Reward Yourself with the Right Credit Card

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Whether we like it or not, spending money on a daily basis is a reality for most of us – from our morning coffee to filling up the gas tank to bringing a pizza home for the kids, living in our modern world costs money, and most of us are shelling it out a few times a day.

For a lot of people, using a credit card for their day-to-day purchases is a smart choice; when used properly, credit cards are convenient, secure, and many offer great rewards. That’s certainly more than most of us can say about using cash.

But with so many credit cards on the market today, many people have a hard time deciding which one is right for their daily spending needs. Fortunately, there are a few simple moves you can make to figure out which type of card is best for you. Follow the three easy steps below to be on your way to smarter swiping:

Step #1: Shop around

The first step to finding the perfect card for you is figuring out what’s out there. There are hundreds of cards out there, so doing a few simple Internet searches on terms like ‘best credit cards’ will turn up promising options. Create a list of 5-10 cards from your simple search, and be sure to jot down important details about each (see below). Also take care to bookmark your favorites, because you might need to go back and take a second look at them later.

Step #2: Know the numbers

Now that you’ve narrowed your search down to a few top contenders, it’s time to examine the numbers offered by each. The two most important numbers to note on your potential card are the interest rate (APR) charged on purchases if you don’t pay them off within a month and the annual fee, if the card carries one. It’s probably safe to eliminate any of the cards on your list that carry an annual fee – there enough cards out there that come fee-free that you could easily scratch off those that do and still have a lot to choose from.

Obviously, you also want to be on the look-out for a high interest rate, especially if you carry a balance from month to month. If you have good credit, there’s no reason to pay more than 22%, so any potential card on your list that carries a higher rate should get the boot.

Step #3: Pay attention to rewards

Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of potential cards to a few with low fees and interest rates, it’s time to take a closer look at the rewards they offer. The type of reward that’s best for you is highly dependant on your personality and lifestyle; if you travel a lot, you’ll probably want a card that offers air miles. If you spend a lot at the gas station, a gas rewards card might be best for you. If you’re a fashionista, a card that provides cash back for purchases at department stores might be most advantageous. If none of the cards on your shortlist offer a rewards program you can get excited about, you might want to revisit your original search and look into the details of a few more cards. After all, it’s a huge bonus to get something back for the purchases you’ll be making anyway, right?

The formula for a great day-to-day credit card is simple: low costs + great rewards = happy spending. And with the steps above, finding the perfect card for you couldn’t be simpler.

About Lindsay Meredith

Lindsay is a high school teacher and personal finance blogger. She lives, works, and plays in the Washington, D.C. area.

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