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How do I pick a credit card?

SnowglobeSnowglobe Registered User regular
I've never had a credit card and been meaning to get one for some time, but I don't know where to begin choosing one.

Until now I've been making do with my debit card, but I've heard that's less ideal in case of fraud, and doesn't really help with my credit rating. Since it's expiring soon, I thought I'd take the opportunity to switch to a credit card for day-to-day purchases, and maybe use debit to pay that off in one lump.

My bank is a small regional one, in a region I've moved about an hour away from. From a quick look at its site, I don't think it even offers credit cards.

I'd google this myself, but I'm wary of trusting the results on such a monetary issue. Could anyone offer me some advice, or at least point me to a good website? If I missed any relevant info, let me know.

«1

Posts

  • ASimPersonASimPerson Cold... ... and hard.Registered User regular
    What country do you live in?

    redoctober2.png
    SE++ Forum Battle Archive | PDT is not PST | DRUNKSTUCK: A Homestuck recap
  • SnowglobeSnowglobe Registered User regular
    The (northeastern) US.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2016
    The standard advice is get one with the best points/rewards for your that has no fee. Interest rate shouldn't matter because you'll pay it off every month.

    So if you buy a lot on Amazon, their card would be a good choice. But only if you pay off every month.

    Otherwise Chase or Citibank are two big international banks.

    MichaelLC on
    Mugsley wrote:
    So now I need to get it trimmed and adjusted, and all in.

    Steam:MichaelLC
    Gnome-Interruptus
  • SnowglobeSnowglobe Registered User regular
    Oh, derp, my spending habits. They're mainly divided into small food purchases, and recurring online payments (utilities, student loans, car payments, and an MMO).

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Snowglobe wrote: »
    I've never had a credit card and been meaning to get one for some time, but I don't know where to begin choosing one.

    Until now I've been making do with my debit card, but I've heard that's less ideal in case of fraud, and doesn't really help with my credit rating. Since it's expiring soon, I thought I'd take the opportunity to switch to a credit card for day-to-day purchases, and maybe use debit to pay that off in one lump.

    My bank is a small regional one, in a region I've moved about an hour away from. From a quick look at its site, I don't think it even offers credit cards.

    I'd google this myself, but I'm wary of trusting the results on such a monetary issue. Could anyone offer me some advice, or at least point me to a good website? If I missed any relevant info, let me know.

    Country matters as ASimPerson said but credit score does as well. Do you have student loans/car loan/a bill paying history somewhere? If you've got decent credit you're looking for something with no annual fee and reasonable rewards scheme.

  • MalgarasMalgaras Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    The Debit vs. Credit in case of fraud thing is less true than it used to be. The major payment networks generally provide the same protection re: fraud for both credit and debit cards nowadays, although that wasn't always the case. The big difference now is that you will be out the money on a debit card while matters are resolved, while you won't be on a credit card (assuming you catch it early).

    As for suggestions:
    1. Pay it off in full and on time every month or don't get one. A single late fee or interest charge will offset any cash back you are getting for that month by orders of magnitude.
    2. I generally recommend sticking with cash back cards as opposed to cards that awards things like airline miles or ambiguously defined "points". The whole reason that points and miles exist is to obfuscate the actual value of rewards you are getting as much as possible because A. they tend to not be as good as cash, and B. the card providers can cut your benefits by changing the value of whatever fake currency you get without technically changing the rewards rate of the card so hopefully you won't notice.
    3. A note on credit limits: I tend to ask for as much as they will give me, and increase it whenever I can. The reason for this is because credit utilization(credit you have available vs how much you actually use) is a significant factor in your credit score, and if your month balance is a significant chunk of your limit, it can hurt (raise) utilization. That said, don't feel like you HAVE to get more credit than you are comfortable with, maxing my limit is how I do it but it's certainly not the only way.

