With interest rates on some credit cards rising to over 23%, even low balance credit card debt can be crippling. One of the first research elements a prospective borrower should look at is the interest rate on transferred debt. This interest rate is often lower than the usual interest rate for the credit card, and can be an especially good deal for borrowers who have debt already. Another element to consider is the interest rate on new purchases – this rate will be the main concern in the years to come, as this new credit card will probably become the most heavily used. Borrowers often worry about annual fees, but these are often temporary. Getting a credit card with low interest rates will save a borrower significant sums, usually much more than the annual fee. Plus, once good credit is established, the annual fee may later be waived.
Another interest rate will usually apply, as well – the rate for cash advances. Cash advances are usually limited to a couple hundred dollars, but credit card companies often insist that when paying back the balance, the credit portion must be paid back first, then the portion that the cash advance applies to. So if you are going to keep a balance on your credit card, be aware that cash advance interest rates are higher than the regular interest rates. Cash advances can be incredibly helpful in emergencies, though, when a credit card cannot be used.
Visa and MasterCard are by far the most commonly accepted credit cards, so less commonly used cards such as American Express and Discover often offer special rates for new customers. These rates are worth attention, even if you think that you may not be able to use the card as easily as your previous credit cards, because transferring the balance to these new cards to obtain the lower interest rate may significantly lower your payments. While your AmEx or Discover Card may not be accepted as often, they can be a good tool to achieving your financial goals.
Even less commonly used are credit cards that are store specific, such as gas cards or department store cards, but these cards can offer incredible deals on interest rates. They rely on the fact that consumers will often switch their spending patterns to the new gas station or store, and this increased revenue makes up for the lower interest rates. A slight change in your habits, such as consistently using the new credit card at the new gas station, can lower payments and improve credit scores.