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10 Issues to Consider When Opening a Credit Card in 2024

They’re seemingly everywhere. All the time. Credit card offers arrive in the mail, fill our email inboxes, clutter our web pages, and frequently interrupt our favorite shows. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of choices for credit cards nowadays, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll detail the most important considerations when choosing a credit card and give you a quick rundown on the terms that you’ll need to understand when tackling the fine print on your next credit card application.

If you’re already up-to-speed on all things related to credit cards and you’re looking for a competitive card with no annual fees, competitive annual percentage rates, and the type of rewards and perks that you’ll want to brag about, check out Del Norte Credit Union’s impressive line of personal credit cards and business credit cards.

Woman sitting in chair at home with headphones on holding credit card and using laptop.

THE RIGHT CARD FOR YOU

Choosing the right type of credit card depends greatly on your spending habits and financial goals. For example, if you prefer to pay off the balance in full each month, a rewards or cashback card might be an ideal choice. On the other hand, if you tend to carry a balance, a card with a low interest rate might be more appropriate to minimize interest charges.

Take a look at the full list of considerations to make before applying for your wallet’s next piece of plastic:

1.  Existing Credit Card Debt: If you currently have credit card debt, consider a balance transfer card. These cards often offer a low or even zero percent interest rate for a set period, allowing you to pay down your debt more quickly. It’s important, however, to plan for the end of the promotional period and the subsequent rate increase.

2.  Frequency of Purchases: If you use your credit card frequently, look for cards that offer rewards or points for everyday purchases, helping maximize the benefits from your regular spending. Please note that it’s important to read the terms and conditions to understand the rewards structure and to ensure that it aligns with your spending patterns.

3.  Interest Rate and Affordability of Payments: Your credit card’s interest rate is a critical factor, especially if you carry a balance month-to-month. It’s vital to choose a card with an interest rate that you can afford and to be informed of how interest accrues on your account.

Person paying at a store with a credit card.

4.  Impact on Credit Score: Opening a new credit card can affect your credit score. Initially, it may slightly lower your score due to the hard inquiry that is applied. However, if used responsibly, it can improve your credit utilization ratio and add to your credit mix, potentially raising your score over time.

5.  Timing for Opening a New Credit Card: Consider your current financial situation before opening a new credit card. If you’re planning major financial moves like applying for a mortgage or an auto loan, opening a new card could temporarily lower your credit score.

6.  Credit Card Fees: Be aware of annual fees, balance transfer fees, late payment fees, and foreign transaction fees. Some cards may offer attractive rewards or interest rates but come with high fees that could negate the benefits.

7.  Rewards Program Details & Introductory Offers: If you opt for a rewards card, be sure to fully understand the specifics of the rewards program. This includes how points are earned, any limitations or expiration dates on points, and how points can be redeemed. Be cautious with introductory offers like 0% APR for the first few months by understanding what the rate will be at the end of the introductory period.

Young man with hat and jean jacket on holding smartphone and looking at credit card.

8.  Credit Limit: Consider the credit limit offered and whether it’s suitable for your spending habits and needs. A higher credit limit can be beneficial for credit utilization ratios but also poses a risk of overspending.

9.  Security Features & Customer Service: With the rise of digital transactions, look for cards that offer robust security features like fraud protection, including zero liability policies for unauthorized transactions. Also consider the issuer’s reputation for customer service, including problem resolution, and user-friendly online tools.

10.  Compatibility with Financial Goals: Finally, ensure the credit card aligns with your broader financial goals, whether that’s building credit, consolidating debt, or earning rewards for travel.

With branches located throughout New Mexico and a nationwide ATM network, Del Norte Credit Union is here for our members. Check out our competitive checking and savings accounts, mobile & online banking options, and Share Certificates.

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TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW

There’s plenty of jargon in the fine print – here are the most important terms that you need to understand when applying for a credit card:

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Expressed as a percentage, the APR is the annual cost of borrowing money on your credit card. It includes the interest rate plus any additional fees or costs associated with the loan.

Authorized User: An authorized user is a person who is permitted to use someone else’s credit card account but is not responsible for paying the bill. They receive a card in their name linked to the primary account holder’s credit line.

Annual Fee: This is a yearly charge some credit cards impose for the benefits and services they provide. Not all credit cards have an annual fee, and the amount can vary significantly between cards.

Credit Limit: The credit limit is the maximum amount that you can borrow on a credit card. It’s set by the issuer based on your creditworthiness and can be adjusted over time.

Person making a credit card payment at a flower shop.

Billing Cycle: The billing cycle is the period between billings for a credit card. It’s typically about one month long and ends on the statement closing date, after which a statement is generated with the amount due.

Balance Transfer: The process of moving a credit card balance from one card to another. This is often done to take advantage of a lower APR on the new card.

Cash Advance: A feature that allows you to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Cash advances typically have higher APRs and may incur additional fees.

Credit Utilization Ratio: Measures the percentage of your credit limit that you are currently using. It’s calculated by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit limits. A lower credit utilization ratio is generally better for your credit score.

Foreign Transaction Fee: A fee charged on transactions made in a foreign currency or processed through a foreign bank, even if the transaction is in your home currency.

Woman sitting on floor in living room with laptop looking at credit card.

 

Minimum Payment: The smallest amount you can pay by the due date to keep your account in good standing. Paying only the minimum can result in higher interest charges over time.

Reward Points/Cash Back: Incentives provided by credit card companies for using their card. Points can often be redeemed for merchandise, travel, or services, while cash back rewards return a percentage of spending as cash.

Del Norte Credit Union’s Financial Fitness section has the information that you’re looking for. Learn How and When to Consolidate Your Debt, 12 Ways to Reduce Spending and Financial Stress, access the Complete Guide to Consolidating & Paying Off Debt, and get 10 Tips to Improve Your Credit Score By Using Credit Cards.

Empower your spending with a Del Norte Credit Union credit card!

Choosing the right credit card is easier than you think. Understanding your priorities, spending habits, and future needs while also taking the time to read the fine print is an effective way to land on the perfect credit card account for you.

As your ideal partner for a better future, Del Norte Credit Union has credit cards that are worthy of your wallet. Open a new personal or business credit card with DNCU today and earn cash back, rewards and perks, or consolidate debt with a balance transfer. Apply online or call us toll-free at 877-818-DNCU (3628) today.