    Some cards I recommend(assuming you have good credit):

    Amex Blue Cash Everyday:
    3% on groceries up to 6k
    2% on gas stations and some department stores
    1% everywhere else
    There is also the preferred version (6%/3%/1% back respectively but with a $75 annual fee, you need to do the math and see which comes out ahead for you)
    Amex still isn't accepted everywhere (althougn most major retailers will), but you have a debit card to fall back on

    Amazon card:
    3% at Amazon
    2% on gas, restaurants, and drug stores
    1% everywhere else
    Good if you do a lot of shopping at Amazon, obviously

    Citi Double Cash:
    2% on everything
    One of if not the single best across the board cash back cards there is


    There are other things to consider, for example bonuses for signing up. For example, southwest miles are kinda crappy on their card, but I've been flying to 3 PAXes a year for the past two years for free by repeatedly signing up, spending just enough for the signup bonus, then cancelling the card, then rinse and repeat. It sounds like that kind of stuff is probably more hassle then you want to deal with though, and any of the above mentioned cards will serve you well.

    Malgaras on
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    PAX East 2017 Status: COMPLETE!
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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    I like capital one quicksilver, 1.5 percent cash back and no international fees when traveling.

    Keep meaning to get the 2 percent citi card.

  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    If you have a kid that you want to set up for saving for college, we use a uPromise card. You get 3% for every purchase put into a 529 college savings plan. You can get up to 10% on some things even.

    If you don't have kids, something to think about if you ever do.

    I'd probably do an Amazon card if it wasn't for my own child. :)

    PwH4Ipj.jpg
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited August 2016
    it really just comes down to what you want out of the card

    the most basic rewards system a card offers is cashback, and they come in various flavors. some cards like Capital One just offer straight cash. other cards like Amex Blue will only cashback you for specific purchases but you technically get a better conversion rate (they give you points and you use the points for charges)

    I've been an AMEX user for well over a decade and in that time

    A) Never had a fraud issue
    B) Gotten very generous credit limits
    C) Gotten huge amounts of points from them (currently sitting on over $500 worth of points)
    D) They're travel booking service is the least-horrible of all of the options I've dealt with
    E) Received the lowest interest rate BY FAR. Like, not even close. My Blue is something like 17%, where most consumer credit cards are in the 20s

    Jasconius on
  • twmjrtwmjr Registered User regular
    I'm super happy with my amex card, too, but in this case it might not be the best option -- since it will be your only credit card, check the things you've said you use it for (utilities especially) and make sure they accept amex. There haven't been a lot of places that wouldn't take mine, but local utilities and things of that nature have been the most likely not to.

    You may be better off starting with one processed by visa or mastercard since those are almost universally accepted.

    Elvenshae
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    We have two cards:
    • Wife's card through our bank. Reward is cash, which we apply back to the balance to get "free" purchases (essentially about 2% of everything we buy on that card is free through the rewards).
    • My card through Amazon that we use for all groceries, gas, and various other sundries. About twice a year we buy something we wouldn't otherwise budget for using those points as they are essentially amazon credit.

    Pay it off every month, never carry a balance. Credit cards aren't free money, they are a means to move your money you already have. If you treat them that way, you get the perks without the penalties.

    LostNinjaElvenshae
  • Skull2185Skull2185 Registered User regular
    I had a hell of a time applying to get my first credit card. Trying to build a credit history with a credit card, but getting denial after denial because I had no credit history was frustrating... not even my own bank where I'd had an account for years would approve me. That said, I do recommend Capital One. They're the company that finally approved my application and got me started with a $300 lil dinky card. Also, try for Amazon's Chase card if you shop on Amazon a lot.

    Everyone has a price. Throw enough gold around and someone will risk disintegration.
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Capital One is the king of credit card scam companies. Yes, they will take anyone with any credit rating, but long term they are extremely predatory and should be avoided.

    SmrtnikStraightzi
  • Skull2185Skull2185 Registered User regular
    Huh. No issues on my end. YMMV I guess =/

    Everyone has a price. Throw enough gold around and someone will risk disintegration.
    GMaster7
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    I've never had any issues with Capital One. I even had one incident where a couple of months went by and they didn't deduct from my AutoPay for some reason, so I was behind on a couple of payments. All I had to do was call them and point out that AutoPay had been set up for years, and they removed the late fees and interest charges and confirmed that AutoPay was working again. They didn't report the late payments to the credit bureaus, either, so my credit wasn't affected.

