting in place, this can help you grow your credit and make it easier for you to apply for actual credit cards in the future. Although there are no finance fees associated with prepaid credit cards, you may have to look out for other fees, such as monthly fees, application fees, ATM fees, and more. Make sure you know the full terms and conditions before applying for such a card.

Business Credit Cards

If you’re a businessman, it’s worth looking into applying for a business card. These cards are very similar to personal credit cards in that they also offer cash back programs and airline rewards. However, they have additional benefits because you’re involved in the business world. Such benefits include special business rewards and savings, additional cards to give to your employees, expense management reports, and most importantly, higher credit limits. If you’re interested in a business credit card, take your time to browse the many credit cards offers in order to maximize the benefits to both you and your business.

Student Credit Cards

As a young adult, you may realize that you need a credit card but can’t obtain one because of your limited credit history. This is where student credit cards come into play. Student credit cards are made specifically for university students who need a line of credit while in school. They are similar to personal credit cards but usually have lower credit limits. Although they may have less rewards than normal credit cards, they make up for it by having more forgiving benefits, such as no annual fees or maintenance fees as well. Some student credit cards can be converted into normal credit cards after graduation, so look into this if you like the student credit card you have and want to keep it when entering the adult world.

Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards

Credit cards and debit cards are both pieces of plastic you keep in your wallet in order to make purchases on the go. But what exactly is the difference between the two? And which one is better for your personal situation? We’ll take a look at how they are similar and how they are different in more detail.

The Similarities Between Credit Cards and Debit Cards

Both types of cards have 16 digits for their card numbers, expiration dates, and PIN codes to authorize use of them. Although both can be signed for when making purchases, debit cards usually require just the entering of your PIN code to complete the transaction. Both types of cards have fees associated with them, but debit cards typically have less or none, which is why they are so attractive to consumers. (An except to this is prepaid debit cards, which have fees for things such as activation and usage fees) You can also withdraw cash at ATMs with either types of cards, but since you are borrowing money with a credit card, the cash withdrawn at the ATM comes with an interest rate. Although debit and credit cards have many similarities, there are much more differences between the two.

The Differences Between Credit Cards and Debit Cards

The first major difference between the two types of cards is where the funds come from. With a debit card, the money used for each transaction comes from a bank account that is tied to the card, which means you only use money that you have available to you. With a credit card, you are loaned the money by the credit card company, which means you’re able to purchase items and withdraw cash that you may not necessarily have readily available in your bank account. Because of this difference, this means that debit cards are always linked to a checking account while credit cards are not always linked to one.

Fees

As mentioned above, debit cards have little to no fees while credit cards have a plethora of them. Debit card users usually only have to face overdraft fees. Examples of some fees you may encounter as a credit card holder are annual fees, late payment fees, and over limit fees. Credit cards also have monthly interest rates while debit cards don’t, since you are being loaned money from the bank you obtained your card from.

Credit Score

A lot of applications for credit cards are denied because applicants don’t have the minimal credit score needed to qualify for the desired credit card. For debit cards, anybody with a checking account at a bank can get one, even if they have little to no credit. In fact, most debit cards are offered for free in conjunction to opening a checking account.

Also, if you’re interested in building your credit score through the responsible use of a card, debit cards won’t help you here. Even if you make large purchases (such as houses or vehicles) with your debit card, it won’t count towards influencing your credit score. Putting those types of purchases on a credit card instead will definitely count towards bumping up your credit score. This is because you can prove responsible repayment of a loan on a credit card, whereas using a debit card is just using money you already had.

Rewards

In the past, both debit cards and credit cards offered the benefit of earning rewards when spending. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find rewards debit cards nowadays. If you want to earn yourself some rewards while using plastic, credit cards are what you should turn to. If you pay off your balance every month, you’ll reap the benefits since you can earn cash back, airline points, and other types of rewards.

Liability

When it comes to a lost or stolen card, it’s extremely important to choose a bank that has good policies that protect you as fully as possible. With both debit cards and credit cards, you can dispute unauthorized charges on them and they will be reversed. However, it is much harder with debit cards. You can only get refunded if the merchant accepts it. Otherwise, you’re stuck with the charges. Also, credit card holders are only liable for $50 of charges on a lost or stolen card, period. Debit card holders have the same rights, but must report lost or stolen cards within 48 hours or they are liable for $500, and then after 60 days, there is no limit for how much they are liable for.

What Are Credit Card Reviews?

Credit card reviews are thorough assessments of various different types of credit cards by experts. A credit cards comparison is good to read if you’re interested in signing up for one but don’t know where to start. Oftentimes, credit card reviews will have convenient and easy-to-read tables comparing the different credit cards side by side with their pros and cons.

When you’re looking for a good review of credit cards, check up on which institution is writing the review to see if you’re getting an unbiased opinion and also one that isn’t paid for. Reviews written by people in the financial industry is always a plus, so glance at the author’s profile before you read the whole review and take advice from it.

How Are Credit Card Reviews Written?

Credit card reviews are written with a number of factors in mind. Although they may vary, review from review, some of the key factors are:

  • APR rate

  • Best cash back rate

  • Biggest rewards

  • Best in each category (ex: student, business, balance transfer)

Many reviews will also take customer service into consideration. A credit card may be excellent to have based on its perks and APR rates, but terrible when it comes to customer service, especially in your time of need should your card get lost or stolen. The best credit card reviews will take all that into account and recommend the cards with not only the best benefits possible, but also the most helpful customer service as well. Owning a credit card should be as stress-free as possible, and these credit card reviews help you find the perfect card for your financial situation.

Credit Cards Application

If you’re interested in adding credit cards to your wallet, apply by filling out a form, complete with your address, phone number, social security number, employment status, gross income, and other tidbits about your financial situation. If you’re worried about the hassle of gathering a bunch of physical forms and sending them out, you can apply for credit cards online or call each bank instead. Online applications are a wonderful alternative to calling or mailing applications because many banks let you know within minutes if you qualify for their credit cards. Otherwise, you may have to wait a week or more to hear back from banks once you’ve sent in your applications.

If you’ve been approved for the credit card you desire, the bank will send credit cards info to your home, along with your new credit card. You can then call the number listed on the card to activate it. After activation, you’re free to enjoy the credit card’s services and purchase the items you’ve been eyeing. Be sure to always check your statements and pay the minimum payment on time every month in order to have a smooth credit card experience.