    It was also the only credit card I had that didn't impose additional fees or costs on any of my transactions while I was living in Australia (both Amex and Visa tacked on another 1%-3% on each transaction).

    That being said, I'm the kind of customer who just pays off my balance every month and generally doesn't cause any hassles, and I interact with credit card companies maybe a couple of times a year, so YMMV.

    The #1 rule with credit cards is: PAY OFF THE BALANCE EVERY MONTH

    If you take care of that, then by and large you will not care at all which card you are using beyond whether they charge additional fees or the types of rewards you get, because you will not be hit with ridiculous interest rates or other shenanigans.

    a.k.a. Antaeus or Nubmonger

    -A digital receiver in an analog world.
    tinwhiskersLostNinjaMichaelLCElvenshaeAngelHedgieGMaster7
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Yeah, never had any issues with Capital One, I have had a card from them for the last 7 or 8 years.


  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    I haven't personally either, but they show up in the news with alarming frequency over their collections, low-credit score programs, and predatory fee practices.

  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    edited August 2016
    One thing I haven't seen mentioned is to check your local credit unions. Lake Michigan Credit Union, as an example, offers a credit card with a 6.5% APR, which is massively lower than virtually any other card I've seen. Things to look for, in order of priority:

    1) $0 annual fee.
    2) Lowest interest rate
    3) Cash back bonuses

    0% APR balance transfers can be another thing worth looking into, but as a first card their benefit is somewhat diminished to you.

    mRahmani on
  • SnowglobeSnowglobe Registered User regular
    Alright, thanks for the tips everyone! I'll look into these more during the weekend when I have more time, but so far I like the look of Citibank.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    mRahmani wrote: »
    One thing I haven't seen mentioned is to check your local credit unions. Lake Michigan Credit Union, as an example, offers a credit card with a 6.5% APR, which is massively lower than virtually any other card I've seen. Things to look for, in order of priority:

    1) $0 annual fee.
    2) Lowest interest rate
    3) Cash back bonuses

    0% APR balance transfers can be another thing worth looking into, but as a first card their benefit is somewhat diminished to you.

    I second this. I still have a credit card from my old bank (a credit union) from before I moved last year, and it didn't charge me any interest the one and only time I didn't pay everything off in full at the end of the month (had a couple large unexpected expenses that month).

    LostNinja on
  • MrTLiciousMrTLicious Registered User regular
    Malgaras wrote: »
    The Debit vs. Credit in case of fraud thing is less true than it used to be. The major payment networks generally provide the same protection re: fraud for both credit and debit cards nowadays, although that wasn't always the case. The big difference now is that you will be out the money on a debit card while matters are resolved, while you won't be on a credit card (assuming you catch it early).

    As for suggestions:
    1. Pay it off in full and on time every month or don't get one. A single late fee or interest charge will offset any cash back you are getting for that month by orders of magnitude.
    2. I generally recommend sticking with cash back cards as opposed to cards that awards things like airline miles or ambiguously defined "points". The whole reason that points and miles exist is to obfuscate the actual value of rewards you are getting as much as possible because A. they tend to not be as good as cash, and B. the card providers can cut your benefits by changing the value of whatever fake currency you get without technically changing the rewards rate of the card so hopefully you won't notice.
    3. A note on credit limits: I tend to ask for as much as they will give me, and increase it whenever I can. The reason for this is because credit utilization(credit you have available vs how much you actually use) is a significant factor in your credit score, and if your month balance is a significant chunk of your limit, it can hurt (raise) utilization. That said, don't feel like you HAVE to get more credit than you are comfortable with, maxing my limit is how I do it but it's certainly not the only way.

    Some cards I recommend(assuming you have good credit):

    Amex Blue Cash Everyday:
    3% on groceries up to 6k
    2% on gas stations and some department stores
    1% everywhere else
    There is also the preferred version (6%/3%/1% back respectively but with a $75 annual fee, you need to do the math and see which comes out ahead for you)
    Amex still isn't accepted everywhere (althougn most major retailers will), but you have a debit card to fall back on

    Amazon card:
    3% at Amazon
    2% on gas, restaurants, and drug stores
    1% everywhere else
    Good if you do a lot of shopping at Amazon, obviously

    Citi Double Cash:
    2% on everything
    One of if not the single best across the board cash back cards there is


    There are other things to consider, for example bonuses for signing up. For example, southwest miles are kinda crappy on their card, but I've been flying to 3 PAXes a year for the past two years for free by repeatedly signing up, spending just enough for the signup bonus, then cancelling the card, then rinse and repeat. It sounds like that kind of stuff is probably more hassle then you want to deal with though, and any of the above mentioned cards will serve you well.

    This is basically the way to go. Citi Double is a must-have. Then you need to figure out how many cards you want vs. how many categories you spend a lot of money on and can find a card that is higher than 2% for them. The above cards are good, and if you spend a lot on gas, you can also get a Bank Americard which is 3% back on gas.

    If none of these categories look particularly appealing, you may want to get one of those rotating category cards that give 5% back (Chase Freedom and DiscoverCard are pretty good IMO), but if your grocery store takes Amex that's probably a better buy, and if you're just starting your credit you don't want to get too many cards too quickly.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Err...the sort of card you use for daily expenses and just a convenient way to pay folks should not a card you in any way care about the APR on. Not paying the balance off each month is completely unsustainable for daily spending. I don't care if I have a card with a 30% APR because the card isn't more money, it's just a way to spend the money I already have. If this isn't the case then APR is effectively the only thing to care about, no benefits will ever approach what they charge you for keeping a balance.

    If you go for one of the rewards cards check your personal network of family/friends as they often give bonuses to folks if they refer somebody for a card and that's just free money at that point.

    DaenrisElvenshaefirewaterwordDarkewolfe
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Err...the sort of card you use for daily expenses and just a convenient way to pay folks should not a card you in any way care about the APR on. Not paying the balance off each month is completely unsustainable for daily spending. I don't care if I have a card with a 30% APR because the card isn't more money, it's just a way to spend the money I already have. If this isn't the case then APR is effectively the only thing to care about, no benefits will ever approach what they charge you for keeping a balance.

    If you go for one of the rewards cards check your personal network of family/friends as they often give bonuses to folks if they refer somebody for a card and that's just free money at that point.

    Eh, agree that a card should be paid off in full every month, but I disagree that you shouldn't care about the intrest rate. You never know when you might have a tight month and need to leave a little on to allow yourself wiggle room. I'm not saying that should be a regular occurrence (it shouldn't!), but a safety net that won't bury you isn't a bad thing.

  • MalgarasMalgaras Registered User regular
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Err...the sort of card you use for daily expenses and just a convenient way to pay folks should not a card you in any way care about the APR on. Not paying the balance off each month is completely unsustainable for daily spending. I don't care if I have a card with a 30% APR because the card isn't more money, it's just a way to spend the money I already have. If this isn't the case then APR is effectively the only thing to care about, no benefits will ever approach what they charge you for keeping a balance.

    If you go for one of the rewards cards check your personal network of family/friends as they often give bonuses to folks if they refer somebody for a card and that's just free money at that point.

    Eh, agree that a card should be paid off in full every month, but I disagree that you shouldn't care about the intrest rate. You never know when you might have a tight month and need to leave a little on to allow yourself wiggle room. I'm not saying that should be a regular occurrence (it shouldn't!), but a safety net that won't bury you isn't a bad thing.

    I'm not going to weigh in on whether or not you should care about interest rate, but I do want to weigh in on the latter point. I do understand that saying is often easier then doing, but you really don't want to fall back to a credit card in a tight month. You want to have an emergency fund for this type of thing. If your funds are tight enough that you are putting stuff on the credit card out of necessity, they are probably also tight enough that you aren't going to fare super well next month with your normal expenses PLUS last months interest (and hopefully the remainder of the balance). That's how people start with putting "a little on the card to get me through the month" to winding up in serious debt. It's a very easy path to go down that you should be very wary of.

    tLJUH2O.png
    PAX East 2017 Status: COMPLETE!
    PAX West 2017 Status: Bobcat[ X ] Vacation[ _ ]
    3DS: 0946-2465-9686 XBL: Gespo Steam:Malgaras
    MichaelLCInquisitor77davidsdurionsWezoinElvenshaeSmrtnikDarkewolfeShadowhopedestroyah87
  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    Avoid cash advances. Just don't do it. I've been buried under shitty credit stemming from a cash advance from nearly a decade ago after I lost a job and couldn't get my unemployment because a different former employer was a shitheel and disputed the claim just to fuck with me. I couldn't make rent, so...

    I just recently got a secured card and have been buying stuff just so I could pay it all off every month.

    schussShadowhope
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Malgaras wrote: »
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Err...the sort of card you use for daily expenses and just a convenient way to pay folks should not a card you in any way care about the APR on. Not paying the balance off each month is completely unsustainable for daily spending. I don't care if I have a card with a 30% APR because the card isn't more money, it's just a way to spend the money I already have. If this isn't the case then APR is effectively the only thing to care about, no benefits will ever approach what they charge you for keeping a balance.

    If you go for one of the rewards cards check your personal network of family/friends as they often give bonuses to folks if they refer somebody for a card and that's just free money at that point.

    Eh, agree that a card should be paid off in full every month, but I disagree that you shouldn't care about the intrest rate. You never know when you might have a tight month and need to leave a little on to allow yourself wiggle room. I'm not saying that should be a regular occurrence (it shouldn't!), but a safety net that won't bury you isn't a bad thing.

    I'm not going to weigh in on whether or not you should care about interest rate, but I do want to weigh in on the latter point. I do understand that saying is often easier then doing, but you really don't want to fall back to a credit card in a tight month. You want to have an emergency fund for this type of thing. If your funds are tight enough that you are putting stuff on the credit card out of necessity, they are probably also tight enough that you aren't going to fare super well next month with your normal expenses PLUS last months interest (and hopefully the remainder of the balance). That's how people start with putting "a little on the card to get me through the month" to winding up in serious debt. It's a very easy path to go down that you should be very wary of.

    I was stating it as a one time sort of thing. I mentioned earlier in thread that I had to do it once, just once, due to a large expense followed my another large one that I wasn't expecting. It made my budget tighter than I'd prefer so I didn't pay it off in full that month (but did pay off most of it). The next month I easily payed it all back off due to have a low intrest (in this case zero).

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    Malgaras wrote: »
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Err...the sort of card you use for daily expenses and just a convenient way to pay folks should not a card you in any way care about the APR on. Not paying the balance off each month is completely unsustainable for daily spending. I don't care if I have a card with a 30% APR because the card isn't more money, it's just a way to spend the money I already have. If this isn't the case then APR is effectively the only thing to care about, no benefits will ever approach what they charge you for keeping a balance.

    If you go for one of the rewards cards check your personal network of family/friends as they often give bonuses to folks if they refer somebody for a card and that's just free money at that point.

    Eh, agree that a card should be paid off in full every month, but I disagree that you shouldn't care about the intrest rate. You never know when you might have a tight month and need to leave a little on to allow yourself wiggle room. I'm not saying that should be a regular occurrence (it shouldn't!), but a safety net that won't bury you isn't a bad thing.

    I'm not going to weigh in on whether or not you should care about interest rate, but I do want to weigh in on the latter point. I do understand that saying is often easier then doing, but you really don't want to fall back to a credit card in a tight month. You want to have an emergency fund for this type of thing. If your funds are tight enough that you are putting stuff on the credit card out of necessity, they are probably also tight enough that you aren't going to fare super well next month with your normal expenses PLUS last months interest (and hopefully the remainder of the balance). That's how people start with putting "a little on the card to get me through the month" to winding up in serious debt. It's a very easy path to go down that you should be very wary of.

    This is exactly right. You do not rely on our credit card for emergency funds. If that is the case, then you are living well beyond your means. Even in an absolute worst-case scenario where you lose your job and you have to pay several months' worth of living expenses, you should have that money available in a place where it can be easily accessed (bank account, money market fund, etc.). A credit card means you don't have to carry around thousands of dollars in cash when you need it right away. It doesn't mean that you don't have to actually have that money available when the bill comes due.

    a.k.a. Antaeus or Nubmonger

    -A digital receiver in an analog world.
  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    My only advice is be careful with it - they are useful payment tools but ultimately can get you into some real trouble. When I was a student I ran into some financial issues and ended up with about $16,000 in credit card debt just to keep a roof over my head and keep myself fed. 4 years later I'm just getting it down to about $3500. I still make awful credit decisions on occasion but I am getting better. My point is if you HAVE to use your credit card, you can't afford it. If you could pay cash or use your debit card but want some extra rewards, go for it.

  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    Another thing to consider is how your lifestyle or work interacts with it.
    A few years ago i had to travel for work a lot (still do some, not as much). So i got a Hilton Amex that have me some points from every purchase but a triple multiplier from buying hotel stays in Hilton hotels (cab be one of their sister brands too i.e. Hampton Inn). Work refunds my purchase, i keep the points, always have a free room at a decent hotel when i travel for vacation.

    steam_sig.png
    Siska
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Honestly if you have no card your best option may be through your bank. In my experience they will grant you a decent limit that's easy to manage. It takes so very much spending on a card to get any cash back that they're all pretty much the same unless you get a really awful one. Cash back is best, my card has cash back plus rewards points... The points can be redeemed for cash though.

  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    MrTLicious wrote: »
    Malgaras wrote: »
    The Debit vs. Credit in case of fraud thing is less true than it used to be. The major payment networks generally provide the same protection re: fraud for both credit and debit cards nowadays, although that wasn't always the case. The big difference now is that you will be out the money on a debit card while matters are resolved, while you won't be on a credit card (assuming you catch it early).

    As for suggestions:
    1. Pay it off in full and on time every month or don't get one. A single late fee or interest charge will offset any cash back you are getting for that month by orders of magnitude.
    2. I generally recommend sticking with cash back cards as opposed to cards that awards things like airline miles or ambiguously defined "points". The whole reason that points and miles exist is to obfuscate the actual value of rewards you are getting as much as possible because A. they tend to not be as good as cash, and B. the card providers can cut your benefits by changing the value of whatever fake currency you get without technically changing the rewards rate of the card so hopefully you won't notice.
    3. A note on credit limits: I tend to ask for as much as they will give me, and increase it whenever I can. The reason for this is because credit utilization(credit you have available vs how much you actually use) is a significant factor in your credit score, and if your month balance is a significant chunk of your limit, it can hurt (raise) utilization. That said, don't feel like you HAVE to get more credit than you are comfortable with, maxing my limit is how I do it but it's certainly not the only way.

    Some cards I recommend(assuming you have good credit):

    Amex Blue Cash Everyday:
    3% on groceries up to 6k
    2% on gas stations and some department stores
    1% everywhere else
    There is also the preferred version (6%/3%/1% back respectively but with a $75 annual fee, you need to do the math and see which comes out ahead for you)
    Amex still isn't accepted everywhere (althougn most major retailers will), but you have a debit card to fall back on

    Amazon card:
    3% at Amazon
    2% on gas, restaurants, and drug stores
    1% everywhere else
    Good if you do a lot of shopping at Amazon, obviously

    Citi Double Cash:
    2% on everything
    One of if not the single best across the board cash back cards there is


    There are other things to consider, for example bonuses for signing up. For example, southwest miles are kinda crappy on their card, but I've been flying to 3 PAXes a year for the past two years for free by repeatedly signing up, spending just enough for the signup bonus, then cancelling the card, then rinse and repeat. It sounds like that kind of stuff is probably more hassle then you want to deal with though, and any of the above mentioned cards will serve you well.

    This is basically the way to go. Citi Double is a must-have. Then you need to figure out how many cards you want vs. how many categories you spend a lot of money on and can find a card that is higher than 2% for them. The above cards are good, and if you spend a lot on gas, you can also get a Bank Americard which is 3% back on gas.

    If none of these categories look particularly appealing, you may want to get one of those rotating category cards that give 5% back (Chase Freedom and DiscoverCard are pretty good IMO), but if your grocery store takes Amex that's probably a better buy, and if you're just starting your credit you don't want to get too many cards too quickly.

    I will say that Chase Freedom is about to get far less appealing at the end of the month due to the change in the Amazon rewards. Currently you can redeem your points 1:1 on Amazon, but they're changing to 125 points = $1 in September, which annihilates the usefulness of that program.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Eh. It's still 1:1 with cash so whatever. Such a weird change though.

    a5ehren
  • ScratchyScratchy Registered User regular
    If this is your first credit card you might want to look into interest rates. I assume you don't have much of a history building your credit as it is if you don't already have a credit card and a starter credit card is a good way to build it up short of paying everything else you have on time.

    Best tip I ever got was don't ever put anything on a credit card that you can't pay off with savings/checking accounts at a moments notice while accounting for emergencies (such as your transportation breaking down, job loss, etc.) Throw food and utilities on it and pay more than the minimum every time, always leave a little bit of debt on it while making above the minimum payments because the amount of time that you have debt (that you can successfully pay for) also builds your credit and looks better and better for you.

    Credit is a fickle mistress that can help you get a nice car and house but if you rub her the wrong way she will burn you.

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  • MalgarasMalgaras Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    Scratchy wrote: »
    always leave a little bit of debt on it while making above the minimum payments because the amount of time that you have debt (that you can successfully pay for) also builds your credit and looks better and better for you.

    This is a common misconception. There are a few relevant factors re: credit score that this effects, none of them are helped by leaving a balance you could pay off (and effectively throwing away money on interest).

    The first, which appears to be what is being referenced, is credit history length. This is independent of any balance you have on the card as far as credit score is concerned. This is a reason not to CANCEL a card (provided there is no fee), but not a reason to carry a balance. For example, I keep an eye on my credit report/score, and my "average length of credit" and "length of credit history" are largely where they are due to a credit card I got as a teenager. It has a zero balance and I haven't made a purchase with it in years, but I keep it stashed in a drawer because it doubles the length of my credit history. In short, credit history length is independent of balance as far as credit score is concerned.

    Second is variety of debt. Having a credit card over not having a credit card helps this, but again, it is independent on having a non-zero balance or not.

    Last is credit utilization, which is essentially (credit used/credit available). Lower is better. Carrying a balance actually HURTS you in this case.

    Tl;DR Don't carry a balance just because you can. It hurts, not helps, your credit.

    EDIT: One thing I forgot to note, UTILIZING your credit does impact your history somewhat in certain scenarios. That said, charging stuff, then paying it off at the end of the month counts just as well for this.

    Malgaras on
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Yeah, don't ever carry a balance. Not ever.

    ShadowhopeInquisitor77MichaelLCElvenshaea5ehren
  • ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular

    Because it needs to be said by everyone: Carrying a balance is bad. Pay it off in full every month. Every paycheck if feasible.

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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Shadowhope wrote: »
    Because it needs to be said by everyone: Carrying a balance is bad. Pay it off in full every month. Every paycheck if feasible.

    You want to make sure a balance is established or else it does nothing for your credit. Don't pay it off after ever purchase, once a month is fine.

    But absolutely do not carry a balance unless you need to.

    Ladies.
    Enc
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Time for a brief reminder that credit cards framework is just barely beyond the "Dead Trees" level of technology.

    Once a month they'll look back, total up all your charges that they have at that moment, sum it all up and put it into a bill to you. Because dead trees and USPS it will typically have a due date a few weeks in the future. For example Amex last totalled up my bill to August 5th and it has a due date of August 19th. So when August 19th comes around I will pay everything up to August 5th. I will not pay the stuff I charged on August 6th, that doesn't come due until around September 18th.

    That sort of balance doesn't incur any interest charges and is what Bowen is saying causes the account to be "used" for reporting processes. If on August 19th I don't pay Amex we will quickly get into the bad sort of balances and I will be charged all the moneys in interest and they will start making grumpy faces at me. Don't carry that sort of balance.

    bowenDaenris
  • ScratchyScratchy Registered User regular
    Learn something new every day. I need to have a talk with some folks and learn a bit more about it myself. Thank yall for the heads up.

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  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    If you just set it up to auto pay your monthly balance on or before your due date then you are doing it right.

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    bowenInquisitor77DevoutlyApatheticQuiddestroyah87
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